Previous Index Next
Page 154
(previous) (Page 000154) (next)
 
[54 FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

imagination, retires in bewilderment from the contempla-
tion of the problem. We are struck dumb by an astonish-
ment which no microscope can relieve, doubting not only
the power of our instrument, but even whether we ourselves
possess the intellectual elements which will ever enable us
to grapple W..th the ultimate structural energies of Nature.

But the speculative faculty, of which imagination forms
so large a part, will nevertheless wander into regions where
the hope of certainty would seem to be entirely shut out.
We think that though the detailed analysis may be, and
may forever remain, beyond us, general notions may be at-
tainable. At all events, it is plain that beyond the present
outposts of microscopic inquiry lies an immense field for
the exercise of the speculative power. It is only, however,
the privileged spirits who know how to use their liberty
without abusing it, who are able to surround imagination
by the firm frontiers of reason, that are likely to work with
any profit here. But freedom, to them is of such paramount
importance that, for the sake of securing it, a good deal of
wildness on the part of weaker brethren may be overlooked.
In more senses than one Mr. Darwin has drawn heavily
upon the scientific tolerance of his age. He has drawn
heavily upon time in his development of species, and he has
drawn adventurously upon matter in his theory of pangen—
esis. According to this theory,a germ already micrOSCOpic
is a world of minor germs. iNot only is the organism as a
whole wrapped up in the germ, but every organ of the or-
ganism has there its special seed. This, I say, is an adven-
turous draft on the power 'of matter to divide itself and
distribute its forces. But, unless We are perfectly sure that
he is overstepping the bounds of reason, that he is unwit-
tingly sinning against observed fact or demonstrated law—-
for a mind like that of Darwin can never sin wittingly
against either fact or law—we ought, I think, to be cautious
in limiting his intellectual horizon. If there be the least

Previous Index Next