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Nature
(Thursday, November 4, 1869)

Protoplasm at the antipodes,   p. 13


Page 13


Nov. 4, I 869]
NA TURE
the first-opened male heads no doubt fertilising the stigma
from the next-opened hermaphrodite heads, and so on.
In this species the bracts are not cup-shaped, but nearly
flat; the stigmas hang out very much farther than in
E. helioscojiia; and the styles are perfectly straight.
  The above observations are very imperfect as a series,
and I can only offer them as a contribution towards an
investigation of the laws which govern the cross-fertilisation
or self-fertilisation of winter-flowering plants. On coin-
municating some of them to Mr. Darwin, he suggested that
the self-fertilised flowers of Lamium album, and other
similar plants, may possibly correspond to the well-known
imperfect self-fertilised flowers of Oxalis and Viola; and
that the flowers produced in the summer are cross-fertilised;
a suggestion which I believe will be found correct.
  In conclusion, I may make two observations. The
time of flowering of our common plants given in our text-
books is lamentably inexact; for the hazel, March and
April for instance! and for the white dead-nettle, May and
June! according to Babington. Great care also should
be taken to examine the flowers the moment they are
brought in-doors; as the heat of the room will often cause
the anthers to discharge their pollen in an incredibly short
space of time. This is especially the case with the grasses.
                              ALFRED W. BENNETT
     PROTOPLASM AT THE ANTIPODFS
 T  HE Protoplasm excitement seems to have died away in
     a great measure in this country; and it is probably no
loss to science that the matter has ceased to be a prevailing
topic of conversation at dinner tables. We learn, however,
from the Melbourne papers, that the arrival'of the February
number of the FortnightlyReviewin the Australian colonies
gave rise to an epidemic there of controversial science in
a very alarming form. The description they give of the
intellectual condition of Melbourne in June and July last,
in fact, reminds us of that famous time at Constantinople,
when a cobbler would not mend a pair of shoes until
he had converted his customer from a Homousian to a
Homoiousian, or vice versd. The Melbourne Daily Tele-
grapih is proud to think that a city which a few years back
could only be stirred by a " Jumping Frog," is now agitated
by proteinaceous theories; and this, too, in spite of the fact
that they had previously been warned by the scientific
correspondent of the Melbourne Lcader of Mr. Huxley's
gross ignorance and sensational superficiality. It is per-
fectly well known that at home here Mr. Huxley has been
refuted many more times than there are copies of his
article; but in Melbourne he was refuted over again
afresh. We learn that the Rev. H. Higginson, "in a
singularly able discourse at the Unitarian Church, tore the
theory to shreds in a way"-reports the Argus with
felicitous dubiety-" which showed the preacher to be as
keen a humorist as he is a subtle logician." So able was
the discourse, and so humorous, that it was repeated
shortly afterwards as a lecture at the Mechanics' Institute.
Here, however, the lecturer stated that it was a mistake to
suppose that he had in the sermon either torn the theory
to shreds or treated it in a humorous way; and the report
of the lecture lends great support to the statement.
  It may be perhaps gratifying to Mr. Huxley, to think
that he has stirred men's minds in a place which was
almost a terra incognita when the unknown young assis-
tant-surgeon of the Rattlesnake looked upon it; but the
papers tell us that a reprint of the Fortnightly article has
been the first instance of infringement of copyright in that
colony; and when the learned anatomist was speaking at
Edinburgh he probably little thought that materialism
would take its revenge on him by producing the following
exercise in applied Biology:-
             THE PHYSICAL BASIS OF LIFE.
   Huxley's celebrated Essay on this subject is lectured on
                        daily, by
                   WVILLIAMi BARTON,
who has made the matter a life study. It is also illustrated daily
at his tables, where the "physical basis" can be laid in from
I I to 3, in the best cooked and most varied
                    HOT LUNCHEON
in the city.
  The first feeling which comes to the mind after such
things as these is an unbounded belief in the wisdom of
those old teachers who kept esoteric and exoteric doctrines
wide apart, and who laid bare the workings of their
minds to trusted scholars only, and never to the vulgar
gaze. We begin fervently to wish that our illustrious
biologist had not, by the dress and mode of his lecture, so
laid great biological truths before the public as to excite
those especially ignorant of the science of life to try and
trample them under foot, and then leave them for a vulgar
tavern-keeper to hang up for a sign.
  Second-better-thoughts, however, remind us that men
of science work not for themselves, or for their scientific
fellows, but for mankind; and that only mischief can come
of it if they whose business it is to ask Nature her secrets
are hindered from telling the world all that they think
they hear. It is impossible to separate science from other
knowledge and from daily life: all new discoveries espe-
cially must have ties with every part of our nature. It is
not the business of the biologist to enforce on others what
he believes to be the consequences of his biological dis-
coveries; but it is certainly not his duty to withhold his
facts from the common people because of the results which
he thinks will follow.
  And in regard to Australia in particular, we have this
reflection, that the plough is needful for the seed; heavy
land wants well turning up. There are not wanting signs
that a national character is beginning to form among the
inhabitants of that country; and we trust that scientific
zeal will be one of its chief features. We hope that science
even in a controversial form will never again give way in
Melbourne to the vain delights of the "Jumping Frog ;"
and that the protoplasm which Mr. William Barton so ad-
mirably cooks will reappear in the nerve cells of Australian
brains, and give rise to that love of truth, apart from gold
or gain, which is the "moral" basis of "national" life.
We may add that we hope not without confidence; for a
bright example of conscientious truthfulness appeared in
the midst of this small biological tempest. Many of our
readers may remember the abundant fervour with which
Prof Halford, some years since, attacked Mr. Huxley's
" Man's Place in Nature." At the end of Mr. Higginson's
lecture the talented Melbourne anatomist courageously told
the meeting, that he had seen reason to change his
opinions. Every one here will rejoice to receive from the
Antipodes a lesson of self-denial and moral daring, not too
common amongst ourselves.
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