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.-7 JAN 1965 

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3>ic irt'f^t 93rnft im 2)}cr,jcnrotlj '." 

©octbe (tfauil). 

„3<t> nic^t atif SD!cnfd;cn fcaut, fcntctn auf ten Won in mir unfc libec mit." 

Sean <J}aul (litan). 

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ST. martin's LANE. 


' 0U36 




MUCH of what I have to say in the following pages is 
likely to find little favour in a materialistic age like the 
present. The zeit-geist, I know full well, is decidedly 
against me : and, most assuredly, I should not have 
cared to put myself in opposition to it if I could have 
got rid of the feeling that truth was at stake, and that 
it would be cowardly to keep silence. And yet I am 
able to find some encouragement in the hope that my 
words may not be altogether out of season, for I believe, 
not only that the day will surely come in which all 
opposition on the part of the spirit of the time will be 
at an end, but also that there is light enough in the 
east, even now, to make it certain that this day is 
already dawning. 

London : 
25, Cavendish Square, 
May, 1877. 





Chapter I. Traces of unity in plants 13 

,, II. Traces of unity in the limbs of vertebrate 

animals ... ... ... ... ... ... 24 

,, III. Traces of unity in the appendicular organs of 

invertebrate animals ... ... ... ... 35 

,, IV. Traces of imity in the skull and vertebral 

column ... ... ... ... ... ... 54 

,, V. Traces of unity in the vertebra and annellus ... 58 

„ VI. Traces of unity in the animal as a whole ... .. 69 

,, VII. Traces of unity in plants and animals ... ... 75 

,, VIII. Traces of unity in organic and inorganic forms ... 83 

PART 11. 

Chapter I. Traces of unity in the various modes of physical 

force ... ... ... ... ... " 91 

II. Traces of unity in vital and physical motion ... 110 

III. Traces of unity in the vivifying power of light 

and heat .,. 147 



Chapter IV. Traces of unity in the phenomena of instinct ... 153 

,, V. Traces of unity in the phenomena of memory ... 165 
,, VI. Traces of unity in the phenomena of imagination, 

volition, and intelligence ... .. ... 187 

,, VII. Traces of unity in the personal, social, and 

religious life of man 196 


In the story of Proteus, as told by Menelaus to 
Telemachus in the Odyssey, there is much to rouse 
the attention of anyone who desires to raise the veil 
under which the face of nature is hidden. 

Menelaus and his companions have given up all hope 
of ever again reaching home when the story opens. 
They have been driven to a desert island in the 
Egyptian waters of the Mediterranean Sea. They have 
been detained there until they are in actual want of 
food. The night is fast closing in. No longer able 
to bear the sight of his foodless ships and hunger-bitten 
companions, Menelaus has escaped in the evening twi- 
light to a distant and lonely part of the shore, whither 
Eidothea, the daughter of Proteus, has gone to meet 
him. He, dazzled and startled by the bright and sudden 
apparition, can only listen. She, without a pause, 
hastens to tell how, every day at noon, on the beach 
close by, her father (who is a seer to whom Neptune 
has entrusted the care of a herd of seals or sea-calves), 
may be seen counting his wards, or else sleeping for a 
short time, sleep always following the counting unless 
the numbers are found to be wrong,— how while asleep 
he may be mastered and made to tell all his master 

B 2 



wishes to know,— how, struggling hard to escape, he 
will change himself into other forms, animate or inani- 
mate, beast or plant or earth or air or fire or water, 
anything or everything, visible or invisible, — how he 
does not return to his human form unless he succeed 
in getting away or else is obliged to stay and speak, — 
how with the help of a chosen band of three men, 
Mcnclaus may and must get the mastery, — and how 
in order to this, he and they, in the disguise of seals, 
must lie in wait at the proper place until the right 
moment, and there and then do their utmost. She is in 
haste to begone, and, before his tongue is loosened, 
she is far away. 

The story re-opens as the next day begins to dawn. 
Menelaus, now in very altered mood, is again where 
he was on the previous evening. Hitherto he has stood 
aloof from men and gods alike : now the three men who 
are to help him are at his side, and he himself is offering 
the morning sacrifice due to Neptune, and hoping that 
Eidothea may come again to help him in the work he 
is set upon doing without delay. And not hoping in 
vain, for, almost before his devotions are over, she, 
having with her, dripping with the nectar in which they 
had just been washed, the scarcely dead skins of four 
unlucky stragglers from her father's herd, is again 
at his side, and, a minute or two later, he and his 
companions are at the place where Proteus is wont 
to take his noon-day siesta, crouching in hollows 
scooped out in the sands, covered with the skins, and 
there left to wait and watch in the hope that the 
seer when he comes may mistake them for four seals 
which have got ashore before him, and may pass 
them as seals in the customary mustering. And as 
it should be so it happens. In due time Proteus 

Introduction. 5 

comes, counts without detecting the trick put upon 
him, sleeps, and, while sleeping, is made prisoner, 
for the men who have been waiting and watching 
since daybreak for this moment do not fail to bestir 
themselves to good purpose when it comes. 

In this way Proteus was out-witted and mastered ; 
in this way, by the help of Eidothea and his comrades, 
Menelaus got to know how it had fared with his un- 
happy brother Agamemnon, and with Ulysses, and how, 
if he himself would prosper, he must begin by paying 
due honour to the gods — to Neptune more especially. 

This is the myth in which Bacon detected the story 
of matter, and in which more still may be found by 
looking for it. And, certainly, the student of nature is 
only following the example set by his great master, and 
put on record in one of the ever-charming essays on 
the " Wisdom of the Ancients," when he deals with it as 
bearing directly upon his own studies, as being in truth 
a real unveiling of the face of nature. 

The metamorphoses of Proteus, as Bacon points out, 
may very well be supposed to set forth the transmut- 
ations by which the same matter is made to serve 
in building up an endless succession of dissimilar 
creatures. They may show that there is, underlying all 
these dissimilarities, that common archetypal form of 
which Oken and Goethe and Geoffroy St. Hilaire and 
Carus and Owen and others have had vivid glimpses. 
They may symbolize the working of that law of unity 
in multiety and multiety in unity about which Plato 
discoursed so divinely. They may help to connect the 
visible world with the invisible, for the power of trans- 
figuration which belongs to Proteus belongs to Zeus and 
the celestials generally. In a word, the metamorphoses 
may serve to teach much that must needs be learnt by him 
who hopes to find the key to the hieroglyphics of nature. 



Without going at all out of the way to find them, 
indications of the same truth may also be found in the 
work which Proteus has to do every day as a herdsman, 
as well as in that nobler work which may now and then 
devolve upon him as a seer. 

It is very possible that the herd itself may point to a 
law of communion as a primary law of nature. It is 
very possible that the counting of this herd by the 
herdsman, and the sleeping afterwards, may point to this 
law as working, not in the direction of evolution and 
development, but within certain fixed limits — as pre- 
serving a state of equilibrium which would be disturbed 
if any one herd, or species, or genus, or class, exceeded 
or fell short of the proper number allotted to it. And, 
without putting any great strain upon the fancy, a 
meaning may also be found in the work which has to be 
done in bringing the herd out of the waters to rest and 
sleep at noon, even this, that in order to repair the 
waste caused by exercise, and to fill up the gaps made 
by death, the herd must have more rest and sleep, as 
well as more light and heat and air, than can be had in 
the waters. 

Nor is it a matter of wonder that Proteus should be 
a herdsman at one time, and a seer at another. For if 
"the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the 
world are clearly seen, being understood by the things 
that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead," 
it surely follows that 1 the things that are made,' nature, 
may be propJietic in any other matter. So that, even 
here, Proteus may still serve for the authentic symbol of 

And not less significant are the parts of the story 
which yet remain to be noticed. 

As her name implies, Eidothea is, not exactly a 



goddess, but goddess-like. Her work is to reveal to the 
Spartan King that the help he needs is to be found, not 
in himself, but in her father, or rather in the higher 
powers to whom she and her father are both subject, 
and to do what else she herself may in helping — a work 
for which, by her more delicate and docile nature, woman 
is better fitted than man. It may be, indeed, that 
Eidothea is intended to personify pure womanhood, and 
to show how needful the help of true woman is to man 
— a lesson which man is always slow to learn, and most 
of all that man who, like Menelaus, is bound by mere 
chains of sense to a woman who, like Helen, is little 
more than a creature of flesh. 

Not altogether unintelligible, also, is the part which 
the companions of Menelaus have to play. The lesson 
here is plainly this, that the chief alone is unequal to 
the work he is called upon to do — that he may succeed 
by acting in concert with other men — that he must bow 
to the law of fellowship as paramount in human affairs. 
And most assuredly the conquest of nature agrees with 
the capture of Proteus at least in this, that the work 
to be done is altogether beyond the power of any one 
man in either case. 

So, too, a deep meaning may be found in that part 
of the story which tells how the approach to Proteus 
was secured under the disguise of seals, and how 
the skins necessary for this purpose were purified in 
nectar, even this, that the heart of nature is to be 
reached most readily by the comparative anatomist who 
sees his own image reflected everywhere in the lower 
animals typified in the seal, and who, instead of suffering 
annoyance from the reek of death which fouls the 
atmosphere in which he lives and works, is continually 
finding therein a pleasant nectar-like perfume. 



And yet more, a still deeper meaning may be found 
without difficulty in the representation of Proteus, not 
as the real helper, but as the oracle pointing to the only 
quarter in which help is to be found. All along this 
seer is spoken of as the subject of a higher power, and 
the real help he renders to Menelaus is by showing 
how helpless he is unless he submit to be helped by this 
power. Nay it may even be gleaned from the sequel to 
the story that the Spartans would not have been so 
long delayed in Egypt after their escape from the 
desert island if they had been more mindful of the 
instructions of the seer-herdsman as to their religious 
duties and less ready to stultify themselves with the 
nepenthe, which, in evil hour, Helen discovered in " the 
lotus land of good eating and drinking," and which — a 
plain proof that she did not forget to take it with her 
from Egypt to her home in Sparta — she offered to 
Telemachus when her husband's tale had come to an 

All these thoughts passed through my mind the 
other day as I sat in one of the stalls of the great 
abbey which is not far from the place where I now write. 
Before my eye was a finial on which was carved a human 
head surrounded by what might be flowing waves or 
flames or locks or foliage. It seemed as if the artist had 
intended to figure Proteus at the moment when, his 
metamorphoses ended, he was showing his readiness to 
speak by resuming his human form. It seemed as if 
the words when spoken would testify to communion in 
all things if he were made to reveal his chief secret 
respecting nature. And this impression was only 
deepened when, a moment later, my eye chanced to 
rest on the mosaic of the Last Supper over the altar. 
I speak of what actually happened. While in the 



abbey, with the finial and mosaic before me, I could 
only think of a law of unity in diversity and diversity 
in unity as " the law within the law " in nature, of a 
law of communion as ruling all things, visible and in- 
visible, natural and supernatural; and when I came out 
of the abbey my thoughts still ran on in the same 
channel, gaining strength and clearness in their course, 
until at last they had taken the shape here very imper- 
fectly presented in words — a shape which is substantially 
a second and much enlarged edition of a very immature 
work published under the same title more than twenty- 
five years ago, and out of print shortly afterwards. 



Part L 



Chapter I. 

GOETHE was not the first to take the Ovidian view of 
the vegetable world which found expression in his well- 
known treatise on " Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen," or 
even to make use of this title, but he was assuredly the 
first to write so as to compel others to pay attention to 
the subject. Indeed, in this very treatise, so far from 
pretending to be the first, he refers, without naming 
them, to others who have written with the same object 
under the same title, and, elsewhere, he tells more parti- 
cularly how the honour of priority must be conceded to 
Gaspar-Frederick Wolf, the author of the well-known 
" Theoria Generationis," a Prussian by birth, who spent 
the last thirty years of his life at St. Petersburg, and 
who, several years before his death in 1794, in a paper 
entitled " Du Developpement des Plantes," and printed 
rn the Memoirs of the Academy of the Russian capital, 
pointed out, incidentally but not indistinctly, that the 
leaves, the calyx, the corolla, the pericarp, the seed, the 
stem, and the root are all so related to each other as 
to be mutually convertible. 

The parts of the plant which Goethe sets himself to 
examine are, not the root, nor yet the stem and its 
branches, but the cotyledons, the plumule, the ordinary 
leaves, the floral leaves, the calyx, the corolla, the 
nectary, the stam:ns, the pistils, the coverings of the 

14 Traces of Unity in Plants. 

seed, and the bud : and when his work is done not much 
is left to be done by others. Indeed, I know of no 
readier way of reaching the very heart of the subject 
under consideration than by taking the volume in which 
the results of this examination are recorded, and by 
jotting down, without any comment, short memoranda — 
by doing, in short, what I now proceed to do without 
any further preamble. 

The cotyledons, of seminal leaves, are soon disposed 
of. They may be fleshy and little like leaves, or they 
may be so distinctly foliaceous as to be fully entitled to 
be named seminal leaves. In many instances, also, 
during germination, they become more leaf-like in form 
and colour as well as in structure, and now and then, as 
in the Vicia faba, this likeness is increased by the 
presence of buds in their axils. In a word, there is little 
difficulty in coming to the conclusion that these organs 
can be nothing else than modified leaves. 

The plumule is evidently the first distinct effort of 
the young plant leaf-wards. In the case of the cotyle- 
don there may often be doubt as to the leaf-nature of 
this part ; in this case there can be none, the resemblance 
extending beyond shape and colour and structure to the 
manner of connection with the node. 

Ordinary leaves differ infinitely in their appearance, 
but they all agree in being — leaves. Simple leaves are 
connected on all sides, by numberless intermediate 
forms, with compound leaves. A leaf which is simple 
at one time or in one case may be compound at another 
time or in another case, or vice vers A. The leaf of the 
date palm {Phcenix dactilifera), as simple as a blade of 
maize at first, ends by becoming in the very highest 
degree compound. The leaf of the common water 
crowfoot {Ranunculus aqua tills) is simple in the air and 

Traces of Unity in Plants. 


compound in the water, and the former or latter kind 
is developed as the level of the water happens to fall or 
rise. And the petiole, or leaf-stalk, which in its ordinary 
form is obviously a modification of the node which 
enters into the formation of the branch or stem, is as 
obviously connected with the leaf-blade by the excep- 
tional forms which are presented in the orange tree, in 
the greater number of the acacias of New Holland, and 
in many other cases — forms in which the ordinary stalk- 
shape is more than half lost in the blade-shape : and so 
it is that a connection may be traced, not only between 
simple leaves and compound leaves, but also between 
the blade of the leaf and the stalk, and between the 
latter and the node. 

The passage from the leaves to the parts composing 
the flower is exhibited in many ways. The wreaths 
called " floral leaves," which frequently enclose the 
flower, are true leaves, and the involucres of plants, such 
as the common sun-flower or marygold, are formed of 
elements between which and the ordinary leaflets every 
possible gradation may be traced upon the same stalk. 
Even the common arrangement of the parts of the flower 
in whorls is not peculiar, for the same plan holds good, 
not only in the case of floral wreaths and involucres 
generally, but also in that of many true leaves — a case, 
of which the needle-clusters of the conifers may serve 
as an example. Indeed, it is almost a matter of chance 
whether the growth of a plant should declare itself in 
foliage or flowers, the tendency being leaf-ward if the 
plant be overfed, flower-ward if the supply of food be 

Nor is the case of the calyx or corolla in any way 
peculiar. Ordinarily the petals are gaily tinted, and the 
sepals are green like the leaves ; but this distinction is 

1 6 Traces of Unity in Plants. 

by no means constant, and in many instances the latter 
organs are coloured in certain parts of the surface, or at 
the edges or tips, while at the same time the texture is 
imore delicate and petaloid than usual. Within the 
calyx of the common pink, for example, there is often a 
second calyx tinted and changed in this manner. Some- 
times it is difficult to say whether the floral envelope be 
a calyx or corolla. Sometimes the common leaves of 
the stem are coloured in a greater or less degree imme- 
diately before the period of flowering, or the leaves in 
the neighbourhood of the flowers may be constantly 
decorated in this manner. On the stem of the tulip 
there is often an anomalous organ intermediate between 
the leaf and the petal which is green in the part con- 
tiguous to the stem and brightly coloured in the 
remaining portion. Indeed, it is certain that petals and 
sepals and leaves would not run together as they do if 
they were not connatural in the fullest sense of the 

The vague and ill-defined organs known as nectaries 
afford a natural passage from the corolla to the stamens : 
or an analogous mode of transition may be found in the 
changes which have come to pass in various double 
flowers. In many roses, for example, in the midst of 
petals perfectly developed and coloured, are other petals 
formed in such a manner as to resemble the filaments 
and anthers of the stamens. In many double poppies, 
also, perfect anthers are met with on some of the petals 
and antheroid tumours on others : while at the same 
time the discoid surfaces of these organs show a dispo- 
sition to shrink into the form of filaments. 

Nor are the anthers distinguished in any absolute 
manner by the presence of the pollen. The pollen in its 
most perfect condition consists of minute grains con- 

Traces of Unity in Plants. 


taining fluid ; but in many instances the grains are 
wanting, and the fluid— which is the essential ingredient 
—exudes as a free liquid, which, as Goethe supposes, 
may be nothing more than a modification of the juices 
which appear as the honied or odorous secretions of the 
nectaries or petals or leaves. 

The pistil too is often modified in such a way as to 
make it certain that it has no claim to be looked upon 
as an exceptional organ. In the crocus, for example, 
the stigma, or upper extremity of the pistil, is green and 
absolutely similar to the elements of the calyx ; and in 
the double poppy the same part has the form of small 
and delicately-coloured leaves, precisely similar to petals. 
In the iris -and ranunculus there is a true petaloid 
transformation of the stigmata, and also of the styles, or 
intermediate portion of the pistil, and, lastly, the ovary 
itself, or the essential part of the pistil, is an altered 
form of the same element. The leaf-nature of this part 
is concealed, it is true, in fleshy and succulent, or in 
woody and hard fruits, but even in these cases it cannot 
escape detection, especially if the parts be traced through 
the earlier stages of their history : or the real nature of 
the ovary may be detected in cases where, as in the 
common pink, it is no uncommon thing for the seed- 
organs to be metamorphosed into a calyx the divisions 
of which bear on their extremities the traces of the 
former styles and stigmata, while at the same time new 
flowers, of a more or less perfect character, are developed 
in the place of seeds. 

And very certainly the ovule-producing faculty of 
the ovary is not so distinctive a feature as it may seem 
to be at first sight. The ovule is a germ closely akin to 
the germs on the fronds of ferns, and to the buds on the 
leaves of the Ruscus aculeatus, the Bryophyllum calyci- 


1 8 Traces of Unity in Plants. 

num and certain other plants. There are also many true 
ovaries in which the carpels are imperfectly closed and the 
ovules left exposed like the sporidia of the frond, or like 
the buds of the leaves which have just been mentioned 
— in which, in fact, the ovule-producing carpel is scarcely 
to be distinguished from the bud-producing leaf or from 
the spore-producing frond, 

Nor are the immediate coverings of the seed to be 
put outside the family circle which has been described 
so far. The flower-bud and the axillary leaf-bud are 
intimately related to each other, and in the realization 
of this relationship a stand-point is gained from which it 
is easy to see what must be the true nature of the cover- 
ings of the seed. It would appear that the two sorts of 
buds are reciprocally transmutable ; indeed, so they 
must be if it be true, as it certainly is, that a plant will 
produce flowers instead of leaves if it be under-fed, and 
leaves instead of flowers in the contrary case. In some 
monstrous and accidental forms of vegetation, moreover, 
the character of the two buds interblend in one and the 
same instance. The rose, for example, is very prone to 
such anomalous productions, and there is nothing very 
extraordinary in the particular metamorphosis described 
by Goethe. A bud, destitute of any outward mark of 
distinction, opens out into a perfect calyx and corolla, 
and then, in place of the ovary and circlet of stamens, 
gives birth to a stem. This central and exceptional 
growth is gradually developed, and at length becomes a 
branch, furnished with the usual appendages of hairs, 
spines, and leaves, together with shrivelled and imperfect 
petals and stamens, and buds, which themselves expand 
in time into flowers of the same abnormal character as 
the parent-bud. Here, indeed, the flower-bud changes 
into the leaf-bud, and then again reverts to its former 

Traces of Unity in Plants. 


condition, and the difference between the two is com- 
pletely lost. And, further, the seed and the bud are 
found to be related to each other in the very closest 
manner. In the more rudimental forms of vegetation 
the difference between the two is completely lost : in the 
more perfect plants, true seeds most undoubtedly exist, 
and true buds also : but even here instances occur, as in 
the plant which is the emblem of the Virgin Mary (Lilium 
proliferum), where some of the buds fall away from the 
plant-mother like true seeds, and in due time become 
developed into true plants — where, in fact, the history 
of the vagrant bud is that of the seed except in this, that 
fertilization does not figure in it. And if so — if, that is, 
the seed and the bud stand in this close relationship to 
each other — then the coverings of the seed and bud are 
brought into the same category, and it is fair to con- 
clude that the coverings of the seed, no less than those 
of the bud, are nothing else than — modified leaves. 

At this point Goethe stops short Had his exami- 
nation extended a little further he would have easily 
found the same traces of unity in all other parts of the 
plant as well : and what I have now to do, therefore, is 
to close the book from which I have been making these 
memoranda, and to try and verify this statement by an 
examination of certain parts of the plant to which no 
special reference has yet been made. 

Among these parts the tendril and the aerial root 
occupy very conspicuous places, and they may well serve 
as starting-points for what remains to be said. 

The tendril is a transitional organ which cannot be 
assigned with strictness either to the aerial or to the 
terrestrial system of the plant. The connection with the 
leaf is evident in the vine, and in many other instances : 
the connection with the root is seen in the simple 


Traces of Unity in Plants. 

rounded form, and in the tendency to cling to other 
bodies. In the more unusual forms, moreover, as in the 
Asplenium rhizophyllum, may be found the direct realiz- 
ation of this double nature : for here the tendril, which 
is the direct prolongation of the median nervure of the 
frond, grows in a downward direction, and ends by bury- 
ing itself in the earth, and so becoming a true root. 

And as with the tendril so with the aerial root. The 
leaf-nature of this organ is apparent in many cases, and 
nowhere more so than in that of orchidaceous plants. 
In the Vanda teres, for example, the aerial roots, and 
the representatives of the leaves, exist as simple, rounded, 
and elongated soft tendril-like processes of a green 
colour, between which the mutual resemblance is such 
that one might readily be mistaken for the other. In 
the screw pine (Pandamts), on the other hand, the 
history of the growth of the plant shows plainly enough 
that there is no essential difference between the aerial 
and the common roots : for here the original true roots 
(in consequence partly of the pressure caused by the 
growth of the aerial roots) perish presently, and, con- 
temporaneously with this change, the latter roots increase 
in size, sink into the ground, and eventually take upon 
themselves the functions of their predecessors, the true 
roots. In due time, these aerial roots, which have 
become ordinary roots, perish like the original roots, and 
are replaced by other aerial roots ; and so it is that — by 
the carrying on of this process of dying at the centre and 
growing from an outer rim which is continually widen- 
ing and rising higher — the Pandanus, when full grown, 
presents the singular spectacle of a tree raised up upon a 
circlet of stilt-like roots, with a cavity under it large 
enough to serve as a shelter for animals of considerable 
size. The case is plain enough. The aerial root is a 

Traces of Unity in Plants. 

2 I 

true root if it reach the ground ; and, to say the least, 
the distinction between the aerial and terrestrial organ 
can never be insisted upon. 

There are also certain passages in the life of a plant 
which, taken in connection with the history of the tendril 
and aerial root, may be appealed to as supplying evi- 
dence to the same effect. 

Thus : many ordinary buds are developed as rootlets 
if a branch be buried in the ground during the season of 
growth. Thus : many points from which rootlets would 
spring under ordinary circumstances are developed as 
buds if a root be laid bare. Thus again : a branch, de- 
nuded of its summer dress of leaves and flowers, may 
be looked upon, at certain times, as an aerial root ; for, 
as Biot pointed out first of all, the current of the sap 
during frost sets, not from the spongiolestothe branches, 
but, in the contrary direction, from the branches to the 

The leaf-nature of the stem, moreover, is plainly 
revealed in the Phyllocactus and in many other members 
of the cactacean family. Here the stem is formed 
from the quasi-leaves by a visible process of growth and 
coalescence, and in a plant of ordinary dimensions may 
be witnessed at one and the same time every gradation 
between the green and flat and succulent leaf-like 
organ, covered with rudimentary buds, and attached 
only by a narrow neck to the parent-plant, and the brown 
and woody and budless stem of which the constituent 
elements or nodes have coalesced so perfectly as to 
make it difficult to trace any longer the internodal lines. 
In so far as concerns its shape, and the manner in which 
the vessels are ranged upon its surface, the quasi-leaf of 
the Phyllocactus must be regarded as a true leaf. It 
differs from the ordinary leaf, no doubt, in bearing buds, 


Traces of Unity in Plants. 

but, as often happens, this very difference is a proof of 
unity. In point of fact, every leaf has a similar endow- 
ment. What, it may be asked, are the processes which 
cause the edges of a simple leaf to be serrated in various 
ways, and what is the significance of the leaflets of the 
composite organ ? No other interpretation can be offered 
than this — that the processes are the rudiments of the 
leaflets — that many leaves are present potentially in every 
single leaf. Buds are constant elements in the leaves of 
the Bryophyllum calycinum and Malaxis paludosa ; and 
not unfrequently they may be developed in the leaf of 
the orange after it has fallen from the tree. Ovules and 
sporules may also be singled out as indicating a bud- 
producing faculty in the carpel and frond respectively, 
both of which organs are only leaves in other forms. 
And, therefore, the buds of the quasi-leaf of the Phyllo- 
cactus, instead of being evidences of singularity, are 
evidences of similarity, which make the organ more leaf- 
like rather than less leaf-like. By the alteration and 
coalescence of these leaf-elements, the branches and 
stem of the Phyllocactus are evidently built up ; and 
what happens here is the rule everywhere. All branches 
and stems are composed of bud-producing nodes, which 
are substantially bud-producing leaves. In the succulent 
euphorbiaceae, for example, traces of rudimentary buds 
are as common as in the cactaceae. In the Chamaerops 
and bamboo, the joints of the stem present numerous 
minute processes, the germ-like nature of which is 
shown by the sprouts which often form in these places 
when the plant happens to lie flat on the damp ground. 
On the pseudo-bulbs of the orchids, also, traces of similar 
processes are to be found which often behave in the 
same manner : and in every stem, though the fact may 
not be so apparent as in the instances which have been 

Traces of Unity in Plants. 


given, the frequent appearance of " adventitious buds " 
points to the potential existence of the same faculty. In 
fact, the history of a Phyllocactus is the common history 
of the plant expressed in language which cannot well be 
misunderstood) and the grand lesson to be learnt from 
it is that the stem and its branches are only modifica- 
tions of the same archetypal form which is present, not 
only in every part of the plant to which attention 
has been directed, but also in those transitional and 
doubtful organs, such as tubers and rhizomes, in which 
the stem and the root would seem, more especially, to 
come together and be, In the strictest sense of the word, 
at one. 

And so, in conclusion, it is not too much to say 
that traces of unity are met with in every part of the 


Chapter II. 


The hand of man is in no sense a peculiar organ. It is 
the foot ennobled : that is all, Moreover, a comparison 
of the human hand and foot with the members corres- 
ponding to them in other vertebrate creatures only leads 
to the same conclusion by very many different ways. 

In the quadrumana, in place of two hands and two feet, 
as in man, there are, as the name implies, four hands : and 
very generally the two which correspond to the feet in 
man are more handlike than the other two, in that the 
great toe is larger and better fitted for acting after the 
fashion of a true thumb. So also in the scansorial 
lizards and in many birds. The chameleon, for ex- 
ample, is a quadrumanous animal rather than a quad- 
ruped, rivalling the monkey in its power of climbing 
among the branches of trees : and the parrot, as is seen 
in the way in which it continually handles its food with 
one of its feet while it clutches at its perch with the 
other, is quite as much a bimanous animal as a biped. 
Indeed, the five-toed foot of the reptile and the four- 
toed foot of the bird may be looked upon as more hand- 
like than the hand as to thumb-power, for in both 
the thumbs are doubled. 

In quadrupeds, on the contrary, the four hands of 
the quadrumana are replaced by four feet : but even 

Traces of Unity, &c. 


here the characteristics of the hands are not always 
lost. The squirrel uses its fore-feet for climbing and 
holding its food almost as much as the monkey, and the 
bear and opossum do the same, their case being not very 
different from that of very many other unguiculate 
animals : while in the opossum and phalangers the hind 
foot is more hand-like than the fore-foot, for in them 
there is, not only a rotatory motion of the hind foot 
analogous to the pronation and supination of the hand, 
but also a large great toe which, as in the quadrumana, 
is fitted for closing strongly upon the other toes like a 
true thumb — an arrangement which (as the fore-foot is 
less like a hand in that its thumb lies parallel with the 
fingers) has led to these creatures being called pedimana 
or foot-handed. 

Nor is there any difficulty in tracing the same com- 
mon plan in every modification of the hand or foot. 

In plantigrade animals, as in the bear, the whole or 
nearly the whole of the foot forms a sole : in digita- 
grade animals, as in the cat or deer, the heel and the cor- 
responding part in the other foot are much raised and 
only the tips of the toes rest on the ground. Between 
quadrupeds with nails, the unguiculata, and quadrupeds 
with hoofs, the ungulata, there are many points of con- 
nection. In man and the quadrumana the nails are 
comparatively insignificant parts : in the cat and dog 
retractile and non-retractile claws take the place of 
these simple nails, the chief difference between the two 
forms of claws being in this, that in the retractile form 
the terminal phalanx of the toe, to which the claw is 
attached, is, when it is not drawn down by its flexor 
tendon in the act of striking or tearing or holding, 
pulled back over the second phalanx, and so kept out of 
the way, when the paw is merely used in walking, by the 


Traces of Unity in the 

action of elastic ligament, which again is only the 
ordinary ligament of the part, shortened and made 
resilient : in the edentata, at the extremity of the ungui- 
culate sub-class, as in the echidna, the claws, still five in 
number, with sometimes the rudiment of a sixth, as in 
the spur of the male ornithorhynchus, or in the scraper 
of the mole, are enormously developed, encasing the 
ends of the fingers on all sides with the exception of a 
button-hole-like slit on the underside, and being much 
more like hoofs than claws :• and in this way a point is 
reached from which it is not difficult to pass on, through 
various transitional forms, of which the most remark- 
able instance is met with in the hind foot of the extinct 
Megatherium, to the more ordinary forms of hoof. In 
this hind foot, indeed, (not so in the fore foot, where 
there are three huge claws) there is a combination of 
unguiculate and ungulate characteristics which is not to 
be met with elsewhere, for of the three large toes which 
are present (two, the 1st and the 2nd, are absent) one, 
the 3rd, supports an enormous pick-like claw, while the 
other two, the 4th and 5th, terminate in tuberous pha- 
langes which were evidently encased in hoofs. 

There is a wide gap between the foot or hand of man 
and the parts corresponding to it in the horse, but it is 
one which is easily bridged over. The hand of the 
Ateles, or spider-monkey, differs from that of man or the 
orang in being thumbless, or all but thumbless ; the 
thumb of the orang is much smaller than that of man : 
in each case the part which disappears or tends to dis- 
appear is the thumb. And so also in vertebrate crea- 
tures of still lower grade. The fore-paw of the bear or 
cat has the full number of five fingers ; that of the dog 
has four fingers with a very rudimentary thumb sup- 
porting the dew-claw, and appearing at a considerable 

Limbs of Vertebrate Animals. 27 

distance above the level of the other fingers— a part 
which is clipped off, as being 'in the way' in sporting 
dogs : that of the hyaena has the four fingers of the dog 
without the rudimentary thumb, and thus the differences 
met with in these several cases are brought about in 
the same way, that is, by the disappearance, to a 
greater or less degree, of the same part — the thumb. 
The thumb, too, is wanting in the fore-paw of the 
Megatherium and of the Unau, or two-toed sloth, and 
not this part only, but the 5th finger also, while in the 
sloth the foot is still further simplified by the absence of 
the 4th finger, so that the forefoot was three-fingered in 
the extinct animal, and is two-fingered in its living 
congener. The direct transition to the simple condition 
met with in the parts corresponding to the hand or foot 
in the horse, however, is not through the unguiculate 
but through the ungulate members : and the instances 
which have been cited are only brought forward for the 
purpose of showing that the same rule is followed in 
both cases. From the squat plantigrade foot of the 
elephant with its five fingers, each encased in a separate 
hoof, it is easy to pass to the semi-plantigrade foot of 
the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, the one with four 
fingers and the other with three, each one having its 
own hoof ; and having arrived at this point there is no 
difficulty in passing on, through the digitigrade forefoot 
of the ox, with the tips of its two fingers capped in 
horn so as to form the ' cloven-hoof,' to the digitigrade 
forefoot of the horse with the end of its single fully- 
developed finger enclosed in a single hoof. Moreover, 
the passage from the four-fingered foot to the two, and 
from this to the foot with one finger, is opened out 
in other ways also. Thus : in the rein-deer the simple 
cloven foot of the ox is made complex by the addition 


Traces of Unity in the 

of the two rudimentary fingers which support the hooflets 
behind the foot — an arrangement of fingers which, as a 
snow-shoe, prevents the foot from sinking so deeply 
into the snow as to make it difficult to withdraw it. 
Thus again, in the miocene extinct horse {Hipparion) — 
living specimens of which have cropped up now and 
then, not only in the days of Julius Caesar and Leo X. 
but in modern times also — the 2nd and 3rd fingers, 
which in the modern horse are represented merely by 
the 'splint-bones' attached to the side of the 'canon 
bone ' are developed so as to support the two ' spurious 
hoofs' which dangle behind the principal hoof. The 
case, indeed, is plain enough as exhibited in these 
different forms of hoofed fore-feet. In the elephant are 
five fingers, the 1st very rudimentary: in the hippo- 
potamus the 1st finger is absent and the 2nd and 5th 
are small in comparison with the 3rd and 4th : in the 
rhinoceros the 1st and 5th are both absent, and of the 
remaining three, all large, the 3rd is the largest ; in the 
deer, the cloven-foot is made up of the 3rd and 4th 
fingers while the two hooflets behind the foot have to 
do with the 2nd and 5th fingers : in the ox the differ- 
ence in the cloven-foot is in the absence of the hooflets 
of the deer : and so, by watching the way in which this 
simplification is steadily brought about, on arriving at 
the horse, it is evident that the foot is now only the 3rd 
or middle finger, with rudiments of the 2nd and 4th 
attached to it high up as ' splint-bones,' the bone 
which is called the ' canon bone ' being the metacarpal 
bone, while the three bones of the finger proper, reck- 
oning from above downwards, are called respectively, 
' great pastern ' or ' fetter bone,' ' little pastern ' or 
' coronary bone,' and ' coffin bone,' the latter being en- 
cased in the hoof, which, in fact, is the homologue of the 

Limbs of Vertebrate Animals. 29 

nail of the 3rd or middle finger in man — of that finger, the 
dominance of which, even in man, is indicated by its 
greater size and length. And this is all that need be 
said upon this point at present save this, that the 
hind foot is a repetition of the fore foot with this sole 
difference that the 'canon bone' there corresponds, 
not to the metacarpal bone, but to the metatarsal. 

The fin of the dugong (Manatus) is to all intents 
and purposes a hand enclosed in a fingerless glove of 
integument through which the nails have worked their 
way a little. It differs very slightly from the webbed 
hand or foot of the seal or otter : it does not differ at 
all in the number of bones or joints composing it ; and 
the difference between it and the paddle of the turtle or 
whale or ichthyosorus, or between it and the fin of a 
fish, is not at all considerable. The paddle of the 
turtle, in fact, is so much like that of the sirenian 
animal as to need no special notice. The paddle of the 
whale has more than the ordinary number of phalanges 
in the fingers, and the various bones of the hands are 
connected, not by proper joints but by continuous inter- 
articular cartilages : and what is said of this organ may 
also be said of the pectoral fin of the fish, for this 
member differs from the paddle chiefly in having many 
more fingers with many more phalanges, and in being 
constructed more delicately. In each case, indeed, 
there is that repetition of simple parts — that ' vegetative 
repetition' as it is called — which is a sign of that 
rudimentary phase of development to which the state 
of the joints also bears witness, for the formation of 
the true joint, as in the paddle of the dugong, is 
always preceded by a state in which the parts are con- 
nected by inter-articular cartilage, as in the paddle of 
the whale. In some cases, too, the real relationships of 


Traces of Unity in tJie 

the pectoral fin in fishes are revealed in other ways. In 
the Gurnards, for example, the three lowest rays, de- 
tached and free, and more developed than the other 
rays, have to do work in feeling and holding like true 
fingers : and in many of the sharks the terminal 
phalanges of some of the rays have three or four horny 
filaments which are evidently the homologues of the 
claws or nails of vertebrate animals of higher grade. 

In the wing of the bat, also, the same plan is trace- 
able. The bones of the skeleton agree with those of 
any other hand, and their chief difference is in the wire- 
like prolongation of some of them. In point of fact, 
the wing in this case is only a webbed fore-paw, as in 
the otter, with longer fingers and with much more web, 
with this in addition, that the web (called patagium in 
the bat) is extended on the one side between the 
neck and the arm and forearm, and on the other side, 
between the fore and hind legs, and between the latter 
and the tail bone, the edge of the part between the two 
legs slanting from the top of the little finger in the fore 
paw to the ankle in the hind paw. The patagium, in- 
deed, extends along each side from one end of the body 
to the other, and with the exception of the thumb in 
the fore limb and the small foot in the hind limb, by 
the nails of which, as by hooks, the animal suspends 
itself when at rest, both limbs are wholly enclosed in it. 
And as in the bat so it would appear to have been in 
the Pterodactyle, with this difference, that in the extinct 
animal the four fingers of the fore limb, the 1st, 2nd, 
3rd, and 4th, were free, and that only one, the 5th, was 
employed in spreading out the patagium. 

