Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Life: Its True Genesis by R. W. Wright

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

to have witnessed the mysteries of the Druids is felled, trees of other
species spring up in its place; and when they, in their turn, fall before
the axe, sometimes even as soon as they have spread their protecting shade
over the surface, the germs which their predecessors had shed, perhaps
centuries before, sprout up, and in due time, if not choked by other trees
belonging to a later stage in the order of natural succession, restore
again the original wood. In these cases, the seeds of the new crop may
have been brought by the wind, by birds, by quadrupeds, or by other
causes; but, in many instances, _this explanation is not probable_." It is
manifest that Professor Marsh uses the word "germs," in this connection,
in the sense of seeds only; for no seed-bearing trees "shed" any other
germs than the natural seeds they bear. And while he admits that, in many
instances, the generally accepted theory concerning the dissemination of
seeds is not a probable one, he still clings to the exploded notion that
vegetable physiology furnishes a record of "numerous instances where seeds
have grown after lying dormant for ages in the earth." He further says, in
the same connection, that "their vitality seems almost imperishable while
they remain in the situations in which nature deposits them;" although he
is reluctant to accept the accounts of "the growth of seeds which had lain
for ages in the ashy dryness of the Egyptian catacombs," believing that
they should be received with great caution, if not rejected altogether.
But why he should scruple about receiving these speculative accounts of
ancient Egyptian cereals, which are sometimes hawked about the country for
two and three dollars a seed, and, in the same breath, accept the absurder
theory that seeds may lie dormant for ages in soils where the hardest and
most enduring woods will utterly perish and disappear in a few brief
years, is wholly inexplicable to us, except as an hypothesis to force a
conclusion, or to account for the otherwise unaccountable alternations of
forest growths.

But the idea that nature has any cunning devices by which she may hide
seeds away where they will remain "almost imperishable" for ages, is not
entirely new with Professor Marsh, nor is it any suggestion that would
be protected by copyright. In finding the winds, birds, quadrupeds, and
other assumed agencies of distribution improbable, he seeks, with Dr.
Dwight, for "the seeds of an ancient vegetation," and, finding none by
actual observation, concludes that nature has some occult, and
thoroughly surreptitious, method of hiding them away, even in soils
below the last glacial drift, where no microscope can possibly reach
them. As the accounts of seeds taken from the mummy-cases of Egypt may
answer the purposes of those seeking to palm off some new cereal as a
nine-days wonder on the ignorant, so these speculations about the
indestructibility of seeds, when hidden away by nature, may answer a
like purpose in imposing upon the over-credulous; but they will hardly
be accepted by the intelligent, much less the scientific, in the light
of all the facts herein given. The simple truth is that all seeds are
speedily perishable by out-door exposure. We hardly know a single seed
that will survive beyond the second year when subjected to such
exposure. If they do not germinate the first year, their vitality is
utterly gone the second year, as hopelessly so as if they had been cast
into the fire and consumed to ashes.

But there is a large class of vegetable phenomena which wholly excludes
the idea of this wonderful vitality of seeds. It is well known that soil
brought up from deep wells and other excavations, often produces plants
entirely unlike the prevailing local flora. This soil has been brought up,
in many instances, from beneath the last glacial drift, where it must have
remained for not less than a quarter of a million years at the lowest
calculation, and may have remained for millions of years, if not longer;
and yet the same singular phenomenon is presented. Exposed to the sun's
rays, and the fructifying influences of showers and dews, the soil
burgeons forth into an independent flora, and such as are nowhere to be
found in the surrounding locality. The writer, in digging a well in
Waukesha, Wis.,--a place now famous for the curative properties of its
waters--in 1847, struck soil at a depth of about thirty-five feet--that
which was evidently ante-glacial. The place is some twenty miles back from
Milwaukee, and the whole section, far into the interior of the state from
Lake Michigan, is one of drift, covering the primeval soil at various
depths, from a few feet up to a hundred or more; and the imbedded soil
must have remained in its place for untold ages. And yet, it was no sooner
brought to the surface than it produced several small plants that were
wholly unlike the prevailing local flora; although, unfortunately, they
did not sufficiently mature to enable us to determine their genera and
species. Considerable portions of this soil were dried and subjected by
us, and the late Dr. John A. Savage, then president of Carroll College, to
microscopic examination, but without discovering the slightest trace of
any seed, or anything resembling seed, in the several portions carefully
examined. The soil, however, contained, in its imbedded place, several
large Norway spruce logs, in a more or less perfect state of preservation.
But there were no cones, nor chits to cones, to be found in it, although
the most rigid examination was made at the time to discover them. That the
seeds of these delicate little plants should have survived the wreck of
this ancient Norwegian forest, or the drift from one, and burst forth into
newness of life after hundreds of thousands, not to say millions of years,
is decidedly too large a draft upon our credulity to be honored "without
sight." But we will return to the alternations of forest growths.

