LOVE AND ITS HIDDEN HISTORY.
which appears upon decaying vegetable substances, and in one of
its forms is common upon the surfaces of tan-pits. In this condi¬
tion it is, to all intents and purposes, a fungus, and formerly was
alwaj-s regarded as such ; but the remarkable investigations of
De Bary have shown that, in another condition, the uEthalium is
an actively locomotive creature, and takes in solid matters, upon
which, apparently, it feeds, thus exhibiting the most characteristic
features of animality. Is this a plant? or is it an animal? Is it
both ? or is it neither ? Some decide in favor of the last supposi¬
tion, and establish an intermediate kingdom, a sort of biological
No-Man's Land for all these questionable forms. But, as it is
admittedly impossible to draw any distinct boundary line between
this no-man's land and the vegetable world on the one hand, or
the animal on the other, it appears to me that this proceeding
merely doubles the difficulty which, before, was single.
"'Protoplasm, simple or nucleated is the formal basis of all
life. It is the clay of the potter, which, bake it and paint it as
he will, remains clay, separated by artifice, and not by nature,
from the commonest brick or sun-dried clod.'
" The transformations of protoplasm, in their practical aspect,
are thus neatly illustrated lyr the Professor : —
" ' In the wonderful story of the " Peau de Chagrin," the hero be¬
comes possessed of a magical wild ass's skin, which yields him the
means of gratifying all his wishes. But its surface represents the
duration of the proprietor's life ; and for every satisfied desire the
skin shrinks in proportion to the intensity of fruition, until at
length life and the last hand-breadth of the peaw. de chagrin disap¬
pear with the gratification of a last wish.
'■ ' Balzac's studies had led him over a wide range of thought and
speculation, and his shadowing forth of physiological truth in this
strange story may have been intentional. At any rate, the matter
of life is a veritable peau de chagrin, and for every vital act it is
somewhat the smaller. All work implies waste, and the work of
life results, directly or indirectly, in the waste of protoplasm.
" 'Eveiy word uttered by a speaker costs him some physical loss :
and, in the strictest sense, he burns that others may have light,—
so much eloquence, so much of his body resolved into carbonic
acid, water, and urea. It is clear that this process of expenditure
cannot go on forever. But, happily, the protoplasmic peau de