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Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution - His Life and Work
by Alpheus Spring Packard
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"It is impossible to prepare in France a work of this nature without having special aid from the nation, because the expense of printing (on account of the enormous quantity of citations and figures which it would contain) would be such that any arrangement with the printer or the manager of the edition could not remunerate the author for writing such an immense work.

"If the nation should wish to print the work at its own expense, and then give to the author the profits of the sale of this edition, the author would be very much pleased, and would doubtless not expect any further aid. But it would cost the nation a great deal, and I believe that this useful project could be carried through with greater economy.

"Indeed, if the nation will give me twenty thousand francs, in a single payment, I will take the whole responsibility, and I agree, if I live, that before the expiration of seven years the Systeme de la Nature in French, with the complemental addition, the corrections, and the convenient explanations, shall be at the disposition of all those who love or study natural history."

FOOTNOTES:

[32] Most men of science of the Revolution, like Monge and others, were advanced republicans, and the Chevalier Lamarck, though of noble birth, was perhaps not without sympathy with the ideas which led to the establishment of the republic. It is possible that in his walks and intercourse with Rousseau he may have been inspired with the new notions of liberty and equality first promulgated by that philosopher.

His studies and meditations were probably not interrupted by the events of the Terror. Stevens, in his history of the French Revolution, tells us that Paris was never gayer than in the summer of 1793, and that during the Reign of Terror the restaurants, cafes, and theatres were always full. There were never more theatres open at the same period than then, though no single great play or opera was produced. Meanwhile the great painter David at this time built up a school of art and made that city a centre for art students. Indeed the Revolution was "a grand time for enthusiastic young men," while people in general lived their ordinary lives. There is little doubt, then, that the savants, except the few who were occupied by their duties as members of the Convention Nationale, worked away quietly at their specialties, each in his own study or laboratory or lecture-room.

[33] Bern. Germ. Etienne, Comte de Lacepede, born in 1756, died in 1825, was elected professor of the zooelogy of "quadrupedes ovipares, reptiles, et poissons," January 12, 1795 (Records of the Museum). He was the author of works on amphibia, reptiles, and mammals, forming continuations of Buffon's Histoire Naturelle. He also published Histoire Naturelle des Poissons (1798-1803), Histoire des Cetaces (1804), and Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme (1827), Les Ages de la Nature et Histoire de l'Espece Humaine, tome 2, 1830.

[34] Perrier, l. c., p. 14.

[35] Fragments Biographiques, p. 214.

[36] Fragments Biographiques, p. 213.

[37] A few years ago, when we formed the plan of writing his life, we wrote to friends in Paris for information as to the exact house in which Lamarck lived, and received the answer that it was unknown; another proof of the neglect and forgetfulness that had followed Lamarck so many years after his death, and which was even manifested before he died. Afterwards Professor Giard kindly wrote that by reference to the proces verbaux of the Assembly, it had been found by Professor Hamy that he had lived in the house of Buffon.

The house is situated at the corner of Rue de Buffon and Rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire. The courtyard facing Rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire bears the number 2 Rue de Buffon, and is in the angle between the Galerie de Zoologie and the Bibliotheque. The edifice is a large four-storied one. Lamarck occupied the second etage, what we should call the third story; it was first occupied by Buffon. His bedroom, where he died, was on the premier etage. It was tenanted by De Quatrefages in his time, and is at present occupied by Professor G. T. Hamy; Professor L. Vaillant living in the first etage, or second story, and Dr. J. Deniker, the bibliothecaire and learned anthropologist, in the third. The second etage was, about fifty years ago (1840-50), renovated for the use of Fremy the chemist, so that the exact room occupied by Lamarck as a study cannot be identified.

This ancient house was originally called La Croix de Fer, and was built about two centuries before the foundation of the Jardin du Roi. It appears from an inspection of the notes on the titles and copies of the original deeds, preserved in the Archives, and kindly shown me by Professor G. T. Hamy, the Archivist of the Museum, that this house was erected in 1468, the deed being dated 1xbre, 1468. The house is referred to as maison ditte La Croix de Fer in deeds of 1684, 1755, and 1768. It was sold by Charles Roger to M. le Compte de Buffon, March 23, 1771. One of the old gardens overlooked by it was called de Jardin de la Croix. It was originally the first structure erected on the south side of the Jardin du Roi.

[38] In the "avertissement" to his Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres (1801), after stating that he had at his disposition the magnificent collection of invertebrate animals of the museum, he refers to his private collection as follows: "Et une autre assez riche que j'ai formee moi-meme par pres de trente annees de recherches," p. vii. Afterwards he formed another collection of shells named according to his system, and containing a part of the types described in his Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertebres and in his minor articles. This collection the government did not acquire, and it is now in the museum at Geneva. The Paris museum, however, possesses a good many of the Lamarckian types, which are on exhibition (Perrier, l. c., p. 20).

[39] Lettre du Ministre des Finances (de Ramel) au Ministre de l'Interieur (13 pr. an V.). See Perrier, l. c., p. 20.



CHAPTER V

LAST DAYS AND DEATH

Lamarck's life was saddened and embittered by the loss of four wives, and the pangs of losing three of his children;[40] also by the rigid economy he had to practise and the unending poverty of his whole existence. A very heavy blow to him and to science was the loss, at an advanced age, of his eyesight.

It was, apparently, not a sudden attack of blindness, for we have hints that at times he had to call in Latreille and others to aid him in the study of the insects. The continuous use of the magnifying lens and the microscope, probably, was the cause of enfeebled eyesight, resulting in complete loss of vision. Duval[41] states that he passed the last ten years of his life in darkness; that his loss of sight gradually came on until he became completely blind.

In the reports of the meetings of the Board of Professors there is but one reference to his blindness. Previous to this we find that, at his last appearance at these sessions—i.e., April 19, 1825—since his condition did not permit him to give his course of lectures, he had asked M. Latreille to fill his place; but such was the latter's health, he proposed that M. Audouin, sub-librarian of the French Institute, should lecture in his stead, on the invertebrate animals. This was agreed to.

The next reference, and the only explicit one, is that in the records for May 23, 1826, as follows: "Vu la cecite dont M. de Lamarck est frappe, M. Bosc[42] continuera d'exercer sur les parties confiert a M. Audouin la surveillance attribuee au Professeur."

But, according to Duval, long before this he had been unable to use his eyes. In his Systeme analytique des Connaissances positives de l'Homme, published in 1820, he refers to the sudden loss of his eyesight.

Even in advanced life Lamarck seems not to have suffered from ill-health, despite the fact that he apparently during the last thirty years of his life lived in a very secluded way. Whether he went out into the world, to the theatre, or even went away from Paris and the Museum into the country in his later years, is a matter of doubt. It is said that he was fond of novels, his daughters reading to him those of the best French authors. After looking with some care through the records of the sessions of the Assembly of Professors, we are struck with the evidences of his devotion to routine museum work and to his courses of lectures.

At that time the Museum sent out to the Ecoles centrales of the different departments of France named collections made up from the duplicates, and in this sort of drudgery Lamarck took an active part. He also took a prominent share in the business of the Museum, in the exchange and in the purchase of specimens and collections in his department, and even in the management of the menagerie. Thus he reported on the dentition of the young lions (one dying from teething), on the illness and recovery of one of the elephants, on the generations of goats and kids in the park; also on a small-sized bull born of a small cow covered by a Scottish bull, the young animal having, as he states, all the characters of the original.

For one year (1794) he was secretary of the Board of Professors of the Museum.[43] The records of the meetings from 4 vendemiaire, l'an III., until 4 vendemiaire, l'an IV., are each written in his bold, legible handwriting or signed by him. He signed his name Lamarck, this period being that of the first republic. Afterwards, in the records, his name is written De Lamarck. He was succeeded by E. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, who signed himself plain Geoffroy.

In 1802 he acted as treasurer of the Assembly, and again for a period of six years, until and including 1811, when he resigned, the reason given being: "Il s'occupe depuis six ans et que ses travaux et son age lui rendent penibles."

Lamarck was extremely regular in his attendance at these meetings. From 1793 until 1818 he rarely, if ever, missed a meeting. We have only observed in the records of this long period the absence of his name on two or three occasions from the list of those present. During 1818 and the following year it was his blindness which probably prevented his regular attendance. July 15, 1818, he was present, and presented the fifth volume of his Animaux sans Vertebres; and August 31, 1819, he was present[44] and laid before the Assembly the sixth volume of the same great work.



From the observations of the records we infer that Lamarck never had any long, lingering illness or suffered from overwork, though his life had little sunshine or playtime in it. He must have had a strong constitution, his only infirmity being the terrible one (especially to an observer of nature) of total blindness.

Lamarck's greatest work in systematic zooelogy would never have been completed had it not been for the self-sacrificing spirit and devotion of his eldest daughter.

A part of the sixth and the whole of the last volume of the Animaux sans Vertebres were presented to the Assembly of Professors September 10, 1822. This volume was dictated to and written out by one of his daughters, Mlle. Cornelie De Lamarck. On her the aged savant leaned during the last ten years of his life—those years of failing strength and of blindness finally becoming total. The frail woman accompanied him in his hours of exercise, and when he was confined to his house she never left him. It is stated by Cuvier, in his eulogy, that at her first walk out of doors after the end came she was nearly overcome by the fresh air, to which she had become so unaccustomed. She, indeed, practically sacrificed her life to her father. It is one of the rarest and most striking instances of filial devotion known in the annals of science or literature, and is a noticeable contrast to the daughters of the blind Milton, whose domestic life was rendered unhappy by their undutifulness, as they were impatient of the restraint and labors his blindness had imposed upon them.

Besides this, the seventh volume is a voluminous scientific work, filled with very dry special details, making the labor of writing out from dictation, of corrections and preparation for the press, most wearisome and exhausting, to say nothing of the corrections of the proof-sheets, a task which probably fell to her—work enough to break down the health of a strong man.