In the wing of the bird the part corresponding to 
the hand is the terminal segment, or pinion, which sup- 
ports the principal feathers or " primaries," together 

Limbs of Vertebrate Animals. 3 1 

with the " spurious or bastard feathers," while the rest 
of the arm is represented by the two other segments of 
the limb, the fore arm by the middle segment which 
supports the feathers called " wing coverts " or " secon- 
daries," the arm by the innermost segment which carries 
the feathers to which the name of" scapularies" is given. 
The hand, and the whole limb belonging to it, are 
hidden under the feathers, except in birds like the pen- 
guin where the wing is represented by a paddle or fin, 
covered by mere vestiges of feathers, which at first 
glance resemble scales, but the component parts, though 
rudimentary, are easily identified. Three distinct fingers 
fused more or less completely together as one bone, 
are always present, and, so are the matacarpal bones 
belonging to them. There are also distinct carpal 
bones, usually not more than two in number. The 
fingers are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, the 3rd being largely 
developed and having two phalanges, the 2nd and 4th 
being quite stunted, and having only one phalanx. 
Usually these fingers are completely hidden under the 
integument : sometimes — from the 2nd in the Apteryx 
and from the 3rd in the ostrich — a claw protrudes 
from one or other of them. In all cases the prin- 
cipal feathers or " primaries " are supported by the 3rd 
finger, and the metacarpal bone belonging to it : in all 
cases, the " spurious or bastard feathers " are attached to 
the stunted index or 2nd finger : in no case does the 
stunted 4th finger take any share in the feather-bearing 
office of the 3rd and 2nd. 

And so too in the simpler appendages which ob- 
viously take the place of the fore limb in the tran- 
sitional mudfish or Lepidosiren (Protoptems annec- 
tans) which is neither fish nor reptile, and in the 
ichthyomorphous or perenni-branchiate batrachians. In 


Traces of Unity in the 

the mudfish the single many-jointed cartilaginous style 
may be looked upon as a fin like that of the Ichthyo- 
saurus or common fish reduced to a single ray : and that 
this is the right view to be taken is evident in the fact 
that in one species of Lepidosiren a number of stylets 
are inserted at right angles into the extremity of the 
style for the purpose of carrying a narrow fold of fin- 
like membrane, and that the same disposition to radia- 
tion is exhibited still more conspicuously in the ichthyo- 
morphous or perenni-branchiate batrachians, where the 
single end of the digital ray of the Lepidosiren is repre- 
sented by an appendage which is two-fold in the 
Amphiuma, three-fold in the Proteus, and four-fold in 
the Menopoma and Axlotes. 

Nor are these the only signs of similarity which are 
to be met with in the limbs of vertebrate animals. On 
the contrary, instead of being few and far between these 
signs abound everywhere, the forearm answering to the 
leg, the arm to the thigh, and the " scapular arch " to 
the " pelvic arch," as the hand answers to the foot. 

The two bones of the forearm, the radius and ulna, 
clearly correspond to the two bones of the leg, the tibia 
and fibula : and not less clearly does the single bone of 
the arm, the humerus, repeat the single bone of the thigh, 
the femur. There is never any difficulty in recognizing 
these relationships, for even in cases where, as in the 
fish, the only parts developed ordinarily are those which 
correspond to the hand and foot, the missing parts, or 
at least some of them, may be present. Thus, the modi- 
fication of the scapular fin by which the flying fish 
can direct or retard its fall through the air when it 
leaps out of the water, and the frog fish or angler 
can hop briskly along the sands, is chiefly brought about 
by the development of two long bones which obviously 

Limbs of Vertebrate Animals. 33 

correspond to the radius and ulna. Nor is it really 
otherwise with the scapular and pelvic arches, though 
here the underlying con-naturality is not so conspicu- 
ously displayed. Here, one thing seems to be tolerably 
evident, namely this, that there is an intimate con- 
nection between these arches and the ordinary ribs, and 
that the limbs of vertebrate animals are to be looked 
upon as costal processes. And certainly there is, on 
comparing the scapular and pelvic arches, no difficulty in 
seeing that the scapulae may answer to the ilia, the two 
coracoid bones to the two ossa ischii, the two clavicles 
to the two pubic bones, and the sternum to the carti- 
laginous substance between the two pubic bones. The 
scapulae and the ilia are more obviously related to the ribs 
than are the clavicles and coracoid bones, or the pubic 
and ischial bone, to the costal cartilages, but the rela- 
tionship is not the less real on that account. And if so 
then the chief difficulty is disposed of. The pelvic 
arch generally is more developed than the scapular, but 
the latter arch is also highly developed where, as in 
birds, it is necessary to have a firm attachment for the 
wings. Here, and also in reptiles with fully developed 
legs, the scapulae are connected with the sternum, both 
by the coracoid bones and by the clavicles — by the 
coracoids chiefly ; in mammals, on the contrary, with 
the exception of the ornithorhynchus and echidna, 
where the reptilian arrangement holds good, and in man, 
where the clavicles are developed so as to form an 
inverted arch in which the end of the sternum is the 
keystone, the scapulae are free, and the coracoid and 
clavicular bones alike are present only as insignificant 
projections from the scapulae. Usually also the 
pelvic arch is more complete than the scapular, but 
not always. Indeed, in the whale and also in the 


34 Traces of Unity in the, &c. 

dugong, where both arches are very rudimentary, the 
pelvic is the most so of the two, being represented by a 
single ossicle without a trace of an appendage. What 
particular ribs enter into the formation of these two 
arches is a difficult question to answer. Owen is of 
opinion that the scapular arch is formed by the ribs 
belonging to the occipital vertebra ; and there is much 
to say in favour of this view. For my own part, how- 
ever, I am disposed to think that the scapular and 
pelvic arches are formed, not of one rib only, but of 
several, and that the rib-less spaces in the neck and in 
the lumbar region are rib-less because the ribs belong- 
ing to those parts have been gathered together and 
modified, so as to form the scapular arch in the one 
case and the pelvic arch in the other. And that it 
may be so is, I think, made all the more probable by 
the particular construction of that part of these arches 
which corresponds to the costal cartilages, for how is it 
possible to account for the division into coracoids and 
clavicles in the one case, and into pubic and ischial 
bones in the other, except upon the supposition that at 
least two ribs enter into the formation of each arch, and 
that the spaces between the coracoids and clavicles, and 
between the pubic and ischial bones (the foramina ilii) 
are in reality analogous to i?itercostal spaces I 

In dealing with this matter now, however, I am wan- 
dering beyond bounds. Indeed, all that I proposed to 
do in this chapter is done already, for he must be very 
sceptical who requires further proof before he is ready 
to allow that distinct traces of unity are everywhere 
present in the limbs of vertebrate animals. 


Chapter III. 


The parts of invertebrate animals which may be rightly- 
regarded as limbs are very many and very varied, and 
not a little patience is necessary in order to arrive at 
any clear conclusions respecting them. 

Taking a common prawn (Palczmou squilla) and com- 
paring it with other crustaceans, and with other inverte- 
brate creatures generally, it is easy to see that these 
parts are, not only the five pairs of legs which entitle the 
creature to the name of decapod, but also the false ab- 
dominal legs, the foot-jaws, the mandibles and maxilla;, 
the antennas, the eyes, and certain other appendicular 
organs as well. 

i. In the prawn the ten true feet, all of them sub- 
stantially alike, are arranged bilaterally in five pairs. 
Each " foot " is articulated or divided by joints into six 
inter-articular or nodal parts, of which the names, reck- 
oning from above downwards, are coxa, trochanter, femur, 
tibia, tarsus, and metatarsus. The interarticular parts 
are composed of a hard external crust and an internal 
cavity in. which are the muscles and other soft parts. 
In the three hinder pairs the metatarsus is prolonged 
into a sharp stiff claw : in the two first pairs the foot 
terminates in a forceps or chela, the tarsus being elon- 

D 2 

36 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

gated into a finger-like process, against which the move- 
able claw-like metatarsus can be applied after the 
manner of a thumb. Attached to the base of each 
" foot " are two appendages, the palp and the flagellum, 
and also a gill, for in reality the gill is as much a part 
of the " foot " as the palp and flagellum. In the crab 
and lobster the four hindermost pairs of " feet " end in 
single claws and only the first pair is cheliferous, and no 
other special difference is to be noticed in these or other 
decapods except this, that in the hermit crab the 
flagellum is wanting, and the work of this appendage — 
which is that of sweeping over the surface of the gill so 
as to free it from foreign bodies of any sort — is trans- 
ferred to the fifth pair, the, edge of the carapace being 
raised so as to allow their insertion into the branchial 
chambers when the work of sweeping has to be done. 
In the stomapod, isopod, and b'ranchiopod crustaceans 
the appendages corresponding to the " true feet " of the 
decapods are much more rudimentary and not readily 
distinguishable from the other appendages except by 
their relative position, especially in the two latter orders, 
these feet, all of them, being six-jointed and ending in 
simple non-retractile hooks in the isopods, and merely in 
jointless flattened plates or vesicles, serving for gills, or 
fin-feet, or marsupial plates for the attachment of ova, 
one or all, as the case may be, in the branchiopods. In 
these two orders the parts corresponding to the five 
pairs of " true feet " in the decapods are very much 
alike : in the stomapods, as in the Squilla Mantis of the 
Mediterranean, they differ materially, the first two pairs 
having modified chelae, with the full number of six 
joints, and with the forceps differing from that of the 
decapods in this — that the unciform metatarsus, instead 
of closing upon a finger-like projection from the tarsus 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 37 

as in the decapod, turns back completely, and closes 
upon the body of the tarsus itself, while the remaining 
three pairs have fewer joints, usually not more than three 
or four, and are almost as rudimentary as the fin-feet of 
the branchiopods. In point of fact, the two first pairs 
of " true feet " in the stomapods serve to connect the 
forceps-feet with the ordinary claw-feet of the decapods, 
while the three hindermost pairs supply a similar bond 
of connection between the ordinary six-jointed foot of 
the higher crustacear and the simple fin-foot of the 

The number of the organs which may be justly 
regarded as " feet " in the Crustacea is by no means 
constant. Only a few are decapods, and very many are 
multipods if not myriapods. And so it need not be 
matter of wonder that the number of feet should vary 
as it does do in annulata and insecta and arachnida 
and cirripedia : indeed, the only inference to be drawn 
from this inconstancy as to number is that the foot is 
not so special and singular an organ as it seemed to be 
at first. And this is all that need be said now except this 
— that there are transitional forms in abundance which 
make it easy to pass without break from the feet of 
Crustacea to the legs of other invertebrate creatures. 

And even in some points wherein at first there might 
seem to be some peculiarity there is in reality nothing 
of the kind. 

The simple legs of many of the branchiopods and 
isopods, articulated only at their bases, conduct natu- 
rally to the legs of many of the annulata : and in 
some of these creatures, as in the Aphrodite, the leg 
is evidently a sketch of the more complex true leg of 
the prawn and other decapod. Here, each one of the 
many feet is made up of a wide, soft, irritable, basal 

38 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

portion, topped by two hollow nipples, out of each 
of which may be protruded a tuft of barbed seta; 
or bristles, which are at once effective organs of loco- 
motion and formidable weapons. These two projec- 
tions are distinguished by their position as the dorsal 
branch and the ventral branch, and by some other peculi- 
arities as well. The dorsal branch, which is the larger of 
the two, carries a certain lamelliform process to which the 
name of elytra is given, as well as a tolerably long palp 
or cirrus, and a number of thread-like processes, which 
seem to have a branchial office : the ventral branch 
may have the cirrus and the threads, but usually it has 
neither. This setigerous foot is often called pied-a- 
elytre. When the elytra is absent, as it often is in many 
congenerous forms, the name given to it is as often pied- 
sans-elytre. And in these pieds-sans-elytres it is that 
the relations of the elytra;, and of the hairy processes 
near them, as well as of the cirri, to branchiae, come 
out most palpably ; for on comparing the feet in con- 
generous forms of life it is evident that the branched 
dorsal tufts of the sand or lug-worm (aretiicola), which 
is so favourite a bait with salt-water fishermen — which 
tufts are unmistakeable branchiae or gills — are only 
modifications of the elytra and of the neighbouring 
hairy processes in the common aphrodite, while at the 
same time it is generally evident, that the analogous 
hairy processes, as well as the cirrus of the ventral 
branch of the setigerous foot may also undergo a similar 
transformation into true branchiae. These parts, no 
doubt, are too rudimentary to make it possible to be 
very dogmatic in interpreting them, but this is plain, 
that they show a marked disposition to that two-fold 
division which is so conspicuous in the cirripedia, and 
that, while each of the branches may take upon itself a 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 39 

branchial office, the rule is for the upper one to do this 
rather than the under one. Indeed, the case is one 
which in some measure may serve to explain why the 
leg of the prawn or other decapod should have at its 
base an apparatus of gills and wisps and palps, or why 
both parts of the leg should be transformed into lamelli- 
form gills in the branchiopods. 

As between the leg and the gill of the decapod crus- 
tacean, so also between the leg and the wing of the true 
insect or hexapod, there is a very close relationship. 
Oken divined their true nature when he spoke of these 
wings as " aerial gills." The rudimental wings of the 
pupa; of certain water insects are true gills, acting in 
every way like the very similar membranous and vascular 
tegumentary expansions belonging to certain annelides : 
and, as in the Pterophora, the true wing may be split up 
longitudinally into rays so as to be no inapt representa- 
tives of the tufted tergal gills of the nereis. Moreover, 
the gills and the wings in these and other instances are 
both of them developed from the same part of the 
annular segment — 'the tergal arc. There is, in fact, no 
difficulty in admitting, not only that the wings are 
"aerial gills," but also that the wing may be related to 
the leg in the same way as that in which the gill is 
related to the leg in the decapod crustacean. It is cus- 
tomary to speak of the wings and leg9 of insects as 
developed from different parts of the same segment, and 
in the perfect insect, no doubt, a special connection is 
traceable between the wings and the tergal arc of this 
segment and between the legs and the ventral arc. In 
fact, however, the wings and the legs are developed, in 
close relationship to each other, on each side of the 
segment, from the part which lies between the contiguous 
ends of the tergal and ventral arcs, and the connection 

40 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

eventually formed with these arcs may be regarded as 
accidental rather than essential, the wing and the leg, in 
the process of development, becoming connected with 
the end of that arc which happens to be nearest to it. 
So at least it may be. And if so then instead of being 
an exceptional organ the wing may have to be looked 
upon as having the same relationship to the leg as that 
which obtains between the gill and the leg in the deca- 
pod crustacean. Nor is there anything in this supposi- 
tion which is out of keeping with what has been said 
already about the compound limbs of the aphrodite and 
other annulata. For these have been seen to be com- 
posed of two branches, each of which might be either foot 
or gill, or both at the same time : so that, after all, the 
connection of the wing and leg in the insect, and of the 
gill and leg in the decapod, may only be another illus- 
tration of that doubling of parts, which, in one of its 
many forms, is met with in the pieds-a-elytres of the 

Without difficulty, also, it is possible to account for 
the presence of the prolongations of the stomach, or 
gastric caeca, which pass from one end of the limb to 
the other in the legs of the Pycnogonum balnearum — an 
arachnidan parasite living upon whales — and which also 
penetrate to a greater or less depth in the legs and 
palps of the spider and its congeners. For in order to 
this all that is necessary is to suppose that the state of 
things met with in the ray of the asteria is repeated in 
these limbs — that, in fact, the gastric cjeca are only so 
many evidences of what may be regarded as a rudimen- 
tary phase of development. 

But it is not expedient to dwell upon these and 
other peculiarities of the sort in the present place, for 
the only full explanation is to be found, not in any 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 41 

particular statement, but in the general drift of what 
remains to be said under the present head. 

2. The false feet of the prawn, of which their are six 
pairs, are not unlike the true thoracic feet of the 
branchiopod crustacean. Each foot consists of a 
flattened basal joint, on the top of which, side by side, 
are two longish flattened leaves, with ciliated edges ; 
and this is the case substantially in stomapod, isopod, 
and branchiopod, as well as in decapod crustaceans 
generally, the chief differences being in the size and shape 
of the terminal leaves, and in the fact that in the 
stomapods one of these has a palp and a brush-like 
process which is obviously a rudimentary gill. In a 
word, there is nothing peculiar in these false abdominal 
legs, for many of them are little more than exact copies 
of the lamelliform, fin-like, thoracic legs of the branchio- 

3. The organs called foot-jaws differ much among 
themselves, and from the true and false feet already 
noticed, but their real nature is never altogether hidden. 
There are three pairs of them, each pair having peculiari- 
ties of its own ; and their place is always immediately in 
front of the true feet. In the prawn the first and second 
pairs have parts which correspond more or less closely, 
not only to the true feet, but also to its gill and fiagellum ; 
and the third pair is still more obviously in the same 
case. In the crab and lobster the mutual resemblances 
of the three pairs are more striking ; and there is less 
difficulty in detecting the likeness to the true feet 
immediately behind them. They are evidently these 
latter feet but very slightly modified, and any little 
peculiarity is as evidently owing to mere differences of 
development in one or other of the component parts, all 
of which are there. In the squilla mantis (a stomapod), 

42 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

for example, the first pair of feet is not unlike the 
third pair of feet in the prawn, and the third pair is 
absolutely like the first pair of true feet immediately 
behind them, but the middle pair is developed so as to 
form the large " pattes ravisseurs," which stand out from 
the other feet about as much as the cheliferous feet do 
from the ordinary feet in the lobster. Here, the office 
of cheliferous feet is transferred from the first pair of 
true feet to the second pair of foot-jaws — a transference 
which brings out very conspicuously the foot-nature of 
the foot-jaws. Here, too, the close relationship between 
the foot-jaws and the true feet is evident in the way in 
which the true feet close around the mouth so as to be 
capable of doing the actual work of the foot-jaws — an 
arrangement to which the squilla mantis and its con- 
geners are indebted for their name of stomapods. The 
case is plain enough when looked at in this way. Nay 
it is plain enough in itself, for the " pattes ravisseurs " 
are manifestly only magnified forms of the feet behind 
them, with the metatarsi turning back in the same way 
upon the tarsi, and with strongly dentated instead of 
merely ciliated inner margins. Indeed the case is one 
which prepares the way for that which occurs in the 
isopods and branchiopods, where the only difference 
between the foot-jaws and the true feet is that which 
attaches simply to position. 

4. In the prawn and in other decapods as well, imme- 
diately in advance of the foot-jaws, are three pairs of 
organs to which the name of true jaws is given, the first 
pair being the mandibles, the two hindermost pairs the 
maxillae. These organs are more rudimentary than the 
foot-jaws, and in some cases they are so very rudimen- 
tary as to make it difficult to identify their particular 
parts, but now and then, in different Crustacea, their 

Organs of Inva'tcbrate Animals. 43 

form is such as to make it certain that they are not 
special organs, but merely modifications of the foot-jaws 
and of the true and false feet behind them. 

The trophi or oral appendages of a mandibulate 
insect consist of two pairs of lateral jaws, the upper 
being the mandibles, the under the maxillae, which work 
from side to side like the true jaws of the Crustacea, 
and of two lips, the upper one called the labrum, and 
the under one the labium, which act in an up-and- 
down direction like the jaws of a vertebrate animal. 
The maxilla? carry palps, and in other respects are not 
unlike the maxillae of the Crustacea: the mandibles 
are more simple in form, stronger, and palpless. In 
some instances, the maxillary palps " besides their 
sensitive and selective offices, serve also to seize and 
steady the alimentary substances whilst these are being 
divided by the mandibles and maxilla?, representing, in 
fact, a third pair of lateral jaws." The labium has 
usually a pair of palps, and, in addition, within the 
mouth, a process called the tongue, which is particu- 
larly developed in the dragon-fly and many beetles. In 
the haustellate insects the mouth is still made up of the 
same parts. In the bee tribe the mandibles are strong 
cutting organs very like those of the mandibulate beetle, 
but the maxillae and labium, which go together to form 
the proboscis, are very much altered, especially the 
labium. The maxillae have still their palps, and so has 
the labium ; the latter organ may indeed have an extra 
pair. In the hemiptera mandibles and maxillae alike 
are attenuated and prolonged into lancet-shaped organs, 
for which the elongated labium serves as a sheath : and the 
palps have disappeared. And so also in the diptera, with 
this difference that the labrum is also lancet-like, and that 
the sheath formed by the labium is terminated by two 

44 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

fleshy suckers. In the butterfly the mandibles are quite 
rudimentary, and the maxilla? have coalesced so as to 
form the long proboscis, or antlia, which when not in use 
coils up spirally between two lateral palps, which seem 
to be maxillary palps. Here, no doubt, it is difficult to 
be always positive as to the homology of the parts. In 
fact, the antlia may be a highly developed tongue, akin, 
perhaps, to the proboscis of many gasteropods; but 
generally, there is no difficulty in passing step by step 
from one form of mouth to another, and in tracing 
everywhere the presence of the same elements. 

On comparing the oral appendages of a mandibulate 
arachnidan with those of a mandibulate insect the 
resemblances out-number the differences, and the differ- 
ences only serve to bring out more clearly the limb- 
nature of the different parts. The mandible of the 
scorpion with its terminal pincers, or the mandible of 
the spider, with its sharp, moveable fang, perforated by 
a poison duct, point plainly to the jointed foot-jaws of 
the crustacean ; and so, with still greater plainness, does 
the enormous cheliferous palp upon each of the maxillae 
—an organ which closely copies the chela of the lobster, 
not only in shape, but also in relative proportions, its 
size being as much in excess of that of the true limbs as 
in the crustacean. Nor is it otherwise when this com- 
parison is made to include arachnidans with haustellate 
mouths, for, with or without the key met with in insects 
having mouths of the same sort, it is easy to see that the 
oral appendages here are merely modifications of those 
which enter into the formation of the mandibulate mouth. 

The mouth of the annulata may take the form of a 
sucker, as in the leech, or of a proboscis, which is really 
a protrusible and retractile pharynx, as in the arenicola, 
or sand-lug, with or without three or more teeth of one 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 45 

kind or another arranged around the entrance to the 
pharynx. Lateral jaws are not to be met with here : 
and even the teeth are not always teeth, for, as in the 
case of the sand-lug, the teeth become external spines, 
which can be used as organs of prehension, when the 
proboscis is everted. Around the mouth, also, and 
coming under the head of oral appendages, may be 
certain labial tentacles and branchial processes, but these 
do not require special notice now, for all that may be 
said about them is included in what has to be said 
immediately upon the oral appendages of the radiata. 

Among the radiata the bilateral arrangement of 
limbs has given place to the radiate, and all the limbs 
may be looked upon as oral appendages. So it is in the 
great class of polypes : so also in the star-fishes and the 
cephalopods. In each of these cases the polype-type 
prevails, and, except in different creatures, the different 
limbs, with few exceptions, are all alike. The case is 
one, indeed, in which, in this similarity in the limbs, it is 
possible to see that the mandibles and maxillse of the 
mandibulate or haustellate mouth may be nothing more 
than modifications of a certain number of the so-called 
arms of a radiate animal, and that the upper and lower 
lips, as well as the tongue and other parts of the same 
mouth, may in like manner be substantially other arms 
of the same sort. Nay, it is possible to go further in the 
same direction and find much in favour of a still wider 
generalization. In many of the star-fishes the roughened 
bases of the rays are made to do the work of the special 
teeth of the sea-urchin, and it is difficult not to see that 
these teeth are modifications of the same organs which 
exist on the ray of the star-fish as mere calcareous 
tubercles, and which are developed in the sea-urchin 
into long and strong articulated spines. Organs which 

46 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

are tubercles or spines in one part of the body are teeth 
in another ; and the only difference between this case 
and that of the sand-lug already noticed, is that here 
the teeth are always teeth, and the tubercles or spines 
always tubercles or spines, and not the one or the other 
as the proboscis upon which they are implanted happens 
to be inverted or everted. A similar lesson may also be 
found in the suckers on the arm of the cephalopod, or 
in the ambulacral feet and pedicellaria of the star-fish 
and its congeners : for here the polype-type is still the 
type, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the 
parts in which these organs are implanted are, in more 
than a figurative sense, polyparies. And so likewise 
with the very hairs, for it is impossible to see the various 
modifications of these organs — articulated and cheliform 
in the Eunice and many other dorsibranchiate anne- 
lidans, articulated and ramified in the large bird-spider 
{Mygale), like the down of birds, &c. — without being 
convinced that the hair is the rudiment of the same 
part which may be developed into the cheliferous and 
other limbs of the same or any other creatures. Every- 
where, indeed, are abounding traces of the same plan : 
and the inevitable conclusion seems to be, not only that 
the mandibles and maxilke are con-natural, but that this 
con-naturality extends equally to the lips and tongue 
and teeth — to all the other oral appendages, and to all 
the several parts of these appendages, great or small. 
And if so, then it is possible to see still further in several 
directions. It is possible to see why it is that the 
maxillse and the base of the large cheliferous palps of 
the spider should contain csecal prolongations of the 
stomach, for this state of things is only a repetition 01 
that which is natural in the ray of the star-fish. It is 
possible to see why the mandible of the same creature 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 47 

should be perforated by a poison duct, for this may be 
no more than a modification of the hollow tentacle which 
is natural to the bryozoic and anthozoic polypes. It is 
possible that the close connexion between the gill and 
the foot of which so many instances are met with in the 
articulata may explain why it is that the gill and the 
" foot " are related to each other in the same manner in 
molluscs, and why, for the same reason, it becomes 
necessary to regard the latter foot as a modification of 
an oral appendage rather than as a vague "development 
from the ventral surface." It is a matter of indifference, 
however, whether the foot in question be an oral appen- 
dage or not. It is radically similar, and that is all that 
need be said about it, and also about the two arms of 
the branchiopods, and the two wings of the pteropods — 
which have some claim to be regarded in the same light 
— except this, that these latter organs lead back from 
the radiate arrangement of appendages to that bilateral 
arrangement which is natural to the crustacean and to 
the higher forms of articulate creatures. 

5. The eyes of the prawn are organs of a very 
different sort to those which have been under considera- 
tion, but the peculiarities are not so very real as they 
seem to be at first sight. They are compound eyes, 
that is, they are composed of many eyelets ; they are 
two in number, arranged bilaterally ; and they are 
placed upon peduncles made moveable by being jointed 
at their base. In the Limulus, and in certain other 
entomostracan crustaceans, several simple eyes (ocelli 
or stemmata) are associated with compound eyes, pedun- 
culated or sessile, each simple eye, like every single 
eyelet of the compound eye, having its separate lens, 
and nerve, and pigmentary layer, and humours, as well 
as a transparent speck of integument which does duty as 

48 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

a cornea. The moveable ocular peduncle is very long, 
much longer than in the prawn, in the podophthalmic 
crabs, in the Gelasimus telescopicus more especially, 
where it projects considerably beyond the edge of the 
carapace. Here, indeed, the term podophthalmic is 
rightly used, for the eye is as much a foot as an eye : 
and still more so in the Ocypode cerophthalmus, where 
the peduncle, in addition to being long and jointed at 
its base, is prolonged as a calcareous spine far beyond 
the part to which the compound eye is attached, and 
where, consequently, the organ may be rightly looked 
upon as half-eye, half-antenna. The close relationship 
of the eye to the antenna is also seen in the gasteropods, 
where two of the " horns " carry small simple eyes, one 
on each, and two are plain antennae — where, in fact, the 
" horns " agree in being inversible or eversible like the 
finger of a glove, or rather like the throat of a bryozoic 
polype, and disagree only in this, that two have eyes, 
and two are eyeless. Nor is this podophthalmic arrange- 
ment peculiar to the crustaceans or gasteropods. On 
the contrary, each of the two eyes of the nautilus and 
of many other cephalopods is supported upon a short 
peduncle containing a cartilage which is evidently the 
homologue of that which is met with in the same place 
in the pedunculated eyes of the sharks and rays. In 
many of the cephalopods, also, the eye presents a pecu- 
liarity which leads to the same conclusion by another 
way. At all events, I find it difficult to look at this 
form of eye without thinking of the sucker on the arms, 
and of the polypodal or radiate type of development 
which finds expression in both. For what is the actual 
case ? It is that of an eye the cornea of which is pierced 
near its centre by an opening through which the sea- 
water enters and bathes the front of the crystalline 

Organs of Invertebrate Animals. 49 

lens. It is that of an eye from which it may be supposed 
that the lens and humours Would have escaped if the open- 
ing in the cornea had been a little larger. It is a case in 
which, if the lens andhumours had escaped in this manner, 
it is not difficult to detect a sort of likeness between the 
open and empty eyeball and the sucker on the arm, or 
even between it and an actual polype, for the ciliary 
processes may be supposed to repeat the radiating 
ridges around the throat of the sucker, and the crown of 
tentacles around the mouth of the polype. After what 
has been said, all this may be conceded as not im- 
probable : and if so, then the particular construction of 
the eye becomes in some measure intelligible, and at the 
same time some light is thrown upon the disposition to 
radiation and ramification which is displayed con- 
spicuously in so very many of the appendicular organs 
already noticed. 

6. Returning to the prawn the organs which have 
next to be examined are the posterior and anterior 
pairs of antennse which project in advance of the eyes, 
and which seem, at first sight, to have little in common 
with the parts already attended to. Each member of 
the posterior pair has a lower portion and an upper 
portion, with a joint between them, and also between 
the lower portion and the head of the animal, and so 
has each member of the anterior pair. The lower 
portion of the member belonging to the posterior pah- 
is developed above into two prominences, one in 
advance of the other, the hindermost being prolonged 
into an immoveable flat spine, the foremost carrying, 
over the joint which is there present, two long and one 
shorter, many-jointed, tapering, antennse. The lower 
portion of the member belonging to the anterior pair is 
also developed above into two prominences, the one 


50 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

before the other, the hindermost carrying a moveable, 
large, elytra-like scale, the foremost serving as a base 
for a single, moveable, many-jointed, tapering, antenna. 
There is a bifid arrangement in the basal portion in 
each case which is evidently a shadow of the double- 
foot of the isopod and branchiopod crustaceans and of 
many of the annulata ; and there can be little doubt 
that the antennae are modifications of the palps which 
occupy the corresponding situation in many other 
crustaceans, and that the basal portion below" the 
antennae agrees in like manner with the parts corre- 
sponding to them in the more ordinary feet. Nor is a 
different conclusion to be drawn from the more excep- 
tional forms which the antennas take in other inverte- 
brate creatures. In the spider, for example, the fact 
that the antenna is confounded with the mandible, is 
only another proof of the common nature of the antenna 
and the mandible ; and what other conclusion is to be 
drawn from the similarity of the eye-less and the eye- 
bearing " horns " of the gasteropod except this, that the 
eye-less horns, which are the homologues of the 
antennae, and the eye-bearing horns are radically con- 
natural ? In short, it would not be difficult to show 
that the antennae may take upon themselves the form 
and office of the limbs which have to do the work of 
prehension and locomotion, or that they may even 
become transformed into root-like processes. The larval 
barnacle (Lepas), for example, is provided, not only 
with pedunculated eyes, but with long antennae which 
may be used in creeping and holding, as well as in 
feeling, but the adult creature is both blind and palp- 
less, the eyes having disappeared in the course of 
moulting, and, contemporaneously with this change, the 
palps or antennae having become transformed into the 

0 roans of Invertebrate Animals. 


peduncle by which the animal is fixed, as by a root, 
when its period of juvenile freedom is at an end— a 
change by which this particular part of the larval 
barnacle is made to move many steps towards the 
position occupied by the byssus-forming foot of the 
common mussel and by the spinnaret of the spider. 

7. If there were room it would not be difficult to 
muster many other facts of like significance : as it is, I 
must content myself by singling out certain external 
appendages of the prawn which can hardly be over- 
looked, namely, the central spike projecting from the 
anterior edge of the carapace, the tail, and the external 
genital organs. 

The spiny-edged, lamelliform, immoveable append- 
age which projects from the anterior edge of the carar 
pace in the prawn, may, for anything that appears to the 
contrary, be homologous to any one of the limbs which 
lie at its side — may be, in fact, nothing less than one of 
these limbs aborted in the state of spine. It lies among 
these limbs like one of themselves, and unless it were 
sought out it might be confounded with them. And, in 
short, it is difficult to reject this claim to relationship — 
difficult to avoid the conclusion that the anterior part of 
the trunk may take upon itself the form of a limb so far 
as to be confounded with it. 

The tail, too, would seem to show still more plainly 
that the limb-nature which may lie hidden in the 
anterior end of the trunk is also present in the posterior 
end. The tail of the prawn is to all intents and pur- 
poses a large and strong limb : and more emphatically 
still is it so in the poison -fanged tail of the scorpion. 
In the latter case, indeed, the limb and tail agree very 
much in dimensions, and their other differences are not 
at all irreconcilable. But this is only a hint in passing. 

52 Traces of Unity in the Appendicular 

for the evidence upon which it is possible to come to a 
conclusion upon this point, and upon that which was 
last under consideration, is not yet available without 
going very much out of the way to find it. 

Nor are the traces of a common plan absent in 
that case which now alone remains to be noticed — 
namely, that of the external genital appendages. In 
the male prawn, on the under surfaces of the basal joint 
of the last ambulatory leg, is an opening the edge of 
which may be everted so as to form an intromittent 
organ ; in the female, in the corresponding part of the 
third ambulatory leg is an opening into which the 
intromittent organ of the male is inserted at the proper 
time. This is all. The case recalls the presence of the 
sexual openings at the base of the rays of the starfishes, 
which are either male or female, or both ; nay, this 
difference between male and female openings is not so 
great as it seems to be at first, even in the crustaceans, 
for in the prawn, and lobster and many of their con- 
geners ft not unfrequently happens that male openings 
are developed on one side of the body and female 
openings on the other. Nor are these the only proofs 
of the close relationship between the organs in question 
and the limbs of which so much has been said. In the 
male spider, for example, the tumid and unarmed 
terminations of the long, maxillary palps, which palps 
are legs to all intents and purposes, contain the parts 
analogous to vesiculae seminales, and are in reality 
limbs modified and devoted to a sexual purpose. And 
again, the spermatophorous or sexual arms of the 
octopus, or the " sail " of the argonaut, may be looked 
upon in the same light, for it is now known that each of 
these parts agrees with the ends of the maxillary palps of 
the male spider in containing what must be regarded as 

Organs of Invertebrate A?ii?nals. 53 

seminal receptacles. And this, too, is now known— 
that the part which was long regarded, either as a 
special parasite, or else as the male octopus himself, is 
nothing else than the sexual arm of this creature, 
detached from the body, and adhering by its suckers to 
some part of the mantle of the female octopus— the 
case of this sexual arm being in reality not unlike that 
of the spermatophorous limbs of the male of the cyclops 
and of some other entomostracan crustaceans. Nor is 
there anything exceptional in the organs which do duty 
as ovipositors. In the wasp, for example, these are 
made up of two long, sharp, slender blades, with 
serrated edges, which are closely opposed in the act of 
piercing, and which are afterwards separated so as to 
leave an inter-space for the passage of egg or poison 
as the case may be. The resemblance between the 
parts which serve as ovipositors or stings, one or both, 
and the long sharp lancet-like oral appendages is not to 
be mistaken. This may not be quite so close as that 
which exists between the cephalic and caudal suckers 
of the leech, but it is scarcely less so : and so, after 
what has been said, it is scarcely possible to avoid 
coming to the conclusion that the external genital 
appendages, male and female, are in their nature true 
limbs modified so as to answer a particular purpose, and 
also that there is a tendency to a repetition of these 
limbs in the same form at each extremity of the trunk. 

And thus, as in the various limbs of vertebrate 
animals so in the various appendicular organs of inver- 
tebrate animals, it is possible to assert positively that 
unmistakeable traces of unity are to be detected every- 


Chapter IV. 


The conviction that the skull was made up of modified 
spinal vertebras flashed upon the mind of Oken at the 
sight of a deer's skull, blanched, and partly dis- 
jointed, by the weather, which skull caught his eye as 
he made his way down one of the wooded southern 
slopes of the Hartz Mountains in the autumn of 1806. 
" Er ist eine Wirbelsaule ! fur es mir wie ein Bliz durch 

Mark und Bein und seit dieser Zeit ist der 

Sch'adel eine Wirbelsaule." * A month or two later this 
conviction became confirmed and matured by an exami- 
nation of certain skulls in Dr. Alber's museum at 
Bremen ; and before another year was over he made it 
the subject of an inaugural address delivered at the 
University of Jena, and printed shortly aftenvards.f 
As usually happens, however, the thoughts of others, 
in this case of Goethe, Autenreith, Frank and Kiel- 
meyer, had already moved in the same direction. In 
1820, in a sketch of his own anatomical labours, 
Goethe shows tha,t the bones of the skull may be 
deduced from those of the vertebral column, and in a 

* Isis, 1817, p. 511. 

t Ueber die Bedeutung der Schadelknockcn : Programme bcim Antritt 
der Professur. 4to. 1S07. 

Traces of Unity, &c. 


note appended co this sketch by his French translator 
and commentator, Dr. Martins, it is stated that this idea 
dawned upon Goethe nineteen years previously in a way 
which is surprisingly like that in which it blazed upon 
©ken. "Goethe se promenant dans le cemetiere des 
juifs au Lido, pres de Venise, remassa sur le sable une 
tete de belier dont le crane dtait fendu longitudinalc- 
ment, et, en la regardant, l'idee lui vint a l'instant memo 
que la face etait composee de vertebrcs : la transition 
du sphenoide anterieur a i'ethmoide lui parut eVidente 
au premier coup-d'-ceil. Cetait in 1791, and a cette 
epoque il ne fit point connaitre son idee." So writes 
Dr. Martins. And as to the claims of the other three, 
Owen in a few words says all that need be said in a 
report on the homologies of the vertebrate skeleton 
presented to the British Association for the advance- 
ment of science at the meeting in 1846. "Autenrieth 
and Jean-Pierre Frank had alluded, in a general way, to 
the analogy between the skull and the vertebral column, 
and Ulrich, reproducing formally Oken's more matured 
opinions on the cranial vertebra, says, ' Kielmeyerum 
praeceptorem pie venerandum quamvis vertebram tan- 
quam caput integrum considerari posse in scholis anato- 
micis docentem audivi.' And the essential idea was 
doubtless present in Kielmeyer's mind, though he 
reversed the proposition, and, instead of calling the 
skull a vertebra, he said each vertebra might be called 
a skull." 

