Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/266

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262

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

knowledge its value. But the point of view and the methods of the writer seemed so different from those of the other authors, that this question arose in my mind—Is it fair to call such work systematic zoology? And so, naturally, I fell to considering the purpose of systematic zoology and the principles which should govern it.

A century ago any one who was a zoologist was, almost of necessity, a systematist. Although Lamarck is now perhaps best known for his contribution to philosophical zoology, he was preeminent in his day as a systematic zoologist, and in some groups of invertebrates his work may be regarded as forming in large part, if not wholly, the foundation of our present classification. So too Cuvier, famed as a comparative anatomist, left as his chief monument, the great systematic work, "Le Règne Animal," in which the results of his anatomical studies were fittingly summarized. But in the days of Lamarck and Cuvier, as Agassiz pointed out in his "Essay on Classification," the fauna of Europe, so far as the larger animals were concerned, became so well known that men with a love for zoology, but without means of securing collections from foreign lands and not attracted by the minute forms of life, turned from the describing and classifying of animals to a more intensive study of those already well known. Not only did anatomy receive more adequate attention, but the habits of animals and their relation to their environment became subjects of investigation, while under the inspiring leadership of Dollinger and von Baer, embryology, virtually a new field, was opened to investigators. Then came the days of Lyell, Agassiz, Darwin, Wallace and their many illustrious contemporaries, and zoologists began to realize the magnitude of their field and the multiplicity of its problems. No such sudden enlargement of the field for zoological research had ever occurred before and probably never will again. It was natural, therefore, that many zoologists working on the frontiers of the new territory should not merely lose sight of their fellows, who had not traveled so far, or who had journeyed in different directions, but should also lose sympathy with them. Although the lazy, the easy-going, the incompetent, do as a rule lag behind when a new country is opened, those who remain in the old fields do not usually do so from laziness or incompetence, Charlatans and self-seekers are conspicuous in frontier communities, but, of course, the majority of those at the front are not such. A man's motives may be the highest and the quality of his work the best, regardless of whether he remains in the old fields or seeks to push the frontier further on. In any case, however, he should know what he is trying to do and why he is trying to do it. He should be ready and willing to give a reason for the faith that is in him—faith that the work he is doing ought to be done and that it is his work. It is eminently fitting, therefore, that we who are still busied with systematic zoology should make