Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/584

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570
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

From its highest point, 7,500 feet above the sea, it throws out branches north and south, which now open into alluvial plain, now descend sheer into the girdle of warm blue sea that encircles the island. The trip to the highest point—Blue Mountain Peak—is one of two days, the night being spent in a hut on the summit. Provisions must be laid in and guides procured, who will also serve as porters. The road mounts ridge after ridge, winds down steep descents, crosses the streams that rush down every gorge, skirts along the slopes and goes over the tops of the intervening hills, and now and then leaves one valley and follows the course of another. An easy ride of about four hours brings the traveler to Farm Hill Coffee Plantation, where the keys of the hut on the summit may be obtained. The road then winds along past Whitfield Hall to Abbey Green, whose houses and terraces of solid masonry are perched on slopes so steep that they appear in imminent danger of tumbling into the abyss beneath them. Behind this the road zigzags up the steep sides of the mountain, threading its course between fields of coffee, some of them of such venerable age that many of the bushes have assumed the appearance of dwarfed trees from the constant lopping and pruning, with trunks from six to nine inches in diameter, and only about four feet high. The leaves of cinchona, blotched with scarlet, now add their quota of color to the scene, for we are leaving the coffee region and reaching the elevation at which this plant best flourishes. Hundreds of acres were planted here some fifteen years ago, but their cultivation is less profitable now, and the cinchona runs wild and self-sown, growing in rank thickets. At the top of the peak, about two hours from Farm Hill, is a small open space covered with soft, springy turf and fringed with stunted trees, at one side of which stands a little hut of two rooms. It has a stove and a supply of fire-wood, which can be used on condition of replacing the wood before leaving—a most rigidly observed point of peak etiquette. South of the hut is a narrow track leading down a precipitous ravine, near which is a small pool of water sufficient for one's absolute needs—except in extraordinarily dry weather, when it fails. The thermometer sometimes falls to 40° Fahr., and solid ice was once found on the summit during a wave of unusual cold. Only one of the peaks—Sir John's Peak, which is 6,100 feet high—approaches within 2,000 feet of the altitude of this one. The southern and western slopes of the range are largely cultivated with coffee and inhabited.

 

Concurrence of Parts in the Living Organism.—The presidential address of Dr. J. S. Burdon Sanderson at the British Association was devoted to the exposition of the character and scope of biology. Aristotle was named as the true father and founder of the science, while the name was given to it by Trevirauus. He conceived the difference between vital and physical processes to lie, not in the nature of the processes themselves, but in their co ordination—that is, in their adaptedness to a given purpose, and to the peculiar and special relation in which the organism stands to the external world. His conception, the speaker declared, "can still be accepted as true." It suggests the idea of organism as that to which all other biological ideas must relate. It also suggests, although perhaps it does not express it, that action is not an attribute of the organism but of its essence; that if, on the one hand, protoplasm is the basis of life, life is the basis of protoplasm. Their relations to each other are reciprocal. We think of the visible structure only in connection with the invisible process." It is also of value as indicating at once the two lines of inquiry into which the science has been divided by the evolution of knowledge. These two lines may be easily deduced from the general principle from which Treviranus started, according to which it is the fundamental characteristic of the organism that all that goes on in it is to the advantage of the whole. This conception has at all times presented itself in the minds of those who have sought to understand the distinction between living and non-living. It was expressed by the physiologists of three hundred years ago by the term consensus partium—which was defined as the concurrence of parts in action, of such a nature that each does its share, all combining to bring about one effect, "as if they had been in secret council, but at the same time by some constant law of Nature." It means