In the inaugural lecture already referred to Oken 
finds in the skull of a lamb, which served him for a text, 
three vertebrae, the ear-vertebra (ohrvvirbel), the jaw- 
vertebra (kieferwirbel), and the eye-vertebra (augwirbel). 
The ear-vertebra has for its great foramen the foramen 
magnum of the occipital bone, the occipital condyles 


Traces of Unity in the 

for its oblique spinous processes, the "partes condyl- 
oids " for its lamina;, the crista occipitalis for its 
spinous process, the pars basilaris for its body, and 
the foramina for its intervertebral foramina. The jaw- 
vertebra has for laminae the parietal bones, and for body 
and transverse processes the posterior sphenoid. The 
eye-vertebra has for its laminae the frontal bones, and 
for its body and transverse processes the anterior 
sphenoid. At the time of the delivery of this lecture, 
Oken saw no more than these three vertebrae in the 
skull ; at a later period he also saw, in advance of the 
eye-vertebra, the rudiment of a fourth vertebra, of which 
the vomer is the body, the lachrymal bones the laminae, 
and the nasal bones a bifid spinous process. Without 
doing more than merely turning a skull like that of a 
lamb round, and looking at it attentively on all sides, it 
is easy to see that the case may be as Oken put it : by 
removing the bones which take no part in the formation 
of the " basis cranii," i.e. the frontals, the parietals, the 
temporals, the lachrymals, the orbitals, the nasals, and 
the aethmoids, and by then replacing them, the difficulty 
is to avoid seeing that it must be so ; for on removing the 
bones, and looking from above, the basis cranii is evi- 
dently a prolongation of the bodies of the vertebral 
column into which at least three vertebrae may enter, 
and on replacing them the cavity which is thus arched 
over, is as evidently an expanded portion of the verte- 
bral canal. 

Oken also saw very clearly that the " pars petrosa " 
of the temporal bone is related to the third vertebra in 
the same way as that in which the jaw and the eye are 
related to the two other vertebras — that it was, not a 
part of the actual vertebral zone, but a sense-organ 
(Sinnorgan), the eyes, jaws and ears being all essentially 

Skull and Vertebral Column. 


limbs (Gleider), and these again ribs. " Freye Bewe- 
gungsorgane konnen nichts anderer als frey gevvordcne 
Rippen seyn," he says : nay, he even goes so far as to 
describe particular parts of the cranial vertebrae as ilium 
capitis, femur capitis, and so on. 

Since the time of Oken much has been done, by 
Owen more especially ; and now it may be regarded as 
a well-established fact that the skull is really made up 
of modified vertebrae, and that the ears and jaws and 
eyes are appendages which are related to the cranial 
vertebrae in exactly the same way as that in which the 
ordinary limbs are related to the spinal vertebrae. 
There is much disagreement as to particular homologies : 
there is scarcely any as to the general connaturality — the 
point with which at present I am alone concerned — of 
the skull and the vertebral column. Upon this point, 
indeed, Goethe, and Bojanus, and Spix, and Cuvier, and 
Geoffroy St. Hilaire, and Wagner, and Agassiz, and 
Sommering, and Carus, and Meckel, and Owen, and all, 
with one or two exceptions only, who have paid any 
serious attention to the subject, are perfectly in accord 
with Oken. 

Chapter V. 


As commonly denned, the vertebra and the annellus 
have little or nothing in common. The former is made 
up of a series of rings arranged in the same plane around 
a solid centre or "body," and the muscles belonging to it 
are on the outside. The latter is a single, centreless 
ring, with its special muscles on the inside. It is diffi- 
cult, however, to rest satisfied with this way of looking 
at the matter. It is certain that the line of demarcation 
between the vertebra and the annellus is drawn with 
little firmness in many places, and not at all in others : 
it is by no means certain that it is to be found even 
where it is supposed to be most firmly drawn, that is, 
across the "body "of the vertebra. And there is no 
great difficulty in making good this statement. 

In the thoracic vertebrae of chelonian reptiles the 
place of the " bodies " is occupied by narrow bony belts 
or arches, while the' most body-like parts of the vertebra; 
are over the spinal cord instead of under it. In certain 
extinct ganoid fishes of the Devonian or Old Red Sand- 
stone period, as in the Coccosteus, there is a blank 
space between the neural and haemal spines where the 
bodies of the spinal vertebrae ought to be — a plain 
proof that in the living animal this space was occupied 
by tissues too perishable to allow of calcification, by 

Traces of Unity, &c. 


nothing more than the very softest of soft notochords.* 
In many cartilaginous fishes now living, as in the 
sturgeon, a wide continuous canal runs through the 
bodies of the spinal vertebras from one end of the spinal 
column to the other : and, besides this, the bodies them- 
selves are cut up into segments by deep fissures running 
in an antero-posterior direction. And even iri mammals 
some of these changes in the bodies of the spinal 
vertebras are repeated, for the bodiless upper cervical 
vertebra, or atlas, approaches evidently to the bodiless 
dorsal vertebra of the chelonian, and the division of the 
lumbar vertebra into two lateral halves by a deep 
groove which occurs in the sea-cow [Manatus), and, in a 
lesser degree, in man himself, and in many other 
mammals, may be an exemplification of the same seg- 
mentation as that to which reference has just been made 
as existing in the cartilaginous fish. 

Very often, also, the bodies of the cranial vertebrae 
are represented by a mere plate of bone ; and now and 
then even this plate may be wanting. Thus, in some of 
the seals there is a large aperture in the dry skull where 
some of these bodies should have been — an aperture 
which during life is only closed by soft tissue ; and thus 
again, in the cyclostome fishes, as the myxine and 
lamprey, the floor of the skull is in the main formed by 
two cartilaginous ridges — homologous with the trabecular 
of the embryonic skull — which separate fora short distance 
and then re-unite so as to enclose a space which is occu 
pied by a layer of cartilage not much thicker than paper. 

The cyclostome fish, which occupies an intermediate 
position between fishes and reptiles, represents a very 
rudimentary phase of development ; the seal may be 
said to be the least developed of mammal forms ; and 
* Owen : Comp. Ahat. and Phys. of the Vcrtebrata ; vol. i., p. 197. 


Traces of Unity in the 

hence it may be expected that the peculiarities to which 
attention has been directed are signs of immaturity, and 
that a corresponding state of things is likely to be met 
with at one time or other in the embryonic condition of 
animals of higher grade. And so it is. 

The cerebro-spinal column makes its first appearance 
as a line, or primitive streak upon the pear-shaped 
pellucid area, or embryonic shield. Then this primitive 
streak deepens into a groove and at the same time 
is divided into two portions by the formation of a trans- 
verse fold, the lower portion, which is the first to appear, 
becoming in due time the spine, and receiving the name 
of primitive groove, the upper portion, out of which the 
head has to be formed, being called medullary groove. 
Then the neural canal is formed by the gradual develop- 
ment and coalescence of the laminae dorsales, or edges of 
the primitive groove, and of the medullary folds, or 
edges of the medullary groove. Then, the spinal portion 
of this neural canal becomes divided by transverse lines 
into segments known as protovertebrae, each of which 
consists of two lateral masses, and a central space, which, 
along with other spaces of the kind, enters into the forma- 
tion of the chorda dorsalis. In the lateral masses of the 
protovertebra, the main arteries and veins, the Wolfian 
bodies, certain bony centres, &c, are subsequently de- 
veloped, the history of each mass being a repetition of 
that of the other in every particular. The place of the 
"bodies" of the future vertebrae is occupied by the 
chorda dorsalis, but only the place. Each " body " is, in 
fact, formed by the coalescence of certain osseous 
elements belonging to each of the two lateral portions of 
the protovertebra, just as the heart is formed by the 
coalescence of the vessels present in each of these two 
lateral portions. As the bony portions of the two halves 

Vertebra and A nnellus. 6 1 

of the protovertebra coalesce the chorda dorsalis disap- 
pears : and, in short, the whole history of the chorda 
dorsalis is that of a part in which development does not 
take place, rather than that of a definite centre of 
development — that of a mere pith-cavity, it may be. 
Nor is this conclusion invalidated by anything that is 
met with in creatures where, as in the lamprey, the 
chorda dorsalis remains permanently : for the place of 
the chorda dorsalis in the dried skeleton in these 
creatures is occupied by a hollow space with some 
scant remains of shrivelled soft tissue in it, the process 
of drying having brought about a change which would 
seem to be not unlike that which happens to Meckel's 
cartilage on drying an embryonic lower jaw bone. 
Everything, indeed, goes to show that the " body " of the 
vertebra, instead of occupying a central position primarily, 
is formed by the secondary coalescence of certain parts 
belonging to each of the lateral halves of the protover- 
tebra. So it is certainly in the chick and pig, and so it 
is also, so far as is known, in vertebrate animals gene- 
rally. Nor is the case otherwise with the cephalic portion 
of the vertebral column. Here there is no very distinct 
chorda dorsalis — for this part does not extend beyond 
the spinal portion of the vertebral column — and no very 
distinct division into proto vertebrae, but there are even- 
tually two lateral ridges, called traberculae, which diverge 
and meet again so as to enclose a space called the 
pituitary space. Here, indeed, there is strong confirma- 
tory evidence in favour of the conclusion already drawn 
respecting the nature of the chorda dorsalis, and the 
mode of formation of the " bodies " of the vertebrae, for 
little imagination is required to see how the pituitary 
space may agree with the space of the chorda dorsalis, 
and the soft pituitary body with the soft contents of the 


Traces of Unity in the 

chorda dorsalis, and how the two traberculac enclosing 
the pituitary space may be none other than the homo- 
logies of the two lateral halves of the body of the ver- 
tebra in the stage prior to coalescence. This is an in- 
ference which may be drawn from the facts ; this, so far 
as I can see, is the only inference which seems to be 
justifiable or even permissible. 

And in favour of this inference collateral evidence 
may easily be found in the construction of the cerebro- 
spinal axis of the nervous system : and in the peculiar 
relation which this part holds to the ' bodies : of the 
vertebras. Whatever may be the ultimate reason of this 
conformity, it cannot be doubted that between these 
major centres of the nervous system and the ' bodies ' 
of the vertebras, there is a very close connection ; and 
inasmuch as the nervous and osseous systems agree in 
that each system is composed of corresponding zones, it 
may, without any very extravagant flight of fancy, be 
supposed that the law of formation of the so-called 
centre in one case may be the law of formation of the 
so-called centre in the other case also. At all events, it 
must be allowed that the result of bringing the nervous 
and osseous systems together with a view to observe 
their parallelism is strangely confirmatory of the infer- 
ence that has been made as to the nature of the ' bodies ' 
of the vertebrae. The great cerebro-spinal so-called 
centres are, not simple and central elements, but com- 
posite structures produced by the more or less complete 
coalescence of two lateral masses. The double nature 
of the great neural axis is clear and unmistakeable. 
And that the history of this axis is applicable to the 
elucidation of the more obscure history of the bony 
column is scarcely less clear and unmistakeable. It is 
in the trunk, where the bodies of the vertebras are most 

Vertebra and Anncllus. 


conspicuous, that the two lateral neural columns have 
coalesced into the single spinal cord ; it is in the cranial 
region, where the bodies of the vertebra; are least con- 
spicuous, that these lateral neural columns have diverged 
as crura cerebri, and, by so doing, have put an end to 
the existence of the central neural axis. 

The heart, also, is not a single and central structure, 
but a composite structure formed by the coalescence 
of two lateral arterial and venous trunks ; and therefore 
the inference which has been drawn as to the double- 
nature of the body of the vertebra from the history of 
its development, may derive some support from the 
history of the development of the heart no less than 
from that of the development of the great cerebro-spinal 
neural axis. 

Again : the idea of the non-centrality of the body of 
the vertebra gains not a little in probability, if an 
attempt be made to deduce the nature of the body from 
the office which it is destined to fulfil. The principal 
office is not peculiar and special. In one point of view, 
indeed, the body is only one of several processes which 
serve to connect the vertebras ; and so it may be ex- 
pected that a comparison of the vertebral junctures each 
with the other, will issue in a clearer knowledge of the 
real nature of each and all. And so it falls out 

In the vertebrae of the cranial region, and also in those 
belonging to the thoracic region, in chelonians, as in 
the annelli of the cranial and thoracic regions of insects 
and many other articulata, the vertebras are joined 
together by the complete apposition of the entire edge : 
but in the trunks of vertebrate animals generally the 
office of connection is confined to certain points of the 
vertebral zone, which vary in number and position in 
different instances. 

6 4 

Traces of Unity in the 

On looking into the matter more particularly there 
is found to be a tendency to the formation of arti- 
cular processes by which contiguous vertebrae are con- 
nected together at those parts where limbs or appen- 
dages of various sorts spring from the vertebras. The 
skeleton of the fish is especially significant in this 
respect. At the parts where the sternal and dorsal fins 
are given off (provided these fins be well developed) 
there is a chain of osseous bodies formed by the de- 
velopment and articulation with each other of the 
bases of the fin-rays, and thus is formed, as it were, an 
additional spinal column in the median line above and 
below the true spinal column. In animals higher in the 
scale of being than the fish, the development of limbs 
from the median regions is no longer manifest, but a 
tendency to it may be detected still in cases where the 
ridge of the sternum and the spinal processes of the 
vertebrae are especially developed. In the chelonian, 
moreover, the bases of these latter processes in the 
region of the carapace are developed into perfect arti- 
cular processes, by the union of which a quasi-spinal 
column of a rudimentary character is formed behind the 
neural axis. In the majority of vertebrate animals, 
behind the bodies of the vertebrae there is also a double 
chain of lateral connecting surfaces— the oblique or 
articular processes — which would seem to have a close 
relation to limbs or organs. At any rate, in connection 
with them are osseous projections which, though more 
rudimentary than other processes belonging to the same 
vertebrae, are yet now and then (especially in marsupial 
animals and birds) developed to such a degree as to 
make it impossible to overlook them* In the animals 
which have just been named, indeed, the outwardly pro- 
jecting portion of the oblique processes are so highly 

Vertebra and Anne/Ins. 


developed, and the resemblance to the spinal and trans- 
verse processes of the vertebrae in the same animal is so 
marked, as to make it as difficult to doubt that the 
spine of a vegetable is an aborted branch or other 
organ, or the ridge of the sternum and the spinal pro- 
cesses of the vertebra; in the bird the rudimentary 
analogues of the limb developed in those regions in 
the fish, as to doubt that the processes in question 
are other than limbs, or limb-like organs of some sort, 

Of the several means of connection between con- 
tiguous vertebrae it may thus be argued that four are 
connected with limbs, or organs of some sort ; and 
therefore, it becomes a question whether the last and 
most important means of connection, the ' body,' is not 
in like manner connected with limbs or limb-like organs. 
And certainly there is nothing intrinsically unreasonable 
on the face of such a notion. Such a connection is pos- 
sible — because there yet remain two important pro- 
cesses of the vertebra; to be accounted for, namely, the 
transverse processes. Such a connection is probable — 
because these transverse processes are in reality more 
directly connected with the ' bodies ' of the vertebrae 
than the other processes, and because there is good reason 
to believe that they are specially related to the limbs, 
by being, as it were, abutments of the arches, scapular, 
costal, and pelvic, which carry the limbs. And thus, by 
connecting the body of the vertebra with the lateral limbs, 
additional ground is found for the belief in the double- 
nature of the body, while at the same time the notion 
itself becomes more definite, for, looked at in this light, 
the body is seen to be formed by the coalescence of arti- 
cular surfaces in connection with the transverse pro- 
cesses and lateral limbs, which surfaces are analogous 



Traces of Unity in the 

in their nature to those of the oblique processes, and of 
the elements of the quasi-vertebral columns at the base 
of the rays of the median fins in certain fishes. 

It may perhaps be an open question whether this 
latter inference is fully justified by the facts: it can 
scarcely be doubtful that a very different view must be 
taken of the ' body ' of the vertebra to that which is 
commonly taken — a view in which this part is regarded, 
not as a primary centre, but as a centre formed secon- 
darily by the coalescence of two of the several centres 
which make their appearance at different points of a 
simple ring or zone — a view which finds in the bony 
part of the vertebra and in the nervous and vascular 
parts, the same common plan, namely, a simple ring 
which may become nodulated at certain points by the 
development of centres which may be osseous or neural 
or cardiac as the case may be, and which simple ring 
may become divided by the intergrowth of centres on 
opposite sides so as to form vertebral body or spinal 
cord or heart as the case may be — a view which, by 
dividing the ' body ' in this way, opens out the vertebra 
into a simple ring, and by so doing breaks down the 
partition between it and the annellus. 

Nor is this view invalidated by anything that is 
seen when it is looked into more particularly. 

The zones of the carapace of the tortoise and of the 
plastron of the crab are forms in which the vertebra and 
the annellus are brought very closely together. In the 
chelonian the soft tissues are absent externally and the 
conformation, in this respect, is substantially that which 
is typical, not of the vertebra, but of the annellus : and 
in the crustacean the calcareous processes which project 
inwardly and form a grove for the lodgement of the 
great central nervous system, and which in some 

Vertebra and Antie/lus. 67 

instances unite in such a manner as to form distinct 
arches, would seem to be rudiments of a spinal column 
— indeed, between these calcareous arches of the 
crustacean and the bony belts which take the place of 
the bodies of the vertebrae in the carapace of the 
chelonian the resemblance is evidently that which is 
more than merely accidental. 

In every vertebrate animal also there are vertebrae 
which are transitional to the annelli in a degree which is 
only less perfect than that which is met with in the 
carapace of chelonians, and these are to be found in 
places where any such meeting would seem to be least 
likely, even in the cephalic region. For here, the broad 
ring-like vertebrae, articulated by the edge with their 
fellows, the tendency to the formation of a simple cavity 
by the disappearance of the floor of the skull, and the 
rudimentary development of muscle outside the bone, are 
certainly features which, when taken in connection with 
those that have been already noticed, may easily serve as 
bridges to any one who wishes to get across from the 
side of the vertebra to that of the annellus, or vice versa. 

On the other hand, the ' annellus, in being more or 
less covered by soft irritable tissues may move, as it 
were, from the outside to the inside, and so take up the 
internal position ordinarily occupied by the vertebra. 
The annellus of the ray of a starfish, for example, 
which is known curiously under the name of ' vertebra,' 
is covered by the coriaceous layer which has to do the 
work of muscle : and in some cases, as in that of a 
rare starfish which not many days ago I saw taken by 
trawling off the coast of Arran by the Duke of Argyle, 
this covering was thick enough and soft enough to make 
the likeness to an external layer of muscle very obvious. 
In this case, indeed, the sheath of soft structure around 

F 2, 


Traces of Unity, &c. 

the spines might be protruded and retracted so as to 
hide or expose the tips of the spines, an arrangement 
strikingly like that met with in the armed sucker on the 
spatulose extremities of one of the ten-footed cephalo- 
pods, for here in the same way the central hooks may be 
hidden or exposed by the protrusion or retraction of the 
soft parts surrounding it. Or the moveable spine of the 
sea urchin may be made to supply another illustration 
to the same effect, for here the moving power has its 
seat in the external capsule of the ball and socket joint 
at the base of the spine. Or, lastly, a still better 
illustration may be found in the cephalic cartilages of a 
cephalopod, which are deeply buried under muscle- 
like structure, and which, according to the fancy of the 
observer, may be classed with equal propriety under the 
head of annellus or under that of vertebra. 

In a word, the vertebra and the annellus, in spite of 
all their differences — and these are legion — are found to 
have so much in common as to necessitate the conclu- 
sion that both are framed upon a common plan — that 
there are in both the same unmistakeable traces of 

6 9 

Chapter VI. 


The body and its appendicular organs agree in being 
made up of segments, and the segments themselves do 
not disagree as much as they would seem to do at first 
sight. Thus, the annelli of the tail of a scorpion are 
intermediate between those of the body and those of the 
limbs. Thus, the vertebra? of the tail of a cat are inter- 
mediate between the vertebrae of the body and the 
bones of the different segments of the limbs. There are 
numberless differences between the segments of the 
body and those of its appendicular organs in these and 
other cases, but none that are in any measure irrecon- 
cileable. There are hone so great as those which exist 
between the segments of the body an'd those of the 
head ; and even the presence of a visceral system in the 
segments of the body, which may be looked upon as the 
chiefest of all differences, is done away, not only in the 
ray of the starfish, but also in the legs and great oral 
palps of many arachnidans. Indeed, it is impossible to 
look attentively at the arachnidan parasite of the whale 
without being convinced that the presence of a visceral 
system is not to be regarded as distinctive of the seg- 
ments of the body. For here, as in the starfish, the 
cavities within the limbs communicate directly with the 
visceral cavity of the body, and are occupied throughout 


Traces of Unity in the 

their entire length by caecal prolongation of the stomach, 
the limbs and the caecal prolongations within them being 
very nearly of the same dimensions as the narrow limb- 
like body and the narrow alimentary canal within it. 
Or, to take a more familiar case, it is almost impossible 
to watch a worm or snake in motion without being con- 
vinced that the body here is scarcely less limb than 

If, then, it be true that animals agree with plants in 
that no clear line of demarcation is to be drawn between 
the central parts of the body and the appendicular 
parts, what is to be said about the archetypal idea of 
these parts ? Is it necessary to try and apply the notion 
of the annellus or the vertebra to the interpretation of 
the appendicular parts, or is it necessary to try and find 
in these latter parts another and simpler archetype which 
may contain and explain the annellus and vertebra ? The 
appendicular parts may be regarded as representing a 
more simple phase of development than the central 
parts, and, therefore, it is to be expected that the latter 
alternative is that which must be accepted. And, to say 
the least, the result of examining the appendicular 
organs with this end in view is — very significant. 

Taking the eye of the eagle as the exemplar of ap- 
pendicular organs, and using it as a text, it may be 
noticed first of all that the coats of this organ are com- 
posed of several laminae or layers, nervous, vascular, 
quasi-muscular, osseous and others, arranged concentri- 
cally the one within the other, so as to form a hollow 
sphere, open to the front, or rather only closed in that 
direction by a transparent window. All the several 
layers mentioned are evidently arranged upon the same 
plan : the osseous layer is a simple ring made up of seg- 
ments fitted together like the staves of a shallow tub- 

Animal as a Whole. 


and there is nothing in it to renew the perplexity caused 
by the presence of the " body " of the vertebra : the 
nervous and vascular layers, are cup- like layers, open in 
front, and tending to open at the bottom also, if the 
point called the foramen of Sommering may be taken as 
indicating such a tendency : the quasi-muscular layer is 
also a ring, undivided in that part which forms the iris, 
divided like the osseous ring into segments at the ciliary 
processes by a series of cross-cuts : and so even, though 
not quite so obviously, in the true muscular layer, external 
to the eye-ball, for here it may be supposed that the 
four recti muscles have been formed by the segmentation 
of a primary ring like that of the iris or ciliary-processes. 
As in the osseous layer there is nothing to represent the 
" body " of the vertebra, so in the other layers, vascular, 
nervous, muscular, and the rest, there is nothing to repre- 
sent heart, or brain, or the like, except it be that the 
muscular masses outside the eye are indications of 
such centralization. The case, indeed, is one in 
which the two great varieties of zone, the vertebral 
and the annellar, are brought so closely together as to 
make it easy to see how the one may pass into the 
other. In the region of the tunica albuginea, the osseous 
layer is practically external, for the parts which repre- 
sent the muscular layer — the ciliary processes and the 
iris— are within the eyeball. The case is substantially 
that which is typical of the annellus. In the region 
behind the tunica albuginea, on the other hand, the 
relative positions of the osseous and muscular layers of 
the coats of the eyeball are reversed, the latter, now 
forming the straight and oblique muscles, being not 
within, as in the last case, but wiihoitt. The case, that 
is to say, is one which is as typical of the bodiless ver- 
tebra of which so much has been said, as the other was 


Traces of Unity in the 

of the annellus. And so, as in an experiment, it is 
possible to find in the eye of the eagle a key to the 
door which must be unlocked and opened and passed 
through, before it is possible to get near enough to gain 
a clear glimpse of the archetypal form which underlies 
the vertebra and the annellus. 

A bodiless vertebra or annellus, however, does not 
wholly represent the notion of the archetype which is 
suggested by an examination of the coats of the eye of 
the eagle. This notion is suggested, no doubt, but only 
secondarily. It is, in fact, ushered in by that of a 
hollow spheroid, or cell, with laminated or laminable 
walls, which cell may become changed, first into a cup 
by the formation of a mouth-like opening, and then 
into a broad ring by the addition of another opening at 
the bottom of the cup, the mouth of the cup which pre- 
cedes the ring copying the polype in its disposition to 
radiation. Without going very far out of the way it is 
also possible to see, in some measure at least, why it 
should be so, and to provide answers to many questions 
which naturally present themselves when the eye is 
made the text of the inquiry. What, it may be asked, is 
the significance of the ciliary processes, of the curtain of 
the iris, of the pupil ? What is the significance of the 
foramen of Sommering ? What of the eyelids, and eye- 
lashes, and eyebrows ? What of the lens, of the 
humours ? What, indeed ? Is it that the ball of the 
eye is subject to the same law as that which obliges the 
sea-urchin and many other radiate forms to open out at 
opposite poles, the pupil being the mouth and the foramen 
of Sommering the rudiment of the vent ? May the eye- 
ball be looked upon as a polype whose mouth is upon 
the point of opening, is to some extent actually opened 
in the pierced cornea of the cephalopod, and whose 

.liiimal as a Whole. 


oral tentacles are represented by the ciliary processes 
and curtain of the iris ? Do the eyelids and eye- 
lashes and eyebrows point to the outer ring or rings of 
tentacles which in bryozoic polypes serve to close the 
orifice by a lid or operculum when the polype is with- 
drawn within its cell ? Does the eyeball tend to change 
from the shape of the cell into that of a ring because it 
is subject to the same law as that which causes the sea- 
urchin and so many other radiate creatures to open out 
at opposite poles into the mouth and vent ? Does the 
chief chamber of the eye correspond to the stomachal 
cavity of the simple polype, and by implication, to the 
visceral cavity of the higher animals, vertebrate and in- 
vertebrate — to cavities, that is to say, between which the 
very closest connection is easily traceable ? Is the 
lens a modification of that nuclear body which may be 
developed into that polype within the polype which is, 
as it would seem, destined to become the visceral system 
of creatures higher up in the scale of being than the 
hydrozoic polypes ? Is the polype-type thus revealed 
in the eye inherent in every part of the body, appen- 
dicular and central ? Does the hand of man open out 
into fingers and clasp upon another body because it 
remembers its relationship to the polype ? Have the 
humours of the eye anything in common with the 
crude substance within the pith-cavity in plants, or with 
that included within the bounds of the chorda dorsalis 
in animals? These questions, and others like them, 
present themselves naturally, and have, as I think, some 
claim to be answered affirmatively. Indeed, if it be as 
true as it would seem to be that all parts of the body 
append.cular and central, are framed upon the same 
archetypal plan, I do not see how they can be answered 

74 Traces of Unity in the Animal as a Whole. 

And thus, to bring these cursory remarks to a close, 
I may say, not only that the traces of unity which 
are everywhere met with in the appendicular organs 
of animals are also everywhere met with in the central 
parts, but also that the common archetypal form which 
is thus brought to light has its final expression, not 
in the vertebra or annellus, nor yet in a polypoid 
form, but in the cell — a conclusion which, in fact, is tan- 
tamount to widening the grand generalisation of Harvey, 
omnc animal ex ovo, so as to make it applicable to every 
part of the body as well as to the body as a whole. 


Chapter VII. 


Between plant and animal and between animal and 
plant there are many superficial traits of resemblance 
some of which it may be well to call to mind before 
proceeding to consider whether there are any deeper 
ties of kindred beneath them. 

The flower of the dove plant (Peristeria elata), the 
loveliest of all orchidacean flowers, consists of a rose- 
like crown of white sepals, from the bosom of which a 
white dove, with outstretched wings, is, as it were, upon 
the point of taking flight. The flowers of many other 
orchids resemble insects of various sorts in the very 
strangest manner— insects which have only to make a 
slight effort to break loose from their fetters and get 
away ; and not unfrequently the plants to which these 
flowers belong, as if unwilling to be tied down like ordi- 
nary plants, are parasites living on the topmost parts of 
lofty trees, and resting rather than clinging there, for 
more than half their roots dangle loosely in the air as 
aerial roots. Several of the globular echinocacti, with 
their long spines and quasi-ambulacral lines, set with 
buds in place of pedicellaria, are startlingly like globular 
sea-urchins. The Astrophytum myriastigma is not less 
like a short-armed star-fish, the buds being still arranged 
in lines after the manner of the feet in the radiate 

7 6 

Traces of Unity 

animal. The Mammillaria nivea v. cristata, might 
easily be mistaken for a brain-madrepore ; the Monsonia 
Burmanii is the image of an ordinary coral ; and the 
Rhipsalis copies not less closely the Isis hippuris, and 
other articulated corals. Indeed it is quite conceivable 
that in some of these cases plant and animal might be 
confounded if they were seen lying together on the sea- 
beach, as might very well happen after a storm in many 
parts of the torrid region of America. 

The acorn-shell (Balanus) has a multivalve shell in 
which the valves are arranged in a whorl like the sepals 
in the flower of the dove plant, and the resemblance to 
this flower is further increased by the position in the 
heart of the shell which is occupied by the body of the 
cirrhiped, and by the way in which the shell itself, — at 
least in the mature condition — is attached to some 
foreign body. The wings and winged legs of the Mantis 
siccifolia, or walking leaf, resemble shrivelled, autumn- 
stained leaves so closely that the insect may readily be 
mistaken for an emancipated orchid-flower. The mussel 
may exhibit in a fixed form a state of things which is 
only transitory in plants, the shell corresponding to the 
husks of a seed, the gills to the cotyledons, the foot to 
the radicle, the fibres of the byssus to the spongioles. 
And what may be said of the common coral and 
encrinite save this — that these and kindred creatures 
are almost as much plants as animals, that the 
name of zoophytes is rightly applied to them, and 
that plants are excluded from the order radiata on no 
just pretext ? Indeed, only one conclusion may be 
drawn from the fact — which is too familiar to need 
illustration by instances — that plants and animals in so 
many ways exhibit the same radiate and ramified and 
helical modes of growth. 

In Plants and Animals. 77 

Nor do these traces of unity become more shadowy 
when they are looked into more steadfastly. 

The conclusion arrived at in the last chapter was that 
nerve and muscle and vessel and bone and other special 
structures appear as layers in the walls of a hollow sphere 
or cell, and that subsequently these layers are transformed 
into rings or zones by opening out at opposite poles. 
The course of development in this case, that is to say, 
is from the cell, first towards lamination, and then 
towards zonulation. Nor is it otherwise in the plant. 
In the rounded and hollow peach there is a distinct 
separation into layers of which that which forms the 
stone may be rightly regarded as homologous with the 
bony layer in the eye of the eagle — of that layer which 
elsewhere may become the vertebral ring : and the state 
of things which is met with here is substantially that 
which is met with in the husks of seeds, in the walls of 
the nodes of the stem and branches, and in many other 
parts of the plant. There is ever at work a " law of 
compensation " by virtue of which any over-development 
of one layer is at the expense of one or more of the 
others. Usually the woody layer is the only layer which 
is developed very conspicuously : always, however, there 
are traces of soft layers, and in many succulent fruits 
these are in excess of the hard layer. In some cases, 
too, as in the leaves of the sensitive plant, and Dioncea 
muscipula, certain parts— probably altered axillary buds 
in the first case — approximate closely to the " irritable " 
textures of animal bodies in their characters. Nor are 
traces of zonulation wanting in plants. One such trace 
is found in the case where several cells unite so as to 
form a vessel with a continuous cavity, for here each 
cell becomes more or less zonular by opening out in 
opposite directions. Another such trace is found in the 


Traces of Unity 

case where, in consequence of the disappearance of inter- 
nodal septa in a branch or stem, several nodes may come 
to be traversed by a continuous pith-cavity : indeed, the 
pierced nodes in such a case, as in that of the reed, is 
the nearest approach in plants to the zonular type, which 
enters so largely into the construction of animal bodies 
— is perhaps the simplest expression of the archetype in 
its zonular phase. Nay it is possible that the set of 
pipes in the hand of Pan — who is a personification of 
Nature — may point quite as much to this archetypal 
significance of the reed as to the harmonious dance of 
all things to the music of the spheres. 

On following out the progressive evolution of the 
animal frame the next step appears to consist in a 
partial or complete division of the zone into segments. 
Just as the zone itself is formed out of the cell by the 
increase of the equatorial region at the expense of the 
polar regions, so now the division of the zone into seg- 
ments would seem to be formed by the development of 
certain parts of the zone at the expense of the inter- 
mediate parts. The effect of the segmentation is mani- 
fested in the formation of ganglia in the nervous layer, 
of muscular masses in the muscular layer, of cardiac 
centres in the vascular layer, of bony masses in the 
osseous layer, and so on. The ambulacral lines of the 
starfish or sea-urchin are traces of the division of the 
zone into segments. The tentacles of the polype and 
of the cephalopod are formed in part by the division 
of the edge of the zone into segments, and in part 
by the subsequent growth of the portion of the edge 
belonging to them ; and the multiplication of certain 
polypes by " fission " is only an extension of the same 
process which is seen at work in the cutting out of the 

Iii Plants and Animals. 


A division of the zone into segments would also seem 
to operate in plants. The meridional lines on the surface 
of the echinocactus may have the same significance as 
the ambulacral lines on the surface of the sea-urchin. 
The separation of the original cups of the bud into 
leaves or petals or stamens is an undoubted case of seg- 
mentation : and, not less plainly, so also is the dehis- 
cence of the fruit in certain directions. 

In both cases the facts are sufficiently conclusive to 
justify the conclusion that segmentation of the zone in 
the course of development is a phenomenon common to 
plant and animal. 

The analogy between plant and animal holds good, 
also, when an attempt is made to trace it in the opposite 
direction, with a view, that is, to realize the way in which 
various zones are united to each other. 

On making a horizontal section of a succulent melo- 
cactus the slightly formed woody zone which has its 
place in the midst of the softer structures is found to be 
strengthened here and there by fibres proceeding from 
the rudimentary buds on the surface of the plant, 
which, as Du Petit Thouars pointed out long ago, are 
really the roots of these buds. In point of fact these 
buds root themselves in the plant-mother in precisely the 
same way as that in which the plant-mother roots her- 
self in the earth. And as it is with these buds so it is 
with all other buds, though seldom so obviously. The 
roots of the buds, therefore, have much to do in keeping 
the different parts of the plant-mother together. They 
act like commissures : they are, as it would seem, the 
only parts so acting ; and this is the point to which 
attention is now directed particularly. 

In animals, also, there are not a few facts which seem 
to point to the same conclusion. One and the same 


Traces of Unity 

archetype is present in the body and in every appendi- 
cular organ belonging to it ; and this archetype is so 
closely related to that which pervades every part of the 
plant, that what holds good of the plant may very fairly 
be supposed to hold good of the animal also. After 
what has been said, indeed, there is really nothing in- 
trinsically improbable in the notion that the different 
layers of the vertebral and annellar zone may bud out at 
certain points into rudimentary organs, nerve-ganglia, 
hearts, " bodies " of vertebras, and the like, as the case 
may be, and that the commissural connections of 
various sorts between these organs may actually corre- 
spond to the bud-roots which connect the buds with the 
central woody system of the melocactus. Nay the notion 
may be looked upon as a natural inference from the pre- 
mises, for if there be a common archetypal plan for the 
central and appendicular parts of plants and animals it 
follows that each of these parts has that in it which is 
potentially a root. 

And if this be so— if, that is, the bud-roots of the 
melocactus supply the key to the interpretation of the 
commissural connections in animal bodies — then the dis- 
tinction between plant and animal breaks down in 
another very important particular, and little remains to 
hinder anyone from coming to the conclusion that there 
is one and the same archetypal plan in plants and 
animals. Indeed, the only hindrance of any moment 
that remains — the apparent absence of a visceral system 
in the plant — is one that may soon be disposed of. 

An intelligible idea of the visceral system of animal 
bodies is easily attainable. The simplest manifestation 
of this system is that which is met with in the hydro- 
zoic polypes — a simple sac scooped out in the substance 
of the body, with a single opening which is at once 

In Plants and Animals. 81 

mouth and vent, and without any trace of visceral space 
or visceral organ. Next to this is the arrangement met 
within the actinia— an arrangement differing from the 
one just named in this, that the stomachal sac is now 
separated from the walls of the body by a number of 
visceral spaces in which are the first traces of visceral 
organs — ovaries. Then follows the more complicated 
visceral system of the starfish — a system which copies 
that of the actinia in the main, but which differs in this, 
that the stomach is now provided with a vent as well as 
with a mouth, and also with certain large csecal prolon- 
gations which may be stomachal or glandular or any^ 
thing. After this, as in the holothuria or sea-slug, the 
state of things met with in the starfish is complicated 
by the appearance of an intestinal canal between the 
stomach and the vent, and by various additions which 
plainly show that the plan is a sketch of that which is 
carried out in the higher animals. So far the case is 
simple enough, and further it is not necessary to trace it. 
For if there be any connection between animals and 
plants in these particulars, it is likely to be found in the 
very lowest forms of animal life rather than in the higher. 
And in these very lowest forms — where the visceral 
system is reduced to a simple sac scooped out in the 
body of the animal, with a single orifice which is at once 
mouth and vent, and without either visceral cavity or 
organ — the connection with the plant is sufficiently 
obvious. For in reality a point is here arrived at in 
which the very notion of a visceral system is all but ex- 
plained away. In plants, therefore, but very faint traces 
of a visceral system are to be expected, and a feeling of 
surprise is experienced when such marked traces are met 
with as those which are present in the sac of the pitcher 
plant, in the space between the armed leaves of the 


82 Traces of Unity in Plants and A?iimals. 

Dionaea muscipula, and in certain other cases. Here, 
indeed, are hollows in which an actual process of diges- 
tion would seem to be carried on, for the plant is rightly 
believed to feed on the insects drowned in the sac of the 
pitcher- plant or captured and killed between the armed 
leaves of the Dionaea muscipula. Nor is the possession 
of viscera and visceral cavities an absolute peculiarity of 
animal bodies. In the " placenta " and seed-chamber of 
the fruit the ovary of animal bodies and the visceral 
cavity in which it is lodged would seem to be copied 
not inexactly ; and, after all, there is but little that is 
really peculiar in any other of the visceral organs. The 
most complex gland is developed from an original of 
the simplest sort — a simple follicle, which again has 
much in common with a simple polype or a simple 
ciliate-cell ; and the hollow, moveable, poison-fang of 
the serpent — which may be regarded either as a glan- 
dular follicle with the lips prolonged into a formidable 
weapon, or else as one of the many forms of limbs and 
appendicular organs — may be taken as one of many 
bonds of connection between the ordinary internal 
visceral organs on the one hand, and the ordinary ex- 
ternal organs of the body on the other. 

