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Life: Its True Genesis
by R. W. Wright
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All these circumstantially narrated facts (?) were gathered (by somebody) about forty years ago. In what authentic and satisfactorily verified record are they to be found to-day? The writer gives us no clue. The stomach, the coffin, the Roman coins, some of the wonderfully preserved seeds, as well as the obolus in the mouth of the dead soldier, should be found somewhere. They could not have disappeared in a night. If they had withstood the relentless tooth of time for seventeen hundred years, in the surface soil of Dorchester, the last forty years ought not to have obliterated all trace of them. The story is simply too incredible for belief, if printed in forty "Great Architects of Nature."

From 1847 to 1851, the writer went into any number of Wisconsin mounds—those not essentially dissimilar from the Roman barrows in England—in company with the late I. A. Lapham, of Milwaukee; and the idea of finding any human stomach, with or without seeds in it—with probably not half the time intervening between burial and exhumation, as in the case of this Roman soldier—would have been instantly rejected by the distinguished archaeologist accompanying us. Indeed, had any such discovery been made, he would have unhesitatingly pronounced the mound tampered with for the purposes of imposition. It is possible that surface soil, containing some raspberry seeds, may have been taken to the "Horticultural Society's garden" to which Dr. Child refers, and planted there as stated; but that they were from a human stomach that had lain buried for seventeen hundred years in the surface soil of England, or any other country, is simply preposterous. It caps the climax of all the wonderful "seed-stories" yet manufactured for the scientific mind to wrestle with. It is easy enough to find soil about old stumps, and fallen trunks and branches of trees, which will produce raspberries, either with or without the presence of seed. And soil might have been taken from the bottom of this Dorchester barrow which produced them. But the appearance of the bushes must have depended on the conditions of the soil, not on seeds eaten by a Roman soldier nearly two thousand years ago. That version of the story must be summarily dismissed the attention of scientific men.

Professor Marsh, in the work to which we have already several times alluded, says: "When newly cleared ground is burnt over in the United States, the ashes are hardly cold before they are covered with a crop of fire-weed, a tall herbaceous plant, very seldom growing under other circumstances, and often not to be found for a distance of many miles from the clearing." The botanical name of this plant is Erechthites hieracifolia, and it is well known to the botanists of New England. Its seeds are almost as destructible by fire as thistle-down itself; and it is not to be supposed that any of the seeds borne by the winds or by birds, and scattered through the clearing before it was burned, could have survived the intense heat to which they must have been subjected in the burning off of a heavy and dense growth of felled timber. The seeds, if any, must have been scattered after the fire, and not before it. But these heavy clearings—those in which we have witnessed the most abundant crops of fire-weed—are generally burnt off in the early spring, when there are no seeds to be scattered, as all those of the previous year's growth find their proper lodgment in the soil before the winter fully closes in. The seeds for which Professor Marsh would have to search, therefore, would be those grown in some corresponding latitude, or plant zone, in the southern hemisphere, not within thousands of miles from the clearing in which they so promptly make their appearance.

Professor Marsh suggests, however, that they may have come from "the deeply buried seeds of a former vegetation, quickened into life by the heat." But had he examined these plants, in their incipient stages of growth, he would have found that they sprung directly from the surface of the burnt soil, their initial rootlets hardly extending to the depth of two-thirds of an inch below it, and where they must have utterly perished from the heat. The theory he suggests is the only possible one, he thinks, to account for the mystery, and hence its suggestion by him. But he has only to pass one of the delicate seeds of this plant through the flame of a candle to see that it instantly perishes by fire. His suggested theory must be abandoned, therefore, and that of the Bible genesis accepted in its place.

The fact is, and it ought to be well known to the closer student of nature, that the fire-weed makes its appearance in the "conditions" of the burnt soil, just as stramonium does in the conditions of the soil where a coal-pit has been recently burned; that is, not from seed, but from "vital units," or germs, everywhere present in the earth—those taking advantage of environing conditions, just as Bacteria or Torultz spring from the proper organic infusions. And the young shoots of stramonium, in a recently burned coal-pit, will be found to spring directly from the surface of the burnt ground, where all seeds and living organism must have perished in the heat, and not at any considerable depth below it. Their first appearance is on the immediate surface of the burnt ground, the same as in the case of fire-weed, and at a time when there were no seeds to be distributed, except such as must have come from the southern hemisphere, or been casually picked up by birds, and taken their slim chances of survival after passing through the natural "gristmills" of the birds. And even this supposition, would only account for the appearance of a single stramonium plant or two, not for a thick bed of it covering the entire ground. The theory of seed-distribution, in this and other cases, is wholly out of the question; as much so as when white clover makes its appearance on a closely-grazed prairie, hundreds of miles away from where there has been a single sprig of clover growing in a thousand years. Every closely observant person, living for any length of time on our western prairies, is familiar with the fact that when the rank and hardier grasses, usually growing thereon, are effectually fed down by stock, and especially by sheep, the prairie grasses disappear, and the ground at once comes in with white clover, and the other nutritious gramma or grasses of our common pasture lands. No seed has been sown in these localities, and none could have been found had every square inch of the surface soil been examined by the most powerful microscope. The white clover and these nutritious grasses make their appearance on these prairies, just as the first sprig of vegetation did on the earth, not from seed, but from preA"xisting vital units or primordial germs, implanted therein from the beginning, and awaiting the necessary conditions for their development and growth.

The "bird theory" is the one almost universally relied upon for the explanation of these phenomena, where the seeds distributed, or supposed to be distributed, are not winged. But we are satisfied that birds perform no such important office, in the matter of seed-distribution, as is generally attributed to them. We have examined, during the past two seasons, a large number of bird-droppings, and find our previous impressions respecting them fully verified. With all the more delicate seeds—those of our common field grasses and weeds—the chances are a thousand to one that none of them will ever pass the cloaca of the bird eating them, in any condition to germinate. All seed-eating birds are also gravel-eaters; and the pebbles and gravel they eat are mostly silex, or the material from which our best buhrstones are made. These pass into the gizzard, or pyloric division of the bird's stomach, where they are utilized, the same as we utilize our buhrstones. The gizzard has sharply corrugated interior walls, extremely thick and muscular, which involuntarily contract and expand, giving the bird a tremendous grinding power over his food, considering the size of his grinding apparatus. The seeds—all the seeds, in fact, he eats—pass at once into his crop, or the natural "hopper" to his "gristmill," where they undergo a moistening or macerating process previous to being ground into the finest pulp in the gizzard. As a general rule, all the seeds a bird eats are ground into this pulpy state before they pass into the intestinal canal, extending from the gizzard to the cloaca. The hard, semi-translucent, and highly elastic outer coating of most small seeds, may be measurably preserved in its passage through the gizzard, and, resuming its oval shape in the thinner pulpy mass contained in the upper portion of the intestine, present the appearance of seed in the cloacal discharges, and thus deceive the casual observer. But the use of a spatula and a small piece of polished stone slab will show that the entire discharge is excrementitious matter, with the single exception of this silicious coating of the seeds.

The case is different, however, with the fruit-eating birds. The fruits they consume are retained but a comparatively short time in the crop, pass hurriedly through the gizzard, and no doubt carry along with them some of the smaller seeds of berries, and now and then the pit of a cherry or small plum. The gizzard, in these cases, is simply gorged with the pulp and juices of the fruit, its muscular action more or less relaxed, and some of the seeds consequently escape the grinding process they would otherwise undergo. And yet we are satisfied that a majority of these seeds even, are more or less thoroughly triturated by a healthy gravel-eating bird. This would certainly be the case if they were retained for any length of time in the pyloric division of the bird's stomach. All birds have gizzards, but their grinding capacity depends very much on the character of the food they eat. Birds of prey, and others subsisting mostly or entirely on animal food, have thin, membranous, and comparatively flabby gizzards; while those living on hard grains and seeds have extremely thick, powerful, and muscular ones,—those capable of crushing up and thoroughly triturating all the food they take into their crops. These gizzards are nature's gristmills, and they grind exceedingly fine. If any seed escapes, it is because the mill has been flooded by the bird, and not because of any defect in the grinding apparatus.

These birds are not, therefore "natural sowers of seeds," as Professor Marsh and some others claim; but are, at most, only accidental or chance-sowers. Nature never designed that they should do anything more than consume the food they eat, or submit it to the proper action of their digestive organs. It might as well be claimed that the secretary bird is a "natural sower of serpents," as that many of the grain-eating birds are "the natural sowers of seeds." The theory is too foraminated—too full of loopholes and unsatisfactory conditions—to be accepted as an explanation of the more general phenomena presented. The fruit-eating quadrupeds are, relatively, far better sowers of seeds than the birds, for they eat fruit without sending their grists to mill. Dr. Dwight rejected the transportation theory as early as 1820, and Professor Marsh gives any number of cases where it was necessary for him to abandon it. And yet some of our ablest writers, publishing works of quite recent date, adhere to it as the only theory that accounts for all the phenomena presented.

