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pardon them; for if they could no longer think, what would be left to them? As students of nature, however, we may only draw conclusions from accurate observations, but we must always define the limits beyond which we cannot go. If Unger is right in saying that not the meanest plant can spring from our soil without a germ, must not a sober investigator conclude that what cannot occur to-day by existing laws of nature, can never have occurred ? For it is upon this very fixity of these eternal laws that the whole structure of earthly knowledge rests.”

The older savants, to whom Quenstedt is probably alluding in this passage, were much more liberal with suppositions that things might have happened formerly which do not happen now, than is held to be allowable or even possible in these days. There is a fantastic work by the well-known savant Oken, which is notorious in this respect, in it there is a description of how men might have sprung from the warm primæval ocean as boys of about two years old. I was reminded of Oken's idea by Hæckel. He does not actually quote its contents, but he ends a pamphlet, published in 1870, with the observation that recent investigations might afford a striking confirmation of Oken's mystic prophetical sentence, “Every organic thing has arisen from slime, and is nothing but primitive slime in different forms. This primitive slime originated in the sea from inorganic matter.” Hæckel, no doubt, does not say that boys of two years old originated from primitive slime in the deep sea, but only that the monera did so, and especially the Bathybius Hæckelii. But he considers these monera as his Gós pol Troll OTô; if they spring from the primitive slime of the sea depths, the origin of the whole animal and vegetable world up to man is explained; for the pedigree of all living things may be traced back to the monera. But I shall have to speak of this later. Let us confine ourselves to the question whether organic beings came into existence by spontaneous generation in the earliest periods of the earth's history.

1 In a paper in the Isis, 1819 (cf. Wagner, Gesch, der Cruelt, ii. 270), with the motto, “Let us make man.” “A child of two years old," he says, “would no doubt be able to preserve its own life, if it found nourishment close at hand, such as worms, snails, cherries, apples, turnips, potatoes, and even mice, goats, cows; for the child sucks without being taught, and at that age it had teeth, and could walk." The first man. therefore, must have originated as just such a “boy" as Oken has described above; he even gives us a drawing of him. But how? “The fact that everything living has come from the sea is a truth which no one who has any knowledge of natural science and philosophy—and no one else need be considered—will dispute. No doubt thousands of the embryos of these boys originated in the sea, if they did originate at all. Some were thrown on the shore before they attained to maturity, and were destroyed; others were crushed against rocks, others were devoured by fish. But what did that signify? Thousands remained who were thrown on shore at the proper time, soft and mature, who then burst open their shells, scratched out worms, and took the mussels and snails from their shells. If we can eat oysters now, why could not the sea men have done the same ? If the sea rose, the boy could escape, he got to higher land, and found plenty of plants, even if they were only toad-stools. There was no want, therefore, of food and nourishment, nor of things to while away the time, for probably dozens of other boys had been driven on to the same coast at the same time. Why should not this boy have been able to make sounds some of pain, others of joy, others when calling, others of disgust, others of tenderness, others in anger? Who can doubt all this for a single instant? Language therefore originates in man, as man does in the sea. We have thus shown that children develop in the sea, and can preserve life out of it. But how did they get into the sea ? Not from outside, for everything organic must originate in water. They have therefore originated in the sea. How is that possible ? No doubt just as other animals, at least infusoria and medusa, have originated and still originate every day.” In conclusion, Oken says that it is only for want of warmth that the sea cannot bring forth men now-a-days; formerly it was at blood heat, and therefore it was then possible for men to originate in it.

1 Das Leben in den grössten Meerestiefen, p. 39.

It is one of the most certain discoveries of geology, that plants and animals have not existed from eternity,' and that organic life on the earth had a beginning. If the modern geological histories of the earth are not wrong in their most essential points, there was a period when there were no organic beings on the earth. We may leave undecided the question as to the period in which the first plants and animals appeared; but all eminent geologists agree in asserting that there was some such period.

How did these first organisms come into existence ? Let us for a moment put aside the answer given to this question by philosophers and theologians, and let us see what men of science answer from their point of view. All scientific men who have interested themselves in this question without allowing their philosophical and theological views to influence their opinion, would simply answer, “Natural Science cannot ascertain how the first plants and animals came into existence; as men of science, we do not know.” Thus G. Bischof says, “In all our investigations, however far we may follow them up, we come at last to a point beyond which we cannot go. As men of science we know just as little of the manner in which the first plants came into existence on the earth, as we do about the origin of things."3 And F. Cohn says:* “There is no (plant) cell which does not consist of the carbon compound albumen; this exact

i Zolbe, Neue Darstellung des Sensualismus, 1855. Cf. Zöckler, Gesch. der Beziehungen, ii. 726.

? Frohschammer, Das Christenthun, p. 72. Cornelius, Die Entstehung der Welt, p. 134.

3 Lehrbuch, etc., 1st ed. ii. 101. ? Licht und Leben, Berlin 1869, p. 26. substance is only generated in plant cells: every cell, therefore, presupposes a previous cell, in which its vital matter was prepared. Thus we find ourselves in a circle from which there is no escape. The question always remains, How did the first cell come into existence ? Here, as always, when Science comes forth from the region of observation and experience, and ventures to inquire into the origin of things, the answer is wanting.” In a work which appeared later, he says: “There is no doubt that life on the earth had a beginning; but there are now no analogous phenomena to show how the first living beings came into existence.”? And although, agreeing with the English savant Sir W. Thomson, he adds to this statement à supposition that organic life may have been carried to our planet from another, that the germs of the Bacteria or of a similar extremely small and simple being may have come from some lifesupporting plant, and have been carried about in space like tiny specks of dust, whence they entered the earth's atmosphere, and thus brought organic life to the earth,—this is only, as Cohn himself says, “an idea which far outstrips the boundaries of exact science,” and an attempt “to supplement by fancy, the gaps which sober inquiry cannot fill up.” Nanstein says that the attempt is too absurd to require serious discussion, nor is the question answered even by this supposition. It is only removed one step further, and it comes back in this form, How did organic life come i Ueber Bakterien, Berlin 1872, p. 31.

? He brought forward this hypothesis at Edinburgh in 1871. Cf. Zöckler, Op. cit. ii. 723. Pfaff, Schöpfungsgesch, 2nd ed. p. 736.

3 Das Protoplasma, p. 179.



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into existence in the planet from which the Bacteria germs found their way on to the earth ?

Huxley, one of the most enthusiastic and gifted supporters of the Darwinian theory, sums up a long discussion in these words : “The inquiry which we undertook, at our last meeting, into the state of our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature-of the past and of the present, -resolved itself into two subsidiary inquiries; the first was, whether we know anything, either historically or experimentally, of the mode of origin of living beings. ... The reply which I had to give to the first question was altogether negative, and the chief result of my last lecture was, that neither historically nor experimentally, do we at present know anything whatsoever about the origin of living forms. We saw that, historically, we are not likely to know anything about it, although we may perhaps learn something experimentally; but that at present we are an enormous distance from the goal I indicated.”I Darwin himself did not enter into the question of the origin of organic beings. In the first edition of his first famous book, he said it was his task to trace back all organic beings geologically to some few primæval forms, into which he says “life was breathed.” As this expression was ridiculed, he gave the following explanation of it in a London paper :: “Nor is there a fact, or the shadow of a fact, supporting the belief that these elements, without the presence of any organic compounds, and acted on only by known forces, could produce a living creature ?

1 On our Knowledge, etc., p. 82. 2 The Athenoum, April 25, 1863, p. 554.

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