It is within a comparatively recent period that extensive areas of
hemlock, in Greene and Ulster Counties, N.Y., were cut off to supply the
neighboring tanneries with bark. These clearings were no sooner made than
oak, chestnut, birch, and other trees of deciduous foliage, sprang up and
entirely usurped the place of the hemlock; for the reason, no doubt, that
the soil had become chemically unbalanced for the growth of the latter,
while its condition was entirely favorable for the development of the
"germs" (not the natural seed) of the former. These changes in timber
growths have been widely noticed in all parts of this country, as well as
in Europe, but the universal supposition has been that they came from the
natural seeds of their respective localities, those either scattered by
the winds, or borne thither by the birds, by quadrupeds, or by some other
natural agency. No one has suggested the theory of "primordial germs" or
"vital units," or come any nearer to it than Dr. Dwight did in suggesting
"the seeds of an ancient vegetation." The great truth of the Bible genesis
has been wholly overlooked by reason of a faulty translation in the first
instance, as taken from the Masoretic renderings of the sixth century, and
implicitly followed since.

In 1845, a violent tornado swept a wide strip of forest in Northern New
York, from the more thickly settled portions of Jefferson County to Lake
Champlain. The timber that succumbed to the force of the tornado, and
growing at various points along its track, was mainly beech, maple, birch,
ash, hemlock, spruce, etc.; but it was rarely replaced, at any point, by
the same timber, in the growths that almost immediately followed. The
trees that are now growing along the track of the tornado are principally
poplar, cherry, birch, and a little beech and ironwood: no ash, maple,
spruce, or hemlock, except here and there, at considerable intervals, a
tree or two which may have been replaced by natural seed. The important
fact noticeable, in this connection, is that the aggressive timber--that
replacing the old--entirely usurped the place of the evergreen growths,
supplanting them with those that were wholly deciduous. Besides, it does
not appear that the poplar, the cherry, and the ironwood, which were
altogether aggressive, previously grew near enough to the track of the
tornado to have possibly supplied the seed necessary for their appearance
and growth.

The fact was specially noticeable at the time, and has been widely
communicated since, that the white oak timber cut off at Valley Forge for
fuel and other army purposes in the American camp, in the winter of
1777-78, was succeeded by black oak, hickory, chestnut, etc.--the white
oak entirely disappearing, although by far the most favorably situated for
propagation by seed. But the alternations of forest growths had attracted
too little attention at that time to render the meagre facts given of any
special value to scientific men. If the usurping timber had grown in the
immediate neighborhood (a fact not stated), it might have come from
natural seeds, and not from primordial germs under "favoring conditions."

In the Ohio Agricultural Report of 1872, an account is given of a
storm-track, in that state, which swept for a considerable distance, and
was violent enough to bear down all the timber before it. It is stated
that the path of this tornado (which must have occurred many years ago)
"had grown up with black-walnut, another and different growth from that
prostrated by the force of the storm." In this instance, there were no
neighboring trees, except perhaps at distant intervals, from which the
nuts of the black-walnut could have been derived, unless they had been
promiscuously strewn by the tornado along its entire track. But it is,
unfortunately, not stated that the tornado occurred at that opportune
season of the year when the nuts were properly matured for planting.

In many parts of the United States, particularly in the South and West,
the paths of local tornadoes--those sweeping the native forests long
before the axe of civilization invaded them--may still be traced by the
alternations of timber growths, extending for long distances, and
through forests where there were no neighboring trees from which it was
possible that their seeds could have been derived. One of these
tornadoes the writer traced many years ago (as early as 1837) in South
Alabama, and he is satisfied, both from observation and reading, that
the instances are rare, if not altogether exceptional, where the clean
path of a tornado, through any of our primitive forests, has been
succeeded by the same growth of timber as that borne down by the winds.
Where the path of this ancient tornado of Alabama swept through a pine
forest, a clean growth of oak was buttressed on either side by pine;
and _vice versa_, where it swept an oak forest. And it is certain that
the tornado, whenever it may have occurred, could have exhibited no such
discriminating freak as alternately to distribute acorns in pine
growths, and pine cones in oak growths, either to make good a scientific
theory or balk an unscientific one.

Professor Agassiz, in passing through a dense young spruce forest some
years ago, on the south shore of Lake Superior, noticed that the ground
was thickly strewn with fallen birch trunks, showing that their place had
been but recently usurped by the spruce; and he supposed that the birch
had first succumbed to the force of the winds, and the spruce promptly
taken its place, since, as a general rule, an evergreen growth succeeds a
deciduous, and _vice versa._ We have any number of well authenticated
facts similar to this stated by Professor Agassiz, but we cannot give
place to them, in this connection, without greatly exceeding our limits.

