History of botany (1530–1860)

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History of botany (1530–1860)
by Julius von Sachs, translated by Henry E. F. Garnsey

HISTORY OF BOTANY


SACHS



HISTORY OF BOTANY


(1530—1860)


BY


JULIUS VON SACHS

PROFESSOR OF BOTANY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF WÜRZBURG



AUTHORISED TRANSLATION


BY

HENRY E. F. GARNSEY, M.A.

Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford


REVISED BY

ISAAC BAYLEY BALFOUR, M.A., M.D., F.R.S.

Professor of Botany in the University
And Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh



Oxford

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

1890


[All rights reserved]



Oxford

PRINTED AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

BY HORACE HART, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY



PREFACE.


━◆◆━


Botanical Science is made up of three distinct branches of knowledge, Classification founded on Morphology, Phytotomy, and Vegetable Physiology. All these strive towards a common end, a perfect understanding of the vegetable kingdom, but they differ entirely from one another in their methods of research, and therefore presuppose essentially different intellectual endowments. That this is the case is abundantly shown by the history of the science, from which we learn that up to quite recent times morphology and classification have developed in almost entire independence of the other two branches. Phytotomy has indeed always maintained a certain connection with physiology, but where principles peculiar to each of them, fundamental questions, had to be dealt with, there they also went their way in almost entire independence of one another. It is only in the present day that a deeper conception of the problems of vegetable life has led to a closer union between the three. I have sought to do justice to this historical fact by treating the parts of my subject separately; but in this case, if the present work was to be kept within suitable limits, it became necessary to devote a strictly limited space only to each of the three historical delineations. It is obvious that the weightiest and most important matter only could find a place in so narrow a frame, but this I do not exactly regard as a misfortune, and in the interests of the reader it is rather an advantage; for, in accordance with the objects of the 'General History of the Sciences,' this History of Botany is not intended for professional persons only, but for a wider circle of readers, and to these perhaps even the details presented in it may here and there seem wearisome.

The style of the narrative might have been freer, and greater space might have been allotted to reflections on the inner connection of the whole subject, if I had had before me better preliminary studies in the history of botany; but as things are, I have found myself especially occupied in ascertaining questions of historical fact, in distinguishing true merit from undeserved reputation, in searching out the first beginnings of fruitful thoughts and observing their development, and in more than one case in producing lengthy refutations of wide-spread errors. These things could not be done within the allotted space without a certain dryness of style and manner, and I have often been obliged to content myself with passing allusions where detailed explanation might have been desired.

As regards the choice of topics, I have given prominence to discoveries of facts only when they could be shown to have promoted the development of the science; on the other hand, I have made it my chief object to discover the first dawning of scientific ideas and to follow them as they developed into comprehensive theories, for in this lies, to my mind, the true history of a science. But the task of the historian of Botany, as thus conceived, is a very difficult one, for it is only with great labour that he succeeds in picking the real thread of scientific thought out of an incredible chaos of empirical material. It has always been the chief hindrance to a more rapid advance in botany, that the majority of writers simply collected facts, or if they attempted to apply them to theoretical purposes, did so very imperfectly. I have therefore singled out those men as the true heroes of our story who not only established new facts, but gave birth to fruitful thoughts and made a speculative use of empirical material. From this point of view I have taken ideas only incidentally thrown out for nothing more than they were originally; for scientific merit belongs only to the man who clearly recognises the theoretical importance of an idea, and endeavours to make use of it for the promotion of his science. For this reason I ascribe little value, for instance, to certain utterances of earlier writers, whom it is the fashion at present to put forward as the first founders of the theory of descent; for it is an indubitable fact that the theory of descent had no scientific value before the appearance of Darwin's book in 1859, and that it was Darwin who gave it that value. Here, as in other cases, it appears to me only true and just to abstain from assigning to earlier writers merits to which probably, if they were alive, they would themselves lay no claim.

J. SACHS.

Würzburg, July 22, 1875.



THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE

To the English translation of the History of Botany of
Julius von Sachs.


