Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/656

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

can conjure forth from the dim ages past the plant entire; and men like Gray and Hooker, while acknowledging themselves not possessed of similar divining power, admit the veracity of the results obtained. I have said a leaf, an organ, sometimes a fragment, is sufficient, and that which to the ordinary observer is wholly enigmatical becomes to the paleophytologist a revelation. "These are the scattered fragments of the old book of Nature. When one sets himself to decipher them, he very soon forgets the singularity of the characters and the poor condition of the pages. Thought rises, ideas develop, the manuscript

PSM V23 D656 Carpinus betuloides and persea.jpg
Fig. 7.—Carpinus betuloides (Ung)? Fig. 8.—Persea ———? x 12

unrolls. It is the tomb that speaks and delivers up its secret."[1] We are reminded of the prophetess of classic fable, who wrote the burden of her prophecy on forest-leaves, and then committed the precious pages to the winds. He who would find the inspiration of her song must have the wit to rearrange.

  1. Saporta, "Monde des plantes avant l’apparition de l'homme."