13. Diatomaceae

Diatomaceae. Microscopic cellular bodies, growing in fresh, brackish, and sea water: free or attached, single, or embedded in gelatinous tubes, the individual cells (frustules) with yellowish or brown contents, and provided with a silicious coat composed of two usually symmetrical valves variously marked, with a connecting band or hoop at the suture. Multiplied by division and by the formation of new larger individuals out of the contents of individual conjugated cells; perhaps also by spores and zoospores.

14. Volvocineae

Volvocineae. Microscopic cellular fresh water plants, composed of groups of bodies resembling zoospores connected into a definite form by their enveloping membranes. The families are formed either of assemblages of coated zoospores united in a definite form by the cohesion of their membranes, or assemblages of naked zoospores inclosed in a common investing membrane. The individual zoospore-like bodies, with two cilia throughout life, perforating the membranous coats, and by their conjoined action causing a free co-operative movement of the whole group. Reproduction by division, or by single cells being converted into new families; and by resting spores formed from some of the cells after impregnation by spermatozoids formed from the contents of other cells of the same family.

14 Volvocineae 384 13a


Plate IX.--Large group of malaria plants, Gemiasma verdans, collected at 165th Street, east of 10th Avenue, New York, in October, 1881, by Dr. Ephraim Cutter, and projected by him with a solar microscope. Dr. Cuzner--the artist--outlined the group on the screen and made the finished drawing from the sketch. He well preserved the grouping and relative sizes. The pond hole whence they came was drained in the spring of 1882, and in August was covered with coarse grass and weeds. No plants were found there in satisfactory quantity, but those figured on Plate VIII. were found half a mile beyond. This shows how draining removes the malaria plants.

From the description I think you have placed your plants in the right family. And evidently they come in the genera named, but at present there is in the authorities at my command so much confusion as to the genera, as given by the most eminent authorities, like Nageli, Kutzing, Braun Rabenht, Cohn, etc., that I think it would be quite unwise for me to settle here, or try to settle here, questions that baffle the naturalists who are entirely devoted to this specialty. We can safely leave this to them. Meantime let us look at the matter as physicians who desire the practical advantages of the discovery you have made. To illustrate this position let us take a familiar case. A boy going through the fields picks and eats an inedible mushroom. He is poisoned and dies. Now, what is the important part of history here from a physician's point of view? Is it not that the mushroom poisoned the child? Next comes the nomenclature. What kind of agaricus was it? Or was it one of the gasteromycetes, the coniomycetes, the hyphomycetes, the ascomycetes, or one of the physomycetes? Suppose that the fungologists are at swords' points with each other about the name of the particular fungus that killed the boy? Would the physicians feel justified to sit down and wait till the whole crowd of naturalists were satisfied, and the true name had been settled satisfactorily to all? I trow not; they would warn the family about eating any more; and if the case had not yet perished, they would let the nomenclature go and try all the means that history, research, and instructed common sense would suggest for the recovery.

This leads me here to say that physicians trust too much to the simple dicta of men who may be very eminent in some department of natural history, and yet ignorant in the very department about which, being called upon, they have given an opinion. All everywhere have so much to learn that we should be very careful how we reject new truths, especially when they come from one of our number educated in our own medical schools, studied under our own masters. If the subject is one about which we know nothing, we had better say so when asked our opinion, and we should receive with respect what is respectfully offered by a man whom we know to be honest, a hard worker, eminent in his department by long and tedious labors. If he asks us to look over his evidence, do so in a kindly spirit, and not open the denunciations of bar room vocabularies upon the presenter, simply because we don't see his point. In other words, we should all be receptive, but careful in our assimilation, remembering that some of the great operations in surgery, for example, came from laymen in low life, as the operation for stone, and even the operation of spaying came from a swineherd.

It is my desire, however, to have this settled as far as can be among scientists, but for the practical uses of practicing physicians I say that far more evidence has been adduced by you in support of the cause of intermittent fever than we have in the etiology of many other diseases. I take the position that so long as no one presents a better history of the etiology of intermittent fever by facts and observations, your theory must stand. This, too, notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary.

Certainly you are to be commended for having done as you have in this matter. It is one of the great rights of the profession, and duties also, that if a physician has or thinks he has anything that is new and valuable, to communicate it, and so long as he observes the rules of good society the profession are to give him a respectful hearing, even though he may have made a mistake. I do not think you had a fair hearing, and hence so far as I myself am concerned I indorse your position, and shall do so till some one comes along and gives a better demonstration. Allow me also to proceed with more evidence.