Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/322

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and to ply the crop with all the sprays and washes in succession ought not to be regarded as the utmost that science can attempt. There is at the present time hardly any comprehensive study of the morbid physiology of plants comparable with that which has been so greatly developed in application to animals. The nature of the resistance to disease characteristic of so many varieties, and the modes by which it may be ensured, offers a most attractive field for research, but it is one in which the advance must be made by the development of pure science, and those who engage in it must be prepared for a long period of labor without ostensible practical results. It has seemed to me that the most likely method of attack is here, as often, an indirect one. We should probably do best if we left the direct and special needs of agriculture for a time out of account, and enlisted the services of pathologists trained in the study of disease as it affects man and animals, a science already developed and far advanced towards success. Such a man, if he were to devote himself to the investigation of the same problems in the case of plants could, I am convinced, make discoveries which would not merely advance the theory of disease-resistance in general very greatly, but would much promote the invention of rational and successful treatment.

As regards the application of genetics to practise, the case is not very different. When I go to the Temple Show or to a great exhibition of live stock, my first feeling is one of admiration and deep humility. Where all is so splendidly done and results so imposing are already attained, is it not mere impertinence to suppose that any advice we are able to give is likely to be of value?

But as soon as one enters into conversation with breeders, one finds that almost all have before them some ideal to which they have not yet attained, operations to perform that they would fain do with greater ease and certainty, and that as a matter of fact, they are looking to scientific research as a possible source of the greater knowledge which they require. Can we, without presumption, declare that genetic science is now able to assist these inquirers? In certain selected cases it undoubtedly can—and I will say, moreover, that if the practical men and we students could combine our respective experiences into one head, these cases would already be numerous. On the other hand, it is equally clear that in a great range of examples practise is so far ahead that science can scarcely hope in finite time even to represent what has been done, still less to better the performance. We can not hope to improve the Southdown sheep for its own districts, to take a second off the trotting record, to increase the flavor of the muscat of Alexandria, or to excel the orange and pink of the rose Juliet. Nothing that we know could have made it easier to produce the Rambler roses, or even to evoke the latest novelties in sweet peas, though it may