Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 369–445 | Cite as

Darwin, vital matter, and the transformism of species

  • Phillip R. Sloan


Vital Matter 
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  1. 1.
    C. Darwin, “Note on Laws of Life” (n.d., no watermark, ca. 1839), in “Old and Useless Notes About the Moral Sense ...,” Darwin Archives, Cambridge University, DAR 91, p. 34. Hereafter cited DAR 91: 34. This document appears also in P. H. Barrett, ed., Darwin's Early and Unpublished Notebooks, in H. E. Gruber and P. H. Barrett, Darwin on Man (London: Wildwood, 1974), p. 392. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from the Darwin manuscripts are with permission of the syndics of Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  3. 3.
    Gruber and Barrett, Darwin on Man.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    EdwardManier, The Young Darwin and His Cultural Circle (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1978).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    DavidKohn, “Theories to Work By: Rejected, Theories, Reproduction, and Darwin's Path to Natural Selection,” Stud. Hist. Biol.4 (1980), 67–170.Google Scholar
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    Dov Ospovat, The Development of Darwin's Theory: Natural History, Natural Theology, and Natural Selection, 1838–1859 (Cambridge University Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Frank. J.Sulloway, “Darwin's Conversion: The Beagle Voyage and Its Aftermath,” J. Hist. Biol., 15 (1982), 325–396. See also idem, “Darwin and His Finches: The Evolution of a Legend,” J. Hist. Biol. 15 (1982), 1–53; “Further Remarks on Darwin's Spelling Habits and the Dating of the Beagle Voyage Manuscripts,” J. Hist. Biol. 16 (1984), 361–369; and “Darwin's Early Intellectual Development: An Overview of the Beagle Voyage (1831–1836),” in David Kohn, ed., The Darwinian Heritage: A Centennial Retrospect (Princeton: Princeton University Press; and Wellington: Nova Pacifica, 1985) pp. 121–154.Google Scholar
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    See DAR 119, 120, and the reading list in the “Edinburgh Zoology Notebook” (DAR 118). DAR 119 has been published (in part) in Peter. J.Vorzimmer, “The Darwin Reading Notebooks (1838–1860),” J. Hist. Biol., 10 (1977), 107–153.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    On this tendency see MichaelRuse, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), esp. pp. 48–63. I have explored aspects of this subject in “The Question of Natural Purpose,” in E. McMullin, ed., Evolution and Creation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985), pp. 121–150.Google Scholar
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    See Philip R. Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program, 1826–1836; Preconditions for Transformism,” in Kohn, The Darwinian Heritage pp. 71–120.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Darwin is listed on Henslow's roster of students as attending the course for the second time in 1830, and on the 1831 roster as attending a third time. (J. S. Henslow, “Names of Men who Attended the Botanical Lectures, 1828,” Henslow Papers, Cambridge University, MS O. XIV. 216. This roster actually covers Henslow's courses for the period 1823–1845). Henslow commenced his botany lectures in the Easter term of 1828, and the 1833 syllabus shows these on a two-days-per-week schedule for systematic botany, with the Monday-Wednesday-Friday lectures devoted to functional and physiological questions. The 1831 series of lectures seems to have been particularly exciting to Darwin, and he reports working on the material every morning until the noon lectures (letter of C. D. to Caroline Darwin, 28 April 1831, DAR 154). Writing in May to his main scientific correspondent of this period, W. D. Fox, on his attendance at the lectures, he comments, “I should have been sorry to have missed even one of them.” F. B.Burckhardt et al., eds., The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Vol. 1, 1821–36 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 122; hereafter cited as Correspondence. Darwin's attendance at this course has rarely been mentioned, and as a consequence Darwin's botanical and biogeographical interests have been read almost exclusively in the light of Humboldt and Lyell. See, for example, S. F. Cannon, Science in Culture (New York: Science History Publications, 1978), esp. pp. 86–89.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Henslow's move from mineralogy to botany was not as unusual as it might seem. A clear role for this synthesis of disciplines had already been provided by the great Swiss botanist and mineralogist Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle, and as Henslow made a similar career move, the works of Candolle provided a specific framework for Henslow's own inquiries. On Candolle's integration of botany and mineralogy, see P. F.Stevens, “Haüy and A.-P. Candolle: Crystallography, Botanical Systematics, and Comparative Morphology, 1780–1840,” J. Hist. Biol., 17 (1984), 49–82.Google Scholar
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    A. P.deCandolle, Organographie végétale ou description raisonnée des organes des Plantes, 2 vols. (Paris: Deterville, 1827).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Henslow's two surviving privately printed syllabi for the 1828 and 1833 lectures are located in the Cambridge University Library (Cam. d. 828.4 and Cam. d. 840.3). Henslow added the Physiologie végétale to the 1833 syllabus list.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    I am currently exploring manuscript sources in a thus-far unsuccessful search for lecture notes surviving from this period of Henslow's teaching. The two extant course syllabi from the 1828 and 1833 series at Cambridge indicate that the basic structure was maintained throughout the period, and the 1833 syllabus indicates a general organization along the lines of Henslow's 1836 textbook, Descriptive and Physiological Botany. Even allowing for later additions, the content of this textbook would seem to be the best guide to the issues discussed in the Cambridge course in the 1830's. My understanding of the character of Henslow's and Darwin's botany has been aided by discussions with Duncan Porter. See Duncan M. Porter, “The Beagle Collector and His Collections,” in Kohn, The Darwinian Heritage, pp. 973–1019.Google Scholar