Dr. Franklin B. Hough, in his recent "Report upon American Forestry," to
which we have already referred, says: "It is not unusual to observe in the
swamps of the northern states, an alternation of growth taking place
without human agency. Extensive tracts of tamarack (_Larix Americana_) may
be seen in northern Wisconsin that are dying out, and being succeeded by
the balsam fir (_Abies balsamea_), which may be probably caused by the
partial drainage of the swamps, from the decay or removal of a fallen tree
that had obstructed the outlet." The writer of this work resided for a
period of ten years or more in Wisconsin, and during that time traversed
extensive portions of its territory, both before and after it became a
state. As early as 1844, the extensive tamarack swamps of that region were
manifestly dying out for the want of the proper nutritious elements in the
soil, and the balsam fir rapidly taking its place, especially where the
accumulations of soil, resulting from decayed vegetation, were favorable
for its appearance. The drainage of the swamps had not been thought of at
that time, nor had the swamps themselves been disposed of, to any
considerable extent, by the federal government. They were subsequently
granted to the state for educational purposes, and afterwards purchased up
in the interest of speculative parties.

But the decay of the tamarack had really commenced long before population
found its way, in any considerable numbers, into that section of the
country; and the balsam fir had begun its usurpation, in many of the
swamps, long prior to the advent there of the white man. Neither
artificial drainage, nor accidental drainage, had anything to do with the
appearance of the balsam fir, or the disappearance of the tamarack. The
latter was manifestly dying out for the want of the proper nutriment, and
the former coming in for the reason that the soil was chemically balanced
for the development of its "primordial germs"--those everywhere implanted
in the earth, to await the necessary conditions for their development and
growth. The natural seeds of this balsam fir were not present in either
the first, second, or third tamarack swamp in which this alternation of
growth originally took place. The change commenced as soon as conditions
favored, and not before. It is safe to say that, in none of these tamarack
swamps, was there a single balsam fir cone, or a single chit to a cone,
nor had there probably been for thousands of years, before the time when
the first balsam fir made its appearance in that section. They came, as
all primordial forests come, from germs, not from the seeds of trees.
Universally, the germ precedes the tree, as the tree precedes the seed, in
all vegetal growths, from the lowest cryptogam to the lordliest conifer of
the Pacific slope. Otherwise, we should be logically driven back to an act
of "specific creation," which the materialist stoutly rejects, and the
Bible genesis nowhere affirms.

Mr. George B. Emerson, in his valuable work on the "Trees and Shrubs of
Massachusetts," suggests as a cause (undoubtedly the true one) for the
dying out of old forests, "the exhaustion of the nutritious elements of
the soil required for their vigorous and successful growth." But he is
evidently at fault in his speculations as to the alternations of forest
growths. The Cretan labyrinth that everywhere confronts him is the
"seed-theory," which is so inextricable to him that he constantly
stumbles, as one scientifically blind, yet eager to lead the blind. All
the phenomenal facts with which he deals admirably fit into the Bible
genesis, but he fails to see it because the sublime truth (with him) lies
locked up in an unmeaning translation. He is indefatigable, however, in
his hunt after seeds where there are no seeds, and in his jumps at
conclusions where there are manifestly no data to justify them.

He says: "Nature points out in various ways, and the observation of
practical men has almost uniformly confirmed the conclusion to which the
philosophical botanist has come from theoretical considerations, that a
rotation of crops is as important in the forests as in the cultivated
fields." And he supplements this statement (measurably a true one) by
adding that "a pine forest is often, without the agency of man, succeeded
by an oak forest, _where there were a few oaks previously scattered
through the woods to furnish seed._" This is a very cautious, as well as
circumspect, statement; but one that Mr. Emerson would not have made, had
his experience and observation been that of Professor Agassiz, Professor
Marsh, and others we might name. His few oaks previously scattered through
the woods are no doubt among the "theoretical considerations" taken into
account by him, as a philosophical botanist rather than a practical one.
They were necessary for the extreme caution with which he would state a
proposition when its "conditioning facts" were not fully known by him. His
anxiety to account for the appearance of an oak forest in the place of a
pine, where the latter had been cut off, was commendable enough to justify
him in a pretty broad supposition, but not in any such general statement
as he here makes. Had he consulted any of the older inhabitants of
Westford, Littleton, and adjoining towns, in his own state, he would have
found that not a few oak forests had succeeded the pine without the
intervention of "scattered oaks," or even scattered acorns, in the
localities named. Nor would his "squirrel-theory" of distribution have
been very confidently adhered to, fifty years ago, in localties where the
shagbark walnut was almost as abundant as the white oak itself. No
squirrel will gather acorns where he can possibly get hickory nuts, and
few will gather hickory nuts where the larger and thinner-shelled walnuts
are to be had for the picking. The squirrel is provident, but no more so
than he is fastidious in the choice of his food. He never plants acorns
except for his own gratification, and is never gratified with indifferent
food so long as he can command that which is to his liking.