And thus, in plant and animal alike, distinct traces 
of unity are met with, not only in the primordial cell 
which is the common starting point of development for 
every part of this organism, and for the organism as a 
whole, but also in the manner in which development is 
carried out subsequently in every case. 


Chapter VIII. 


There are many gaps in the barrier which has been 
erected between the domains of organic and inorganic 

A very wide gap of this sort is to be found in many 
of the solutions with which the microscopist has had so 
much to do of late, for here it is often not a little 
puzzling to know whether certain granules may be rudi- 
ments of crystals, or of definite cellular growths like 
Bacteria. Indeed, the gap here is so wide, and the 
debateable ground on both sides so uncertain and far- 
reaching, as to make it more than difficult to decide 
where the barrier ought to be. 

Even in respect of growth a crystal may have some- 
thing in common with the cell. At all events, many 
difficulties have to be disposed of before it is possible to 
say that the selective power by which a crystal appro- 
priates to itself its proper material from the mother- 
liquid is altogether dissimilar to that by which the cell 
feeds and grows upon protoplasm. 

The crystal, moreover, is not necessarily bounded by 
sharp angles and plain surfaces. Diamonds, for example, 
have convex surfaces, and at times these gems differ 
but slightly from perfect spheres. Curvatures are con- 
stant in the grains of hail and in the plates of hoar-frost. 

G 2 


Traces of Unity tn 

Oolite and pea-stone are composed of spherical granules, 
and, as Sir Charles Lyell points out, " in some masses 
of decomposing green-stone, basalt, and other trap-rocks, 
the globular appearance is so conspicuous, that the rock 
has the appearance of cannon balls." Rounded nodules 
of flint stone are common. The mammillated or 
botryoidal masses of certain ores of manganese, copper, 
silver, and occasionally of chalcedony, exhibit curved 
outlines, and lastly — to compare small things with great 
— satellites and planets and suns and stars are inorganic 
bodies of which the chief distinguishing feature is 

Of the substances mentioned, as having curved out- 
lines, it may also be observed that some are important 
ingredients in organization. Carbon, the matter of 
which the diamond is formed, is a principal element in 
the constitution of living fabrics. Water, in itself, or in 
its separate elements, is not less indispensable : and lime 
and silex and iron are all necessary for the same 
purposes. It cannot be other than a significant fact, 
therefore, that these substances, when left to themselves, 
present crystalline forms which are partly devoid of 
angles. And this, too, may be noted, that the parts of 
the organism in which curved outlines are most con- 
spicuous are those which, if not fluid, are soft, or in a 
condition intermediate, as it were, between fluidity and 
solidity. The curved shape, moreover, appertains 
equally to inorganic bodies when in such a state. The 
drops of dew and rain are rounded, and so are the drops 
of quicksilver and of melted metals and earth. Round- 
ness in these cases is a consequence of the state, and it 
may be that the form of the cell, instead of being special 
and peculiar, has to do necessarily with the condition 
in which the material is found. Hence, in the matter 

Organic and Inorganic Forms. 85 

itself, and in the condition of the matter, there is a 
double reason for thinking that roundness is no peculiar 
characteristic of organic form. 

Again : instead of being solid and homogeneous 
crystals frequently resemble cells in the possession of 
internal chambers. Cavities are well known to exist in 
many saline crystals. Cavities, which frequently contain 
minute detached grains, are very common in the 
spherules of oolite and pea-stone. In silex, again, the 
condition is similar : and the well-known flint nodules 
are hollow egg-like stones, containing a smaller nodule, 
which is often so loose as to rattle when shaken. The 
wall of these earthy chambers, moreover, is occasion- 
ally composed of layers so arranged as to be not unlike 
the laminated coats of the true cell. In the granules 
of oolite and pisolite, for example, this arrangement is 
very perfect, and a polished cross-section agrees closely 
with that of the spine of a sea-urchin. The laminated 
structure, also, is seen where no cavity exists, as in the 
globular masses of resinous trachyte, or pitch-stone 
porphyry, met with in one of the small islands near 
Terracina or Gaieta, which when acted upon by the 
weather separate readily into concentric scales like 
those of a bulbous root. 

Other and higher shapes, which seem to reflect the 
images of polypes and flowers and branches, are also to 
be found in the domain of the crystal. The flakes of 
snow and hoar-frost, for example, are composed of 
crystals arranged in such a manner as to afford no inapt 
likeness to the disc of the flower or polype. In stalac- 
tite pendants are often found the images of fungoid 
plants : and in the mammoth-cave of Kentucky Dana 
describes alabaster rosettes a foot in diameter, sur- 
rounded with circlets of elegant leaves, and vines with a 


Traces of Unity in 

full complement of leaves and tendrils. The moss-like 
appearance of the mocha-stone, — the miniature trees of 
hoar-frost, — the branched forms in which native silver 
and copper are often found, and the like appearances 
which so frequently occur in artificial crystalline masses, 
as in those of lead and silver, are other instances in 
which the radiating and ramifying features of organic 
life would seem to be shadowed forth in inorganic 

Nay it may be difficult to insist upon the angularity 
and plane surfaces of crystals as denoting an absolute 
distinction between the crystal and the cell, for, after 
what has been said, who would venture to say that the 
angle in the crystal has no relationship to the process in 
the cell, or that the plane surfaces may not be due to 
various extraneous circumstances, sometimes affecting 
the crystal and the cell equally, of which pressure may 
be one ? 

Crystals, moreover, would seem to correspond with 
cells of a very low type — a type lower even than that 
which is met with in the bone-cell, much lower. The 
inorganic world, indeed, may be said to be related to the 
organic world in a way not dissimilar to that in which 
the skeleton parts of plants and animals are related to 
the soft parts of these creatures, or rather that it occupies 
the still lower position of skeleton to these skeletons ; 
and, therefore, it is to be expected that inorganic bodies 
will present at the best but rudimentary traces of 
organization, and but few indications of functional 
activity. It is scarcely to be expected, indeed, that 
these indications should be greater than those which are 
revealed in crystallization. And crystallization, for 
anything that appears to the contrary, may be a mani- 
festation of growth — a first movement life-wards. The 

Organic and Inorganic Forms: 8 7 

present question, however, is, not this, but whether the 
traces of unity which have been met with everywhere in 
organic nature are carried on into inorganic nature : and 
this question, as it seems to me, may be answered 
affirmatively without going further. Indeed, it were 
scarcely necessary to have gone so far, for this answer 
would seem to be implied in the simple fact that the 
matter of which the things of life are made is being con- 
tinually taken from and restored to the inorganic world, 
the things of life, like waves in the ocean, rising and 
falling in the substance of the outer world rather than in 
any substance which is specially their own. 

And, thus, instead of being an idle story, the 

metamorphoses of Proteus may be nothing less than a 
revelation in poetical guise of the grand truth that there 
is every where in nature one and the same archetypal 




Part II. 


Chapter I. 


In a library where books of science are arranged with 
some regard to their merits a place of honour not far 
from that assigned to Goethe's " Die Metamorphose der 
Pflanzen " must be assigned to Grove's " Correlation 
of the Physical Forces." Each work opens out, as it 
were, several stages of the way along which I am bent 
upon travelling as far as I can. Each work is the pro- 
duction of a master-mind in such engineering, and, to 
say the least, it is difficult to think that the time will ever 
come in which a nearer or easier road will be opened 
out through the same regions. 

The many stages of the road in which Mr. Justice 
Grove is the engineer is, not in the clouds, but on the 
hard ground. Throughout their entire length the one 
ruling idea is to discard the hypothesis of subtle, occult, 
imponderable entities of any sort, and to resolve the 
various modes of physical force which form the subject 
of inquiry — motion, heat, light, electricity, magnetism, 
chemical affinity and the rest— into correlative and 
mutually dependent changes in ponderable matter, 
which changes are themselves resolvable into modes of 
motion. No one of these forces, taken abstractedly, can 
be held to be the essential cause of the others, each one 
producing or being converted into another, or all the 

9 2 

Traces of Unity in the Various 

others together. Thus, " when a substance, such as sul- 
phuret of antimony, is electrified, at the instant of elec- 
trization it becomes magnetic in directions at right angles 
to the lines of electric force ; at the same time it becomes 
heated to an extent greater or less according to the in- 
tensity of the electric force. If this intensity be exalted 
to a certain point the sulphuret becomes luminous, or 
light is produced : it expands, consequently motion is 
produced ; and it is decomposed, therefore chemical 
action is produced." Each force in relation to every other 
force may be looked upon as cause and effect ; and it 
would seem to be an irresistible inference from ob- 
served phenomena that any one force cannot originate 
except by devolution from some pre-existing force or 

Simple motion is resolved into heat, when an anvil 
is beaten by a hammer, when a wheel grates upon 
its axle, and in a thousand other ways. Where the 
moving and resisting bodies are homogeneous, as when 
iron encounters iron, the resolution of motion is chiefly 
into heat, though light also often puts in a claim 
to be noticed, as when fire is the result of percussion 
or friction. Where the moving and resisting bodies are 
heterogeneous, as in the case of the ordinary electrical 
machine, where glass encounters the rubber coated with 
amalgam, motion is resolved chiefly into electricity. The 
resolution of motion into other modes of force is also 
beautifully illustrated by an original experiment ex- 
hibited by the author of the ' Correlation of the Physical 
Forces-' in the lectures in which he first made known his 
views, and of which the following account is to be found, 
not in the work under consideration, but in the inaugural 
address on " Continuity," delivered by him, as president, 
at the meeting of the British Association held at Not- 

Modes of Physical Force. 


tingham in 1866. "A train of multiplying wheels ended 
with a small metallic wheel, which, when the train was 
put in motion, revolved with extreme rapidity against 
the periphery of the next wheel, a wooden one. In the 
metallic wheel was placed a small piece of phosphorus, 
and as long as the wheels revolved the phosphorus 
remained unchanged ; but the moment the last wheel 
was stopped, by moving a small lever attached to it, the 
phosphorus burst into flames. My object was to show 
that while motion of the mass continued heat was 
not generated, but that when this was arrested, the force 
continuing to operate, the motion of the mass became 
heat in the particles. The experiment differed from that 
of Rumford's cannon-boring and Davy's friction of ice in 
showing that there was no heat while the motion was 
unresisted, but that the heat was dependent on the 
motion being impeded or arrested. We have now 
become so accustomed to this view, that the moment 
we find motion resisted we look to heat, electricity, or 
some other force, as the necessary and inevitable result." 
And so, to use again the author's own words, " Mo- 
tion will directly produce heat and electricity, and elec- 
tricity, being produced by it, will produce magnetism 
— a force which is always developed by electrical cur- 
rents, at right angles to the direction of these currents. 
Light, also, is readily produced, to all appearances, by 
motion directly, when accompanying the heat of friction, 
or mediately, by electricity resulting from motion, as in 
the electric spark, which has most of the attributes of 
solar light, differing from it only in those respects in 
which light differs when emanating from different sources, 
or when seen through different media ; for instance, in 
the position of the fixed lines in the spectrum, or in the 
ratio of the spaces occupied by rays of different refrang- 


Traces of Unity in the Various 

ibility. In the decomposition and composition which 
the terminal points proceeding from the conductors of 
an electrical machine develope when immersed in dif- 
ferent chemical media, we get the production of chemical 
affinity by electricity, of which motion is the initial 
source. Lastly, motion may be again reproduced by the 
forces which have emanated from motion ; thus the 
divergence of the electrometer, the revolution of the 
electrical wheel, the deflection of the magnetic needle, 
are, when resulting from frictional electricity palpable 
movements reproduced by the intermediate modes of 
force, which have themselves been originated by motion." 

Without parallax, of relative change of position, 
motion is unproduceable, probably unimaginable. Mo- 
tion, in short, has to do very obviously with ponderable 
matter. Nor is a different conclusion arrived at when 
heat is made the starting point of enquiry. At any rate 
the difficulty is to realize heat except as motion in a 
direction opposed to that of the attraction of cohesion, 
and made known by its action on certain nerves of 
sensation. With certain not unintelligible exceptions in 
which the question is complicated by the introduction 
of crystallization, polarization, dessication, &c, a body 
expands when heated and shrinks on cooling. This is 
all. The heat doing this work may be regarded as a 
communicable repulsive force ; as a thing it is unknown. 
Certain changes of ponderable matter, for which changes 
heat is the generic name — these are all that are known. 
Even the notion of latent heat must be discarded with 
as little compunction as phlogiston. That heat will 
produce electricity is seen in the discovery of Seebeck, 
that when dissimilar metals are soldered together, or 
made to touch, and then heated at the point of contact, 
a current of electricity flows through the metals in one 

Modes of Physical Force. 


direction as long as the temperature continues to rise, 
and in the other direction in the contrary case of cool- 
ing. Heat and light go hand in hand continually in 
such a way as to suggest the notion that, they are in- 
separable. And certainly the modes of action of radiant 
heat and of light are so similar, both being subject to 
the same laws of reflection, refraction, double-refraction, 
and polarization, that their difference appears to exist 
more in the manner in which they affect the senses than in 
their modes of physical action. With regard to chemical 
affinity and magnetism, perhaps, the only method by 
which in strictness this form of heat may be said to pro- 
duce them is through the medium of electricity, the 
thermo-electrical current, produced by heating dissimilar 
metals, being capable of deflecting the magnet, of mag- 
netizing iron, of forming and decomposing chemical 
compounds, and that too in proportion to the amount 
of heat. 

Whatever else it be electricity is certainly an af- 
fection of matter for which electrolysis and polarization 
and induction are other names. There is no reason to 
believe that conductors, and non-conductors or dielec- 
trics, behave differently. That a dielectric is molecu- 
larly polarized is seen in more ways than one. One 
way, pointed out by Matteucci, is to take a number of 
thin plates of mica, to arrange them like a pack of 
cards, to face the two outer plates externally with tin 
foil, to electrify one of the facings from a friction- 
machine, and then to separate the plates with insulating 
handles. When this is done it is found that each plate 
is separately electrified, one side of it being positive and 
the other negative — a result showing very conclusively 
a polarization throughout the whole pack of plates as 
the effect of induction. Another way pointed out by 

9 6 

Traces of Unity in the Various 

Grove himself, lies through an experiment of M. 
Karstan, which is this. A coin is placed on a pack of 
thin plates of glass and then electrified. On removing 
the coin, and breathing on the glass plate, an impres- 
sion of the coin, which cannot be removed by polishing, 
is perceptible. And this is not all : for, on separating 
carefully the glass plates, images of the coin may be 
developed (by breathing it is to be presumed) on each of 
the surfaces of each one of them — a proof that a mole- 
cular change has been transmitted through the substance 
of the glass, and a reason for supposing that a piece of 
glass or other dielectric body, if it could be split up 
while under the influence of electric induction, would 
exhibit some molecular change at each side of each 
lamina, however minute the subdivision. The spark, or 
brush, or voltaic arc, also points, with not less certainty, 
to a change in ponderable matter in connection with 
the electrical phenomenon. The colour of the light, 
and the lines in the spectrum, show that the material of 
the electrodes, or that between the electrodes, one or both, 
is mixed up in the phenomenon ; and other considera- 
tions make it certain that this light is more than that of 
combustion. If it were only due to the latter cause it 
could not happen, as it does do, in vacuo. In point of 
fact the material of the electrode is volatilized. Thus : 
" If a voltaic discharge be taken between zinc terminals 
in an exhausted receiver, a fine black powder of zinc is 
deposited on the side of the receiver : this can be col- 
lected and takes fire readily in the air by being touched 
with a lighted match or ignited wire, instantly burning 
into white oxide of zinc. To an ordinary observer the 
zinc would seem to be burned twice — first in the re- 
ceiver where the phenomenon presents all the appearance 
of combustion, and secondly in the real combustion in 

Modes of Physical Force. 


air. With iron the experiment is equally instructive. 
Iron is volatilized by the voltaic arc in nitrogen or in an 
exhausted receiver : and when a scarcely perceptible film 
has lined the receiver, this is washed with an acid, which 
then gives, with ferro-cyanide of potassium, the prussian- 
blue precipitate. In this case we readily distil iron, a 
metal by ordinary means fusible only at a very high tem- 
perature." A very good vacuum, like that which remains 
in a receiver after carbonic acid has been absorbed by 
caustic potash) will, until it becomes partly filled by the 
volatilization of the material of the electrodes entirely 
stop the discharges of a Rhumkorf coil : and a conductor 
of insufficient dimensions is ignited or actually fused by 
such discharge or by the current equally. Matter is 
needed for the transmission of the electricity in both 
these cases. The matter, too, must be in a particular 
state. One body is favourable to the transmission of 
electricity, another not. The same body may be favour- 
able at one time and unfavourable at another: thus 
carbon is a good conductor in the state of graphite and 
a very bad conductor in the state of diamond. The 
transmission of electricity, that is to say, is dependent 
upon the presence of certain molecular conditions. In 
a certain part of the voltaic circuit these take that form 
of chemical disturbance which is known as electrolysis. 
Whether an analogous condition is present in other 
parts of the circuit is another question, but this must be 
conceded — that there is some material change in these 
other parts. Thus : a wire is fused if it be too small to 
allow the free passage of the current or discharge, and 
even in the case of a thick large wire, stretched as in the 
ordinary telegraph, where little or no heat may be de- 
veloped by the electricity, the sonorous vibrations which 
attend the passage of the electricity, and the manifest 


9 8 

Traces of Unity in the Various 

diminution of tenacity when the wire has been used for 
some time, are only to be explained on the supposition 
that the transmission of the electricity is attended by 
some definite molecular change in the wire. And surely 
the shattering or burning of a house, or other imperfect 
conductor, by lightning, is only still more striking evi- 
dence to the same effect. The case is one, indeed, in 
which it is more than difficult to separate the idea of elec- 
tricity from that of electrolysis. It would seem as if the 
hypothesis of imponderable matter were as gratuitous 
in one case as in the other. It would seem as if electricity 
had as much to do with ponderable matter, and as little 
to do with imponderable matter, as the force of heat or 
the force of gravity even. Like either of these forces it 
would seem to be resolvable into a mode of motion. 
And, certainly, there is no want of agreement between 
electricity and the other modes of physical force on the 
score of correlation. Commencing with electricity as an 
initiating force it is not necessary to go further than 
ordinary electrical attraction and repulsion, as seen in 
the electroscope, to see how the transition into motion 
is effected by a direct path. How electricity directly pro- 
duces heat is seen in the ignited wire, the electric spark, 
and the voltaic arc — heat intense enough to dissipate 
every form of matter being given out in these instances. 
In these instances, too, light and heat are inseparably 
connected : and not less intimate is the direct con- 
nection between electricity and magnetism, for, as is 
shown in many familiar experiments with the coil and 
needle, electricity cannot pass without the generation of 
magnetism. And, lastly, by electricity it is possible to 
obtain effects of analysis and synthesis which are not to 
be got in any other way, and so electricity may be 
looked upon as becoming chemical affinity. In point of 

Modes of Physical Force. 


fact, the rule of correlation holds good with elec- 
tricity no less than with the two modes of physical force 
which have been already under consideration — heat and 

Light and heat have so many points of agreement as 
to make it difficult to conceive of disagreement in their 
relation to matter. " Gases which have transmitted 
light are altered, e.g., chlorine rendered capable of com- 
bining with hydrogen, liquids are altered, per-oxalate of 
iron is chemically changed and gives off carbonic acid, 
and the light which had produced this effect is less 
able to produce them a second time. Solids are altered 
as is shown in the extensive range of photographic 
effects." Fluorescence and phosphorescence may also 
be reckoned as light writing itself as light upon material 
bodies, and remaining legible for some time. The 
luminosity is evidently connected with some material 
change wrought by light, and not passing off at once. 
Sometimes, as in the case of the soap-bubble, iridescence 
has something to do with varying degrees of thickness 
in the transparent film or plate upon which the ray of 
light impinges, a given degree of thickness being con- 
nected with a given colour : and always the colouring 
matter of plants may be held to point to a material 
foundation laid by the light. Light too cannot act upon 
certain liquids and gases without producing those very 
unmistakeable and intelligible material changes which 
are distinguished as chemical. Thus, hydrocyanic acid 
throws down a solid carbonaceous deposit, and is partly 
decomposed in some other ways, when left exposed to 
white light : and thus again, a mixture of chlorine and 
hydrogen, which remains unaltered in the dark, soon 
becomes hydrochloric acid in the light. As is seen in 
this and many other instancies it is more than difficult to 

H 2 

ioo Traces of Unity in the Various 

dc-materialize the notion of light. The case of light, 
indeed, does not seem to differ much from that of heat. 
Nay it does not follow that the passage of light through 
extra-mundane space can be appealed to as a proof that 
light is something independent of matter. For who can 
say that such space is a vacuum in the strict sense of 
the word ? Matter, there is every reason to believe, is 
diffusible to a degree which passes conception, and the 
best vacuum is only a plenum from which some, perhaps 
not very many, of the more solid particles have been 
taken. The Torricellian vacuum over the column of 
mercury in the tube of the barometer is not devoid of 
mercury : and it is difficult to regard the case of this 
vacuum as in any way peculiar in its relation to a plenum. 
Indeed, until it is possible to assign limits to the diffus- 
ibility of matter it seems necessary to believe that cos- 
mical space is riot matterless even when most empty of 
matter — that in this very place, with sufficiently delicate 
tests, might be detected unequivocal traces of every 
material body in the universe, planet, or sun, or star, 
great and small, one and all. Nor does the extreme 
velocity of light present any valid objections to this 
notion. For, as is shewn by the rate at which electri- 
city traverses a metal wire — a case where each 
particle of matter is undoubtedly affected — electricity 
can travel with equal or even greater velocity ; and not 
only so, but — as is proved by Mr. Latimer Clarke in 
some experiments when the wire used was 760 miles in 
length — electricity agrees with light and also with 
sound, in travelling (provided the effects of lateral 
induction be the same) at the same rate of velocity 
whatever be its intensity. Indeed, for anything that 
appears to the contrary, light may be a mode of motion 
in ordinary matter, which has nothing to do with any- 

Modes of Physical Force. 


thing imponderable, be this luminous ether, or any other 
agent of like nature. Or perhaps the residual idea is 
that of motion rather than matter, in which case the 
view taken approximates to that which supposes light 
to be some peculiar rare matter emitted from, that is, 
put in motion by, luminous bodies, as well as to that 
other view, which is now in favour, and which differs in 
this, that this peculiar rare matter is supposed to be, 
not emitted, but put into a state of vibration or undula- 
tion, that is motion, by these bodies. Between these 
views there is agreement so far as the resolution of 
light into motion is concerned, and no great disagree- 
ment even beyond this point, for the material basis of 
the more materialistic view now under consideration is in 
fact rarefiable until it is all but matterless. Be this as 
it may, however, there is one argument in favour of the 
materialistic view which can scarcely be shaken, and 
this is to be found in the facts which go to show that 
light is inseparably connected with the other modes of 
physical force by ties about the existence of which there 
can be no doubt, even those of correlation. Upon this 
point much might be said in the way of proof, but one 
proof which Grove himself supplies, must suffice. " A 
prepared daguerreotype plate is inclosed in a box filled 
with water, having a glass front with a shutter over it. 
Between this glass and the plate is a gridiron of silver 
wire ; the plate is connected metallically with one 
extremity of a galvanometer coil, and the gridiron of 
wire with one extremity of a Brequet's helix — an 
elegant instrument formed by a coil of two metals, the 
unequal expansion of which indicates slight changes in 
temperature— the other extremity of the galvanometer 
and helix are connected by a wire, and the needles 
brought to zero. As soon as a' beam of either daylight, or 

102 Traces of Unity in the Various 

the oxyhydrogcn light, is, by raising the shutter, permitted 
to impinge upon the plate, the needles are deflected. 
Thus, light being the initiating force, we get chemical 
action on the plate, electricity circulating through the 
wires, magnetism in the coil, heat in the helix, and 
motion in the needles." 

There are many facts which seem to connect mag- 
netism with a particular state of matter. One of these is 
to be found in a beautiful experiment by the author of the 
Correlation of the Physical Forces, of which this account 
is given, "A tube filled with, the liquid in which 
magnetic oxide of iron had been prepared, and ter- 
minated at each end by plates of glass, is surrounded 
by a coil of coated wire. To a spectator looking 
through this tube a flash of light is perceptible when- 
ever this coil is electrized, and less light is transmitted 
when the electrical current ceases, showing a symmetri- 
cal arrangement of the minute particles of magnetic 
oxide while under the magnetic influence. In this 
experiment it should be borne in mind that the particles 
of oxide of iron are not shaped by the hand of man, as 
would be the case with iron filings, or similar minute 
portions of magnetic matter, but, being chemically 
precipitated, are of the form given them by nature." 
Another fact, scarcely less striking, is to be found in the 
action of a magnet upon a ray of polarized light. If this 
ray be passed through a column of water or any other 
transparent liquid or solid which is equally incapable of 
deflecting the plane of polarization, in a direction which 
corresponds to the line of magnetic force — the line, that 
is, which unites the poles of the magnet — the column 
acquires, with reference to the light, the property 
belonging to oil of turpentine and certain other bodies, 
of rotating the plane of polarization, to the right if the 

Modes of Physical Force. 103 

ray pass along the line of magnetic force from the north 
pole to the south, to the left in the contrary case ; or if 
the substance through which the ray be transmitted be, 
like turpentine, itself capable of deflecting the plane of 
polarization, then the magnetism, according to its 
direction, increases or diminishes this rotation. Material 
change in connexion with magnetism is also made 
evident in the altered dimensions of a bar of iron in 
passing to or from the magnetic state, as well as in the 
loss of magnetism which is caused by beating or twist- 
ing or heating a magnetized rod of steel ; and there are 
other facts which seem to show that this material 
change has in it something of chemical nature. One of 
these may be found by seeking for it in the composition 
of magnetic oxide of iron, for here is a substance which 
is apparently magnetic because in it two oxides are 
mixed together in certain proportions. The magnetic 
oxide is made by mixing the two non-magnetic oxides, 
and, therefore, this fact may not suffice to connect 
magnetism with material changes of a chemical nature : 
and certainly it does not do this so closely as a fact 
supplied in an experiment of which this account is 
given by Grove. " If a battery of one cell, just capable 
of decomposing water and no more, be employed, this 
will cease to decompose while making a magnet. There 
must, in every case, be preponderating chemical 
affinity in the battery cells, either by the nature of 
its elements or by the reduplication in series, to effect 
decomposition in the voltameter ; and if the point is 
just reached at which this is effected, and the power is 
then reduced by any resistance, decomposition ceases ; 
were it otherwise, were the decomposition in the volta- 
meter the exponent of the entire force of the generating 
cells, and these could independently produce magnetic 

104 Traces of Unity in the Various 

force, this latter force would be got from nothing, and 
perpetual motion be obtained." The whole history of 
static magnetism, moreover, can be scarcely said to point 
beyond matter. This force becomes an initiating force 
when associated with motion, that is, when it is rising or 
falling, or when a magnetized body is moved in the 
neighbourhood : but not otherwise. It does not differ 
from the other physical forces in this respect, for each of 
these has to be initiated in some way : and it certainly 
agrees with them in having a title to membership in the 
same brotherhood, and this the same title, for as is 
shewn in so many different magneto-electric con- 
trivances, when magnetism is associated with motion, 
electricity is at once developed, with heat and light and 
chemical affinity and motion in its train. 

It is difficult not to look upon chemical affinity as a 
mere mode of molecular attraction between dissimilar 
substances. There is nothing about it to make it 
necessary to call in the aid of any mysterious imponder- 
able entity : there is much about it to make it certain 
that it agrees with the other physical forces which have 
been under consideration in being subject to the same 
rule of correlation. What is called voltaic electricity 
might, perhaps more appropriately, be called voltaic 
chemistry. A proportionate and equivalent electrical 
effect is always produced by a given amount of chemical 
action : and if this action be only turned in a given 
direction, as in the voltaic battery, the idea of chemical 
affinity merges in that of electricity, and, once 
developed, this electricity in turn becomes magnetism, 
and heat and light and motion and chemical affinity 
again. The correlation is as comprehensive as it can 
be, no one single force being left out in the cold. The 
case is merely a repetition of the other cases, in each of 

Modes of Physical Force. 

which one of the physical forces has in turn been taken 
as the starting point of enquiry. 

Much, however, remains to be done before the 
subject is exhausted. Much, very much — more a good 
deal than is set forth in the broad resume" of the argu- 
ment which has been given — has been done by the 
author of the Correlation of the Physical Forces, but 
not all. It is left undecided, in particular, whether the 
view propounded is of universal or only of partial 
application — whether cosmical physical forces, light, 
heat, electricity and the rest, are reducible to the same 
rule. What then ? It is, I think, scarcely possible to 
come to an absolute decision upon this point yet. At 
the same time, without closing my eyes, I cannot help 
seeing that even now, there is some reason for widening 
the sphere of the correlation in question until it is co- 
extensive with that of the physical universe. 

It is difficult to regard the heat of the solar ray as a 
distinct force : it is less difficult to regard it as a modifi- 
cation, brought about under particular circumstances, 
of some other force. In distant space this ray is 
coldness itself: and the simple fact appears to be that 
it acquires heat in its transmission through the atmo- 
sphere chiefly. Indeed, the case is one which agrees 
very well with the notion that heat may be correlated 
with the force of gravity, or some other force, and that 
heat is evolved out of this force by the resistance of the 
atmosphere just as heat is evolved out of electricity, by 
the resistance of an insufficient conductor. 

And as with the heat of the solar ray so with the 
light. This ray is invisible unless it be intercepted in its 
passage by some material object, and in distant space, 
for anything that appears to the contrary, it may be as 
lightlcss as it would seem to be heatless, the force of 

io6 Traces of Unity in the Various 

gravity, perhaps, being there all in all. And if so then 
light must be regarded, not as a separate entity, but as 
some other force modified under particular circumstances. 
Indeed, there is no very obvious reason why all that has 
been said of heat may not be said equally of light, and 
why heat and light and the force of gravity should not 
be held to be, not distinct forces, but correlated aspects 
of one and the same force. 

So too with that working of the solar ray which 
displays itself in the direction of chemical affinity. It is 
scarcely possible to think even of referring this to any 
distinct force : it is not difficult to believe that it may 
have to do with light or heat, or with the force of gravity, 
as an altered mode of motion, and nothing else. At all 
events, there can be no possible reason for thinking that 
any valid objection to the doctrine of correlation is to be 
found in the way in which chemical affinity is related to 
the solar ray. 

Nor is this conclusion at variance with the facts 
which have yet to be considered. 

The investigations of the last few years have brought 
to light certain fluctuations and oscillations in atmo- 
spheric electricity which are full of interest in the present 
enquiry. Every day there are two maxima and two 
minima of potential, one maximum between 8 A.M. and 
ii A.M., the other between 7 P.M. and 11 P.M., one 
minimum between 3 P.M. and 7 P.M., the other between 
11 P.M. and 3 A.M. Atmospheric electricity, in fact, 
exhibits tidal movements closely corresponding with 
those to which the barometer bears witness, and pointing 
not less unequivocally to the action of the sun and 
moon upon the earth. Moreover, the fact that the under 
and upper surfaces of the atmosphere are in opposite 
electrical conditions may serve to bring out the same 

Modes of Physical Force. 

action even still more prominently, for, as Sir Wm. 
Thomson points out, this fact is readily accounted for 
by supposing that the atmosphere is a dialectric across 
which the earth and sun and moon act and react upon 
each other inductively, and that the necessary conse- 
quence of this reaction is to charge the two surfaces of the 
atmosphere to a certain depth with opposite electricity. 
The facts, without question, lend themselves readily to 
this view: and there is nothing at all forced in the view 
itself. It is difficult also to avoid the conclusion that 
what appears as atmospheric electricity at one time 
appears as atmospheric heat at another, and vice versa, 
the heat and the electricity being, in fact, inseparably 
correlated. For, to mention only one among many 
other reasons for so thinking— a reason, too, to which 
attention has not yet been directed sufficiently — it is 
surely a significant fact that the electricity and heat of 
the air are inversely related to each other in the 
summer and winter months, the potential being lower 
and the temperature higher in the summer months, the 
temperature being lower and the potential higher in the 
winter months. And if these be the relations between 
electricity and heat it is not very likely that the relations 
between electricity and light will be different : for heat 
and light are so closely related as to make it all but 
certain that what may be said of the one may be said of 
the other also. Nor is it a matter of indifference whether 
it be so or not, for if it be so it is necessary to take a. 
very different view of light and heat to that usually 
taken, and to regard them as originating, not in the sun 
solely, but in an action in which the earth also is con- 
cerned — an action, it may be, of the nature of induction. 
It is necessary, that is to say, to assimilate natural light 
and heat to electric light and heat. There is, as it' 

108 Traces of Unity in Ihc Various 

seems to me, no escape from this conclusion if the 
doctrine of the correlation of the physical forces be 
universally applicable : and, therefore, the only question 
is as to the value of the evidence in support of the 
soundness of the doctrine. And certainly I see no 
reason so far to underrate the value of this evidence. 

About terrestrial magnetism it is less easy to come 
to any conclusion beyond this — that electricity and 
magnetism must stand or fall together. Electricity in 
motion must generate magnetism, and, vice versa, mag- 
netism in motion must generate electricity. This rule, 
however, would seem to fail when it is applied. to the 
explanation of terrestrial magnetism. Here the mag- 
netism is an obvious phenomenon, but where are the 
constant electric currents which ought to pass at right 
angles to the magnetic plane ? There are vague and 
partial and inconstant currents, and that is all. Indeed, 
there seems to be no escape from this dilemma except 
it be that the currents in question are masked, partly by 
passing in a closed circuit through a very ample and 
excellent conductor, and partly by being transformed 
into motion or some other mode of force, and that, after 
all, the magnetism itself may be the only possible mani- 
festation of the currents under the circumstances. 

More than once in the course of these remarks it has 
been hinted that the force of gravity may be obedient to 
the law of correlation about which so much has been 
said, but here again the subject is beset with difficulties 
which are not easily disposed of. By the force of gravity 
all material bodies, quite irrespective of their molecular 
condition, are supposed to attract each other propor- 
tionately to their mass, and inversely as the square of 
their distance. The law is that of any other attractive 
force, but the force itself is held to be independent. 

Modes of Physical Force. 1 09 

The idea is one which excludes anything like that of 
correlation with electricity or any other force— which 
has nothing whatever to do with any change of the 
nature of induction more especially, for if it had it might 
be difficult to avoid the conclusion that the force of 
gravity is in some way connected with a force of repul- 
sion, and that there might be a very intimate connexion 
between electro-magnetic movements and those move- 
ments in the production of which the force of gravity is 
held to have so much to do. These are questions, how- 
ever, which may perhaps be entertained at the end of 
this volume in a supplement, but which are out of place 
now, where it must suffice to have noticed that the force 
of gravity is obedient to the same law as that which 
rules all other attractive forces, and that it seems to be 
correlated with light and heat and chemical affinity and 
electricity and magnetism in the very closest manner. 

More might easily be said upon the correlation of 
the physical forces, but not without venturing further 
than I am prepared to go : and I therefore bring my 
remarks to a close abruptly by simply saying that the 
idea of unity underlies that of correlation, and that, so 
far as I can see, the two ideas must stand or fall 


Chapter II. 


On several occasions during the last five-and-twenty 
years I have attempted to show that a radical change 
is necessary in the doctrine of vital motion — that, in 
fact, vital motion is to be regarded as a mode of 
physical motion. The argument is too long and com* 
plicated to allow of justice being done to it in the short 
space at my disposal. Indeed, all that I can now do is 
merely to refer to my last publication on the subject,* 
for everything in the shape of demonstration, and to 
reproduce, with a few omissions and additions, what is 
there said by way of introduction, and to give a brief 
resuind of the argument — to do as much as may be 
necessary (and no more) to state the case, and to show 
broadly how I have ventured to deal with it. 


More than five-and-twenty years ago my faith in all 
that I had been taught to believe about vital motion 
received a rude shock in this way. I happened to be 
present at an experiment in which a rabbit was killed 
by injecting a solution of strychnia under the skin ; I 
watched the strong cramps produced by the poison, and 

* " Vital Motion as a Mode of Physical Motion." Post Svo. Mac- 
millan, 1876. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


Wished again and again for death to come and put an 
end to them: I was amazed to find that the spasm 
seemed to keep firm hold in spite of death : I had to wait 
until the evening of the fourth day after death, when 
putrefaction had evidently set in, before any unmistake- 
able signs of muscular relaxation were to be detected. 
The animal, when the spasms were at their height, 
stood tip-toe on its up-stretched hind legs, leaning 
against a hamper which happened to be within reach, 
pawing the air, and with the body arched backward 
until the ears lay over the scut — a rampant position 
from which it must have fallen down at once if the 
muscular contraction had yielded for a moment to relax- 
ation ; and yet it did not so fall until the muscles were 
softened by putrefaction. This is what I witnessed. 
It seemed as if the spasmodic rigidity which existed 
before death had passed without any interval of relax- 
ation into the cadaveric rigidity which always comes on, 
sooner or later, after death, and which is only relaxed by 
the actual decomposition of the muscular tissue. It 
seemed as if the spasm had passed at once into rigor 
mortis. At first all my prejudices were against such a 
notion ; in the end, I came to believe, most Unhesitatingly, 
that a radical change was necessary in the doctrine of 
vital motion, — that the interpretation of spasm was to 
be sought, not on the side of life, but on that of death, 
that spasm and rigor mortis were to be regarded, not 
as signs of vital action in certain vital properties of con- 
tractility, but as physical phenomena akin to, if not 
identical with, the return of an elastic body from a pre- 
vious state of extension, — that muscular contraction in 
all its forms might be the simple consequence of the 
operation of the natural attractive force or forces in- 
herent in the physical constitution of the muscular mole- 

1 1 2 Traces of Unity in 

cules, — that life is concerned in antagonizing contraction 
rather than in causing it, — that this antagonizing in- 
fluence itself might have a physical basis, — that, in short, 
vital motion might have to be regarded as a mode of 
physical motion. 