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    LeonardJenyns, Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens Henslow (London: Van Voorst, 1862), p. 40.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    One possible exception is the cryptic notes in the “Edinburgh Zoology Notebook” (DAR 118), begun at Edinburgh but kept into the Cambridge period from the front end, and after the return of the Beagle from the rear. Of particular interest are the entries, apparently dating from Cambridge, on botany (MS pp. 13–17), with pp. 13–14 describing microscopic observations on the pollen of the geranium, and on the release from its pollen grains of granular particles. Microscopes were required for the attendees at the lectures (Syllabus), and J. M. Herbert had given Darwin a Coddington compound microscope in May 1831. These observations on the granular particles in pollen bear on the theoretical issue that from independent evidence (see below) was of concern to Henslow: the controversy in the wake of the Brown-Brongniart debates over the nature of the “granular matter” would in all probability have been a topic of discussion in the 1831 lectures. These undated entries on botanical subjects follow immediately upon the Edinburgh period entries and read as if they were made as notes on fieldwork or laboratory studies, which would fit the context of the laboratory component of the Henslow course. An edition of the Edinburgh Notebook is forthcoming, edited by Sydney Smith, Frederick Burkhardt, David Kohn, and Sandra Herbert.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    A. P. de Candolle, Théorie élémentaire de botanique, ed. 2 (Montpellier, 1819), pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
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    J. S.Henslow, untitled review of Candolle's Physiologie végétale, For. Quart. Rev., 11 (1833), 334–382: 335–336; hereafter cited as “Review.” On Henslow's authorship of this unsigned review see Jenyns, Memoir, p. 42.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    For a recent update see L. S.Jacyna, “Immanence or Transcendence: Theories of Life and Organization in Britain, 1790–1835,” Isis, 74 (1983), 311–329. I do not follow him in attempting to reduce these positions ultimately to sociological and political allegiance.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    This explains the reference to the “machinéry by means of which life is enabled to act” in the Henslow quote above. See also Descriptive and Physiological Botany, p. 2, which shows Henslow's goal of opening his botanical lectures with a discussion on the question of life and vitality. See the 1828 and 1833 syllabi.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    A. P.deCandolle, Organographie végétale ou description raisonnée des organes des Plantes, 2 vols. (Paris: Deterville, 1827). I, 391–392.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    For discussion of the Haller-Bonnet concept see Shirley A.Roe, Matter, Life, and Generation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), esp. chap. 2.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Candolle, Organographie, II, 114. The observational aspect of these “germs” implied a critical revision of the Haller-Bonnet germ theory among French, German, and English biologists. The high resolution achievable by the finest simple microscopes, and subsequently by the new achromatic compound scopes entering common usage in the 1830's, had revealed the ubiquitous presence of “germinal” or “granular” matter in various organic tissues. These first observations of the organelles were readily assimilated to the preexistent discussions of the germes or Keimen of the French and German traditions, but it is important to note the theoretical and conceptual differences as the reference of these terms moved from purely theoretical to observational entities. The German and French usages often have different implications, a matter that will be important later in this paper.Google Scholar
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    A.Brongniart, “Mémoire sur la génération et le développement de l'embryon dans les végétaux phanérogames,”, Ann. Sci. Nat., 12 (1827), 14–53.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ibid., p. 42. This was essentially reviving the Buffonian theory of the molécules organiques, a point that did not escape those participating in the discussion. See quote below, p. 382.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    A.Brongniart, “Mémoire sur la génération et le développement de l'embryon dans les végétaux phanérogames,”, Ann. Sci. Nat., 12 (1827), pp. 43–45. Brongniart's access to the Amici microscope gave him a decided advantage over his rival Robert Brown, who utilized a high-resolution simple microscope. The advantage of the new compound microscopes over the best simple microscopes was not better resolution power, as many of the simple scopes could achieve almost theoretical limits of resolution with no chromatic aberration, but ease of use and width of field at high magnifications.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ibid., p. 42.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ibid., p. 43.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    A.Brongniart, “Mémoire sur la génération et le développement de l'embryon dans les végétaux phanérogames,”, Ann. Sci. Nat., 12 (1827), 45–47.Google Scholar
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    A.Brongniart, “Mémoire sur la génération et le développement de l'embryon dans les végétaux phanérogames,”, Ann. Sci. Nat., 12 (1827), 48–53. Brongniart published two tables of measurements on these particles, one on spherical granules giving ranges from 0.0014–0.0021 mm, and the other on oblong granules with diameters between 0.0014 and 0.0028 mm and lengths of 0.0023–0.0085 mm.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    R.Brown, “A Brief Account of Microscopical Observations ... on the Particles Contained in the Pollen of Plants: and on the General Existence of Active Molecules in Organic and Inorganic Bodies, Edinburgh New Phil. J., 5 (1828), 363.Google Scholar
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    R.Brown, “Exposé sommaire des Observations microscopiques faites dans les mois de juin, juillet et août 1827 ...,” Ann. Sci. Nat., 14 (1828), 341–362.Google Scholar
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    A.Brongniart, “Nouvelles recherches sur le pollen et les granules spermatiques des végétaux,” Ann. Sci. Nat., 15 (1828), 381–401: 394. Most controversial of Brown's observations was his claim to have found the same self-moving particles in suspensions of chalk, petrified wood, glass, metals, and other mineralized or inorganic materials. In a follow-up discussion after Brongniart's article had appeared, Brown denied he had claimed that the particles were “animated,” and he continued to maintain that their motion was due to no known external physical cause. See his “Additional Remarks on Active Molelcules,” Edinburgh New Phil. J., 8 (1829–30), 41–46.Google Scholar
