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FOREIGN LIT. PATURE, SCIENCE,AND I).S?
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NATURAL HISTORY, as commonly un- questions have perhaps excited greater derstood, refers to the study of animals interest than those which concern the and plants. A profound truth is con- problems of animal or vegetable life, the tained in this popular acceptation of the origin of such life, and the origin of its term. For in order that either animals multitudinous forms. or plants may be thoroughly understood, Apart, however, from such interest in both require to be studied ; while the it as may be due to controversies of the two together constitute a group of natu- day, the love of this study is one which ral objects which may be considered must grow upon men as they advance in apart from the non-living world. Ani- the knowledge of their own organisamals and plants taken together, then, tion, owing to the very conditions of form the subject matter of a distinct their existence. For man is so related science, BIOLOGY—the science of living to other living creatures, that fully to bodies.
understand himself, he must, more or The study of the Natural History of less thoroughly, understand them also. living creatures has of late assumed a Every increase in the knowledge of greater importance than it was ever be- the organic world has its effect upon the fore thought to possess. Recent ad- study of man, and helps him not only vances in science seem also to indicate towards a better knowledge of his own that this history needs re-writing from organisation, but also helps in the purthe standpoint which our most expert suit of his own happiness and in the fuland zealous biological explorers have filment of his duty. succeeded in attaining. No scientific To man alone is at the same time ap
NEW SERIES.—Vol. XXX., No. 1
portioned the physical enjoyment, the in different degrees, participates. Man's intellectual apprehension, and the æs- intellect is indeed supreme, nevertheless thetic appreciation of that marvellous it cannot be called into activity unless material creation which on all sides sur first evoked by sense impressions which rounds him, which impresses him by its he shares with lowly animals ; nor can many active powers, and of which he his intellect, even after it has been alone forms the self-conscious and re- aroused into activity, continue to act flective portion.
save by the constant renewal of sense imHis connection with it is, indeed, pressions-real or imagined. Such immost intimate, partaking as he does all pressions give rise, in him, to imaginathe orders of existence revealed to him tions, reminiscences, anticipations, and by his senses-inorganic or organic, emotions, which serve as materials for vegetative or animal. The mineral mat- the exercise of intellect and will ; and as ters of the earth's solid crust, the chem- these imaginations, reminiscences, anical constituents of oceans and rivers, ticipations, and emotions are possessed even the ultimate materials of remote also by brutes, it is to the study of such sidereal clusters, contribute to form the creatures that we must have recourse to substance of his body. The various ac- obtain one of the keys needed to unlock tivities of the vegetable world have their the mystery of man's existence. counterpart in the actions of that body. In addition to the above consideraWhen we study the laws of growth, as tions, the organic world is of course useful in the creeping lichen or gigantic euca- to us in a variety of ways. Man, as lord lyptus, or the actions of roots or leaves, over all other organisms which people the when we follow the course of the spore globe, rightfully disposes of them for his dropped from a fern frond, or when we profit or pleasure, finding in the investiinvestigate the meaning and action of gation of their various natures an inexflowers of whatever kind, we come upon haustible field for his intellectual acprocesses which the human body is also tivity, and in their forms and reladestined to perform.