In further speaking of the "exhausted elements" of the soil--those
necessary for the food of trees as well as plants, and without which they
inevitably perish and disappear--Mr. Emerson says; "This is clearly
indicated in what is constantly going on in the forests, particularly the
fact which I have already stated, and which is abundantly confirmed by my
correspondents, that a forest of one kind is frequently succeeded _by a
spontaneous growth of trees of another kind._" In the sense in which he
manifestly uses the term "spontaneous" in this connection, his new forest
might be accounted for on the theory of "primordial germs," but not on
that of "seeds;" for few trees or shrubs in Massachusetts bear winged
seeds, or possess any other means of dispersion (the _Acer_ family
excepted) than those common to our general forest growths. Spontaneity, in
a strictly scientific sense, is not predicable upon the artificial or
chance sowing of either acorns, hickory nuts, or the chits to pine cones.
A spontaneous growth implies a process which is neither usual nor
accidental--a growth without external cause, but from inherent natural
tendency--and it is questionable whether there is any such process in
nature. It belongs to the same class of idle speculations as "spontaneous
generation" in the infusorial world--a subject that will be considered as
we advance in this work.

Our vegetable physiologists, Mr. Emerson among the number, are simply
unfortunate in their use of terms--those expressing even the commonest
operations of nature. In their genesis of plants and trees they need to
adhere a little more closely to the genesis of induction, and use language
in harmony with the phenomenal facts and characteristics which they are
called upon to explain. But Mr. Emerson was not alone at fault in this
almost universal slip of the scientific pen. He quotes from a letter of
Mr. P. Sanderson, of East Whately, Mass., in which the writer says: "There
is an instance on my farm of spruce and hackmatack being succeeded by a
spontaneous growth of maple wood;" and he adds that "instances are also
mentioned by him (Mr. Sanderson) of beech and maple succeeding oaks; oaks
following pines, and the reverse; hemlock succeeded by white birch in cold
places, and by hard maple in warm ones; beech succeeded by maple, elm,
etc; and, in fact, the occurrence was so common that surprise was
expressed at the asking of the question."

These several alternations in timber growths, effectually vouched for by
Mr. Emerson, occurring "spontaneously" as stated, can hardly be accounted
for on any other theory than the presence of "germs" and "favoring
conditions," such as we have named in connection with the Bible genesis.
They might possibly be explained on the theory of "scattered seeds," if
the several growths had made their appearance gradually, and not
"spontaneously," as stated. The misfortune with Mr. Emerson, as well as
with his several "reliable correspondents," was, that his facts are too
meagrely imparted, in the necessary details, to draw any satisfactory
conclusions from them--such as the nearness or distance of surrounding
trees of the same species, and the possible chances of their seeds taking
lodgment in the soil from which they grew. But, fortunately, there are
facts, and those abundantly substantiated, which entirely negative the
presence of seeds in the soils where these "spontaneous growths" are said
to have appeared. In some instances, they cover large tracts of land, at
distances of thirty, forty, fifty, and even hundreds of miles, from any
native forest from which seed could have been derived.

Dr. Dwight, in the second volume of his "Travels," mentions visiting a
town in Vermont (Panton, near Vergennes), in which a piece of land that
had been once cultivated, but was afterwards permitted to lie waste,
"yielded a thick and vigorous growth of hickory, _where there was not a
single hickory tree in any original forest within fifty miles of the
place_." Of this piece of land he says: "The native growth here was white
pine, of which I did not see a single stem in the whole grove of hickory."
He is greatly puzzled to account for this isolated growth of hickory, but
readily concludes that "the fruit was too heavy to be carried fifty miles
by birds; besides" he adds, "it is not eaten by any bird indigenous to
Vermont." And even if the birds had carried the nuts thither, not one of
them could have been planted there unless the nut-eating bird had been
caught and destroyed on the spot, and the nut released from its crop. This
might account for the appearance of a single tree, but not for a "whole
grove of hickory;" and the squirrels certainly could not have been
provident enough to plant any considerable grove in this particular
locality, and nowhere else within fifty miles of it. The winds could not
have borne them that distance without dropping a single nut by the way,
and there is only one supposition left, which is that indicated in the
Bible genesis.

While Dr. Dwight emphatically rejects the "transportation theory," he
imagined he had solved the difficulty in his suggestion "that the
cultivation of the land had brought up the seeds of a former forest,
within the limits of vegetation, and given them an opportunity to
vegetate." But the utter absurdity of this theory may be demonstrated by
any one inside of two years, by placing hickory nuts, in different soils,
at a depth to which an ordinary plough-point would reach in cultivation;
and then, at the end of the second year, examining those that did not
germinate the first year. The commonest observer of a hickory forest knows
that if the fallen nuts do not germinate the first year, their vitality is
utterly and hopelessly gone. It makes no difference whether you leave the
nuts on the ground where they fall, or place them one inch or twenty
inches beneath the soil, the result will be the same. At the end of two
years, you can pulverize them between thumb and finger almost as easily as
so much dried loam. The idea of deriving a new forest from such nuts, is
hardly less absurd than that of emptying the Egyptian catacombs of their
old mummy-cases, in the expectation of seeing a race of Theban kings
stalking the earth as before the foundations of either Carthage or Rome
were laid.