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    A. P.deCandolle, Organographie végétale ou description raisonnée des organes des Plantes, 2 vols. (Paris: Deterville, 1827), II, 235.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Henslow, “Review,” p. 367.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Henslow, Descriptive and Physiological Botany, esp. pp. 240–243, 265–267. The 1833 “Review” (pp. 352–354) acknowledges some debate over whether these granules merely stimulate the ovule to develop or actually enter it. Vegetative reproduction was a particular problem, for it did not involve fertilization. Henslow, following Candolle, speaks in this case of such plants as showing “a peculiar state of some common germ of vitality, modified by circumstances, of which we are, and perhaps ever shall remain, utterly ignorant” (”Review”, p. 359).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Henslow's course ran seven or eight weeks in the 1831 term, ending in early May. On the eleventh Darwin wrote to W. D. Fox that he was still seeing a “great deal” of Henslow (letter to Fox, 11 May 1831, Correspondence , p. 123).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Henslow to Lyell, 14 June 1831, American Philosophical Society Lyell papers, B D25. Li. Quoted with permission of the American Philosophical Society. Further comments on Lyell's Principles in Henslow's letter to Lyell of 19 June 1831 (ibid.) reveal that Lyell was apparently borrowing botanical books from Henslow for the writing of the biological section of the Principles and was seeking his advice on botanical topics. On the Lyell Henslow contact in this period see also Leonard Wilson, Charles Lyell, the Years to 1841: The Revolution in Geology (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972), p. 314. Henslow's possession of a reprint of the paper suggests that he had been sent a personal copy by Brongniart. Comments on it are also found in “Review”, pp. 352–354, and in Descriptive and Physiological Botany, pp. 265–268 and implicitly pp. 287–289. Conventions followed in the transcription of this letter will be followed throughout this paper: the symbols 〈〉 denote interlineations; crossed-out words are reproduced: page breaks are indicated by ‘//’; line breaks are shown only when deemed relevant, by ‘/’.Google Scholar
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    Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program.”Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Henslow, Descriptive and Physiological Botany, p. 241.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    On Darwin's use of a microscope designed according to the technical specifications of Robert Brown, see Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program”, note 37, and Darwin to W. D. Fox, 23 May 1833, in Correspondence, p. 316. Darwin specifically refers to Robert Brown's “molecules” in an entry in the Zoology Diary early in the voyage (DAR 30.2: 110, added note to entry at Bahia Blanca, 1832). His decision to obtain a microscope of the quality deemed by Brown to be necessary for proper observation of the “active molecules” suggests that Darwin's decision to pursue this question almost immediately with the beginning of the Zoology Diary entries was not fortuitous.Google Scholar
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    DAR 30.1: MS pp. 73–75. Darwin was uncertain about the taxonomic status of the chaetognaths throughout the voyage, and refers to this form variously as Limancina or “Polype?” His drawings are unambiguous, however, and he was to publish the results of these live studies on genus Sagitta in 1844, utilizing revisions of the Zoology Diary notes and plates.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    These microscopic observations on the granular particles, so early in Darwin's career, supply an important context in which to read the later postulation of the pangenesis theory in 1868. Rather than simply inventing these pangens or gemmules as purely hypothetical entities in the 1860's, Darwin had clearly been concerned decades earlier with the role of these microscopic units in generation. His analysis of the “gemmules” in the later Variation, fully consistent with the discussion of these entities in a more limited context in the Beagle work, represents a generalization of the thesis to cover the higher metazoans. As he writes in the Variation: “When supplied with proper nutriment, [the gemmules] multiply by self-division, and are ultimately developed into units like those from which they were originally derived ... Hence, it is not the reproductive organs or buds which generate new organisms, but the units of which each individual is composed.” (C.Darwin, Variation of Plants and Animals under Domestication, 2nd ed., rev. [New York: Appleton, 1892], II, 370).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    DAR 30:2: MS pp. 161–162.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Careful consideration of this passage will eliminate the common impression that Darwin was holding to a simple notion of “creationism” in the Beagle years. Candolle's conception of an external creative vital force as a natural agency bringing about reproduction and development is closer to the meaning of “creative force” in this passage, and Darwin's views in the few passages of the Zoology Diary where the concept of creation is raised are close to the interpretations of the issues, as they can be found in the concluding discussions on biogeography in Henslow's Descriptive and Physiological Botany (pp. 302, 313). The acceptance of the creative role of “vital force” by Henslow, for example, renders the issue of creation largely that of primary, rather than secondary, causation. One would scarcely think of William Paley or the strong natural-theology program.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Henslow, “Review,” p. 367; idem Descriptive and Physiological Botany, pp. 241–243.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    See Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program.”Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Hodge, “Darwin and the Laws of Terrestrial System,” pp. 17–26.Google Scholar
