but it cannot even be regarded as one of the elements of life, or be compared, for instance, with nerve-force. In fact, the experiments of Helmholz have proved conclusively that such a comparison contradicts the truth. What is the peculiar sign of the vital forces and of vital unity, or the definite expression of their simultaneous action in one organism, is, precisely, organization. But electricity has no causal relation with organization proper. That is the work of some higher activity. That power in action, whatever it be, takes to itself all the forces of Nature, but it links them, coordinates them, and, fixing them into special conditions, compels their service to the purposes of life. Gravitation, heat, light, electricity, all these forces are maintained within living beings—only they are there disguised under a new phenomenal unity, just as the oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, that make up a nerve-cell, vanish in it into a new unity of substance, without ceasing to exist in it as distinct chemical elements. The inorganic powers of Nature are as essential to life as lines and colors are in the composition of the painter's picture. What would the picture be without the painter's soul and labor? The picture is his peculiar work: the physico-chemical forces are the lines and colors of that homogeneous and harmonious composition, which is life. In it they would want meaning or power, if they did not in it, by the operation of a mysterious artist, undergo a transformation which raises them to a dignity not theirs before, and assigns their place in the supreme harmony. Thus, in the infinite solidarity of things, there is, as Leibnitz dreamed, a constant uprising of the lower toward the higher, a steady progress toward the best, a ceaseless aspiration toward a fuller and more conscious existence, an immortal growth toward perfection.—Revue des Deux Mondes.
|PHYSICAL CHARACTERS OF THE HUMAN RACES.|
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY ELIZA A. YOUMANS.
GENTLEMEN: I have already given you three lectures on the history of man. They have all been devoted to the examination of general questions, the solution of which can alone throw light on the study of the human races, and guide us in the midst of thousands of facts of detail involved in it.
These three lectures constitute the first part of the collection of facts and ideas that I have undertaken to expound to you. In these lectures, you know, I considered man in his relation to the universe and to the earth he inhabits. We found that there exists only one