IT is perhaps now time to make a protest against a scandal which has in no small degree excited the disgust of scientific men in various parts of Europe, who, like ourselves, have been favoured with copies of the privately-circulated publication of which the name stands at the foot of this note. That scientific men should quarrel, and quarrel sometimes with singular bitterness, is only to affirm in other terms that they are not exempt from the ordinary frailties of human nature. That they should make blunders in their work, however conscientiously performed, is but another illustration of the same truth. But that a scientific man with any respect for his calling should not merely think it worth while to publish the errors of one who has long laboured, and on the whole laboured not ingloriously, under the same roof as himself, and in the same pursuits, and should persist in the unhandsome enterprise of seeking out and raking together faults, even the most microscopic and frivolous, with all the relish and vindictiveness of gratified spite, is-a-thing so wholly disgusting that a protest should be made against it in the interest of common decency. Decaisne has spent a laborious life in botanical work of great usefulness and excellence, and his scientific reputation has long been established and acknowledged by his contemporaries, who have been quite capable of estimating the value of what he has done. Baillon, a much younger man, is scarcely less regarded for the industrious profusion and frequent originality of his botanical publications. But he will not materially affect the position of Decaisne by his animadversions, and it is pitiful that any portion of his abounding energy should be devoted to the attempt to discredit writings which, after all, will always be consulted by students on their own merits, and having regard to the state of knowledge at the time they were published. The fact is that no scientific man could undergo with credit such a scathing revision as that to which Baillon has subjected his unfortunate fellow-savant, and we do not say without some reason that the last person who would emerge from the process with anything like satisfaction would be Prof. Baillon himself.
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Decaisne and Baillon 1 . Nature 22, 12 (1880). https://doi.org/10.1038/022012a0