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    C. Darwin, Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the Years 1826 and 1836. Vol III: Journal and Remarks, 1832–1836 (London, 1839; reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1966), p. 363. Hereafter cited as Journal.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Darwin's “Mastodon” was the fossil pachyderm Macrauchenia patachonica. The anomalous character of this form was, however, apparent to Darwin, and Richard Owen was himself later puzzled by its position, placing it in the order Pachydermata in his monograph on the Beagle fossils. See Stan P. Rachootin, “Owen and Darwin Reading a Fossil: Macrauchenia in a Boney Light,” in Kohn, The Darwinian Heritage, pp. 155–183.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hodge, “Darwin and the Terrestrial System,” pp. 22–25.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    C. Darwin, “Notes for Geological Observations in South America, 1846: Scraps to End of Pampas Chapter,” DAR 42, ser. ii, MS: p. 12. Compare the language of this quote with that of Candolle and Henslow above. Lyell, as noted previously, had actually sent Henslow the manuscript of volume 2 of the Principles for comments in June 1831, and Darwin was quite possibly aware of the dispute between Henslow and Lyell on these precise points.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    DAR 31.2: MS pp. 301–302, entry dated 1 January 1835, Cape Tres Montes.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    The filtration into Britain of German science and philosophy was, of course, over a larger span than the 1831–1836 period, although this was a particularly active time of interchange. A full analysis would need to consider the role of men like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the comparative philologists, the historians - and the all-important institutions. For general comments on this Germanophilia see Cannon, Science in Culture, pp. 46–54; and Rosemary Ashton, The German Idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), chap. 2. Important remarks on the more specific scientific context may be found in L. S. Jacyna, “The Romantic Programme and the Reception of Cell Theory in Britain,” J. Hist. Biol., 17 (1984), 13–48; and Trevore H. Levere, Poetry Realized in Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), chap. 2.Google Scholar
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    Robert Jameson's Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal had been an important source of translations and news of German and French science since its inception in 1826. The Foreign Quarterly Review was comprehensive in its Germanophilia, through Carlyle's influence as one of its editors. Taylor's Scientific Memoirs began publication in serial form in August 1836 and was, among other things, intended to bring German and other Continental science to the attention of Britain. See the announcement in London Edinburgh Phil. Mag., 9 (1836), 159.Google Scholar
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    See J.Morrell and A.Thackray, Gentlemen of Science: The Founding of the British Association for the Advancment of Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), esp. p. 377. The authors have tabulated the listed foreign visitors to the BAAS for the 1831–1837 period. Of the 140 registered foreign visitors, 26 were German, 29 were from France, and 43 were from the United States. German visitors of prominence in biological circles during the period of Darwin's absence can be detailed even further. Karl Rudolphi was apparently in London from late October to early February of 1831–1832 and is listed on the roster of visitors to the Royal College of Surgeons for October 31, November 23, December 9 and 14, and February 8 (RCS Archives MSS 275. g. 41). G. R. Treviranus attended the fourth meeting of the BAAS in Edinburgh in 1834 and was in the company of Robert Brown, J. S. Henslow, William Hooker, and Darwin's former botany teacher, Robert Graham (Graham to Brown, 29 August 1834, British Museum of Natural History Brown Papers, vol. 1, #170). Friederich Tiedemann was in London visiting Richard Owen in the summer of 1835 (E. F. Bennett to Owen, 31 August 1835, Owen papers, British Museum of Natural History, vol. 11, #190–191).Google Scholar
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    Erasmus Darwin had traveled widely in Germany in the 1830s and was in 1836–1837 a close friend of Thomas Carlyle. The two brothers roomed together during Darwin's shorter stays in London until his final move in March of 1837. After this date the two lived almost next door to each other, on Great Marlborough Street, until Charles' marriage. Erasmus' close contact with the Germanophiles, and his extensive training in medicine, chemistry, and anatomy, make him a likely means of his brother's early acquaintance with the German scientific literature, particularly in view of his reading ability in German. Reporting on Charles' first visit to Maer Hall in early November 1836, his Aunt Sarah Wedgewood wrote to his cousin Hensleigh that Charles had been having Erasmus translate “a certain German pamphlet on the Corals of the red sea” and “feels he must learn German” (Sarah to Hensleigh, 10 November 1836, in Correspondence, p. 520). The German pamphlet in question is probably Christian Ehrenberg's Über die Natur und Bildung der Corallen Banke in Röthen Meere (Berlin: 1834), which Darwin cites several times in the first edition of his Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (London: 1842).Google Scholar
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    Sulloway, “Darwin's Conversion” I argue in the following discussion not that Sulloway is incorrect, but that his account is incomplete. My debt to his scholarship should be evident.Google Scholar
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    Charles Lyell to Richard Owen, 26 October 1836, in Richard StartonOwen, The Life of Richard Owen (London: Murray, 1894; reprinted Westmead: Gregg International Publishers, 1970), 2, 102. Hereafter cited as Life. Lyell notes that at the party he will meet Darwin, “whom I believe you have seen.”Google Scholar
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    Owen in October 1824 matriculated at the University of Edinburgh for a year of medical study; he departed in April 1825 for St. Bartholomew's Hospital for apprenticeship under John Abernethy (R. S. Owen, Life, I, 26–29). Darwin entered the school in October 1825. Both Owen and Darwin had attended Thomas C. Hope's chemistry lectures, Robert Jameson's natural history lectures, Robert Duncan's materia medica course, Alison's physiology, and Alexander Monro's anatomy (Life, I, 26).Google Scholar
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    For useful details on the museum see JessieDobson, “John Hunter's Museum,” chap. 31 in ZacharyCope, The Royal College of Surgeons of England: A History (London: Blond, 1959). Owen had aimed to create a museum that would equal the great Muséum d'anatomie comparée in Paris which he had visited in 1831, except that it would be organized on Hunterian rather than Cuvierian principles. For details on the holders of the lectureships in surgery and comparative anatomy, see V. G. Plarr, List of Lecturers and Lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1810–1900 (London: Taylor and Francis, 1900).Google Scholar
