Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/487

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469
A MARINE BIOLOGICAL OBSERVATORY.

common medium bear to one another; their relations with their surroundings, and without which they would he unable to sustain the struggle for existence. Here, again, lies a field, little explored as yet, open to researches which have not only great scientific interest hut immediate and undeniable practical value. I should perhaps surprise the public, who are in the habit of attributing to us savants a much greater fund of scientific knowledge than we really possess—I should perhaps surprise the public by maintaining that, with the exception of the herring and the sole, which have been studied of late years, we have only very fragmentary, incomplete, and insufficient knowledge of the life conditions of a host of marine animals, the fishery of which enriches so many industries and supplies us with so valuable a store of food. Our laws and regulations respecting marine fisheries (I speak only of continental Europe) are based on the vaguest notions—to a great extent only on suppositions or on analogies drawn from freshwater fisheries. I am well aware of the fact that the settling of these questions, on the solution of which so largely depends the future of our fisheries, and with these the nourishment of our posterity—I am well aware of the fact, I say, that here also considerable resources are necessary: extensive aquaria, steam launches for long excursions—in short, all sorts of paraphernalia. But more requisite than all these are patient observers, indefatigable workers, who will not hesitate to devote years of labor to the solution of problems that may be summed up in a few words or even prove insoluble. I am convinced, however, that when once the utility—yes, the necessity—of such researches is generally recognized, citizens interested in the welfare and progress of their country will be found to furnish, some the financial resources, others the sustained intellectual labor.

Such are, to my mind, the aims of a marine biological laboratory. Has the utility, the necessity of such institutions been demonstrated? I trust that it has. I do not deny that the pursuit of these aims will require very considerable sums. I may add that the expense will be still further increased by the purchase and maintenance of an appropriate library. A neighboring library, to which access can not be had without some trouble, will not be sufficient. The investigators should be able while their work is in progress, to put their hands on all the books that can give them any information on the subject of their study. It is the possession of just such a library that assigns so important a rank to the station at Naples.

You have my best wishes, my dear sir, for the success of your enterprise. I sincerely hope that you will be assisted by your countrymen in every way, munificently, abundantly. You will pardon the length of my letter. If it contributes to the desired result, I shall be more than delighted. It will be a great joy to me in my old age to see arising on the other side of the Atlantic, through the free initiative of your fellow-countrymen, an institution destined to render great service to science, to the country, and to the people. With this wish I remain,

Yours sincerely, C. Vogt.

Prof. Huxley writes:

[London,] October 30, 1891.

Dear Sir: At this time of day, I do not think that a project for the establishment of a biological laboratory should need much advocacy. Biological problems are certainly before the public, and I hope that it is beginning to dawn upon the veriest Gigadibs of a littérateur, that the solutions of them are to be obtained by no book learned speculation however ingenious, but by patient appeal to Nature in the way of observation and experiment. I do not venture to say that