And yet more did this conviction grow in strength 
on the food supplied by two other facts to which my 
attention was called at a later period. 

Of these two facts the first was brought to light in an 
epileptic patient in whom it had been thought expedient 
to try and cut short a succession of very violent convul- 
sions by taking blood from the temporal artery. The 
artery was divided when the fit was at its height, and 
the blood escaped by jets in the usual way, but not of 
the usual colour. Instead of being red, the blood was 
black ; instead of being arterial, that is to say, it was 
venous. The state during the convulsion was evidently 
that of suffocation ; and, on this account, black unae'rated 
blood had found its way into the arteries, and was 
being driven through them at the time. The case was 
intelligible enough as regards the suffocation, for in this 
state the simple fact is, that black blood does for a time 
penetrate into and pass along the arteries ; but it was 
not intelligible as regards convulsion, if convulsion were, 
as it is assumed to be, a sign of exalted vital action. 
I could connect such exaltation with increased supply of 
red blood to certain nerve-centres, but not with the 
utterly contrary state of things involved in the actual 
circulation of black blood ; and, do what I would, I 
could see no other conclusion than that which had 
been already forced upon me by the history of the 
poisoned rabbit, namely this, that the convulsion 
pointed to a state of tilings which had to do with death 
rather than with life, — that, in short, this state of muscu- 

Vital and Physical Mo/ion. 1 1 3 

lar contraction was due, not to the black blood having 
acted as a stimulus, but to the withdrawal of an in- 
hibitory influence which had served to keep up the 
state of muscular relaxation as long as certain nerve- 
centres were duly supplied with red blood. 

And so likewise with the second of the two facts to 
which I have alluded. I had the good fortune to be 
present on one occasion when Matteucci was watching 
the action of strychnia upon the common electric ray of 
the Mediterranean. I saw very plainly that this action 
was marked by involuntary electric shocks as well 
as by involuntary spasms, and I was much struck by 
what was said by this excellent physiologist in support 
of the notion that muscular contraction was attended 
by a discharge analogous to that of the torpedo, and 
that there was much in common between the action of 
the electric organ and the action of the muscles : and, 
so seeing and hearing, I could not help wondering 
whether muscular relaxation might not be the con- 
sequence of the muscular molecules being kept in a 
state of mutual repulsion by the presence of an electrical 
charge, and whether the discharge of this charge might 
not bring about muscular contraction by allowing the 
attractive force or forces inherent in the physical con- 
stitution of the muscular molecules to come into 
play. I could, indeed, bring myself to adopt no other 
conclusion than this : and thus it was that this experi- 
ment upon the torpedo proved to be the means of 
adding not a little strength and definitiveness to the 
conviction at which I had already arrived respecting 
vital motion. 

Looking back, I can now see plainly enough that there 
are not a few faults and shortcomings in the argument 
by which hitherto I have hoped to bring others to the 


ii 4 

Traces of Unity in 

same way of thinking with myself in this matter. About 
the first published statement* of this argument, I 
may say, in the words of Dryden, that it was ' only a 
confused mass of thoughts tumbling over one another 
in the dark, when the fancy was yet in its first work, 
moving the sleeping images of things towards the 
light, there to be distinguished, and then either chosen 
or rejected by the judgement : ' and, most certainly, 
no feeling of complacency is called up by the re- 
membrance of any other statement published subse- 
quently-^. I should, in fact, be very glad if much that 
I have written on this subject at different times could 
be cancelled. 

What has been done, however, has been done, and all 
that I can do is to express the hope that anyone who 
chooses to interest himself in this matter will do me the 
justice to take nothing short of what is stated in my last 
work || as a sufficient statement of the case of vital motion 
as it now stands. 

The history of vital motion reveals sundry changes 
of opinion about which it is expedient to know some- 
thing before proceeding further. 

In the days of Thales — beyond which it is difficult 
to go back — any movement would seem to have been 
referred to a living being of some sort with which the 

* "Philosophy of Vital Motion." 8vo. Churchill, 1851. 

t " Epileptic and other Convulsive Affections of the Nervous System." 
(Incorporating the Gulstonian Lectures for i860.) 3rd edition. Post 8vo. 
Churchill, 1861. 

t " Lectures on certain Diseases of the Nervous System." Delivered 
at the Royal College of Physicians. Post8vo. Churchill, 1S64. 

§ " Dynamics of Nerve and Muscle." Post 8vo. Macmillan & Co., 

|| "Vital Motion as a Mode of Physical Motion." Post 8vo. Mac- 
millan, 1X76. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 

moving thing was supposed to be possessed at the 

Hippocrates believed in the universal presence of a 
living, intelligent, active principle, to which he gave the 
name of nature (<f)vai<;), and to him, as to many in the 
present day, it was enough to refer motion to nature — to 
regard it as natural. The power of motion, indeed, was 
one of the faculties with which the principle of nature 
was endowed. 

Plato says little to the point. With him science 
merged in philosophy and theology ; to him vital motion, 
and motion generally, when traced to its source, resolved 
itself into a display of divine power. 

Aristotle, the great contemporary of Plato, recog- 
nized, not a Divine Being as Plato did, but a First 
Moving Cause, a primum mobile, one in essence, eternal, 
immaterial, at once immoveable, and the spring of all 
movement. According to him, this First Moving Cause 
worked in the living body (£&>oj>) through the instrumen- 
tality of a principle which was distinctive of this body, 
and to which he gave the name of soul (^rvxv) — a prin- 
ciple possessing various energies or faculties of its own, 
distinct from the organs in which it was manifested, and 
yet requiring these organs for its manifestations. To 
this soul, when most developed, belonged several faculties 
(Svvd/ieii) — the faculty of receiving nourishment (Buvafiis 
OpeiniKr)), the faculty of sensation (8. alad^riicrj), the 
faculty of motion in place (8. KivrjTtK)]), the faculty of 
impulse or desire (8. opeTiKij), the faculty of intelligence 
(8. 8tavovTLKrj). Vegetables even, by having the lowest 
of these faculties, the threptic, were supposed to have 
souls. Moreover, it is hinted that the seat of this kinetic 
faculty in animals is in the muscles, and that — a conjec- 
ture for which Praxagoras, who lived two hundred years 

! 2 


Traces oj Unity in 

previously, ought to have credit — there were nerves, 
some of which had to do with movement and others with 
sensation. Nay, it is scarcely just to speak of the 
localization of the kinetic faculty in the muscles as being 
only hinted at, for this was the definite conclusion at 
which Aristotle arrived after witnessing the working of 
the intercostal muscles of a living chameleon as displayed 
under the transparent pleura. 

After this time, for a thousand years and more, when 
anything was done in this direction it was little beyond 
a servile copying of what had been said by Hippocrates 
and Aristotle. Even Galen had nothing to say that was 
really new ; nor yet the schoolmen of the middle ages, 
with many of whom the notions chiefly in the ascendant 
were those of alchemy and magic and astrology. At the 
revival of letters, indeed, the only light of importance 
was that derived from the old Greek fathers in science ; 
and at the end of this epoch no new light had arisen to 
dissipate the darkness. No new light, for instance, was 
shed by the doctrine of occult causes which found most 
favour in these times — that there were elementary spirits, 
intermediate between material and immaterial beings, in 
the four elements of air, water, fire, and earth — sylvans 
or fairies in the air, nymphs and undines in the water, 
salamanders in the fire, gnomes, trolls, pigmies, spirits 
of the mine, little folks, little people, cobolds, in the 
earth, — that the body had its double or daemon, called 
Archseus, whose primary function was to superintend 
the work of the stomach, and who managed the various 
functions of the body, that of motion included, through 
the instrumentality of a legion of underling deputies un- 
dignified by any distinctive names. 

Indeed, it was not until Von Helmont, Stahl, and 
Hoffman appeared on the scene that the notions handed 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


down from the ancients began to be materially modified, 
and to take the forms belonging to modern times. 

With Paracelsus, Von Helmont held that the Archasus 
and its underlings were the agents in all vital manifesta- 
tions, but he also thought for himself a little, for to him 
belongs the credit, if credit it be, of being the first to 
maintain that the living body had powers of a specific 
character altogether different from those belonging to 
inanimate nature. 

Accepting the doctrine that there was one law for 
animate and another for inanimate nature, Stahl went 
further, and maintained that matter is essentially and 
necessarily passive and inert, and that all its active 
properties or powers are derived from a specific and 
immaterial animating principle imparted to it — a prin- 
ciple to which he gave the name oi anima. The body, 
he held, as body, has no power to move itself. All vital 
motion is the result of animation. The physical powers 
of matter, which have only free play after death, are in 
every way opposed to, and controlled by, the anima, 
of which he further says, as the followers of Hippocrates 
said of nature, that "it does without teaching and 
without consideration what it ought to do ; *' — a remark 
which makes it evident that the anima of Stahl is not 
to be confounded with the conscious personal Archaeus 
of Paracelsus and Von Helmont. 

What Stahl explained in this way, Hoffmann, who 
took the next noticeable step in advance, explained on 
the hypothesis of nervous influence, or nerve-fluid, what- 
ever that may mean. By this influence or fluid, accord- 
ing to him, the moving fibres have a certain power of 
action, or tone, which may be increased or diminished. 
If increased unduly, spasm is the result: if decreased, 


Traces of Unity in 

Next in order have to be named Glisson, Haller, and 
the Brown, known as the author of the Brunonian system 
of medicine, men whose speculations form the basis of 
the doctrine of vital movement now in favour. 

Glisson, an eminent professor at Cambridge in his 
day, was the first to advance the present doctrine of 
muscular irritability. He asserted that there was in 
muscle a specific vital property, to which he gave this 
name, and that contraction was due to this property 
being in some way put in action. 

Haller expanded this idea, and drew for the first time 
a line of distinction between the special vital property of 
muscle and the special vital property of nerve. He 
retained the name of irritability for this property in 
muscle : he gave the name of sensibility to this property 
in nerve. Each property was something vital, something 
departing at death, and therefore in nowise akin to any 
power in inanimate nature. The property was a life of 
which muscular contraction and nervation were acts. 

Brown, starting from this point, added another idea — 
that of stimulation. Everything acting upon the vital 
property of irritability or sensibility (to which he gave 
the common name of excitability), according to him 
acted as an excitant or stimulus. Action is caused by 
a process of stirring-up, as it were, the capacity for action 
being asleep, or at rest, until it is so stirred-up. The 
idea would seem to be none other than that all vital 
movement in its nature is identical with that which is 
produced by teasing a sleeping man until he wakes up 
and strikes about him in anger. 

And this doctrine of vital motion, which thus took 
form in the speculations of Glisson, Haller, and Brown, is, 
with little change, the doctrine at present in favour. 
In point of fact, the position taken at present has but 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


little shifted since the days of the schoolmen, when 
occult qualities of one kind or another were thought to 
be a sufficient explanation for everything — when, for 
example, terreity, aqueity, and sulphureity, the occult 
qualities of the three elements, earth, water, and sulphur, 
of which, in varying proportions, according to Paracelsus, 
all bodies are composed, were supposed to account for 
all that was general in these bodies, — when Petreity was 
thought to be a sufficient explanation of the peculiarities 
distinguishing Peter from Paul or other men, — when the 
answer of Argan* to the question, ' quare opium facit 
dormire,' in the mock examination for the diploma of 
physician, would have been listened to without a smile 
if it had been given in sober earnest before the exa- 
miners of a real faculty of medicine : — 

Mihi a docto doctore 
Demandatur causam et rationem quare 
Opium facit dormire. 
Et ego respondeo 
Quia est in eo 
Virtus dormitiva 
Cujus est natura 
Sensus assoupire. 

For in referring vital motion to a property of irrita- 
bility, what more is done than to say, that the moving 
body moves because it is actuated by an occult quality 
which is suspiciously akin to terreity, aqueity, or sul- 
phureity, or to Petriety, or to the ' virtus dormitiva ' of 
opium in the comedy ? ' To tell us,' as Newton said, 
' that every species of thing is endowed with an occult 
specific quality is to tell us nothing: Even to say that 
the phenomenon is vital, is, as Whewell remarks, ' very 
* Moliere " La Malade Imaginaire : ' 3ieme inlermide. 

1 20 

Traces of Unity in 

prejudicial to the progress of knowledge by stopping 
enquiry by a mere word! Moreover, the very assump- 
tion upon which the doctrine in question is based — that 
vital motion is altogether distinct from physical motion 
— is itself not altogether satisfactory. 'At the best,' 
as Coleridge says,* ' it can only be regarded as a hasty 
deduction from the first superficial notions of the objects 
that surround us, sufficient, perhaps, for the purpose of 
ordinary discrimination, but far too indeterminate and 
diffluent to be taken unexamined by the philosophic 
enquirer. * * * * By a comprisal of the petitio 
principii with the argumentum in circulo — in plain 
English, by an easy logic which begins by begging the 
question, and then, moving in a circle, comes round to 
the point where it begins — each of the two divisions has 
been made to define the other by a mere re-assertion of 
their assumed contrariety. The physiologist has lumi- 
nously explained y + x by informing us that it was a 
somewhat that is the antithesis of y — x, and if we ask 
what then is y — x, the answer is, the antithesis of 
y + x ; — a reciprocation that may remind us of the 
twin sisters in the fable of the Lamias, with one eye 
between them both, which each borrowed from the other 
as either happened to want it, but with this additional 
disadvantage, that in the present case it is, after all, but 
an eye of glass.' 

At the time of Paracelsus the facts of chemistry 
began to occupy a large share of the attention of 
philosophers, and soon afterwards a school, called the 
iatro-chemical school, propounded various physiological 
doctrines founded upon chemistry. The opposition of 

* " Hints towards the Formation of a more Comprehensive Theory ol 
Life." By S. T Coleridge. Ed. by Dr. Seth B. Watson. Churchill, 

Vital and Physical Motion. 

I 2 1 

acid and alkali, and the workings of ferments of one 
kind or another, were supposed to supply the solution 
of many problems in vitality. Then came the hope, 
kindled naturally by the splendid discoveries of Galileo 
and Newton in physical science, that the mechanical 
principles of the macrocosm would supply the key to all 
requiring interpretation in the microcosm — a hope which 
called into existence the so-called iatro-mathematical or 
mechanical physiologists. The question was of the 
cohesion, the attraction, the resistance, the gravity, which 
operate in inert matter, and of mechanical impulse and 
elasticity, not of powers of a higher order. It was 
believed that, all the various bodily functions were 
problems to be solved, as so many hydraulic or hydro- 
static problems chiefly, partly by gravitation and the 
laws of motion, and partly by chemistry, which itself, as 
far as its theory was concerned, was but a branch of 
mechanics, working exclusively by imaginary wedges, 
angles, and spheres. The restoration of ancient geo- 
metry, aided by the modern invention of algebra, had 
placed the science of mechanism on the philosophical 
throne. It was thus, for example, that Borelli dealt 
with the problem of muscular motion, and after him 

As far back also as the time of the great Bacon, 
Gilbert had struck out a new path in the same direction, 
the following out of which has led to more satisfactory 
results than any of those arrived at by the intro-mathe- 
matical school in their own particular lines of enquiry. 
He had investigated the phenomena of magnetism with 
much success, and, by continually poring over this sub- 
ject, had come to believe that magnetism supplied the 
key to vital movement, and to vital and physical pro- 
blems in general ; but his speculations bore little or no 

I 22 

Traces of Unity in 

fruit, and are chiefly of interest as being the first step in 
an inquiry which did not really begin until two hundred 
years later, when an event occurred in a house in Bologna 
which marks the birth of a new epoch in the philosophy 
of vital motion, and on which it may be well to dwell 
for a moment or two. The house is in the Via Ugo 
Bassi, gia Strada Felice. The event is commemorated 
on a marble slab over the doorway in these words : — 

LuiGl Galvani 
in questa casa 
di sua temporaria dimora 

al primi di settembre 
dell' anno MDCCLXXXVI 
scoperse dalle morte rane 
La Elettricita Animale 
Fonte di maravigtie 
a tutti secoli. 

The actual event was this. Experimenting with an 
ordinary electrical machine at no great distance from a 
plate on which lay a number of frogs' legs prepared for 
cooking, and noticing that these legs jumped whenever 
he drew a spark from the prime conductor, it occurred to 
Galvani that the parts which had been intended simply 
as a dish for dinner might be made to do good service 
as electroscopes in some experiments on atmospheric 
electricity in which he was then engaged. Thereupon, 
he and his nephew Camillo Galvani, who happened to 
be his companion at the time, ascended to a belvedere 
which served the purpose of an electrical observatory, 
and at once proceeded to put the idea in practice. It 
was expected that the limbs which had jumped in obedi- 
ence to discharges of franklinic electricity might also 
jump in obedience to discharges of atmospheric elec- 

Vital and Physical Motion. 1 23 

tricity ; and in order to see whether they would do so 
or not, they were suspended, by means of small hooks 
of iron wire, upon certain iron bars or stays which 
stretched horizontally across the chords of the arched 
openings by which three sides of the belvedere were 
pierced. The time was a calm and cloudless evening in 
which there seemed to be little chance of meeting with 
any of the latter discharges ; and yet the limbs were 
found to jump whenever the iron hooks by which they 
were suspended were pressed upon by the finger, and 
not unfrequently when they were let alone. Describing 
what happened, Galvani says, 'Ranas itaque consueto 
more paratas uncino ferreo earum spinali medulla per- 
forata atque appensa, septembris initio (1786) die ves- 
perascente supra parapetto horizontaliter collocavimus. 
Uncinus ferream laminam tangebat : en motus in rana 
spontanei, varii, haud infrequentes. Si digito uncinulum 
adversus ferream superficiem premeretur, quiescentes 
excitabantur, et toties ferme quoties hujusmodi pressio 
adhiberetur.'* The house, the wooden flight of steps 
leading from the principal staircase to the belvedere, the 
belvedere itself, the iron bars upon which the limbs were 
suspended, are still there, or were there the other day 
when I made a pilgrimage to the spot ; and even the 
presence of Galvani himself may be recalled by the help 
of a portrait which hangs in the open landing upon the 
wall facing the locked entrance to the stairs leading to the 
belvedere. In this place, and in this way, was the dis- 
covery made which is commemorated on the slab in the 
front of the house as the well-head of wonders for all 
ages, ' fonte di maraviglie a tutti secoli,' and of which, 
a short time before the close of the last century, the 
illustrious author of Cosmos wrote, ' le nom de Galvani 

* " De Viribus Electricitatis in motu musculari Commcntarius," 1 791. 


Traces of Unity in 

ne peVira point; les sifecles futurs profiteront de sa 
decouverte, et, comme le dit Brandes, ils reconnaitront 
que la physiologic doit a Galvani et a Harvey ses deux 
bases principales.'* At this time, then, and in this 
place, Galvani saw the contractions he describes, and 
discovered or rather divined, in them the existence of 
animal electricity. How, he asked himself, were these 
contractions to be accounted for ? They could not be 
due to discharges of atmospheric electricity, for the sky 
at the time presented no indications of electric disturb- 
ance : they could not be due to the discharges which 
gave rise to them within the house, for the electric 
machine, which remained behind, was then at rest : they 
could not be due, that is to say, to discharges of either of 
the two kinds of electricity then known ; and having 
arrived at this point, he jumped from it to the conclusion, 
that the limbs themselves must have an electricity of 
their own, and that the contractions were brought about 
by discharges of this electricity. It never occurred to 
him to doubt that electricity was the agent at work in 
causing these contractions : and, in short, he did not 
hesitate to conclude, not only that the contractions were 
in themselves abundant proof of the existence of animal 
electricity, but also that the muscular fibres are charged 
during rest as Leyden jars are charged, and that muscular 
contraction is the sign and effect of the discharge of this 
charge, the discharge, in one way or another, being 
brought about by an electrical action of the nerves upon 
the muscles. 

From this time until the day of his death, Galvani 
went on performing experiment after experiment, sacri- 

* "Experiences sur le galvanisme, et en general sur l'irritation des 
fibres musculaires et nerveuses." F. A. Humboldt. Traduit par J. F. N. 
Jadelot. 8vo. Pans, 1799, p. 361. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 125 

firing hecatombs of frogs, and never wavering in his 
belief in the existence of animal electricity, or in the 
conclusion he had come to respecting the action of this 
electricity in vital motion : but during his lifetime he 
was destined to be foiled in his hopes to bring others to 
the same mind with himself, and that too by a weapon 
which lay hid in one of his own experiments. The 
experiment in question was one in which a galvanoscopic 
frog* was thrown into a state of momentary contraction 
by placing a conducting arc, of which one-half was 
silver and the other half copper, between the lumbar 
nerves and the crural muscles. Galvani, as was his 
wont, explained these contractions by supposing that 
the conducting arc had served to discharge animal 
electricity, and that the contractions were the result 
of the discharge. Volta, on the other hand, was of 
opinion that the electricity producing these contractions 
originated in certain reactions between the silver and 
copper portions of the conducting arc ; and he was not 
shaken in this view by what he did afterwards, for, wish- 
ing to confirm it, he began a series of investigations 
which ended in the discovery of the voltaic pile and 
battery — a discovery which filled all minds with wonder, 
and for a long time afterwards diverted attention 
altogether from the consideration of the claims of 
animal electricity. In the meantime, however, while 
Volta was demonstrating the existence of that electricity 
which originates in the reaction of heterogeneous bodies, 
and which is now known as voltaic electricity, Galvani 
continued his search after animal electricity, and made 
many important discoveries as he went along. He dis- 

* The galvanoscopic frog was prepared from the hinder half of the 
animal, by stripping off the skin, and dissecting away all the parts between 
the thighs and the fragment of the spine except the principal nerves. 

Traces of Unity in 

covered, among other things, that a galvanoscopic frog 
would contract without the help of a conducting arc 
composed of heterogeneous metals. He discovered, not 
only that these contractions would happen when this 
arc was composed of a single metal, but also that an 
arc composed of muscle or nerve would answer the 
same purpose as the metallic arc. He also discovered 
that the limb of a galvanoscopic frog, of which the 
nerve had been divided high up in the loins, would con- 
tract at the moment when the end of the nerve below 
the line of section was brought down and made to 
touch a part of the trunk of the same nerve. At last, 
indeed, he hit upon an experiment in which he seemed 
to have to do with an electricity other than that arising 
from the reaction of heterogeneous bodies — an elec- 
tricity which must belong to the animal tissues them- 
selves. He did much, but he did not do enough to win 
the battle in which he was engaged, for Volta still kept 
his position, denying the existence of animal electricity, 
and maintaining that the electricity which produced the 
contractions in the galvanoscopic frog was always due 
to electricity arising in the reaction of heterogeneous 
bodies of one kind or other — silver and copper, metal 
and organic tissue, muscle and nerve, nerve in one state 
with nerve in another, as the case might be.* 

In 1799, Humboldt took up the question at issue 
between Galvani and Volta, and published a workf in 
which he shows by many new and curious experiments 
that there was error on both sides — that Volta was 
wrong in ignoring altogether the influence of animal 
electricity in Galvani's experiments, and that Galvani 
was not less wrong in recognising nothing but this in- 

* "Ann. de Chim.," T. xxiii, pp. 276 and 301. 
+ Op. cit. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 1 2 7 

fluence. He, himself, as is proved in the extract already 
given, was a firm believer in animal electricity ; but he 
failed to supply reasons for this belief which can be 
regarded as thoroughly satisfactory at the present day. 
Still, he did something in this direction by making out 
— first, that the agent assumed to exist, and to be 
animal electricity, has this in common with electricity, 
that its action is permitted by conductors and prevented 
by non-conductors ; and, secondly, that it is not to be 
confounded with voltaic electricity, because the action, 
which is permitted by conductors, is possible across a 
gap in the circuit which would allow the passage of 
franklinic electricity, but which would altogether prevent 
that of voltaic electricity — would allow, that is to say, 
electricity of high tension to pass, but not electricity of 
low tension. What Humboldt did, in fact, was to in- 
crease the probabilities of the existence of animal 
electricity not a little, and at the same time to make it 
appear that this electricity would prove to be of higher 
tension than voltaic electricity under ordinary circum- 

In 1803, Aldini, Galvani's nephew,* published an 
account of certain experiments which furnish further 
evidence in favour of the existence of animal electricity, 
by showing that living animal tissues are capable of 
giving rise to attractions and repulsions which seem to 
be no other than electrical attractions and repulsions. 
' I held,' he says, ' the muscles of a prepared frog in 
one of my hands, moistened with salt and water, and 
brought a finger of the other hand, well moistened in 

* " Account of the late Improvements in Galvanism, with a series of 
curious and interesting experiments performed before the Commissioners of 
the French National Institute, and repeated in the Anatomical Theatres of 
London, &c." 4to. London, 1803. 


Traces of Unity in 

the same way, near to the crural nerves. When the frog 
possessed a great deal of vitality, the crural nerves 
gradually approached my hand, and strong contractions 
took place at the moment of contact.' And again : — 
' Being desirous to render this phenomenon more 
evident, I formed the arc by applying one of my hands 
to the spinal marrow of a warm-blooded animal, while 
I held the frog in such a manner that its crural nerves 
were brought very near to the abdominal muscle. By 
this arrangement the attraction of the nerves of the frog 
became very evident.' 

About this time, however, the discovery of the 
voltaic battery had given the victory to the opinions 
of Volta — a victory so complete that nothing more 
was heard about animal electricity for the next thirty 

In 1827, Nobili* brought back the subject of animal 
electricity to the thoughts of physiologists by discover- 
ing an electric current in the frog. He made this dis- 
covery by means of the very sensitive galvanometer 
which he himself had invented a short time previously 
— an instrument which, as perfected by Professor Du 
Bois-Reymond and others, by Sir William Thomson 
more especially, ought to be as prominent an object as 
the microscope in the laboratory of every physiologist. 
Immersing each end of the coil of the instrument in a 
vessel containing either simple water or brine, and com- 
pleting the circuit between the two vessels with a gal- 
vanoscopic frog — the fragment of the spine being im- 
mersed in one vessel, and the paws in the other — he 
found that there was a current in the frog from the feet 
upwards, which current would cause a considerable per- 
manent deflection of the needle — to 30° or more, if brine 

* "Bibl. Univ.," 1828, T. xxxvii, p. 10. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 

1 29 

were used, to io°, or thereabouts, if water were sub- 
stituted for brine. Nobili supposed that this current 
was peculiar to the frog, and in this he erred ; but he 
did, nevertheless, a great thing, for, by this experiment, 
he furnished the first unequivocal proof of the real 
existence of animal electricity. 

Twelve or thirteen years later, Matteucci published 
an essay* which, as M. De la Rive says.t ' restored to 
animal electricity the place which it ought to occupy in 
electrical and physiological phenomena.' This essay, 
moreover, had a great indirect influence upon the for- 
tunes of animal electricity, for M. Du Bois-Reymond, as 
he himself tells us, was led to undertake the investiga- 
tions which have made his name famous in this depart- 
ment of physiology by the inspiration arising from its 

The joint labours of MM. Matteucci and Du Bois- 
Reymond have left no. room for entertaining any doubt 
as to the reality of animal electricity. This will appear 
sufficiently in the sequel, when many of the experiments 
which furnish the demonstration will have to be referred 
to particularly. In the meantime, it may be said that 
Matteucci has demonstrated in the most unequivocal 
manner that animal electricity is capable of decompos- 
ing iodide of potassium, and of giving 'signes de 
tension avec un condensateur delicat/J as well as of 
producing movement in the needle of the galvanometer ; 
and not only so, but also — a fact, the discovery of which 
will always give Matteucci a place in the very foremost 
rank of physiological discoverers— that muscular con- 

• " Traite des PWnomenes Electro-physiologiques des Animaux." 
Paris. 1844. 

+ "A Treatise on Electricity, in Theory and Practice." Translated by 
C. V. Walker. 8vo. Longman. 1853-1858. 

% "Coursd'Electro-Physiologie." Paris. 1858. 



Traces of Unity in 

traction is accompanied by an electrical discharge 
analogous to that of the torpedo. And as for M. Du 
Bois-Reymond,* it may be said that he has demon- 
trated most conclusively that there are electrical cur- 
rents in nerve — in brain, spinal cord, and other great 
nerve-centres, in sensory, motor, and mixed nerves, in 
the minutest fragment as well as in masses of consider- 
able size, — that the electrical current of muscle, which 
had been already discovered by Matteucci, may be 
traced from the entire muscle to the single primitive 
fasciculus, — that Nobili's ' frog-current,' instead of 
being peculiar to the frog, is nothing more than the out- 
flowing of the currents from the muscles and nerves, — 
that the law of the current of the muscle in the frog 
is the same as that of the current of muscle in man, rab- 
bits, guinea-pigs and mice, in pigeons and sparrows, in 
tortoises, lizards, adders, toads, tadpoles, and salamanders, 
in tench, in freshwater crabs, in glow-worms, in earth- 
worms — in creatures belonging to every department of 
the animal kingdom, — that the law of the current in 
muscle agrees in every particular with the law of the 
current in nerve, and also with that of the feeble cur- 
rents that are met with in tendon and other living 
tissues, — and that there are sundry changes in the current 
of muscle and nerve under certain circumstances, as 
during muscular contraction, during nervous action, 
under the influence of continuous and interrupted voltaic 
currents, and so on, which changes, as I shall hope to 
show in due time, are of fundamental importance in 
clearing up much that would otherwise be impenetrable 
darkness in the physiology of muscular action and sen- 

Before the discovery of the galvanometer the atten- 

* " Unteisuclumgcn iiber thierischc Electricttat. " Berlin. 1849,1853. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 

tion of those who cared to meddle in these matters v/as 
directed exclusively to the static phenomena of animal 
electricity. Then the only definite electrical ideas were, 
charge on the one hand, and discharge on the other. 
After the discovery of the galvanometer, the original 
point of view was abandoned altogether, or nearly so, 
and the attention diverted from the static to the current 
phenomena of electricity. And herein, as I believe, was 
an unmixed misfortune. In making out the electrical 
history of living creatures there is work to be done which, 
as will be seen in due time, can only be done with the 
electrometer ; and, for my own part, I am disposed to 
assign to the new quadrant electrometer of Sir William 
Thomson a position in these investigations which is 
every whit as important as that which can be assigned 
to the galvanometer, and to think that the apparatus 
of any physiological laboratory would, to say the least, 
be far from complete in which this instrument was 

And thus, by the fact of the existence of animal elec- 
tricity being now established beyond question, the way 
is more prepared than it was in the days of Galvani for 
the adoption of any view of vital motion in which animal 
electricity has to serve as the basis. 

There are also others who must be named as taking 
what is substantially the same view as that taken by 
Galvani, and who have a just claim to be commemorated 
in these introductory remarks, about whose views I 
would say, what I would also say about the views of 
Galvani, that I was in complete ignorance of them for 
long after the time when my own thoughts on the sub- 
ject had been made public. 

The name to be mentioned first in order here is that 
of the late Dr. West, of Alford, in Lincolnshire. As early 

K 2 


Traces of Unity in 

as 1832,* in some remarks upon the influence of the 
nerves upon muscular contractility, this writer main- 
tains, 'that the nervous influence which is present in re- 
laxed muscular fibre is the only influence which the 
nerves of volition possess over that tissue ; that its office 
there is to restrain or control the tendency to contract 
which is inherent in the muscle ; and that contraction 
can only take place when by an act of the will this in- 
fluence is suspended, the ihuscle being then left to act 
according to its own innate properties ;' . . . and 
again, ' that nervous influence is imparted to muscular 
fibre for the purpose of restraining its contraction, and 
that the action of the will, and of all other disposers to 
contraction, is simply to withdraw for a while this in- 
fluence, so as to allow the peculiar property of muscular 
fibre to show itself.' The co-existence of spasmodic 
action with nervous debility, the efficacy of stimulants 
as antispasmodics, and the postponement of rigor rnortis 
until all traces of nervous action have disappeared, are 
the principal facts which are advanced in support of the 
probability of this theory. 

A similar idea appears to have been also hinted at 
by Sir Charles Bell in a lecture at the Royal College of 
Surgeons of England, for, after premising that the ques- 
tion could never be settled, the lecturer said, ' that 
relaxation might be the act, and not contraction, and 
that physiologists, in studying the subject, had too much 
neglected the consideration of the mode by which 
relaxation is effected.' This remark is preserved by Dr. 
West in the essay to which reference has just been 

* "On the Influence of the Nerves over Muscular Contractility," 
"London Medical and Surgical Journal," edited by Michael Ryan, M.D. 
Vol. i. 1832. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


Six years later, in a chapter of his classical work on 
comparative anatomy,* Professor Duges, of Montpellier, 
argues with much clearness that all organic tissues are 
the seat of two opposite movements — expansion and 
contraction — and that ' la contraction musculaire ne con- 
siste que dans l'annihilation de l'expansion.' The muscle 
is supposed to contract in virtue of its elasticity, just as 
a piece of caoutchouc might contract when set free from 
a previous state of extension ; and an analogy is hinted 
at between the expanded state of the muscle and the 
fluid state of the fibrine of the blood, and between rigor 
mortis and the coagulated state of this fibrine. Analo- 
gous in its effects to electricity, the vital agent is sup- 
posed to accumulate in the muscles, and to produce 
expansion by causing the muscular molecules to repel 
each other ; and contraction is supposed to be brought 
about either by the sudden discharge (as in ordinary con- 
traction) or by the gradual dying out (as in rigor mortis) 
of the vital agent. And, further, it is supposed that the 
rhythmical movements of muscle are caused by succes- 
sive discharges of the vital agent, which discharges are 
brought about whenever this agent acquires a certain 
degree of tension ; and that the cramps of cholera, or 
the spasms of tetanus or hysteria, are consequent upon 
the development of the vital agent being for the time 

More recently still, namely in 1847, Professor Mat- 
teucci communicated a paper to the Parisian Academy 
of Sciences! upon the influence of the nervous fluid in 
muscular action, in which he writes : — ' Ce fluide de- 
veloppe principalement dans les muscles, s'y repand, et, 

* "Traite de Physiologie comparee de l'Homme et des Animaux." 
8vo. Montpellier and Paris. 1838. 

f " Comptes Rendus." March 17, 1847. 


Traces of Unity in 

dou£ d'une force repulsive entre ses parties, comme le 
fluide olectrique, il tient les elements de la fibre muscu- 
laire dans un etat de repulsion analogue a celui pre\sente 
par les corps electrises. Quand ce fluide nerveux cesse 
d'etre libre dans le muscle, les elements de la fibre mus- 
culaire s'attirent entre eux, comme on levoit arriverdans 
la roideur cadaverique. . . . Suivant la quantity de 
ce fluide qui cesse d'etre libre dans le muscle, la contrac- 
tion est plus ou moins forte.' Professor Matteucci ap- 
pears to have framed this hypothesis, partly, in conse- 
quence of certain considerations which seemed to show 
that the phenomenon of " induced contraction " was 
owing to the discharge of electricity in the muscle in 
which the ' inducing contraction ' was manifested — an 
idea originating with M. Becquerel — and, partly, in con- 
sequence of the analogy which he himself had found to 
exist between the law of contraction in muscle and the 
law of the discharge in electrical fishes ; but he does not 
appear to have attached much importance to the hypo- 
thesis. Indeed, his own comment at the time is — ' j'ai 
presque honte d'avoir eu la hardiesse de communiquer a 
l'Academie des idees si vagues, et apparemment si peu 
fondees, et contre lesquelles on pourrait faire bien des 
objections, mais je pense que, parmi les theories physiques 
les mieux fonddes aujourd'hui, il en existe qui ont debute 
de cette maniere, et il est certain que des hypotheses, 
aussi peu fondees que celles-ci, ont quelquefois pu pro- 
duire ensuite des decouvertes remarquables.' 

Next in order, and almost contemporaneously with 
the date of my own first publication on the subject, Pro- 
fessor Engel, of Vienna, wrote :* — ' So hat der Nerve die 
Aufgabe, nicht die Zusammenziehungen des Muskels zu 

* " Ueber Muskelreizbarkeit," " Zeitschrift der Kais. Kon. Gesellscli. 
der Aertze zu Wien," Erster Band, pp. 205-219, and pp. 252-270. 1S49. 

Vital a?id Physical Motion. 


vcranlasscn, sondem den Zusammenziehungen bis auf 
einen geringen Grad entgegenzuwirken. Im lebenden 
Organismus, in welchem Ruhe etwas unmogliches ist, ist 
auch ein ruhender Muskel eben so wohl wie ein ruhender 
Nerv undenkbar, der Muskel in seinem bestiindigen 
Streben, sich zusammenzuziehen, wird von Nerven 
daran verhindert, im Nerven macht sich das fortwahrende 
Streben kund, die Zusammenziehung des Muskels auf 
ein gerechtes Mass zuriickzufiihren ; das Ergebniss dieser 
zwei einander entgegengesetzten Eigenschaften des 
Nervens und des Muskels ist das, was man gemeinhin 
Zustand der Ruhe, Zustand des Gleichgewichtes, oder 
an Muskeln auch Tonicitat nennt. Das Verlassen dieses 
Gleichgewichts ist die Bewegung einerseits, die Lahmung 
andererseits. Die Bewegung wird aber erzeugt, indem 
entweder der Einfluss des Nervens auf den Muskel 
herabgesetzt wird, oder indem die Contractionskraft des 
Muskels unmittelbar gesteigert wird. Lahmung des 
Muskels findet sich gleichfalls entweder durch unmittel- 
bare Vernichtung der Contractionskraft des Muskels 
oder durch eine iibermassig gesteigerte Einwirkung des 
motorischen Nervens auf den Muskel. Sollen duller 
abwechselnde Muskelcontractionen zu Stande kommen, 
so ist die Gegenwart des lebendigen Nervens im Muskel 
unerlasslich, und auch bei unmittelbaren Muskelreizen 
konnen abwechselnde Zusammenziehungen nur erfolgen, 
so lange noch die Nerven lebensfahig sind ; hort letzteres 
auf, so zieht sich der Muskel ohne Hinderniss zusammen. 
Diesen Zustand nennen wir die Todtenstarre.' The 
chief grounds for this opinion are, first, certain original 
experiments, some of them very remarkable, which afford 
additional proof that the muscles of frogs are more 
prone to contract when they are-cut off from the influence 
of the great nervous centres ; secondly, the frequent 


Traces of Unity in 

spontaneous occurrence of cramps and other forms of 
excessive spasmodic contraction in paralysed parts ; and, 
thirdly, the supervention of the permanent contraction of 
rigor mortis when all signs of nervous irritability are 
completely extinguished. 

