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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/228

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE EXPERIENCES OF A DIVER.
By Prof. HERMANN FOL.[1]

THE Romans of the easy class dreamed of junketing in a villa with an outlook on cultivated fields. A hundred years ago the Alps were never spoken of without laying stress upon their terrors. Such facts show how different are the tastes and the ideals of this generation from those of our ancestors. In the present age of tiresome security, we have become amateurs of danger. One man scales the highest mountain-peaks without any other purpose than to taste for a few hours the rough pleasure of the struggle for existence. Another prefers risks that will contribute to the increase of man's scientific capital, and will leave something more than a simple personal recollection. I invite the exuberant forces of living youth to the exploration of the sea, than which a vaster field and one more capable of satisfying daring and curiosity of every kind can not be found. It is an exploration which, with all deference to cabinet naturalists, presents at once a great attraction and a high scientific importance.

I know persons whose ideal consists in getting preserved specimens, no matter how many, provided they are new. We call new a species that has not yet been dressed up with a Latin name, and which we have consequently a right to baptize with a word in a dead language, followed by the name of the baptizer. The harm of the matter is in the latter element, for, without that addition, the number of Latin names would be reduced by a half, and there would be no occasion to protest against authors who create a genus for each new species. Some find their pleasure in classifying and naming species. Others profess to despise that occupation. They prefer to dissect animals and describe their anatomy, without concerning themselves respecting the use to which the organs are fitted. Still others love to describe the development of beings, without knowing anything of the purpose of the successive organizations of larvæ and young; and they meet in the work anomalies that puzzle their brains. We understand the swallow, because we see its actions. But if there were naturalists living on the bottom of the ocean who had never been in the air, and who knew these graceful birds only through specimens preserved in alcohol, what brilliant zoölogical, anatomical, and embryogenical dissertations would they not make on the subject! I know many among naturalists occupying themselves with marine zoölogy who do not dive or swim, and whose science is of no more value than the swallow-science of our supposed submarine natu-


  1. Address before the Nautical Club of Nice.