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Life: Its True Genesis
by R. W. Wright
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Our geologic and paleontologic records are becoming richer in materials, more interesting in details, and more authentic in character, every year. We are turning back page after page of these lithographic records, only to find the domain of science widened and deepened in interest as we advance, or as our rocks are being excavated, our mountains tunneled, our vast mines explored, and the beds of our rivers and arms of seas thoroughfared and traversed by the iron rail. Meanwhile, science exhibits signs of becoming less devoted to new-fangled theories, more exacting in her demands upon her votaries, and more eager to extend the domain of facts as the only true basis on which to rest her claims for future recognition. She is less dogmatic to-day than she was a year ago, and is likely to become less so a year hence than now. And this is largely due to her methods of research and inquiry. She is now everywhere sending out her hardier and more enthusiastic sons into new fields of exploration, to return laden with ampler materials to build, and richer treasures to adorn, a temple worthy of her name. In the field of the fossilized fauna and flora, these treasures are of the highest value and interest, all indicating not only wide areas of distribution, but immense periods of time, in which species have existed without any greater changes in character than the necessary shadings into varieties would seem to require. For nature everywhere characterizes her methods of production and reproduction by a loving tendency to diversify and variously adorn her species, as if to express the infinite conceptions of that power above her, which "spake and it was done, which commanded and it was brought forth."

From the fossilized plants of Atanekerdluk—a flora rich in species and wonderfully preserved in type—and the Miocene flora of Spitzenburg, to the southernmost limits of vegetation on the globe, science has reached out her hands for materials, and gathered them with as much success as avidity. And all scientific botanists agree in referring these fossilized forms from the high northern latitudes, to the Miocene period—one so remote that we can form no adequate conception of it, except as time may be measured by geologic periods. And these materials show that varieties of the Sequoia, the tulip-tree, oaks, beeches, walnuts, firs, poplars, hazelnuts, etc., etc., all flourished in these sub-arctic regions during the far-distant period we have named. Many of them must have grown on the spot where their trunks are now to be found, as their roots remain undisturbed in the soil, as well as at a time when these regions enjoyed a warm or cold temperate climate. Many of these fossilized and carbonized forms are identical with the living species of to-day, conclusively showing that neither natural variation, nor any secondary causes, have worked out any changes capable of being scientifically expressed in genetic value.

There is also abundant evidence to show that many of the present tropical forms flourished in central and southern Europe as far back as the warm inter-glacial epoch in the Eocene period. And if these inter-glacial periods occurred at the lowest minimum limits of eccentricity in the earth's orbit, as calculated by Leverrier's formulA , we can have no conception whatever of the length of time actually intervening the period named and our present era. Mr. Croll has given us the limits of highest glaciation covering the last three million years, and shows that there have been but two periods of superior eccentricity in that time, and can be only one in the next million years, with but two or three intervening maxima and minima that may, or may not have been, of any special value. It is true that he assigns importance to these maxima, as affecting possible glaciations, but there are other eminent astronomers and physicists who differ from him, and really attach little or no importance to these of any other intervening periods of eccentricity. If Mr. Croll is correct in his theory and estimates, we must separate these superior glacial epochs by an interval of not less than one million seven hundred thousand years; and nearly three of these periods must have intervened since some of the present tropical forms flourished in Europe. And if these forms have undergone no specific change in all this time, how many years will it require to work out even one of Mr. Darwin's many evolutional changes?

The kinship between some of these arctic and sub-arctic fossilized flora and the living forms of to-day, is so near that they cannot be distinguished by a single difference. This is true of some of the varieties of the Sequoia family, the oaks, beeches, firs, hazelnuts, etc., while others are so nearly identical that it would be difficult to classify them as separate varieties. At all events, if they cannot be placed in the list of identical species, they cannot be ruled out of representative types. But why should our speculative botanists insist upon these "evolutional changes" in plant-life—these "derivative forms" of which they are constantly speaking? Paleontological botany has given us the very highest antiquity of species, and the most that can be claimed is that nature was just as prolific of diversified forms millions of years ago as now. Because we, by forcing nature into unnatural, if not repugnant, alliances, can produce

—"Streak'd gillyflowers, Which some call nature's bastards."

it is no evidence that she commits any such offence against herself. Her alliances are all loving ones. She indulges in no forced methods of propagation. If she produced the Sequoia gigantea, or the great redwood tree of our California Sierra, as far back as the Crustaceous period, she has propagated it ever since according to her own loving methods, and it is idle to talk of the Sequoia Langsdorfii as being the original ancestor of this tree, or any other distinguished branch of the sequoias. How much more rational the suggestion of Professor Agassiz that these trees—the entire family of sequoias—were quite as numerous in individual varieties at first as now, and that the fruit of the one can never bear the fruit of the other.

Again, take the still hardier and more numerous branches of the Quercus or oak family. M. De Candolle has expended a vast deal of ingenuity to show that the various members of this old and ancestrally-knotty family have all descended from two or three of the hardier varieties. He arrives at this conclusion from a geographical survey of what he would call the "whole field of distribution," and "the probable historical connection between these congeneric species." But science should deal with as few probabilities as possible, especially where experience furnishes no guide to certainty, and only the remotest clue to likelihood. We should never predicate probabilities except on some degree of actual evidence, or some likelihood of occurrence, falling within the limits, analogically or otherwise, of human observation and experience. In no other way can we determine whether an event is probable or not. But here we have not so much as a probable experience to guide us. Geographical distribution in the past is hardly a safe criterion to go by, because we can never be absolutely certain that we have the requisite data on which to form a determinate judgment. The Quercus robur may furnish the maximum test to-day, but a few concealed pockets of nature may bring some other variety of the congeneric species to the front to-morrow, requiring M. De Candolle to correct his classification. There are no less than twenty-eight varieties of this one species of oak, all of them conceded to be spontaneous in origin, and it has been on the earth quite as long as the more stately tribe of Sequoias. Besides, not more than one twenty-thousandth part of the earth's surface has been dug over to determine the extent to which any one of its varieties has flourished in the past.

Since these several varieties are only one degree removed from each other, M. De Candolle supposes divergence to be the natural law which has governed their growth, and not hereditary fixity. But here again he has only remote probabilities to work upon, no absolute data. We are still speaking of his fossilized herbaria, not his modern specimens. These may show a large number of genetically-connected individuals, or those claimed to be so connected. And yet no naturalist can be certain that, because they exhibit similarly marked characteristics, the one ever descended from the other; for the universal experience-rule still holds good that "like engenders like," and we search in vain for anything more than a similarity of idea, or logical connection, which justifies a recognition of the individuorum similium in Jessieu's definition of species. But similarity must not be mistaken for absolute likeness, which nowhere exists in nature. Infinite diversity is the law, absolute identity the rarest possible exception. No two oak leaves, for instance, in a million will be found actually alike, although taken from the same tree, or trees of the same variety; and the same may be said of the segmentation and branching of their limbs, as well as the striatures of their corticated covering, Et sic de similibus everywhere, and with respect to every thing. Nature is more solicitous of diversity and beauty, than of similarity and tameness of effect, in all her landscape pictures; and the Platonic conception that "contraries spring from contraries," may be only a supplementary truth to that of de similibus. In the eye of the soul all objective existences are discerned in their logical order, or as consecutive thoughts of the Divine mind, as outspoken in the material universe. To insist upon cutting down these transcendental forms[20] into the smallest possible number of similar or identical forms, may be all well enough to accomplish scientific classification; but the productive power of nature can never be limited by these mental processes of our own.

The oak family can be traced back to the Miocene period, and consequently enjoys quite as high an antiquity as the sequoias. Professor Gray, in speaking of the Quercus robur and its probable origin, says that it is "traceable in Europe up to the commencement of the present epoch, looks eastward, and far into the past on far-distant shores." By "far-distant shores," he undoubtedly means Northwest America, where its remotest descendants still flourish. But that these trees should have waded the Pacific, or sent their acorns on a voyage of discovery after new habitats on the Asiatic coast, is hardly more probable than Jason's voyage after the golden fleece, in any other than a highly figurative sense. The spontaneous appearance of a forest of oaks on the eastern shores of Asia was just as probable, under favoring conditions—though occurring subsequently to the time of their appearance on this continent—as that of the miniature forests of "samphire," or small saline plants, which spontaneously made their appearance about the salt-works of Syracuse, when conditions actually favored. The high antiquity of the oak makes no difference in respect to the principle of dispersion, since geographical conditions are what govern, and not the theoretical considerations of the speculative botanist.