But the animal tions a stimulus for his deep-seated apworld especially concerns man, since, prehension of beauty. Thus, many conbeing an animal himself, he shares the siderations and influences concur to pleasures, pains, appetites, desires, and impel us to the study of Nature, and esemotions of the sentient myriads which pecially the Natural History of the many people earth, air, and water. His frame, living creatures which are so variously like theirs, thrills responsively to the related to us. ceaseless throbbings of that plexus of But a Natural History which shall inever-active agencies, lifeless as well as clude both animals and plants must be living, which we call the Cosmos. Thus a history of creatures of kinds so various man plainly shares in the most diverse that their number baffles the power of the powers and faculties of his material fel- imagination, as a little reflection will suflow-creatures, and he sees also reflected fice to show. Beasts alone are numerous, by such creatures, in varying degrees, but very much more so is the group of those different kinds of existence which reptiles. Serpents and lizards, indeed, unite in him. Man sees this reflection, so swarm in the hottest regions of the and in so seeing recognises as existing in globe that, in spite of the multitude of himself a faculty much above every forms already described, it is not impospower possessed by any other organism. sible that nearly as many more remain Unlike even the highest of the brutes, to be discovered. More than ten thouhe not only feels the Cosmos, but he sand different kinds of birds have been thinks it. He is not only involved with now made known to us, and fishes are it in an infinity of relations, but he rec- probably not less numerous than all the ognises and reflects upon many of such other above-mentioned animals taken torelations, their nature and their recipro- gether. cal bearings. “The proper study of mankind is man ;" but to follow out
* The number of kinds of fishes described that study completely we must have a by ichthyologists only about equals the number
of birds. But then ornithologists reckon such certain knowledge of the various orders small differences as making a distinction of of creatures in the natures of which man, kind, that if ichthyologists pursued a similar Beasts, birds, reptiles and fishes, consist of but the impress of their bodies, however, considered as forming one or only a few footprints. Rich as is the group, constitute but a comparatively animal population of the world to-day, small section of the world of animals. it represents only a remnant of the life Creatures allied to the snail and oyster, that has been ; and small as our knowlbut all of different kinds, exist in multi- edge may ever be of that ancient life tudes which are known to us, but (from imperfections in the rocky record), doubtless also in multitudes as yet un- yet every year that knowledge is increasknown. Worms form a division so va- ed. What increase may we not also exried in nature and so prodigious in num- pect hereafter, when all remote and tropber, that the correct appreciation of their ical regions have been explored with the relations one to another and to other ani- care and patience already bestowed on mals—their classification forms one of the deposits which lie in the vicinity of the most difficult of zoological prob- civilised populations ? lems. Coral-forming animals and cog- But, besides the forms of animal life nate forms, together with star-fishes and which are thus multitudinous, acquainttheir allies, come before as two other ance must also be made with myriads of hosts ; and there are yet other hosts of vegetable forms in order to understand other kinds to which it is needless here to the Natural History of animals and refer. Yet the whole mass of animals to plants. Numerous 'as are the different which reference has yet been made is ex- kinds of trees, shrubs, creepers, other ceeded (as to the number of distinct flowering plants, ferns, and mosses pekinds) by the single group of insects. culiar to each great region of the earth's Every land-plant has more than one surface, the total number of the lowest species of insect which lives upon it, flowerless forms is yet greater. Known and the same may probably be said of sea-weeds of large or moderate size are at least every higher animal—and this in numerous, but some naturalists think addition to other parasites which are not there are still more yet unknown. But, insects. The lowest animals have not however that may be, their number is yet been referred to, but the number of small compared with the swarms of mitheir undiscovered kinds which may ex- nute algæ and fungi which are to be found ist in the ocean, and in tropical lakes in situations the most various. For not and rivers, may be suspected from the only do fungi live upon the surface of variety we may obtain here, in a single other plants, but they penetrate within drop of stagnant water. Recent re- them, and, as "mould,” deprive the searches, moreover, have shown us that stoutest timber of its substance and rethe depths of the ocean, instead of being sisting power ; they devastate fields of (as was supposed) lifeless as well as still promising grain, destroy the hope of the and dark abysses, really teem with animal vine-grower, and ruin our homely garlife. From those profound recesses also den produce. ‘And as certain animals creatures have been dragged to light, are destined to nourish themselves on forms which were supposed to have long certain plants, so do different kinds of passed away and become extinct. And these lowly plants nourish themselves on this leads us to yet another considera- different animals. Ulcers and sores may tion. It is impossible to have a com- support their appropriate vegetation, the plete knowledge of existing animals with- growth of which has caused havoc in out being acquainted with so much of many an hospital ward, with an atmosthe nature of their now extinct predeces- phere teeming (as it often teems) with sors as can be gathered from the relics their minute reproductive particles. they have left behind. Such relics may Analogous particles of other plants even be bones or shells imbedded in muddy form no insignificant part of our coaldeposits of ages bygone, and which de- fields, as the produce of coral animals has posits have now turned to rock, or may built up large tracts of land in the State
of Florida and elsewhere, and as a vast course the number of fishes reckoned as distinct the Atlantic from the ceaseless rain of
deposit is accumulating on the floor of would be much in excess. Besides, there are probably many more new kinds of fishes to dis- dead microscopic shells which have lived cover than there are of birds.
in its surface waters.