Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/750

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injurious. In the absolute governments of Europe the home is safe whatever else may suffer; but a system which shall tend to the dissolution of the home is more dangerous than any form of absolutism which at the same time respects the social unit.

What America needs is not an extension, but a restriction of the suffrage.


I HOLD in my hand here a key to one of the greatest mysteries of life—the perennial mystery of birth and reproduction.

And yet you needn't be in the least afraid that the mystery or its solution involves any technical scientific language, or possesses any tinge of occult abstruseness. It is only a pea that I hold here before me, an ordinary small, round, yellow marrowfat, the seed of the commonest of garden annuals. Nevertheless, that familiar little object, which all of us have known all the days of our life, incloses in itself the entire solution of the riddle of birth. If we understand the pea clearly, we understand the whole science of biology. Let us ask ourselves first, exactly what it is, and then see how it helps us to comprehend the coming into existence of all the higher plants and animals.

The pea is, in fact, here as it stands, a whole embryo plant in a dormant condition, the product, so to speak, of a distinct marriage. More than that, it is a totally new individual, produced by the interaction of separate cells from two pre-existing individual pea-plants. And it is that fact—which it owns in common with every other seed—that gives it illustrative importance as an example of the mode of production of all higher organisms, animal or vegetable. We may use it to explain this fundamental mystery of advanced life, because the principles which govern its origin and growth are the same as the principles which govern the beginning of all other conspicuous plants or animals in the world around us.

If you bend down a branch of a rose-tree, and cover it with earth, it will take root—make a layer, as we say, and grow up apparently into a separate rose-bush. After it has rooted itself firmly in the damp soil, you can cut it off with safety from the mother-plant, and remove it or transplant it to another part of the garden, where it will form, to all outward show, a distinct individual. Similarly, if you take cuttings from a scarlet geranium, and plant them in pots, you can multiply your original specimens in different places to almost any desired extent. In many cases. Nature has even provided beforehand, as it were, for such purely