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embarrassed to know whence they came, as we can be now to find the origin of our own.'
It having been clearly ascertained, from the studies of Cuvier, that the fossil annimals are more and more removed in their affinities to existing species, in proportion to the increasing antiquity of the inclosing strata ; the opinion was advanced, that the present races are only varieties of such as are extinct, the deviations of the former from the latter being occasioned solely by time: an idea not very remote from that which believes all the forms of animal life to have originated in a single species. If this theory be in any degree true, it is plain, that zoology is despoiled at once of its highest interest, and thrown from the only basis upon which, as a science, it can rest, viz., the permanent distinction of its species; and the naturalist is thenceforth compelled to regard himself as occupied with the fluctuating forms of a recent and fortuitous origin, instead of being engaged in the study of objects endued with the same properties they exhibited when they came fresh from the Creator's hand, and which they are destined to preserve entire until the end of the present order of things. Cuvier refutes this infidel notion by a single objection,—that of not finding intermediate modifications between an animal of the former and the present world, even when it approaches it most nearly : there still remains an obvious saltus from the one form to the other, which no individuals can be summoned to fill up by an insensible gradation. He further cites, in support of this opinion, which is, and ever bas been, the conviction of good naturalists, that skeletons of animals left by the Egyptians, three thousand years ago, are precisely identical with the structure of similar species living at this day.
The first volumes of another great work, worthy, from the depth of research, and the exhaustion with which the subject is treated, to have been the sole labor of any man's life, began to appear in 1828. Its title is," Natural History of Fishes, containing more than five thousand species of these animals, described after nature, and distributed according to their affinities, with observations on their anatomy, and critical researches on their nomenclature, ancient as well as modern.” It was intended to be embraced in twenty volumes, eight of which only had appeared previous to the author's death. Fortunately for science, M. Valenciennes, professor of mollusca at the Garden of Plants, had been associated with Cuvier in this undertaking, under whose supervision the remaining volumes will soon appear. Materials adequate to four or five more volumes, it is understood, were left among the papers of Cuvier.
But we cannot but be struck by the immense addition to the
number of species made by Cuvier, as indicated by the title of the work. Linnæus had ascertained but 471 species, and De Lacepede, the next writer of authority previous to Cuvier, but 1500: whence it appears that some thousands of species were determined by our author, which had escaped previous detection among naturalists.
The first volume embraces a historical view of the progress of ichthyology, drawn up with the most critical accuracy, dating from the earliest notices of this class of animals among the Egyptians, Phænicians, and Carthaginians, and brought down to the present time. To which succeeds, the various classifications which have been proposed, and a general idea of the nature and organization of fishes. From this last we make a short extract, as exemplifying the sprightly, aphoristic style in which even the generalities of the subject are sometimes treated in this work.
Being aquatic, that is to say, living in a liquid which is beavier, and offers more resistance than air, their forces for motion have been necessarily disposed and calculated for progression, and elevation, which is also accomplished by them with ease. Hence arises that form of body which offers least resistance, the chief seat of muscular force residing in the tail, the brevity of their members, the expansibility of these members, and the membranes which support them, the smooth or scaly teguments, and the total absence of hairs or feathers. Breathing only through the medium of water, that is, for the purpose of giving an arterial nature to their blood, profiting by the small quantity of oxygen contained in the air which is mingled with the water, their blood is necessarily cold, and their vitality, the energy of their senses and movenents, are consequently less than in mammalia and birds. Their brain, therefore, or rather a composition similar to it, is proportionably much smaller, and the external organs of their senses are not of a nature to admit of powerful impressions. Fishes, in fact, are, of all vertebrated animals, those which have the least apparent signs of sensibility. Having no elastic air at their disposal, they have remained mute, or nearly so; and all those sentiments awakened or sustained by the voice, have remained unknown to them. Their eyes, almost immovable, their bony and rigid countenance, their members deprived of inflection, and every part moving at the same time, do not leave them any power of varying their physiognomy, or expressing their emotions. Their ear, enclosed on every side by the bones of the skull, without external couch or internal labyrinth, and composed only of a few bags and membranous canals, scarcely allows thein to distinguish the most striking sounds; and, in fact, in exquisite sense of hearing would be of very little use to those destined to live in the empire of silence, and around whom all are mute. Their sight, in the depths of their abode, would be little exercised, if the greater number of the species had not, by the size of their eyes, been enabled to supply the deficiency of light; but even in these species, the eye scarcely changes its direction ; 'still less can it change its dimensions, and accommodate itself to the dis