Professor George Thurber, in speaking of the dissemination of seeds, finds other agencies therefor than winds, birds, quadrupeds, etc., such as we have already named. For instance, he claims that rivers, ocean currents, mountain torrents, and even wars, contribute largely towards their dispersion and dissemination throughout different parts of the earth. All this may be true to a limited extent; but none of these enumerated agencies will account for more than a very few of the many well-authenticated facts we have given, and many others that might be given, if our limits permitted. Among the instances where wars have had, or are claimed to have had, an important agency in the distribution of seeds throughout an invaded country, he mentions the fact that "after our late civil war, a little leguminous plant (Lespedeza striata) sprang up all over the southern states," and adds, "that it was not known how it came, or where from, but its native country is Japan." In some parts of the South it is known as "Japan clover," and is highly valued as a forage plant. But the war had nothing more to do with the appearance of this plant "all over the southern states," than the changes of the moon, or the phenomenal man therein. The plant had been noticed in certain localities in the South before the war, but the circumstance of its very general appearance throughout a large area of that section of country, was not particularly noticed until the confederate troops began to move from one southern state to another, when, finding it a valuable forage plant, they naturally enough regarded it as a providential dispensation, especially in those sections where other forage plants and nutritious gramma were not abundant. But this plant would have made its appearance just the same had the war never been thought of as a possible remedy for aggressive legislation, however real or imaginary it may have been.

It can be easily accounted for, however, on the theory we have suggested—that of the germinal principle of life implanted in the earth, as the Bible genesis indubitably indicates. The plant in question has long been a native of Japan, which lies in the same warm temperate zone as the southern states. The same general hygrometric and thermometric conditions prevail throughout the two countries or sections of country. These, added to the necessary telluric conditions, give the required moisture, heat, and soil-constituents for the development of the Japan clover in the South, the same as it was originally developed in its native country. And it is just as much native to the South now, as it was hundreds or thousand's of years ago to Japan. It did not come from seeds scattered by war, or any other imaginable agency of man, but from the indestructible, vital units or germs implanted in the earth itself. Had the plant appeared in any one locality, or even in half a dozen separate localities, in the South, it might possibly have been accounted for on the theory of Professor Thurber. But its simultaneous appearance over "all the southern states," as he puts it, absolutely negatives any such theory. Neither winds, river or ocean currents, casual mountain torrents, birds, quadrupeds, war, or even man himself, could have effected this sudden and wide distribution of the plant in question. It came as did all other plant-life, in the first instance, from geographical conditions—those favoring the development of primordial germs—just as the different organic infusions, experimentally prepared by the physiologist, produce their respective forms of infusorial life; each distinctive form depending on the chemical conditions of the infusion at the time the microscopic examination is made. Change the conditions, or defer the examination until the conditions themselves are changed, and other and different forms of life will make their appearance, in harmony with the physiological law we have named.

This wonderful play of the vital forces of nature is no less dependant on "conditions"—on the necessary pre-existing plasma, chemically balanced soils, organic solutions, etc.—than the alleged "dynamical aggregates," "molecules organiques," "plastide particles," or "highly differentiated life-stuff," insisted upon by the physicists, in their materialistic theories of life. These physicists make even the slightest change in developmental phases—whether statical, as in the case of crystals, or dynamical, as in the case of living organisms—to depend on physical conditions,—those aiding and abetting what they call the "molecular play of physical forces." But with their theory that matter and motion are the only self-subsistent, indestructible elements in the universe, what "molecular play" can be attributed to matter but that which is derived from motion, or some one of its alleged correlates? We can only imagine two sorts of motion as possible metaphysical conceptions in connection with matter—molar motion, or that relating to matter moving in mass, and molecular motion, or that relating to the movements of matter in its unaggregated form, or as confined to molecules.

But motion itself is not an absolute entity. It is not so much even as a collocating or placing force of matter itself. It is, at best, only a mechanical impulse imparted by one moving body to another; or, more accurately speaking, a continuous change of place in a moving body. In other words, it is simply a process or mode of action, and stands in about the same relation to matter as growth does to a living plant or tree. Independently of matter it has no existence, either objectively or subjectively, or even as a metaphysical conception. To allege its indestructibility, as the physicists do, is simply to predicate an additional property of indestructible matter. We may call it "force"—something that constantly expends itself in a moving body—but it is utterly incapable of definition, or of conception even, except as it stands related to such moving body. All the marvellous "correlates of motion," therefore, producing such wonderful effects upon matter, in both its molar and molecular states or conditions, are nothing more nor less than vague and inconclusive inductions, derived from premises having, at best, nothing but a relative existence in a universe of moving matter. It would be decidedly better to agree with Haeckel, that matter is the only actual existence, than to predicate of matter a co-existent and wholly inexplicable "somewhat," whereon to base a purely physical hypothesis of life.

But let us return from this slight digression. The beautiful and purely local fern (Schizoea pusilla) growing in the pine barrens of New Jersey, affords quite as conclusive proof of the correctness of the Bible genesis of life as the phenomenal appearance of Japan clover in the South. It was at one time supposed that this most delicate and beautiful of all our ferns was peculiar to the New Jersey pine barrens. But it has been ascertained that it grows quite as abundantly in similar barrens in New Zealand, which are in the south temperate zone, at about the same latitude south, that these pine barrens of New Jersey occupy in the temperate zone north. So that, at whatever period this fern originally made its appearance in either locality, it unquestionably found the exact thermometric, hygrometric, telluric, and other conditions necessary for the development of its vital germs. Take any accurate, or even half-accurate, chart of plant distribution on the earth's surface, and it will be found that, everywhere, under the same favoring conditions, plants of the same genera and species make their appearance independently of any known processes of dissemination in the case of seeds. The distribution is not one of seeds, but rather of geographical conditions thermometric, hygrometric, telluric, and possibly chemical. And this is true of all vegetation, whether growing in the same plant zones, in high latitudes, at high altitudes, or under one degree of temperature and moisture or another. Whenever the telluric conditions are the same or similar, in the respective localities named, and the temperature and moisture correspond, the necessary plant distribution follows in obedience to the divine mandate "Let the earth bring forth." This is the one uniform law that governs everywhere, and the only one that accounts for all the diversified manifestations of plant-life, now, as heretofore, taking place upon our globe. And the same is measurably true of animal life. It accounts for the appearance of every form of life in organic infusions; for Bacteria in the blood, TorulA in the tissues, plastide particles, morphological cells, and every other vital manifestation, from the smallest conceivable "unit" of life in protaplasmic matter, to the lordliest and most defiant forest oak that ever bared its arms to the storms and tempests of centuries. A purely materialistic science may perk its head with an air of affected incredulity, and superciliously turn aside from this hypothesis, because it does not shock our veneration for the Sacred Scriptures, but let its special advocates advance some more consistent and rational life-theory than that of "molecular machinery worked by molecular force," or content themselves, with Dr. Gull, in confessing that they are unable to draw the first line between "living matter" and "dead matter," as they absurdly use these terms.

It is conceded that much extravagant speculation has been wasted upon this question of the distribution of seeds. The ambition of each new writer has seemingly been to hit upon some new theory of distribution. The "bird theory" is a failure, as we have shown; nor do they invariably fly due east or west, so as to supply the several climatic zones with their respective vegetations. The same is true of the "squirrel theory," for this nimble little rodent is as likely to head north or south as to follow the course of the sun; the "wind theory" is subject to too many shifts and changes to be accounted a reliable agency; the "river-and-ocean-current theories" are still less satisfactory, since rivers flow in diverse directions, and ocean currents bear with safety only their own aquatic plants; the "mummy-case theory" is hardly an accredited agency, and the "war theory" is attended with too much destruction of life to be safely relied on as conserving the vital forces of nature. The climatic zones, and high and low altitudes, have still to be consulted to get at the real causes of distribution, or such as conclusively satisfy the scientific mind. For no single plant is really a cosmopolite. They are simply the habitats of their own separate zones, except as high altitudes are reached, and climatic and other conditions favor the appearance of such vegetation as belongs to other plant zones. If we would find the more common plants and weeds of New England in North Carolina or Tennessee, we must go into the mountainous regions of those states, at an altitude which compensates for the difference in latitude, and where the influencing conditions of plant-life are essentially the same. In such localities, we shall find the same household plants, garden weeds, and general vegetation, as in higher northern latitudes, not because their seeds have been borne thither from New England or elsewhere, but because the same climatic, telluric and other conditions prevail as in the more northern localities. And these conditions are what determine the development and growth of local vegetations.

