Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/107

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and hard-working gardener striving to outwit the enemies and parasites of his time, saving and enwreathing his cares in the glory of the achievements of the past.

The animal moves—most gifted and superior animal that possesses a power which the plant does not! Is this a truism? Among many kinds of fungi, water-weeds, sea-weeds, mosses, and even ferns, the spores and male organs actually possess locomotive power, and by means of cilia and flagella are able to move from the parent plant, and distribute themselves to some distance.

The suicidal mania is apparently appreciated by not man only. In Africa, ants have been seen marching by thousands for days together into a stream, and being swallowed by crowds of fish as fast as they could get into the water. Butterflies have been known to migrate in numbers to the sea. Similar tales have been told of rats.

We say that the existence and possession of a soul, the something that dogmatic theology asserts can exist after the death of the brain, after the death of the individual, is the attribute of man alone, and marks him as the head of the creation. Every thought that passes through our mind, every effort that guides our pen, is brought about by the molecular energy of the brain and of the muscle cells; this power is dependent upon the proper nutrition of these cells and of the body as a whole. Starve the tissues of the brain and muscle—thought no longer flows, the pen is no longer guided. The lower animals think, move, have instinct; they are conscious of ill or wrong, of joy and remorse, and herein lie the totalities of the soul. Soul is only the name for a mystery that we can not explain, and this mysterious combination which leads us to dwell upon a life devoid of mechanism, a life freed from the trammels of matter, with its repellent forces and energies, surely belongs to us only in degree. What rights have we, what proofs have we, to help us to assume to ourselves a one exclusive evolving soul, fitting itself for a newer and purer existence, and yet to deny all that we base our hopes upon to the whole of the rest of the creation? Surely the lower animals have their degree of soul, and a chance of a lesser heaven as well as our important selves. Our thoughts and actions are bestial, only too often to a loathsome degree; and on the other hand not only the ape world, but also still lower creatures, point us daily many a useful moral or loving lesson. Does the existence of the soul mark the gulf that separates man from all other living beings? Does the lowest Bushman of to-day possess a soul denied to the highest anthropoid ape, and if he does not, who shall draw the line where the animal is separated from beatified man? not man, at all events.

In the frightful and only too common form of insanity, "the