13. A few common examples will show the transformations which take place in the kingdom of organic beings by the modification of the constituent element alone.
In the juice of the grape is found neither wine nor alcohol, but simply water and sugar. When this juice has arrived at maturity, and is placed in favorable circumstances, fermentation is produced. In this process a portion of the sugar is decomposed. Oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon are separated, and combined in the required proportions to form alcohol. By drinking the grape-juice when it is first formed, one does not drink alcohol, as it does not yet exist therein; thus, the alcohol is formed from the constituent parts of water and sugar existent therein, without adding or taking away one single molecule.
In bread and vegetables that we eat, there is certainly neither flesh, blood, bone, bile, nor cerebral matter; yet these articles of food produce them by decomposing and recomposing in the labor of digestion, and produce these different substances solely by the transmutation of their constitutive elements.
In the seed of a tree there is neither wood, leaves, flowers, nor fruit; and it is a puerile error to believe that the entire tree, in a microscopic form, is found in the seed. There is not even in this seed the quantity of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon necessary to form a leaf of the tree. The seed encloses a germ which comes to light when, the necessary conditions are found. This germ grows by aid of the juices it draws from the Earth, and the gas that it inhales from the air. These juices, which are neither wood, leaves, flowers, nor fruit, by infiltrating themselves into the plant, form sap, as food with animals makes blood. This sap, carried by the circulation into all parts of the vegetable, according as it is submitted to a special elaboration, is transformed into wood, leaves, and fruits, as blood is transformed into flesh, bones, bile, etc.; and, although these are always the same elements, — oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, — they are diversely combined.