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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/444

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sembling those which might come from a church in some town hidden in its recesses; but there was no such town in the neighborhood. On the occasion which he especially describes, he took his place as one of the hunters in a wood of large beech-trees lying against the slope of the mountain, and was treated all the time he stood there to a succession of peals as of bells, coming one upon another, swelling up and dying away, and sounding together in many varieties of modulation, and in all the different stages of progress. At times the impression of the music was so strong as to hold him almost breathless; then a new wave would sweep up, beginning like the soft breathing of an organ-pipe, rising to the swell of a harp, and closing with the overtone of the octave, as if it were drawn out by some master of the violin. V/hen the hunter returned to the same place toward evening, he heard the same sounds. One other of the hunters remarked them, but the rest were absorbed in their sport. A forester blew the tone of C on his horn, and it was repeated in the bell peals. The tones evidently originated in the mouth of the valley and died away in its upper part. They were produced by the passage of the wind through the valley, and modified by its configuration, the character of the rocks, and, probably, by the wood.

 

Animals or Plants?—In the course of a lecture on "Plants that prey upon Animals, and Animals that fertilize Plants," delivered at Leeds recently, by the Rev. W. H. Dallinger, the lecturer explained that there were animals—definitely proved to be such, and with which every zoölogist was familiar—that were so lowly in their being that they possessed no definite form. They revealed to the most refined scrutiny no organization. They moved, but without muscle; they crept, but without limbs; they felt, but without discoverable nerves; they devoured without mouths; they digested without stomachs; and they had all the properties of life, but were without trace of organized structure. It was their habit to associate with even these lowly creatures, because they were animals, a measure, at least, of consciousness and volition. But, on the other hand, there were plants of the highest and most compact structure in which delicacy of organization, refinement of mechanical contrivances, and adaptation of means to ends, were combined; and yet, because they were vegetables, they were accustomed to assume that they were without consciousness, and devoid of will. But what were the facts? Zoölogy at the present day was in the highest sense a science. Its facts had a precision and value unrivaled, and from these they were bound to say that the old landmarks were utterly incompetent. The animal and vegetable kingdoms could not be separated, and the two marched on in one organic whole. To the popular mind he had no doubt this would appear arrogant. To common observation the distinction between the plant and the animal was believed to be sufficiently clear. Between an ox and an oak-tree there was an unmistakable difference. A cabbage and a swallow were not very easily confounded. This was quite true; but if the entire of what was known as the animal world were laid against the whole of what was known as the vegetable kingdom, it would be seen that there were no features belonging to the one which were not in some sense shared by the other. There were vegetables controlled by movements which in animals would be called instincts. They could intoxicate a plant as they could intoxicate a man or beast; they could paralyze it with pain or chloroform, and could kill it with an electric spark. There were some plants which depended for existence on the animals they entrapped, and to this end they were endowed with a susceptibility more delicate than that of the human body, while they could distinguish between food which would nourish them and substances which would not. It was not too much to say that the extinction of insects would lead to the extermination of the most beautiful plants existing on the globe; while the extinction of these beautiful plants would, in like manner, be the ruin of the majority of insects.—English Mechanic.

 

Efficacy of Sanitary Improvement.—Two reports have recently been published in Great Britain which illustrate what has been accomplished in lessening the prevalence of disease and prolonging human life by measures of sanitary improvement. The improvement trustees of Glasgow have given out a statement showing that the