It was a natural and becoming thing for the Assembly of Professors of the Museum, in view of the "malheureuse position de la famille," to vote to give her employment in the botanical laboratory in arranging and pasting the dried plants, with a salary of 1,000 francs.

Of the last illness of Lamarck, and the nature of the sickness to which he finally succumbed, there is no account. It is probable that, enfeebled by the weakness of extreme old age, he gradually sank away without suffering from any acute disease.

The exact date of his death has been ascertained by Dr. Mondiere,[45] with the aid of M. Saint-Joanny, archiviste du Department de la Seine, who made special search for the record. The "acte" states that December 28, 1829, Lamarck, then a widower, died in the Jardin du Roi, at the age of eighty-five years.

The obsequies, as stated in the Moniteur Universel of Paris for December 23, 1829, were celebrated on the Sunday previous in the Church of Saint-Medard, his parish. From the church the remains were borne to the cemetery of Montparnasse. At the interment, which took place December 30, M. Latreille, in the name of the Academy of Sciences, and M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, in the name and on behalf of his colleagues, the Professors of the Museum of Natural History, pronounced eulogies at the grave. The eulogy prepared by Cuvier, and published after his death, was read at a session of the Academy of Sciences, by Baron Silvestre, November 26, 1832.

With the exception of these formalities, the great French naturalist, "the Linne of France," was buried as one forgotten and unknown. We read with astonishment, in the account by Dr. A. Mondiere, who made zealous inquiries for the exact site of the grave of Lamarck, that it is and forever will be unknown. It is a sad and discreditable, and to us inexplicable, fact that his remains did not receive decent burial. They were not even deposited in a separate grave, but were thrown into a trench apparently situated apart from the other graves, and from which the bones of those thrown there were removed every five years. They are probably now in the catacombs of Paris, mingled with those of the thousands of unknown or paupers in that great ossuary.[46]

Dr. Mondiere's account is as follows. Having found in the Moniteur the notice of the burial services, as above stated, he goes on to say:

"Armed with this document, I went again to the cemetery of Montparnasse, where I fortunately found a conservator, M. Lacave, who is entirely au courant with the question of transformism. He therefore interested himself in my inquiries, and, thanks to him, I have been able to determine exactly where Lamarck had been buried. I say had been, because, alas! he had been simply placed in a trench off on one side (fosse a part), that is to say, one which should change its occupant at the end of five years. Was it negligence, was it the jealousy of his colleagues, was it the result of the troubles of 1830? In brief, there had been no permission granted to purchase a burial lot. The bones of Lamarck are probably at this moment mixed with those of all the other unknown which lie there. What had at first led us into an error is that we made the inquiries under the name of Lamarck instead of that of de Monnet. In reality, the register of inscription bears the following mention:

"'De Monnet de Lamarck buried this 20 December 1829 (85 years), 3d square, 1st division, 2d line, trench 22.'

"At some period later, a friendly hand, without doubt, had written on the margin of the register the following information:

"'To the left of M. Dassas.'

"M. Lacave kindly went with us to search for the place where Lamarck had been interred, and on the register we saw this:

"'Dassas, 1st division, 4th line south, No. 6 to the west, concession 1165-1829.' On arriving at the spot designated, we found some new graves, but nothing to indicate that of M. Dassas, our only mark by which we could trace the site after the changes wrought since 1829. After several ineffectual attempts, I finally perceived a flat grave, surrounded by an iron railing, and covered with weeds. Its surface seemed to me very regular, and I probed this lot. There was a gravestone there. The grave-digger who accompanied us cleared away the surface, and I confess that it was with the greatest pleasure and with deep emotion that we read the name Dassas.



"We found the place, but unfortunately, as I have previously said, the remains of Lamarck are no longer there."

Mondiere added to his letter a little plan (p. 59), which he drew on the spot.[47]

But the life-work of Lamarck and his theory of organic evolution, as well as the lessons of his simple and noble character, are more durable and lasting than any monument of stone or brass. His name will never be forgotten either by his own countrymen or by the world of science and philosophy. After the lapse of nearly a hundred years, and in this first year of the twentieth century, his views have taken root and flourished with a surprising strength and vigor, and his name is preeminent among the naturalists of his time.

No monument exists in Montparnasse, but within the last decade, though the reparation has come tardily, the bust of Lamarck may be seen by visitors to the Jardin des Plantes, on the outer wall of the Nouvelle Galerie, containing the Museums of Comparative Anatomy, Palaeontology, and Anthropology.

Although the city of Paris has not yet erected a monument to its greatest naturalist, some public recognition of his eminent services to the city and nation was manifested when the Municipal Council of Paris, on February 10, 1875, gave the name Lamarck to a street.[48] This is a long and not unimportant street on the hill of Montmartre in the XVIII^e arrondissement, and in the zone of the old stone or gypsum quarries which existed before Paris extended so far out in that direction, and from which were taken the fossil remains of the early tertiary mammals described by Cuvier.

The city of Toulouse has also honored itself by naming one of its streets after Lamarck; this was due to the proposal of Professor Emile Cartailhac to the Municipal Council, which voted to this effect May 12, 1886.

In the meetings of the Assembly of Professors no one took the trouble to prepare and enter minutes, however brief and formal, relative to his decease. The death of Lamarck is not even referred to in the Proces-verbaux. This is the more marked because there is an entry in the same records for 1829, and about the same date, of an extraordinary seance held November 19, 1829, when "the Assembly" was convoked to take measures regarding the death of Professor Vauquelin relative to the choice of a candidate, Chevreul being elected to fill his chair.

Lamarck's chair was at his death divided, and the two professorships thus formed were given to Latreille and De Blainville.

At the session of the Assembly of Professors held December 8, 1829, Geoffroy St. Hilaire sent in a letter to the Assembly urging that the department of invertebrate animals be divided into two, and referred to the bad state of preservation of the insects, the force of assistants to care for these being insufficient. He also, in his usual tactful way, referred to the "complaisance extreme de la parte de M. De Lamarck" in 1793, in assenting to the reunion in a single professorship of the mass of animals then called "insectes et vermes."

The two successors of the chair held by Lamarck were certainly not dilatory in asking for appointments. At a session of the Professors held December 22, 1829, the first meeting after his death, we find the following entry: "M. Latreille ecrit pour exprimer son desir d'etre presente comme candidat a la chaire vacante par le deces de M. Lamarck et pour rappeler ses titres a cette place."

M. de Blainville also wrote in the same manner: "Dans le cas que la chaire serait divisee, il demande la place de Professeur de l'histoire des animaux inarticules. Dans le cas contraire il se presente egalement comme candidat, voulant, tout en respectant les droits acquis, ne pas laisser dans l'oubli ceux qui lui appartiennent."

January 12, 1830, Latreille[49] was unanimously elected by the Assembly a candidate to the chair of entomology, and at a following session (February 16th) De Blainville was unanimously elected a candidate for the chair of Molluscs, Vers et Zoophytes, and on the 16th of March the royal ordinance confirming those elections was received by the Assembly.

There could have been no fitter appointments made for those two positions. Lamarck had long known Latreille "and loved him as a son." De Blainville honored and respected Lamarck, and fully appreciated his commanding abilities as an observer and thinker.

FOOTNOTES:

[40] I have been unable to ascertain the names of any of his wives, or of his children, except his daughter, Cornelie.

[41] "L'examen minutieux de petits animaux, analyses a l'aide d'instruments grossissants, fatigua, puis affaiblait, sa vue. Bientot il fut complement aveugle. Il passa les dix derniers annees de sa vie plonge dans les tenebres, entoure des soins de ses deux tilles, a l'une desquelles il dictait le dernier volume de son Histoire des Animaux sans Vertebres."—Le Transformiste Lamarck, Bull. Soc. Anthropologie, xii., 1889, p. 341. Cuvier, also, in his history of the progress of natural science for 1819, remarks: "M. de La Marck, malgre l'affoiblissement total de sa vue, poursuit avec un courage inalterable la continuation de son grand ouvrage sur les animaux sans vertebres" (p. 406).

[42] Louis Auguste Guillaume Bosc, born in Paris, 1759; died in 1828. Author of now unimportant works, entitled: Histoire Naturelle des Coquilles (1801); Hist. Nat. des Vers (1802); Hist. Nat. des Crustaces (1828), and papers on insects and plants. He was associated with Lamarck in the publication of the Journal d'Histoire Naturelle. During the Reign of Terror in 1793 he was a friend of Madame Roland, was arrested, but afterwards set free and placed first on the Directory in 1795. In 1798 he sailed for Charleston, S. C. Nominated successively vice-consul at Wilmington and consul at New York, but not obtaining his exequatur from President Adams, he went to live with the botanist Michaux in Carolina in his botanical garden, where he devoted himself to natural history until the quarrel in 1800 between the United States and France caused him to return to France. On his return he sent North American insects to his friends Fabricius and Olivier, fishes to Lacepede, birds to Daudin, reptiles to Latreille. Not giving all his time to public life, he devoted himself to natural history, horticulture, and agriculture, succeeding Thouin in the chair of horticulture, where he was most usefully employed until his death.—(Cuvier's Eloge.)

[43] The first director of the Board or Assembly of Professors-administrative of the Museum was Daubenton, Lacepede being the secretary, Thouin the treasurer. Daubenton was succeeded by Jussieu; and Lacepede, first by Desfontaines and afterwards by Lamarck, who was elected secretary 18 fructidor, an II. (1794).

[44] His attendance this year was infrequent. July 10, 1820, he was present and made a report relative to madrepores and molluscs. In the summer of 1821 he attended several of the meetings. August 7, 1821, he was present, and referred to the collection of shells of Struthiolaria. He was present May 23d and June 9th, when it was voted that he should enjoy the garden of the house he occupied and that a chamber should be added to his lodgings. He was frequent in attendance this year, especially during the summer months. He attended a few meetings at intervals in 1822, 1823, and only twice in 1824.

