Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 83–98.

Nature's Serial Story Ch. 7  [7/13]

E P Roe


Novel, Serial


Natural History, Botany, Taxonomy, Anti-Scientism, Ornithology, Cell Biology, Microscopy, Vitalism, Theology of Nature

    In a narrative replete with the lore of natural history and observations concerning the changing seasons, Amy Winfield comes to feel that 'botany was not altogether satisfactory, for analysis and classification do not reveal to us a flower or plant any more than the mention of a name and family connection makes known individual character. She felt this, and her love for natural objects was too real to be satisfied with a few scientific facts about them. If a plant, tree, or bird interested her, she would look at it with a loving, lingering glance until she felt that she was learning to know it somewhat as she would recognize a friend' (92). Later, amidst the beautiful natural surroundings of the springtime, the kindly Webb Clifford, one of the family who have taken in Amy as an orphan ward, tells her that 'the basis of nearly all we see is a microscopic cell endowed with essential power. [...] It is cell adding cells that is transforming the world around us'. After Amy asks Webb to 'show me one of those cells with your microscope', he informs her that 'there is one thing within the cell which I can not show you, and which has never been seen, and yet it accounts for everything, and is the architect of all—life. When we reach the cell we are at the threshold of this mysterious presence', to which she replies, 'Surely there is but one explanation, the one papa taught me: it is the power of God. He is in the little as well as in the great'. Webb assures her of his belief that 'the life of God is in some way the source of all the life we see', but he also concedes that 'perplexing questions arise on every side', and that his 'knowledge is small indeed, compared with that of multitudes of others'. (95)


Roe 1885

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