Schmidel had described the sexual organs of the Liverworts about the middle of the previous century, Hedwig those of the Mosses in 1782, and Vaucher in 1803 had suggested that the conjugation of Spirogyra among the Algae should be regarded as a sexual act; the systematists in fact did not know what to make of these intimations.
It was again a misfortune that the systematists in their labours often neglected to distinguish between the search for marks and the use to be made of them; the examination of all possible marks should lead to the establishing the systematic importance of certain fixed marks or their value for classification. When research has done its work, then it is sufficient in exhibiting the system to put forward only the prominent marks; and frequently a single one suffices to unite a natural group. Such a leading mark is like the standard of a regiment; its significance is not great in itself, but it serves the great practical purpose of indicating a whole group of marks which are connected with it. It was a still greater misfortune that scarcely any systematist after De Candolle endeavoured to form a clear conception in his own mind of the principles on which the natural system must be elaborated, and to set them forth in a connected form as the theory of the system. The student had to accept the arrangement offered him as a fact simply without understanding it, and the systematists themselves usually followed only a blind feeling in the framing of their groups, and never unfolded the grounds of their proceeding with logical distinctness. In this respect John Lindley forms an honourable exception, inasmuch as he did, on several occasions after 1830, give full expositions of his views on the principles of natural classification, and like De Candolle endeavoured to develop a theory of the system. But he deserves credit only for the
- Auguste de Saint Hilaire was born at Orleans in 1779, and died there in 1853; he was Professor at Paris, and in 1840 published his 'Leçons de Botanique comprenant principalement la Morphologie Vegétale,' etc. This