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    I will explore elsewhere the full Hunterian context of these college lectures. The skeletal character of Hunter's doctrines in their published form, supplemented only by incomplete private manuscripts in the hands of William Clift and by Clift's personal recollections of Hunter's specific views, provided in many respects an ideal framework for the development of a dynamic research program with concrete institutional support. New scientific theory and discoveries could easily be incorporated into the loose theoretical framework provided by Hunter's speculations; little more was required than a nod in Hunter's direction to validate the arguments. As a result, John Abernethy could synthesize Hunter's concepts of vitality with Humphry Davy's electrical theory; Abernethy's archrival, William Lawrence, could use the Hunterian lectures to articulate a largely Blumenbachian analysis of vitality; Joseph Henry Green could nominally expounded Hunter's views in the categories of Germano-Coleridgean Naturphilosophie; and Charles Bell could incorporate advanced Scottish neurophysiology into his Hunterian expositions. Owen's own eclecticism is fully consistent with this tradition at the college. For recent comments on the varying interpretations of Hunter see L. S.Jacyna, “Images of John Hunter in the Nineteenth Century,” Hist. Sci., 21 (1983), 85–108. An overview of Owen's Hunterian lectures is given by Nicholas Rupke, “Richard Owen's Hunterian Lectures on Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, 1837–55,” Med. Hist., 29 (1985), 237–258.Google Scholar
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    Anthony Carlisle, president of the college, speaks of Owen as “much engaged in his Lectures” in July 1836 (Carlisle to William Clift, 22 July 1836, in William Clift's 1836 Diary, Clift Papers, Royal College of Surgeons, MS 276.g.1-33. This daily diary, with interleaved notes and letters, is paired with an 1837 diary, the two hereafter cited as “Clift Diary, 1836[7]”)Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    The dating of the first draft of these lectures is important in assessing the exact degree to which Owen had treated the relevant questions by the time of his early contacts with Darwin. My datings are reasonably supported by the following considerations. The lectures exist in two forms, the first a series of rough holograph manuscript drafts in the Owen archives at the Royal College of Surgeons (Owen MSS 67.b a-o), the second a neat recopy by Owen or an amenuensis — with the delivery date on the cover — containing Owen's final revisions, and often with notes and queries by William Clift. These served as delivery copy for the May lectures and are located either at the Royal College of Surgeons (Owen MSS 42.d.4) or at the British Museum of Natural History (Owen Papers O. C. 38). Exploration of both archives has failed to uncover either drafts or recopied lectures beyond the first seven, which seem to contain the main theoretical discussion. My suspicion is that the remaining seventeen lectures were in the masses of water-damaged materials found by Charles Sherborn in a shed at Richmond Park and were probably discarded. The Life incorrectly describes the 1837 lecture course as having been simply concerned with “microscopical structure and nature of the teeth (p. 109n).” The manuscript of the final recopy of the first two lectures, slated for delivery 2–4 May, is clearly dated by William Clift “3 1/2 a.m. Nov4 22. 1836. W. C.” (Owen Papers, BMNH MSS O.C. 38 MS: 83). On 27 November 1836 Owen read this manuscript in a practice session in the unopened museum, after which he decided to divide the lecture in two (Life, I, 103). Given the importance to our theme of the subsequent lectures, it is of interest to note additional evidence for the dating of the other existing sections, covering lectures 3–7 in their final delivery form. The body of all of these first drafts is almost invariably on “J. Green and Son, 1836” paper, with a few pages on an older “J. Tassell, 1834.” Owen was also using the “J. Green, 1836” for correspondence in letters dated between 4 July 1836 (Richard Owen to William Buckland, 4 July 1836, Temple University Owen Letters, I, 38) and 23 January 1837 (Richard Owen to Charles Lyell, 23 January 1837, American Philosophical Library Lyell Papers, B D 25. L). The draft manuscripts, however, often have new sections and interleaves inserted, which are recorded in the final recopy, typically on a “J. Whatman 1836” paper. Furthermore, the draft manuscript of the eventual lecture 6, delivered on 13 May 1837, contains three sheets written on dated memoranda — one a draft agenda for the Zoological Society meeting of 8 November 1836, the second the back of a notice of a meeting of the Zoological Society Museum Committee on 3 October 1836 and dated 30 September, and a third what is apparently the envelope for the previous memo (RCS 67.b.12, MS: pp. 32, 42, 43). Clift notes in his Diary (Clift Diary, 1836) for 29 November 1836 having ordered pens, paper, and sealing wax “for lectures,” which probably indicates that after completing the recopy of the first lecture on 22 November, Owen was preparing to begin work on the rest. The complete absence on the original drafts of any sign of 1837 composition dates, or paper types bearing an 1837 water-mark, suggests that Owen probably had completed the rough drafting, if not the final recopying, of the lectures in the early months of 1837. This dating is important in assessing the degree to which Martin Barry could have had any impact on Owen's lectures, as suggested by Ospovat, The Development of Darwin's Theory, p. 12.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    TimothyLenoir, The Strategy of Life: Vital Materialism in Nineteenth-Century German Physiology. (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983). Lenior has finally separated out the assumptions behind at least two currents of German biology, those of the tradition of Naturphilosophen and those of a post-Kantian tradition of reductive biologists. His clear delimitation of the differences is a crucial breakthrough in the understanding of this period. The distinction is important for interpreting Owen's early work. Although Owen is better known for his transcendentalist views of the 1840's, when he is manifestly a disciple of the Schelling-Carus-Tiedemann tradition, this is certainly not the case in his early period, when his affinities are distinctly with the “vital materialists” in Lenoir's sense. Consequently, Owen openly attacks transcendental anatomy in the fourth lecture of the 1837 series when discussing the views of St. Hilaire and Tiedemann (Owen Papers, RCS MSS, 42.d.4:93–97), but shows the strong influence of Von Baer, Johannes Müller, and Ehrenberg. Analysis of the reasons behind Owen's later return to the position of the transcendentalists exceeds the bounds of this paper.