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doms, and every function to which those organs give exercise or use, are once understood-classification becomes a subordinate object, easy and familiar, although necessary. We are then qualified to study and examine, not one system only, but all systems; to enrol ourselves, not as the votaries of one name, or sectaries of one school, but as “chartered libertines” of nature, free to follow where she leads, ready to advance where she commands.
Before we quit the subject of terms and of language, we may be permitted to regret that the language which was once dedicated to science, has been, in later years, so generally abandoned. It were greatly to be desired, that one language could be appropriated to science, that its votaries may be relieved from the necessity of studying many. The Latin possessed in this respect peculiar advantages. Having ceased to be a vernacular language, it was no longer subject to change; having been applied to many departments or branches of learning, it had already become necessary to most of those who were likely to apply themselves to scientific pursuits; and it was so universally taught in schools, that it was very generally understood. It had long been a common medium of communication between the learned of all nations. No individual was obliged to study more than one language besides his own, to become acquainted with the discoveries of men of science, in all quarters of the globe. Of late, however, the learned have begun to publish, each in his own tongue. The French, we believe, began this innovation, apparently from the desire of promoting the universal use and study of their language. With the popularity which their poets and belles-lettres scholars had given to French literature, they wished to unite the additional claim of scientific investigation; that this dialect might assume the place which the Latin once held in public estimation, and be the medium of intercourse and the object of study to all civilized nations. This object, if it was the real one, has been defeated, because other nations have adopted a similar
The Germans, the English, the Italians, the Swedes, the Danes, besides the French, now annually publish important accessions to science, to natural history particularly, in their respective languages. These tongues, besides the Latin, have already become necessary to the student. The Spanish will soon be added to the list, and great efforts are now making to transform the Russians into a learned people. Soon, besides the Southern languages of Europe, the Teutonic and Sclavonic, with all their dialects, will become necessary to him who wishes to keep pace with the literature and science of the age. This
change, therefore, while it appears to facilitate the approaches to knowledge, may retard instead of accelerating its real progress. If, however, by rendering science more familiar, it has tended to increase the number of those who have devoted themselves to its improvement, we will, at least, be thankful for this advantage, and hope that its ultimate results may yet be beyeficial.
Our reinarks hitherto have been, for the most part, general, extending to every department of natural history: we shall, in the subsequent part of this article, confine ourselves to the vegetable kingdom.
In comparing natural with artificial systems, as we have done in the preceding pages, we have viewed them, and purposely viewed them, in reference to abstract principles. We have brought no particular methods into discussion, but have left the merits of each, whether natural or artificial, to be considered and determined by those principles. We will now, however, briefly trace the progress of those that have been prominent and successful, touching their history no farther than may be necessary to explain their gradual rise and developeinent.
It would appear impossible that any one should engage in the investigation of plants, or even cast his eye over the vegetable kingdom, so beautiful, so varied and so vast, without perceiving some of the many affinities and contrasts, which are obvious even to the uninstructed mind, and feeling disposed to throw into groups some, at least, of the surrounding tribes. Yet the first efforts appear to have been directed by nothing but the most obvious utility. Aromatic, alimentary, medicinal plants, and plants from which wine can be made, are the four classes of Dioscorides, and during fourteen centuries after his death, no addition seems to have been made to his views or knowledge. The earliest efforts of modern botanists, of Dodoens, Dalechamp, and, in fact, of Tragus, were directed to the same objects, and in the same predicament must be arranged the extraordinary hypothesis of Porta.* Yet amidst these crude opinions, flashes
* Porta adopted the singular idea that in many, if not in most plants, some resem. blance or analogy to men and animals, or to some of their members, could be traced, and, that the secret and hidden virtues of plants, could be detected by this similitude Some resembled the eyes, some the bladder, some the teeth, some the bair, some resembled the foot, the ear, the horns, the tails of animals. Some rendered men handsome, others fruittul, others gay or melancholy. Many of the fancied virtues, which the old writers on the Materia Medica ascribed to plants, have been derived from these notions, which were, in truth, older than Porta, although, perhaps, greatly extended by him. When the direct relation to men appeared to cease, new connexions were traced through the stars; and celestial influences were made to operate on bim. Thus, the plants, with bright yellow flowers, derived their virtues from the sun; the white from the moon; the red from Mars; the in carnate trom Venus; the variegated from Mercury, &c.; and as each planet was supposed to act on the buman frame or character, the plants related to it, were supposed also to share in its benign or malignant effects.
of light, like the glimpses of a bright day, were strangely intermingled, but they were soon obscuted and for a time forgotten. Lobel, in 1570, pointed out the Palmæ and Orchideæ and the Leguminosæ and Gramineæ, as distinct classes, and although, perhaps, he included in the two latter more than they are now made to contain, his observations were to some extent accurate. Cæsalpinus, in 1583, proceeded much farther, his views of the fruit and seed appear to have been philosophical and profound. “If, (says M. Boitard,)* he did not discover a natural system, be at least pointed out the road to his successors.
