Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

70                       Vibrations

time, and so very old vibrations get carried into any fragment
that is broken off; whereas in the case of air and water,
vibrations get soon effaced and only very recent vibrations
get carried into the young air and the young water which
are, therefore, born fully grown ; they cannot grow any more
nor can they decay till they are killed outright by something
decomposing them. If protoplasm was more viscid it would
not vibrate easily enough ; if less, it would run away into the
surrounding water.

Germs within Germs

When we say that the germ within the hen's egg remembers
having made itself into a chicken on past occasions, or that
each one of 100,000 salmon germs remembers to have made
itself into a salmon (male or female) in the persons of the
single pair of salmon its parents, do we intend that each
single one of these germs was a witness of, and a concurring
agent in, the development of the parent forms from their
respective germs, and that each one of them therefore, was
shut up within the parent germ, like a small box inside a big

If so, then the parent germ with its millions of brothers
and sisters was in like manner enclosed within a grand-
parental germ, and so on till we are driven to admit, after
even a very few generations, that each ancestor has contained
more germs than could be expressed by a number written
in small numerals, beginning at St. Paul's and ending at
Charing Cross. Mr. Darwin's provisional theory of pangenesis
comes to something very like this, so far as it can be under-
stood at all.

Therefore it will save trouble (and we should observe no
other consideration) to say that the germs that unite to form
any given sexually produced individual were not present in
the germs, or with the germs, from which the parents sprang,
but that they came into the parents' bodies at some later

We may perhaps find it convenient to account for their
intimate acquaintance with the past history of the body into
which they have been introduced by supposing that in virtue
of assimilation they have acquired certain periodical rhythms