━◆◆━


I am gratefully sensible of the honourable distinction implied in the determination of the Delegates of the Clarendon Press to have my History of Botany translated into the world-wide language of the British Empire. Fourteen years have elapsed since the first appearance of the work in Germany, from fifteen to eighteen years since it was composed,—a period of time usually long enough in our age of rapid progress for a scientific work to become obsolete. But if the preparation of an English translation shows that competent judges do not regard the book as obsolete, I should be inclined to refer this to two causes. First of all, no other work of a similar kind has appeared, as far as I know, since 1875, so that mine may still be considered to be, in spite of its age, the latest history of Botany; secondly, it has been my endeavour to ascertain the historical facts by careful and critical study of the older botanical literature in the original works, at the cost indeed of some years of working-power and of considerable detriment to my health, and facts never lose their value,—a truth which England especially has always recognised.

But the present work is not a simple enumeration of the names of botanists and of their writings, no mere list of the dates of botanical discoveries and theories; such was not at all my plan when I designed it. On the contrary I purposed to present to the reader a picture of the way in which the first beginnings of scientific study of the vegetable world in the sixteenth century made their appearance in alliance with the culture prevailing at the time, and how gradually by the intellectual efforts of gifted men, who at first did not even bear the name of botanists, an ever deepening insight was obtained into the relationship of all plants one to another, into their outer form and inner organisation, and into the vital phenomena or physiological processes dependent on these conditions.

For the attainment of this end it was above all things necessary for me to form a clear judgment respecting the influence of the views and principles enunciated by the different authors on the further development of botanical science. This is to the historian of science the central point round which all beside should be disposed, and without which the entire work breaks up into a collection of unmeaning details, and it is one which demands knowledge of the subject, and capacity and impartiality of judgment. On questions connected with times long gone by the decision of the experts has in most cases been already given, though I myself found to my surprise that older authors had for centuries been regarded as the founders of views which they had distinctly repudiated as absurd, showing how necessary it is that the works of our predecessors should from time to time be carefully read and compared together. But in the majority of cases there is no dispute at the present day respecting the historical value, that is the operative influence on posterity, of works written three hundred or even one hundred years ago.

But it is a very different matter when the author of a book like mine ventures, as I have done for sufficient reasons but at the same time with regret, to sit in judgment on the works of men of research and experts, who belong to our own time and who exert a lively influence on their generation. In this case the author can no longer appeal to the consentient opinion of his contemporaries; he finds them divided into parties, and involuntarily belongs to a party himself. But it is a still more weighty consideration that he may subsequently change his own point of view, and may arrive at a more profound insight into the value of the works which he has criticised; continued study and maturer years may teach him that he overestimated some things fifteen or twenty years ago and perhaps undervalued others, and facts, once assumed to be well established, may now be acknowledged to be incorrect.

Thus it has happened in my own case also in some but not in many instances, in which I have had to express an opinion respecting the character of works which appeared after 1860, and which to some extent influenced my judgment on the years immediately preceding them. But this was from fifteen to eighteen years ago when I was working at my History. It might perhaps be expected that I should remove all such expressions of opinion from the work before it is translated. In some few cases, in which this could be effected by simply drawing the pen through a few lines, I have so done; but it appeared to me that to alter with anxious care every sentence which I should put into a different form at the present day would serve no good purpose, for I came to the conclusion that my book itself may be regarded as a historical fact, and that the kindly and indulgent reader may even be glad to know what one, who has lived wholly in the science and taken an interest in everything in it old and new, thought from fifteen to eighteen years ago of the then reigning theories, representing as he did the view of the majority of his fellow-botanists.

However, these remarks relate only to two famous writers on the subjects with which this History is concerned. If the work had been brought to a close with the year 1850 instead of 1860, I should hardly have found it necessary to give them so prominent a position in it. Their names are Charles Darwin and Karl Nägeli. I would desire that whoever reads what I have written on Charles Darwin in the present work should consider that it contains a large infusion of youthful enthusiasm still remaining from the year 1859, when the 'Origin of Species' delivered us from the unlucky dogma of constancy. Darwin's later writings have not inspired me with the like feeling. So it has been with regard to Nägeli. He, like Hugo von Mohl, was one of the first among German botanists who introduced into the study that strict method of thought which had long prevailed in physics, chemistry, and astronomy; but the researches of the last ten or twelve years have unfortunately shown that Nägeli's method has been applied to facts which, as facts, were inaccurately observed. Darwin collected innumerable facts from the literature in support of an idea, Nageli applied his strict logic to observations which were in part untrustworthy. The services which each of these men rendered to the science are still acknowledged; but my estimate of their importance for its advance would differ materially at the present moment from that contained in my History of Botany. At the same time I rejoice in being able to say that I may sometimes have overrated the merits of distinguished men, but have never knowingly underestimated them.

Dr. J. von SACHS

Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society.

Würzburg, March 24, 1889.






NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR.

No History of Botany in English has ever been published, and it is to supply in some measure this want, long felt by English-speaking students, that this translation of Professor Sachs' masterly sketch has been prepared.

H. E. F. G.



CONTENTS.


━◆◆━


FIRST BOOK.

History of Morphology and Classification.

1530–1860.

PAGE
3
 
CHAPTER I.

The Botanists of Germany and the Netherlands from Brunfels to Caspar Bauhin, 1530-1623

13
 
CHAPTER II.

Artificial Systems and Terminology of Organs from Cesalpino to Linnaeus, 1583-1760

37
 
CHAPTER III.

Development of the Natural System under the Influence of the Dogma of the Constancy of Species, 1759-1850

108
 
CHAPTER IV.

Morphology under the Influence of the Doctrine of Metamorphosis and of the Spiral Theory, 1790-1850

155
 
CHAPTER V.

Morphology and Systematic Botany under the Influence of the History of Development and the knowledge of the Cryptogams, 1840-1860

182
 

SECOND BOOK.

History of Vegetable Anatomy.

1671–1860.

219
 
CHAPTER I.

Phytotomy founded by Malpighi and Grew, 1671-1682

229
 
CHAPTER II.

Phytotomy in the Eighteenth Century

246
 
CHAPTER III.

Examination of the Matured Framework of Cell-Membrane in Plants, 1800–1840

256
 
CHAPTER IV.

History of Development of the Cell, Formation of Tissues, Molecular Structure of Organised Forms, 1840-1860

311


THIRD BOOK.

History of Vegetable Physiology

1583-1860.

359
 
CHAPTER I.

History of the Sexual Theory

1. From Aristotle to R. J. Camerarius

376

2. Establishment of the Doctrine of Sexuality in Plants by R. J. Camerarius, 1691-1694

385

3. Dissemination of the New Doctrine; its Adherents and Opponents, 1700-1760

390

4. The Theory of Evolution and Epigenesis

402

5. Further Development of the Sexual Theory by J. G. Koelreuter and Konrad Sprengel, 1761-1793

406

6. New opponents of Sexuality and their refutation by Experiments, 1785-1849

422

7. Microscopic Investigation into the Processes of Fertilisation in the Phanerogams, the Pollen-Tube and Eggs, 1830-1850

431

8. Discovery of Sexuality in the Cryptogams, 1837-1860

436
 
CHAPTER II.

History of the Theory of Nutrition of Plants, 1583-1860

445

1. Cesalpino, 1583

450

2. First Inductive Experiments and Opening of New Points of View in the History of the Theory of the Nutrition of Plants, to 1730

453

3. Fruitless Attempts to Explain the Movement of the Sap in Plants, 1730-1780

482

4. The Modern Theory of Nutrition Founded by Ingen-Houss and Theodore de Saussure, 1779-1804

491

5. Vital Force. Respiration and Heat of Plants. Endosmose, 1804-1840

504

6. Settlement of the Question of Food-Material of Plants, 1840-1860

524
 
CHAPTER III.

History of Phytodynamics

535

From end of 17th century to about 1860

535
 
Index 565


End matter not listed on the contents page:

Select List of Standard Works Printed at The Clarendon Press, Oxford

1



ERRATA.

Page 18, line 3 from bottom, for Chini read Ghini
   "    20,   "   7, for Schmiedel read Schmidel
   "  160,   "   2 from bottom, for many read some
   "  160, note, for Robert read Louis Marie Aubert
   "  201, line 11, for asexually read sexually.