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    For useful background see Lenoir, Strategy, chap. 1. Discussions of the Lebenskraft concept in the period inevitably harken back to J. C.Reil's “Von der Lebenskraft,” Arch. Physiol., 1 (1795), 1–105. The specific background of Müller's discussions can be found in J. J. Berzelius, Lehrbuch der Chemie. I have utilized ed. 3. rev., ed. F. Wöhler, vol. 6: Organisches Chemie (Dresden and Leipzig: Arnold, 1837). Müller cites Berzelius specifically, and Owen includes the same page references in his manuscript lectures.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), I, 18. I have utilized this translation of Müller's Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen für Vorlesungen (Koblenz: J. Hölscher, 1833–34) in spite of certain defects, because it may have been available to Owen during the preparation of these lectures. Baly had studied with Müller in Berlin and received his M.D. there in 1836 before taking a position at the St. Pancras Hospital Infirmary in London. He was assisted in his translation by Robert Willis, librarian of the College of Surgeons and Owen's colleague (Elements, Translator's Preface). The first volume of the Baly edition was published in October 1837 (see London Times, 4 October 1837) and must have existed in manuscript early enough to have been available to Owen (although Owen was obviously competent in German by 1836 and could have read Müller directly). I have compared the Baly and the Müller original for points of significant difference. In the quoted passage, although he appeals to Kant, Müller nonetheless diverges from the orthodox Kantian positon, which allowed teleological forces only a regulative and never a constitutive or explanatory role. Owen follows Müller's revision. See Lenoir, Strategy, chap. 1, and idem., “Teleology without Regrets: The Transformation of Physiology in Germany, 1790–1847,” Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci., 12 (1981), esp. pp. 299–312. See also the important discussion by James L. Larson, “Vital Forces: Regulative Principles or Constitutive Agents? A Strategy in German Physiology, 1786–1802,” Isis., 70 (1979), 235–249.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    See YehudaElkana, The Discovery of the Conservation of Energy (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1974), chap. 4; Lenoir, Strategy, chap. 5; and useful comments by F. L. Holmes in his introduction to Justus von Liebig, Animal Chemistry (New York: Johnson Reprint, 1964), pp. lxxi–lxxiii.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), I, 19, 21. Von Baer, Müller, and subsequently Owen, mean by Keim or “germ” not the microscopic granules of Candolle, Brown, and Brongniart, nor the invisible Keimen of Kant and other German biologists who accepted Bonnet's version of preformationism. Whereas a French usage of germe implies preformationism in the 1820's and early 1830's, the German usage of Keim typically does not. By 1837 Darwin was, consequently, in the highly interesting position of being able to connect the issues raised by the tradition of Candolle, Henslow, Brongniart, and Brown concerning the role of the preformed “granular matter” with those raised by Von Baer, Müller, and Owen with reference to the non-preformed Keim.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), p. 26.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), p. 28.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), pp. 34–35. After this quote Müller comments that while such a theory explains the phenomena, it “is in reality merely a statement of their connection, and it is not even certain that the statement is correct” (p. 35). Owen displays no such skepticism.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    On this see Philip R.Sloan, “Buffon, German Biology and the Historical Interpretatio of Biological Species,” Brit. J. Hist. Sci., 12 (1979), 129–134. This issue would dramatically separate the empiricist tradition represented by Müller and that of the more speculative Naturphilosophen such as Steffens, Carus, and (in England) Coleridge and his disciples. See also Levere, Poetry Realized in Nature, pp. 93–108. Owen displays an interesting synthesis of the Müllerian empiricism and critical skepticism, and the more epistemologically optimistic Coleridgean developmentalism, which the had adopted from Joseph Henry Green.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), I. 25.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    The exact dating of the first holograph draft of this lecture is somewhat uncertain and is complicated by Owen's change in the numbering system of his lectures prior to delivery. All watermarked pages in the College of Surgeons holograph manuscript (Owen MSS, RCS 67.b.12E), including two newly inserted introductory pages, are exclusively on the “J. Green and Son, 1836” paper found in the drafts of the other six. This manuscript lacks any specimens of the “J. Whatman 1836” paper that seem to have been utilized after January 1837 for revisions. This lecture was entitled on the final recopy, in Owen's hand, “Lecture III. V May 11th”. In Caroline Clift's lost daily diary she is reported to have recorded for 19 April 1837: “R. wrote the latter part of his third lecture and read it to me” (R. S. Owen, Life, I, 108). The RCS holograph manuscript shows extensive signs of reworking, with a renumbering of the latter pages beginning with originally numbered page 26 and running through the last eleven pages of the holograph. It is likely that, rather than initially drafting the manuscript on 19 April, Owen was preparing the final copy of the final discussion, which was already in existence by this date. The 19 April date, only one week after the meeting between Owen, Farre, and Darwin, will be of importance later.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), I, 18–19.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Owen MSS, BMNH O.C. 38. vii, MS: pp. 15–16. This and succeeding BMNH texts quoted with permission of the trustees of the British Museum of Natural History. For conventions on the transcriptions see note 40.