At a meeting held April 19, 1825, he was present, and, stating that his condition did not permit him to lecture, asked to have Audouin take his place, as Latreille's health did not allow him to take up the work. The next week (26th) he was likewise present. On May 10 he was present, as also on June 28, October 11, and also through December, 1825. His last appearance at these business meetings was on July 11, 1828.

[45] See, for the Acte de deces, L'Homme, iv. p. 289, and Lamarck. Par un Groupe de Transformistes, etc., p. 24.

[46] Dr. Mondiere in L'Homme, iv. p. 291, and Lamarck. Par un Groupe de Transformistes, p. 271. A somewhat parallel case is that of Mozart, who was buried at Vienna in the common ground of St. Marx, the exact position of his grave being unknown. There were no ceremonies at his grave, and even his friends followed him no farther than the city gates, owing to a violent storm.—(The Century Cyclopedia of Names.)

[47] Still hoping that the site of the grave might have been kept open, and desiring to satisfy myself as to whether there was possibly space enough left on which to erect a modest monument to the memory of Lamarck, I took with me the brochure containing the letter and plan of Dr. Mondiere to the cemetery of Montparnasse. With the aid of one of the officials I found what he told me was the site, but the entire place was densely covered with the tombs and grave-stones of later interments, rendering the erection of a stone, however small and simple, quite out of the question.

[48] The Rue Lamarck begins at the elevated square on which is situated the Church of the Sacre-Coeur, now in process of erection, and from this point one obtains a commanding and very fine view overlooking the city; from there the street curves round to the westward, ending in the Avenue de Saint-Ouen, and continues as a wide and long thoroughfare, ending to the north of the cemetery of Montmartre. A neighboring street, Rue Becquerel, is named after another French savant, and parallel to it is a short street named Rue Darwin.

[49] Latreille was born at Brives, November 29, 1762, and died February 6, 1833. He was the leading entomologist of his time, and to him Cuvier was indebted for the arrangement of the insects in the Regne Animal. His bust is to be seen on the same side of the Nouvelle Galerie in the Jardin des Plantes as those of Lamarck, Cuvier, De Blainville, and D'Orbigny. His first paper was introduced by Lamarck in 1792. In the minutes of the session of 4 thermidor, l'an VI. (July, 1798), we find this entry: "The citizen Lamarck announces that the citizen Latreille offered to the administration to work under the direction of that professor in arranging the very numerous collection of insects of the Museum, so as to place them under the eye of the public." And here he remained until his appointment. Several years (1825) before Lamarck's death he had asked to have Latreille fill his place in giving instruction.

Audouin (1797-1841), also an eminent entomologist and morphologist, was appointed aide-naturaliste-adjoint in charge of Mollusca, Crustacea, Worms, and Zooephytes. He was afterwards associated with H. Milne Edwards in works on annelid worms. December 26, 1827, Latreille asked to be allowed to employ Boisduval as a preparateur; he became the author of several works on injurious insects and Lepidoptera.



CHAPTER VI

POSITION IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE; OPINIONS OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES AND SOME LATER BIOLOGISTS

De Blainville, a worthy successor of Lamarck, in his posthumous book, Cuvier et Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, pays the highest tribute to his predecessor, whose position as the leading naturalist of his time he fully and gratefully acknowledges, saying: "Among the men whose lectures I have had the advantage of hearing, I truly recognize only three masters, M. de Lamarck, M. Claude Richard, and M. Pinel" (p. 43). He also speaks of wishing to write the scientific biographies of Cuvier and De Lamarck, the two zooelogists of this epoch whose lectures he most frequently attended and whose writings he studied, and "who have exercised the greatest influence on the zooelogy of our time" (p. 42). Likewise in the opening words of the preface he refers to the rank taken by Lamarck:

"The aim which I have proposed to myself in my course on the principles of zooelogy demonstrated by the history of its progress from Aristotle to our time, and consequently the plan which I have followed to attain this aim, have very naturally led me, so to speak, in spite of myself, to signalize in M. de Lamarck the expression of one of those phases through which the science of organization has to pass in order to arrive at its last term before showing its true aim. From my point of view this phase does not seem to me to have been represented by any other naturalist of our time, whatever may have been the reputation which he made during his life."

He then refers to the estimation in which Lamarck was held by Auguste Comte, who, in his Cours de Philosophie Positive, has anticipated and even surpassed himself in the high esteem he felt for "the celebrated author of the Philosophie Zoologique."

The eulogy by Cuvier, which gives most fully the details of the early life of Lamarck, and which has been the basis for all the subsequent biographical sketches, was unworthy of him. Lamarck had, with his customary self-abnegation and generosity, aided and favored the young Cuvier in the beginning of his career,[50] who in his Regne Animal adopted the classes founded by Lamarck. Thoroughly convinced of the erroneous views of Cuvier in regard to cataclysms, he criticised and opposed them in his writings in a courteous and proper way without directly mentioning Cuvier by name or entering into any public debate with him.

When the hour came for the great comparative anatomist and palaeontologist, from his exalted position, to prepare a tribute to the memory of a naturalist of equal merit and of a far more thoughtful and profound spirit, to be read before the French Academy of Sciences, what a eulogy it was—as De Blainville exclaims, et quel eloge! It was not printed until after Cuvier's death, and then, it is stated, portions were omitted as not suitable for publication.[51] This is, we believe, the only stain on Cuvier's life, and it was unworthy of the great man. In this eloge, so different in tone from the many others which are collected in the three volumes of Cuvier's eulogies, he indiscriminately ridicules all of Lamarck's theories. Whatever may have been his condemnation of Lamarck's essays on physical and chemical subjects, he might have been more reserved and less dogmatic and sarcastic in his estimate of what he supposed to be the value of Lamarck's views on evolution. It was Cuvier's adverse criticisms and ridicule and his anti-evolutional views which, more than any other single cause, retarded the progress of biological science and the adoption of a working theory of evolution for which the world had to wait half a century.

It even appears that Lamarck was in part instrumental in inducing Cuvier in 1795 to go to Paris from Normandy, and become connected with the Museum. De Blainville relates that the Abbe Tessier met the young zooelogist at Valmont near Fecamp, and wrote to Geoffroy that "he had just discovered in Normandy a pearl," and invited him to do what he could to induce Cuvier to come to Paris. "I made," said Geoffroy, "the proposition to my confreres, but I was supported, and only feebly, by M. de Lamarck, who slightly knew M. Cuvier as the author of a memoir on entomology."

The eulogy pronounced by Geoffroy St. Hilaire over the remains of his old friend and colleague was generous, sympathetic, and heartfelt.

"Yes [he said, in his eloquent way], for us who knew M. de Lamarck, whom his counsels have guided, whom we have found always indefatigable, devoted, occupied so willingly with the most difficult labors, we shall not fear to say that such a loss leaves in our ranks an immense void. From the blessings of such a life, so rich in instructive lessons, so remarkable for the most generous self-abnegation, it is difficult to choose.

"A man of vigorous, profound ideas, and very often admirably generalized, Lamarck conceived them with a view to the public good. If he met, as often happened, with great opposition, he spoke of it as a condition imposed on every one who begins a reform. Moreover, the great age, the infirmities, but especially the grievous blindness of M. de Lamarck had reserved for him another lot. This great and strong mind could enjoy some consolation in knowing the judgment of posterity, which for him began in his own lifetime. When his last tedious days, useless to science, had arrived, when he had ceased to be subjected to rivalry, envy and passion became extinguished and justice alone remained. De Lamarck then heard impartial voices, the anticipated echo of posterity, which would judge him as history will judge him. Yes, the scientific world has pronounced its judgment in giving him the name of 'the French Linne,' thus linking together the two men who have both merited a triple crown by their works on general natural history, zooelogy and botany, and whose names, increasing in fame from age to age, will both be handed down to the remotest posterity."[52]

Also in his Etudes sur la Vie, les Ouvrages, et les Doctrines de Buffon (1838), Geoffroy again, with much warmth of affection, says:

"Attacked on all sides, injured likewise by odious ridicule, Lamarck, too indignant to answer these cutting epigrams, submitted to the indignity with a sorrowful patience.... Lamarck lived a long while poor, blind, and forsaken, but not by me; I shall ever love and venerate him."[53]

The following evidently heartfelt and sincere tribute to his memory, showing warm esteem and thorough respect for Lamarck, and also a confident feeling that his lasting fame was secure, is to be found in an obscure little book[54] containing satirical, humorous, but perhaps not always fair or just, characterizations and squibs concerning the professors and aid-naturalists of the Jardin des Plantes.

"What head will not be uncovered on hearing pronounced the name of the man whose genius was ignored and who languished steeped in bitterness. Blind, poor, forgotten, he remained alone with a glory of whose extent he himself was conscious, but which only the coming ages will sanction, when shall be revealed more clearly the laws of organization.

"Lamarck, thy abandonment, sad as it was in thy old age, is better than the ephemeral glory of men who only maintain their reputation by sharing in the errors of their time.

"Honor to thee! Respect to thy memory! Thou hast died in the breach while fighting for truth, and the truth assures thee immortality."

Lamarck's theoretical views were not known in Germany until many years after his death. Had Goethe, his contemporary (1749-1832), known of them, he would undoubtedly have welcomed his speculations, have expressed his appreciation of them, and Lamarck's reputation would, in his own lifetime, have raised him from the obscurity of his later years at Paris.

Hearty appreciation, though late in the century, came from Ernst Haeckel, whose bold and suggestive works have been so widely read. In his History of Creation (1868) he thus estimates Lamarck's work as a philosopher:

"To him will always belong the immortal glory of having for the first time worked out the theory of descent, as an independent scientific theory of the first order, and as the philosophical foundation of the whole science of biology."

