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Thus the most varied structures of plants are rendered possible, and he who in his observations keeps these laws always before his eyes will derive from them great alleviation and advantage." These few lines contain the pith of the doctrine of the Metamorphosis of Plants which so greatly agitated his contemporaries during the first quarter of this century. The manysidedness of the idea made it inevitable that the notion, once grasped, should extend to the remainder of the organic world. Before Goethe, no naturalist had regarded insects otherwise than as a given sum of individual forms, distinguishable by certain definite characteristics. Their internal structure had certainly been disclosed by some few great men, such as Malpighi, Swammerdam and Lyonet, but a real comparison of species and genera had never been contemplated; still less an explanation of the body by its parts. This Goethe accomplished, and with true genius; for to his theory, and with perfect truth, the rings which in the insect are ranged from the head to the tail, presented themselves, like the vegetal organs, as mere modifications of one and the same rudimentary organ. There, the leaf in the abstract, the primordial leaf or plant-here the ring.

With this-it was in 1796, in the discourses on the project of a general introduction to Comparative Anatomyhe enunciated a truth which was not recognized till more than forty years later, by one of the most distinguished zoologists, Milne Edwards, and applied to the knowledge of the animal world. This is the idea of the development of organic beings by the heterogeneous evolution of their fundamentally similar parts. Of this the cater

pillar and butterfly serve as an example. "Imperfect and evanescent a creature though the butterfly may be as to its species, when compared to the mammal, in the metamorphosis which it accomplishes before our eyes, it nevertheless exhibits the superiority of a more perfect over a less perfect animal. This consists in the decisiveness of its parts, the security that none can be put or taken for the other; that each is destined for its function, and remains constant to it for ever." Now, however, in the most perfect creatures, the Vertebrata, there appeared before Goethe's eye, a similar rudimentary organ, metamorphosing itself within the individual; this was the vertebra. He followed it in its transformations along the vertebral column. Impossible as it may be, by placing together the first vertebra of the neck with the last tail bone to infer their identity, it becomes manifest in the gradual transition.

But what lies in front of the first vertebra of the neck? Is the cranium something absolutely different, something new, not identical with the vertebral column? This was another perturbing thought which pursued Goethe's every footstep. He pondered and compared ; it could not be otherwise; the cranium must belong to the vertebral column, must be nothing more than a part of the vertebral column. Through the vacillations of his conceptions, he was, as he later expresses himself on another occasion, "as an honest observer transported into a sort of frenzy." Then, when in 1790 he picked up a bleached sheep's skull in the Jewish cemetery at Venice, "the derivation of the cranium from the vertebral bones was revealed to him." The more special history of Comparative Anatomy has shown how ex

tremely fruitful was this supposed discovery, although the subject is far more complex than Goethe and his. followers imagined.


We must commemorate yet another genuine discovery made by Goethe, which exhibits his very peculiar method. It relates to the inter-maxillary bone in man. About 1780, he was studying osteology at Jena, under the guidance of Loder, an anatomist of some It is evident that all higher animals possess a bone, the so-called inter-maxillary bone, supporting the upper incisor teeth. "The strange case now occurred," relates Goethe, "that the distinction between apes and men was made by ascribing an inter-maxillary bone to the former, and none to the latter; but as this part is mainly remarkable as the upper incisor teeth are set in it, it was inconceivable how man should have the incisor teeth and lack the bone." It was inconceivable to him because, from the comparisons of Nature, he had framed the idea "that all divisions of the creature, singly and collectively, may be found in all animals." To make man an exception, not to be measured by the same pattern, was repugnant to his mind. Man must have an inter-maxillary bone; and, contrary to the opinions of the greatest anatomists of that period, such as Peter Camper, he demonstrated how in man this inter-maxillary bone, although it subsequently becomes almost undistinguishably anchylosed with the actual supra-maxillary bone, nevertheless exists, quite distinctly, as a separate part during development and early infancy.

From this narrative we have gained a good deal. In the contemplation of individuals and details, Goethe

found no pleasure. Nature and natural objects, as existent and complete, merely inspired the wish forthwith to examine their origin and its cause. To judge of things by their final causes, according to an assumed purpose pre-determined by Providence, he deemed "a melancholy expedient" which must be entirely set aside. For this method of contemplating Nature, as pursued by him, in which all living things are to be conceived as intrinsically connected, the external as an indication. of the internal form, he created the name of Morphology, the doctrine of form. He examined "how Nature lives by creating ;" and from amazement at the eternal formation and transformation, from the perplexity into which he was plunged by the manifold variety of forms, we see him emerge by seeking and finding primordial forms.

Even before the realization of the metamorphoses of plants, we find him surrounded by bones and complete skeletons in his scientific ossuary at Jena; he thought he had found a lodestar in the erection of an anatomical Type, an universal symbol, "in which the forms of all (vertebrate) animals were potentially contained, and by which each animal may be described according to a certain arrangement." "Experience must first teach us which are the parts common to all animals, and wherein these parts differ. The idea must control the whole, and in a genetic manner deduce the universal model." Thus by an abstract of the individual, we are to possess ourselves of a certain archetype. As man could not be tak as a standard for animals, and conversely, the infinite complexity of man could not be fully explained by animal organization, something fluctuating between


the two must be summoned to solve the problem. To this archetype, itself incapable of representation,—to this abstraction, and to this alone,-Nature, according to Goethe, was bound to adhere in her work of creation, "without being able, in the slightest measure, to break through or overleap the circle."

If it be attempted to make it appear that Goethe actually proclaimed the doctrine of Descent, or was even in a poetical sense its inspired prophet, either too much value is attributed to his enunciations of " ceaseless progressive transformation," and such like, or the sense which he connected with them is not appreciated. Now let us take the following passage, which Haeckel looks upon as decisive. "Thus much we should have gained; that we may fearlessly affirm all the more perfect organic beings, among which we include Fishes, Amphibians, Birds, Mammals (and at the head of the latter, Man), to be formed according to an archetype, which merely fluctuates more or less in its very persistent parts, and morcover, day by day, completes and transforms itself by means of reproduction." Is it here meant, perchance, that the persistent are contrasted with the non-persistent parts? By no means.

Even prior to Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, Goethe had spoken of a law, which is, however, no law, nor even an expression of facts, namely, that Nature in her work has to deal with a given quantity of material to which she must adapt it. He does not seem to have been aware that Aristotle had affirmed the same, that Nature, if she enlarged an organ, did so only at the expense of another. A second of the supposed fundamental laws discovered by the Frenchman, that an organ would

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