tance of objects ; its iris neither dilates nor contracts, and its pupil mains the same in every degree of light. No tear bathes their ey no eye-lid soothes or protects it ; and in fishes, it is but a feeble repp sentation of that beautiful
, brilliant, and animated organ of the high classes of animals. Procuring food by swimming after a prey, whi also swims with greater or less rapidity, and having no means of seizi this prey but by swallowing it, a delicate sense of taste would hai been useless to fishes, had nature bestowed it on them. But the tongue, almost immovable, often long, or armed with dentated plate and only receiving a few slender nerves, show us that tbis organ is little sensible as it is necessary. Smell, even, cannot be as continual exercised by fishes, as by animals which breathe air in a direct manne and whose nostrils are unceasingly traversed by odoriferous vapor Lastly, we come to the touch, which, from the surface of their bodi being encircled by scales, by the inflexibility of the rays of their men bers, and by the dryness of the membranes which envelop them, hi been obliged to seek refuge at the end of their lips; and even these, i some species, are reduced to a dry and insensible hardness."
But the foregoing works by no means exhaust the catalogue Cuvier's labors. It has been already mentioned, that he was mad perpetual secretary to the Class of Physical and Mathematica Sciences of the Institute, in 1803. This situation devolved upoi him the duty of making the annual reports of the labors of thi body in their department. And when it is remembered, that the learned throughout the world were in the habit of communicating to the academy their discoveries, it will be obvious, how laborious and responsible must have been the task of its secretaries. It was no less a duty with Cuvier, than of being the historian o science during his whole life. These labors appear in the transactions of the academy, under the head of “ Analyses des Parties Physiques des Travaux de l'Academie des Sciences ;” and comprehend meteorology and natural philosophy in general; chimistry and physics, properly so called, when the explanation of the facts did not demand calculation ; mineralogy and geology ; anaiomy and physiology ; zoology and travels, connected with the advancement of natural science ; medicine and surgery; the veterinary art and agriculture. The industry and ability requisite for these labors, must indeed have been immense ; and in the performance of them, he acquired such a reputation for universal attainment and impartial justice, as can scarcely ever again be awarded to any individual under similar circumstances.
In the character of secretary to the academy, he was called upon to deliver eulogies upon those deceased members of that association who cultivated the physical departments. It is obvious, that he would possess the happiest qualifications for this duty,
* The salaries of the perpetual secretaries were fixed by Napoleon at 6000 francs
o bis perfect intimacy with the progress of natural science; I accordingly we find, that these discourses have been among most popular of his writings. They were originally published the academy, as they appeared; but have since been collected
three volumes by themselves, to which a fourth is probably this time added. To give the reader an idea of the happy edom with which he could treat topics the most remote from ordinary studies, and at the same time to give a specimen of e agreeable naïveté of these performances, we shall make several tracts from his eulogy on Dr. Priestley, selecting, in particular, ose passages relating to his theological tenets, and the misfornes they brought upon him. *His history will disclose to you, as it were, two different, I might Dost say opposite, characters. The one, a circumspect natural phisopher, examines only the objects that come under the empire of exrience,-employs in his progress a cautious and rigorous logic,--allows mself to cherish neither theories nor prejudices,--seeks only after oth, whatever it may be, and almost always discovers and establishes in the most solid and brilliant manner. The other, a rash theolojan, handles with audacious boldness the most mysterious questions,ontemns the belief of ages,-rejects the most revered authorities, omes into the lists with pre-conceived opinions,--seeks to maintain ather than examine them, --and in order to support them, plunges bimself into the most contradictory hypotheses. The first tranquilly delivers over his discoveries to the examination of the learned. They are establisbed without difficulty, and procure for him an unchallenged reputation. The latter surrounds himself with warlike apparatus, arms himself with learning and metaphysics, attacks every sect, shakes every dogma, and shocks the conscience of all, by the keenness with which he seems to aim at their subjection.