Mr. A. R. Wallace's formula concerning the origin of species, that they "have come into existence coincident both in time and place with preA"xisting closely-allied species," may or may not be true so far as individual localization is concerned. But it proves nothing in the way of original progeny, nor can we, by any actual data before us, satisfactorily determine, under this formula, which of the two closely-allied species preceded the other. If they came coincidently, both in time and place, their existence must have been concurrent, not separated by preA"xistence. The formula may be true to this extent, that the conditions favoring the appearance of one species may have equally favored what we call a closely-allied species. But even in this case, the material sequence is lost, and we have nothing to express a relationship as from parent to progeny. For, however restricted as to localization, each species preserves its own characteristics, the similarities always being less than the dissimilarities. These, and other equally conclusive facts of observation, led Professor Agassiz to question any necessary genetic connection between the different species, or between even the same species, in widely-separated localities; his idea being precisely that advanced by us in connection with the Bible genesis, that localization depended on geographical conditions, not on the migration of plants or the dispersion of seeds.

The actual geographical distribution of species—any species—does not depend solely on lines of ancestry, however great their persistence of specific characters; nor on any principle of natural selection, nor on the possibility of fertile monstrosities, but on the simple incidence of conditions; and M. De Candolle, in his "Geographie Botanique," virtually concedes this, while treating of geographical considerations in connection with distribution. He in fact says, in so many words, that the actual distribution of species in the past "seems to have been a consequence of preceding conditions." [21] And he is forced to this conclusion by his virtual abandonment of plant-migration, and the alleged means of seed-distribution.

The question after all, says Professor Gray, is not "how plants and animals originated, but how they came to exist where they are, and what they are." On only one of these points—that of favoring conditions—can any satisfactory answer be given, except as we defer to the Bible genesis, which explains all. And the reason is, that we can never determine what forms are specific without tracing them back to their origin, and this is impossible. Orders, genera, species, etc., are only so many lines of thought on which we arrange our classifications, just as the parallel wires of an abacus, with their sliding balls, are the lines on which we make our mathematical computations. Agassiz would not allow that varieties existed in nature, except as man's agency effected them, that is, as they were brought about by artificial processes.

These artificial processes are quite numerous, and many of them have been practised from remote antiquity. But they seem to have no counterpart in nature, except as insects may contribute to modifications by the distribution of pollen. But all modifications of this character tend towards infertility, while few plants accept any fertilizing aid from other and different species. Any break in their hereditary tendencies, resulting in a metamorphosis that involves the integrity of their stamens and pistils, is stoutly resisted by nature. In considering the question of species, therefore, we should confine our observations to those produced by natural, not artificial, methods; to plants as propagated by the loving tendencies of nature, not by the arbitrary and exacting methods of man—those looking to his gratification only. All these fall into the category, of "nature's bastards," as Shakespeare happily defines them. In view of these considerations, and the new methods of classification, such as grouping genera into families or orders, and these into sub-orders, tribes, sub-tribes, etc., we can readily understand why the great Harvard Professor should have wholly eliminated community of descent from his idea of "species," or hesitated to regard varieties otherwise than as the result of man's agency.

Indeed, the whole question of species, as well as varieties, is likely to undergo material modifications in the future. On some points the botanists and zoologists differ widely already, many making likeness among individuals a secondary consideration, and genealogical succession the absolute test of species. Others, on the contrary, make resemblance the fundamental rule, and look upon habitual fecundity within hereditary limits as provisional, or answering to temporary needs only. These differences of opinion would seem to be the more tenaciously held as the question of new varieties presses for solution at the hands of nature, rather than by the agency of man. All these varieties tend less to new races than to cluster about type-centres, and can go no further than certain fixed limits of variation, beyond which all oscillations cease. But none of these questions touch the real marrow of the controversy as to origin, or aid us in determining the duration of species.

The presence of the two great families of trees—the sequoias and the oaks—as far back as the Miocene period, if not extending through the Eocene into the Cretacious, is conclusive of the point we would make, that no great evolutional changes have taken place in the last two or three million years, and none are likely to take place in the next million years, except that the Sequoia gigantea may drop out, from the vandalism of man or the next glacial drift.

M. Ch. Martins, in his "Voyage Botanique A(C)n Norwege," says "that each species of the vegetable kingdom is a kind of thermometer which has its own zero." It may also be said to have its hygrometric and telluric gauges, or instruments to determine the necessary conditions of moisture and soil-constituents. When the temperature is below zero, the physiological functions of the plant are suspended, either in temporary hybernation or death. And so when the hygrometric gauge falls below the point of actual sustentation, the plant shrinks and dies; while, without the necessary conditions, it would never have made its appearance. There was nothing more imperative in the command for the earth to bring forth than the necessary conditions on which plant-life depended in the first instance, and still depends, as we have endeavored to show.

Dr. J.G. Cooper, in an interesting article prepared by him at the expense of the Smithsonian Institute, on the distribution of the forests and trees of North America, with notes and observations on the physical geography, climate, etc., of the country, after classifying, arranging, and tabulating the results of the various observations forwarded to that institution, indulges in the following general observations: "We have with a tropical summer a tropical variety of trees, but chiefly of northern forms. Again, with our arctic winters, we have a group of trees, which, though of tropical forms, are so adapted to the climate as to lose their leaves, like the northern forms, in winter. But, here, it must be distinctly understood, is no alteration produced by climate. Trees are made for and not by climate, and they keep their characteristics throughout their whole range, which with some extends through a great variety of climate." The italics are the authors, and we suppose he means by "tropical" and "arctic," the sub-tropical and sub-arctic.

In making his general observations, he had before him large collections of the leaves, fruits, bark, and wood of trees from all parts of the United States, including portions of Mexico, the Canadas and Alaska, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But one of the most important elements—in fact, the most important—is wanting in the tables before us, and that is, the elevation at which these thousands of specimens were obtained. So great an oversight as this should not have occurred, although it may not have been entirely Dr. Cooper's fault. He had his materials to work upon, and may have done the best that any one could with them. And yet it is just as important to know at what elevation a particular tree grows in its own plant zone, as to know whether it comes from a sub-arctic or sub-tropical region.

But this was not the comment we designed to make. Dr. Cooper labors, with most professional botanists, under the delusion that all our plants and trees originated in some one "centre of creation," at some period or other in time and place, and have been steadily spreading themselves outward from that centre until they occupy their present areas of distribution. We have no objection to his clinging to this superannuated faith and belief, if he derives any pleasure in flushing up these "traditional grasshoppers." But we have a right to insist that he shall be logical. He wants it distinctly understood that trees are made for, and not by, climate. Then his "centre of creation" should be everywhere, not a localized one. For he insists that no alteration can be produced by climate, but that the characteristics of each specific form are preserved throughout its entire range of distribution. But if these nomadic and migratory forms have wandered thus far from their centres of creation, it would seem that the trees had either adapted themselves to the climate, or the climate to the trees. But our Smithsonian systematizer will allow us neither horn of this dilemma. He insists that the trees were made for the climate, and that they have preserved their characteristic features during their entire ambulation upon the earth's surface.

With the change of a single monosyllabic predicate, this proposition is undoubtedly true. We have never heard that plants or trees were "made." They were ordered "to grow," or rather the earth was commanded to bring them forth, which is an equivalent induction. And the fact that they grow now, renders it absolutely certain that they grew at first, when "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow" every plant of the field, and every tree that is pleasant to the sight. We accept this genesis for the want of a better. And if Dr. Cooper will add to his climatic conditions, the hygrometric and other conditions necessary for the development and growth of his plants and trees, we will agree with him to the fullest extent of his novel position—that trees neither adapt themselves to the climate, nor the climate to the trees; although it is true that trees modify climate quite as much as they are modified by it. The true physiological formula is undoubtedly this:—Trees make their appearance in climatic and other environing conditions, and flourish, without material change in characteristics, so long as these conditions favor. Why they make their appearance is not a debatable question, except as we assume a preA"xisting vital principle, and apply to its elucidation our subtlest dialectical methods. We are told that God commanded the earth to bring them forth, after his spirit (the animating soul of life) had moved upon the face of the depths—the chaotic and formless mass of the earth in the beginning. Plato has uttered no profounder or more comprehensive truth than this, with all his conceptions of Deity and the perfect archetypal world after which he conceived our own to be modeled. Our preference for the Bible genesis over the Platonic conception is, that it is vastly simpler and constitutes a more objective reality to the human soul. Besides, we find it true in fact, since the earth is constantly teeming with life, as if in obedience to some great primal law impressed upon matter by an infinitely superior intelligence to our own.—

"If this faith fail, The pillar'd firmament is rottenness, And earth's base built on stubble."