And, last of all, I find Professor Stannius, of Rostock,* 
arriving at the conclusion : — ' dass es eine wesentliche 
Aufgabe der sogenannten motorischen oder Muskelner- 
ven sei, die natiirliche Elasticitatsgrosse der Muskelfasern 
herabzusetzen und ihre Elasticit'at vollkommener zu 
machen ; dass anscheinende Ruhe des Muskels, zum 
Beispiele, wahrend des Schlafes, das Stadium solchen 
regen, den Muskel zu seinen Aufgaben wieder befiihig- 
enden Nerveneinflusses anzeige : dass active Muskel- 
zusammenziehung einen geregelten und begrenzten mo- 
mentanen Nachlassdes Nerveneinflusses aufden Muskel 
bezeichne ; dass endlich die Nachweisung einer Muskel- 
reizbarkeit, in der ublichen Auffassungsweise, ein 
durchaus vergebliches Bemiihen sei.' M. Stannius was 
led to this conclusion by certain original experiments, in 
which he found blood to have the power of relaxing 
rigor mortis and restoring muscular irritability, and these 
experiments are advanced in evidence. Reference is 
also made to arguments to be brought forward on 
another occasion, which will prove — ' dass diese An- 
schauungsweise, so paradox sie immer auf den ersten 
Anblick sich anlassen mag, mit unserem thatsachlichen 
Wissen iiber Nerven^ und Muskelthiitigkeit keineswegs 
im Widerspruch steht.' The essay from which these 
quotations are taken was published towards the end of 

* " Unteisuchungen iiber Leistungsfahigkeit der Muskeln und Todten- 
starre," " Vierordt's Archiv. fiir Physipl. Heilkunde." Stuttgart, I Heft, 
p. 22, 1S52. 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


1852— about two years after the date of my own first 
publication on the subject. 

I do not stand alone, then, in thinking that a great 
change is necessary in the theory of vital motion — a 
change amounting to no less than a complete revolution ; 
and I am glad that it is so, for, thus supported, I have 
more courage than I otherwise should have to prosecute 
the enquiry upon which I have ventured to enter — an en- 
quiry in which the problem of vital motion will be 
regarded, first, from a physiological, and then, from a 
pathological, point of view. 


Beginning with amseboid movement, and passing 
thence, through simple muscular and nervous action, to 
cardiac and other forms of rhythmical vital motion, and 
thence to rigor mortis, it is seen that all the facts 
belonging to natural electricity are in harmony with the 
notion that vital motion is merely a mode of physical 
motion for which the only key needed is that which is 
supplied by the natural operations of electricity and 
elasticity. And so also when the enquiry is extended 
with a view to see how vital motion is affected by 
artificial electricity, by blood, by nervous influence, and 
in other ways, and why vital motion is exaggerated as 
it is in convulsion, or spasm, or tremor or neuralgia, or 
the like, there is no occasion to seek for any other 

Amasboid movements, there is reason to believe, are 
the simple result of certain natural electrical changes 
which take place in all terrestrial bodies. 

The argument is sufficiently sjmple. As was pointed 
out in the last chapter (pp. 106-7), the electrical condition of 

ij8 Traces of Unity in 

the surface of the earth is not that of zero, but that of a 
charge which is the seat of regular tidal movements cor- 
responding to those which tell upon the barometer, and 
of incessant, irregular oscillations or wave-like movements. 
The bodies in which amseboid movement are manifested, 
as I have shewn by several experiments with Thom- 
son's new quadrant electrometer, are in the same case 
electrically as water, or sculptor's clay, or any other 
inorganic substance: and, this being the case, it is 
supposable, not only that the charge will cause expan- 
sion in the charged bodies by keeping their molecules 
in a state of mutual repulsion, but also that the ever- 
varying changes in the charge will tell in corresponding 
changes of expansion. And this too is supposable, that 
the action of the charge in causing expansion will tell 
more in some bodies than in others, and more in some 
parts of these bodies than in others — more in bodies, 
and in parts of these bodies, which are less solid than 
in those which are more so, and, perhaps, only perceptibly 
in the bodies, or in the parts of these bodies, which are 
fluid rather than solid. Hence it may be that the 
changes in expansion consequent upon changes in the 
amount of charge may be perceptible in the parts of 
amaeboid bodies which remain in the hyaline state of 
nascent protoplasm, and not in those parts which have 
become granular ; for it is in amaeboid bodies which 
are in the main hyaline, and not in those which have 
become decidedly granular, that amseboid movements are 
really perceptible. And because these hyaline portions 
are distributed irregularly, it may be that the variation 
of expansion, consequent upon changes in the amount 
of charge, may appear in the guise of that irregular 
protrusion and retraction of processes which is charac- 
teristic of amxboid movement. This is all. There is flo 

Vital and Physical Motion. 


occasion to call in the aid of a vital property of irrita- 
bility. Indeed, it is difficult to see how such a property 
could act so as to bring about the double movement of 
protrusion and retraction which has to be accounted for 
in this particular form of vital motion. 

Muscular movements, like amaeboid movements, are 
also in the main resolvable into electrical movements, 
but here the electricity at work is more than that which 
belongs to all terrestrial bodies equally. 

By the galvanometer it is made evident that there is 
a current, called the ' muscle-current,' in living muscle 
which is not to be detected in muscle that has passed 
into the state of rigor mortis, and also that this current 
disappears in great measure, or suffers a ' negative varia- 
tion,' when a living muscle passes from the state of rest 
into that of action. By the electrometer it is made 
evident that there is in living muscle a charge which 
disappears in great measure when the state of rest 
changes into that of action, and which is absent al- 
together in rigor mortis — a double charge which is + in 
the part from which, and — in the part to which, the 
muscle-current sets. And further— what may not be so 
clearly made out either by galvanometer or by the electro- 
meter, — by a ' rheoscopic limb,' or frog's hind leg prepared 
in a particular way, it is made evident that muscular con- 
traction is, as Matteucci pointed out, accompanied by an 
electrical discharge analogous to that of the Torpedo. 
Many experiments with Thomson's new quadrant elec- 
trometer, made by myself, justify me in saying what I 
have said about the electrometric facts, and in coming to 
the conclusion that the manifold operations of voltaic 
electricity in muscular motion are to be explained, not by 
the action of the current, but by that of the charges, and 
discharges (instantaneous currents of high tension on 


Traces of Unity in 

making and breaking the circuit) associated with the 
current. Indeed, the conclusion to which I have come 
respecting the natural electricity of muscle is that the 
current phenomena made known by the galvanometer 
are, not primary, but secondary, the result merely of 
bringing together, through the coil of the galvanometer, 
parts which are electrically dissimilar, and which 
naturally are kept apart and dissimilar by reason of 
their comparative want of conductibility, — and that the 
primary electrical condition of the muscle is that which 
is brought to light by the electrometer-^a state of 
charge during rest, a state of discharge when rest 
changes into action. Nor is it altogether unintelligible 
that it should be so. For what is the cas.e as set forth 
in the argument ? It is that the coats and the contents 
of each muscular fibre and cell are sufficiently hetero- 
geneous to constitute a voltaic element, and that the 
oxygen in the blood or air passages or elsewhere serves 
as the developing medium. It is that this voltaic 
element, owing to imperfect conductibility somewhere, 
is, while the muscle is at rest, in the state of open- 
circuit rather than in that of closed-circuit, and that, for 
this reason, the state of charge predominates over that 
of current — a state of charge in which one half of the 
element is positive and the other half negative. It is 
that the charged parts, by reason of the mutual repul- 
sion of their molecules which, is set up by the charge, 
are in a state of expansion, and that the softer parts — the 
contents of the fibre or cell — may be more expanded 
than the harder— the coats. It is that the contents of 
the fibre or cell, as the softer parts, may be the only 
parts in which expansion may operate perceptibly. It is 
that this expansion of the contents may cause elonga- 
tion of the fibre or cell, for the simple reason that the 

Vital and Physical Motion. 1 4 1 

shape of the comparatively non-expansible coat, acts 
upon the contents in the same way as that in 
which the shape of the tube of the thermometer 
acts upon the column of mercury within it, or rather as 
that in which the fine tube of the last new form of elec- 
trometer is seen, under the microscope, to cause the 
thread of mercury within it to lengthen or shorten as 
the charge imparted to it rises of falls. It is that the 
failure of this charge, which may be brought about by 
failure in the due supply of oxygen, and in various 
other ways, is attended by the development of 
instantaneous currents of high tension, and that these 
currents, by traversing the muscle, suddenly discharge 
the remains of the charge, and so bring about 
muscular contraction. It is that this contraction is 
brought about, not because a vital property of irrita- 
bility has been roused or stimulated into action, but 
simply because the discharge has removed for a moment 
the charge which previously counteracted the action of 
the attractive force or forces inherent in the physical 
constitution of the muscular molecules. Nor is it to be 
objected that the electricity of the muscle is too feeble 
to produce these results, for it may be that the electro- 
motive action of muscle is proportionate to the number 
of electromotive elements (fibres or cells) in the muscle, 
and that both charge and discharge are masked, the one 
by being expended in the production of muscular elon- 
gation, the other by being short-circuited within the 
body. Nay, it is quite conceivable that the instan- 
taneous currents of high tension which produce contrac- 
tion would prove to be as powerful as those of the 
Torpedo if they were not so short-circuited. And all 
that is said of the action of the natural electricity of the 
muscle is more than borne out by what is said of the 

H 2 

Traces of Unity in 

action of artificial electricity upon muscle, for in the 
latter case it is found, not only that charge acts in the 
same way in causing muscular elongation, but also that 
the elongation is proportionate to the charge, and that 
the extra-contraction in electrotonus is only the simple 
result of the muscle in this particular case having had to 
return from a state of extra-elongation consequent upon 
a state of extra-charge. 

Nor does the consideration of rhythmical vital 
motion as manifested in cardiac muscle or elsewhere lead 
to a different conclusion. In ordinary muscle, unless the 
muscle be interfered with in one way or another, the 
natural charge is kept up steadily : in the muscle which 
is naturally the seat of rhythmical action, on the 
contrary, the natural charge, instead of being kept up 
steadily, fails periodically, and so leads to the develop- 
ment of the instantaneous currents of high tension by 
which periodical contraction is brought about. The 
natural electricity is evidently maintained for a longer 
time in the former case than in the latter. And why ? 
Is it that there is in the two muscles a molecular 
difference analogous to that by which a piece of 
paraffin charged by friction will retain its charge for a 
longer time than a piece of glass so charged ? Is it 
that in the case of the muscular fibres of the heart or 
air- passages, the state of rest corresponds to the time 
during which there is enough oxygen in the arterial blood 
within the vessels of the heart, and in the air within the 
air-passages, to keep up sufficient charge in the fibres to 
inhibit the contraction which in due time drives out the 
used-up blood from the vessels, or the used-up air from 
the air- passages, and, by so- doing, prepares the way for 
the admission of fresh blood and air into the vessels 
and air-passages, and for the restoration of the state of 

Vital and Physical Motion. 143 

charge and relaxation which follows, and which continues 
until it again gives place to discharge and contrac- 
tion ? Is it that the rhythmical vital motion in oscilla- 
toria, in vibratile cilia, in pulsating vacuoles, and in 
other cases, is to be explained by supposing that the 
oxygen in the water near the rhythmically acting body 
keeps this body in a state of charge, expansion, and rest 
until it is used-up, that then the failing charge brings 
about discharge and contraction by means of the instan- 
taneous currents of high tension which are then de- 
veloped, and that this motion restores the state of charge 
and expansion and rest by bringing the moving parts 
into relation with water containing fresh supplies of 
oxygen, and so on and on as long as the machinery 
continues in order and the supply of oxygen in duly 
kept-up ? That it may be so is the natural inference 
from the premises, and, so far as I know, there is no 
good reason why it may not be so. At first sight, perhaps, 
it may seem that there is reason to the contrary in the 
opposite movement of the auricles and ventricles of the 
heart, but a little reflection will serve to show that the 
auricular movements in the case may be resolved in the 
main into passive consequences of the ventricular move- 
ments, the auricular diastole coinciding with the ventri- 
cular systole because the flow of blood from the auricles 
into the ventricles is stopped and forced back at this 
time by the closure of the auriculo-ventricular valves, 
the auricular systole coinciding with the ventricular 
diastole because at this time the blood is suddenly 
sucked away from the auricles into the ventricles. 

And as in rhythmical vital motion so also in rigor 
mortis there is no occasion to change the point of view 
in order to find the key to the facts. For in rigor mortis 
the case appears to be simply this — that the charge 


Traces of Unity in 

which counteracted the state of contraction in the living 
muscle is no longer present, that the soft contents of the 
muscular fibres and cells have become more or less 
hardened— a change, in fact, which, by bringing the 
contents nearer to the molecular condition of the coats, 
may annihilate the natural electricity of the muscle 
by putting an end to that heterogeneity of structure 
upon which it is dependent. 

The electrical history of nerve is the exact repetition 
of that of muscle. There is no occasion to think 
that " nervous influence," whatever that may be, differs 
in its action from electricity. There is no occasion to 
apply to any agent other than electricity in order to 
explain how it is that nerves act upon muscles iti causing 
contraction, and how muscles in contracting may react 
upon nerves and give rise to sensation or motion : for 
the instantaneous currents of high tension which are 
developed equally in nerve and muscle, when the state 
of rest passes into that of action, extend beyond the 
limits of the nerve and muscle, and, by so doing, may 
reach from the nerve to the muscle or from the muscle 
to the nerve. Indeed, it seems necessary to believe that 
the electromotive elements in nerve and muscle form one 
apparatus in which the action of every part is intensified, 
both during the time of charge and during the time of 
discharge, by inter-acting with every other part. Nor is it 
necessary — in order to establish this parallelism between 
the electrical histories of nerve and muscle — that tierve 
fibre should imitate muscular-fibre in elongating during 
the time of charge and shortening at the time of dis- 
charge : for the absence of these changes in nerve'fibre 
may simply mean^-that the contents of the nerve-fibre 
differ from those of the muscular fibre in being more 
elaborated, and in resembling, for that reason, the 

Vital and Physical Motion. 145 

granular bits of elderly protoplasm in which ameboid 
movements have come to an end. 

The same explanation is also found to hold good in 
convulsion, spasm, tremor, neuralgia, or any other case of 
exaggerated vital movement. In none of these cases is 
there reason to believe that any nerve-centre is raised 
into a higher state of vitality by being supplied with 
more arterial blood than usual, and that this exaggerated 
vital motion is the direct result of this change. The 
facts without exception point in the opposite direction. 
Where there is supposed to be excess of arterial blood 
there is really deficiency. Thus, in epilepsy there is. 
first, a failure of circulation — as is shown in the ghastly 
pallor of the face which ushers in the fit — and then 
a state of suffocation — a state in which arterial blood 
ceases to be formed and supplied to any part of the 
system. The actual convulsion is coincident with actual 
suffocation: and even the hard and frequent pulse at the 
height of the fit is in keeping with this view, for the blood 
which escapes when an opening is made in the artery at this 
time is, not red, as it is commonly supposed to be, but 
black, as in suffocation it always is — not arterial, that is to 
say, but venous. So far as the absence of arterial blood 
is concerned the case of epilepsy is strictly parallel with 
that of the convulsion which attends upon death by 
bleeding. And as in these cases so also in other cases 
of convulsion or spasm or tremor or neuralgia or any other 
form of exaggerated vital motion, though not always so 
obviously, the facts when carefully sifted, always showing, 
in opposition to current notions on the subject, that the 
exaggerated vital motion is connected, not with a state 
in which a vital property of irritability is roused into 
preternatural activity by an excessive supply of arterial 
blood to one or other of the great nerve-centres, but 



Traces of Unity, &c. 

with a contrary state of things in which, after what has 
been said, the only conclusion seems to be that the 
natural electricity has failed in some great nerve centre 
for want of arterial blood, and that the instantaneous 
currents of high tension which of necessity attend upon 
this failure are the immediate agents in exaggerating 
vital motion as it is exaggerated in these cases. 

This, broadly stated, is the conclusion to which I am 
compelled to come. Everything as it seems to me, is in 
flat contradiction to the current doctrine of vital motion : 
everything, as it seems to me, tends to bring phenomena 
which have been regarded as exclusively vital under 
the dominion of physical law — to transmute vital motion 
into what proves to be nothing more than a mere mode 
of physical motion. 


Chapter III. 


THE life of plants and animals is affected by climate 
and season in a way which shows very plainly that there 
is the closest connection between vital force and physical 

In.high northern latitudes, as cold gains the mastery, 
plant after plant disappears until at last the landscape 
is almost altogether plantless. 

In the sub-arctic zone which succeeds to the tem- 
perate region, green pastures, adorned during the short 
spring and summer with many gay flowers, reach far and 
wide, and interminable forests of needle trees shut out 
the prospect in all directions. Oaks have been left 
behind in the temperate region, but birches and alders 
and willows struggle on, and their more northernmost 
outposts are considerably in advance of the lines occupied 
by the conifers. 

In the arctic zone the trees and in great measure the 
grassy pastures of the last zone have disappeared, the 
pastures being replaced by tracts, often of wide extent, 
covered by sedges and cotton-grass and lichens, the trees 
by prostrate and tortuous shrubs like those met with in 
high alpine regions- — rhododendrons, andromedee, dwarf , 
beeches, alders and willows, bog-myrtles and others. 
All trees have disappeared, and the place of grass is 

L 2 


Traces of Unity in the 

almost wholly occupied by lichen. Even shrubs are 
present in no great numbers. Indeed, the only plants 
which can be said to obtrude themselves upon the atten- 
tion prominently are certain low growing perennial herbs 
which, for the most part, do their best to grace the short 
spring and summer by dressing themselves in large and 
brilliant flowers. 

In the polar zone no place is found for the smallest 
shrub. Patches of lichens of various sorts, and clumps 
of dwarf herbaceous perennials — saxifrages, ranunculi, 
potentillae, pyroLne and others, occur here and there, but 
the country generally is a plantless waste — a waste so un- 
favourable to vegetation that even the few flowers which 
struggle into existence during the few short weeks of 
spring and summer fail for the most part to bring their 
seeds to maturity. 

In equatorial regions, on the other hand, except in 
those places where a due supply of water is wanting, the 
mind is bewildered by the undying richness of the vege- 
tation. On the wooded banks of the Orinoco, for 
example, enormous trees, with their trunks hidden by 
countl-ess orchids, aroids, bromellacise, ferns, and other 
parasitic plants, and matted together by passifloras, 
bignonias, banisterias, paullineas, aristolochias, ipomceas, 
and other lianes or rope plants, the trailing stems of some 
of which may be forty feet in length and more, form a 
tangle which is absolutely impenetrable except by certain 
lanes made by the passage of wild animals to and from 
the water — so impenetrable that, as Humboldt tells, these 
animals, when surprised at the river side, have often to 
run for a considerable distance before they can find the 
. hole through which to pass back again into the forest. 
Here the palm, the banana, the heliconium, the am- 
momum, the strelitzia, are at home. Here, in place of 

Vivifying Power of Light and Heat. 149 

the ordinary fern of the north is the tree-fern, in place of 
common grass the bamboo, in place of simple moss the 
Neckera dendroides or some other tree-moss. Here, 
indeed, where all plants have a tendency to become 
ligneous as well as arborescent, one or other plant is 
always in flower, and no plant is ever leafless. 

The lesson to be gathered from these facts is plainly 
this — that plants owe their very existence to the sun, 
and that their vital vigour is directly proportionate to 
the degree of insolation to which they are exposed. It 
is indeed only another version of the annual history of 
vegetation in the temperate regions of the globe, for here 
the state of things inclines to that met with in high 
northern latitudes as the earth turns away from the sun 
in winter, and to that which is natural to equatorial 
regions when the earth turns towards the sun again in 
summer. Moreover, what happens every twenty-four 
hours may be supposed to convey a hint to the same 
effect, for the wakefulness of plants in the daytime and 
their sleepiness at night, as seen in the opening and 
shutting of flowers, in the rising and falling of leaves, 
and in many other ways, are in fact only partial mani- 
festations of the more marked summer and winter changes 
in the life of plants, which are distinguished as aestivation 
and hybernation. 

Nor is the case altogether different when the atten- 
tion is directed from the world of plants to that of 

A few hardy animals, like the polar bear, and wolf, 
and reindeer, can brave the terrors of the polar cold and 
darkness, but the majority, like the marmot, must 
migrate southwards as the winter approaches, or else, if 
they do not die outright, sink into the death-like sleep 
of hybernation until revivified by the returning spring. 

Traces of Unity in the 

The devitalizing action of cold and darkness upon 
animal bodies is not to be questioned ; and, as in the 
case of plants so in this case, the vital vigour is always 
directly proportionate to the degree of insolation to 
which these bodies are exposed. 

The fact, too, that animals for the most part wake in 
the daytime and sleep during the night, is not a little 
significant when taken in connection with the context- 
It is not enough to refer the state of sleep to the exhaus- 
tion consequent upon the state of wakefulness, or to 
think that wakefulness follows upon sleep because the 
body has been refreshed by sleep. If it were so the 
shortest day would not be followed by the longest sleep, 
and the longest day by the shortest sleep. If it were so, 
that is to say, the times of repair in sleep and of waste 
in waking would not be, as they are, inversely related to 
each other. Indeed, the more this matter is looked into 
the more difficult is it to regard the sleeping and waking 
states as standing to each other in the relation of cause 
and effect, and the more easy it becomes to entertain the 
belief that sleeping and waking, like hybernation and 
aestivation, have to do directly with the absence and 
presence of the sun, and that, for this reason, the varying 
periods of sleeping and waking in winter and summer 
must in great measure keep strict time with the changes 
in the length of the nights and days in these seasons. 
Nor is this conclusion set aside by the fact that some 
animals, like the bat, wake when others sleep,, for in the 
daytime these nocturnal creatures hide themselves in 
dark places where night may be said to prevail even 
during the day. Indeed, after all, these nocturnal 
creatures may differ from diurnal creatures chiefly in 
sleeping, not only through the day, but through the 
greater part of the night also, and in coming abroad only 

Vivifying Power of Light and Heat. 1 5 1 

for a short time in the dusk of the evening when hunger 
compels them to bestir themselves. And this view is 
not so fanciful as it may seem to be at first sight, for it 
is a fact that nocturnal animals, confined in menageries, 
and fed in the daytime, sleep soundly enough through 
the night and through the day also— are, in fact, always 
sleeping unless they are awakened by the pinches of 

Whether the life of animals responds to the moon as 
well as to the sun is a question to which as yet it is not 
easy to return a decided answer. It is difficult to believe 
that there is nothing in the notion that the mastiff in 
the yard is more disposed to bark and howl in the moon- 
light than in the dark. It is difficult to believe that 
there is nothing in the Indian notion that wild animals 
" observe the feast of the full moon " by imitating the 
noisy behaviour of the yard-dog when he " bays the 
moon " — a notion of which so vivid an account is given 
by Humboldt in one of the chapters of his ''Aspects of 
Nature." It is difficult to believe that there is nothing 
in the old notion that the full moon is in a measure to 
be blamed for exacerbations of lunacy, and that the 
persons so affected are rightly called lunatics. And 
certainly these difficulties are not lessened when the 
attention is directed to those physiological changes in 
the human frame in which a monthly, and therefore a 
lunar, cycle, is more clearly perceptible than in any 
merely pathological changes. In fact, it can scarcely be 
doubted that there are tidal movements in animal life in 
which the conjoined action of the sun and moon would 
be plainly enough perceptible if the example set by Dr. 
Mead, and put on record in his treatise, " De imperio 
solis ac lunze in corpora humana et morbis hide oriundis," 
were more frequently followed. 

Traces of Unity, &c. 

There are also many familiar facts which serve to 
show that artificial light and heat have a like influence 
upon plants and animals. Flowers wake through 
the night in a well-lit room. Many annual plants 
become perennial under the fostering shelter of the hot- 
house. An animal that hybernates ordinarily wakes 
through the winter in cosy quarters, and sleeps through 
the summer in the contrary case. These facts, and many 
others like them, are of great interest in themselves, but 
they are of greater interest as confirming the conclusion 
already arrived at respecting the relations of natural 
light and heat to life, for if this vivifying power belongs 
to artificial light and heat it is impossible to conceive 
that it does not belong also to natural light and heat. 

In a word, the life of plants and animals is so affected 
by climate and season as to more than justify the notion, 
not only that light and heat have a vivifying power, but 
also that vital force and physical force are united in the 
very closest manner. 

Chapter IV. 


Many instinctive movements are as automatic as the 
movements of a watch. The mechanism of the body is 
constructed so as to "go on" in a certain way, and no 
other. But the cases of instinctive movement in which 
many animals act together in concert are not so easily 
disposed of, and the more they are looked into particu- 
larly, the more difficult is it to rest satisfied with any 
elucidation supplied by the doctrine of automatism. 

The swallow, for example, migrates from England to 
Africa, and from Africa back again to England with 
strange regularity. Her movements are ordered so as 
to avoid frost on the one hand and undue heat on the 
other. She arrives here about the middle of April 
and departs about the end of September, when the last 
of her two broods, like the first, is strong enough to bear 
the journey. If the last brood be late in making its 
appearance it runs some risk of being left behind, either 
to perish outright, or else to hybernate until it is 
awakened in the spring by the chirp of its returning 
relatives, but the order of nature seldom goes wrong in 
this way. And certainly the parents would seem to do 
all they can to avert such a calamity, by making it 
their business, for many days before starting, to congre- 
gate in great numbers and to train their young for the 


Traces of Unity in the 

great effort they are about to make, not only by taking 
long flights together, but also by roosting with them on 
oziers and other water-loving trees, and 30 teaching 
them to forget their nests. One day all are there : the 
next all are gone. An irresistible impulse has impelled 
them to go together, and not to rest until they reach 
the north of Africa. They cannot stay : they have 
little liberty in the choice of the course they have to 
take : and, where a wide expanse of sea has to be 
crossed, not a few, it is believed, are drowned, unless 
there happen to be within reach ships upon the rigging 
of which they may rest awhile. In due time also an 
equally irresistible impulse drives them back by the same 
route to their old haunts in the north, and great is 
their distress if, on arriving there, the well-remembered 
nests are not to be found. Year by year so it happens : 
as the plants begin to fade, and the insects to disappear, 
the birds depart : as the plants recover their leaves and 
flowers, and insects reappear upon the scene, the birds 
return. It seems to be a matter of circumstance in 
which the birds are as passive as the insects, almost 
as passive as the plants — a matter in which the vital 
movements have to do, not with automatism, but 
with periodic changes in the position of the earth in 
relation to the sun, and with other cosmical changes. 

So too with the salmon. The eggs of this noble 
fish are deposited in a trench scooped out by one or both 
the parents in the gravelly bed of a rapid and rushing 
stream, and there left, ten days or thereabouts being 
spent in the process of oviposition and fertilization. 
Somewhat later the parents, then miserable, lank, scarcely 
eatable kelts, no longer caring for their eggs, betake 
themselves to the sea, and nothing further is known of 
them until, after a period varying from six weeks to 

Phenomena of Instinct. 


three or four months, they are again found in the river, 
taking advantage of each flood or " spate " to make 
their way from pool to pool, up to their old haunts, and 
once more deserving: to be called salmon, until they are 
again reduced to the state of kclts by a repetition of the 
process of laying and fertilizing eggs. After escaping 
from the egg the young fish remains in the river for one 
or two years. Before venturing sea-wards the name 
given to it is sviolt or parr : on returning to the river 
it is called, after its first visit to the sea, grilse or salmou- 
pcal, after subsequent visits, salmon. There may, per- 
haps, be some doubt as to the identity of smolts and 
parr : but that which has been based upon the fact that 
parr have been found with perfect milts, or soft roes, is 
certainly of no moment, for smolts, not more than an 
ounce and a half in weight, have been found in the 
same case, with milts so perfect as to be capable of 
fertilizing the ova of adult salmon. There is also no 
superabundance of information respecting the salmon, 
but this is certain, that when the fish is sufficiently 
developed to deserve the name of salmon it migrates 
year after year with unfailing regularity from river to 
sea and from sea back again to river, that it returns 
from every fresh immersion in salt-water amazingly 
increased in size — and that, once in the river, it must go 
on and on, in spite of torrents and waterfalls, from pool 
to pool, until it reaches the place in which it emerged 
from the egg. He who has watched the salmon leaping 
in the rapids of a mountain torrent to the wild music of 
the rushing waters can scarcely wonder that the Greek 
of old should have fancied that Pan was within hearing, 
higher up the stream, calling the fish up to him with his 
pipes. He will find it difficult, if he think at all, to 
entertain the notion that a creature so low in the scale 

156 Traces of Unity in the 

of being should, ipso motu, set at nought the power of 
the cataract to keep it back : and, he is not unlikely, if 
he listen attentively to hear an echo of the music 
of the spheres in the rushing of the waters, and to 
think that the fish is obeying blindly the mandates of a 
law which rules the river, no less than the living things 
in the river. The salmon seems to be driven on with as 
little power of choosing its way as the swallow, or even 
with less, for in the case of the fish it may be supposed 
that there is an actual indisposition to pass from the 
river to the sea and from the sea back again to the 
river. Nay, the wonder is that, in changing from fresh 
watertosalt-water,and from salt-water back again to fresh- 
water, the fish does not share the fate of the parasites 
by which it is infested, dying along with the fresh- 
water parasites on passing from the river into the sea, 
dying with the salt-water parasites on passing back from 
the sea to the river — a wonderful provision by which, 
among other things, the fish is clean and fit for the table 
when it is most likely to be taken, that is when it has 
been long enough in the river to lose its salt-water 
parasites and yet not long enough there to be infested 
by the fresh-water parasites. 

The story of the instinctive movements of the hive- 
bee, as put on record by blind and patient Hubert, the 
paragon of all good observers, is even yet more won- 
derful, and, once taken up, it is difficult to lay aside the 
book containing it while any page remains unread. It 
is the very romance of natural history. 

The society of the hive consists of one female or 
queen, with hundreds of males or drones, and thousands 
of sterile females or workers. On the first fine day the 
queen follows the drones out of the hive, and before 
returning, she has contrived, somewhere in the air out of 

Phenomena of Instinct. 


sight, to be fertilized by one of them. Up to this time 
the workers pay her no attention : now they treat her as 
a queen. Up to this time the workers have lived on 
good terms with the drones : now they turn upon them 
and a massacre commences which only ends in the 
death of the last male. Sometimes the queen has to 
leave the hive two or three times before her purpose is 
accomplished, and in that case the males are allowed to 
live on sufferance : usually a single journey is sufficient, 
and the males are doomed to perish without delay. 
The fertilized queen soon begins to busy herself in 
laying eggs, and until the time of swarming comes, 
when the last egg has been laid, she remains at home. 
For the first twenty days or thereabouts she goes on 
laying the eggs of workers at the rate of a hundred a 
day or more i for the next ten days or thereabouts she 
lays male eggs at the same fate : for three or four 
weeks longer every second or third day she deposits a 
single egg which is destined to become a queen. All 
this while, and for some time previously, the workers 
are busy enough, some in gathering honey or propolis — 
the latter material being a transparent, jelly-like, garnet- 
coloured, resinous gum, secreted by certain plants, and 
used, along with wax, for building purposes, — others in 
laying the foundation of the cells. The honey, which is 
sucked up into the honey-bag or anterior stomach, and 
so carried, is wanted for their own support, and as 
material for the secretion of the wax which oozes out 
between the rings on the abdomen : the propolis is 
collected ready formed, made into pellets, and carried 
in the " baskets," which are cavities hollowed out in the 
inner surface of the thighs of the middle legs. All are 
in haste to be rid of their wax and propolis as soon as 
they return to the hive, and, to expedite matters, each 

158 Traces of Unity in the 

helps the other to strip off the wax, to remove the 
pellets of propolis from the " baskets " containing them, 
and to pile both in little heaps within easy reach of the 
workers who are engaged as architects. The smaller 
cells for the workers are first taken in hand, then follow, 
in succession, the larger cells for the drones, the still 
larger and peculiar royal cells, and, last of all, the cells 
in which honey and polenta have to be stored up. As 
long as the work of building goes on actively no honey 
or polenta is stored up : as soon as this work is accom- 
plished sufficiently the honey which is not wanted for 
the secretion of wax is disgorged into the honey-cells, 
and, in place of propolis, pollen or polenta is collected, 
carried home in the " baskets," and transferred to the 
polenta-cells. The polenta is ready when it is wanted 
for the support of the brood, but not before : the honey 
is required as food for the queen and as a winter store 
for all the inmates of the hive — a store, however, never 
drawn upon to any great extent, for in the. winter the 
bees — then very torpid, but not exactly hybernating — 
require very little food. The eggs are deposited in the 
cells intended for their reception, not by the workers as 
was once supposed, but by the queen herself ; and once 
in situ they are let alone. If, as happens now and then 
with a belated queen, the eggs are dropped anywhere 
indiscriminately, the workers may not scruple to make a 
meal of them : if all goes as it should do, and as it 
almost invariably does, the workers never go near the 
eggs until they are hatched, and then only the nurses 
whose office it is to carry food to the worms — ordinary 
polenta to the ordinary worms of workers or drones, 
royal jelly to the inmates of the royal cells. This pro- 
cess of feeding goes on steadily until the worms take to 
spinning their silken cocoons and are about to change 

Phenomena of Instil id. 


into nymphs, and then the cells, the building of which 
has been going on steadily all this while, are covered 
with lids, which are as distinctive as the cells themselves, 
and sealed down. Before the last cell is closed the hive 
is so crowded with workers and drones that have escaped 
from the cells first-formed and first-closed as to make 
swarming necessary. By this time, too, the queen is 
ready to head the swarm, for now she is rid of the eggs 
the weight of which, by preventing her from flying, 
had kept her at home from the time of fertilization until 
now. And so it is that on the first fine day the bees 
swarm, or, in other words, depart in search of new 
quarters with the queen at their head. 

This swarming always happens in the heat of the 
day when the majority of the bees are abroad. A 
march is stolen upon the absentees which necessitates 
prompt action on their part. A queen they must have, 
and what they want they find in the oldest inmate of the 
royal cells. To secure the succession is the first thing 
to be done, and in order to this, after much agitation, a 
guard is placed over the royal cells. The legitimate 
successor is the oldest inmate of these calls, and she, as 
a rule, is quite ready to assume the reins of government. 
For a time, however, she must remain in her cell under 
guard, and under guard to some extent she is ever 
after. Until the bees have given up the hope of seeing 
their old queen again, that is for the greater part of the 
next twenty-four hours, she is in strict confinement ; 
and, when released, a constant watch has to be kept 
over the royal cells to prevent her from breaking into 
them and destroying their inmates. Once at liberty 
her one desire is to destroy her sisters, and every other 
queen that may come in her way. Unable to endure 
the presence of a rival she must kill or be killed, and 

1 60 Traces of Unity in the 

the guard has to control the motions of this instinct, 
always by protecting the queens that still remain in 
their cells, and sometimes, perhaps, by protecting the 
queen herself. At all events, it is certain that a stray 
queen who happens to find her way into the hive while 
the process of oviposition is going on actively, and 
while, therefore, the egg-layer is oppressed by her 
burden, is likely to lose her life, not because she has 
been attacked by the queen, but because she has been 
overwhelmed under a mob of workers. For the rest, all 
that need be said is that from this point the history of 
the hive goes on steadily in the old way, with this 
difference only that in this case the cells have to be, not 
built, but only cleaned out and repaired, the main 
passages being still intact — the flying of the queen after 
the drones — the impregnation by one of them before her 
return — the recognition of the queen as queen after 
fertilization and not before it — the massacre of the 
drones by the workers— the laying of eggs in the 
prescribed order— the storing of honey and polenta in 
due time — the feeding of the worms — the sealing of the 
cells — and, lastly, the swarming when the eggs are all 
laid and the hive is overcrowded by new bees that have 
already issued from the eggs first laid. 

Again and again this process is repeated with the 
same results. When a queen is wanted a queen is 
forthcoming ; and until they are wanted they are kept 
in the royal cells under guard, and fed by nurses with 
food suitable to their age, that is, with royal jelly in the 
worm stage of their existence, and with honey in the 
imago-stage, the honey used in the latter case being 
placed on the lids of the closed cells near a hole through 
which the proboscis of the insect may pass in and out 
easily. The interval between the laying of the royal 

Phenomena of Instinct. 1 6 1 

eggs must have effect in preventing a simultaneous 
development of all the queens, but it is not sufficient to 
insure the presence of only one adult queen in the royal 
cells at the same time. Often, indeed, there are many 
adult queens in these cells at the same time, and now 
and then, in spite of all the guard can do to prevent it, 
the prisoners break loose and a battle ensues in which 
only the strongest remains alive at the end. Nay, it 
may happen that the hive is left queen less by all the 
rival queens losing their lives in this way, or by the 
death of all the royal brood from other causes. In 
a case like this it might be supposed that the society of 
the hive would be dissolved for want of a queen, but it 
is not so. A queen must be had, and very soon the 
workers provide what is wanted. And this is how they 
set to work. They extemporize a royal cell by throwing 
three or four of their own cells into one, and by making 
sundry other changes which are needful ; with one 
exception, they sacrifice the young worms belonging to 
these cells ; they feed the favoured one with the royal 
jelly supplied to the royal worms ; they close the cell 
in due time; and, lo ! when the perfect insect emerges 
from the nymph it is, not an ordinary worker, but a 
queen. The result is constant if the young worm be 
young enough, that is, if she be not more than three 
days old. The infant worm of the ordinary worker, so 
treated, is always transformed into a royal worm, which 
in due time becomes a queen in every way as perfect as 
any of the queens which perished in the battle that left 
the hive queenless. As to the fact of the metamorphosis 
there can be no doubt. It is this fact, often verified, 
which Hubert speaks of as the great discovery of 
Schirach. Nor is this the only way in which the place 
of the queen may be supplied when the royal race is 


1 62 

Traces of Unity in the 

extinct, for there is reason to believe that this place 
may be taken, without any opposition on the part of the 
workers, by any stray unfertilized queen who happens 
to find her way into the hive. 