Dr. Dwight was a very close and accurate observer of nature, and suffered
few of even the minor points of detail to escape him. In the same work, as
well as in the same connection, he gives an account of another forest,
which he supposes sprang spontaneously from "the seeds of an ancient
vegetation." He says: "A field about five miles from Northampton (Mass.),
on an eminence called 'Rail Hill,' was cultivated about a century ago
(_circiter_ 1720). The native growth here, and in all the surrounding
region, was wholly oak, chestnut, etc. As the field belonged to my
grandfather, I had the best opportunity of learning its history. It
contained about five acres, in the form of an irregular parallelogram. As
the savages rendered the cultivation dangerous, it was given up. On this
ground there sprang up a grove of white pines, covering the field and
retaining its figure exactly. So far as I remember, there was not in it a
single oak or chestnut tree;" and he adds, "_there was not a single pine
whose seeds were, or, probably, had for ages been, sufficiently near to
have been planted on this spot_." He supposes, however, that the "seeds"
(pine cone chits) had lain dormant for ages before cultivation brought
them up "within the limits of vegetation."

As early as 1807, Judge Peters, of Philadelphia, became satisfied that all
that elevated region around the head waters of the Delaware, Alleghany,
and Genesee Rivers, then covered with heavy growths of hemlock, or with
forests of beech and sugar-maple, was originally an oak forest, probably
covering most of that entire region. And Mr. John Adlum, of Havre de
Grace, Md., who originally surveyed the lands south of the great bend of
the Susquehanna, between that river and the Delaware, conceived the same
idea as early as 1788. The section surveyed by him was chiefly covered
with beech and sugar-maple; in fact, it was in what was called, at the
time, "the beech and sugar-maple country." He drew his inferences from the
fact that he found, here and there, at irregular intervals, red and white
oaks growing to an enormous size, none being less than sixteen feet, and
many measuring twenty-two feet or more, in circumference five feet above
the ground. He says that "the hemlock in this region seems to have
succeeded the oak, while the beech and maple no doubt succeeded the
hemlock." This last inference would seem to have been made from the fact
that clumps of large hemlock trees were, at that time, still growing at
intervals among the larger deciduous trees.

Indeed, there is no better established fact in vegetable physiology than
that of these alternations of forest growths. They sometimes come on
gradually, but, in a majority of instances, they make their appearance at
once on the cutting off of old forests, in the tracks of tornadoes, or
where fire has devastated extensive regions of timber. From the facts
which have been gathered, it is difficult to determine any regular order
of alternation, except that oaks and other deciduous trees succeed the
different varieties of pine and other evergreen growths, and, perhaps,
_vice versa_. In Dr. Hough's report upon American Forestry, he makes a
brief summary of the order of these alternations in different sections of
the country, on the authority of persons apparently more or less
well-informed on the subject, but by no means accurate observers. He says
that in the region about Green Bay, Wis., overrun by the fires of 1871,
"dense growths of poplars and birches have sprung up, and are growing
rapidly;" but he omits the most important fact of all, in his failure to
state the previous growths of timber, or whether there were any
neighboring growths of poplar along the track of the burnt district from
which seed might have been derived.

Here are some of his more important statements:--

"At Clarksville, Ga., oak and hickory lands, when cleared, invariably grew
up with pine. This is true of that region of country generally."

"At Aiken, S.C., the long-leaf pine is succeeded by oaks and other
deciduous trees, and _vice versa_."

"In Bristol County, Mass., in some cases, after pines have been cut off,
oak, maple, and birch have sprung up abundantly."

"In Hancock County, Ill., oaks have been succeeded by hickories."

"In East Hamburgh, Erie County, N.Y., a growth of hemlock, elm, and soft
maple, was succeeded by beech, soft maple, and hard maple, but a good deal
more of the last named than any other."

This is the general character of the summary given, and if its object were
simply to show the fact that these alternations actually took place (one
that nobody has disputed in the last half century), his chapter on the
"Alternations of Forest Growths," is a scientific success. The information
really desired in these cases, was that imparted by Dr. Dwight in his
suggestive work of travel, in which all the incidental facts and
surrounding circumstances are fully given. It does not appear from any of
the foregoing statements, given as a specimen, that there were any
neighboring trees sufficiently near to have supplied seed for the new
forests taking the place of the old,--manifestly the most important
physiological fact connected with the whole inquiry, whether looking to
proper forest-management, or to future "schools of forestry," certain to
be established in this country, as they have been in most of the leading
countries of Europe.

It is, however, stated by Dr. Hough, in his voluminous report, that, "in
New England, the pine (without giving its varieties) is often succeeded by
the white birch, and, in New Jersey, by the oak; the succession of oak by
pine, and the reverse, in the southern states." And it is further stated,
without reference to the nature and quality of the different soils, or the
absence or presence of neighboring seed-trees, that "poplars and other
soft woods are very often found coming up in pine districts that have been
ravaged by fire." "We have noticed," he continues, "in Nebraska, ash, elm,
and box-elder following cottonwood. In the natural starting of timber in
the prairie region of Illinois, where the stopping of fires allowed, we
often see a hazel coppice; after a time the cratA|gus, and finally the
oaks, black-walnuts, and other timber. These growths are often quite
aggressive on the prairies. In Florida, the black-jack oak usually takes
the place of the long-leaf pine." In all these cases, the contiguousness
of similar, or dissimilar growths, is not stated.

