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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/643

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623
GLIMPSES AT DARWIN'S WORKING LIFE.

absurd, even in my opinion, that I dare not tell you." Everything—for he was trying to show that seeds and eggs could be carried on ocean-currents for indefinite distances and then develop—depended on the seeds floating. If, however, the seeds should sink, and sink after new trials, he would still not give up the floating, but, as a last resource, "must believe in the pod, or even whole plant or branch washed into the sea; with floods, and slips, and earthquakes, this must be continually happening, and, if kept wet, I fancy the pods, etc., would not open and shed their seeds." Again, he begins to think the floating question more serious than the germinating one, and is making all the inquiries he can on the subject. He tells how three plants have come up out of the earth perfectly inclosed in the roots of trees, and twenty-nine plants out of the tablespoonful of mud from the little pond; and how Hooker was struck when shown how much mud had been scraped off one duck's feet; these facts all being regarded as illustrating the ways in which seeds might have been transported to different islands. He thanks Wallace for an offer to look after horses' stripes; wants him to add donkeys, if there are any; and expresses a community of interest with him in bees' combs. He tries experiments on the struggle for existence with thick plantations of weeds in which the fate of each seedling is noted; and observes how young fir-trees flourish in ground that is fenced, while others, in the same plantation, unprotected from cattle, are invisible till closely looked for, and do not grow to be more than three inches high in twenty-six years.

While thus attentive to the minutest details of fact, he declares himself "a firm believer that without speculation there is no good and original observation"; and that "the naturalists who accumulate facts and make many partial generalizations are the real benefactors of science. Those who merely accumulate facts I can not very much respect."

The "Origin of Species" was at first intended to be published simply as an "Abstract," because the author regarded the use of some such term as the only possible apology for not giving references and facts in full, but the publisher objected to it, and the work appeared under the title it bears. There was a question whether it would be advisable to tell Mr. Murray that the book was "not more unorthodox than the subject makes inevitable"; or would it be better to say nothing to Mr. Murray, "and assume that he can not object to this much unorthodoxy, which, in fact, is not more than any geological treatise which runs slap counter to Genesis"?

Mr. Darwin had much difficulty with his style. While engaged upon his earlier works, he wrote: "I shall always feel respect for every one who has written a book, let it be what it may, for I had no idea of the trouble which trying to write common English could cost one," and, "It is an awful thing to say to one's self, ' Every fool and