Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/574

This page has been validated.

fright. If we human folk are sometimes "too scared to move," why not the lower animals also?

S. F. Goodrich.
Geneva, Ohio, September 5, 1888.



Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Sir: I have been reading Mr. Grant Allen's very interesting article in the October (1888) number of "The Popular Science Monthly," and, with your permission, I wish to set him right on a few points. On page 732 he says: "A wandering bumble-bee, on dinner intent, poked his long proboscis into pea-flower number one, and, after rifling it of its honey, covered his hairy legs and thighs, half accidentally, with abundant pollen." Why half accidentally? The bumblebee knows nothing about the needs of the pea-family, and when it carries the fertilizer from one blossom to another it does it altogether unconsciously and wholly accidentally. Then, again, on page 736, he says: "Now, in the higher plants we get exactly the same sort of combination. . . . If we take any annual plant, like the pea, and look when and where the flowers are produced, we shall see that they come as soon as the plant has attained its full growth, and when the purely vegetative reproductive impulse is beginning to fail." This is not true. The pea begins to blossom at least two weeks before it "has its full growth. Many kinds of pea-plants will be as tall again when they begin to decay as they are when they begin to bloom. And it is not the flowers of the pea-vine that use up its strength and cause it to decay, but the maturing and ripening of the seed. Of course, the pollen must strike the pistil at the right time, or no seed is the result, but this pollen does not come in with any reference to the needs of the plant; it comes to answer the needs of the seeds. Again, on page 739, in speaking of the hybrid orchids, he says: "Some wandering bee, visiting a flower of the yellow orchid at this spot where I stood, had carried away on its head gummy pollen-masses, and then, contrary to the common habit of bees (who generally visit only one particular species of plant at a time), had deposited them on the stigma of a neighboring brown specimen. I suppose he was a young and inexperienced insect, who had not yet learned to avoid the bad practice of mixing his honeys. From this chance fertilization any number of hybrids had taken their rise," etc. It is not true that bees only visit one species of plants on each trip. Bees will go from the red to the black-cap raspberry and gather honey from both; and from our sweetest and best grafted apple-trees to the green, bitter, wild crab. Because bees and insects do go helter-skelter among the flowers, we are always budding and grafting, and are never sure of any of our fruits that come from the seed. To prove this, let any one take some flour and stand among the red and black-cap raspberries where they grow close together, when the bees are roaring around them; put some flour on a bee's back, and then watch it go from blossom to blossom. I think it must convince the most skeptical of two things: First, that bees work on different species; and, second, that bees know nothing, and care less, about the good of the species.

I say it is not true that bees work on the same species while on a trip after honey or pollen. I claim much more than this. They work on the flowers of different families. To prove this, go into a garden of flowers during a dearth of nectar and watch the bees go from flower to flower. They will fumble around among the petals of any blossom that contains either pollen or nectar, mechanically and indiscriminately.

Respectfully yours,
Mahala B. Chaddock.
Fremont, Ill., November 27, 1888.



Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Mr. Cramer's condensed and categorical criticism in your January issue, of my article on this subject, which appeared in the "Monthly" of last October, deserves a reply from me, since his method is direct, and some of the points he raises will bear further ventilation.

First, as to the physical inability of women to take part in the execution of the laws. This I have thought, in common with many other men, to be a sufficient reason why women are not adapted for taking part in government. We are reminded, in reply, that but a portion of the male sex are required to serve in the army, and none beyond the age of forty-five years in this country; and we are told (not for the first time) that, if we disfranchise on this account, we must deprive of the suffrage our most thoughtful class of voters, our older men. This answer is no doubt an honest one, because its refutation is so easy that it would not be brought forward by any one who can see the situation as it is. The situation is simply this: that in all countries, notwithstanding the forty-five-year limit in this one, men will be called on to do military service, when the case requires it, as long as they can walk and carry a gun. Moreover, it is not chiefly as soldiers that men are liable to do duty in the execution of the laws. Any and all men may be called on by the sheriff of the county to serve as posse comitatus. Moreover, all our civil government rests on the police and judicial system, and not a single one of the preliminary steps in the process can be performed by women. Not a man could be arrested, taken to prison, taken to the court-room, or to punishment, without a male police. Since women can not act in any of these capacities, nor yet as