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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/117

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SCIENCE OF FLAT-FISH, OR SOLES AND TURBOT.

organic perfectionment of the brain gives to the highest of the primates the faculty of articulate speech; that faculty, brought into play, gives rise to an extremely rudimentary system of expression, the source of which, as Lucretius has observed with much force and justice, lies in an imperious need. This need is, in fact, the creator of words. Gradually the monosyllabic words become differentiated into principal words and words of secondary signification. A new phase begins with the closer association of words, and the different processes of derivation develop themselves more and more. The third phase is characterized at first by a remarkable synthetic process, which soon, however, undergoes simplification, and yields under the influence of a more rapid civilization to a more and more accentuated analytical precision. The ultimate form has evidently not yet been reached by the English and French languages; but since language was born with man, and is his single characteristic, though laboriously and slowly developed as all his powers have expanded, it is destined to be transformed into more and more perfect forms of expression as man himself continues to ascend in the scale of superiority.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.

 

THE SCIENCE OF FLAT-FISH, OR SOLES AND TURBOT.

"ONCE upon a time," says that delicious creation of Lewis Carroll's, the Mock Turtle, "I was a real turtle!" Once upon a time, the modern sole might with greater truth plaintively observe, I was a very respectable sort of a young codfish. In those happy days, my head was not unsymmetrically twisted and distracted all on one side; my mouth did not open laterally instead of vertically; my two eyes were not incongruously congregated on the right half of my distorted visage; and my whole body w r as not arrayed, like a Portland convict's, in a party-colored suit, dark-brown on the right and fleshy-white on the left department of my unfortunate person. When I was young and innocent, I looked externally very much like any other swimming thing, except, to be sure, that I was perfectly transparent, like a speck of jelly-fish. I had one eye on each side of my head; my face and mouth were a model of symmetry; and I swam upright like the rest of my kind, instead of all on one side after the bad habit of my own immediate family. Such, in fact, is the true portrait of the baby sole, for the first few days after it has been duly hatched out of the eggs deposited on the shallow spawning-places by the mother-fishes.

After some weeks, however, a change comes o'er the spirit of the young flat-fish's dream of freedom. In his very early life he is a wan-