Referring to the Philosophie Zoologique, he says:

"This admirable work is the first connected exposition of the theory of descent carried out strictly into all its consequences. By its purely mechanical method of viewing organic nature, and the strictly philosophical proofs brought forward in it, Lamarck's work is raised far above the prevailing dualistic views of his time; and with the exception of Darwin's work, which appeared just half a century later, we know of none which we could, in this respect, place by the side of the Philosophie Zoologique. How far it was in advance of its time is perhaps best seen from the circumstance that it was not understood by most men, and for fifty years was not spoken of at all. Cuvier, Lamarck's greatest opponent, in his Report on the Progress of Natural Science, in which the most unimportant anatomical investigations are enumerated, does not devote a single word to this work, which forms an epoch in science. Goethe, also, who took such a lively interest in the French nature-philosophy and in the 'thoughts of kindred minds beyond the Rhine,' nowhere mentions Lamarck, and does not seem to have known the Philosophie Zoologique at all."

Again in 1882 Haeckel writes:[55]

"We regard it as a truly tragic fact that the Philosophie Zoologique of Lamarck, one of the greatest productions of the great literary period of the beginning of our century, received at first only the slightest notice, and within a few years became wholly forgotten.... Not until fully fifty years later, when Darwin breathed new life into the transformation views founded therein, was the buried treasure again recovered, and we cannot refrain from regarding it as the most complete presentation of the development theory before Darwin.

"While Lamarck clearly expressed all the essential fundamental ideas of our present doctrine of descent; and excites our admiration at the depth of his morphological knowledge, he none the less surprises us by the prophetic (vorausschauende) clearness of his physiological conceptions."

In his views on life, the nature of the will and reason, and other subjects, Haeckel declares that Lamarck was far above most of his contemporaries, and that he sketched out a programme of the biology of the future which was not carried out until our day.

J. Victor Carus[56] also claims for Lamarck "the lasting merit of having been the first to have placed the theory (of descent) on a scientific foundation."

The best, most catholic, and just exposition of Lamarck's views, and which is still worth reading, is that by Lyell Chapters XXXIV.-XXXVI. of his Principles of Geology, 1830, and though at that time one would not look for an acceptance of views which then seemed extraordinary and, indeed, far-fetched, Lyell had no words of satire and ridicule, only a calm, able statement and discussion of his principles. Indeed, it is well known that when, in after years, his friend Charles Darwin published his views, Lyell expressed some leaning towards the older speculations of Lamarck.

Lyell's opinions as to the interest and value of Lamarck's ideas may be found in his Life and Letters, and also in the Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. In the chapter, On the Reception of the Origin of Species, by Huxley, are the following extracts from Lyell's Letters (ii., pp. 179-204). In a letter addressed to Mantell (dated March 2, 1827), Lyell speaks of having just read Lamarck; he expresses his delight at Lamarck's theories, and his personal freedom from any objections based on theological grounds. And though he is evidently alarmed at the pithecoid origin of man involved in Lamarck's doctrine, he observes: "But, after all, what changes species may really undergo! How impossible will it be to distinguish and lay down a line beyond which some of the so-called extinct species have never passed into recent ones?"

He also quotes a remarkable passage in the postscript to a letter written to Sir John Herschel in 1836: "In regard to the origination of new species, I am very glad to find that you think it probable it may be carried on through the intervention of intermediate causes."

How nearly Lyell was made a convert to evolution by reading Lamarck's works may be seen by the following extracts from his letters, quoted by Huxley:

"I think the old 'creation' is almost as much required as ever, but of course it takes a new form if Lamarck's views, improved by yours, are adopted." (To Darwin, March 11, 1863, p. 363.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"As to Lamarck, I find that Grove, who has been reading him, is wonderfully struck with his book. I remember that it was the conclusion he (Lamarck) came to about man, that fortified me thirty years ago against the great impression which his argument at first made on my mind—all the greater because Constant Prevost, a pupil of Cuvier forty years ago, told me his conviction 'that Cuvier thought species not real, but that science could not advance without assuming that they were so.'"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"When I came to the conclusion that after all Lamarck was going to be shown to be right, that we must 'go the whole orang,' I re-read his book, and remembering when it was written, I felt I had done him injustice.

"Even as to man's gradual acquisition of more and more ideas, and then of speech slowly as the ideas multiplied, and then his persecution of the beings most nearly allied and competing with him—all this is very Darwinian.

"The substitution of the variety-making power for 'volition,' 'muscular action,' etc. (and in plants even volition was not called in), is in some respects only a change of names. Call a new variety a new creation, one may say of the former, as of the latter, what you say when you observe that the creationist explains nothing, and only affirms 'it is so because it is so.'

"Lamarck's belief in the slow changes in the organic and inorganic world in the year 1800 was surely above the standard of his times, and he was right about progression in the main, though you have vastly advanced that doctrine. As to Owen in his 'Aye Aye' paper, he seems to me a disciple of Pouchet, who converted him at Rouen to 'spontaneous generation.'

"Have I not, at p. 412, put the vast distinction between you and Lamarck as to 'necessary progression' strongly enough?" (To Darwin, March 15, 1863. Lyell's Letters, ii., p. 365.)

Darwin, in the freedom of private correspondence, paid scant respect to the views of his renowned predecessor, as the following extracts from his published letters will show:

"Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a 'tendency to progression,' 'adaptations from the slow willing of animals,' etc. But the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his; though the means of change are wholly so." (Darwin's Life and Letters, ii., p. 23, 1844.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"With respect to books on this subject, I do not know of any systematical ones, except Lamarck's, which is veritable rubbish.... Is it not strange that the author of such a book as the Animaux sans Vertebres should have written that insects, which never see their eggs, should will (and plants, their seeds) to be of particular forms, so as to become attached to particular objects."[57] (ii., p. 29, 1844.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Lamarck is the only exception, that I can think of, of an accurate describer of species, at least in the Invertebrate Kingdom, who has disbelieved in permanent species, but he in his absurd though clever work has done the subject harm." (ii., p. 39, no date.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"To talk of climate or Lamarckian habit producing such adaptions to other organic beings is futile." (ii., p. 121, 1858.)

On the other hand, another great English thinker and naturalist of rare breadth and catholicity, and despite the fact that he rejected Lamarck's peculiar evolutional views, associated him with the most eminent biologists.

In a letter to Romanes, dated in 1882, Huxley thus estimates Lamarck's position in the scientific world:

"I am not likely to take a low view of Darwin's position in the history of science, but I am disposed to think that Buffon and Lamarck would run him hard in both genius and fertility. In breadth of view and in extent of knowledge these two men were giants, though we are apt to forget their services. Von Baer was another man of the same stamp; Cuvier, in a somewhat lower rank, another; and J. Mueller another." (Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, ii., p. 42, 1900.)

The memory of Lamarck is deeply and warmly cherished throughout France. He gave his country a second Linne. One of the leading botanists in Europe, and the greatest zooelogist of his time, he now shares equally with Geoffroy St. Hilaire and with Cuvier the distinction of raising biological science to that eminence in the first third of the nineteenth century which placed France, as the mother of biologists, in the van of all the nations. When we add to his triumphs in pure zooelogy the fact that he was in his time the philosopher of biology, it is not going too far to crown him as one of the intellectual glories, not only of France, but of the civilized world.

How warmly his memory is now cherished may be appreciated by the perusal of the following letter, with its delightful reminiscences, for which we are indebted to the venerable and distinguished zooelogist and comparative anatomist who formerly occupied the chair made illustrious by Lamarck, and by his successor, De Blainville, and who founded the Laboratoire Arago on the Mediterranean, also that of Experimental Zooelogy at Roscoff, and who still conducts the Journal de Zoologie Experimentale.

PARIS LE 28 Decembre, 1899.

M. le PROFESSEUR PACKARD.

Cher Monsieur: Vous m'avez fait l'honneur de me demander des renseignements sur la famille de De Lamarck, et sur ses relations, afin de vous en servir dans la biographie que vous preparez de notre grand naturaliste.

Je n'ai rien appris de plus que ce que vous voulez bien me rappeler comme l'ayant trouve dans mon adresse de 1889. Je ne connais plus ni les noms ni les adresses des parents de De Lamarck, et c'est avec regret qu'il ne m'est pas possible de repondre a vos desirs.

Lorsque je commencai mes etudes a Paris, on ne s'occupait guere des idees generales de De Lamarck que pour s'en moquer. Excepte Geoffroy St. Hilaire et De Blainville, dont j'ai pu suivre les belles lecons et qui le citaient souvent, on parlait peu de la philosophie zoologique.

Il m'a ete possible de causer avec des anciens collegues du grand naturaliste; au Jardin des Plantes de tres grands savants, dont je ne veux pas ecrire le nom, le traitaient de fou!

Il avait loue un appartement sur le haut d'une maison, et la cherchait d'apres la direction des nuages a prevoir l'etat du temps.

On riait de ces etudes. N'est-ce pas comme un observatoire de meteorologie que ce savant zoologiste avait pour ainsi dire fonde avant que la science ne se fut emparee de l'idee?

Lorsque j'eus l'honneur d'etre nomme professeur au Jardin des Plantes en 1865, je fis l'historique de la chaire que j'occupais, et qui avait ete illustree par De Lamarck et De Blainville. Je crois que je suis le premier a avoir fait l'histoire de notre grand naturaliste dans un cours public. Je dus travailler pas mal pour arriver a bien saisir l'idee fondamentale de la philosophie. Les definitions de la nature et des forces qui president aux changements qui modifient les etres d'apres les conditions auxquelles ils sont soumis ne sont pas toujours faciles a rendre claires pour un public souvent difficile.

Ce qui frappe surtout dans ses raisonnements, c'est que De Lamarck est parfaitement logique. Il comprend tres bien ce que plus d'un transformiste de nos jours ne cherche pas a eclairer, que le premier pas, le pas difficile a faire pour arriver a expliquer la creation par des modifications successives, c'est le passage de la matiere inorganique a la matiere organisee, et il imagine la chaleur et l'electricite comme etant les deux facteurs qui par attraction ou repulsion finissent par former ces petits amas organises qui seront le point de depart de toutes les transformations de tous les organismes.

