LOVE AND ITS HIDDE.I HISTORY.
sponding in form with the interior of the hair which it fills. When
viewed with a sufficiently high magnifying power, the protoplasmic
layer of the nettle-hair is seen to be in a condition of unceasing
activity. Local contractions of the whole thickness of its sub¬
stance pass slowly and gradually from point to point, and give
rise to the appearance of progressive waves, just as the bending
of successive stalks of corn by a breeze produces the apparent
billowrs of a corn-field.
" ' But, in addition to these movements and independently of
them, the granules are driven, in relatively rapid streams, through
channels in the protoplasm which seem to have a considerable
amount of persistence. Most commonly, the currents in adjacent
parts of the protoplasm take similar directions ; and, thus, there
is a general stream up one side of the hair and down the other.
But this does not prevent the existence of partial currents which.
take different routes; and, sometimes, trains of granules may be
seen coursing swiftly in opposite directions, within a twenty-thou¬
sandth of an inch of one another; while, occasionally, opposite
streams come into direct collision, and, after a longer or shorter
struggle, one predominates. The cause of these currents seems
to lie in contractions of the protoplasm, which bounds the chan¬
nels in which they flow, but which are so minute that the best
microscopes show only their effects, and not themselves.
" ' The spectacle afforded by the wonderful energies prisoned
within the compass of the microscopic hair of a plant, which we
commonly regard as a merely passive organism, is not easily for¬
gotten by one who has watched its display, continued hour after
hour, without pause or sign of weakening. The possible com¬
plexity of many other organic forms, seemingly as simple as the
protoplasm of the nettle, dawns upon one; and the comparison of
such a protoplasm to a body with an internal circulation, which
has been put forward by an eminent physiologist, loses much of
its startling character. Currents similar to those of the hairs of
the nettle have been observed in a great multitude of very differ¬
ent plants, and weighty authorities have suggested that they prob¬
ably occur, in more or less perfection, in all young vegetable cells.
If such be the case, the wonderful noonday silence of a tropical
forest is, after all, due only to the dulness of our hearing- • and
could our ears catch the murmur of these tiny maelstroms as they