"We wish the members of the British Association could be subjected to a cross-examination - some of them at least. No doubt Dr Allman, Professor Huxley, and others are honest inquirers, but they are only men after all, and may be mistaken in many things. They differ among themselves on that vital subject, "deep-sea slime," for example - "the physical basis of life," according to Professor Huxley, who at least appears determined to nurse his "bantling," as ' Punch' calls it, into life. Dr Allman's presidential address was no doubt intensely interesting to those who study the mystery of life and of creation; but the question arises in one's mind, "How far are the conclusions and speculations of the thinker and investigator to be accepted as true or even probable?" Some years ago the teachings of Darwin and Tyndall created a profound sensation - took people by storm, in fact. The questions were new, or at least revived in clearer shape, and the very audacity of the speculations advanced fascinated peoples' minds; but now a certain reaction seems setting in, and some little impatience is being manifested by the reading public at the strained endeavours made to bottom the mystery of the origin of life and solve the problem by scientific inquiry alone.

The wish is too clearly father to the thought. There is much about creation, but nothing about the Creator. If science succeed in accomplishing this - if it were proved to-morrow that mind was the mere product of matter, originating and perishing with the body in which it was manifested - we believe that the feeling in men's minds would be one of profound humiliation and grief. A kind of terror seems to pervade the minds of thinking people (not necessarily religious) at the prospect, or rather possibility, of science making such a discovery. Anything almost may be done or taught, we suppose, in the name of "science;" but it cannot be denied that what the British Association teaches would at one time not so far back have been regarded as rank infidelity, or something very like it. The most interesting portion of Dr Allman's address is that relating to protoplasm, and its nature and composition. "We are tempted to give the extract here for the sake of those of your readers who may not have read the address in the daily or weekly press:-

"As has been said, protoplasm lies at the base of every vital phenomenon. It is, as Huxley has well expressed it, ' the physical basis of life.' Wherever there is life, from its lowest to its highest manifestations, there is protoplasm; wherever there is protoplasm, there, too, is life. Thus co-extensive with the whole of organic nature - every vital act being referable to some mode or property of protoplasm - it becomes to the biologist what the ether is to the physicist; only that, instead of being a hypothetical conception, accepted as a reality from its adequacy in the explanation of phenomena, it is a tangible and visible reality, which the chemist may analyse in his laboratory, the biologist scrutinise beneath his microscope.

"The chemical composition of protoplasm is very complex, and has not been exactly determined. It may, however, be stated that protoplasm is essentially a combination of albuminoid bodies, and that its principal elements are, therefore, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. In its typical state it presents the condition of a semi-fluid substance - a tenacious, glairy liquid, with a consistence somewhat like that of the white of an unboiled egg. "While we watch it beneath the microscope movements are set up in it; waves traverse its surface, or it may be seen to flow away in streams, either broad and attaining but a slight distance from the main mass, or else stretching away far from their source, as narrow liquid threads, which may continue simple, or may divide into branches, each following its own independent course; or the streams may flow one into the other, as streamlets would flow into rivulets and rivulets into rivers, and this not only where gravity would carry them, but in a direction diametrically opposed to gravitation: now we see it spreading itself out on all sides into a thin liquid stratum, and again drawing itself together within the narrow limits which had at first confined it, and all this without any obvious impulse from without which would send the ripples over its surface or set the streams flowing from its margin.

Though it is certain that all these phenomena are in response to some stimulus exerted on it by the outer world, they are such as we never met with in a simply physical fluid - they are spontaneous movements resulting from its proper irritability, from its essential constitution as living matter. Examine it closer, bring to bear on it the highest power of your microscope - you will probably find disseminated through it countless multitudes of exceedingly minute granules; but you may also find it absolutely homogeneous, and, whether containing granules or not, it is certain that you will find nothing to which the term organisation can be applied. You have before you a glairy, tenacious fluid, which, if not absolutely homogeneous, is yet totally destitute of structure. And yet no one who contemplates this spontaneously moving matter can deny that it is alive. Liquid as it is, it is a living liquid; organless and structureless as it is, it manifests the essential phenomena of life".