Voila le point de depart—la generation spontanee se trouve ainsi expliquee!

De Lamarck etait un grand et profond observateur. On me disait au Museum (des contemporains) qu'il avait l'Instinct de l'Espece. Il y aurait beaucoup a dire sur cette expression—l'instinct de l'espece—il m'est difficile dans une simple lettre de developper des idees philosophiques que j'ai sur cette question,—laquelle suppose la notion de l'individu parfaitement definie et acquis.

Je ne vous citerai qu'un exemple. Je ne l'ai vu signale nulle part dans les ouvrages anciens sur De Lamarck.

Qu'etaient nos connaissances a l'epoque de De Lamarck sur les Polypiers? Les Hydraires etaient loin d'avoir fourni les remarquables observations qui parurent dans le milieu a peu pres du siecle qui vient de finir, et cependant De Lamarck deplace hardiment la Lucernaire—l'eloigne des Coralliaires, et la rapproche des etres qui forment le grand groupe des Hydraires. Ce trait me parait remarquable et le rapporte a cette reputation qu'il avait au Museum de jouir de l'instinct de l'espece.

De toute part on acclame le grand naturaliste, et'il n'y a pas meme une rue portant son nom aux environs du Jardin des Plantes? J'ai eu beau reclamer le conseil municipal de Paris a d'autres favoris que De Lamarck.

Lorsque le Jardin des Plantes fut reorganise par la Convention, De Lamarck avait 50 ans. Il ne s'etait jusqu'alors occupe que de botanique. Il fut a cet age charge de l'histoire de la partie du regne animal renfermant les animaux invertebres sauf les Insectes et les Crustaces. La chaire est restee la meme; elle comprend les vers, les helminthes, les mollusques, et ce qu'on appelait autrefois les Zoophytes ou Rayonnees, enfin les Infusoires. Quelle puissance de travail! Ne fallait-il pas pour passer de la Botanique, a 50 ans, a la Zoologie, et laisser un ouvrage semblable a celui qui illustre encore le nom du Botaniste devenue Zoologiste par ordre de la Convention!

Sans doute dans cet ouvrage il y a bien des choses qui ne sont plus acceptables—mais pour le juger avec equite, il faut se porter a l'epoque ou il fut fait, et alors on est pris d'admiration pour l'auteur d'un aussi immense travail.

J'ai une grande admiration pour le genie de De Lamarck, et je ne puis que vous louer de le faire encore mieux connaitre de nos contemporains.

Recevez, mon cher collegue, l'expression de mes sentiments d'estime pour vos travaux remarquables et croyez-moi—tout a vous,

H. DE LACAZE DUTHIERS.

FOOTNOTES:

[50] For example, while Cuvier's chair was in the field of vertebrate zooelogy, owing to the kindness of Lamarck ("par gracieusete de la part de M. de Lamarck") he had retained that of Mollusca, and yet it was in the special classification of the molluscs that Lamarck did his best work (Blainville, l. c., p. 116).

[51] De Blainville states that "the Academy did not even allow it to be printed in the form in which it was pronounced" (p. 324); and again he speaks of the lack of judgment in Cuvier's estimate of Lamarck, "the naturalist who had the greatest force in the general conception of beings and of phenomena, although he might often be far from the path" (p. 323).

[52] Fragments Biographiques, pp. 209-219.

[53] L. c. p. 81.

[54] Histoire Naturelle Drolatique et Philosophique des Professeurs du Jardin des Plantes, etc. Par Isid. S. de Gosse. Avec des Annotations de M. Frederic Gerard. Paris, 1847.

[55] Die Naturanschauung von Darwin, Goethe und Lamarck, Jena, 1882.

[56] Geschichte der Zoologie bis auf Joh. Mueller und Charles Darwin, 1872.

[57] We have been unable to find these statements in any of Lamarck's writings.



CHAPTER VII

LAMARCK'S WORK IN METEOROLOGY AND PHYSICAL SCIENCE

When a medical student in Paris, Lamarck, from day to day watching the clouds from his attic windows, became much interested in meteorology, and, indeed, at first this subject had nearly as much attraction for him as botany. For a long period he pursued these studies, and he was the first one to foretell the probabilities of the weather, thus anticipating by over half a century the modern idea of making the science of meteorology of practical use to mankind.

His article, "De l'influence de la lune sur l'atmosphere terrestre," appeared in the Journal de Physique for 1798, and was translated in two English journals. The titles of several other essays will be found in the Bibliography at the close of this volume.

From 1799 to 1810 he regularly published an annual meteorological report containing the statement of probabilities acquired by a long series of observations on the state of the weather and the variations of the atmosphere at different times of the year, giving indications of the periods when to expect pleasant weather, or rain, storms, tempests, frosts, thaws, etc.; finally the citations of these probabilities of times favorable to fetes, journeys, voyages, harvesting crops, and other enterprises dependent on good weather.

Lamarck thus explained the principles on which he based his probabilities: Two kinds of causes, he says, displace the fluids which compose the atmosphere, some being variable and irregular, others constant, whose action is subject to progressive and fixed laws.

Between the tropics constant causes exercise an action so considerable that the irregular effects of variable causes are there in some degree lost; hence result the prevailing winds which in these climates become established and change at determinate epochs.

Beyond the tropics, and especially toward the middle of the temperate zones, variable causes predominate. We can, however, still discover there the effects of the action of constant causes, though much weakened; we can assign them the principal epochs, and in a great number of cases make this knowledge turn to our profit. It is in the elevation and depression (abaissement) of the moon above and below the celestial equator that we should seek for the most constant of these causes.

With his usual facility in such matters, he was not long in advancing a theory, according to which the atmosphere is regarded as resembling the sea, having a surface, waves, and storms; it ought likewise to have a flux and reflux, for the moon ought to exercise the same influence upon it that it does on the ocean. In the temperate and frigid zones, therefore, the wind, which is only the tide of the atmosphere, must depend greatly on the declination of the moon; it ought to blow toward the pole that is nearest to it, and advancing in that direction only, in order to reach every place, traversing dry countries or extensive seas, it ought then to render the sky serene or stormy. If the influence of the moon on the weather is denied, it is only that it may be referred to its phases, but its position in the ecliptic is regarded as affording probabilities much nearer the truth.[58]

In each of these annuals Lamarck took great care to avoid making any positive predictions. "No one," he says, "could make these predictions without deceiving himself and abusing the confidence of persons who might place reliance on them." He only intended to propose simple probabilities.

After the publication of the first of these annuals, at the request of Lamarck, who had made it the subject of a memoir read to the Institute in 1800 (9 ventose, l'an IX.), Chaptal, Minister of the Interior, thought it well to establish in France a regular correspondence of meteorological observations made daily at different points remote from each other, and he conferred the direction of it on Lamarck. This system of meteorological reports lasted but a short time, and was not maintained by Chaptal's successor. After three of these annual reports had appeared, Lamarck rather suddenly stopped publishing them, and an incident occurred in connection with their cessation which led to the story that he had suffered ill treatment and neglect from Napoleon I.

It has been supposed that Lamarck, who was frank and at times brusque in character, had made some enemies, and that he had been represented to the Emperor as a maker of almanacs and of weather predictions, and that Napoleon, during a reception, showing to Lamarck his great dissatisfaction with the annuals, had ordered him to stop their publication.

But according to Bourguin's statement this is not the correct version. He tells us:

"According to traditions preserved in the family of Lamarck things did not happen so at all. During a reception given to the Institute at the Tuileries, Napoleon, who really liked Lamarck, spoke to him in a jocular way about his weather probabilities, and Lamarck, very much provoked (tres contrarie) at being thus chaffed in the presence of his colleagues, resolved to stop the publication of his observations on the weather. What proves that this version is the true one is that Lamarck published another annual which he had in preparation for the year 1810. In the preface he announced that his age, ill health, and his circumstances placed him in the unfortunate necessity of ceasing to busy himself with this periodical work. He ended by inviting those who had the taste for meteorological observations, and the means of devoting their time to it, to take up with confidence an enterprise good in itself, based on a genuine foundation, and from which the public would derive advantageous results."

These opuscles, such as they were, in which Lamarck treated different subjects bearing on the winds, great droughts, rainy seasons, tides, etc., became the precursors of the Annuaires du Bureau des Longitudes.

An observation of Lamarck's on a rare and curious form of cloud has quite recently been referred to by a French meteorologist. It is probable, says M. E. Durand-Greville in La Nature, November 24, 1900, that Lamarck was the first to observe the so-called pocky or festoon cloud, or mammato-cirrus cloud, which at rare intervals has been observed since his time.[59]

Full of over confidence in the correctness of his views formed without reference to experiments, although Lavoisier, by his discovery of oxygen in the years 1772-85, and other researches, had laid the foundations of the antiphlogistic or modern chemistry, Lamarck quixotically attempted to substitute his own speculative views for those of the discoverers of oxygen—Priestley (1774) and the great French chemist Lavoisier. Lamarck, in his Hydrogeologie (1802), went so far as to declare:

"It is not true, and it seems to me even absurd to believe that pure air, which has been justly called vital air, and which chemists now call oxygen gas, can be the radical of saline matters—namely, can be the principle of acidity, of causticity, or any salinity whatever. There are a thousand ways of refuting this error without the possibility of a reply.... This hypothesis, the best of all those which had been imagined when Lavoisier conceived it, cannot now be longer held, since I have discovered what is really caloric" (p. 161).

After paying his respects to Priestley, he asks: "What, then, can be the reason why the views of chemists and mine are so opposed?" and complains that the former have avoided all written discussion on this subject. And this after his three physico-chemical works, the Refutation, the Recherches, and the Memoires had appeared, and seemed to chemists to be unworthy of a reply.