He nevertheless cites a most important fact respecting the alternations of
timber growth, noticed by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in his overland journey
from Montreal to the Arctic Ocean, in 1789, who found, in the vicinity of
Slave Lake, that the banks were covered with large quantities of burnt
wood lying on the ground, where young poplar trees had sprung up
immediately after the destruction of the previous growths by fire. In
noticing this fact, the indefatigable English explorer remarks: "It is a
very curious and extraordinary circumstance that land covered with spruce,
pine, and white birch, when laid waste by fire, should subsequently
produce nothing but poplars, _where none of that species of tree was
previously to be found"_. But facts of a similar character are too
numerous and well-authenticated to be questioned by any intelligent
authority. And they all point to but one solution--that of primordial
germs quickened into life by the necessary environing conditions. The
appearance of a single poplar in the locality named, or even a dozen of
them for that matter, might be accounted for on the theory that a bird of
passage had dropped them there after the fire; but, under no conceivable
circumstances, could the dispersion of the requisite amount of seed to
plant an extensive burnt district, along the banks of Slave Lake, have
occurred on any other theory than that emphatically set forth, as a
physiological fact, in the Bible genesis.

There is manifestly importance enough attaching to this subject to justify
a much wider range of observation and inquiry than has yet been made. Pine
forests have been cut off in Alabama and Georgia, covering extensive
areas, where there was not a single oak tree in a circuit of miles; and
yet the oak has promptly made its appearance, in several varieties, over
the whole cleared district. And it is entirely safe to say that, had the
ground been thoroughly examined, from the surface to ten feet below it,
after the pine had been felled, not the first sign of an acorn could have
been met with anywhere within the whole area of the clearing, no matter
whether it covered ten acres, twenty, or a hundred. The paths of the
tornadoes we have referred to conclusively show this. The new-born
forests, in these cases, do not come from seed, but from the living,
indestructible, vital principles implanted in the earth, before it was
specifically commanded to "bring forth," in the language of the Bible
genesis. The "materialists," like Professor Bastian, Herbert Spencer, and
others, may sneer at this declaration, but let them advance some rational
theory to the contrary, to account for these alternations of forest
growths, before they lay bare the joints of their scientific armor too
confidently to the thrusts of the next new-comer in the field of
scientific investigation. Sneers are cheap weapons--the mere side-arms of
pretension and frippery--but they never bear so deadly a gibe as when
effectually turned on the sneerer.

Professor Moritz Wagner, in his description of Mount Ararat, mentions "a
singular phenomenon," to which his guide drew his attention, "in the
appearance of several plants on soil lately thrown up by an earthquake,
which grew nowhere else on the mountain, and had never been observed in
this (that) region before." This writer, thereupon, goes into a
disquisition upon the vitality of long-buried seeds, but only to mar the
value of his very important observation. The fact that these new plants
were rejected by the other soil of the mountain--that not thrown up by the
earthquake--is the only other observation of value made by this writer.
And the importance of this one observation lies in the apparent, if not
conclusive fact, that the conditions of the other soil of the mountain
were not favorable for the development of the primordial germs, or vital
units, contained in that which was thrown up by the earthquake, a
circumstance that most materially strengthens the view we have taken, as
all candid and impartial readers will agree.

Mr. Darwin inadvertently makes a very material concession in favor of the
theory we have advanced, although unconscious of any such theory, except
that so broadly and unqualifiedly put forth by the "panspermists" as to
meet with a ready refutation. He is laboring, of course, to strengthen his
position that nature eternally works to get rid of her imperfect forms, or
to ensure "the survival of the fittest." But while his facts accomplish
little in this direction, they establish much in another, as the reader
will see. He says: "In Staffordshire, on an estate of a relative, where I
had ample means of investigation, there was a large and extremely barren
heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man; but several
hundred acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five
years before, and planted with scotch fir. The change in the native
vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable--more than
is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another; not
only the proportional numbers of the heath plants were wholly changed,
_but twelve species of plants _ (not including grasses and sedges)
flourished in the plantation which could not be found on the heath."

The attempt is here made, by Mr. Darwin, to convey an altogether different
meaning to his facts than what they will warrant, even as adroitly handled
by him. No heath plants were "wholly changed" in characteristics, but only
in proportional numbers; nor did the "twelve new species of plants" make
their appearance by virtue of any law of variability or selection of the
fittest. The growth of scotch fir had simply changed the conditions of the
soil, so that certain varieties of heath growth disappeared for the want
of "necessary conditions," and certain varieties of forest growth made
their appearance because conditions favored. Similar, if not greater
changes, are constantly occurring in hundreds of localities in New
England, where choked and worn-out pasture lands are left, untouched by
the hand of man, to grow up as best they may into new forests. The
open-field plants and shrubs entirely disappear, as the stronger and more
aggressive trees, taking root in favoring soils, advance in the struggle
for supremacy, while the less hardy and more modest plants--those quietly
seeking shelter in the woods--make their appearance, because they find,
beneath the shade of the usurping forest, the precise conditions necessary
for their more successful growth.