He divides his classes into sections founded on the situation, the disposition, and the form of the flowers; the form of the fruit; the situation of the radicle; the number of cotyledons;" and on other points certainly less important, but so skillful was his arrangement, that if his ideas had been pursued and gradually improved, botany might long before the days of Linnæus and Jussieu have had its principles understood and established. It seems as if favourable circumstances are required even to give truth its power. A different bias was operating on the mind, and the habits and external appearance of plants were more examined and noticed than their minute structure. Herbs and shrubs and trees, were the leading divisions of many botanists. Then there were the plants of the waters, and the plants of the rocks; the plants of the orchards and of the forests; added to all, to use the language of the author we have just quoted, “ l'amour-propre had already taken possession of authors, each one wished to be the inventer of a system.” Amidst the many theories to which these feelings gave birth, some very natural and conspicuous families, as the Cruciferæ, the Leguminosæ, the Umbelliferæ, the Compositæ, the Orcbideæ, the Musci, and the Filices, were gradually made known, and hegan to force themselves into all systems, but no inquiry seenis to have been made into the principles which distinguished these from other plants, and united them together, nothing was noticed but the obvious facts. The cotyledons, the stamens, the styles were noticed by several of the early botanists in their descriptions of plants, but no use was made of either of these important portions of the fructification, excepting in one or two instances, which we shall presently notice. Wbile so much attention was paid to the habit and appearance, it was natural.y to be expected that the corolla, the most conspicuous and beautiful organ of the vegetable tribes, the one which nature appears to have taken most pains to develope, to enrich and to adorn, should have become the
Manuel complet de Botanique. 2d Edition. Paris, 1828.
favourite principle on which schemes of classification were constructed. Many ingenious Pheories were built upon it, and if natore had been equally careful of this organ, in all plants, it would, perhaps have long continued the leading object of attention in this science. Rivinus in Germany, and Tournefort in France, made it the basis of their arrangements, which were celebrated and popular in their respective countries. That of Tournefort was developed with so much talent, with so much botanical knowledge, with so many improvements in the detail and in the description of plants, accompanied with the first accurate determination of genera, that it appeared at one time likely to become the dominant system of Europe. But it wanted simplicity, the classes founded on this organ alone were not natural, it was not sufficiently comprehensive, and as new plants were made known the number multiplied of those which had no corolla, or could with difficulty be placed in any of its divisions. Thus, while it acquired for its author great celebrity, it did not satisfy the wants of practical men. Other distinguished botanists were labouring to form systems, at the same time, philosophical and perspicuous. Magpol appears in his writings to have understood perfectly the principles on which plants ought to be arranged, and pointed out with great apparent judgment the track that it was proper to pursue. Yet the system which he published at the same time, and to which these remarks were prefixed, is founded almost entirely on the corolla, and is very inferior either to that of Rivinus or Tournefort, and thirty years afterwards, at his death, as the result of bis mature reflections, he left a second still worse, founded on the calyx. So true it is, that some who, with almost prophetic inspiration, anticipate the improvements that future years will bring forth, have themselves but an indistinct view of their own conceptions, they utter opinions to themselves dark, to a future generation clear and distinct, and which, until fulfilled, have all the vagueness and mystery that give to prophecy its deep interest and awful power.
While commenting on those systems, and those only we wish to notice, whose principles have exercised some influence on the science, that of Hermann, founded on the fruit, and perhaps the best of those proposed, not on the structure of the seed itself, but on their accidents and disposition, whether naked or clothed, whether in berries, legumes or capsules, &c. deserves to be noticed. Besides its intrinsic merit it serves to corroborate the remark we have already had occasion to make, that these proposed methods, though in some measure discordant, all tended to improve the knowledge of plants. Thus the arrangement of
Tournefort required a thorough examination of the corolla, that of Magnol of the calyx, that of Hermann, and afterwards of Siegesbeck of the seed vessels, if not of the seed itself. In this unsettled state, amid these and many other theories which we have not time to enumerate, was botany, and every other department of natural history, when in 1735, the Systema Natyræ was offered to the world. The outline which it has since taken so many labourers to fill up, and whose portions or fragments it has required so many volumes to contain, was published in eight folio sheets. It contained a tabular view or arrangement of every branch of natural history, excepting the mineral kingdom, and presented the germ of all the future labours of Linnæus. Independent of all other considerations, this sketch is now become a great bibliographical curiosity. From infancy, this great reformer and founder of natural science, had been devoted to its study. His occupations, his amusements, his toil, his relaxation, were all modifications of the same passion. At the age of twenty-three, he began to compose those works, which gave a new direction and character to natural history, and which five years later he began to publish. He examined and studied, as might be expected, the systems of the day, but a review, it is said of a treatise of Vaillant's on the sexes of plants, first led him to consider the importance of the stamens, and styles in the vegetable economy. He soon perceived the variety that exists in the arrangement and position of these organs; their connexion with the fruit, and their definite numbers. He discovered that they were more universal than the corolla, in some respects more permanent and more unchangeable, more easily distinguished than the peculiarities of the fruit, and applicable to a wider variety of cases; and more definite than any portion of the flower that had yet been employed in classification. He tried them as the basis of a new system, and every examination or inquiry seemed to justify the choice.' Instead of requiring modification as new plants were brought to view, or the creation of a class of “anomali”* to comprehend those that could not be forced into his established divisions, every discovery served to illustrate the universality of the principles he had adopted, every day's experience to manifest the simplicity and facility of their practical application. A century is nearly gone by, and the same praises may be uttered with unabated confidence. All that has been discovered in this age of discovery has been arranged as readily in this system as if it had been
Many of the older systems had such classes. Johnston, (1661.) Morison, (1699.) Ray, and even Tournefort himself.