And so of the alpine firs, grasses, harebells, lichens, mosses, etc. Their seeds have not been scattered, by any known agencies, over intervening regions, for thousands of miles or more, in order to find lodgment on these lofty mountain cones; but, conditions being the same, the same vegetable growths appear. This is nature's method of propagating "vital units" and diversifying plant-life—geographical conditions everywhere determining the proper distribution. But if nature is so prolific of vital resources, in the propagation of plant-life, what need has she of natural seeds? We anticipate this inquiry only to answer it; for we recognize it as a legitimate one in this connection. Our answer is that the seeds are given for the use of man, that he may control and utilize vegetation, and not have to depend on more or less uncertain conditions. Agricultural chemistry must be carried to a much higher degree of perfection than it is likely to reach in the next ten centuries at least, to determine whether any particular plat of ground has been chemically balanced for the growth of wheat, to the exclusion of other cereal crops. Besides, the process of soil-balancing might be altogether too expensive to be indulged in by judicious husbandry. These chemical conditions admit of too many possible failures, in balancing even the smallest patch of ground, to justify experiments in the direction named. Seeds also subserve the important subsidiary purpose of supplying food for many birds and animals, more or less useful to man.

But chemistry has its limits as to usefulness in all human laboratories. As man's wisdom is limited, so is his power over the elementary forces of nature confined to very narrow boundaries. It is given to him to search out many inventions, and to pry, thus far and no farther, into the secrets of nature, or, more properly speaking, into the secrets of God. There is no doubt that if our chemico-molecular theorists respecting life-phenomena, could produce, in their laboratories, the exact inter-uterine plasma, or plasmic conditions, of an animal—any animal, in fact—and continue these conditions during the proper period of gestation, they might produce life de novo.[13] But the most daring physicist would stand aghast at the bare proposal of such an experiment. Neither his knowledge of chemistry, nor the present uncertain value attaching to "molecular machinery," would justify him, for a moment, in entering upon such a purely tentative and empirical an undertaking.

It is hardly necessary to assume that the same law of vital force governs in the appearance and geographical distribution of fungi, as universally obtains in the higher and more complex vegetal growths. And although it may be difficult, in some instances, to draw the precise line between certain low mycological forms and the amoeboid and some other primitive manifestations of animal life, yet all vegetable physiologists agree in assigning a purely vegetable origin to all the primary groups of fungi—their general cellular character determining their proper place in classification. And in all their extended family groups, pervading nature as widely as animal and vegetable life, we find that uniform chemical and other conditions produce uniform mycological results. Spores are no more necessary for their appearance, in the first instance, than acorns are essential to the appearance of an oak forest when it succeeds the pine. Wherever the necessary conditions of moisture and heat are found to obtain, in connection with decayed or decaying substances, the particular form of fungus indicated thereby, whether parasitic or non-parasitic, will make its appearance. Continuously damp walls, or wall-paper, will produce them in specific variety, not because their invisible spores are flying about in the atmosphere to find appropriate lodgment, but because the necessary conditions obtain for their manifestation, or for the development of their vital units—those everywhere diffused, and ready to burgeon forth from the proper matrix, or from certain nutrient conditions to be met with in all vegetable substances, after the process of decay has commenced. Some orders appear only in a single matrix, but the greater part of them flourish on different decaying substances.

Dr. M.C. Cooke, in speaking of non-parasitic fungi, and especially of moulds, says: "It would be far more difficult to mention substances on which they are never developed than to indicate where they have been found." The parasitic fungi, however, generally confine themselves to certain special plants, and rarely to any other. It is only the condition of these special plants, when affected by decay, that seems favorable for their development; not because their spores (assuming that all fungi come from spores,) possess the intelligence to fly about and hunt up the proper nutrient matter on which to subsist during their developmental progress from specific spores into genetic forms of life. The rust or blight of grain is not the cause, therefore, but rather the result, of the common disease known as "blight." Without some excess or deficiency of absorption and elaboration in the growth of grain or plants—something essentially disturbing their normal and harmonious processes of development—no mycological forms would appear on their stems or roots, nor would they develop themselves on their fading leaves or congested and decaying fruit. To say that there is any intelligent preference in these fungi—the different species of Mucor, for instance—for disgusting offal over decaying fruit, bread, paste, preserves, etc., is to predicate a higher degree of intelligence of fungus spores than of the average brute creation, with all its wonderful instincts for guidance.

We might refer to other classes of fungi developing themselves in the testa of hard seeds, and in the interior of acorns, sweet chestnuts, etc.,—those in which there is no discoverable external opening by the aid of the microscope—to show the absolute absurdity of the theory that the spores of fungi, including the non-parasitic and other autonomous moulds, go madly foraging about the country in pursuit of decaying cocoanuts, apples, pears, plums, oranges, etc., and even committing their depredations on hermetically canned fruits, the concealed honeycomb of beehives, the pupa of moths, and whatever else they may intelligently select as a desirable matrix or habitat. No such theory as this will stand the test of thorough research and investigation, in any mycological direction. Fungi everywhere make their initial appearance in the conditions of decay, as plants and trees originally make theirs in the environing conditions of vital manifestation. That our life-giving atmosphere—the "pater omnipotens Ather" of Virgil, "descending into the bosom of his joyous spouse (the earth) in fructifying showers, and great himself, mingling with her great body" for the development of all things of life—should be so immeasurably thronged with death-pursuing fungi that myriads of their spores might dance without jostling on the point of a cambric needle, is infinitely more fanciful than the conceptions of the poet, in personifying the atmosphere as "father Ather," and the earth as his "joyous spouse." But life, with its "pardlike spirit, beautiful and swift," has reached its highest conceptions in the mind of the poet, not in the speculations of the scientist. What a "mingled yarn," spun from many-colored yet invisible threads, is it in the creative mind of a Shakespeare, and how it looms up into "a dome of many-colored glass, staining the white radiance of eternity," under the magic touch of a Shelley! And yet how is it dwarfed down to a contemptible piece of "molecular machinery" by the scientist—one so utterly contemptible in its manifestations that it is ordered to take "a back seat" in this universe of all-potential matter and motion!

Dr. Cooke, in his "Handbook of British Fungi," virtually concedes that the spores of the large puff-ball (Lycoperdon giganteum), as well as those of mushrooms, truffles, and other edible fungi (those with whose methods of propagation man is best acquainted), may be produced artificially. But the process by which their production is thus effected, is more properly a natural than an artificial one. In speaking of truffle-grounds, he says (quoting from Broome) "that whenever a plantation of beech, or beech and fir, is made in the chalky districts of Salisbury Plain, after the lapse of a few years truffles are produced, and that the plantations continue productive for a period of from ten to fifteen years, after which they cease to be so." No truffle spores were planted in these cases, but the conditions of the soil, interlaced by the roots and shaded by the branches of the young beech trees, or the beech and fir, became favorable for the development of truffle "germs," and they made their appearance just as mushrooms do in caves and other places, where artificial beds are made and chemically balanced for their development and growth. And the reason why they disappeared, after a period of ten or fifteen years, was simply because the proper nutriment of the soil was exhausted, and not in consequence of its being too deeply shaded by the growing trees. One uniform rule would seem to govern in the culture of this much-coveted fungus. Wherever the necessary environing conditions obtain, they appear, and wherever these conditions fail, they disappear, notwithstanding the most persistent efforts to save them by watering the soil with fresh infusions of the plant. In proof of this, one form of truffle (Tuber A stivum) appears under beech trees, another form (Tuber macrosporum) under oak trees, and still a third form (Tuber brumale) under oaks and white poplars; showing that so slight a change in soil conditions as that resulting from the presence of poplars among oaks, produces a very material change in the character of the fungus one amounting to a specific difference in variety.

The process of artificially producing mushroom spores is a very simple one, and may be easily followed. You have only to collect a quantity of horse-droppings, mingle with them some common road sand, place them under cover, see that they are well beaten down in order to prevent over-heating—turning them occasionally for the same purpose—and in due time they will generate sufficient spores for a dozen mushroom beds of the ordinary size. The reason for their appearance is the same as that governing truffle spores—they come whenever conditions favor, that is, whenever the soil is chemically balanced for their development and growth. In other words, they come because it is just as impossible for them not to come, in their proper environing conditions, as it is for the earth, in its present cosmical relations, not to respond to its axial rotation. "Let the earth bring forth" is just as much an outspoken law of nature, and one as inexorably obeyed, as that unerring force of gravity which led Leverrier, in the faith of his inductions, to indicate the precise point in the heavens where the far-off planet, now bearing his name, might be seen by the required telescope.

