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numerous cases there was success in destroying the germs by removal of the air in this way without any boiling process. In these cases, the air was carefully restored, precautions being adopted to guard against admission of germinal forms, and in no case did life reappear in the infusions. As in the more common style of experiment, the warmth suitable could not charm the life back again; so in this, the restoration of oxygen, could not secure restoration of life.
Thus evidence from all sides directed surely to the conclusion that the alleged discovery of "spontaneous generation" was a delusion, the result of hasty and insufficient experiment. Dr. Bastian, nevertheless, stuck heroically to his original position, and came into conflict with M. Pasteur of Paris, by means of a communication which the English Professor had sent to the Academy of Sciences in July of the previous year, 1876. In the beginning of 1877, M. Pasteur threw down an explicit challenge to Professor Bastian, which resulted in the appointment of a commission to observe the experiments and adjudicate. With this terminates the history of nearly ten years of curious and singular investigation, and Dr. Bastian himself has supplied the history of the closing scene, laying open the whole correspondence to public investigation, as if he were unconscious of the complete demolition of his favorite theory of "spontaneous generation." The 15th of July, 1877, witnessed the close of a battle he had been fighting against steadily increasing odds, and which he had begun in June, 1870. Dr. Bastian's position was "that a solution of boiled potash caused bacteria to appear in sterile urine at fifty degrees Cent., added in a quantity sufficient to neutralize the latter." These he regarded as the physico-chemical conditions for spontaneous generation of bacteria.
The challenge from M. Pasteur was in these terms;—" I defy Dr. Bastian to obtain, in the presence of competent judges, the result to which I have referred with sterile urine, on the sole condition that the solution of potash which he employs be pure, i. e., made with pure water and pure potash, both free from organic matter. If Dr. Bastian wishes to use a solution of impure potash, I freely authorize him to take any in the English or any other Pharmacopoeia, being diluted or concentrated, on the sole condition that tLat solution shall be raised beforehand to one hundred and ten degrees for twenty minutes, or to one hundred and thirty degrees for five minutes."
A Commission was appointed by the Academy, and Dr. Bastian agreed to appear before it, but only on conditions he laid down greatly restricting the range of inquiry. He ignored the first and most searching form of M. Pasteur's challenge; claimed that the adjudication of the Commission should be only on the second; and further stated that if the Commission were "to express an opinion upon the interpretation of the fact attested, and upon its bearings on 'the germ theory of fermentation,' or 'spontaneous generation,'" he would respectfully decline to take part in this wider inquiry. The Commission refused to be restricted to the worst form of the experiment, and to be bound to withhold an opinion as to its bearing on the question of '' spontaneous generation." Dr. Bastian went to Paris, but the members of the Commission declined to deal with less than the challenge given, and the meeting was never properly constituted. "Thus ended," as Dr. Bastian has said, "the proceedings of this remarkable Commission of the French Academy." The proceedings ended before they had begun. Dr. Bastian by his restrictions, surrendered the real question at issue, and practically acknowledged that he would not submit it to the judgment of the Commission. He sought only testimony as to his own form of experiment, which there was then good reason to know was accurate, because M. Pasteur had stated a temperature too low, and a time too short, but which was at the same time an experiment of no scientific value for establishing '1 spontaneous generation." Thus ended a battle which had been protracted long after it was to all observers manifestly lost.
The discussion thus narrated may be easily overestimated, but there seems even more risk that the manifest failure should lead to an oversight of the value of the protracted investigations. These convey lessons of special value to scientific inquirers on the one hand, and to theologians on the other. They are of great value for illustrative purposes in such a course of lectures as the present, and that because they provide needful training for intelligent observation of the advance of science.
The promulgation of the development theory of species has given a conception of the unity of organic life in the world, which even in its most modified form has an imposing grandeur. Influenced by this, scientific men are naturally concerned to make out, if possible, some connection between inorganic and organic being. To work at this, is part of the inevitable task of science, even though the result should be only to establish the helplessness of science in dealing with it.
We have chemical and dynamical theories of life which stimulate repetition of experiments, in the hope that some grand discovery may be made. Those just described present a curious illustration. In the circumstances, we can well understand the persistence with which Dr. Bastian clung to his supposed discovery of the physico-chemical conditions for production of living organism.
Science finds in these experiments a fresh lesson of the need for caution, guarding against the hampering influence of popular notions, as in reference to the probable effects of the boiling process. For if the experiments have proved a failure so far as support to a theory of spontaneous generation is concerned, they have revealed a tenacity of life belonging to