Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/209

This page has been validated.

consequently should be professed by no consistent believer in Evolution. Those who do not assent to these doctrines would probably never be able to believe in Archebiosis at all—to the "vitalist" life is an immaterial principle specially created, and therefore our flask experiments terminating in the birth of new organisms, if they carried with them any convictions at all, would simply be regarded by him as proving the occurrence of Heterogenesis. This is the view to which a vitalist would be driven, if he had become convinced that no germs of Bacteria, or of such organisms as are found in our flasks, could have survived the preliminary process of heating. Such a vague sort of position is not open, however, to those who believe in the now generally-accepted physical doctrines of life. They are bound to recognize the undoubted distinction which exists between mere dead organic matter and that organic matter which displays the phenomena of life. They should no more think of calling a body "living" which could not be made to display the characteristics of life, than they would call a body "magnetic" when it would show none of the properties pertaining to magnetism. If they had learned, therefore, that living matter when exposed to heat of a certain intensity became lifeless matter, the process by which new living protoplasm comes into existence among this dead organic material would be, for them, as much an instance of its new independent origin as if the process had occurred in the midst of mere inorganic elements. The term Archebiosis is therefore applicable to the process that must take place in our ordinary flask experiments where we have to do with dead organic matter, just as it is also applicable to those more primordial combinations which first gave birth to living protoplasm. The continued occurrence of an independent elemental "origin" of living matter we are called upon to believe in at the present day, though the actual steps of the process by which it takes place are unfortunately as completely unknown to us as are the steps by which its "growth" occurs whether from organic or from inorganic materials.—Contemporary Review.



Instruments in Physical Progress.

WHEN the States-General of France were assembled for the last time at Versailles, after a long interval of inactivity, and an inaugural address was pronounced by the Bishop of Nancy, Mirabeau

  1. Retiring Address before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at the Hartford meeting, August 14, 1874, by the ex-president.