While doing the work which has been mentioned 
the workers have also other work to do which is scarcely 
less important. The}' have to keep a constant guard 
at the entrance of the hive to prevent the admission 
of wasps, or hornets, or ants, or moths, or other 
enemies, and sometimes, in addition, they have to bar 
the way by certain waxen fortifications which have to 
be removed when the time for swarming comes ; they 
have, when the air is close, to arrange themselves along 
the passages in various places, and ventilate the hive by 
keeping up a fanning action in a certain direction with 
their wings ; they have — no easy matter after the 
massacre of the drones — to remove dead bodies from 
the hive, and to act generally as scavengers, and even 
then they have not done their work. Indeed, the story 
of the construction of the comb, upon which so much 
has been said at different times, is almost the least 
wonderful part of the work done by the sterile female 
bees or workers ; and all that can be said of this story 
is that it is full of romance from the beginning to the 

In each of these cases, and in very many other cases 
like them, it is evident that the manifestations of life of 
an instinctive character are beyond the skill and will of 
the individual, but it is not so evident that the explana- 
tion is to be found in unconscious cerebration or any other 
mode of automatism. Very probably each individual is 
a piece of perfect mechanism arranged to go on in the 
same manner under the same circumstances; and it is 
quite supposable that individuals of the same sort are 

Phenomena of Instinct. 

so much alike as to go on in the same manner under the 
same circumstances without any real connexion between 
them. But a more simple view, as it seems to me, is to 
suppose that this real connexion is not wanting — that 
there is, as it were, an all-encompassing atmosphere of 
life which is as common to all living creatures as the 
atmosphere they breathe. And this view is in perfect 
keeping with all that has been said respecting life so 
far.' For what does this amount to ? It is that vital 
motion is a mode of physical motion — a motion of 
which the source and spring is, within the individual 
certainly, but also beyond it — a motion of which the 
sphere is co-extensive with that of nature herself. It is 
that there are fluctuations in life which strictly corre- 
spond with day and night, with summer and winter, 
and which, on this account, must be referred to 
astronomical causes. It is that there is an intimate con- 
nexion between vital force and physical force which 
may be like that which exists between the different 
modes of physical force, a connexion, it may be, 
amounting even to correlation. The point arrived at 
before beginning to speak of instinct, indeed, is one in 
which, as a matter of course, the search for the key to 
instinct would have to be made, not in any one living 
creature singly, but in nature generally. It would be, 
indeed, as reasonable to go back to the old notion and 
suppose that the heavenly bodies move because they 
are actuated by a life of their own as to continue to 
believe that the life of one of the lower animals, in any 
of its manifold aspects, is located within the animal 
exclusively. It would seem as if the key to this life 
were only to be found in the full recognition of unity in 
multiety and multiety in unity as an actual fact. And 
if so, then it is no more wonderful that the instinctive 

M 2 


Traces of Unity. 

and other vital movements of the lower animals should 
be regular than that the movements of the heavenly 
bodies themselves should be regular. The case is too 
wide to be brought within the scope of unconscious 
cerebration, or any other mode of automatism, and to 
account for it in any measure satisfactorily nothing 
less will serve than to suppose that the phenomena 
of instinct are effects of a force which is as general as 
that of gravity, a force which may comprehend that of 
gravity, a force in which that which is vital and that 
which is physical may find a common centre. So it 
may be. And if so, then it follows that traces of unity 
are not wanting in the phenomena of instinct. 


Chapter V. 


" EVERY man is born an Aristotelian or a Platonist ;" 
so wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge, so wrote Frederick 
von Schlegel, the one, it may be, repeating unwittingly 
the remark of the other. And there is a deep meaning 
in these words about which it may be well, for reasons 
which will appear in the sequel, to try and learn some- 
thing before proceeding to pry into the many dark 
questions connected with memory or any other mental 

The things of sense, according to Aristotle, are com- 
posed of eZ<$09 form, and v\r], matter. The ethos, is the 
formative principle, or energy by which the thing is pro- 
duced and constituted and actualized. It is connatural 
with the First Cause, which is one in essence, inde- 
structible, immaterial, at once immoveable and the spring 
of all movement: but it is not in anyway subject to 
this First Cause. It is, indeed, wholly free and inde- 
pendent, except, perhaps, in the case where it is asso- 
ciated with matter, Mind, vow;, is pure eZSo?, 
peculiar to man, which abides with the body during 
life and departs at death, whither is not distinctly 
stated. Soul, ifrvxrj, differs from vow;, in being de- 
pendent upon body, which is a compound of eiSos and 

Traces of Unity in the 

vXt), and in belonging to plants and animals as well as 
to man. It is possessed of several energies or faculties, 
8ui'dfj,ei<; — the faculty of appropriating nourishment, Bv- 
vapis dpe-mLKi'i ; the faculty of sensation, 8. al<jQt\iLicr) ; the 
faculty of motion in place, 8. kiutjtikt] ; the faculty of 
impulse or desire, 8. open/crf ; the faculty of intelligence, 
8. hLavovriKr) : and in more than one of these points it 
is difficult to see wherein it differs from vovs. It would 
seem also as if the eZ8o? entering into the formation of 
the tyvxi'] had lost some of its purity by being associated 
with vXtj : and in short, the relations of the vow to the 
•tyvxy are involved in much obscurity. In many points, 
certainly, there is a distinction without a difference. 
Indeed nothing is said to show why the vow? has to do 
with pure imperishable etSo?, and the t/tu^t; with the perish- 
able compound of elBos and vXtj which constitutes the 
living body, fwov : and the general impr.ession left upon 
the mind is that the things of sense are more real than 
the things which do not come within the range of sense, 
and that in the %5>ov the vXr) is quite as important a 
constituent element as the elSos. It is scarcely just to 
speak of Aristotle as a materialist in the modern sense 
of the word : it is certainly not right to speak of him 
in any sense as a spiritualist. His First Cause is little 
more than an abstraction, which for all practical pur- 
poses is extra-mundane. His vot/<r, is very little more 
of a reality. His ^v^'l is a shadowy entity which 
ceases to be when the eZ8o? and vX'o constituting the 
£6)ov seoarate at death : and all that can be said about 
it is that it is something contingent upon body, some- 
thing which can be no more than a bodily function. 
There is no room in the system for the idea of immor- 
tality. At death the man is disintegrated : and what 
applies to man applies equally to all other living crea- 

Phenomena of Memory. 


tures. There is no room for the idea of perfection even. 
On the contrary, while alive, the body is supposed to 
have an inherent capacity for self-improvement or de- 
velopment which may, perhaps, have led to the gradual 
evolution of man from lower types of being, through that 
of woman it may be. There is no distinct realization 
of the idea of unity in diversity and diversity in unity, 
for the constant aim is, not to bring together, but 
to define and differentiate, except it be in the case of 
the living body, fwov, where the constituent elements, 
etSo? and v\t\, are often more or less confounded, by 
speaking of vXtj as if it were all but actually etSos — as 
if matter, v\t), were potentially everything — and of et8o? 
as if it might be so far materialized as to come within 
the range of the senses. 

Aristotle always regards the things of sense as being 
really what they seem to be : Plato, on the other hand, 
regards them as mere phantoms, eiScoXa, except so far 
as they derive reality from things transcending sense, to 
which he gives the name of ideas, iBeat,, the things of 
sense being, in fact, only copies or adumbrations of these 
ideas — a view according to which the world of appear- 
ances, the material world, holds from the ideal world 
which shines through it "its entire existence in fee." 
Everywhere, Plato is bent on recognizing a principle of 
unity in multiety and multiety in unity, by which all 
things are bound together in one, not only with each 
other, but with a Divine Being, who is at once the true 
centre of unity and the only source of being— who is 
not merely that which is divine, but divinity personified, 
not merely to delov, but 6 0eo?. " When," says Maurice, 
" we use personal language to describe the God of whom 
Plato speaks, we find that we are using that which suits 
best with his feelings and principles, even though, 

1 68 

Traces of Unity in the 

through reverence or ignorance, he forbears to use it 
himself. When we use personal language to describe 
the deity of Aristotle, we feel that it is improper and 
unsuitable, even if, through deference to ordinary natures, 
or the difficulty of inventing any other, he resorts to it 
himself. Theology can have no connection with the 
system of Aristotle." Theology, on the contrary, is the 
very marrow of Platonism. Without being inconsistent 
with his principles as a philosopher Plato could not be 
other than religious in one way or another. Without 
thinking that he was doing anything irrational he may 
have fulfilled the last wish of Socrates by offering in 
person a cock to Aisklepios. This he may have done 
with perfect sincerity : but not so Aristotle, who only 
escaped being put to death at Athens for atheism by 
escaping to Chalcis, and remaining there ever after, even 
until his death in the year 322 B.C. Plato, indeed, is 
always looking beyond the present. Realities, to him, are 
not the things of sense, elScoXa, but the ideas, iSeat, under- 
lying them. The idea of the Divine Being is the sub- 
stance of every other idea and, therefore, of every 
et'SwXot'. The case is one of unity in multiety and mul- 
tiety in unity, with the Divine Being as the centre, and 
not one of independence and separation in which every 
creature is its own centre. The case is one in which 
any energy, mental or other, is an imperfect manifesta- 
tion of an energy of the same sort which is manifested 
in perfection only in the Divine Being. The case is 
one in which the limitations of within and without, of 
here and there, of now and then, merge, without con- 
fusion, foi the IBea which is the basis of every eiBco\ov is 
like the iSea of the Divine Being in being free of space 
and free of time — in being, that is, ubiquitous and im- 
mortal. The case is one which agrees with the pre- 

Phenomena of Memory. 


nriseSj for these, so far, both as regards form and force-,, 
point only to multiety in unity and unity in multiety.. 
Life in all its aspects, mental and others, according to> 
this view, is more than a mere bodily function, for its- 
only foundation is in the IBia which underlies the 
eiBcoXov, or rather in the ISea of the Divine Being which 
is the substance of all IBiai. Death attacks the eiScoXov,. 
resolving the partial into the general, the transient into 
the permanent, transforming it into the IBia perhaps, but 
it does not reach the iSia, which, by virtue of its Divine 
original, remains imperishable, immortal. Nor does 
death result in disembodiment, for, instead of being 
mere formless energy, the spiritual form of the ecBwXnv 
always remains in the i8ia — a form which may or may 
not be revealed to the senses. Indeed, Plato would 
have no difficulty in believing that the gods might 
appear among men, and again disappear, and that man, 
without any miracle, might undergo corresponding 
changes, because he believed in the material world as 
something which was capable of being idealized or 
spiritualized so as to be rapt away from the senses, and 
in the ideal and spiritual world as something not insus- 
ceptible of that transformation by which it could be 
brought within the reach of the senses. 

Aristotle and Plato, in fact, represent two irrecon- 
cilable schools of thought. That which is divine, to 
deioy, is to Aristotle no more than an impersonal First 
Cause, or energy, which is really extra-mundane rather 
than intra-mundane, and which works only in creation. 
That which is divine to Plato is a personal God, 6 0eo?, 
who may or may not be revealed to the senses, who is 
all in all in a system of nature in which a law of unity 
in multiety and multiety in unity is the law of laws, and 
who is the upholder as well as the creator of all things. 

Traces of Unity in the 

The etSo? of Aristotle is independent force or energy, 
connatural with the First Cause, and becoming manifest 
to the senses only when it is associated with matter, vkt], 
The iSea of Plato is something which is beyond the 
senses ordinarily but which, without the addition of any 
foreign element, t/A.77 or other, may be revealed to the 
senses, something which is connatural with the Divine 
Being, on whom it is dependent for its very existence, — 
something to which the eiBwXov stands in the relation of 
a dead crust or veil, rather than in that of a constituent 
element. Aristotle talks about vov? as pure elSos which 
enters the body at birth and remains in the body until 
death, but he chiefly concerns himself with the ^vx*), 
which in all its higher manifestations is undistinguish- 
able from mind, and which is no more than a function of 
that compound of eZSo? and v\r) which constitutes living 
being, £Sov. As regards the which is the whole 

life of plants and animals, and the greater part of the 
life of man, the view taken by Aristotle is most cheer- 
less. It is not lit up by a gleam of immortality. And 
even as regards the vov? the case is not much better, for 
this vital principle vaporizes, so to speak, into formless 
eI6o? at death, and so leaves the man to whom it be- 
longed for a time — nowhere. Death, in short, is the end 
of man no less than that of every other living thing if 
this system be carried out to its legitimate consequences. 
Plato, on the other hand, does not concern himself with 
these differences between vovs and ifrvxv, between eZSo? 
and v\r). The ISea may be instinct with any and every 
vital attribute, and this life is unending, because it partici- 
pates in the life of the Divine Being. Death dissolves 
the eiSwXoe, or terrestrial body, and sets free the l&ea, or 
spiritual body, the action of death being to remove an 
impediment to the manifestation of life rather than, as 

Phenomena of Memory. 

Aristotle believes, to destroy life by killing a living 
body. And this setting free of life by death extends 
not only to time but also to place, for the simple reason 
that the iSea of life must be as free of time and place 
as its Divine Original. In a word, the difference between 
Plato and Aristotle is substantially that which exists, 
and will ever exist, between the so-called spiritualists 
and the so-called materialists — a difference which Cole- 
ridge and Von Schlegel had in view when they said 
"every man is born a Platonist or an Aristotelian," 
and which every one who ventures to speculate upon 
the dark phenomena of mind, will do well to keep in 
view also. 

The view of memory which is in favour at the pre- 
sent time is undoubtedly Aristotelian in its character. 
It takes in little or nothing beyond that which is 
subject to the senses. Memory is looked upon as con- 
tingent on the life of certain brain-cells — as a function of 
these cells. Let these cells die, and utter oblivion is 
the instant result. That is all, or nearly all, that phy- 
siologists now-a-days venture to say on the subject. It 
is impossible, however, to let the holders of this view 
pass unchallenged, or to allow that reason is on their 
side when they answer to the challenge. Nor is there 
any real difficulty in making good this statement. 

There are several facts which make it difficult to 
believe that memory has no surer foundation than that 
which is supplied by perishable brain-pulp, and, so far as 
I can see, this difficulty is insuperable. 

A case supplying one of these facts is related by 
Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria. " It occurred in a 
Catholic town in Germany a year or two before my arrival 
in Gottingen, and had not then ceased to be a frequent 

i 7 2 Traces of Unity in the 

subject of conversation. A young woman of four or 
five and twenty, who could neither read nor write, was 
seized with a nervous fever, during which, according 
to the asseverations of all the priests and monks of the 
neighbourhood, she became possessed with a very learned 
devil. She continued incessantly talking Latin, Greek, 
and Hebrew, in very pompous tones, and with most 
distinct enunciation. This possession was rendered 
more probable by the known fact that she was a heretic. 
Voltaire humorously advises the devil to decline all 
acquaintance with medical men, and it would have been 
more to his reputation if he had taken this advice in the 
present instance. The case had attracted the particular 
attention of a young physician, and by his statements 
many eminent physiologists and psychologists visited 
the town and made cross-examination on the spot. 
Sheets full of her ravings were taken down from her 
mouth, and were found to consist of sentences coherent 
and intelligible each for itself, but with little or no 
connection with each other. Of these a small portion 
only could be traced to the Bible ; the remainder 
seemed to be in the Rabbinical dialect. All trick or 
conspiracy was out of the question. Not only had this 
young woman ever been a harmless, simple creature, 
but she was labouring under a nervous fever. In the 
town in which she had been resident for many years as 
a servant in different families, no solution presented 
itself. The young physician, however, determined to 
trace her past life step by step, for the patient herself 
was incapable of returning a rational answer. He at 
length discovered the place where her parents had lived, 
travelled thither, found them dead, but an uncle sur- 
viving, and from him learnt that the patient had been 
charitably taken by an old Protestant pastor at nine 

Phenomena of Memory. 


years old, and had remained with him for some years, 
even until the old man's death. Of this pastor the 
uncle knew nothing but that he was a very good man. 
With great difficulty, and after much trouble, our young 
medical philosopher discovered a niece of the pastor's, 
who had lived with him as a housekeeper, and had inhe- 
rited his effects. She remembered the girl ; related that 
her venerable uncle had been much too indulgent, and 
could not bear to hear her scolded ; that she was 
willing to have kept her, but that after her patron's 
death the girl herself refused to stay. Anxious inqui- 
ries were then, of course, made concerning the pastor's 
habits, and the solution of the problem was soon ob- 
tained ; for it appeared that it had been the old man's 
custom for years to walk up and down a passage in his 
house into which the kitchen door opened, and to read 
to himself with a loud voice out of his favourite books. 
A considerable number of these were still in the niece's 
possession. She added that he was a very learned man, 
and a great Hebraist. Among the books were found a 
collection of Rabbinical writings, together with several 
of the Greek and Latin fathers ; and the physician suc- 
ceeded in identifying so many passages with those taken 
down at the young woman's bedside, that no doubt could 
remain in any rational mind concerning the true origin 
of the impressions made upon her nervous system." 

" This authenticated case," continues Coleridge, 
" furnishes both proof and instance that reliques of 
sensation may exist for an indefinite time in a latent 
state, in the very same order in which they were origi- 
nally impressed, and contributes to make it even pro- 
bable that all thoughts are in themselves imperishable : 
and that if the intellectual faculty should be rendered 
more comprehensive, it will require only a sufficient and 


Traces of Unity in the 

apportioned organization — the body celestial, instead of 
the body terrestrial — to bring before every human soul 
the collective experience of its whole past existence. 
And this — this, perchance, is the dread book of judg- 
ment in whose mysterious hieroglyphics every idle word 
is recorded ! Yea, in the very nature of a living spirit, 
it may be more probable for heaven and earth to pass 
away than that a single act — a single thought — shall be 
loosened or lost from that living chain of causes, to all 
whose links, conscious or unconscious, the free-will, our 
only absolute self, is co-extensive and co-present." 

As bearing directly upon these remarks, De Ouincey 
also writes : — " I was once told by a near relative of 
mine (a woman of masculine understanding and unim- 
peachable veracity) that, having in her childhood fallen 
into a river, and being on the very verge of death but 
for the assistance which reached her at the last critical 
moment, she then saw her whole past life, clothed in its 
forgotten incidents, arrayed before her as in a mirror, not 
successively, but simultaneously ; and that she had at 
the same time a faculty developed as suddenly for com- 
prehending the whole and every part. This, from some 

opium experiences, I can believe And of 

this I feel assured, that there is no such thing as ultimate 
forgetting ; traces once impressed upon the memory are 
indestructible. A thousand accidents may, and will, in- 
terpose a veil between our present consciousness and the 
secret inscriptions in the mind. Accidents of the same 
sort will also rend away this veil. But alike, whether 
veiled or unveiled, the inscriptions remain for ever; just 
as the stars seem to withdraw before the common light 
of day, whereas, in fact, we all know that it is the light 
which is drawn over them as a veil, and that they are 

Phenomena of Memory. 


waiting to be revealed whenever the obscuring daylight 
itself shall have been withdrawn." 

To the same effect, also, is the story told in a letter 
to the celebrated Dr. Wollaston by a former hydro- 
grapher to the navy, Admiral Beaufort, of his own expe- 
rience in drowning — a letter which has, I believe, found 
its way into print before, but which I transcribe, as far 
as is necessary to my present purpose, from a manuscript 
copy in the possession of my friend Sir Thomas Watson, 
who, in fact, called my attention to it. 

"Many years ago," writes the Admiral, "when a 
youngster of the 'Aquilon' frigate, after sculling a boat 
about Portsmouth harbour, I was endeavouring to make 
her fast alongside the ship, but, the tide being strong, 
and the boat sheering off, I foolishly stepped on the 
gunwale in order to reach the ring of one of the scuttles. 
The boat of course upset, I tumbled into the water, and, 
not knowing how to swim, all my efforts to lay hold either 
of the boat or of the floating sculls were fruitless. The 
transaction had not been observed by the sentinel on 
the gangway, and it was not until the tide had carried 
me some distance from the ship, that a man on the fore- 
top saw the splashing in the water and gave the alarm. 
The first lieutenant (the present Rear-Admiral Oliver) 
instantly jumped overboard, the carpenter followed his 
example, and the gunner hastened into a boat and 
pulled after us. With the violent attempts to make 
myself heard I had swallowed a good deal of water, my 
struggles to keep myself afloat had exhausted me, and 
before any of my gallant preservers overtook me I had 
sunk below the surface. All exertions having ceased, 
all hope having fled, I felt that I was drowning. 

" So far the facts were either partially remembered, 

176 Traces of Unity in the 

or else supplied to me by those who had witnessed the 
■scene, for during an interval of such agitation, the mind 
is too much absorbed by alternate hope and despair to 
mark the succession of ordinary events very accurately : 
not so, however, as regards the circumstances which im- 
mediately followed. From the moment exertion had 

/ ceased, which I imagine was immediately consequent 
, upon complete suffocation, a feeling of the most perfect 

: tranquillity superseded the previous tumultuous sensa- 
tions. It might be called apathy. It was certainly not 
resignation ; for dying no longer appeared to be an evil, 
and all thought of rescue was at an end. Nor was I in 
any bodily pain. On the contrary, my feelings were 
rather of a pleasurable cast, comparable, perhaps, to 
those of that dull, but satisfactory, state which precedes 
the sleep produced by fatigue. Though the senses were 
thus deadened, the activity of the mind seemed invigo- 
rated and excited in a ratio which defies expression, and 
thought succeeded thought with a rapidity which is not 

' only indescribable, but probably inconceivable, by any 
one who has not himself been in a similar situation. 

" The course of these thoughts I can now in a great 

[ measure retrace. The event that had just taken place, 
the awkwardness that had produced it, the bustle it had 

i caused on board (for I had observed the two persons 
leap out of the chains), the effect it would have on my 
most affectionate father, the manner in which he would 
disclose it to the rest of the family, and a thousand 
other circumstances associated with home — 'these were 
the first ideas which occupied me. But my thoughts 
now took a wider range, and the events of the last 
cruise, a preceding voyage, a former shipwreck, the 
school where I had been educated, my boyish adventures 
and earliest exploits, every past incident in my life, 

Phenomena of Memory. 


glanced across my mind in retrograde succession, not in 
mere outline, as here stated, but with the picture filled 
up with every collateral detail. In short, my whole life 
seemed placed before me in a sort of panoramic review, 
and each act of it was accompanied by a consciousness 
of right and wrong, or by a reflection on its causes and 
its consequences ; indeed, many trifling affairs which had 
long been forgotten then crowded into my mind with a 
sort of recent familiarity. 

" It is remarkable that the innumerable ideas which 
thus crowded into my mind — with one exception at the 
outset about the feelings of my family — were all retro- 
spective. Yet I had been religiously brought up ; my 
hopes or fears of the next world had lost nothing of 
their early strength, and at any other period the most 
intense interest, or the most awful anticipation, would 
have been excited by the mere probability that I was 
standing on the threshold of eternity. Yet in that 
inexplicable moment, when I had a full conviction that 
I had crossed this threshold, not a single thought wan- 
dered into the future. I was wrapped entirely in the 

" Whilst life was returning my feelings were pain- 
fully the reverse of those which immediately preceded 
the loss of consciousness. A single, miserable, confused 

belief that I was still drowning dwelt upon my mind 

a hopeless and doubting anxiety, a kind of horrid night- 
mare, pressed heavily on every faculty and prevented 
the formation of a single distinct thought, and it was 
with extreme difficulty that I could at length convince 
myself that I was really alive. Instead of being free 
from bodily suffering, I was also tortured by dull, but 
deep pains; and though I have since been seriously 
wounded in all parts of my body, and subjected to 


Traces of Unity in the 

severe surgical discipline, I consider my suffering to 
have been far greater at that time, if not in intensity, at 
least in general distress." 

With such experience, it is no wonder that, in the 
course of this letter, Admiral Beaufort should put the 
question: "May we not infer that in the 'prolonged 
instant ' in which the past was so marvellously opened 
out there is no faint indication of the almost infinite 
power of memory with which we are to awaken here- 
after, and thus be enabled, or compelled, to contemplate 
our past life ? Or, might it not almost warrant the 
startling idea that death is only a change or modifica- 
tion in our existence, in which there is no real pause or 

In a note accompanying the copy of this letter, Sir 
Thomas Watson writes : " Many years ago a Mr. Impey, 
whom I met at dinner, told me that James Boswell (son 
of Dr. Johnson's Jemmy Boswell), who was a contem- 
porary of his at Brazenose, Oxford, and was once nearly 
drowned, had afterwards declared to him (Impey) that 
he then felt a drowsy, sleepy, undulating sensation, and 
that in a very short space of time the minutest circum- 
stances of all his former life appeared before his mind 
in rapid succession. The present Lord Romilly, and 
his deceased brother Edward, also knew of similar 
cases ; the former of a gentleman rendered insensible 
by immersion in the Lake of Geneva ; the latter of an 
acquaintance of his, a Mr. Ashmore (?), who was near 
being drowned in this country." 

With facts like these to deal with it is more than 
difficult to be satisfied with any materialistic view of 
memory. How can anything that is so far imperish- 
able find a home in perishable brain-cells, or in any 
other part of " the clay cottage in which man is tenant 

Phenomena of Memory. 


for life ! " The brain-pulp is in the main made up, not 
only of water, but of water in motion : and if there 
were no surer foundation than this for memory the only 
result must be that which the poet Keats had in mind 
when he chose for the epitaph on his tomb (close by the 
pyramid of Caius Cestius at Rome) the words " whose 
name was writ in water." No doubt these brain-cells 
have some all-important office to discharge in relation 
to memory and all other mental faculties : but it does 
not follow that this is that which is taken for granted. 
They may have to help in keeping up that electrical 
state of the brain, and of the nervous system generally, 
without which any bodily manifestation of mental 
action would be impossible — that the brain and the 
rest of the nervous system is a wonderful telegraphic 
apparatus by which different regions of the body are 
put into communication. It may be that different parts 
of this apparatus are so set that certain parts of the 
grey matter of the convolutions have to do specially 
with particular movements, one part with speaking, 
another part with handling, and so on. Or it may be 
that they have work to do which has yet to be dis- 
covered. But do what I may I cannot bring myself 
to think that these perishable brain-cells have to serve 
as a record office for memory, and that the work of 
remembering is carried on within them. And certainly 
this difficulty is not lessened when the facts to which 
.1 have been directing attention are taken along with 
those about which I have next to speak — facts among 
which the first in rank, and the most significant, is the 
identifying power of memory. 

The identifying power of memory is a fact upon the 
reality of which no question can be raised. Without 
this power there would be nothing but the consciousness 

N 2 

i So 

Traces of Unity in tlic 

of present existence — nothing to be remembered : for 
everytime that any unnoticed object or subject cameunder 
notice again it must appear as another object or subject. 
Without this power, for example, the days and years of 
my own personal life must be broken up into disconnected 
moments, for there would be no means of bridging over 
the intervals of forgetfulness which recur every moment. 
Nay, there must be a continual confounding of my own 
identity with that of other persons and things whenever 
my thoughts roamed away from myself. If the power 
of identifying were destroyed it could not be otherwise. 
What then? How is it that I know that I myself am at 
all times I myself, and not another person or thing about 
whose reality I am equally convinced ? Is it enough to 
suppose that this knowledge is conveyed through the 
senses to the sensorium, and there stored up for the use 
of the memory ? The senses have much to do in the 
matter — too much perhaps : but they cannot do all that 
has to be done. The sensorium has much to do, but 
less in all probability than is commonly supposed. The 
senses have much to do in the primary acquisition of 
many facts and fancies, but when this knowledge is once 
acquired the memory would seem to have little or no 
occasion for their service. And, without question, the 
help of the senses is not more necessary in respect of 
memories which are beyond the reach of the senses, for 
in this case the senses can have nothing to do even with 
the primary acquisition of that which is remembered. 
Be this as it may, however, there is more in the remem- 
brance of another person or thing than can be accounted 
for by cerebration or any reaction between the sensorium 
and senses, and this is the conviction of the identity of 
that person or thing. For how is this conviction to be ac- 
quired except by assuming an actual transaction between 

Plicnomem of Memory. 

iS i 

the person remembering and the person or thing remem- 
bered — a transaction which seems to imply a continuance 
of the interaction by which the memory took cognizance of 
the person or thing remembered in the first instance, or 
else a transference, so to speak, of the mind of him who 
remembers so as to allow a comparison of the copy in 
the brain with the person or thing copied. It cannot 
be enough to look at the copy : and, if it be necessary 
to compare the copy with that which is copied, then it 
seems to be necessary to believe that the power of 
identifying another person or thing implies a wider 
mental presence than that which is limited to body, a 
presence which is transcorporcal as well as corporeal, 
a presence which is in a measure superior to place, 
a presence which is altogether inconsistent with the 
notion that memory is no more than a mere function of 
certain brain - cells. The case, indeed, is one for a 
Tlatonist to deal with rather than for an Aristotelian. 
For a Platonist the senses and the sensorium alike must 
be impediments rather than helps in the acquisition of 
the ideas which underlie the things of sense, and which 
are the only realities. For him, instead of disconnexion, 
there must be universal unity in diversity and diversity 
in unity, with the Divine Being as the living centre of 
all things. For him, by reason of this all-pervading 
unity, all these ideas must be so far spiritual as to be 
superior to place. For him, memory must point to 
mind as something which is not to be confined within 
any corporeal limits — as something which is quite as 
much transcorporeal as corporeal. For him, the seat of 
memory will be, not in the sensorium exclusively, nor 
yet in the sensorium together with the senses, but any- 
where and everywhere, wherever the mind has chanced 
to roam : and the act of remembering will take place 


Traces of Unity in the 

wherever the mind was acted upon originally, no matter 
where. For him, it will be easy to dispense with the 
notion that the sensorium is a record office for memory, 
for, by reason of its ubiquitousness, the mind can have 
no difficulty in finding access to the original documents 
outside the sensorium. For him, once to know anything 
is always to be in the same case, and the act of recogni- 
tion ceases to be separable from the act of cognition. 
Upon this view a thing once apprehended mentally from 
that time forth becomes part and parcel of the being 
who apprehends it, and it must be recognized if again 
brought under notice in any way without any question 
being raised as to its identity. Once held it is never let 
go : and by ever holding it the mind is satisfied as to 
its identity. Nor is this conclusion invalidated when 
the thoughts are turned from the mind to the body of 
which the senses take cognizance. For what is the actual 
case then? It is that this very body is inseparably bound 
to other bodies, to the universe at large, by the force of 
gravity. It is — as will one day be better known, I trust — 
that it is not less firmly held in this position by " the 
electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound." It is 
that it cannot claim more than a momentary tenure 
even in the matter of which it is made, for, in fact, this 
matter is in a state of perpetual flux. And thus even 
body may be generalized until it ceases to be a serious 
obstacle to the adoption of that generalization of mind 
which arises naturally out of the premises — a view 
according to which mind is to be looked upon, not as 
the result of cerebration, or of any other similar action, 
but as something which is common to nature gene- 
rally — as something of which the substance, without 
any confusion as to identity, is one with that of the 
Divine Being who upholds nature. 

Phenomena of Memory. 


Again : if mind has to be looked upon in this way 
it is no wonder that the records of memory should be 
indelible. In point of fact, the reasons for concluding 
that mind is superior to space necessitate a similar 
conclusion with respect to time. The eiSnXov is time- 
bound as well as space-bound ; the ilka, from being con- 
natural with the Divine Being who is everywhere present 
as the eternal Now, is neither space-bound nor time- 
bound. This is the Platonic doctrine. And so it may 
be that the records of memory are indelible because 
they are inscribed, not on the changeable el8co\oi>, but in 
the changeless ilea, and the only wonder is — that they 
should ever seem to be erased. 

Again : the view here taken of mind sheds not a little 
light upon the association of ideas. For if the ground 
once occupied by the mind be never vacated, does it 
not follow that the subjects or objects appropriated must 
ever remain in that particular relation to each other 
which they occupied in the first instance, so that for the 
memory to go back along any one chain of thought to 
any one link in that chain is of necessity to bring to the 
mind's eye the overlappings of the adjoining links ? 

Again : in this view of memory there is what would 
seem to be a sort of explanation of the strange back- 
ward way in which memory fails in old age, or under 
the ravages of certain brain-diseases. In this failure 
recent events are forgotten first, then those which are 
less and less recent in turn, until at last all that is re- 
membered has to do only with early life. Some years ago, 
for example, I saw a french widow lady whose case sup- 
plies a memorable instance of the way in which these 
results are brought about by disease, the case being one 
of relapsing mania, with epileptiform symptoms, rapidly 
passing into dementia. Until she reached her sixteenth 

Traces of Unity in the 

year this lady lived in France, and spoke only french ; 
after this time she came to live in England, and began 
to speak english. When about twenty she married an 
americar;, and from this time, for about twenty years, 
she lived sometimes in America, sometimes in England, 
speaking english habitually, and french scarcely ever. 
When I saw her first, her mind was feeble, and that was 
all : when', after an interval of about two years, I saw 
her last, she had forgotten everything connected with 
her married life, her english not excepted ; and if asked 
who she was, and where she was, she gave her maiden 
name, and mentioned the street where she had lived in 
Paris when a girl. So completely had she forgotten her 
english, and gone back to her french at this time, that 
it had become necessary to change an english for a 
french maid. What happened in this case, and hap- 
pens to a greater or less extent in all cases of the kind, 
as well as in old age, is the very reverse of what might 
be expected to happen. It might be expected that the 
memory of early events would be the first to fade, and 
that of recent events the last ; but in reality this is no 
necessary inference from the facts. If mind be spirit, 
indeed, it is possible that it may, as it were, go on 
widening through a series of concentric circles until it 
reaches its maturity, that, so long as it retains its 
full vigour, it may keep hold upon all the memories in 
each of these circles, inner and outer, and that after- 
wards, when a contrary movement to that of develop- 
ment is taking place, the mind may fall asleep, as it 
were, in circle after circle, until at last it only remains 
awake in the innermost circles of all ; for if it be so it 
will follow that the 'memories of recent events, which 
are in the outer circles, will be the first to fade, and 
those of early events, which are in the inner circles, the 

Phenomena of Memory. 185 

last. That would happen, in fact, which is really found 
to happen, so that what seems to be exceptional at 
first may after all prove to be exactly in order when the 
law of mind is better known. 

In speculating upon the phenomena of memory, 
therefore, I cannot prevent my thoughts from soaring to 
a region where the limitations of time and space are un- 
known, where, without loss of identity in either, body 
and spirit are substantially one, where unity in diversity 
and diversity in unity is the one thought which remains 
uppermost in the mind. I can find nothing in the 
mechanical conception of cerebration which may serve as 
a firm foundation for memory. I must seek far and 
wide beyond my actual corporeal presence before I find 
what I want for this purpose. I must even discard the 
notion that various bodies act and re-act upon each other 
from a distance through the instrumentality of simple 
force, and adopt in place of it the notion that these 
bodies, instead of being separate, as they appear to be 
to the senses, commingle, and act and re-act upon each 
other, not indirectly, but directly, by participating, as it 
were, in an atmosphere, not of mere force but of actual 
being. It would seem as if my mind keeps hold of any 
object or subject upon which it has ever taken hold, 
whatever it be, wherever it be, becoming one with it in 
no merely imaginary sense. It would seem as if I might 
find in my memory the proof that I myself, body and 
mind together, am bound to the universe and the uni- 
verse to me by numberless indissoluble ties — that the 
sphere of my trans-corporeal presence is co-extensive 
with that of this universe — that I can only be fully 
myself when I recognise this relationship — and that the 
manifold mysteries of memory only begin to be disclosed 

Traces of Unity, cfc. 

when the doctrine of unity in diversity and diversity in 
unity, as paramount in nature, is made to serve as the 
key to them. And thus a further revelation of unity in 
diversity and diversity in unity is indeed the end of 
the whole matter — " only this and nothing more." 

i8 7 

Chapter VI. 


The history of the memory is substantially the history 
of the imagination also, any difference being no greater 
than that which is produced in one and the same song 
by altering the key and words. And so likewise with 
the histories of the will and the intellect. 

About the imagination it is difficult to think at all 
without becoming bewildered. A faculty which inter- 
meddles with all things, past, present, and to come, ever 
spurning the bounds of time and space, and never ceasing 
to exercise a power which may be rightly regarded 
as creative, can scarcely be earth-born. Nor is the wonder 
lessened by supposing that the phenomena have to do 
with a dreaming rather than with a waking state of mind. 
Too often dreams are merely disjointed repetitions of 
waking thoughts and feelings, but they are not always 
so. They may sink to the level of lunacy or rise to that 
of prophecy. They are always too wild and disorderly 
to admit of being brought into subjection to any kind of 
physical rule. In the waking state the body always asserts 
itself with sufficient emphasis, but not so in the dream- 

i88 Traces of Unity in the Phenomena of 

ing state. The dreamer, in fact, for the time, forgets his 
body as much as if he were actually disembodied. And 
why ? Is it that in dreaming there is a partial escape 
from the world of appearances, the world of the senses, 
which is emphatically the world of the waking state ? 
Is it that then, more clearly than in the waking state, 
man realizes, as belonging to himself, a trans-corporeal 
presence, the revelation being not altogether unlike that 
by which the relations of the earth to the universe are 
made known on astany night " by the withdrawal of the 
veil of light " ? Is it that then " a ladder reaching from 
the earth to mysterious altitudes above the earth " is set 
up for every man as it was once for the Patriarch Jacob ? 
Is it that sleep, like death, is the gateway to a fuller 
life, because then the chain is loosened by which man 
while awake is fettered to a ' body of death ? ' So it may 
be ; and, if so, then the story told by the imagination 
is the same as that told by the memory, with 
additions that give it greater emphasis and wider 
scope — a story of which the chief burden is still 
this, that, so far, the phenomena of mind point to trans- 
corporeity, and through trans-corporeity, to unity in 
diversity and diversity in unity, as the very foundation 
of these phenomena. 

What holds good of the imagination and the memory 
would also seem to hold good of the ivill. How is it 
that I am free to yes and no, and to act accordingly ? 
How is it that the will of one man may control or be 
controlled by the will of another man ? Not, surely, by 
taking a lower view of will than that which would seem 
to be necessitated by the history of the imagination and 
the memory. Indeed, the more the matter is looked 

Imagination, lJ r ill, and Intelligence. 189 

into the more it becomes evident that the will requires 
a wider field for action than that which is to be found in 
cerebration, or any other mode of bodily action, as wide 
even as that required for the manifestation of the imagi- 
nation and the memory. 

