Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/29

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9
Introduction.

1759. To such of these small groups of related forms as had not been already named both Linnaeus and Jussieu gave names, which they took not from certain marks, but from the name of a genus in each group. But this mode of naming plainly expresses the idea which from that time forward prevailed in systematic botany, that there is a common type lying at the foundation of each natural group, from which all its forms though specifically distinct can be derived, as the forms of a crystal may all be derived from one fundamental form,—an idea which was also expressed by Pyrame de Candolle in 1819.

But botanists could not rest content with merely naming natural groups; it was necessary to translate the indistinct feeling, which had suggested the groups of Linnaeus and Bernard de Jussieu, into the language of science by assigning clearly recognised marks; and this was from this time forward the task of systematists from Antoine Laurent de Jussieu and de Candolle to Endlicher and Lindley. But it cannot be denied, that later systematists repeatedly committed the fault of splitting up natural groups of affinity by artificial divisions and of bringing together the unlike, as Cesalpino and the botanists of the 17th century had done before them, though continued practice was always leading to a more perfect exhibition of natural affinities.

But while natural relationship was thus becoming more and more the guiding idea in the minds of systematists, and the experience of centuries was enforcing the lesson, that predetermined grounds of classification could not do justice to natural affinities, the fact of affinity became itself more unintelligible and mysterious. It seemed impossible to give a clear and precise definition of the conception, the exhibition of which was felt to be the proper object of all efforts to discover the natural system, and which continued to be known by the name of affinity. A sense of this mystery is expressed in the sentence of Linnaeus: 'It is not the character (the marks used to characterise the genus) which makes the genus, but the genus