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Owen MSS BMNH O.C. 38:vii MS: pp. 4–5. Although Müller is not cited in Owen's discussion, he is referred to directly in lectures 3 and 7, and Owen's familiarity with Müller's physiology and general writings is apparent from his notebooks of the period.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Owen MSS RCS 67.b.12e MSS p. 2. Quoted by permission of Royal College of Surgeons Library.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Owen MSS, BMNH O.C. 38: vii MS: PP. 27–28.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Ibid., pp. 51–52.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Green had first studied in Germany as a precocious youngster of fifteen, and after receiving his surgical license from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1815, he returned to Germany in 1817 to study German philosophy. At about this time he became a close friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was his literary executor and expounder of his natural philosophy after Coleridge's death. Owen was later to see Green as even more important than John Barclay in the introduction of comparative anatomy into England. See Owen to John Henry Simon in Simon's “Memoir of the Author's Life,” in Joseph Henry Green, Spiritual Philosophy (London and Cambridge: Macmillan, 1855), pp. xiv–xv. For the larger context of German influences on the Coleridge circle see Levere, Poetry Realized in Nature.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Joseph Henry Green, “Recapitulatory Lecture to 1828 Course,” published as an appendix to his Vital Dynamics (London: Pickering, 1840), pp. 106–107. Although I have been unsuccessful in locating Green's own lecture notes for his 1828 course, the published recaptulatory lecture agrees in content and in structure with the reconstruction of the lectures that can be made from Owen's outline notes (Owen MSS, RCS 67.b.11).Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Green, “Recapitulatory Lecture,” p. 102.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    JohannesMüller, Elements of Physiology, trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1837), I,25–26.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Owen MSS BMNH O.C. 38. vii. MS: pp. 34–35.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Ibid., pp. 36–37.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Ibid. p. 39.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    The extension of Müller's argument beyond individual development to that of the species depended on drawing an analogy between species and individual. Owen at times is close to explicitly stating this, but never fully endorses the concept. At the end of the draft of the sixth lecture in the series is appended in pencil, “Death of Species not same as death of individual” (Owen MSS, RCS 67.b.12, final page). Darwin, as I later suggest, was uniquely prepared to make this full identification and thus complete the unification of concepts.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Owen MSS BMNH O.C. 38. vii. MS: pp. 48–49. The last sentence of this passage is crossed out and William Clift has appended a long note urging Owen to reconsider the tree analogy. Green utilized the branching-tree metaphor in the 1828 lectures to depict the relationships of groups in time (see Green, “Recapitulatory Lecture,” p. 109). In his own student notes on the 1828 Green lectures, Owen duly records “nature like a tree” (Owen MSS, RCS 67.b.11, March 1828).Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    C. D. to W. D. Fox, 15 December 1836, Correspondence, p. 525.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    C.Lyell, “Presidential Address to the Geological Society of London, Delivered at the Anniversary, 17th of Ferbruary, 1837,” Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond., 2 (1833–38), 479–523. Owen had communicated the preliminary results to Lyell in January (Owen to Lyell, 23 January 1837, APS Lyell Papers, B D25. L). This letter is published, without Lyell's emendations found on the original, in Leonard Wilson, Charles Lyell, the Years to 1841: The Revolution in Geology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), pp. 436–437. See also Sulloway, “Darwin's Conversion pp. 352–356.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    A summary appears in Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond. 2 (1833–38), 541–542.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    See Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program.”Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    See SydneySmith, “The Origin of the ‘Origin’”, Adv. Sci., 16(1960), 391–401; Gruber and Barrett, Darwin on Man; Sulloway, “Darwin's Conversion”; and Sandra Herbert's introduction to her edition of the Red Notebook kept by Darwin during the mid-1836—early 1837 period, published as The Red Notebook of Chales Darwin, ed. S. K. Herbert, Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) (Hist. Ser.), 7 (1980). Hereafter cited as Red Notebook (Herbert ed.).Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    Darwin had been invited by Lyell to come to dinner on 2 January (Lyell to Darwin, 26 December 1836, APS Lyell Papers, 13900), and on 3 January Clift noted that the preliminary washing of the fossils for skeletal casts had commenced (Clift Diary, 1837, RCS Archives MSS 276.g. 1–33). Darwin had instructed the college in a letter dated 30 December not to open parcels of specimens shipped to the college from Cambridge until his return to London (Clift Diary, 1836). It is improbable that he would not have visited the college in person to supervise the opening of these packets and observe at least some of the plaster casting of his fossils. This washing of the bones on 3 January provides a firm reference dating for Darwin's passage in the Red Notebook (Herbert ed., p. 61; MS: 113e) referring to “bones washed about much at Coll. of Surgeons.”Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    The main writing and revisions of the Journal began in early March and were completed in late June (Darwin to W. D. Fox, 7 July 1837, Christ College Archives, #52). Although additions to the galleys at a later stage cannot be excluded, they are improbable for the passages in question. Reference to Owen's description of the fossils, for example, had not proceeded beyond the point Owen had reached in his identifications by April 1837, and the affirmation of the life-span of species is clearly pre-B. See also Hodge, “Darwin and the Terrestrial System,” pp. 26–28.