Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/700

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

then surely the existing affinities would exert their influence, and the higher compound would be restored in its former integrity and completeness. This—expressed in the language of chemistry—is exactly what in reality occurs.

The union of the disintegrated protoplasm with complemental material, furnished by the medium, can be directly witnessed without any possibility of misapprehension. We see the disintegrated protoplasm. We see it combine with substances drifted to it by the medium, and we see it in consequence reassume its former state.

Now, at last, we have actually entered the threshold of organization. We have discovered the fundamental fact of its statics. We know positively that reintegration of the living substance, restoration of the disturbed vital equilibrium, is the work of preëstablished chemical affinities, and that it requires extraneous matter of a specific kind to enable this restitution to take place.

The statical aspect of all organization offers nothing but a complication of this one event of chemical equilibrium, a vast complication in the molecular gradations of functionally disintegrated protoplasm, a vast complication also in the gradations of restitutive material.

The integration and differentiation of vital function on the one hand, and the preparation and composition of food-material on the other hand, form—as we will become fully aware further on—the two great divisions in the subject-matter of the science of organization, divisions corresponding to the fundamental biplicity of all advanced organization, its animal and its vegetative life. Organization in the sphere of animal life is the expression of the development of manifold outside relations in the vital unit. Organization in the sphere of vegetative life is the expression of the preparation of more and more elaborate material, fit to restore the functional waste of those developed relations.

I believe no candid critic can deny that the above related observations have laid open to inspection the secret mechanism of life; have reduced to the domain of operations known in the inorganic world the performances that, in a primitive state of life, visibly constitute vital activity.

With little more mental exertion than is required for the faithful interpretation of obvious appearances, a scientific feat has been accomplished which but yesterday seemed totally impracticable. I am aware that, on account of its strange simplicity, many will deem that, after all, not much advantage has been gained by it. But let no one deceive himself in this. By dint of this internal as well as external understanding of motility, we know at this very moment more, much more, about the property of life in the living substance than we do of any other property belonging to any other substance.

We clearly conceive the manner how, and the conditions by which, motility, this most prominent vital manifestation, constitutes an inher-