Dr. Cooke, quoting Mr. Cuthill's directions for producing mushroom spores, says: "These little collections of horse-droppings and road sand, if kept dry in shed, hole, or corner, under cover, will, in a short time, generate plenty of spawn, and will be ready to spread on the surface of the bed in early autumn." The collections should, of course, be made in the early summer. But it is no part of our object to indicate, in this connection, the process of truffle or mushroom culture. We merely refer to the methods to show that the vital units, or germinal principles of life, in the case of fungi, are just as dependent on "conditions" for their development, as were the primordial germs of the gigantic cryptogams of the carboniferous era. These primordial germs, or the ZRA of the Bible genesis, must have preceded the first fungous growth, as they preceded the first spore-bearing cryptogam.

M. Gasparin, in his report on the production of truffles, made to the great "Paris Exposition" of 1855, refers to the "natural truffle-grounds at Vaucluse," where the "common oak produces truffles like the evergreen oak;" although, in other localities, owing no doubt to the different conditions of the soil, those gathered at the base of the one species of oak differ very materially from those gathered at the base of the other. All these experimental results, and many others we might give in connection with the culture of edible fungi, point to the conditions of the soil, produced by natural rather than artificial means, as all-essential for the propagation of fungus spores, as well as their development into full-sized plants. The cultivation of other and minuter fungi, for scientific purposes, need not be referred to in this connection. The same general observations will be found to apply in the case of all the experiments tried, although some very curious and remarkable modifications occur where pseudospores are to be found in the micelium of different plants. Nearly all these fungi have their own parasites, originating undoubtedly in the diseased conditions of the plant from which they derive their nutriment. Indeed, all fungi, whether parasitic or non-parasitic, have their origin, more or less definitely occurring, in decay. It is no more true that death is a necessity of life, than that life is an equal necessity of death. As out of the dead past springs the eternally living present, so from the "muddy vesture of decay" spring all the marvellous powers of reproduction with which nature was endowed from the beginning.

But it is unnecessary to dwell longer on the spores of fungi. As with the seeds of plants and trees, these spores never had an existence, and never could have had one, before the first independent fungus appeared to produce them. The fungus before the spore is the inevitable induction. No distinction between necessary and contingent truth can ever take a stronger hold than this on the human mind. Whence, then, the first fungus? or whence, rather, all those colonies, families, orders, divisions, and countless distinct individuals, extant everywhere, in the mycological world? The answer we shall give will be anticipated from what we have already so confidently affirmed. Life comes from Life, as spirit comes from God. And when "the spirit of God" moved upon the face of the depths—upon the face of all the earth—at whatever stage in the progress of our planet, from its original form to its present myriad-thronged condition of life, that transcendent event occurred, Nature, as we half-idolatrously worship her, received her first baptism of life, and her solemn consecration as "the vicar of God." No wonder, then, that at that ecstatic moment, when the ineffably bright mantle, fringed with "the white radiance of eternity," fell upon her, "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy." And nature has been true to both her baptism and her consecration. She claims no worship, no adoration, no idolatrous homage from man, but continually sends up her eternal chant and choral anthem of praise to the great Giver of life. Every flower of the field, every blade of grass, every stream that mirrors the heavens above her, every mountain top from which she points an index finger, every breeze in which she whispers, and every cataract in which she speaks, all proclaim the power, the wisdom, the goodness of God—the source of all life in the universe, from the minutest spore to all-inventive, soul-endowed man.



Chapter V.

Plant Migration and Interglacial Periods.



Among the leading propositions laid down by Arthur Renfrey, Esq., F.R.S. etc., etc., in the able article prepared by him for "The Physical Atlas of Natural Phenomena," by Alexander Keith Johnston, Edinburg Edition, 1856, on "The Geographical Distribution of the most Important Plants Yielding Food," are the following:—

1. "The primary condition of the existence of any species of plant, is its absolute creation, of which we know nothing.

2. "But we assume each species to have been created but once in time and in place, and that its present diffusion is the result of its own law of reproduction under the favorable or restrictive influences of laws external to it.[14]

3. "The most important of external laws are those relating to climate, since any species can flourish only within narrower or wider, but always fixed limits, of temperature, humidity etc.,

4. "The climate depends primarily on latitude, since this indicates distance from the source of heat, and the degree of obliquity of the heating rays."

There are other governing conditions, of course, such as the average rain-fall, distance from the equator, the elevation above the sea level in the various mountain systems of vegetation, etc., including the hygrometric, thermometric, telluric, and other conditions, of the several localities in which the different species of vegetation make their appearance.

But why should this distinguished naturalist insist upon the specific creation of either plants or animals? No scientific work of any paramount value confines the creative power of the universe to such narrow and restricted limits. Nor is there a particle of evidence to be drawn from the Bible that either plants or animals primarily originated in pairs. "Let the earth bring forth" is a command without limitation, or restriction, as to time, place, or number; and there is no reason to doubt that myriads of living forms swarmed everywhere, at first as now, in nature.

The idea, as expressed by Mr. Renfrey, that they were specifically created at one time and place only, whether in pairs, tens, twenties, or hundreds, is neither a rational one, nor has it any experience-argument or scientific authority on which to stand. Take, for instance, an experience-argument directly in point:—When the salt wells were first bored at Syracuse, N.Y., and the salt water was suffered to flow in waste over the low grounds about the salt-works, the small saline plants peculiar to salt-marshes in the warm temperate zone made their appearance, not in pairs, tens or hundreds, but in thousands rather, and have nourished there ever since. They came because conditions favored; because a salt-marsh had been artificially produced hundreds of miles away from the sea coast. This is only one of a large number of cases—more than we have room to specify in this connection—showing that wherever man, artificially or otherwise, produces the necessary conditions of plant-life, nature responds to the germinal law precisely as she did millions of years ago when the first salt-marsh favored the appearance of these saline plants—such as grow under no other conditions or circumstances.

But this idea of plants coming primarily from a single pair of progenitors, and each primordial pair branching off into diversified offspring, as in the case of the cabbage, assumed to be the original ancestor of all the turnips and ruta-bagas, may be an article of botanical faith, but never of experimental proof. "Entia non sunt multiplicanda prA ter necessitatem" is an old and well-approved maxim, applicable alike to the countless myriads of living organisms, as to the innumerable crystalline forms to be found everywhere in nature. Nothing is produced without the necessary conditions on which its production depends. "Necessity," in its primitive signification, is a term of the very widest meaning, and most universal application. It applies as well to the course of nature as to the course of human events to the laws of vegetable and animal growth as to the inevitable march and order of celestial movements. As applied to any form of life-manifestation it implies a law of development and growth, as well as the physiological conditions without which vital manifestations are impossible. For law, in a physiological sense, is that mode of vital action by which effects are invariably and inevitably produced.[15] And this law is just as dependent on necessary vital conditions as vital manifestations are dependent on a physiological law. There must always be this reciprocal dependence and relationship between conditioning causes and effects. Whenever and wherever the necessary vital conditions exist, the physiological law takes effect, and the requisite vital manifestation is witnessed. And this is no doubt as true of animal as of vegetable life.

The earth's surface has been divided into eight separate zones, each of which is distinguished by its peculiar or characteristic fauna and flora. Their order, measured from the geographical equator, is as follows;

1. The Equatorial Zone, extending from 0A deg. to 15A deg.. 2. " Tropical " " " 15A deg. " 23A deg.. 3. " Sub-tropical " " " 23A deg. " 34A deg.. 4. " Warm Temperate " " " 34A deg. " 45A deg.. 5. " Cold " " " 45A deg. " 58A deg.. 6. " Sub-arctic " " " 58A deg. " 66A deg.. 7. " Arctic " " " 66A deg. " 72A deg.. 8. " Polar " " " 72A deg. " 82A deg..

These several zones become sixteen in number when considered with reference to both the northern and southern hemispheres. And a like division of isothermals is made in the case of all our mountain systems, extending in both directions from the equator. In ascending our equatorial, tropical, and sub-tropical mountains, we find, of course, at their several bases, the temperature of the zones in which they respectively lie; from two thousand to three thousand feet, we reach the next higher zone, and so on, at about the same ratio of altitude, until we ascend to the polar zone or the line of perpetual ice and snow. The peak of Teneriffe, for instance, lies in the sub-tropical zone, but, at the elevation named, we meet with the vegetation which characterizes the warm temperate zone. And this holds true of all our mountain systems, in all latitudes, and at all altitudes, in all parts of the globe.

They all present the same or strikingly similar characteristics in plant life, with such variations and modifications only as might be accounted for, were all the influencing conditions and surrounding circumstances, modifying geographical distribution, known to us. From the lowest to the highest regions in which vegetation flourishes, this rule, with slight exceptions only, will be found to obtain, and it is in this direction that the observations of the scientific, as well as practical botanist, should hereafter be extended.

