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Animal Organization.


ART. III.-1. Lectures on the Anatomy and Physiology of the Invertebrate Animals. By RICHARD OWEN, F.R.S. 1843.

2. On the Archetypes and Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton. By RICHARD OWEN, F.R.S. 1848.

3. On the Nature of Limbs. By RICHARD OWEN, F.R.S. 1849.

4. Principles of Physiology, General and Comparative. By WILLIAM B. CARPENTER, M.D., F.R.S. Fourth Edition. 1854.

IN a preceding article, we traced the progress of anatomical science from the time of Hippocrates to the close of the seventeenth century. We now propose to resume the subject, and glance at its progress subsequent to that period, especially in relation to zoological studies.

It is a well-known truth in physical science, that when a body has once, by the action of a continued force, acquired a considerable momentum, much less effort is needful to keep it in motion than was requisite to put it in motion at the first. At the opening of the eighteenth century progressive science had acquired this momentum, and was thenceforth destined to break triumphantly through obstacles which had hitherto retarded its progress. Observers became so multiplied, that any attempt to enumerate even the most important of them would carry us far beyond the reasonable limits of an article ; consequently we must only glance at those men whose labours have led to the more important results, or to the establishment of great generalizations.

The primary object of all scientific inquiry should be the knowledge of the Creator, who has manifested His attributes in His works. Some of those attributes are in part revealed objectively in Creation; and here we learn that law and order have existed from the beginning. The universe has been built up in accordance with a predetermined plan, and in subordination to pre-ordained laws, which we term the "laws of Nature." The examination of such of these laws as have been discovered, demonstrates that they are in accordance with the loftiest wisdom of which finite humanity can take cognizance; that, beyond all other conceptions which suggest themselves to us, they are best adapted to fulfil their purpose. And whilst they exhibit a perfect adaptation to the most minute ends, they embrace the universe within their sphere. The drops of watery vapour forming the mountain mist, and the waves of the rolling ocean, are held together by a common law. The fertilizing pollen that falls on the pendent pistil, and the most remote orbs of the starry universe, move in accordance with the same primæval fiat of Deity. Though the individual facts which science has discovered

speak so loudly of the Deity, it is not so much in them, however beautiful, as in the grander generalizations of philosophy, that we must seek for the more significant manifestations of God. It has ever been amongst isolated facts that the infidel has sought for weapons wherewith to wage unholy war. Such isolations often mislead us, because we see but in part. Thus it was with those savans whose acquaintance with the sloth was limited to its feats when crawling on the floor, or hanging piteously to the leg of a mahogany table, and who concluded that the poor beast had been hardly dealt with, and that it was any thing but a display of wisdom and power. But had they watched that same animal on the forest-fringed banks of the Orinoco, hanging without effort from the lofty bough, as it revelled on the green and juicy foliage, how different would have been their verdict! And if, in addition to this, they could have obtained a glance at the præ-Adamite age, and seen the brethren of this sloth, in the form of giant mylodons and megatheria, the monarchs of the forest, whose colossal strength enabled them to uproot the loftiest trees, so far from being objects of pity, they would have commanded their astonished admiration. The sloth is but one link in this vast and important chain of beings. To look at its organization independently of these relationships, is not only to confine the view to one side of the shield, but even to the smallest of its quarterings.

Hence it is that, however manifestly Divine Wisdom speaks in the adaptation of individual organizations to their special life, such lessons are not the most significant which the natural world is capable of teaching. It is when we comprehend a general law to which all creation is subordinated, or when we realize a universal type, in accordance with which an entire group of organisms are constructed, that we approach the nearest to the mind of God. We need scarcely guard our remarks by observing, that we exclusively refer to the study of natural things. It is, therefore, the highest aim of science, as it has ever been the highest ambition of scientific men, to discover these laws; and one such instance of happy intuition does more to confer immortality upon the name of its author than a thousand laboured observations which have failed to lead the observer to such a generalization.

At the commencement of the eighteenth century, an humble Lutheran Clergyman indulged his taste for flowers by cultivating a small garden, at the village of Rashult, in Smäland, a province of Sweden. In 1707, the family circle of the worthy Minister was blessed by the addition of a boy, who, as soon as he could run, became the companion of his father in the labours of floriculture; and who thus imbibed, from his earliest days, a love for plants, which soon ripened into an

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almost idolatrous devotion. Trained for many years under the parental eye, in the obscure retirement of a Swedish village, he left his home, at the age of twenty-one, to study at the University of Upsal. And such was the rapidity of his progress, and so strong the impression which his genius made upon his teachers, that though he was but twenty-five when the declining health of the celebrated Rudbeck left the botanical chair of the University substantially vacant, the authorities deemed themselves fortunate in finding a nominal assistant, but virtual successor, in Karl Linné. This sphere of labour soon became too limited for the gigantic aspirations of the young Swede. The accidents of education alone made him a botanist. A deeper principle of his being made him a philosopher, whose field of study was to be the entire organized world. Stimulated by a glowing ardour, he undertook a series of voyages with the view of studying the kingdom of nature; and when he resumed his professional duties, he deputed to his pupils the mission of investigating the products of foreign climes. Surely no philosopher ever commanded such an army of enthusiastic travellers devoted to his interests. was at once interrogated, in the name of one man, from the mountain heights of Norway, to the summits of the Cordilleras and of Atlas; from the shores of the Mississippi, to those of the Ganges; from the ices of Greenland, to those of the Antarctic Seas."*


The isolated discoveries of previous naturalists lay in confusion, awaiting a master spirit to reduce them to order; and the intuition of Linnæus told him that he was equal to the task. He knew himself and his strength :

"Ipse Pater Danais animos viresque secundas

The rest of a life, prolonged through seventy-one years, was devoted to this noble work; and even when mind and body were alike paralysed, in 1776, by apoplectic seizure, he still found delightful solace in his pure pursuits. The examination of a collection of new plants, sent to him from the extremities of Asia by his pupil Thunberg, constituted one of the closing enjoyments of his life.

