Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/375

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In the course of his doubtless well-meant admonitions, the Duke of Argyll commits himself to a greater number of statements which are demonstrably incorrect, and which any one who ventured to write upon the subject ought to have known to be incorrect, than I have ever seen gathered together in so small a space.

I submit a gathering from the rich store for the appreciation of the public.


Mr. Murray's new explanation of the structure of coral reefs and islands was communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1880, and supported with such a weight of facts and such a close texture of reasoning, that no serious reply has ever been attempted (see "The Popular Science Monthly," p. 252).

"No serious reply has ever been attempted!" I suppose that the Duke of Argyll may have heard of Professor Dana, whose years of labor devoted to corals and coral-reefs when he was naturalist of the American expedition under Commodore Wilkes, more than forty years ago, have ever since caused him to be recognized as an authority of the first rank on such subjects. Now does his Grace know, or does he not know, that, in the year 1885, Professor Dana published an elaborate paper "On the Origin of Coral Reefs and Islands," in which, after referring to a presidential address by the Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland delivered in 1883, in which special attention is directed to Mr. Murray's views. Professor Dana says:

The existing state of doubt on the question has led the writer to reconsider the earlier and later facts, and in the following pages he gives his results.

Professor Dana then devotes many pages of his very "serious reply" to a most admirable and weighty criticism of the objections which have at various times been raised to Mr. Darwin's doctrine, by Professor Semper, by Dr. Rein, and finally by Mr. Murray, and he states his final judgment as follows:

With the theory of abrasion and solution incompetent, all the hypotheses of objectors to Darwin's theory are alike weak; for all have made these processes their chief reliance, whether appealing to a calcareous or a volcanic or a mountain-peak basement for the structure. The subsidence which the Darwinian theory requires has not been opposed by the mention of any fact at variance with it, nor by setting aside Darwin's arguments in its favor; and it has found new support in the facts from the Challenger's soundings off Tahiti, that had been put in array against it, and strong corroboration in the facts from the West Indies. Darwin's theory, therefore, remains as the theory that accounts for the origin of reefs and islands.[1]

Be it understood that I express no opinion on the controverted points. I doubt if there are ten living men who, having a practical

  1. "American Journal of Science," 1885, p. 190.