Humboldt noticed this characteristic feature of the earth's vegetation quite early in his explorations, and accordingly divided the tropical mountains, as the earth's surface was then divided, into three separate zones, the tropical, the temperate, and the frigid. But a closer classification now distinguishes them into the same number of zones as are marked, in approximate isotherms, on the earth's surface. Mr. Renfrey gives us further statistics of great value respecting these several plant zones of the globe, all of which fit so admirably into our theory of plant-distribution, that we can hardly see how the most prejudiced mind can resist the force of its application. Among the most important of these statistical facts are tables giving the comparative rain-falls in the different plant zones of the old and new worlds, and the classes of vegetation peculiar to each of them.

The Equatorial zone, for instance, is characterized by extreme luxuriance in growth, owing no doubt to the great heat and abundant moisture therein, and exhibits a vegetation which is peculiar to itself, and which could only thrive under the hygrometric, thermometric, telluric, and other conditions of that extensive zone.

The Tropical zones (those north and south of the equator) are characterized by a more abundant and diversified underwood, and, while retaining some of the equatorial forms, present fewer parasites and less rapid and luxuriant growths. They contain many plants and trees which are peculiar to their own limits, and these are generally the hardiest and most abundant. All equatorial forms disappear in these zones, that is do not pass into the sub-tropical zones. And these characteristics obtain in both the northern and southern tropical zones, as well as in the mountain systems within the equatorial regions.

The Sub-tropical zones, while retaining some of the more marked forms and general features of the tropical zones, such as palms, bananas, etc., exhibit the most striking characteristics of their own, consisting of a greater abundance of forest trees, especially those having broad, leathery and shining leaves, like the magnolias, the different species of laurels, and plants of the myrtle family. The tropical forms all disappear in these zones, as the equatorial do in the tropical zones.

The Warm Temperate zones exhibit the same disposition to retain some of the hardier and more abundant sub-tropical forms that characterize the other zones, in respect to their adjoining isotherms. But the trees and plants peculiar to this zone north, (and the same is no doubt true of the corresponding zone south), are more numerous, and embrace a wider range of deciduous, as well as evergreen growths. Evergreen shrubs, heaths, cistusses, and leguminous plants are everywhere more abundant. The marked characteristic of these zones is that the trees, plants, and arborescent grasses differ more widely in their general character, as well as run more extensively into varieties.

The Cold Temperate zones retain many of the deciduous trees of the warm temperate, but with less conspicuous blossoms, while a stronger tendency is shown toward social conifers, and the trunks of the deciduous trees are more profusely overrun with mosses, lichens, etc. These zones are also abundant in grasses.

The Sub-arctic zone north largely retains its hold upon the social conifers, giving place, northward, on this continent, as well as in Europe and Asia, to birch and alder, alternating with willows where the soil is sufficiently moist. Green pastures are still abundant, and showy flowering herbs abound during the brief spring, summer, and autumn months.

The Arctic zone retains few of the sub-arctic forms and its vegetation generally corresponds to what we call alpine shrubs, grasses, etc.

The North Polar zone shows few signs of vegetation and is thought to be entirely devoid of shrubs. A few small herbacious perennials of the most extreme dwarf habit, with a few lichens and mosses, constitute its entire vegetation.

There are some seeming exceptions to these general statements respecting plant-distribution, but they are hardly exceptions when we consider the elevation at which any one species, as the birches for instance, may appear, as they frequently do, in three several zones.

From these facts, gathered from the highest authorities, and well-attested on all hands, what general conclusions, if any, are to be drawn? Before answering this inquiry, let us proceed to state what conclusions have been drawn. According to all the authorities we have examined on the distribution of plant life; on the migration of plants and animals; on climate and time as affecting the transference of isothermal and isochimenal lines; on glacial and inter-glacial periods (with one important exception only), the assumption maintained is substantially that of Mr. Renfrey, that "each species of plant and animal was created but once in time and place," and that its present diffusion is the result of its "own law of reproduction under the favorable or restrictive influences of laws external to it." In other words, they insist upon original plant-centres, without definitely stating when or where they occurred, and that from these centres both plants and animals have migrated to all parts of the globe where they now appear, even crossing the equatorial zones where they could not live for a single day. This migration theory they attempt to explain in a way that is altogether more ingenious than satisfactory.

The important exception to which we refer is that of Professor Agassiz, as reported by his associate professor of Harvard University, Mr. Asa Gray, in his "Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism." In this work Professor Gray says of his late distinguished associate, that so far as he was aware, Professor Agassiz was the only leading naturalist "who did not take into his very conception of a species, explicitly or by implication, the notion of a material connection resulting from the descent of the individuals composing it from a common stock, of a local origin."

And Professor Gray adds this further testimony to the closeness of his associate's observations, in considering the very point here under consideration: "Agassiz wholly eliminates community of descent from his idea of species, and even conceives a species to have been as numerous in individuals, and as widely spread over space, or as segregated in discontinuous spaces, from the first to the later periods." And this view is undoubtedly the correct one. At all events, it entirely harmonizes with the facts of the biblical genesis, and obviates the necessity of accounting for the appearance of the same genera and species of plants or animals in the southern as in the northern hemispheres; in fact, their appearance in all parts of the globe, in corresponding isotherms, and under similar conditions of moisture and soil-constituents.

Wherever the hygrometric, thermometric, telluric, and other conditions favor, the class of vegetation indicated by the presence of these conditions makes its appearance, just as the fire-weed makes its appearance in our warm temperate zone, not from the presence of seed, but simply the presence of "conditions"—the provision of man harmonizing with the prevision of nature. In the same way the "Japan clover" made its appearance, as Professor Thurber states, "all over the southern states" during the late civil war, not from the migration of plants, but the presence of natural conditions.[16]

The numerous facts we have already given, and many others that might be arrayed in advocacy of our position, taken in connection with the general facts here presented in regard to plant-distribution, all point directly to climatal and soil conditions as the real cause of dissemination, and not to their migration from continent to continent, and across vast intervening seas and oceans, as the theory of Professor Gray and others would require us to believe. Take the case of the Schizoea pusilla of the New Jersey pine barrens, to which we have already referred, growing in similar barrens in New Zealand, and how are we to account for their antipodal appearance upon the globe? Professor Thurber refers to this plant as a "purely local fern" of New Jersey, and says it was for a long time supposed to be peculiar to that state until it was ascertained that it grew in New Zealand. Whether this plant "travelled" from New Zealand to New Jersey, or journeyed in the opposite direction, none of these "specific-centre" gentlemen can well inform us. Professor Agassiz would have said that it might have appeared, in numerous individuals, in both localities at the same time, or at different times, as conditions favored; and this would have been an exact scientific statement, no doubt, of the fact. Mr. Arthur Renfrey, and those who accept his scientific formulA , must insist that this most beautiful of all our ferns was such a "favorite child of nature" that she condescended to create it twice "in time and place," instead of only once. It is a poor rule, they may say, that has no exceptions in phenomenal manifestation.

Professor Gray may insist that such a phenomenon as this requires belief in the supernatural, and that migration by ocean-currents is the more rational theory of the two. But M. Alphonse de Candolle quite as high authority as we can quote has come to the conclusion that marine currents, and all other suggested means of distant transportation, "have played only a very small part in the actual dispersion of species," even across narrow channels and the near arms of seas. But why should the appearance of this fern at opposite points of the globe, with thousands of miles of ocean and continent intervening, be any more supernatural than the presence of Bacteria or TorulA [17] in different organic infusions? If the vital units of these infusoriA , are present in experimental infusion, as Professor Bastian virtually admits, why may not the vital germs or units of this Schizoea pusilla have made their appearance, in developmental forms, both in New Zealand and New Jersey, at the same or different periods of time? If Professor Gray regards the microscopical forms in organic infusions, or the statical forms in inorganic solutions, as supernatural, or as above the powers of nature, then we have no exceptions to make to his position. First, prove that these vital manifestations of nature are above the powers with which she has been endowed, or was originally endowed and we will concede the question of supernaturalness, and drop all exceptions to his line of argument. Whenever a dynamic law, or a statical, is found to be uniformly operative under a given set of conditions, we had supposed the operation not to be above the powers of nature, but in entire accord with them, and hence not supernatural.

But let us see into what an inextricable labyrinth of difficulty we are led by this theory of plant-migration from the equatorial to the sub-arctic zone, and vice-versa, and even beyond the equator to the sub-antarctic zone, and still vice versa. Before proceeding to consider the probable duration of the several geographical epochs, called glacial periods, on which their theory of plant-migration depends, or considering the evidence touching these glacial periods, we will state their position in regard to these possible migrations as briefly and concisely as we know how. Mr. Darwin's solution of this problem is the generally accepted one of the evolutionists, as well as most of the present scientific world. As the truth, or rather the falsity, of his pet theory of evolution depended on the satisfactory solution of this vexed problem, it became necessary for him to give his best and entire mental energies to the gigantic task which was, by universal consent, assigned him. The reader shall see how admirably the thermal equator is crossed by Mr. Darwin, with his vast swarms of flies, mosquitoes, insectivorous and other plants, forest trees, anthropoid apes, and general menagerie of wild animals, such as would gladden the heart of the "great American showman" beyond the most extravagant comparison.

