Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/421

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that fermentation occurs only when a microscopical vegetable organism nourishes itself and multiplies at the expense of a part of the fermentable substance. All fermentation is accompanied by life; both processes (fermentation and growth) begin and end simultaneously; that is, fermentation is a correlative phenomenon of life.

The question of spontaneous generation is closely bound up with the question of fermentation, the supporters of the former claiming that life has its origin in a new combination of elements—archebiosis, a combination which resembles that which occurs in crystallization, and that the same causes which induce the chemical decompositions and subsequent combinations known as fermentation also bring about the combinations which result in life. The discussion has been very active, and, in France, Pasteur, skillful dialectician as he is, had to fight long and hard for the victory which he won. History shows that spontaneous generation has often been invoked to explain an unknown mode of production of life, and has always disappeared before advancing knowledge, and, now that it has been overthrown when claimed for the lowest forms of microscopical life, it probably will not reappear until an advance in the means of observation shall have revealed to observers still lower and more minute forms.



THE doctrine of necessity has been ably advocated by many acute philosophers, and is to-day, in various forms, including fatalism, the accepted creed of a large portion of mankind. A doctrine thus supported, and so immediately bearing upon our actions and our powers, cannot but be worthy of serious attention.

Prof. Huxley, approaching it on the material side, in the true spirit of philosophical inquiry, trustingly following wherever truth seemed to him to lead, and regardless of the apprehended consequences of attacking dominant creeds and opinions, has pushed this doctrine to its legitimate logical consequences, in the conclusion that all animals, man included, are but "conscious automata," moved and directed in their movements by extrinsic forces.

With him, I believe that all progress in knowledge is beneficial; I deprecate no enterprise in experiment, nor any boldness in speculation, if we are duly cautious in accepting and applying its results. The revelations of intelligent and honest inquiry always merit respectful and careful consideration, but are not properly exempt from scrutiny.

Although I have perhaps deviated as far on one side of the current opinions as Prof. Huxley has on the other, I cannot claim any credit