It is against the man of heaven, the minister of peace, that earthly weapons are employed : it is he who is accused of exciting hatred, of provoking vengeance, of disturbing society. The profane philosopher,
the contrary, is respected by all : every one admits that he only professes to defend truth by reason ; that he only employs his discoveries for the good of society; that he only uses mildness and modesty
He passed successfully through four religions, before he ventured to publish any thing on the subject. Educated in all the severity of the Presbyterian communion, to which we give the name of Calvinistic, and in all the asperity of the doctrine of predestination, as taught by Gomar, he hardly began to reflect, when he torned toward the milder doctrine of Arminius. But in proportion as he advanced, it seemed as if he always found too much to believe. He therefore came to adopt the opinions of the Arians. Arianism, while it declares Christ to be a creature, yet believes him to be endowed with a superior nature, produced before the world, and the instrument of the Creator in the production of other beings. Priestley, after professing it for a long time, abandoned it in its turn, to become a Unitarian, or what we call a Socinian.
in bis writings.
There are, perhaps, very few among those who hear me, that have ever been informed in what the two sects differ. The Socinians deor the pre-existence of Christ, and regard him only as
a man, although they revere him as the Savior of the world, and admit that the divine nature was united to him for this great work. This subtle shade of difference between the two heresies occupied, for thirty years, a preeminence which the most important questions in science might well hare challenged, and led Priestley to produce incomparably more volnmes than he ever wrote on the different gases.'
After having detailed his creed with scrupulous nicety, be continues :
• It is not necessary for me to pronounce here, upon questions so widely different from the studies which call us together, and which besides have been so often debated; it is enough to have been obliged to relate them. But it belongs to my subject to say, that Priestler supported them but too ably. His adversaries themselves acknowledged that he possessed a vast erudition, and a specious art in combining and directing his resources; they unanimously speak of bim 25 one of the most powerful controversialists of these latter times, and as one of the most dangerous enemies of orthodoxy.
Writers of this description are not now dreaded in the catholic church, where authority alone is the arbiter of faith, and where the WTtings that oppose its doctrines remain unknown to the great body of the faithful." But in protestant countries, where every thing is submitted to argument, there continually reigns a sort of intestine war; the theologians are always in arms; the empire of mind is a bait constantly offered to their ambition, and where dialectics may still make vast conquests. This was apparently what Priestley attempted; and who will not pardon him? Power is so seducing ; and that of which persuasion alone is the instrument, appears so gentle.
Perhaps he also had the weakness to think, that, in these incredulous times, it was necessary to lighten the faith, as in stormy weather a ship is cleared of the most cumbersome part of its freight
. In fact, it might be thought that, after rejecting so many doctrines, he had but one additional step to make, to fall into absolute infidelity ; but this he did not do. On the contrary, in theology, as in physics, he wished to occupy a station by bimself, however perilous it might be, and be trusted to his courage for its defense. He could not suffer any to proceed farther than himself, nor could he bear to fall short of the point which he occupied. Sometimes he attacked the orthodox ; at other times repulsed the supporters of infidelity : and, in short, hardly there appeared in Europe a work, that seemed in the slightest degree directed either against revelation in general, or the manner in which it was explained. that he did not think himself obliged to refute. His activity was without bounds in this sort of war. Atheists, Deists, Jews, Anads, Quakers, Methodists, Calvinists, Episcopalians and Catholics, had all alike to combat him. There are works of his against each of these creeds in particular, and I should with difficulty finish, were merely to mention their titles.' (Edinburgh New Phil. Jour. 1827.)