From the Archives

William Henry Van Ornum, “Mating or Marrying, Which?” (1898)

The distinctions of sex seem to extend throughout all nature, certainly through all animate nature; and there is reason to believe that it does not stop at the limits of what is termed the inanimate. In fact, who can say that nature is anywhere inanimate? Every atom of the universe seems to possess the power of selection, by which it is able, under favorable conditions, to attract to itself certain other atoms widely diverse from itself in physical properties, which, together form new substances and manifest new attractions. Along with these attractions and their correlative repulsions goes the active interplay of natural forces, which, throughout every part of the universe, is working evolutionary changes not unlike a progressive growth. Even deep below the ocean’s bed, or far beneath the foundations of the everlasting hills, under pressures so great that they cannot be estimated, heat, electricity and magnetism, combined with chemical reactions are changing old forms into new ones in a manner strangely suggestive of vital action. Even there, the separate atoms are moving freely among each other and arranging themselves in definite order, building up crystals always according to certain patterns, each after its own kind. […]