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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/407

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IDIOSYNCRASY.

chances that that cell would be so connected with other cells elsewhere as to make any part of an organized brain? Can we imagine a new cell so imported, connected in rational manners with hundreds of other cells, in any other way than by a miracle? Which is only a different form of saying, can we imagine it at all?

But here, again, is something more than William Jones's head; here is, let us say, a great poet's, or a great philosopher's, or a great mathematician's head; and here are the upholders of spontaneous variation asking us to believe, not that one cell within it thus spontaneously varied in the right direction, but that a vast number of cells and fibers all varied simultaneously and symmetrically, so as to produce a harmonious and working whole, capable of giving us Othello, or the Evolution Theory, or the Differential Calculus. Why, the thing is clearly impossible—impossible, that is to say, as a result of "accidental" physical causes. We might just conceivably imagine one or two fibers made to connect one or two hitherto unconnected nerve-cells, though even here the probability that the nerve-cells so connected were of heterogeneous orders would be far greater than the probability that they were of homogeneous orders; we could much more readily imagine such connections resulting in a potentiality for believing that a lobster's tail was a blue hope of raspberry watches than in a potentiality for believing that water was composed of hydrogen and oxygen, or that propositions in A were not convertible. But we certainly can not imagine a whole network of such fibers to spring up by spontaneous variation in a human brain, and yet to produce an organized result. If spontaneous variation ever works in this way, its product must surely be either an idiot or a raving madman. To believe the opposite is too much like believing in Mr. Crosse's electrical Acari, which were developed de novo, out of inorganic material, in a dirty galvanic battery, and yet possessed all the limbs and organs of degenerate spiders. It is asking us once more to accept a still greater miracle than the first.

But such miracles, it is urged, do take place elsewhere in nature. For example, an almond-tree, let us say, once produced a peach-bearing branch by bud-variation. Hence it has been inferred that the peach is a spontaneous variation on the central almond theme. Yet peaches are in color, fleshiness, sweetness, and perfume, true fruits, adapted to the fruity method of dispersion, by means of attracting birds; whereas the almond is a nut, with the usual nutty peculiarities of green and brown color, dryness, absence of sweet juice, and so forth. In this case, then, it would seem that bud-variation immediately produced a variety adapted to a different environment in ever so many distinct ways. Well, I have introduced this case, just because it illustrates the very impossibility of such a supposition. For it seems pretty clear that if peaches have grown at one act from almonds, then this must really be a case of reversion; the almond must