Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/513

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497
EDITOR'S TABLE.

Prof. Huxley's words are neither "expressly quoted" nor quoted at all, and in which the substance is not to be found in the article cited.

The second paragraph of the book opens thus: "To this amazingly strategic and haughtily-trumpeted substance found at the lowest bottoms of the oceans, Huxley gave the scientific name Bathybius, from two Greek words meaning deep and sea, and assumed that it was in the past, and would be in the future, the progenitor of all the life on the planet." It is not true that, in the article cited by Mr. Cook, Prof. Huxley made any such assumption as is alleged, any more than it is true that the word Bathybius has the derivation here assigned to it. This characterization of the announcement of Bathybius is simply a slanderous misrepresentation. That Mr. Cook intended it to apply to Huxley is obvious from the connection, and is proved by the fact that on page 69 he again refers to it as "the haughty claim of Huxley." Nothing could be more false, as we shall presently show, than the impression conveyed by this language.

On the third page we are told that "Dr. Carpenter rejected Huxley's testimony on this matter of fact," but where, or in what form, he has done so is not mentioned. The statement is entirely improbable, as Dr. Carpenter had himself observed the living Bathybius dredged up on the expedition of the Porcupine, samples of which he furnished to Huxley; while so late as 1875 he speaks in his work on the microscope "of these indefinite expansions of protoplasmic substance, which there is much reason to regard as generally spread over the deep-sea bed."

Having introduced Bathybius to the attention of his auditors, in the manner here indicated, Mr. Cook announced to them, with due rhetorical flourish, that it is now nothing but an exploded myth. We shall be better able to judge of the truthfulness, both of his former statements and of this assertion, by briefly glancing at the history of the substance.

The paper of 1868 here referred to is entitled "On some Organisms living at Great Depths in the North Atlantic Ocean." In the first part of this article he referred to a report, which he had himself drawn up, concerning the sticky mud obtained by Captain Dayman in sounding the North Atlantic in 1857; the report of Prof. Huxley being published in 1858. In his observations upon this mud he discovered some curious little microscopic bodies, which at first suggested an organic origin, but which Prof. Huxley concluded were not of this character. The language in the original report is as follows: "I find in almost all these deposits a multitude of very curious rounded bodies, to all appearance consisting of several concentric layers surrounding a minute, clear centre, and looking, at first sight, somewhat like single cells of the plant protococcus; as these bodies, however, are rapidly and completely dissolved by dilute acids, they cannot be organic, and I will, for convenience' sake, simply call them coccoliths."

Some observations made by Dr. Wallich and Mr. Sorby led them to think that Prof. Huxley had been mistaken in the conclusion here given, and that the objects which he supposed to be of a mineral nature were really of organic origin. Prof. Huxley was then led to reconsider the subject, of which he made a prolonged study with higher microscopic powers, and the result was that he came to the same conclusion as the observers referred to, that the minute microscopic objects belonged to the lowest forms of the living world. Certain minute albuminous or protoplasmic bodies of the very lowest type had been discovered by Prof. Haeckel, and named moners, and it was Prof. Huxley's opinion that the minute objects he had been studying from the sea-slime belong to this class. We quote the passages from the article in