In 1735 he published the first edition of his great work at Leyden, in Holland. The aim of the publication was shown in its title of "Systema Naturæ, seu Regna tria Naturæ systematicè proposita, per Classes, Ordines, Genera, et Species." To form an adequate conception of the laborious research involved in the production of this marvellous work, we must bear in mind the nature of the writings of his predecessors. Neither the Greek

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nor the Roman naturalists ever attempted such a production. It was only in the preceding century that Ray, and some of his contemporaries, made their imperfect efforts at classifying particular groups of organisms. These were the first and meritorious efforts of men seeking to reduce chaos to order; but they worked without any pre-arranged plan, or subordination to general laws.

Linnæus approached his task with very different views of its requirements. Whilst his capacious intellect ranged over the entire mundane creation, as the territory to be won, its excursions were not those of the irregular Cossack, or of Arab hordes, but of the disciplined soldier, whose every movement is in accordance with established military principles and axioms. The Swedish philosopher is best known to the world of dilettantists through the classification of the vegetable kingdom which bears his name, and which it is so fashionable, in some circles, to sneer at as worthless. It would be well if some of the great botanists who speak so contemptuously about the "Linnæan scheme," as if it were some new joint-stock bubble, had half the fervent philosophy possessed by the immortal Swede, or a tithe of his magic power of recommending this beautiful science to others by rendering the study more facile. Let them learn to refer with more decorous respect to the man who has lighted them on their way. As a scientific system, the Linnæan classification was avowedly a preparation for something higher, to be obtained at a future time; but, as affording the young student facilities for the study and identification of plants, it will remain in use when the dry and pretentious technicalities of some modern systematists are forgotten.

Previously to the time of Linnæus, scientific nomenclature was in a most defective condition. Long descriptions were the usual substitutes for names adapted to general acceptation. Thus, in the classification of Ray, we find the turbot glorying in the sobriquet of "Rhombus asper, non squamosus." Other ostraciont fishes, again, are designated, "Piscis majusculus quadrangularis rostratus ; ""Piscis mediocris quadrangularis maculosus." Worse even than these are the various designations of the common sea-mouse, the Aphrodite aculeata of Linnæus; called by Dr. Molineux, "Scolopendra marina e Mare Hibernico;" by Oligerus Jacobæus, "Vermis aureus, vel species erucæ marine rarior;" and, worst of all, by Aldrovandus, "Scolopendra marina lato corpore subcastaneo velut pedibus innumeris longiusculis aurei coloris." Verily the Dutchman must have thought his fellow naturalists were blessed with rare memories in those days. The great Swede was the first to have compassion upon humanity, and to pay some regard to the

* De Insertis, cap. xv., p. 636.

Classification and Nomenclature.


natural limitation of human faculties, even when of the highest order.

It is true that Aldrovandus, Ray, Willoughby, Tournefort, and others, had previously employed generic and specific terms; but they did so capriciously. They were not sufficiently alive to their importance, to proceed to a systematic adoption of them: hence their writings present a motley aspect, resembling the illarranged objects in many provincial museums, where one specimen rejoices in a learned sobriquet, another in some popular appellative, and a third is blessed with no name at all. Linnæus soon decided upon the possibility of amending all this; and in order to give system to his efforts, he laid down a succession of highly philosophical aphorisms, which had relation to every portion of his work. In illustration of our meaning, we would refer the reader to his "Philosophia Botanica," completed at Upsal in 1750, but published at Stockholm in 1751, and which, though specially devoted to botanical subjects, contains numerous aphorisms respecting classification and nomenclature, alike applicable to all the natural sciences. We are sure that such of our studious readers as may have been alarmed at sometimes meeting with terrible names (for example, Plesiosaurus tesseres-tarsostinus!) will appreciate his two-hundred-and-ninetyfirst aphorism: "Nomen specificum, quò brevius, eò etiam melius, si modò tale;" and most of his three hundred and sixty-five dicta are equally terse and significant.

But what brings Linnæus more prominently before us just now is, the basis upon which he constructed his classification of the animal kingdom. It was essentially an anatomical one. The internal organization of animals was his polc-star. Hence his writings abound with manifestations of an exact knowledge on this subject. Whilst he thus placed classification on a more philosophic basis than his predecessors had done, he also enunciated some of those higher generalizations respecting relations and affinities, to which we now attach so much value. When he determined the actual identity, as something more than a mere resemblance, of the seed of a plant with the egg of an animal, he established an homological relationship of the highest order. In like manner, when he pointed out a tendency in animals, which becomes more manifest as we descend the scale, to that generalization of offices by which each part of the organism is capable of performing all the functions that in higher forms were confined to, and performed by, special organs, he demonstrated one of the most philosophical of known truths. And when he further taught that, by these conditions, the lower animals approximated towards a type which is still more generally existent in the vegetable kingdom, he proved that, in addition to being the mere classifier of species, which according to some men constitutes his chief claim to remem

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