Chapter VII.

What Is Life? Its Various Theories.



The question, "What is life?" does not lie within the province of human reason, the science of logic, or the intuitions of consciousness, to determine. It furnishes no objective datum on which to predicate attributes that are either congruent or diverse. It can only be defined as the coordination of the vis vitae in nature, which is an undisguised form of reasoning in a circle. We can ascribe to it only such attributes as are utterly inconceivable in any other concept or object of thought. It admits of but one attribution, and that embracing an identical proposition. To say of life that it is "a coArdination of action," might be true as a partial judgment, but not as a comprehensive one; otherwise, crystallization would fall under its category, which is manifestly an illicit induction. It allows, therefore, of no possible explication, analysis, or separate logical predicament. It stands absolutely alone and apart by itself—a positive, self-subsistent vital principle, or process of action, which all physiologists agree, for the sake of convenience and uniformity of expression, in designating as a power, property, force, etc., in nature. Whenever questioned as to its origin the subtlest and profoundest intellects, in all ages of the world, have returned but one answer: "I know no possible origin but God"—the great primal source of all life in the universe.

Among the ancients we find an almost equivalent induction in the phrases, borrowed by them from the highest antiquity, "Jupiter est genitor," "Jupiter est quodcunque vivit," etc., which, although uninspired utterances, strike their roots deeply into the terra incognita of consciousness, wherein we ascribe to God the "issues of life" as a paramount theological conception. When the ingenious and learned Frenchman defined life as "the sum of all the functions by which death is resisted," he was as conclusively indulging in the argumentum in circulo as if he had said, "Life is the antithesis of what is not life." This would be as luminous a definition as that which should make Theism the opposite of Anti-theism, or the Algebraic statement x-y the antithesis of x+y—one of no definitional value so long as there is no known quantity expressed in the formula.

To begin with begging the question, and then adroitly whipping the argument about a pivotal point, as a boy would whip a top, may be amusing enough to the childish mind, but is manifestly making no more progress in logic than to substitute an ingenious paraphrase of a term for its real definition. It is a mere verbal feat at best, without the possibility of reaching any determinate judgment. It is like some of the half-circular phrases we are likely to meet with in the categories of modern materialistic science, such as the "correlated correlates of motion," the "potentiated potentialities of sky-mist," the "undifferentiated differentialities of life-stuff," called, by special condescension on the part of the materialists, "life." All of which is an easy logic, but a whimsical enough way of putting it.

According to Leibnitz, everything that exists is replete with life, full of vital activity, if not an actual mass of living individualities. But this daring hypothesis has ceased to attract the attention it once received. There are states and conditions of matter in respect to which it is idle to predicate the vis vitae. For the great bulk of our globe is made up of the highly crystallized and non-fossiliferous rocks, which neither contain any elementary principle of life, nor exhibit the slightest trace of vital organism, even to the minutest living speck or plastid. During all those vast periods of uncomputed time, covering the world's primeval history, there was an utter absence of life until the chief upheavals of the outer strata of our globe, now constituting the principal mountain chains of its well-defined continents, occurred. In whatever atomic or molecular theories, therefore, we may indulge, in respect to the original formation of the earth, the utmost stretch of empirical science can go no further, in the solution of vital problems, than to touch the threshold of inorganic matter, where, in our backward survey of nature, vegetable life begins and animal life ends. All beyond this point must be given up to other "correlates of motion" than those to which the materialists specifically assign the beginnings of life.

The theory of "panspermism," originating with the AbbA(C) Spallanzani in modern times, and still stoutly advocated by M. Pasteur and some few others, is manifestly defective in this,—that it goes beyond the inorganic limit in assigning vital units to all matter, even to its elemental principles. It is true that they speak of "pre-existing germs"—"primordial forms of life"—that are "many million times smaller than the smallest visible insect." But their assumptions go far beyond the construction we give to the Bible genesis, which merely asserts that the germinal principle of life—that of every living thing—is in the earth, or in "the waters and the earth," which were alone commanded "to bring forth."

Some of the panspermists have gone so far as to assert that everything which exists is referable to the vis vitA to non-corporeal, yet extended vital units, mere metaphysical points like Professor Beale's bioplasts in the finer nerve-reticulations or living things endowed with a greater or less degree of perceptive power. This was the assumption of the great German philosopher, Leibnitz, who carried the panspermic theory so far as to accept the more fanciful one of "monads" those invisible, ideal, and purely speculative units of Plato, which go to make up the entire universe, extending even to the ultimate elements, or elements of elements. Leibnitz says: "As it is with the human soul, which sympathizes with all the varying states of nature which mirrors the universe so it is with the monads universally. Each and they are infinitely numerous is also a mirror, a centre of the universe, a microcosm: everything that is, or happens, is reflected in each, but by its own spontaneous power, through which it holds ideally in itself, as in a germ, the totality of things."

But the specific germ theory advanced in the Bible genesis, is capable of being taken out of the purely speculative region in which "panspermism" landed the great German philosopher. It is a simple averment that the animating principle of life is in the earth; that the germs of all living things, vegetal and animal alike, are implanted therein, and that they make their appearance, in obedience to the divine command, whenever and wherever the necessary environing conditions occur. The fact that nature still obeys this command is proof that she has the power to do so—that this indestructible vital principle still animates her breast. Innumerable experiments, as well as phenomenal facts, attest the truth of this genesis of life, while the researches of Professor Bastian and other eminent materialists, made in infusorial and cryptogamic directions, confirm rather than discredit it. The fact that it appears for the first time in this ancient Hebrew text can detract nothing from its value as a scientific statement. Granting that panspermism may rest upon a purely fanciful and unsubstantial basis, it is but fair to concede that its great advocates have honestly attempted to explain by it all the vital phenomena occurring in nature, as M. Pasteur is conclusively attempting to do now. It is certain that the materialists, who are resolutely antagonizing the panspermic, as well as all other "vital" theories, have not yet gone so deeply into elementary substance as to shut off all further investigation in these directions.[22] Neither the lowest primordial cell, nor the least conceivable molecule, has yet been reached by the aid of the microscope, any more than the outermost circle of the heavens has been penetrated by the aid of the telescope. We must stop somewhere, and when we find a scientifically formulated statement which embraces all vital phenomena, and satisfactorily accounts for them all, whether it originally came from Aristotle, from Plato, or from Moses, is a matter of comparatively slight moment, so far as the scientific world is concerned. At least, it would seem so to us. But to talk of the de novo origin of "living matter" as the result of the dynamic force of molecules—themselves concessively "dead matter"—is to indulge in quite as fanciful a speculation as the advocates of the panspermic hypothesis have ever ventured to suggest. Professor Bastian is forced to go back of his infusorial forms and fungus-germs to a microscopical "pellicle," from which he admits they are "evolved." But why evolved? Does not the principle of vitality lie back of the pellicle, as well as the fungus-germ? How absolutely certain is he that the extremest verge of microscopic investigation has been attained, in what he is pleased to designate "primary organic forms?" "Evolution" is a very potential word, and no one may yet know what boundless stores of absurd theory and metaphysical nonsense are locked up in it![23] He admits that "evolution," as embracing the idea of "natural selection," can have nothing to do with the vast assemblage of infusorial and cryptogamic organisms, until they assume definitely recurring forms, that is, rise into species and breed true to nature. Then, he agrees with Mr. Darwin, that the law of vital polarity or "heredity," as he calls it, may come in and play its part towards effecting evolution, or variability, in both animal and vegetal organisms, but not before. Why then should he lug in, or attempt to lug in, the diverse potentialities of this word "evolution," for the purpose of demonstrating the dynamic law governing the developmental stages of his microscopic pellicle? This, he will agree, lies far below the point, in primary organism, where specific identity, or the law of heredity, asserts its full recognition. All below this developmental point is inconstancy of specific forms, with no line of ancestry to be traced anywhere.

This, Professor Bastian readily concedes, notwithstanding it cuts the Darwinian plexus squarely in the middle. He says: "Both Gruithuisen and TrA(C)viranus agree that the infusoria met with have never presented similar characters when they have been encountered in different infusions; nor have they been uniform in the same infusion, when different portions of it have been exposed to the incidence of different conditions. The slightest variations in the quality or quantity of the materials employed, are invariably accompanied by the appearance of different organisms—these being oftentimes strange and peculiar, and unaccompanied by any of the familiar forms." Other writers of equal eminence in this field of investigation have not only observed the same characteristics, but encountered the same difficulties in classification, from the very great diversity obtaining even in the nearest allied forms. So great is this diversity, and so multitudinous the different forms, that little certainty or value can be attached to the classifications already made. Even Professor O.F. MA1/4ller, after he had convinced himself that he had discovered not less than twelve different species belonging to a single genus, was subjected to the mortification of seeing Ehrenberg cut them all down to mere modifications of one and the same species.

We refer to these several statements of fact for the purpose of emphasizing the true genesis of life as supplemented by "the incidence of different conditions," on which all vital manifestations depend. The presence of the germinal principles of life in the earth is emphatically averred in the Bible genesis. And we have only to connect the doctrine of "conditional incidence" with this averment, to account for all the vital phenomena which so profoundly puzzle these gentlemen while prying into the mysteries of the ephemeromorphic world. Whatever may be the character of any infusion, or to whatever incidence of conditions it may be subjected, it will produce some form of life; not because it contains this or that morphological cell, destructible at a temperature of 100A deg. C—that to which it is experimentally subjected before microscopic examination,—but because every organic infusion, whether undergoing the required heat-test or not, contains vital units—those as indestructible by heat as by glacial drift—which burgeon forth into life whenever the proper conditions of environment obtain. The slightest variation, in either the quantity or quality of the material employed in the infusion, is, as these eminent microscopists agree, invariably accompanied by the appearance of different forms of life, just as the slightest change in soil-conditions, such as that produced by the presence of one species of tree with another in natural truffle-grounds, will result in the appearance of another and altogether different plant, as well as truffle tuber.

But the theory which the vitalists are more particularly called upon to combat is that to which the non-vitalists most rigidly adhere; and we refer to it, in this connection, that the reader may compare its complexity and involution of statement and idea with the extreme simplicity of the biblical genesis, as heretofore presented. We give it in the exact phraseology employed by Professor Bastian: "Living matter is formed by, or is the result of, certain combinations and rearrangements that take place in invisible colloidal molecules a process which is essentially similar to the mode by which higher organisms are derived from lower in the pellicle of an organic infusion." This carefully-worded definition of life, or the origin of "living matter," presents a hypothetical mode of reasoning which is eminently characteristic of all materialists. In the stricter definitional sense of the word, there is no such thing as "living matter" or "dead matter," as we have before claimed. There are "living organisms" in multitudinous abundance those resulting from, not in, the vis vitA , or the elementary principle of life in nature as there are also "dead organisms" in abundance. This materialistic definition of life, which is not so much as a generic one even, begins in an absurdity and ends in one. It is agreed that the "proligerous pellicle" of M. Pouchet, the "plastide particle" of Professor Bastian, the "monas" of O.F. MA1/4ller, the "bioplast" of Professor Beale, etc., are essentially one and the same thing, except in name. They are mere moving specks, or nearly spherical particles, which exhibit the first active movements in organic solutions. They vary in size from the one hundred-thousandth to the one twenty-thousandth of a second of an inch in diameter, and appear at first hardly more than moving specks of semi-translucent mucus. Indeed, Burdach calls them "primordial mucous layers." But they move, pulsate, swarm into colonies, and act as if they were guided, not by separate intelligence, but by some master-builder supervising the whole work of organic structure. This master-builder is the one "elementary unit of life," which directs the movements of all the plastide particles, constantly adding to their working force, from the first primordial mucous layer of the superstructure to the majestic dome of thought (in the case of man) which crowns the temple of God on earth.[24]

But this "pellicle" of Professor Bastian is not mere structureless matter, any more than the "bioplast" of Professor Beale. The fact that they move, pulsate, work in all directions, shows that they have the necessary organs with which to work. These organs may be invisible in the field of the microscope, but that is no proof that they do not exist. Organs are as essential for locomotion in a plastide particle as in a mastodon or megatherium, and if the microscope could only give back the proper response, we should see them, if not be filled with wonder at the marvellous perfection of their structure. But into whatever divisions or classifications we may distinguish or generalize the properties of matter, we can never predicate vitality of it, any more than we can predicate intellectuality. Indeed, "intellectual matter" presents no greater incongruity or invalidity of conception than "vital matter." These qualifying terms are applied to the known laws and forces of nature, not to insensate matter. To assert that life results from "certain combinations and rearrangements of matter," and not in them, is utterly to confound cause and effect, or so incongruously mingle them together that no logical distinction between the two can exist as an object of perception. Without the vis vitA , or some germinal principle of life, lying back of these "combinations and rearrangements of matter," and determining the movements of their constituent molecules, there could be no vital manifestation, any more than there could be a correlate of a force without the actual existence of the force itself. [25]

The materialists give the name of "protoplasm" to that primitive structureless mass of homogeneous matter in which the lowest living organisms make their appearance. They claim that this generic substance is endowed with the property or power of producing life de novo, or, as Professor Bastian puts it, of "unfolding new-born specks of living matter" which subsequently undergo certain evolutional changes; but whether they die in their experimental flasks, or rise into higher and more potentially endowed forms of life, it is difficult for those following their diagnoses to determine. They further claim that the same law of vital manifestation obtains in organic solutions as in the structureless mass they call "protoplasm." Both are essentially endowed with the same potentiality of originating life independently of vital units, or de novo, as they more persistently phrase it. But why speak of unfolding "new-born specks of living matter?" "To unfold" means to open the folds of something—to turn them back, get at the processes of their infoldment. It implies a pre-existing something, inwrapped as a germ in its environment. If not a germ, what is this pre-existing vital something which their language implies? Is our scientific technology so destitute of definitional accuracy that they cannot use half a dozen scientific terms without committing half that number of down-right scientific blunders? "New-born specks of living matter" is language that a vitalist might possibly use by sheer inadvertence; but no avowed materialist, like Professor Bastian, should trip in this definitional way.

"Living matter," born of what? Certainly not of dead matter. Death quickens nothing into life, not even the autonomous moulds of the grave. It implies the absence of all vitality—a state or condition of matter in which all vital functions have been suspended, have utterly ceased, if, indeed, they ever existed. It behooves the materialists to use language with more precision and accuracy than this. "Dead matter," whatever the phrase may imply, can bear nothing, produce nothing, quicken nothing. The pangs of death once past, the pangs of life cease. Nor is there any birth from unquickened matter. Animals bear young, trees bear fruit, but force produces results. What then quickens protoplasmic matter? Neither vital force, nor vegetative force, if we are to credit the materialists. They would scorn to postulate such a theory, or accept any such absurd remnant of the old vitalistic school. It is rather "molecular force"—a physical, not a vital unit—that gives us these "new-born specks of living matter." [26] This is what they would all assert at once, in their enthusiasm to enlighten us on a new terminology.

But "molecular force" fails to give us any additional enlightenment on the subject we are investigating. It is even less satisfactory than "atomic force," or "elementary force"—that which may be considered as inhering in the elementary particles from which both atoms and molecules are derived. And since both the ultimate atom and the ultimate molecule lie beyond microscopic reach, the assumption that vital phenomena are the result of either molecular force or atomic force, rests upon no other basis than that of imaginary hypothesis. To postulate any such theory of life, is going beyond the limits of experimental research and inquiry, and hence adopting an unscientific method. At what point the smallest living organism is launched into existence—started on its life-journey—no one is confident enough to assert. The materialist is just as dumb on this subject as the vitalist; and the only advantage he can have over his antagonist is to stand on this extreme verge of attenuated matter, and deny the existence of any force beyond it. The postulation by him of molecular force at this point, is virtually an abandonment of the whole controversy. He ceases to be a materialist the moment he passes the visible boundaries of matter, in search of anything like "undifferentiated sky-mist" beyond it.

All that we definitely know is that certain conditions of protoplasmic matter, of organic solutions, of soil-constituents, etc., produce certain forms of life; and, in the case of solutions, certain low forms of life: But whether the lower rise, by any insensible gradations, into the higher, more complex, and definitely expressed forms of life, is altogether unknown. That any such gradations can be traced from the lowest vital unit, in the alleged collocations of molecules, is not yet claimed. These primordial collocations, like the lowest living organisms, lie beyond the microscopic aids to vision, so that the ultimate genesis of life remains as much a mystery as ever—becomes, in fact, a mere speculative hypothesis. And when it comes to this sort of speculation, the materialist is just as much in the dark as the vitalist, and neither can have any advantage over the other, except as the one may adopt the analytic, and the other the synthetic method.

This is the materialistic argument covering the de novo origin of living organisms:—There is no greater microscopical evidence, they assert, that these organisms come from pre-existing invisible germs or vital units, than that crystals are produced in a similar manner—that is, come from pre-existing invisible germs of crystals. But this is overlooking all generic distinction in respect to processes or modes of action. Crystals are inorganic matter which form, do not grow. They are mere symmetrical arrangements, not organic growths; and are produced by some law akin to chemical affinity, acting on the molecules of their constituent mass. They possess no vital function. They show no beginning or cessation of life. But, once locked up in their geometric solids, they remain permanently enduring forms—concessively inorganic, not functionally-endowed, matter. To speak, therefore, of the "germs of crystals," is using language that has no appreciable significance to us. Germs are embryonic, and imply a law of growth—a process of assimilation, not of mere aggregation.

But, at the risk of being tedious, let us extend this argument of the materialists a little further: The only difference, they will still insist, between the preA"xisting germs of crystals and plants—or the only difference essentially worth noticing—is that crystalline particles of matter are endowed with much less potentiality of undergoing diversified forms and structural changes than the more highly favored vital particles, such as the proligerous pellicle, the bioplast, the plastide, etc. The one represents mere crystallizable matter, the other the more complex colloidal or albuminoid substance, or that capable of producing a much greater number of aggregates. The analogies, they concede, end here. But the difference is world-wide when we come to processes—the true experimental test in all classification. Crystallizable substances crystallize—that is all. They pass into a fixed and immovable state, and mostly into one as enduring as adamant; while colloidal or albuminoid matter (laboratory protoplasm) takes on no fixed forms—only those that are ephemeral, merely transitory. This is so marked a feature, in respect to all the primordial forms of life, that Professor Bastian gives them the more distinctive name of "ephemeromorphs," in place of infusoria. But all these primordial forms grow—develop into vital activity. Not so with a solitary crystal. Everywhere the statical unit forms, the dynamical unit grows; the one aggregates, the other assimilates; the one solidifies, the other opens up into living tissue; the one rests in the embrace of eternal silence, the other breaks the adamantine doors, and makes nature resonant with praise.

Great stress is laid by the materialists on the changeability of certain microscopic forms, and the startling metamorphoses they apparently undergo in different infusions, especially those forms having developmental tendencies towards fungi and certain low forms of algA . They attribute their different modes of branching, articulation, segmentation of filaments, etc., both to intrinsic tendencies and extrinsic causes, the latter depending, no doubt, in a great measure upon the chemical changes constantly taking place in their respective infusions. These intrinsic tendencies, they would have us believe, depend upon the dynamic force of molecules, rather than any vital unit, or even change in elementary conditions. But "Dynamism" simply implies that force inheres in, or appertains to, all material substance, without specifically designating either the quantity or quality of the inhering force. If these materialists, therefore, use the terms "dynamic force," in this connection, in the sense in which we use vital force, or in the sense in which they use "statical force" as applied to the formation of crystals, in contradistinction from "dynamical force" as applied to living organisms, we have no special objection to urge against this particular formula. It presents no such formidable antagonism as the vitalists would expect to encounter from them.

M. Dutrochet is approvingly quoted by Professor Bastian, as asserting that he could produce different genera of mouldiness (low mycological forms) at will, by simply employing different infusions. This is unquestionably true, with certain limitations. And the chief limitation is as to his (M. Dutrochet's) will. He might "will," for instance, to plant one field with corn and another with potatoes, but if the husbandman he employed to do the planting should happen to plant the one crop where he had willed to plant the other, and corn should grow where potatoes were planted, and vice versa, then he might be said to have produced corn at will. And so of his infusions. No change in their conditions enabled him to produce one species, much less a genus, of mouldiness in preference to another, by any change in the infusions employed by him. The power which implants life in the mycological world, implants it in every other world, from that without beginning to that without end. And this implanted life is quite as complete in one form as another,—

"As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns, As the rapt seraph that adores and burns."

All that the materialists can claim respecting man's agency in the production of life is, that he may take advantage of the uniform laws of nature, so far as they are known to him, planting seeds here, changing chemical conditions there, using different infusions in his experimental flasks,—organic or inorganic, as he may choose—and then await the action of these uniform laws. He will find them operative everywhere, and if he studies them deeply enough, he will find that they are not so much the laws of nature as they are the laws of nature's God.

Professor Bastian thinks he has conclusive evidence that what he calls "new-born specks of living matter" are produced de novo, that is, independently of any conceivable germ or germinal principle of life implanted in nature. But he confounds this implanted principle of life with the living organism it produces. His morphological cells, as well as plastide particles, are among these living organisms, as is conclusively shown by his own experiments. These all perish in his super-heated flasks. But the vital principle that produced them—that which becomes germinal under the proper conditional incidences—he can no more destroy by experimentation than he can create a new world or annihilate the old one. His flask experiments, therefore, prove nothing; and all this talk about de novo production is the sheerest scientific delusion. For, were it possible to destroy every plant, tree, shrub, blade of grass, weed, seed, underground root, nut, and tuber to-day, the earth would teem with just as diversified a vegetation as ever to-morrow. A few trees, like the gigantic conifers of the Pacific slope, might not make their appearance again, and some plants might drop out of the local flora; but the Pater omnipotens Ather of Virgil, would descend into the bosom of his joyous spouse (the earth), and, great himself, mingle with her great body, in all the prodigality, profusion, and wealth of vegetation as before.[27]

But these defiant challengers of the vitalists, who refuse us even the right to assume the existence of a special "vital force" in nature, are anything but consistent in their logical deductions. For while they resolutely deny the invasion of vital germs in their experimental flasks, they talk as flippantly of the "germs of crystals," and their presence in saline and other solutions, as if there were no scientific formula more satisfactorily generalized than that establishing their existence. Even Professor Bastian speaks of "germs," in a general sense, as if they thronged the earth, air, water, and even the stratified rocks, in countless and unlimited numbers. But we fail to see that any of his accurately obtained results determine their exclusion from the experimental media employed by him for that purpose. His unit of value is a morphological cell, a derivative organism rather than a primary vital unit; and all organisms are, as we have before said, destructible by heat. Professor Agassiz is pretty good authority for doubting the existence of such a cell. The difficulty of assigning to it any definitional value is, that it lies too near the ultimate implications of matter—those shadowy and inexplicable confines not yet reached—to admit of any scientific explication necessarily resting on objective data. If they mean by "germs" primary organic cells, then none exist in their super-heated infusions, and they are logical enough in rejecting the idea of their invasion. But in assuming the cell to be the ultimate unit of value, is where they trip in attribution, and stumble upon a partial judgment only.

The only value attaching to their theory of crystalline germs is, that it conclusively establishes the law of uniformity by which all structural forms are determined, whether they originate in organic infusions or inorganic solutions—in protoplasm or protoprism. The crystalline system presents no variability in types, but a rigid adherence to specific forms of definitely determined value. Whatever geometrical figure any particular crystal assumed at first, it has continued to assume ever since, and will forever assume hereafter. As a primary conception of the "Divine Intendment" (to speak after the manner of Leibnitz) it can neither change itself, nor become subject to any law of change, or variability, from eternally fixed types. And this is as demonstrably true of all living types, after reaching the point of heredity, as of the countless crystalline forms that go to make up the principal bulk of our planet. In this light, and as affording this conclusive induction, the crystalline argument of the materialists has its value.

The materialists should not too mincingly chop logic over the validity of their own reasoning. If they force upon us their conclusions respecting statical aggregates, or crystalline forms, let them accept the inductions that inevitably follow in the case of dynamical aggregates, or living organisms. Beggars of conditions should not be choosers of conditions, nor should they be al lowed to dodge equivalent judgments where the validity of one proposition manifestly rests upon that of another. If they insist upon the presence of a chemical unit, or, worse still, a crystalline "germ" or unit, in the case of statical aggregations, they are effectually estopped from denying the presence of vital units in dynamical aggregations. And if they further force upon us the conviction that the process of aggregation, when once determined, remains in the one case, eternally fixed and certain, they should not be permitted to turn round and insist that, in the other case, there is nothing fixed and certain, but all is variability, change, uncertainty of specific forms. If vital units have only a hypothetical existence, then chemical units, statical units, and morphological units, should fall into the same categories of judgment.

A great deal of needless ingenuity has been wasted, both by the vitalists and materialists, in formulating impossible definitions of life—in attempts to tell us what life is. But Mr. Herbert Spencer is believed, by his many admirers, to have hit upon the precise explanatory phrases necessary to convey its true definitional meaning. He defines it as "the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations." This definition, when first formulated, was received by all the materialists of Europe with the wildest enthusiasm. It was absolutely perfect. All the phenomenal facts of life fitted into it, as one box, in a nest of them, fitted into another. The universal world was challenged to show that any other phenomenal fact than the one of life would fit into this prodigious formula of Mr. Spencer. The London "Times" tried its hand on it, but only in a playful way. It said: "All the world, or at least all living things, are nothing but large boxes containing an infinite number of little boxes, one within the other, and the least and tiniest box of all contains the germ,"—the elementary principle of life. But this was hardly a legitimate characterization. A nest of boxes presents no idea of "continuous adjustment," nor are the internal relations of one box adjusted to the external relations of another. The definition is really that of a piece of working machinery—any working machinery—and was designed to cover Mr. Spencer's theory of "molecular machinery" as run by molecular force.

But the earth presents the most perfect adjustment of internal relations to those that are external, and it continuously presents them. Even the upheaval of its fire-spitting mountains affords the highest demonstration of the adjustment of its inner terrestrial forces to those that are purely external; and much more does it show the adjustment of its internal to its external relations. There is a continuous adaptation of means to ends, of causes to effects, of adjustments to re-adjustments, in respect to the characteristics of the earth's surface—its physical configuration, the distribution of its fluids and solids, its fauna and flora, its hygrometric and thermometric conditions, its ocean, wind, and electro-magnetic currents, and even its meteorological manifestations—all showing a continuous adjustment of interior to exterior conditions or relations. The earth should, therefore, fall under the category of "life," according to Herbert Spencer's definitional formula. And so should an automatic dancing-jack that is made to run by internal adjustments to external movements or manifestations. There are any number of Professor Bastian's "ephemoromorphs" that do not live half as long as one of these automatic dancing-jacks will run, and so long as they run, the adjustment of their internal to their external relations is continuous.

The success of Mr. Spencer's definition of "life" encouraged Professor Bastian to try his hand at it, with this definitional result: "Life," he says, "is an unstable collocation of Matter (with a big M), capable of growing by selection and interstitial appropriation of new matter (what new matter?) which then assumes similar qualities, of continually varying in composition in response to variations of its Medium (another big M), and which is capable of self-multiplication by the separation of portions of its own substance."

It shall not be our fault if the reader fails to understand this definition—to untwist this formidable formula of life. And we can best aid him by grammatically analyzing its structure. And,

1. "Life is capable of growing." We are glad to know this. As a vitalist it enables us to take a step towards the front—gets us off the "back seat" to which we were summarily ordered at the outset of this inquiry. We let its "unstable collocation" pass for what it is worth, and stick to our grammatical analysis.

2. "Life grows—is capable of doing something." This assurance positively encourages us.

3. "It grows by selection and interstitial appropriation." This is still more encouraging. It emboldens us to take a second step forward. Life, we feel, is increasing in potentiality.

4. "By appropriation it enables new matter to assume similar qualities to old matter." This makes us more confident than ever; we take another step forward—are half disposed to take two of them. Life is getting to be almost a "potentiated potentiality," to adopt the style of materialistic phrases.

5. "It causes matter to continually vary in composition." Bravo! we unhesitatingly take two steps forward on the strength of this most comforting assurance. Life is assuredly getting the upperhand of Matter (with a big M.) It is no longer a mere "undiscovered correlate of motion"—a hypothetical slave to matter only. It wrestles with it—throws it into the shade. We involuntarily take several more steps forward.

6. "Life is capable of self-multiplication"—has almost a creative faculty. Here we interject a perfect bravura of "bravoes," and, stepping boldly up to the front, demand of Professor Bastian to "throw up the sponge," take a back seat, and there—formulate us a new definition of "life."

But our London University materialist is not entirely satisfied with his own definition, or at least with the moral effect of it. He thinks that all these attempts to define life as a non-entity only, tend to keep up the demoralizing idea that it is an actual entity. We entirely agree with him in this conclusion. The infelicity and entire inconclusiveness of the definition he has vouchsafed us can hardly have any other effect. He sees this himself, and hence this foot-note to his great work on Ephemeromorphs: "Inasmuch as no life can exist without an organism, of which it is the phenomenal manifestation, so it seems comparatively useless to attempt to define this phenomenal manifestation alone—and, what is worse, such attempts tend to keep up the idea that life is an independent entity."

It may be objected that our grammatical analysis of the professor's definition of life is unfair, since he manifestly intended that it should cover a "living thing," and not "life" as an abstract, term. Our reply to this is, that he makes no distinction between the two. Life, with him, is simply a phenomenal manifestation. The two are correlative terms; so that his definition of the one must necessarily be the definition of the other, either as an identical or partial judgment. But let us take his definition entirely out of its abstract sense, and run it into the concrete. The able pathological anatomist of the London University college is a "living thing." He is, therefore, presumably a phenomenal manifestation. He is capable of growing, by "selection and interstitial appropriation," in reputation at least, if not in the direction of "an independent entity." His work of twelve hundred pages, covering his laborious delvings into the ephemeromorphic world, is conclusive on this point. As a phenomenal manifestation alone, any attempt to define either him or his professional labors, may be worse than useless, since it would tend to keep up the idea that he is an actual London entity. We are very confident that he is not a London non-entity, but are willing to agree that he is either the one or the other. The flaw that we are after lies in his interstitial logic, not in the hallucination in which he indulges respecting nonentities. His assumption that life cannot exist without an organism, of which it is the phenomenal manifestation, is what we propose to deal with.

Now, directly the reverse of this proposition is what is true. An organism cannot exist without life or an independent vital principle in nature, any more than celestial bodies can be held in their place independently of gravitation. The vital principle that organizes must precede the thing organized or the living organism, as the great formative principle of the universe (call it the will of God, gravitation or what you may) must have existed before the first world-aggregation. In logic, we must either advance or fall back—insist upon precedence being given to cause over effect, or deny their relative connection altogether. The organism is the phenomenal manifestation, not the vital principle which organizes it. To say that there can be no manifestation of life without an organism is true; but to assume that the vital principle which organizes is dependent on its own organism for its manifestation is absurd. It would be the lesser fallacy to deny the phenomenal fact altogether, and insist that cause and effect are mere intellectual aberrations, or such absurd mental processes as find no correlative expression in nature, as that embodying the idea of either an antecedent or a consequent.

"Plato lived." He ate, he drank, he talked divinely. He was the occupant of an admirably constructed life-mansion; one that St. Paul would have looked upon as "the temple of God," and all the world would have recognized as a god-like temple. His head was a study for the Greek chisel; none was ever more perfectly modeled, or artistically executed. All agreed in this. And yet it was not the habitat but the habitant that attracted the admiration of the Greek mind; enkindled its highest enthusiasm; drew all the schools of philosophy, about him at once. It was the lordly occupant of the temple, the indwelling Archeus, presiding over all the organic phenomena and directing all the dynamic powers therein, which was so profoundly present in the living Plato. Even Professor Haeckel, of the famous University of Jena, would not deny this, with all that his new terms "ontogeny" and "phylogeny" may imply. When potential life passed over into actual life in the individual Plato, it was not the pabulum that assimilated the man, but the man the pabulum. If this were not so, then the mere potentiality of growing, as in the case of plants and animals, would be all there is to distinguish the phenomenal manifestation of a Plato from that of a mole or a cabbage-stalk. In other words, if the animating principle of life—or, as the Bible has it, the "animating soul of life"—is not what manifests itself in material embodiment, but the reverse, what can Professor Haeckel mean by his new term "phylogeny," which ought to cover the lines of descent in all organic beings?

If it be a question of mere pabulum, it is altogether mal posA(C). Pabulum is nothing without a preA"xisting "something" to dispose of it. It is not so much as a jelly-mass breakfast for one of Professor Haeckel's "protamoebA ;" for if it were served up in advance, there would be none of his little non-nucleated jelly-eaters to partake of it, much less any of his "protogenes." As the famous Mrs. Glass would say, in her "hand-book of cookery," if you want a delightful "curry," first catch your hare. But our ingenious professor of Jena dispenses with both the hare and the curry, in serving up his pabulum to the "protamoebA ." The improvident pabulum "evolves" its own eaters, and then, spider-like, is eviscerated by them, as was Actaeon by his own hounds. As Life, therefore, begins in the tragedy of Mount CithA ron, it is to be hoped it will end in the delights of Artemis and her bathing nymphs.



Chapter VIII.

Materialistic Theories of Life Refuted.



The methods by which the advocates of a purely physical origin of life seek to establish the correctness of their conclusions, are unfortunately not always attended by uniform results in experimentation. They subject their solutions of organic matter to a very high temperature by means of super-heated flasks, the tubes to which are so packed in red-hot materials that whatever air may enter them shall encounter a much greater degree of heat than that indicated by boiling water. At this temperature (100A deg. C—212A deg. F) they assume that all living organisms perish, especially when the solutions containing them have been kept, for the space of fifteen or twenty minutes, at this standard point of heat. But, in the light of all the experiments which have been made in this direction, there is some doubt as to the entire correctness of their assumption. That many, if not most living organisms, perish at a temperature of 100A deg. C, there is little or no doubt; but that there are some which are much more tenacious of life, that is, possess greater vital resistance to heat, is equally unquestionable.

M. Pasteur, for instance, mentions the spores of certain fungi which are capable of germinating after an exposure of some minutes to a temperature of 120A deg. to 125A deg. C. (248-257A deg. F), while the same spores entirely lose their germinating power after an exposure for half an hour or more to a slightly higher temperature. Dr. Grace-Calvert, in a paper on "The Action of Heat on Protoplasmic Life," recently published in the proceedings of the Royal Society, asserts that certain "black vibrios" are capable of resisting the action of fluids at a temperature as high as 300A deg. F, although exposed therein for half an hour or more. But none of these crucial tests, however diverse in experimental results, really touch the all-important question in controversy. They all relate either to living organisms, or to the seeds and spores of vegetation, not to living indestructible "germs"—invisible vital units—declared to be in the earth itself.

We use the term "vital unit" in the same restricted sense in which the materialists speak of "chemical units," "morphological units," etc., which they admit are invisible in the microscopic field, and hence they can have no positive information as to their destructibility or indestructibility by heat. That this vital unit lies, in its true functional tendencies, between the chemical and morphological units—manifesting itself in the conditions of the one and resulting in the structural development of the other—is no new or startling theory, but one that has been more or less obscurely hinted at by Leibnitz, and even acknowledged as possible by Herbert Spencer. It is this vital unit that assimilates or aggregates protoplasmic matter into the morphological cell, or the initial organism in a vital structure, or an approach towards structural form. Morphological cells are not therefore "units," considered as the least of any given whole, nor are they mere structureless matter, or any more homogeneous in character than in substance. Different chemical solutions give rise to different morphological cells, as differently constituted soils produce different vegetal growths. Change the chemical conditions in any solution or infusion, and you change the entire morphological character of the infusoria appearing therein.[28] The cells are living organisms springing from vital units, and can no more manifest themselves independently of these units than life can manifest itself independently of an actual organism. And they make their appearance in the proper environing conditions, just as the oak comes from its primordial germ or vital unit in the chemically changed conditions of the soil. Everywhere the vital germ or unit precedes the vital growth as the plant or tree precedes the natural seeds it bears.

This is not only the logical order, but the exact scientific method of vital manifestation and growth. In this truth lies the whole mystery of vegetal and animal life as hitherto manifested on our globe, with the single exception of man whose crowning distinction it was to receive "a living soul." This may be rejected as a scientific statement, but its verification will appear in the very act of its rejection. Pry as deeply as we may into the arcana of nature in search of exact scientific truth, and we shall ultimately land in one or the other of these propositions,—either that nature was originally endowed with some occult and unknown power "to bring forth," which power is either continuously inherent or continuously imparted, or else "specific creation" was the predetermined plan and purpose, with no higher or more specialized animal or vegetal forms than were specifically created in the beginning. Otherwise, we are inevitably forced back, by our mental processes, which we cannot resist, upon an effect without a cause—a physical law of the universe without any conceivable law-giver—an all-pervading, all-energizing principle of matter which must have existed as a cause infinitely anterior to its first effect. And this is forcing language into such crazy and paralytic conclusions as to utterly destroy its efficiency as a vehicle of thought.

To conceive of the existence of the universe, or of any possible law that may be operative therein, without an adequate antecedent cause, is as metaphysically impossible as to conceive of substance without form, space without extension, or a God who has been superceded in the universe by the operation of his own laws. For if the world-ordaining and world-arranging intelligence of the universe has ceased to ordain and arrange,—if all things therein have been left to the operation of fixed and eternally unchangeable laws—then no further supervisional direction is required on the part of either an infinite or a finite intelligence, and our idea of a God must disappear in the paramount induction of a universe which has successfully risen up in insurrection against its own maker and lawgiver, if it has not remorselessly consigned him to some inconceivable limbo outside of the universe itself. But this Titanic, and worse than satanic, insurrection on the part of a universe of matter and motion, is only the conjectural coinage of the human brain—the wild supposition hazarded by the materialistic mind—and fortunately has no conceivable counterpart outside of it.

But the palpable blunder, in materialistic science, consists in its overlooking the necessary outgrowth of theological ideas in the human mind—as conclusively a phenomenal fact of nature as the invariable uniformity of astronomical movements, the ebb and flow of the tides, or the electro-magnetic waves of the earth itself. And nature furnishes no greater clue to the one set of phenomena than the other. For when we say that bodies act one upon another by the force of gravity, we are no nearer an explication of the force itself, than we should be were we to allege any corresponding manifestation on the part of the human mind. Kant says; "We cannot conceive of the existence of matter without the forces of attraction and repulsion—the conflict of two elementary forces in the universe;" much less can we have any conception of the elementary forces themselves. Science can, therefore, assign no more conclusive reason for overlooking psychical manifestations than physical phenomena. Nor is the one set of phenomena any more marvellous in its manifestations than the other. They may both furnish food for speculative thought and inquiry, and yet the nearer we get to the ultimate implications of either, the more completely are we lost in Professor Tyndall's "primordial haze," from which he assumes that the universe, and all the phenomenal manifestations therein, originally came.

But however rapidly these materialistic theories may disappear in the scientific waste-basket of the future, there is one sublime verity that will stand the test of all time, and that is, that the moral universe of God is no less complete, in the Divine Intendment, than the physical universe, while the latter is so inter-correlated and inter-tissued with the former, in all its conceivable relations, that it can no more exist independently of its correlative, than matter can exist independently of space, or time independently of eternity. [29]

According to this view of Leibnitz, all living organisms have their own essence, or essential qualities and characteristics. They have been from all eternity in the "Divine Intendment," and can undergo no changes or modifications which shall make them essentially different from what they were in the beginning, or are now. This is not only true of the "germs" that are "in themselves upon the earth," but of every living thing, whether lying within or beyond the telescopic or microscopic limits. As a law of causation, as well as of consecutive thought, there must be in the order of life (all life) a continuous chain of ideas linking the past to the present, the present to the future, and the future to eternity. But that this continuous chain is dependent on mere physical changes or manifestations, is a logical induction utterly incapable of being exhibited in scientific formulA . The higher and more satisfactory induction is that which places cause before effect, the Maker before the made, the Creator before the creature, and so on, in the analogical order, till the smallest conceivable "vital unit" is reached in the universe of organic matter. To begin, therefore, with microscopic observation, at a point in the ephemeromorphic world where that optical instrument fails to give back any intelligible answer, and synthetically follow this chain of causation upward and outward to Dr. Tyndall's "fiery cloud of mist," in which it is assumed that all the diversified possibilities and potentialities of the universe once lay latent, may answer the logical necessities of the "Evolution" theory, but will never satisfy the inductive processes of a Plato, a Leibnitz, or a Newton.

Professor Tyndall, in speaking of his "fiery-cloud" theory, says: "Many who hold the hypothesis of natural evolution would probably assent to the position (his position) that at the present moment all our philosophy, all our poetry, all our science, all our art,—Plato, Shakespeare, Newton, and a Da Vinci—are potential in the fires of the sun." But, to be consistent in their inductions, they should proclaim themselves sun-worshippers at once, and ascribe to that transcendent luminary all the potentialities of a universe

"Fresh-teeming from the hand of God."

But what possible advantage, we would ask, can this physical hypothesis of life have over that which ascribes to God the issues of all life in the universe, from the highest to the lowest living organism? We can positively conceive of none but that of placing the cosmological cart before the horse, and so harnessing "cause and effect" in tandem, that the latter shall uniformly precede the former in the chain of logical induction. As a dialectical feat, in exhibiting the higher possibilities of logic, it may have its advantages in subordinating the facts of science to the higher illuminations of fancy, and thus resting the basis of reality on the ever-changing and ever-shifting assumptions of the human mind. For the materialistic theories of to-day are not those of yesterday, nor is there any certainty that they will be those of to-morrow. They are almost as fantastic and variable as the forms of the kaleidoscope, although, as a general rule, they lack the symmetrical arrangements and proportions of that scientific toy.

Professor Bastian, in considering the heterogenetic phenomena of "living matter," is obliged to fall back, near the end of his great work, on "the countless myriads of living units which have been evolved (?) in the different ages of the world's history." But by what process a "vital unit" can be evolved, he does not condescend to tell us. He has no "primordial formless fog" to fall back upon as has Professor Tyndall, nor can he imagine anything beyond the least of possible conceptions in a chemical, morphological, or vital unit. A "unit" can neither be evolved nor involved; it admits of no square, no multiple, no differentiation; it is simply the ever-potent unit of "organic polarity," by which it multiplies effects, but can never be multiplied itself. The chief fault that we have to find with the London University professor is that he confounds a morphological cell with a morphological unit, and insists upon drawing unwarrantable conclusions therefrom. His "countless myriads of living units" are all well enough in their way. That they exist in the earth, and are constantly developed into innumerable multitudes of living organisms, of almost inconceivable variety, in both the animal and vegetal world, is true, as he half-reluctantly admits in almost the identical language we here use.

And he also admits that morphological cells, when once formed, continue to grow by their own individual power or inherent tendency. But before they can manifest any such inherent tendency, they must be developed from the vital units that lie back of them, and on which their manifestation unquestionably depends. The only doubt that can possibly exist on this point is, that the process of development cannot be determined by microscopic examination. But we may as well assume the presence of vital units in the case of dynamical aggregates, as for Professor Bastian to insist upon crystalline units in the case of statical aggregates or crystals. Both processes, in their initial stages of development, lie beyond the reach of human scrutiny, and all that we know, or possibly can know, is, that certain inorganic conditions are favorable for the development of crystals, as certain organic conditions are favorable for the development of morphological cells. Beyond this Professor Bastian knows nothing—we know nothing.

Professor Beale, in his recent work on "the Mystery of Life"—one that is now justly attracting very wide attention—says: "Between the two sets of phenomena, physical and vital, not the faintest analogy can be shown to exist. The idea of a particle of muscular or nerve tissue being formed by a process akin to crystallization, appears ridiculous to any one who has studied the two classes of phenomena, or is acquainted with the structure of these tissues." And he quietly, yet effectively, ridicules the idea that the ultimate molecules of matter—substantially the same matter, in fact—have the power to arrange themselves, independently of vital tendency, alternately into a dog-cell or a man-cell, according to the specific direction they may take, or the incidence of conditions they may undergo, in their primary movement. And for the benefit of Professor Beale, behind whose "bioplasts," we place the "vital unit"—not a variable but a constant unit—we would have him bear in mind (what he so well knows) that the finest fibres that go to make up these tissues lie quite beyond the microscopic limit in their interlaced and spirally-coiled reticulations, so that nothing can be predicated of their ultimate contexture, any more than of the ultimate distribution of matter itself. He has himself traced these wonderfully minute nerve-ramifications under glasses of the highest magnifying power, and knows that their ultimate distribution cannot be reached. Let him come out then, as the ablest vitalist now living, and boldly assert the presence of the man-unit and the dog-unit, instead of falling back on his bioplastic spinners and weavers of tissue, which are only the servants and willing workers of the one integral unit, or life-directing force, within. It is far more rational, and, at the same time, more accordant with strict scientific methods, to attribute these muscular and nerve reticulations to a single direct cause, than to a multitude of secondary causes.

There is a world-wide difference between the dog-ego and the man-ego; but the physical differences are not by any means the greatest. The bioplastic spinners and weavers work as obediently for the one master-ego as the other. They never stop to inquire how far they shall differentiate this vital tissue or that, or in what direction even they shall work. Not a thread is spun nor a shuttle thrown that is not directed by the one head-webster of vital tissue. These obedient bioplasts determine nothing, direct nothing. Each works in his own cell as obediently as a galley-slave. All specific modifications, all determinate movements, all molecular arrangements, all multiplications of bioplastic force, are the work of the one vital webster, or principle of life, within—that which shapes all, directs all, determines all. And this is true from the first or embryological inception of the dog-unit or "germ," until the real occupant of the dog-tenement dismisses his bioplastic weavers, and lies down to die. And so of all vital units. Each determines its own structural form, and unchangeably retains it to the end, even to the slightest impression of a scar inflicted years and years before. The occupant of this dog-mansion has dismissed one set of bioplastic weavers after another; has thrown aside this spun tissue and that warp and woof of woven texture, time and time again, so that the dog of to-day is not the same physical dog of a year ago; and yet he has the same affection for his master, carries with him the same scar received twenty years before in the chase, gives the same glad bark of welcome as his owner nears home, exhibits the same characteristic wag in his tail, and, lying down to sleep, dreams of the once happy chase in which he is no longer able to engage. This continuous presence of the same dog, through all these twenty years of physical change—the old dog reappearing in the new, a dozen times over—is what we mean by the constantly differentiating yet undifferentiated "dog-unit."

Those who attempt to bisect this vital unit, divide it up into one fractional part after another, until it shall represent a million bioplastic workers in as many different cells, are committing the same sort of folly—in principle at least, if not in practice—as that which led the simple-minded daughters of Pelias to cut up their father, in the expectation of boiling the old bioplasts into new, and then, by the cunning aid of Medea, who directed the operation, reuniting them into the one Peliastic-unit they so much delighted to honor. But this first and only recorded attempt at differentiating a vital unit disastrously failed, as the reader of ancient myths well knows, although the experiment was conducted by the most careful and loving hands. The necessary chemical re-agents to reproduce life, as well as the necessary processes of producing it de novo have not yet been ascertained, nor is it likely they ever will be. And herein lies the most marked distinction between crystallizable matter and living substance.

And yet there is no evidence that the vital principle perishes in the destruction of its temporary organism. It is not the material seed that germinates, but the vital principle it contains, bursting forth from its environment into newness of life. All that can be alleged of either boiled or calcined seeds is, that the material substances of which they were composed are so changed in their chemical constituents, or molecular adjustment, that they are no longer capable of developing, or being developed, into a living organism. "Principles never die," and this is as true of the vital principles in nature, as those obtaining in ethics and morals. Were it possible to restore the exact chemical conditions and constituent particles of the boiled or calcined seed, there is no more doubt that nature would respond to the environing conditions, and give forth the proper expression of plant-life, than there is that crystals of spar would make their appearance in an overcharged bath chemically prepared for that purpose. It is not the albuminous substance enclosed in the seed, but the vital principle therein—that continuously imparted to nature from the great vital fountain of the universe—which burgeons forth into life whenever and wherever the required conditions obtain.

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