The question, bear in mind, which he was specially called upon to solve, was how the temperate forms north—those, for instance, of the warm and cold temperate zones—managed to cross the thermal equator, and invade the corresponding zones in the southern hemisphere; just as though there was any more necessity of determining this question than the opposite one, of how the southern forms came to invade the northern hemisphere. We will give his solution of this problem in his own language, that we may not be charged with misrepresentation.

He says, in speaking of the glacial periods: "As the cold became more and more intense, we know that arctic forms invaded the temperate regions; and, from the facts just given, there can hardly be a doubt that some of the more vigorous, dominant, and widest-spread temperate forms invaded the equatorial lowlands. The inhabitants (flora and fauna) of these hot lowlands would at the same time have migrated to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the south; for the southern hemisphere was at this period warmer. On the decline of the glacial period, as both hemispheres gradually recovered their former temperatures, the northern forms living on the lowlands under the equator would have been driven to their former homes or have been destroyed, being replaced by the equatorial forms returning from the south. Some, however, of the northern temperate forms would almost certainly have ascended any adjoining highland, where, if sufficiently lofty, they would have long survived, like the arctic forms on the mountains of Europe.

"In the regular course of events the southern hemisphere would, in its turn, be subject to a severe glacial period, with the northern hemisphere rendered warmer; and then the southern temperate forms would invade the equatorial lowlands. The northern forms which had before been left on the mountains would now descend and mingle with the southern forms. These latter, when the warmth returned, would return to their former homes, leaving some few species on the mountains, and carrying southward with them some of the northern temperate forms, which had descended from their mountain fastnesses. Thus we should have some few species identically the same in the northern and southern temperate zones, and on the mountains of the intermediate tropical regions."

We are sorry to spoil so ingenious a theory as this to account for plant-migration from the temperate zones north to the corresponding zones south. But in spite of all the great names which will frown down upon us in the attempt, we are obliged to demolish this altitudiness structure, even at the risk of its tumbling about our own ears.

But first let us lay down a few undeniable propositions, on the strength of which this ingenious and purely speculative theory of Mr. Darwin must rest:—

1. It is universally conceded by the scientific world that these glacial epochs, however many of them there may have been in the past and however few there may be in the future, depend, for their occurrence, upon the maxima of eccentricity in the earth's orbit about the sun.

2. The actual amount of heat which the earth annually receives from the sun is in no way affected by the eccentricity of its orbit. It is a constant quantity, and only unequally distributed on the earth's surface, being neither increased nor diminished, as our winters occur in aphelion or perihelion.

3. The actual amount of ice-cap accumulated about the two poles of the earth, is also a constant quantity. And to measure the severity of any glacial epoch, we have only to determine the exact amount of ice (not altogether an impossible problem) about the two poles at any given time, and then determine the effect of its entire transference from one pole to the other.

4. It is not probable that the present ice-cap of the south pole extends continuously and permanently much farther north than 80A deg. or 81A deg.. Mt. Erebus, in Victoria Land, lies in about this latitude, and it was only a few years since that the coast line of that island or continent was traversed, by English exploring vessels, from Mt. Erebus to a point some ten or twelve degrees further north. [18]

5. But if we estimate the southern cap as extending continuously to 75A deg., what would be the effect of its transference at once to the ice-cap of the north pole? Would it extend it, after assuming its proper glacial slope, below 60A deg., a point falling within the present subarctic zone? The utmost limit to which Mr. Croll, in his great work on "Climate and Time," conceives it possible that it should extend, in any glacial epoch, is to 55A deg., or about the northern boundary of England.

Now unless the astronomers and physicists are all at sea about the causes of glaciation, the warm temperate zone can never be pushed any further south than the tropical zone, nor the cold temperate any further than the sub-tropical. This would be the extreme limit. Mr. Croll says, in speaking of these glacial periods; "It is, of course, absurd to suppose that an ice-cap could ever actually reach down to the equator. It is probable that the last great ice-cap of the glacial epoch nowhere reached half way to the equator. Our cap (that of Europe) must therefore, terminate at a moderately high latitude." And if the gulf stream flows southward during the glacial period north, as he supposes probable, the cap on this continent would probably terminate at the same moderately high latitude. Assuming that Mr. Croll's estimate is the more probable one, it would only push the cold temperate zone down to the line of the Gulf States; the warm temperate, to the southern line of Mexico; the sub-tropical, to the Central American States, and the tropical to the United States of Columbia, Venezuela, and Guiana.

Suppose, then, that some seven hundred thousand years ago, more or less, when the North Pole had fully donned the earth's ice-cap, with all the isothermal and isochimenal changes thereby effected, what must have been the line of march taken by our northern vegetal and animal forms to escape the cataclysm of ice and snow then impending? Manifestly, they would have flocked, first to the Gulf states, then to Mexico, and afterwards to the Central American states; but none of them could ever have been crowded through the Isthmus of Panama, since at the height of the last glaciation, that portion of the continent must have been the tropical barrier to our northern forms, as it is now the equatorial barrier.

For the sake of the argument, however, we will suppose the northern ice-cap to have been even more imperative in its demands than Mr. Croll has deemed possible, driving some of our warm and cold temperate forms down into the lowlands of Columbia, Venezuela, etc., in the extreme northern portions of South America. But how would these forms have managed, even then, to cross the thermal equator and secure a permanent habitat in the present warm and cold temperate zones of that continent? Manifestly, this question has never been practically solved, nor is it ever likely to be in our day or generation. It is nevertheless susceptible of solution, as Mr. Darwin thinks, by easy mental processes. We have only to take a bird's eye view of the situation, and mentally follow these forms in their long geographical tramp from the northern to the southern hemisphere.

They must have started, of course, some twenty thousand years or more before the earth reached its last superior limit of eccentricity. At that distant epoch the sub-arctic breezes must have been blowing pretty stiffly in our present temperate latitudes, and these forms would have been constrained, in due time, to seek a more congenial isotherm. They must accordingly have set out on their expedition, at about the period indicated, with the prospect of a long and tedious journey before them. Some twenty thousand years must have transpired before they reached the line of the present Gulf states, and it would have taken as many more years for them to deploy to the right and successfully enter the Mexican states. In another twenty thousand years or so they might have doubled Vera Cruz, and headed, in a southeasterly direction, for the Central American states. The thermal equator would by this time have reached a point some thirty degrees south of the geographical equator, while the northern ice-cap would have swept down upon the traditional "hub of the universe," or some ten or twelve degrees in excess of Mr. Croll's calculations.

To have accomplished this grand glaciatorial feat the North Pole must have donned some twenty times the amount of ice now about both poles of the earth, and so changed the earth's centre of gravity as to have inundated every foot of land on its habitable surface. But if this terrible catastrophy had been avoided, and some of our extreme northern forms had forced their way through the Isthmus into the lowlands of Columbia, they must have done so at their greatest possible peril, even if they had reached the base of Old Mt. Tolima in advance of the thermal equator, now fleeing in dismay before the southern Ice-monarch, with all his isochimenal hosts in mad pursuit of their invaders. And if these adventurous northern forms had succeeded in ascending Mt. Tolima, they could never have got down again, with the assistance of forty glaciations.

But we can imagine Mr. Darwin promptly snatching his pen to show the stupidity of these northern forms in not climbing Popocatepetl or some other lofty mountain in Central America or Mexico, on their retreat before the still advancing thermal equator. But how this would have helped them to cross the geographical equator, we fail to see. When Mr. Darwin, and the eminent corps of geologists and physicists accepting his solution of this "vexed question," can make a "warm term" south succeed a "cold term" north, we shall have no difficulty in solving the problem ourself. But, unfortunately, the two terms—the cold one north and the warm one south—are simultaneous in occurrence, and the same causes which forced these northern invaders into the tropics, when they followed after the thermal equator, would have driven them ignominously back again before it. The climbing of mountains would only have prolonged their disaster. For after the glaciation north comes the glaciation south, and unless our cold temperate zone were pushed down beyond the geographical equator, none of its living forms could ever have reached the corresponding zone in the southern hemisphere.