No perishable seeds have been awakened from their "sleep of untold
centuries" by these changed conditions of the soil; but nature, everywhere
obeying the divine mandate, brings forth her implanted life in all its
bountiful diversity of stalk, leaf, bud, bough, blossom, fruit,--not in
obedience to man's husbandry alone, but because, as the "vicar of God,"
she must provide for her benefice. "Let the earth bring forth" is the
eternal fiat. Nature forever heeds it, and forever obeys it. "Oh, ye blind
guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, doubt it if ye will." But
forget not that nature has her "compunctious visitings," and will rise up
in insurrection against you. Nothing in her breast lies dormant for ages,
or even for an hour. Her appointed times and seasons forbid it. If the
butterfly does not sport in her sunshine to-day, it is because it lies
dead in its golden-colored shroud, and can never become a butterfly. In
all her profusion and prodigality--flinging her glittering jewels, even in
mid-winter, over all her enamored woods, and causing her little fountains
to leap up from their crystal beds in delight, that they may be frozen,
mid-air, into more sparkling jets--she exhibits no such munificence as in
her unsparing prodigality of life. To be prodigal in this was the first
command she received, and her great heart constantly throbs to give it
expression. And in all this she simply obeys a kindly law which has been
implanted in her bosom, and can never be displanted. She has no need of
seeds in her cunning laboratory to perpetuate plant-life, and only yields
them to man for use, and not abuse. He can utilize them if he will, so
that all things of beauty and golden-fruited promise shall be his. In the
language of her greatest and most profoundly philosophical poet,--

"Nature never lends
The smallest scruple of her excellence,
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor--
_Both thanks and use_."

Those who think, therefore, to make nature a debtor, by reversing her laws
of propagation and making her dependent on what she bestows in use, will
never find out the smallest scruple of her excellence, nor add to her
glory as a creditor. All things are framed in her prodigality, and the
seeds of plants and trees are no exception to the quality of her
bestowals. We may reason, syllogize, speculate as we will, the first plant
and the first tree were not nature's thankless bastards, but her
legitimate and loving offspring. She engendered them in her own fruitful
breast, and her "copy is eterne."

Chapter IV.

The Distribution and Vitality of Seeds.

Few questions have attracted more attention among vegetable physiologists,
of late years, than the dispersion and migration of seeds from place to
place in the earth, and it is safe to say that none has been more
unsatisfactorily answered. In the case of quite a number of plants and
trees, special contrivances would seem to have been provided by nature for
insuring their dispersion, as well as migration. With a small number of
plants, for instance, the seeds are discharged for short distances by the
explosive force of their seed-vessels, when properly matured; an equally
small number have certain membranous contrivances, called "wings," by
which they may be borne still greater distances; others, again, are
provided with light feathery tufts, to which the seed is attached, and
these may be carried by the winds several miles before finding a lodgment
in the soil; while many others are inclosed in prickly and barb-pointed
coverings by which they attach themselves to animals, and even birds, and
may be transported to almost any distance. But with the great majority of
plants and trees, as the seeds fall so they lie, and must continue to lie
until they either germinate or perish, or are accidentally dispersed or
scattered by some extrinsic agency. The anxiety of speculative botanists
to account for the recognized alternations of forest and other growths,
have led to the different theories of transportation we have named; and
when these theories have been supplemented by the alleged wonderful
vitality of seeds, in the cunning recesses in which nature manages to
conceal them, they imagine the whole difficulty solved, when, in point of
fact, it remains wholly unsolved.

This theory of the "wonderful vitality" of seeds is simply one, as we
have said, to force a conclusion--to get rid of a lion in the scientific
path. Professor Marsh, with other eminent and scholarly writers on
vegetable physiology, scouts the idea that the seeds of some of our
cereal crops have been preserved for three or four thousand years in the
"ashy dryness" of the Egyptian catacombs. But what better repository in
which to preserve them? Certainly, none of our modern granaries, with all
their machinery for keeping the grain dry, or from over-heating. Nor are
the catacombs to be despised, as compared with any out-door means of
storage yet suggested by the wit of man. The only means nature has of
storage, or rather of preservation by storage, is to welcome the seed
back to her bosom--the earth from which its parent-seed sprang--where it
may be speedily quickened into life, and bear "other grain," not itself.
For "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die;" and much
more is that dead which is not quickened. Whenever seed is thus returned
to nature's bosom--all-palpitating as it is with life--whether it
quickens or not, it dies; and there is no resurrection for dead seed from
the earth, any more than there is for the occupants of the exhumed
mummy-cases of ancient Thebes.