It must be admitted that Lamarck was on this occasion unduly self-opinionated and stubborn in adhering to such views at a time when the physical sciences were being placed on a firm and lasting basis by experimental philosophers. The two great lessons of science—to suspend one's judgment and to wait for more light in theoretical matters on which scientific men were so divided—and the necessity of adhering to his own line of biological study, where he had facts of his own observing on which to rest his opinions, Lamarck did not seem ever to have learned.

The excuse for his rash and quixotic course in respect to his physico-chemical vagaries is that he had great mental activity. Lamarck was a synthetic philosopher. He had been brought up in the encyclopaedic period of learning. He had from his early manhood been deeply interested in physical subjects. In middle age he probably lived a very retired life, did not mingle with his compeers or discuss his views with them. So that when he came to publish them, he found not a single supporter. His speculations were received in silence and not deemed worthy of discussion.

A very just and discriminating judge of Lamarck's work, Professor Cleland, thus refers to his writings on physics and chemistry:

"The most prominent defect in Lamarck must be admitted, quite apart from all consideration of the famous hypothesis which bears his name, to have been want of control in speculation. Doubtless the speculative tendency furnished a powerful incentive to work, but it outran the legitimate deductions from observation, and led him into the production of volumes of worthless chemistry without experimental basis, as well as into spending much time in fruitless meteorological predictions." (Encyc. Brit., Art. LAMARCK.)

How a modern physicist regards Lamarck's views on physics may be seen by the following statement kindly written for this book by Professor Carl Barus of Brown University, Providence:

"Lamarck's physical and chemical speculations, made throughout on the basis of the alchemistic philosophy of the time, will have little further interest to-day than as evidence showing the broadly philosophic tendencies of Lamarck's mind. Made without experiment and without mathematics, the contents of the three volumes will hardly repay perusal, except by the historian interested in certain aspects of pre-Lavoisierian science. The temerity with which physical phenomena are referred to occult static molecules, permeated by subtle fluids, the whole mechanism left without dynamic quality, since the mass of the molecule is to be non-essential, is markedly in contrast with the discredit into which such hypotheses have now fallen. It is true that an explanation of natural phenomena in terms "le feu ethere, le feu calorique, et le feu fixe" might be interpreted with reference to the modern doctrine of energy; but it is certain that Lamarck, antedating Fresnel, Carnot, Ampere, not to mention their great followers, had not the faintest inkling of the possibility of such an interpretation. Indeed, one may readily account for the resemblance to modern views, seeing that all speculative systems of science must to some extent run in parallel, inasmuch as they begin with the facts of common experience. Nor were his speculations in any degree stimulating to theoretical science. Many of his mechanisms in which the ether operates on a plane of equality with the air can only be regarded with amusement. The whole of his elaborate schemes of color classification may be instanced as forerunners of the methods commercially in vogue to-day; they are not the harbingers of methods scientifically in vogue. One looks in vain for research adequate to carry the load of so much speculative text.

"Even if we realize that the beginnings of science could but be made amid such groping in the dark, it is a pity that a man of Lamarck's genius, which seems to have been destitute of the instincts of an experimentalist, should have lavished so much serious thought in evolving a system of chemical physics out of himself."

The chemical status of Lamarck's writings is thus stated by Professor H. Carrington Bolton in a letter dated Washington, D. C., February 9, 1900:

"Excuse delay in replying to your inquiry as to the chemical status of the French naturalist, Lamarck. Not until this morning have I found it convenient to go to the Library of Congress. That Library has not the Recherches nor the Memoires, but the position of Lamarck is well known. He had no influence on chemistry, and his name is not mentioned in the principal histories of chemistry. He made no experiments, but depended upon his imagination for his facts; he opposed the tenets of the new French school founded by Lavoisier, and proposed a fanciful scheme of abstract principles that remind one of alchemy.

"Cuvier, in his Eloge (Memoires Acad. Royale des Sciences, 1832), estimates Lamarck correctly as respects his position in physical science."

Lamarck boldly carried the principle of change and evolution into inorganic nature by the same law of change of circumstances producing change of species.

Under the head, "De l'espece parmi les mineraux," p. 149, the author states that he had for a long time supposed that there were no species among minerals. Here, also, he doubts, and boldly, if not rashly, in this case, opposes accepted views, and in this field, as elsewhere, shows, at least, his independence of thought.

"They teach in Paris," he says, "that the integrant molecule of each kind of compound is invariable in nature, and consequently that it is as old as nature, hence, mineral species are constant.

"For myself, I declare that I am persuaded, and even feel convinced, that the integrant molecule of every compound substance whatever, may change its nature, namely, may undergo changes in the number and in the proportions of the principles which compose it."

He enlarges on this subject through eight pages. He was evidently led to take this view from his assumption that everything, every natural object, organic or inorganic, undergoes a change. But it may be objected that this view will not apply to minerals, because those of the archaean rocks do not differ, and have undergone no change since then to the present time, unless we except such minerals as are alteration products due to metamorphism. The primary laws of nature, of physics, and of chemistry are unchangeable, while change, progression from the generalized to the specialized, is distinctly characteristic of the organic as opposed to the inorganic world.

FOOTNOTES:

[58] "On the Influence of the Moon on the Earth's Atmosphere," Journal de Physique, prairial, l'an VI. (1798).

[59] Nature, Dec. 6, 1900.



CHAPTER VIII

LAMARCK'S WORK IN GEOLOGY

Whatever may be said of his chemical and physical lucubrations, Lamarck in his geological and palaeontological writings is, despite their errors, always suggestive, and in some most important respects in advance of his time. And this largely for the reason that he had once travelled, and to some extent observed geological phenomena, in the central regions of France, in Germany, and Hungary; visiting mines and collecting ores and minerals, besides being in a degree familiar with the French cretaceous fossils, but more especially those of the tertiary strata of Paris and its vicinity. He had, therefore, from his own experience, slight as it was, some solid grounds of facts and observations on which to meditate and from which to reason.

He did not attempt to touch upon cosmological theories—chaos and creation—but, rather, confined himself to the earth, and more particularly to the action of the ocean, and to the changes which he believed to be due to organic agencies. The most impressive truth in geology is the conception of the immensity of past time, and this truth Lamarck fully realized. His views are to be found in a little book of 268 pages, entitled Hydrogeologie. It appeared in 1802 (an X.), or ten years before the first publication of Cuvier's famous Discours sur les Revolutions de la Surface du Globe (1812). Written in his popular and attractive style, and thoroughly in accord with the cosmological and theological prepossessions of the age, the Discours was widely read, and passed through many editions. On the other hand, the Hydrogeologie died stillborn, with scarcely a friend or a reader, never reaching a second edition, and is now, like most of his works, a bibliographical rarity.

The only writer who has said a word in its favor, or contrasted it with the work of Cuvier, is the judicious and candid Huxley, who, though by no means favorable to Lamarck's factors of evolution, frankly said:

"The vast authority of Cuvier was employed in support of the traditionally respectable hypotheses of special creation and of catastrophism; and the wild speculations of the Discours sur les Revolutions de la Surface du Globe were held to be models of sound scientific thinking, while the really much more sober and philosophic hypotheses of the Hydrogeologie were scouted."[60]

Before summarizing the contents of this book, let us glance at the geological atmosphere—thin and tenuous as it was then—in which Lamarck lived. The credit of being the first observer, before Steno (1669), to state that fossils are the remains of animals which were once alive, is due to an Italian, Frascatero, of Verona, who wrote in 1517.

"But," says Lyell,[61] "the clear and philosophical views of Frascatero were disregarded, and the talent and argumentative powers of the learned were doomed for three centuries to be wasted in the discussion of these two simple and preliminary questions: First, whether fossil remains had ever belonged to living creatures; and, secondly, whether, if this be admitted, all the phenomena could not be explained by the deluge of Noah."

Previous to this the great artist, architect, engineer, and musician, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who, among other great works, planned and executed some navigable canals in Northern Italy, and who was an observer of rare penetration and judgment, saw how fossil shells were formed, saying that the mud of rivers had covered and penetrated into the interior of fossil shells at a time when these were still at the bottom of the sea near the coast.[62]

That versatile and observing genius, Bernard Palissy, as early as 1580, in a book entitled The Origin of Springs from Rain-water, and in other writings, criticized the notions of the time, especially of Italian writers, that petrified shells had all been left by the universal deluge.

"It has happened," said Fontenelle, in his eulogy on Palissy, delivered before the French Academy a century and a half later, "that a potter who knew neither Latin nor Greek dared, toward the end of the sixteenth century, to say in Paris, and in the presence of all the doctors, that fossil shells were veritable shells deposited at some time by the sea in the places where they were then found; that the animals had given to the figured stones all their different shapes, and that he boldly defied all the school of Aristotle to attack his proofs."[63]

Then succeeded, at the end of the seventeenth century, the forerunners of modern geology: Steno (1669), Leibnitz (1683), Ray (1692), Woodward (1695), Vallisneri (1721), while Moro published his views in 1745. In the eighteenth century Reaumur[64] (1720) presented a paper on the fossil shells of Touraine.

Cuvier[65] thus pays his respects, in at least an unsympathetic way, to the geological essayists and compilers of the seventeenth century:

"The end of the seventeenth century lived to see the birth of a new science, which took, in its infancy, the high-sounding name of 'Theory of the Earth.' Starting from a small number of facts, badly observed, connecting them by fantastic suppositions, it pretended to go back to the origin of worlds, to, as it were, play with them, and to create their history. Its arbitrary methods, its pompous language, altogether seemed to render it foreign to the other sciences, and, indeed, the professional savants for a long time cast it out of the circle of their studies."