But as this "migration theory" is one of paramount importance to modern science, and especially to "Darwinism," [19] distinctively so called, let us, at the risk of repetition and tediousness, propose a scientific expedition for the better solution of this problem. To do this, we propose to cut loose from our stupid predecessors, the plants and animals, and invite Mr. Darwin and some of his more distinguished European contemporaries, not omitting Professors Gray, Winchell, Yeomans, and some few other American admirers of his, to accompany us on a fresh expedition from the warm and cold temperate zones north to the corresponding zones south, purely in the interest of science. To make it certain that the time fixed upon for this "expedition" to start, will not escape their attention, we will state what many of them already well know, that the present eccentricity of the earth's orbit is very low, being only 0.0168, and that, in the year of our Lord 851,800, it will reach its next superior limit, with a few intervening oscillations of such minimum value as to render it hardly worth our while to start before that time.

We shall be obliged, of course to invite our distinguished European party to join us on this side of the Atlantic, as their own narrow and contracted continent furnishes no proper field for determining the problem in question. We shall insist upon one condition only: "That they shall never leave the warm temperate zone in which we shall set out on our expedition, except to pass halfway into an adjoining zone as is the habit, at times, with plants and animals." This condition will have to be rigidly observed, otherwise our expedition would be of no scientific value to future generations. As we shall have plenty of time to provide the necessary outfit, we will appoint Mr. Darwin purveyor-general of the party, and hold him responsible for any misadventure.

We will arrange for the expedition to start in the early autumn of the year of our Lord 831,800, or about twenty thousand years before the earth shall reach its next superior limit of eccentricity,—all of us eager, of course, to brave the climatic vicissitudes of the journey, and to solve the "great problem of the ages," which is, to determine how the gigantic elephantoids of the Eocene period managed to cross the thermal equator, and pass into the present arctic regions of our globe.

As "the king never dies," so the old southern Ice-monarch will be succeeded by the young northern one, at about the period named. We shall then have a decided advantage over our predecessors, the plants and animals, in their journey southward, since we shall know the exact route they took, and need only follow it. Presumably they had no such information, nor had they either chart or compass to guide them,—a circumstance which Mr. Darwin has not sufficiently taken into account in predicating intelligence of his favorite pedestrians. Besides, these vegetal and animal forms had one difficulty to encounter which we shall not experience. With all the northern forms driven down into the Central American states, they must have been sadly crowded for room, especially near the Isthmus. The social conifers must have monopolized all the more favored sites on the mountain sides and tops, while the humbler denizens of the forest must have contented themselves with still more limited quarters. The more impatient animals, for lack of necessary forage, must have crowded through the Isthmus only to be driven back by the tropical heats to their proper isotherms.

But our warm temperate zone is now moving southward, and our scientific expedition is moving with it. The northern Ice-monarch has resumed absolute sway, and our aphelion distance from the sun has increased some tens millions of miles. We have, in the mean time, moved down to the line of the Gulf states, and are deploying to the right in order to make a triumphant entry into Mexico. Mr. Darwin is daily consulting the isochimenals, and is confident that our northern ice-cap will equal Mr. Croll's highest expectations. The news finally reaches us that the Gulf stream has turned its course southward, and is now pouring its immense treasures of heat into the South Atlantic, if not turning the African "horn" and washing the far-off Australian coast. This fact greatly increases the enthusiasm of our European party, and they hasten forward into the sub-tropical zone, almost "violating conditions" in their haste to enter the tropics.

At length, we crowd the narrow passages of the Isthmus, and the glory of a warm temperate climate bursts upon our view in the Columbian states, of South America. The expedition promises to be an entire success. At least, Mr. Darwin thinks so, and he is now the Sir Oracle of our party. We deliberately enter the lowlands of Columbia, and make ready to ascend the sub-tropical mountains—those formerly equatorial—where the "great scientific problem of the ages" is to be demonstrated. But we are measuring time by almost Sirius distances, and vast geologic periods sweep by without apparent record. The northern ice-cap has been a prodigious one, crowding us nearly down to the geographical equator, with the advantage we have of appropriating some five and half degrees of the sub-tropical zone.

But the year Anno Domini 851,800 finally rolls round, and the maximum of the earth's ice-cap is reached. Old Mt. Tolima looms up in the distance, and we soon ascertain that its height is sufficient for all scientific purposes. Its summit displays a glittering ice-cap, and we are certain to find the proper isotherm by climbing its umbrageous sides. We accordingly make haste to reach its base, and get there not a minute too soon; for the young southern Ice-monarch has stolen a march on the thermal equator, and is driving it irresistibly back to its old quarters. His march northward is a continuous triumph and ovation up to 55A deg., and the heart of Patagonia is made glad by his near approach. True, the white gates of commerce are closed about the Horn; but that is no concern of these wild Patagonians. The aggressive Britton is driven out of New Zealand, and that is another source of joy to the savage breast. Tasmania would extend a gladder welcome than all to the Ice-crowned monarch, but alas, not a drop of Tasmanian blood runs in human veins! Cape Good Hope has now a sub-arctic climate, and the heart of the wild Kaffir and Zulu rejoices that the sceptre of "perfidious Albion" is broken.

The thermal equator at length reaches the base of Mt. Tolima, and hastens northward to the Isthmus, and thence to Hondurus and New Guatemala, where, by sheer force of exhaustion, it comes to a halt.

But, as the equatorial zone extends fifteen degrees both ways from the thermal equator, its southern limit now rests on the geographical equator, and accordingly encircles the base of our "mount of refuge." We are now up this mountain some sixteen thousand feet above the equatorial lowlands, with the sub-tropical, tropical, and equatorial zones between us and the possibility of our further migration southward, without violating the express conditions imposed at the outset of our expedition.

The fact soon stares us in the face that we have been no more successful, in our efforts to cross the thermal equator and pass into high southern latitudes, than the stupid plants and animals before us; and Mr Darwin's faith in high mountains springing from equatorial lowlands, disappears in jest and derision as we all good-humoredly agree "to break conditions," and find our way back to the centres of activity and trade in the Old and New Worlds, leaving the great scientific problem of the ages to solve itself as best it may. We accordingly descend from our mountain fastness, hasten to the coast, and take passage by steamer to Manhattan, the great commercial metropolis of the world. Here we find that the barometer of exchange was long ago taken down in London and hung up in New York. The Old Antiquarian Society rooms are the first object of interest sought by us. On making our way thither we look for a copy of the Herald, of the date of our departure, in which we find an account of the scientific expedition fitted out by us, facetiously termed "The Great Wild-Goose Chase after the Thermal Equator"—presenting one of the most humorous bits of sensational pleasantry ever given to the American public.

But an apology is due the staider reader for the seeming levity of this narrative adventure. The exposition of Mr. Darwin, though widely accepted on both sides of the Atlantic by the scientific world, has seemed to us too trivial for serious reply. If we have leaped over vast periods of time, it makes no difference with the argument. So long as the thermal equator, or more properly the equatorial zone, or any part of it, lies between the warm or cold temperate forms, whether plants or animals, and their point of destination in the southern hemisphere, they can never migrate thither, any more than the right whale of the arctic seas can swim the equatorial oceans. Nothing is gained by going out of the way to climb mountains, except to hopelessly retard the return of both plants and animals to their native zones. If we have not demonstrated this fact to the reader's fullest comprehension, it will be useless for him ever to write a Q.E.D. at the end of any proposition.

It is true that some eminent astronomers and physicists hesitate to accept the theory that these glacial epochs are due to the eccentricity of the earth's orbit. But the argument favoring it is well fortified and ably advanced, and if we add to the astronomical considerations involved, the physical proofs of a change in the earth's centre of gravity, caused by the excessive accumulation of ice about either pole, and the probable shifting of the Gulf stream to a southerly direction during the glacial period north, it is difficult to resist the conviction that the real cause of glaciation has been suggested in this theory. With all the ice now accumulated about the south pole transferred to the north pole, it would make an ice-cap of over thirty miles in thickness at the pole, and one sloping in all directions southward to about 60A deg.. This accumulation, it is claimed, would so change the earth's centre of gravity as to cause all the equatorial warm waters to flow southward instead of northward, as they now do.

This would certainly seem to be a most wonderful provision of nature, as well as one strongly calculated to impress the human mind with the belief that an Infinite Prevision lies behind all possible provision, whether witnessed in the heavens or in the earth, in astronomical or physical phenomena. Everywhere we see infinite perfection, combined with infinite beneficence, in the adaptation of means to ends. Nothing runs to waste—all things are conserved for use.

But in all the outspoken grandeur of the universe, there is nothing so grand, in exhibition at least, as the simple faith of a child, that "He who watereth the hills from his chambers," and "causeth the day-spring to know his place," will watch over the trustful little sleeper during the darkness and silence of the night.



Chapter VI.

The Distribution and Premanence of Species.