The belief in this wonderful vitality of seeds, in the positions in which
nature deposits them, is pretty much on a par with that which assigns a
thousand years to the life of a crow. As nobody but the scholastic fool in
the fable has ever attempted to verify the correctness of this latter
belief, so it is safe to assume that the experiment of verifying the
former will not be successfully undertaken within the next thousand years,
to say the least. It is well known that the vitality of seeds (so far, at
least, as nature handles them) depends, upon her cunning contrivances for
their preservation, as well as their dispersion. But many seeds, in which
these contrivances would seem to be the most perfect, will not germinate
after the second year, and few will do so to advantage after the third or
fourth year, even when they have been kept under the most favorable
circumstances, or in uniform dryness and temperature. Farmers, who have
had practical experience in this matter, and care little for what is
merely theoretical, will never plant seed that is three or four years old
when they can get that of the previous year's growth. It is certain that
no hickory nut will retain its vitality beyond the first year of its
exposure to a New England soil and climate, and few seeds are better
protected by nature against such exposure; and it is equally questionable
whether the chits to Dr. Dwight's pine cones would have had any better
chance of survival at the time the Indians infested the neighborhood of
Northampton, and regularly fired the woods every autumn.

Although Professor Marsh confidently says, in his work on. "Man and
Nature," that "the vitality of seeds seems almost imperishable while they
remain in the situations in which nature deposits them," he will no doubt
admit that this statement rests on no experimental knowledge, but simply
on the hypothesis that the new forests and new species of plants to which
he refers, originated from seeds, and not from primordial germs everywhere
implanted in the earth. Dr. G. Chaplin Child, who swallows the "Egyptian
wheat" story, mummy-cases and all, in speaking of some of the English
"dykes" or mound-fences which have existed from time well-nigh immemorial,
says: "No sooner are these dykes leveled than the seeds of wild flowers,
which must have lain in them for ages, sprout forth vigorously, just as if
the ground had been recently sown with seed." He also mentions, as a more
or less remarkable fact, "that a house, which was known to have existed
for two hundred years, was pulled down, and, no sooner was the surface soil
exposed to the influence of light and moisture, than it became covered
with a crop of wild-mustard or charlock." And he instances these facts to
show that the seeds of this charlock, and these dyke plants, had lain
dormant in the soil from the time the dykes were built, and the house
erected. But these physiological facts, however well authenticated they
may have been, are no more conclusive of the presence of dormant seed,
than the appearance of the common plantain about a recently built
dwelling-house, where none ever grew before, is proof that the seeds of
this common household plant had lain dormant for ages before the house was
erected. We cannot tell why this common plant follows the domestic
household, any more than we can tell why rats follow civilization. But
they are both sufficiently annoying at times, to satisfy us that they _do_
follow, however inexplicable the reason may be.

The same writer further says, in connection with the foregoing statements:
"Instances (of the vitality of seeds) might easily be multiplied almost
indefinitely, but we shall be satisfied with noticing one of a very
extraordinary kind. In the time of the Emperor Hadrian, a man died soon
after he had eaten plentifully of raspberries. He was buried at
Dorchester. About twenty-eight years ago, the remains of this man,
together with coins of the Roman Emperor, were discovered in a coffin (!)
at the bottom of a barrow, thirty feet under the surface. The man had thus
lain undisturbed for some 1700 years. But the most curious circumstance
connected with the case was, that _the raspberry seeds were recovered from
the stomach_ (!) and sown in the garden of the Horticultural Society,
where they germinated and grew into healthy bushes," Here is
circumstantiality enough to satisfy the most unlimited skepticism,
provided that the facts were satisfactorily vouched for by the living, and
the record left by the dead were sufficiently explicit in detail, and
conclusive in identity of subject. Then to suggest even a reasonable doubt
would, we admit, be equivalent to making truth a circumstantial liar.

But this most remarkable story will bear repetition, with a few running
comments. "The man (presumably a Roman soldier) died seventeen hundred
years ago." This is not unlikely. "He died of eating too plentifully of
raspberries;" a circumstance not altogether improbable. "He was buried at
Dorchester;" where, of course, there were no records of deaths and burials
kept at the time, and hence, we should have to question the record, if one
were presented. "He was also buried in a coffin, or, at least, dug up in
one." This statement must be received _cum grano_. The Romans never used
coffins, and, under the empire, they burnt most of their dead. After a
battle, however, they generally piled them up in heaps, and, where there
was a lack of fuel to burn them, they covered them with the surface soil,
taking good care to put a Roman coin in each soldier's mouth, so that he
might pay the ferryman in Hades. "There was thirty-five feet of surface
soil shoveled on top of this particular Roman,"--showing that he was a
very consequential personage in camp. No wonder, then, that all these nice
particularities of statement should have been circumstantially noted in
the commanding general's "order of the day," and thus been handed down to
posterity for the future advancement of science! "He had lain undisturbed
for nearly two thousand years." Almost any one would have done so, with
that amount of surface soil shoveled on top of him. "The seeds were
recovered from his stomach;" that is, after improvidently snatching away
the Roman soldier's life, they took good care to preserve their own, as
well as the stomach in which they were deposited. "The seeds were planted
in the Horticultural Society's garden, where they flourished vigorously."

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

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

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

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

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 _pro_vision of man harmonizing
with the _pre_vision 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

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

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 _Pre_vision lies behind all possible _pro_vision, 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

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest