Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/121
Chap. II.] 101
Organs from Cesalpino to Linnaeus.
Linnaeus next lays down with great detail each several rule, which must be observed in establishing species, genera, orders, and classes, and it is here that he displays his unrivalled skill as a systematist. These rules were strictly observed by himself in his numerous descriptive works, and thus a spirit of order and clearness was introduced into the art of describing plants, which gave it at once a different appearance from that which it had received at the hands of his predecessors. Whoever therefore compares the 'Genera Plantarum,' the 'Systema Naturae,' and other descriptive works of Linnaeus with those of Morison, Ray, Bachmann, or Tournefort, finds so great a revolution effected by them, that he is impressed with the persuasion that botany first became a science in the hands of Linnaeus; all former efforts seem to be so unskilful and without order in comparison with his method. Without doubt the greatest and most lasting service which Linnaeus rendered both to botany and to zoology lies in the certainty and precision which he introduced into the art of describing. But if a reformation was thus effected in botany, as Linnaeus himself took pleasure in saying, it must not be overlooked that the knowledge of the nature of plants was rather hindered than advanced by him. Ray, Bachmann, and in part also Morison and Tournefort, had already liberated themselves to a great extent from the influence of scholasticism, and they still give us the impression of having been genuine investigators of nature; but Linnaeus fell back again into the scholastic modes of thought, and these were so intimately combined with his brilliant performances in systematic botany, that his successors were unable to separate the one from the other.
The feeling for order and perspicuity, which made Linnaeus a reformer of the art of describing, combined with his scholasticism, was evidently the cause of his not bestowing more energetic labour on the natural system. It has been repeatedly mentioned that it was he who first established sixty-five truly natural groups in his fragment of the early date of 1738; and