Professor Gray, in his address before the American Association for the advancement of science, delivered at Dubuque (Ia.) in 1872, while remarking upon the wide extent of similar flora in the same plant zones, says: "If we now compare, as to their flora generally, the Atlantic United States with Japan, Mantchooria and Northern China,—i.e. Eastern North America with Eastern North Asia—half the earth's circumference apart, we find an astonishing similarity." But why astonishing? Had our distinguished botanical professors, in this country and in Europe, thoroughly informed themselves as to the climatic conditions, the general physical features, geographical characteristics, soil-constituents, and other conditional incidences of this Asiatic region, in the light of all the physiological facts before them, the circumstance of this great similarity of flora would have been anything but astonishing. Indeed, the astonishment, if any, would have been expressed at the want of similarity, had it been found to exist.

Ever since 1862, these distinguished professors have had the great plant-charts of Mr. Arthur Renfrey before them, with the warm temperate zone north accurately laid down in its proper isotherms, as well as the different classes of vegetation peculiar to the two regions referred to, and some general conclusions of value to science might have been drawn therefrom. Besides, the fact of these similar antipodal flora was well known to many of them before this chart was issued. They also knew that all along the higher mountain ranges of this country, as well as in Europe, the same alpine flora was to be found under the same or similar alpine conditions. From Mt. St. Elias, in Alaska, to the Central American States, and thence, through the Isthmus, to the southern extremity of the Andes in South Patagonia, there is one unbroken line of alpine vegetation pressing the sides or summits of the loftier mountain ranges, at altitudes correspondingly varying with the latitudes in which they occur. And the same is true of the Alps in Europe and the Himalaya ranges in Asia, if not of all the mountain systems of the globe.

These, and hundreds of other equally suggestive facts, all pointing to geographical, climatic, and other influencing conditions, as the real objective points of inquiry, have been constantly before our botanical friends; and yet they have been content with Mr. Darwin's theory of climbing mountains to cross the geographical equator, under the impression that an enormous ice-cap, or rather prodigious "ice-ulster," would ultimately drift them into the southern hemisphere, or enable them to "coast" their way thither with the greatest imaginable ease. But why insist upon the migration of plants growing in the lowlands and about the bases and sides of mountains, and not suggest some means of transport for the equally beautiful flora, known as "alpine," on the mountain summits of the earth? These are distributed, as we have before shown, over all our mountain systems, in all latitudes and in all parts of the globe, as well as in the higher regions of vegetation as we approach the north pole. Surely, the delicate little harebells of these alpine regions should attract some interest, if not sympathy, from those who are constantly hunting up means of transport for the more hardy and robust plants that seem able to take care of themselves almost anywhere.

When the next great ice-cap shall sweep down from the north pole upon these beautiful alpine flowers they will have to travel somewhere. There is manifestly as much necessity for them to get out of the way as for the rest of the flora. How will they manage to get down the mountains into the lowlands, and traverse uncongenial plains and deserts, to find other and far-distant alpine homes? They can never, of course, get very far away from the regions skirted by eternal frost, for their cup of joy must be chaliced by the snow-flake, or their beautiful life is soon ended. But if all our alpine flora have traveled from one evolutional centre, or have been "created but once in time and place," how have they managed to cross the thermal equator and spread themselves out over all the alpine regions of the globe? We call upon Mr. Darwin and Professor Gray to rise and explain. Not that we want any explanation, but that their theory of plant-migration stands sadly in need of one.

The theory which the Bible genesis suggests to us is fully adequate to the explanation wanted. It explains not only why these alpine flora appear where they do, but why they cannot appear anywhere else. It also explains all the physiological facts to which we have referred in the foregoing chapters. Wherever the necessary alpine conditions exist the earth responds to the divine command, and the beautiful little alpine harebell is cradled into life, and rejoices in the bright embroidery it wears. And so, wherever streams are turned aside to flow through new meads and sheltered woods, or over broken and swaly places where cowslips never grew before, hardly a year will pass before this "wan flower" will hang therein "its pensive head," while all along the line of the stream the black alder will make its appearance in the lowlands, no matter how far its current may be diverted from its original channel, or how distant the supply of natural seeds. For nature's sternest painter can only delineate her as "instinct with music and the vital spark."

If our botanical professors would come forth into the true light of nature, they should accept the position of pupil to her, and not assert that of teacher. So long as they continue to peep and botanize upon her grave, or over ancient mounds and Hadrianic tumuli, they will never find out the cunning of her processes, much less the means she employs to accomplish her perfected ends. This modern idolatry of "hypotheses," with our chronic neglect of what nature does, is the great scientific stumbling-block of the age in which we live. Our botanists all agree that certain plants and trees disappear—hopelessly die out—from the absence of "necessary conditions;" when will they come to recognize the reverse of this undeniable proposition, and agree that the presence of necessary conditions may cause the same plants and trees to make their appearance, that is, spring into life in obedience to some great primal law, as unerringly obeyed by nature as the attractive force of the universe itself?

For nearly half a century the fact has been known that the geographical distribution of the European flora, and especially that of the British Islands, was referable to latitude, elevation, and climatic conditions. As early as 1835, Mr. Hewett Watson, a well-known botanist of that day, in his published "Remarks on the Geographical Distribution of Plants, in connection with Latitude, Elevation, and Climate," drew the attention of the botanical world to this remarkable feature of plant distribution; while the late Professor Edward Forbes pursued the same line of thought in his attempt to show how geographical changes had affected plant areas in Great Britain as far back as the last glacial drift. And yet all our botanical writers have been steadily persisting on immense plant-migrations to account for their geographical distribution, and have given us maps without number to show how the vegetal hosts have traversed vast continents, swam multitudinous seas, braved the fiery equator, and scaled the summits of the loftiest Andes. In the mean time, no botanist of any distinguished note, except M. De Candolle, has confidently ventured to question this migration theory, so imposing and formidable has been the array of names which have frowned down, like so many gigantic ghauts, upon the audacious questioner.

But the present actual state of knowledge on this subject forbids us any longer to accept theories for facts, premises for conclusions, or fallacious reasoning for legitimate induction. Truth and daylight never meet in a corner, and no one, in our day, need go to the bottom of a well in search of either. We are forever stumbling over the truth without knowing it, because our old traditional beliefs, like so many superannuated grasshoppers, are constantly springing up in our path and diverting our attention from her. There are physiological facts enough daily obtruding themselves upon our attention, if we would but notice them, in the case of wayside plants, garden and household weeds, and the more aggressive vegetation of worn out pasture-lands, to satisfy us of the truth of our theory, were it not for the swarms of these old traditional grasshoppers continually rising into the air before us, and shutting out the truth as it is in nature. And the worst feature about this whole business is, that we have come to regard these multitudinous insects as a delight instead of a burden.

But it is hardly necessary to pursue this subject further. We have shown, or shall show in the succeeding pages, that all crystalline forms come from necessary or favoring statical conditions; that all infusorial forms come in the same way, only their conditions may be said to be dynamical rather than statical; that all mycological forms (fungi) are dependent, for their primary manifestation, on conditions of moisture and decay; that all plant-life, from the lowest cryptogam to the lordliest conifer, is dependent on some similar incidence of conditions; that the mastodon, now only known by his fossil remains, must have wallowed forth from his "necessary mire" (plasmic conditions) in the Eocene period; and that all animal life must have come from some underlying law of primordial conditions, as impressed upon matter, in harmony with the "Divine Intendment" from the beginning; and that this law is still operative in the production of new forms of life whenever and wherever the same may appear. We shall also show that all living organisms, such as seeds, fungus-spores, morphological cells, etc., perish at a temperature of about 100A deg. C., and that Bacteria, TorulA , and other infusorial forms, making their appearance in super-heated flasks, originate not from morphological cells, plastide particles, bioplasts, or any other vital organism, but from indestructible vital units, which are everywhere present in the organic matter of our globe, and ready to burgeon forth into life whenever the necessary vital conditions exist, and the proper incidences of environment occur.

We have also shown that the earth still obeys the divine command to bring forth, or—if objection be made to this form of statement as unscientific—still obeys some inexorable underlying law tantamount to such command, and can no more help "bringing forth," when the necessary telluric conditions favor, than the cold can help coming out of the north, or the clouds dropping rain, when the necessary meteorological conditions occur. Give the future American botanist the physical geography of a country—its average rain-fall, temperature, etc., and the plant zone in which it lies, and, whether explored or unexplored, he will give us the general character of its vegetation, and name most of the plants and trees peculiar to its soil. And he will do this, not because he has any faith in the present theories of plant-migration, nor in the necessary distribution of seeds, but because he will study his favorite science with reference to latitude, elevation, climate, physical characteristics, rain-fall, soil-constituents, and other influencing conditions of plant-life.

But we will now proceed to consider the duration of vegetable species, for the purpose of showing that the evolutional changes they are undergoing, if any, must cover infinitely vaster periods of time than we have any data for determining, to say nothing of the unverified theories the evolutionists have been spinning for us.

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