Their views, often premature, composed of half-truths, were mingled with glaring errors and fantastic misconceptions, but were none the less germinal. Leibnitz was the first to propose the nebular hypothesis, which was more fully elaborated by Kant and Laplace. Buffon, influenced by the writing of Leibnitz, in his Theorie de la Terre, published in 1749, adopted his notion of an original volcanic nucleus and a universal ocean, the latter as he thought leaving the land dry by draining into subterranean caverns. He also dimly saw, or gathered from his reading, that the mountains and valleys were due to secondary causes; that fossiliferous strata had been deposited by ocean currents, and that rivers had transported materials from the highlands to the lowlands. He also states that many of the fossil shells which occur in Europe do not live in the adjacent seas, and that there are remains of fishes and of plants not now living in Europe, and which are either extinct or live in more southern climates, and others in tropical seas. Also that the bones and teeth of elephants and of the rhinoceros and hippopotamus found in Siberia and elsewhere in northern Europe and Asia indicate that these animals must have lived there, though at present restricted to the tropics. In his last essay, Epoques de la Nature (1778), he claims that the earth's history may be divided into epochs, from the earliest to the present time. The first epoch was that of fluidity, of incandescence, when the earth and the planets assumed their form; the second, of cooling; the third, when the waters covered the earth, and volcanoes began to be active; the fourth, that of the retreat of the seas, and the fifth the age when the elephants, the hippopotamus, and other southern animals lived in the regions of the north; the sixth, when the two continents, America and the old world, became separate; the seventh and last being the age of man. Above all, by his attractive style and bold suggestions he popularized the subjects and created an interest in these matters and a spirit of inquiry which spread throughout France and the rest of Europe.

But notwithstanding the crude and uncritical nature of the writings of the second half of the eighteenth century, resulting from the lack of that more careful and detailed observation which characterizes our day, there was during this period a widespread interest in physical and natural science, and it led up to that more exact study of nature which signalizes the nineteenth century. "More new truths concerning the external world," says Buckle, "were discovered in France during the latter half of the eighteenth century than during all preceding periods put together."[66] As Perkins[67] says: "Interest in scientific study, as in political investigation, seemed to rise suddenly from almost complete inactivity to extraordinary development. In both departments English thinkers had led the way, but if the impulse to such investigations came from without, the work done in France in every branch of scientific research during the eighteenth century was excelled by no other nation, and England alone could assert any claim to results of equal importance. The researches of Coulomb in electricity, of Buffon in geology, of Lavoisier in chemistry, of Daubenton in comparative anatomy, carried still farther by their illustrious successors towards the close of the century, did much to establish conceptions of the universe and its laws upon a scientific basis." And not only did Rousseau make botany fashionable, but Goldsmith wrote from Paris in 1755: "I have seen as bright a circle of beauty at the chemical lectures of Rouelle as gracing the court of Versailles." Petit lectured on astronomy to crowded houses, and among his listeners were gentlemen and ladies of fashion, as well as professional students.[68] The popularizers of science during this period were Voltaire, Montesquieu, Alembert, Diderot, and other encyclopaedists.

Here should be mentioned one of Buffon's contemporaries and countrymen; one who was the first true field geologist, an observer rather than a compiler or theorist. This was Jean E. Guettard (1715-1786). He published, says Sir Archibald Geikie, in his valuable work, The Founders of Geology, about two hundred papers on a wide range of scientific subjects, besides half a dozen quarto volumes of his observations, together with many excellent plates. Geikie also states that he is undoubtedly entitled to rank among the first great pioneers of modern geology. He was the first (1751) to make a geological map of northern France, and roughly traced the limits of his three bands or formations from France across the southeastern English counties. In his work on "The degradation of mountains effected in our time by heavy rains, rivers, and the sea,"[69] he states that the sea is the most potent destroyer of the land, and that the material thus removed is deposited either on the land or along the shores of the sea. He thought that the levels of the valleys are at present being raised, owing to the deposit of detritus in them. He points out that the deposits laid down by the ocean do not extend far out to sea, "that consequently the elevations of new mountains in the sea, by the deposition of sediment, is a process very difficult to conceive; that the transport of the sediment as far as the equator is not less improbable; and that still more difficult to accept is the suggestion that the sediment from our continent is carried into the seas of the New World. In short, we are still very little advanced towards the theory of the earth as it now exists." Guettard was the first to discover the volcanoes of Auvergne, but he was "hopelessly wrong" in regard to the origin of basalt, forestalling Werner in his mistakes as to its aqueous origin. He was thus the first Neptunist, while, as Geikie states, his "observations in Auvergne practically started the Vulcanist camp."

We now come to Lamarck's own time. He must have been familiar with the results of Pallas's travels in Russia and Siberia (1793-94). The distinguished German zooelogist and geologist, besides working out the geology of the Ural Mountains, showed, in 1777, that there was a general law in the formation of all mountain chains composed chiefly of primary rocks;[70] the granitic axis being flanked by schists, and these by fossiliferous strata. From his observations made on the Volga and about its mouth, he presented proofs of the former extension, in comparatively recent times, of the Caspian Sea. But still more pregnant and remarkable was his discovery of an entire rhinoceros, with its flesh and skin, in the frozen soil of Siberia. His memoir on this animal places him among the forerunners of, if not within the ranks of, the founders of palaeontology.

Meanwhile Soldani, an Italian, had, in 1780, shown that the limestone strata of Italy had accumulated in a deep sea, at least far from land, and he was the first to observe the alternation of marine and fresh-water strata in the Paris basin.

Lamarck must have taken much interest in the famous controversy between the Vulcanists and Neptunists. He visited Freyburg in 1771; whether he met Werner is not known, as Werner began to lecture in 1775. He must have personally known Faujas of Paris, who, in 1779, published his description of the volcanoes of Vivarais and Velay; while Desmarest's (1725-1815) elaborate work on the volcanoes of Auvergne, published in 1774, in which he proved the igneous origin of basalt, was the best piece of geological exploration which had yet been accomplished, and is still a classic.[71]

Werner (1750-1817), the propounder of the Neptunian theory, was one of the founders of modern geology and of palaeontology. His work entitled Ueber die auessern Kennzeichen der Fossilien appeared in 1774; his Kurze Klassifikation und Beschreibung der Gebirgsarten in 1787. He discovered the law of the superposition of stratified rocks, though he wrongly considered volcanic rocks, such as basalt, to be of aqueous origin, being as he supposed formed of chemical precipitates from water. But he was the first to state that the age of different formations can be told by their fossils, certain species being confined to particular beds, while others ranged throughout whole formations, and others seemed to occur in several different formations; "the original species found in these formations appearing to have been so constituted as to live through a variety of changes which had destroyed hundreds of other species which we find confined to particular beds."[72] His views as regards fossils, as Jameson states, were probably not known to Cuvier, and it is more than doubtful whether Lamarck knew of them. He observed that fossils appear first in "transition" or palaeozoic strata, and were mainly corals and molluscs; that in the older carboniferous rocks the fossils are of higher types, such as fish and amphibious animals; while in the tertiary or alluvial strata occur the remains of birds and quadrupeds. He thought that marine plants were more ancient than land plants. His studies led him to infer that the fossils contained in the oldest rocks are very different from any of the species of the present time; that the newer the formation, the more do the remains approach in form to the organic beings of the present creation, and that in the very latest formations, fossil remains of species now existing occur. Such advanced views as these would seem to entitle Werner to rank as one of the founders of palaeontology.[73]

Hutton's Theory of the Earth appeared in 1785, and in a more developed state, as a separate work, in 1795.[74] "The ruins of an older world," he said, "are visible in the present structure of our planet, and the strata which now compose our continents have been once beneath the sea, and were formed out of the waste of preexisting continents. The same forces are still destroying, by chemical decomposition or mechanical violence, even the hardest rocks, and transporting the materials to the sea, where they are spread out and form strata analogous to those of more ancient date. Although loosely deposited along the bottom of the ocean, they became afterwards altered and consolidated by volcanic heat, and were then heaved up, fractured, and contorted." Again he said: "In the economy of the world I can find no traces of a beginning, no prospect of an end." As Lyell remarks: "Hutton imagined that the continents were first gradually destroyed by aqueous degradation, and when their ruins had furnished materials for new continents, they were upheaved by violent convulsions. He therefore required alternate periods of general disturbance and repose."

To Hutton, therefore, we are indebted for the idea of the immensity of the duration of time. He was the forerunner of Lyell and of the uniformitarian school of geologists.

Hutton observed that fossils characterized certain strata, but the value of fossils as time-marks and the principle of the superposition of stratified fossiliferous rocks were still more clearly established by William Smith, an English surveyor, in 1790. Meanwhile the Abbe Hauey, the founder of crystallography, was in 1802 Professor of Mineralogy in the Jardin des Plantes.

Lamarck's Contributions to Physical Geology; his Theory of the Earth.

Such were the amount and kind of knowledge regarding the origin and structure of our earth which existed at the close of the eighteenth century, while Lamarck was meditating his Hydrogeologie, and had begun to study the invertebrate fossils of the Paris tertiary basin.

His object, he says in his work, is to present certain considerations which he believed to be new and of the first order, which had escaped the notice of physicists, and which seemed to him should serve as the foundations for a good theory of the earth. His theses are:

1. What are the natural consequences of the influence and the movements of the waters on the surface of the globe?

2. Why does the sea constantly occupy a basin within the limits which contain it, and there separate the dry parts of the surface of the globe always projecting above it?

3. Has the ocean basin always existed where we actually see it, and if we find proofs of the sojourn of the sea in places where it no longer remains, by what cause was it found there, and why is it no longer there?

4. What influence have living bodies exerted on the substances found on the surface of the earth and which compose the crust which invests it, and what are the general results of this influence?

Lamarck then disclaims any intentions of framing brilliant hypotheses based on supposititious principles, but nevertheless, as we shall see, he falls into this same error, and like others of his period makes some preposterous hypotheses, though these are far less so than those of Cuvier's Discours. He distinguishes between the action of rivers or of fresh-water currents, torrents, storms, the melting of snow, and the work of the ocean. The rivers wear away and bear materials from the highlands to the lowlands, so that the plains are gradually elevated; ravines form and become immense valleys, and their sides form elevated crests and pass into mountain ranges.