In his Sylva Sylvarum (Century X., 945, 946), Bacon 
has said something which is much to the point here. 
" The problem," so runs the text, " is whether a man 
constantly and strongly beleaving that such a thing shall 
be (as that such an one will love him, or that such an 
one will grant him his request, or that such an one shall 
recover a sicknesse, or the like) it doth help anything to 
the effecting of the thing itselfe. And here again e we 
must warily distinguish, for it is not meant (as hath been 
partly said before) that it should help by making a man 
more stout, or more industrious (in which kind a con- 
stant beleafe doth much), but mearely by a secret opera- 
tion, or binding, or changing the spirit of another. And 
in this it is hard (as we began to say) to make any new 
experiments, for I cannot command myselfe to beleave 
what I will, and so no triall can be made. Nay, it is 
worse, for whatsoever a man imagineth doubtingly, or 
with feare, must needs do hurt, if imagination have any 
power at all. For a man representeth that oftener that 
hee feareth, than the contrarie. 

" The helpe therefore is, for a man to work by an- 
other, in whom he may create beleafe, and not by him- 
selfe, untill himselfe have found by experience that 
imagination doth prevaile, for then experience worketh 
in himselfe beleafe, if the beleafe that such a thing shall 
be, be joyned with a beleafe that his imagination may 
proceede it. 

" For example, I related one time to a man that was 
curious and vaine enough in these things, that I saw a 

:go 7 races of Unity in the Phenomena of 

kinde of juggler that had a paire of cards, and would 
tell a man what card he thought. This pretended 
learned man told mee, it was a mistaking in mee, for 
(said hee) it was not the knowledge of the man's thought 
for that is proper to God, but it was the inforcing of a 
thought upon him, and binding his imagination by a 
stronger, that hee could thinke no other card. And 
thereupon hee asked me a question or two which I 
thought hee did but cunningly, knowing before what used 
to be the feats of the juggler. Sir (said hee), doe you 
remember whether hee told the card the man thought 
himselfe, or bade another to tell it ? I answered (as was 
true) that hee bade another tell it. Whereunto, hee said, 
so I thought, for (said hee) himselfe could not have put 
on so strong an imagination ; but by telling the other 
the card (who beleaved that the juggler was some strange 
man and could doe strange things) that other man 
caught a strong imagination. I hearkened unto him, 
thinking for a vanitie hee spoke prettily. Then hee asked 
me another question : saithe hee, doe you remember 
whether hee bade the man thinke the card first, and after- 
wards told the other man in his eare what hee should 
thinke, or else that hee did whisper first in the man's eare 
that should tell the card, telling that such a man should 
thinke such a card, and after bade the man thinke a 
card ? I told him, as was true, that hee did first whisper 
the man in the eare, that such a man should thinke such 
a card. Upon this the learned man did much exult, 
and please himselfe, saying, loe you may see that my 
opinion is right : for if the man had thought first, his 
thought had been fixed ; but the other imagining first, 
bound his thoughts. Which, though it did somewhat 
sinke with me, yet I made it lighter than I thought, and 
said, I thought it was a confederacie between the juggler 

Imagination, Will, and Intelligence. 191 

and the two servants, though (indeed) I had no reason so 
to thinke, for they were both my father's servants, and 
hee had never plaied in the house before. The juggler 
also did cause a garter to be held up, and tooke upon him 
to know that such an one should point in such a place 
of the garter, as it shoulde be neare so many inches to 
the longer end, and so many to the shorter. And still 
hee did it, by first telling the imaginer, and after bidding 
the actour thinke." 

In the case in which one person is said to be 
"unable to refuse anything" the will would also seem 
to be affected to a certain extent in the same way. 
As the stronger person chooses the weaker person 
must needs say yes or no in words or deeds. The case, 
as it would seem, is not remotely akin to that about 
which Bacon speaks, or to the cases which are referred 
to mesmerism, or electro-biology, or hypnotism — cases 
to which one day a good deal more attention must be 
paid than is paid at present. Possibly, a time will 
come when the story told by Bacon will be found to 
have an important bearing upon the interpretation of all 
these cases. Possibly, when the matter is more care- 
fully looked into, the tongue will be found to be con- 
tinually testifying to the same effect, not only in saying 
yes or no, with little or no choice on the part of the 
speaker, but in much more lengthened utterances. I 
once knew, for example, a bright little english girl 
about five and a half years of age who could speak 
english or french or german with equal readiness, but 
who was unable to choose the language in which she 
had to speak. If spoken to in english she answered in 
english, and so also for french or german. She had a 
nursery governess, a german, who spoke french and 
english as well as her native language, and she it was 


Traces of Unity in the Phenomena of 

who directed my attention to the curious fact in question 
and gave me more than one opportunity of verifying it. 
Again and again I heard the child addressed in each of 
the three languages named, and pressed to reply in one 
or other of the remaining two, and invariably without 
success. If pressed beyond a certain point she would 
cry, and that was all. On the part of the child there 
was no unwillingness to obey, and no inability to obey 
in any other case. Indeed, what puzzled the nursery 
governess and caused her to speak to me on the sub- 
ject was that the child should be, as it seemed to her, 
perfectly good and obedient except in this one matter. 
Nor was the result different when the conversation was 
carried on by others. More than once I myself tried to 
prevail, and all I could do by coaxing, and by bribing 
as well, I did, but I failed as completely as the nurse. 
Whether the result would have been different if the 
child had been spoken to by another child I do not 
know. There were no other children in the house, and 
no polyglot children within reach ; and, honestly, it did 
not occur to me to try this experiment while there was 
the chance. Nor do I know whether the peculiarity in 
question passed off as age advanced. Indeed, all 
that I know more is that this child was never strong, 
and that she died about eleven from some head-affection, 
which was supposed to have been brought on by 
pressing her education injudiciously; aad this, also, is 
all that I would say upon the subject now, except this, 
that I have heard of more than one case in which, as 
in it, the words of a child would seem to have been 
prompted by another person in a way which is scarcely 
intelligible except upon the supposition that there is an 
actual commingling of being in the two. 

And thus it is possible to discover traces of unity in 

Imagination, Will, and Intelligence. 193 

the phenomena of the will no less than in those of the 
imagination and the memory, for this commingling of 
being may be looked upon as itself unintelligible unless 
it be assumed that different people are — by being 
subject to the law of unity in diversity and diversity 
in unity — substantially one. 

So likewise with the intellect. The mighty power 
which speculates, not only upon the world of appear- 
ances, but upon such abstract mysteries as infinity, 
eternity, absolute goodness, absolute truth, absolute 
justice, unity, cosmical law, Deity — which is ever asking 
xvhy, and never doubting that it is entitled to a satis- 
factory answer in every case, — which is as free of time 
and space as are the powers of memory and imagination, 
— is surely something more than cerebration or anything 
of the kind. And, as surely, this impression is only 
deepened by looking into the facts a little more par- 

As it seems to me, the notion that the intelligence is 
something which is hemmed in within the bounds of 
the body or subjected to any kind of limitation, is flatly 
contradicted by the simple presence in the mind of any 
abstract idea. It is to me inconceivable that the idea of 
eternity, for example, can have a lodgement in a brain- 
cell. I might, perhaps, allow that impressions of a 
certain sort upon this cell may " by myriad blows " 
give rise to the notion of time ; but that any multiplica- 
tion of these impressions should cause the idea of time to 
change into that of eternity is altogether beyond my 
powers of comprehension. These two ideas have 
nothing in common ; and to think that the idea of 
eternity should arise in this way, would seem to be 
almost as absurd as to suppose that a clock, by dint of 


1 94 Traces of Unity in the Phenomena of 

continual clicking, should, instead of wearing out, come 
to be, not only a better timekeeper, but also a teller 
of what happens when time ends in the timeless eternal 
Now. In order to the conception of the idea of eternity, 
as it seems to me, there must be an intelligence which is 
in itself eternal, — a something which may belong to an 
eternal entity, but which cannot by any probability be- 
long to mere temporal brain or body ; and, deal with 
it as I may, I cannot think otherwise than that this 
conception of eternity is in itself an argument for sup- 
posing that in intellect, no less than in memory and 
imagination and will, there is something which points to 
trans-corporeity as a paramount reality in man. And as 
with the idea of eternity, so also with the idea of 
infinity or any other abstract idea, I cannot find room 
for that which is universal in that which at best is only 
partial ; and thus it is, that in order to accommodate 
these abstract ideas, it is necessary to get outside the 
brain and outside the body, and to believe that the 
true sphere of the intelligence is co-extensive with that 
of the memory and imagination and will. Indeed, to 
do otherwise, and suppose that an idea like that of God, 
or eternity, or infinity, can be lodged in a brain-cell, 
requires, as it seems to me, a far greater stretch of 
credulity than that which would be needed in order to 
believe it possible that all the waters of the ocean could 
be gathered up in the hollow of a cockle-shell. 

Evidence to the same effect is also to be found in 
the strange way in which, without any help from the 
senses, one person will often divine the thoughts of another 
person, or in which the same thought will often occur 
to two or more persons simultaneously ; but it is not 
necessary to dwell upon these facts, or to cast about for 
any others, for enough has been said to show that the 

Imagination, Will, and Intelligence. 195 

phenomena of intellect, no less than those of memory, 
imagination and volition, point beyond the body to a 
state of trans-corporeity, and, by so doing, make it all 
the more easy to entertain the idea that the doctrine of 
unity in diversity and diversity in unity is the only real 
key to the interpretation of these phenomena. 

O 2 

196 Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

Chapter VII. 


MUCH remains to be done before it is possible to arrive 
at a satisfactory conclusion respecting the modes of life 
to which attention is directed in this chapter. And 
why ? Would more have been done if more heed had 
been paid to the teachings of Plato ? Would still more 
have been done if these teachings had led on, as they 
naturally do, to those of the inspired writers ? An 
Aristotelian may sneer at such questions, a Platonist 
cannot do so. Indeed, Plato himself, if he were to re- 
visit the earth, would, in all probability, be most eager 
to recognize in these writers men whose vision was clear 
and far-reaching where his own was dim and purblind, 
and whose spirit was in all points congenial with his own 
spirit. Be this as it may, however, I cannot hope to 
advance far in the devious way which now lies before me 
if I refuse to accept the guidance of the so-called 
inspired writers, and choose to trust only to the lumen 
siccum of my own reason. 

A great demand is made upon the reason in adopt- 
ing this course, but, after all, this is not so great as that 
which is made by the evolutionist when dealing with the 
same matters. I am required to believe that man was 
created in the " image of God " and endowed with a 

Social, and Religious Life of Man. 197 

god-like dominion over nature, and that he is now 
in a state of death with the chance of recovering all he 
has lost, and more. I am required to believe that man 
in his perfect state must love his fellow man and his 
God so as to be actually one with both. I am required 
to believe that the God in whose image man was made 
is perfectly good and true and just and loving, and at the 
same time the eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omnis- 
cient, omnipotent, self-existent, personal, I AM, in whom 
man lives and moves and has his being, and by whom all 
things consist. I am required to believe that man is 
almost the exact opposite of what he seems to be : and 
yet I dare not set aside the demand as unreasonable. On 
the contrary, I can dimly perceive that man is more, 
much more, than what he seems to be — that he may be, 
even as regards body, all that I am required to believe 
him to be — and that, in fact, no lower view than this will 
apply exactly to the actual case. 

What has been already said about body makes it not 
altogether unintelligible that S. Paul should say that 
there is a body celestial and immortal as well as a body 
terrestrial and mortal, the one in every way real, the 
other comparatively unreal, the one " a house not made 
with hands, eternal in the heavens, and present with the 
Lord," the other an earthly tabernacle, burdensome in 
every sense, naked, and "absent from the Lord," the 
body terrestrial being something which is to be, not 
put off, as by a process of unclothing, but clothed-upon, 
mortality being swallowed up in life. " For we know 
that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved 
wc have a building of God, a house not made with 
hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, 
earnestly desiring to be clothed-npon with our house 
which is from heaven, to oiKijTi'ipiov vfiwv to e£ ovpavov 

it 98 

Traces of Unity in tJic Personal, 

iTrevSvaaa-Oai i-rrnrodovvres : if so be that being clothed 
we shall not be found naked, ei <y € icai ivBuo-dfievoi, ov 
yvfivol evpedrjao/xiOa. For we that are in this tabernacle 
do groan, being burdened : not for that we would be 
unclothed, but clothed-upon, that mortality might be 
swallowed up of life, eVetS^ ov 8e\ofiev enhvo-ao-Bai, aXk' 
i.Trevhvcraa8ai, iva Karcnrodrj to dvrjTov virb rrj? fwT/c. 
. . . . Therefore we are always confident, knowing 
that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent 
from the Lord (for we walk by faith, and not by sight) : 
we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent 
from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 

Here, without question, the doctrine is that the 
body is, not always what to the senses it now appears 
to be, but sometimes this, and sometimes that which 
may be transfigured or translated — transfigured as it 
was in Moses when he had to veil his countenance, or 
in Ananias, Azarias, and Misael in the midst of the 
fiery furnace, or in the disciples at the day of Pentecost 
(when, perhaps, it was not upon the head merely that 
the tongues of fire rested), or in Stephen when his 
countenance shone like that of an angel, or in Christ 
when he underwent that change of which in aftertimes 
the vision inspired Fra Angelico to paint the fresco 
which still illumines the wall of the cell in the convent 
of S. Mark at Florence in which he lived and died, 
and Raphael to begin the wondrous picture, now in 
the Vatican, which he did not live long enough to 
finish — translated as it was in the evangelist Philip 
when he was caught away from the side of the eunuch 
and found at Azotus, or in Christ, when he hid him- 
self from the angry crowd at Nazareth, or when he 
took bread and brake it at Emmaus. The present 
body, indeed, is represented, not as something which is 

Social, and Religions Life of Man. 199 

to be cast aside as vile and worthless, but as something 
which may, without disembodiment, be spiritualized and 
glorified — as something which, like the body of angels 
and other celestial beings, may at one time be not 
unlike an ordinary human body, and at another trans- 
figured or translated — as something which is changeable 
in a way which will appear natural to every child, and 
which cannot appear altogether unnatural even to the 
most matter-of-fact man. The child turns towards this 
view instinctively, and if the man does not do so it is 
because his instincts are blunted and not allowed to 
have free play. In other words, there is an imaginative 
faculty in both child, and man which compels the reason 
to listen believingly, not only to what is revealed about 
the body terrestrial and the body celestial, and the 
mutual convertibility of the two, but also to what the 
poets have had to say upon the subject at all times and 
in all places. And, after all, there need not be any 
grave disagreement between the imagination and the 
reason in this matter, for after what has been said upon 
unity in diversity and diversity in unity, in form and 
force, the reason must allow that the transitory earthly 
body is associated with a form which is not transitory, 
and which, for anything that appears to the contrary, 
may be the very spiritual body of which the Scriptures 
speak so plainly. 

What is revealed respecting God is also consistent with 
what is revealed respecting man in this matter. The God 
of the Scriptures is made known as walking and talking 
with Adam before his fall, as talking and eating with 
Abraham,as wrestling with Jacob, as appearing in glory to 
Ezekiel and S. John, but nowhere as mere disembodied 
Spirit. There is, so to speak, a distinct anthropomorphic 
element in the revelation of the Divine Being which is 


Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

not to be explained away. In the vision of the four 
cherubim and four wheels, and of the glory of God, 
which Ezekiel saw in the land of the Chaldeans by the 
river Chebar, there was " the appearance of a throne, 
and upon the likeness of the throne the likeness of the 
appearance of a man above upon it," from the loins 
upward and from the loins downward irradiant with 
amber-coloured fire and light, and "this was the appear- 
ance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." In the 
vision in the Isle of Patmos, S. John saw, still more 
distinctly, in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, 
" One like unto the Son of man," glorified beyond 
measure, who declared Himself to be "the Alpha and 
Omega, the First and the Last, alive for evermore." 
And what S. John saw on this occasion was in keeping 
with what he had seen at the transfiguration on the 
mount, and again and again after the resurrection, for it 
is scarcely to be supposed that the form in which the 
Saviour then appeared was only that of man. Indeed, it 
seems to be in accordance with the general tenor of 
Holy Scripture to believe that there is, as I have said, an 
anthropomorphic element in the Deity, and that perfect 
divinity as well as perfect humanity was manifested at 
all times in the person of Christ, even before the resur- 

Without disembodiment, therefore, man may be the 
" image of God." His present body, by resurrection, 
must be changed from the body terrestrial to the body 
celestial, as the body of Christ was changed by resurrec- 
tion : and then, even as regards body, the Divine like- 
ness, which is now marred so terribly, is not wanting in 
man. This is all. And if so, then there can be little 
difficulty in advancing further, and seeing more clearly 
at every step that man may, nay must, be " the image 
of God " in other respects also. 

Social, and Religions Life of Man. 201 

If the view set forth in the last chapter but one be 
correct, there can be no difficulty in finding a mental 
likeness to the Divine Being in memory. For what 
other meaning is to be attached to that superiority to 
time and place to which the memory testifies except this 
— that there is something in the mind of man which re- 
flects the image of the Divine Being who is immortal and 
omnipresent. And if so, then it follows that the mind of 
man may find, as it would seem to do, a seat anywhere, 
and keep it, even in a stone, as in the case where Joshua 
took a great stone, and set it up under an oak that was 
by the sanctuary of the Lord, and said unto all the 
people, " Behold, this shall be a witness unto us : for it 
has heard all the words of the Lord which He spake 
unto us : it shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest 
you deny your God." 

There is also in man a power to will and do which 
may well belong to one who is the image of Him who is 
all-powerful, I know that I may say yes or no, and defy 
any power, human or divine, to make me say otherwise 
unless I am so minded. I cannot account for the way 
in which I coerce the movements of my own mind and 
body, or am coerced by others, except upon the suppos- 
ition that the will is supremely powerful. Indeed, after 
what has been said already, I am more than half 
compelled to regard my will as heaven-born rather than 
as earth-born — as indicating that I am nothing less than 
the image of Him who is all-powerful, and to believe 
that there is nothing really inconsequent in what is 
revealed about the dominion over nature which man had 
before the fall, or about the power to remove mountains 
which he may again have, if he have " faith as a grain of 
mustard seed." 

As it would seem, also, all is confusion if the imagin- 


Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

ative and intellectual faculties of man are regarded 
from any lower point of view than this. The work of the 
imagination is creative in the true sense of the word. It 
lies outside the world of appearances, but it is not the 
less real on that account. In every case it is real enough 
for the memory to take hold of it and keep hold of it 
as firmly as if it had been enacted in this world ; and — 
as more than one passage in the Sermon on the Mount 
will serve to show — it were well if it were not so in 
very many instances. In every case it is difficult to find 
wherein the memorial record of a fancy differs from that 
of a fact either as regards vividness or persistency. 
And in very many cases it may be questioned whether 
the latter record has not much more to do with fancy 
than with fact — whether the fact itself is not so much 
dressed up by the imagination as to run no small risk 
of not being recognized if this dress were removed — 
whether the fact would assert itself at all as such with- 
out this dress. At all events, the creatures of the imagi- 
nation are sufficiently real to warrant the conclusion, not 
only that the imagination is creative in the true sense of 
the word, but also that the power which may be exer- 
cised in this direction is altogether beyond measure. 
Nor is a different conclusion to be drawn from the 
history of the human intelligence. It is short of the 
truth to say of man, with Hamlet, 'in understanding how 
like a god,' unless it be understood that this god is The 
God to whom omniscience must be attributed. Indeed, 
the more the history of the imaginative and intellectual 
faculties is looked into the clearer it becomes that here 
man is, potentially, the image of the All-wise Creator, and 
that illumination comes to him, ' not by penetration, 
microscopic inspection, and syllogistic groping from one 
syllable of the book of nature to another, whereby cite 

Social, and Religious Life of Man. 203 

gets its words indeed, but not their sense', but ' by soaring 
and surveying,' or rather by patiently receiving the 
' inspiration of the Almighty which givcth under- 
standing,' 'the creeping and touching processes of the 
understanding and reason belonging not to the finding, 
but to the proving and confirming of truth.' Be this as 
it may, however, of this there need be no doubt — that in 
one way or another the imagination and intellect of man 
are powers which may justly lay claim to the very 
highest parentage, even though this be that of the 
All-wise Creator himself. So that here, no less than in 
the points which have been already under consideration, 
man may be rightly regarded as the ' image of God.' 

And even on that side of humanity which lies most 
in shadow there are features which seem to belong to a 
Divine Being who is perfect in goodness and truth and 
justice, and who at the same time is loving to all his 
works. The likeness here, no doubt, is terribly marred, 
but it is not to be mistaken. It is far from being that 
of a fiend — very far. Willingly or unwjllingly, man is 
compelled to recognize the rightful supremacy of good- 
ness and truth and justice and love, and to see, more or 
less clearly, that he can only be at peace with himself 
when he acts up to his convictions in this respect. His 
conscience will not be silenced. In reading the words, 
' Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee saying this is 
the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand 
and when ye turn to the left,' he knows full well what is 
meant. He not only hears this voice, but he recognizes 
it as the voice of a Ruler to whom he owes allegiance. 
Nay he is not without hope that brighter days are in 
store for him in which he will hear the voice more dis- 
tinctly and obey it more willingly — days in which the 
law in his 'members' will cease to be at war with the 

204 Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

law of his mind — days 'after which, saith the Lord: I 
will put my laws into their minds, and write them in 
their hearts ; and I will be to them a God, and they 
shall be to me a people : and they shall not teach every 
man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying 
Know the Lord ; for all men shall know me, from the 
least to the greatest.' 

And, lastly, I am driven to the same conclusion by 
the conviction of my own personality. I know that I 
have a perfect right to say / am. And why ? Surely 
by no lower right than that which is conferred upon me 
as the image of Him whose name is I AM ! On this 
ground my right is indefeasible ; on any other ground 
I am in the same predicament as "the beasts that 
perish." And thus, in my name no less than in my 
nature, I am constrained to believe that man is literally 
what he is revealed to be — the " image of God." 

Nor need the keen sense of my own shortcomings 
prevent me from reasoning in this way. On the contrary, 
these very shortcomings may be nothing more than the 
necessary consequence of the state of death in which, 
according to the Scriptures, I now am. I am required 
to believe that Adam died on the day on which he fell, 
and that thenceforth his state and that of his descend- 
ants, has been a state of death — a state which, for any- 
thing that appears to the contrary, may mean obscura- 
tion to any extent of the divine image in man, obscura- 
tion to the extent at present met with even. And if so, 
then, instead of being a stumbling-block in the way of 
receiving what is revealed respecting man, the very im- 
perfections at present met with in man only serve to 
attest the trustworthiness of the sacred record. 

Taking this view of the personal life of man it is 
easy to advance a little further and see why the philo- 

Social, and Religious Life of Man. 205 

sophy of Plato should lead, step by step, from the indi- 
vidual man to the idea of a republic of men under the 
personal superintendence of a Divine Being, and why a 
higher philosophy than that of Plato should bring men 
together in a church with Christ for its head — it is easy, 
that is to say, to find a key to much that would other- 
wise be very unintelligible in the social and religious life 
of man. 

Sociology, with self as its centre, is, to my mind, no 
key at all to the social life of man. Instead of tight- 
ening it loosens the bonds which bind husband to wife, 
parent to child, friend to friend, man to man, and all 
men to home and country. Man cannot, if he would, 
altogether shut himself up in self. He dimly perceives 
that self-sacrifice must be the paramount law of his 
being. He feels himself disgraced if he does not risk 
his own life to save that of another person. He shud- 
ders at the mere thought of an execution ; he cannot 
look upon a dying person, even when death comes in 
his most peaceful guise, with indifference. He feels, in 
these and a thousand other ways, that Jean Paul was 
speaking quite soberly when he said " the heart of man 
takes more into itself than his head, and the better man 
must needs despise himself if his arms should reach 
only round a single planet." And this feeling must 
gain upon him just in proportion as he realises more 
clearly the boundless capacity of that something be- 
longing to him which is called the heart — which finds 
expression not in selfishness, but in selflessness, — 
which strives unceasingly to enter into communion 
with all mankind and with nature generally, and which 
may be nothing less than one of the many ways in 
which man is made to know that the doctrine of unity 
in diversity and diversity in unity, of which so much has 

206 Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

been said, is no empty dream. And if this doctrine of 
unity be the only true foundation of sociology then it 
ceases to be matter of wonder that the social and per- 
sonal life of man are not to be disjoined, and that the 
second great law should be " thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bour as thyself," for how can it be otherwise if the 
being of man is connatural with that of Him whose 
name is Love ? 

Nor is this conclusion at variance with that which 
may be drawn from certain passages in the religious life 
of man to which I am at liberty to refer here. In these 
passages man is represented as imperfect now, and as 
remaining imperfect unless he become the recipient of 
certain divine gifts which are at his disposal if he seek 
for them in the right quarter and in the right way. 
This seems to be the main purport of these passages ; 
and it is not at all surprising that it should be so. It is 
certainly true that man is imperfect now. It is certainly 
true that man is not content to remain in this state, and 
that a way has been already opened out by which he 
has been able to effect a partial escape from it. How 
this way has been opened out is not so certain, but the 
facts would seem to point to superhuman rather than to 
merely human means. Much genius and talent has 
been at work, but it is difficult for man to claim sole 
credit on this score. It is usual to speak of genius and 
talent in every form as imparted — as gifts — as divine 
gifts : and, to say the least, it is very difficult to say that 
it is not right to say so. Do what he will, man cannot 
get rid of the feeling that the divine gifts which, for 
instance, are symbolized in the cap of Hephaistos, in the 
winged sandals and diamond-bladed weapon of Hermes, 
and in the shield of Pallas Athene\ are real necessities, 
and that he must be endowed and empowered, as 

Social, and Religions Life of Man. 207 

Perseus was, before he can hope to get the better of the 
Gorgon, or spirit of evil in one shape or another, whose 
will it is to prevent him from gaining the object of his 
hope, his Andromeda, by turning him to stone. Nay he can 
not quite get rid of the fear that he is already punished 
in this manner in some measure for failing to secure 
these gifts, for may it not be that he is partially de- 
vitalized, materialized, turned into stone, whenever he- 
persists in mistaking, as he does do continually, matter 
for spirit, death for life, a dead idol for the living God ? 
And if he can arrive at this point he has not to go much 
further in order to be able to accept as true what is more 
clearly revealed in Holy Scripture about faith and prayer 
and spiritual gifts and the necessity for self-sacrifice, for 
he will be quite prepared to allow that the many defi- 
ciencies in human nature of which he is so painfully con- 
scious can only be remedied when that is imparted by 
which human nature is assimilated to the Divine Nature 
— when, in fact, the prayer of Christ for His disciples is 
answered, even this — " that they all may be one : as 
thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also 
may be one in us — that they may be one, even as we 
are one : I in them, and thou in me, that they may be 
made perfect in one." Instead of being staggered by 
these words, he will cling to them as containing the 
fullest assurance of the truth of the doctrine about which 
so much has been said, the doctrine of unity in diversity 
and diversity in unity, with the Divine Being as the 
centre of unity. Instead of looking upon faith and 
prayer generally as of necessity opposed to law, he will 
recognize in these acts the natural means by which he is 
to attain to his full stature as the "image of God." 
Step by step along a firm pathway he will arrive at this 
conclusion, and at every step he will feel less disposed 

2o8 Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

to yield to the temptation of making use of faith and 
prayer in opposition to law. Indeed, it is not too much 
to say that along with the power of faith and prayer 
there will ever be a strong disposition to say " not my 
will, but thine be done," and that, for this reason, the 
man who is full of faith and prayer will be as little 
likely to interfere with the natural workings of law as 
the most unbelieving and prayerless Aristotelian. 

And certainly I know of no evidence in favour of 
the doctrine of evolution which ought to lead to a 
different conclusion. 

It is taken for granted that the fossil remains of the 
plants and animals which are entombed in the cemetery 
of the rocks supply such conclusive evidence, but, as it 
seems to me, upon very insufficient grounds. It is quite 
true that the remains of dicotyledonous plants are con- 
fined to the cainozoic or more recent fossiliferous rocks : 
that those of monocotyledons are met with, not only in 
the lower mesozoic rocks (palmae in the trias), but also 
in the upper palaeozoic rocks (aroideae in the coal 
measures) ; and that remains of gymnosperms (conifers) 
vascular plants (lycopodiaceae, ferns, equisitaceae) reach 
down far into, and cellular plants (algae) almost to the 
bottom of, the palaeozoic series of rocks. It is quite 
true that the remains of mammals — with the exception 
of those of marsupials, which are met with in the 
mesozoic rocks — are confined to the cainozoic rocks ; 
that the remains of birds reach down to some depth in 
the mesozoic rocks ; that those of reptiles over-pass 
those of birds and reach the upper palaeozoic rocks ; 
that those of fishes (ganoids and plagiostomi) are met 
with in the latter rocks ; and that the remains of 
invertebrata are buried deeper down still, the more 
simple forms the deepest of all. To some extent also, 

Social, and Religious Life of Man. 209 

the more simple plants and animals reach deeper down 
than the less simple. But, in fact, these forms, plant 
and animal, more simple and less simple, extinct and non- 
extinct, are mixed together — for example, the conifers 
and cycadaceae with the algae, the crustaceans and brach- 
iopods and annelids and cephalopods with the sponges 
and polypes — in such a way as to make it more than 
difficult to believe that the more simple had prece- 
dence of the less simple in the order of development. 
Indeed, I do not see why the plants and animals may 
not represent the spoils of different districts at the same 
time rather than those of any one district at different 
times — why the plants and animals of different districts 
should not have differed as they differ now, say in Australia 
and India, and why, for this reason, the rocks formed 
from the debris of these districts should not differ in 
their fossil remains as much as they do in their inorganic 
constituents, and this all the more as the difference in 
their inorganic constituents would seem to point con- 
clusively to difference of district. And, most assuredly, 
many difficulties will have to be cleared away before it 
is possible to follow the latest and most uncompromising 
of the evolutionists, Professor Hackel, in the path along 
which, by dint of much pushing and leaping, through 
many intermediate forms, many of them purely ima- 
ginary, he tries to make his way from the monera to 
man — a path of which the following brief and pithy itine- 
rary, given by my friend Dr. Elam in a remarkably 
interesting work just published *, is not a gloss or 
caricature, as it may seem to be, but a simple abstract 
of the text. Thus : — " 1. The Monera is the earliest 

* "Winds of Doctrine: an Examination of the Modern Theories of 
Automatism and Evolution." 


2io Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

form of life; It arose in the Laurentian epoch by spon- 
taneous generation from inorganic matter. Its accept 
ance as our earliest ancestor is necessary ' on the most 
weighty general grounds.' 2. The Amoeba: ; and 3. The 
Compound A mceba? come next. They are to be accepted 
on embryological considerations ; as also are 4. The 
P/auceada, represented by some ciliated animalculae. 
5. The Gastrata (Urdarmthiere) are a purely imaginary 
class of animals. They are placed here because required 
as ancestors for the Gasirula, itself an imaginary order, 
derived from embryological exigencies. 6. The A rcl/el- 
minthes, or earliest worms, represented now by the 
Turbellaria. 7. The Scolccida, the actual annelidan 
representatives of which are not known. 8. The Chord- 
onia, also a purely imaginary type, having no extinct 
or living representatives, but being ' undoubtedly ' the 
progenitors of all the Vertebrata, through the Asci- 
dians. 9. The Acrania, represented by the Amphi- 
oxus, the lowest form of vertebrate animal, a rudimen- 
tary fish, having certain resemblances to the Ascidians. 
10. The Mouorliiua which was the parent stem of the 
sharks, through the Amphirhina, represented by the 
modern lampreys. 11. The Selachii, or skark -tribes, 
from which sprang — 12. The Dipneusta, or Lepido- 
sirens, from which originated — 13. The true Amphiuma, 
and 14. The Sozura, another order of Amphibia, inter- 
polated here, ' because required as a necessary transition 
stage between the true Amphibia,' and 15. The Prot- 
amniota, or general stem of the mammals, reptiles, and 
birds. " What the Protamniota were like," says Pro- 
fessor Huxley, "I do not suppose anyone is in a posi- 
tion to say," but they are proved to have existed 
because they were the necessary forerunners of — 16. 
The Pro-mammalia, the earliest progenitors of the 

Social, and Religions Life of Man. 2 1 1 

Mammalia. The nearest living genera are the Echidna 
and the Ornithorhynchus. 17. Marsupialia, or kanga- 
roos. 18. The Pro-simice, or half-apes, as the indris 
and loris. 19. The Menocerca, or tailed apes. 20. The 
Aiithropoidcs, or man- like apes, represented by the 
modern orang, gibbon, gorilla, and chimpanzee, amongst 
which, however, we are not to look for the direct 
ancestors of man, but amongst the unknozvn extinct 
apes of the Miocene. 21. The Pithecanthropi, or dumb 
ape-men — an unknown race — the nearest modern repre- 
sentatives of which are cretins and idiots ! ! They ' must 
have' lived, as a necessary transition to — 22. The Hom- 
ines, or true men, who ' developed themselves from the 
last class by the gradual conversion of brute bowlings 
into articulate speech,' &c, &c." O he, jam satis est. 

Nor is a different conclusion to be drawn from the 
manifold modifications which so many plants and 
animals undergo under the fostering care of man and 
in other ways, and which are often regarded as improve- 
ments upon nature. Thus : the rose may be improved 
from the wild rose of the hedges into the queen of the 
garden. Thus : the dog may be improved from the wolf- 
like wild dog into the tame, friendly, noble St. Bernard 
dog. But the manifold changes producible in these 
and countless other plants and animals are never so 
great as to constitute species, never more than those 
which go to make up the differences called varieties: 
and, in fact, constant care on the part of man is needed 
to prevent these varieties from speedily reverting to the 
original type. And what other conclusion can be drawn 
from the infertility of mules than this — that there is a 
barrier between different species, even between those 
which are most closely akin to each other, by which 
they are kept apart most effectually. Nay, it is even 

2 i 2 Traces of Unity in the Personal, 

difficult to find any evidence in favour of evolution in 
the history of the rudimentary creatures whose very 
vitality may be somewhat doubtful. Bacteria, the sim- 
plest of all living units, may, as Dr. Bastian points out so 
cleverly, be developed (possibly from inorganic elements) 
almost at the will of the experimenter into monads, and 
amoebae, and paramaeciae, or into the lowest forms of 
fungi — into forms of animal life, that is to say, or into 
forms of vegetable life : but not much is to be built 
upon this fact in favour of evolution. For what follows ? 
Simply this — that, instead of passing on into higher 
forms of being, these forms are unstable in the highest 
degree, and always in haste to break up again into 
bacteria. The tendency to retrograde is, to say the 
least, quite as marked as the tendency to advance ; and, 
as respects evolution, the conclusion to be drawn here 
is even that which has been drawn from the history of 
the rose and dog — this and no other. 

Nor can I find any evidence of a contrary sort in the 
doctrine of unity upon which so much has been said. 
According to this doctrine, each etBcoXov has a firm 
foundation, through its own i'Se'o, in the Divine Being, 
Who is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." 
According to this doctrine, what is involved is, not 
only unity in diversity, but diversity in unity. I am 
not at liberty to think that any one difference can merge 
in another, or that diversity can ever be lost in unity ; 
and, to my mind, the doctrine of unity in diversity and 
diversity in unity has little or no bearing, direct or 
indirect, upon the doctrine of evolution. 

In a word, there is, so far as I can see, nothing to be 
said in favour of evolution which need prevent me from 
concluding that each creature was created as a necessary 
part of a great whole, perfect in itself, and perfect in 

Social, and Religiotis Life of Man. 2 1 3 

its relations to other creatures, and to the universe to 
which it belongs — so perfect as to deserve to be spoken 
of as " very good " — and that man originally was no 
brute-descended savage, living in a wilderness, and 
fighting his way upwards, step by step, to a higher level, 
but a demi-god, walking and talking, as a child with his 
parent, with the God in whose image he was made, 
until for some fault of his own he was driven out into 
the wilderness, ' wretched, and miserable, and poor, and 
blind, and naked,' and so far oblivious of everything 
relating to his high descent as to put Moloch in the 
place of God — nothing to prevent me from adopting the 
conclusion already arrived at that man is in the full 
sense of the words the " image of God," and that his life, 
personal, social, and religious, only ceases to be enig- 
matical when this old-fashioned doctrine is used as the 
key to it. 

Nor is the dignity of the Godhead in any way 
compromised by regarding man as the " image of God." 
For what is the conclusion to which I have been 
compelled to come respecting man ? It is that he is 
more than that " mortal man, immersed in blood, 
encased in flesh," and " lapsed in time and passion," 
about which the senses speak so loudly. It is that he 
has, in addition to this " body of death," not only an 
undying corporeal presence, which may or may not be 
made manifest to the senses, but also a trans-corporeal 
presence, which is no less than immortal, ubiquitous, 
god-like spirit. It is that he is a being, not apart and 
alone, but one with all men, and with«nature as a whole, 
and with Him who is the author and upholder of 
nature. The view taken, indeed, is one in which man, 
in order to be wholly himself, must enter fully into this 


1 1 4 

Traces of Unity, &c. 

wide and high and deep communion. It is impossible 
to stop short of this conclusion. In other words, the 
sphere of humanity — by being thus more than co- 
extensive with that of nature — is wide enough to 
include the very widest conception of divinity, even 
though this should go on widening for ever: and, 
therefore, without at all lowering the idea of the God- 
head, it is quite conceivable that man may be the 
" image of God," and also that " the invisible things of 
Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, 
being understood by the things that are made, even 
His eternal power and Godhead." Nor does the idea 
of the Godhead become indefinite by so regarding it. 
On the contrary, among the invisible things of Him 
which are clearly seen in the things that are made may 
even be a glimpse of Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in 
Unity, for this, to my mind, is the most distinct vision 
which remains when the eye, dazzled by the contempla- 
tion of unity in diversity and diversity in unity, as 
revealed in nature, is raised from nature to the God of 

A6%a fiovu) ray &eu>. 


^^^^w^ £t, martin's lane.