He brings out and emphasizes the fact, now so well known, that the erosive action of rain and rivers has formed mountains of a certain class.

"It is then evident to me, that every mountain which is not the result of a volcanic irruption or of some local catastrophe, has been carved out from a plain, where its mass is gradually formed, and was a part of it; hence what in this case are the summits of the mountains are only the remains of the former level of the plain unless the process of washing away and other means of degradation have not since reduced its height."

Now this will apply perfectly well to our table-lands, mesas, the mountains of our bad-lands, even to our Catskills and to many elevations of this nature in France and in northern Africa. But Lamarck unfortunately does not stop here, but with the zeal of an innovator, by no means confined to his time alone, claims that the mountain masses of the Alps and the Andes were carved out of plains which had been raised above the sea-level to the present heights of those mountains.

Two causes, he says, have concurred in forming these elevated plains.

"One consists in the continual accumulation of material filling the portion of the ocean-basin from which the same seas slowly retreat; for it does not abandon those parts of the ocean-basin which are situated nearer and nearer to the shores that it tends to leave, until after having filled its bottom and having gradually raised it. It follows that the coasts which the sea is abandoning are never made by a very deep-lying formation, however often it appears to be such, for they are continually elevated as the result of the perpetual balancing of the sea, which casts off from its shores all the sediments brought down by the rivers; in such a way that the great depths of the ocean are not near the shore from which the sea retreats, but out in the middle of the ocean and near the opposite shores which the sea tends to invade.

"The other cause, as we shall see, is found in the detritus of organic bodies successively accumulated, which perpetually elevates, although with extreme slowness, the soil of the dry portions of the globe, and which does it all the more rapidly, as the situation of these parts gives less play to the degradation of the surface caused by the rivers.

"Doubtless a plain which is destined some day to furnish the mountains which the rivers will carve out from its mass would have, when still but a little way from the sea, but a moderate elevation above its river channels; but gradually as the ocean basin removed from this plain, this basin constantly sinking down into the interior (epaisseur) of the external crust of the globe, and the soil of the plain perpetually rising higher from the deposition of the detritus of organic bodies, it results that, after ages of elevation of the plain in question, it would be in the end sufficiently thick for high mountains to be shaped and carved out of its mass.

"Although the ephemeral length of life of man prevents his appreciation of this fact, it is certain that the soil of a plain unceasingly acquires a real increase in its elevation in proportion as it is covered with different plants and animals. Indeed the debris successively heaped up for numerous generations of all these beings which have by turns perished, and which, as the result of the action of their organs, have, during the course of this life, given rise to combinations which would never have existed without this means, most of the principles which have formed them not being borrowed from the soil; this debris, I say, wasting successively on the soil of the plain in question, gradually increases the thickness of its external bed, multiplies there the mineral matters of all kinds and gradually elevates the formation."

Our author, as is evident, had no conception, nor had any one else at the time he wrote, of the slow secular elevation of a continental plateau by crust-movements, and Lamarck's idea of the formation of elevated plains on land by the accumulation of debris of organisms is manifestly inadequate, our aerial or eolian rocks and loess being wind-deposits of sand and silt rather than matters of organic origin. Thus he cites as an example of his theory the vast elevated plains of Tartary, which he thought had been dry land from time immemorable, though we now know that the rise took place in the quaternary or present period. On the other hand, given these vast elevated plains, he was correct in affirming that rivers flowing through them wore out enormous valleys and carved out high mountains, left standing by atmospheric erosion, for examples of such are to be seen in the valley of the Nile, the Colorado, the Upper Missouri, etc.

He then distinguishes between granitic or crystalline mountains, and those composed of stratified rocks and volcanic mountains.

The erosive action of rivers is thus discussed; they tend first, he says, to fill up the ocean basins, and second, to make the surface of the land broken and mountainous, by excavating and furrowing the plains.

Our author did not at all understand the causes of the inclination or tilting up of strata. Little close observation or field work had yet been done, and the rocks about Paris are but slightly if at all disturbed. He attributes the dipping down of strata to the inclination of the shores of the sea, though he adds that nevertheless it is often due to local subsidences. And then he remarks that "indeed in many mountains, and especially in the Pyrenees, in the very centre of these mountains, we observe that the strata are for the most part either vertical or so inclined that they more or less approach this direction."

"But," he asks, "should we conclude from this that there has necessarily occurred a universal catastrophe, a general overturning? This assumption, so convenient for those naturalists who would explain all the facts of this kind without taking the trouble to observe and study the course which nature follows, is not at all necessary here; for it is easy to conceive that the inclined direction of the beds in the mountains may have been produced by other causes, and especially by causes more natural and less hypothetical than a general overturning of strata."

While streams of fresh water tend to fill up and destroy the ocean basins, he also insists that the movements of the sea, such as the tides, currents, storms, submarine volcanoes, etc., on the contrary, tend to unceasingly excavate and reestablish these basins. Of course we now know that tides and currents have no effect in the ocean depths, though their scouring effects near shore in shallow waters have locally had a marked effect in changing the relations of land and sea. Lamarck went so far as to insist that the ocean basin owes its existence and its preservation to the scouring action of the tides and currents.

The earth's interior was, in Lamarck's opinion, solid, formed of quartzose and silicious rocks, and its centre of gravity did not coincide with its geographical centre, or what he calls the centre de forme. He imagined also that the ocean revolved around the globe from east to west, and that this movement, by its continuity, displaced the ocean basin and made it pass successively over all the surface of the earth.

Then, in the third chapter, he asks if the basin of the sea has always been where we now actually see it, and whether we find proofs of the sojourn of the sea in the place where it is now absent; if so, what are the causes of these changes. He reiterates his strange idea of a general movement of the ocean from east to west, at the rate of at least three leagues in twenty-four hours and due to the moon's influence. And here Lamarck, in spite of his uniformitarian principles, is strongly cataclysmic. What he seems to have in mind is the great equatorial current between Africa and the West Indies. To this perpetual movement of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean he ventures to attribute the excavation of the Gulf of Mexico, and presumes that at the end of ages it will break through the Isthmus of Panama, and transform America into two great islands or two small continents. Not understanding that the islands are either the result of upheaval, or outliers of continents, due to subsidence, Lamarck supposed that his westward flow of the ocean, due to the moon's attraction, eroded the eastern shores of America, and the currents thus formed "in their efforts to move westward, arrested by America and by the eastern coasts of China, were in great part diverted towards the South Pole, and seeking to break through a passage across the ancient continent have, a long time since, reduced the portion of this continent which united New Holland to Asia into an archipelago which comprises the Molucca, Philippine, and Mariana Islands." The West Indies and Windward Islands were formed by the same means, and the sea not breaking through the Isthmus of Panama was turned southward, and the action of its currents resulted in detaching the island of Tierra del Fuego from South America. In like manner New Zealand was separated from New Holland, Madagascar from Africa, and Ceylon from India.

He then refers to other "displacements of the ocean basin," to the shallowing of the Straits of Sunda, of the Baltic Sea, the ancient subsidence of the coast of Holland and Zealand, and states that Sweden offers all the appearance of having recently emerged from the sea, while the Caspian Sea, formerly much larger than at present, was once in communication with the Black Sea, and that some day the Straits of Sunda and the Straits of Dover will be dry land, so that the union of England and France will be formed anew.

Strangely enough, with these facts known to him, Lamarck did not see that such changes were due to changes of level of the land rather than to their being abandoned or invaded by the sea, but explained these by his bizarre hypothesis of westward-flowing currents due to the moon's action; though it should be in all fairness stated that down to recent times there have been those who believed that it is the sea and not the land which has changed its level.

This idea, that the sea and not the land has changed its level, was generally held at the time Lamarck wrote, though Strabo had made the shrewd observation that it was the land which moved. The Greek geographer threw aside the notion of some of his contemporaries, and with wonderful prevision, considering the time he wrote and the limited observations he could make, claimed that it is not the sea which has risen or fallen, but the land itself which is sometimes raised up and sometimes depressed, while the sea-bottom may also be elevated or sunk down. He refers to such facts as deluges, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, and sudden swellings of the land beneath the sea.

"And it is not merely the small, but the large islands also, not merely the islands, but the continents which can be lifted up together with the sea; and, too, the large and small tracts may subside, for habitations and cities, like Bure, Bizona, and many others, have been engulfed by earthquakes."[75]

But it was not until eighteen centuries later that this doctrine, under the teachings of Playfair, Leopold von Buch, and Elie de Beaumont (1829-30) became generally accepted. In 1845 Humboldt remarked, "It is a fact to-day recognized by all geologists, that the rise of continents is due to an actual upheaval, and not to an apparent subsidence occasioned by a general depression of the level of the sea" (Cosmos, i). Yet as late as 1869 we have an essay by H. Trautschold[76] in which is a statement of the arguments which can be brought forward in favor of the doctrine that the increase of the land above sea level is due to the retirement of the sea.[77]

As authentic and unimpeachable proofs of the former existence of the sea where now it is absent, Lamarck cites the occurrence of fossils in rocks inland. Lamarck's first paper on fossils was read to the Institute in 1799, or about three years previous to the publication of the Hydrogeologie. He restricts the term "fossils" to vegetable and animal remains, since the word in his time was by some loosely applied to minerals as well as fossils; to anything dug out of the earth. "We find fossils," he says, "on dry land, even in the middle of continents and large islands; and not only in places far removed from the sea, but even on mountains and in their bowels, at considerable heights, each part of the earth's surface having at some time been a veritable ocean bottom." He then quotes at length accounts of such instances from Buffon, and notices their prodigious number, and that while the greater number are marine, others are fresh-water and terrestrial shells, and the marine shells may be divided into littoral and pelagic.

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