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    J. J.Lister, “Some Observations on the Structure and Functions of Tubular and Cellular Polypi, and of Ascidiae, “Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., 124 (1834), 365–88. Lister's paper reports on the live observations of these zoophytal forms and his use of a high-resolution achromatic compound microscope gave him the advantage of wide field of observation with high resolution and high magnification. Darwin's apparent reference to this paper occurs early in the Red Notebook (Herbert ed., p. 37; MS: 24): “Mem.; rapidity of germination in young corals. — vide L. Jackson's [sic] paper, Philosoph. Transact.” Although the reference is mistakenly to “L. Jackson,” this issue is not discussed by either John or James Jackson, the only two contemporaries of that surname publishing in the scientific literature at the time; the reference would seem to be a note Darwin made to himself on the basis of a reference or a recommendation. My suspicion is that inasmuch as the reference to the College of Surgeon's bones on p. 113 of the manuscript of the Red Notebook can be dated unequivocally to after 3 January 1837, the reference to Lister on p. 24 is most likely after the return. Lister was personally known to Owen, Robert Brown, and the other London microscopists with whom Darwin might have been consulting at the time he had become interested in the Ehrenberg paper on corals in early November (see Owen Notebook quote below). It is dubious that the volume of the Philosophical Transactions containing this paper could have been accessible to Darwin before the return, and there is no mention of it in the Zoology Diary, although Darwin would have been interested in the paper's claims if it had been available to him on ship. Although there is nothing specifically in the Lister paper about coral germination, the confirmation it supplied for Darwin's own observations of the presence of the granular molecules in the zoophytes bore directly on his own theory of coral generation. See Sloan, “Darwin's Invertebrate Program.”Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    Lister, “Some Observations,” p.376.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    Ibid., p. 377.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    Direct reference in Darwin's hand to Lister's paper is found on an undated scrap (DAR 29.3, fol. 52) as “Mr Lister on Corallines.”Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    DAR 127, note on rear fly. Dating the A notebook passages is difficult. Herbert (Introduction to Red Notebook, p. 14 and note 30) has argued for dating this notebook as opened parallel to B, that is, in July 1837: several cross-references to the Red Notebook, and a reference on p. 15 to the Institut for August 1837 would support this. However, the notebook was kept from both ends, and the few biological entries in the rear could be earlier. By my reading, the issues represent a pre—B stage of thinking.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    Exactly what might have been transpiring between Henslow and Darwin during the nearly three-month stay at Cambridge is difficult to document. Henslow by this time had published his Descriptive and Physiological Botany, and the second printing was due for release in early 1837. Any updating in this text of the discussions of reproduction, vitality, and the “granular matter” problem beyond the 1831 level is minimal, and makes no mention of the newer German alternatives, which Darwin would have encountered after contact with Owen. The similarities between the opening discussion of the B notebook and passages in Henslow's Descriptive and Physiological Botany are of some interest. The DAR 119 reading list records Henslow's work as read only on 15 February 1840. However, the annotations on the 1837 edition of Henslow's text in Darwin's library are distinctly layered.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    Farre matriculated at Gonville-Caius College in 1826 and received his Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1833. His name, along with Darwin's, is listed in the roster for Henslow's 1830 botany lectures (Henslow MSS Cambridge O. xiv. 261). Farre subsequently attended Owen's lecture course in comparative anatomy at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in the spring of 1835 and was Owen's successor to the lectureship of comparative anatomy there after owen moved to the Hunterian chair in 1836.Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    ArthurFarre, “Observations on the Minute Structure of Some of the Higher Forms of Polypi with Views of a More Natural Arrangement of the Class”, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London, 124 (1837), 387–426, 420. This paper was received by the society, through Owen, on 11 May and read on 8 and 15 June. Farre develops the ideas on the status of the zoophytes expressed in Owen's article “Acrita” in The Cyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology, ed. Robert B. Todd (London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper, 1835) I, 47a–49b. Owen's discussion is itself much indebted to that of William Sharp Macleay, Horae entomologicae: or Essays on the Annulose Animals (London: Bagster, 1822) I, (pt. 2) pp. 199–200. Macleay had created the Acrita as a fifth group, in addition to Cuvier's classic four, to include the simplest invertebrates without distinct nervous systems; he also made the controversial claim that this group linked the two great “circles” of the plant and animal series. In this article Owen is more cautious and more fully aware of Ehrenberg's arguments against the use of the infusoria as a linkage point between plants and animals. Farre shows the same caution. Both, however, consider the infusorial monad as the germ analogue that begins the animal, if not the plant, series.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    Owen, “Acrita,” p. 49a. This is a close paraphrase of a similar passage in Macleay, Horae entomologicae, p. 223. Owen's concern with the role of “formative energies” is not, however, in Macleay's discussion.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    Quoted in Owen, Life, I, 108. I have been unable to locate the original of this missing diary, and there is general agreement among Owen scholars that it is lost. Nor have I been able to locate any authenticated citations from it since the publication of the Life. It is quoted by A. J. E.Cave, “Richard Owen and the Discovery of the Parathyroid Glands,” in Science, Medicine and History: Essays in Honor of Charles Singer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), II, 218–219. I have determined that this is merely qutoation from the Life. The Caroline Clift Owen diary apparently was only kept in the form of the short entries excerpted in the Life. Direct quotations in this form are to be found in a letter from Richard and Caroline Owen to William Clift on 10 August 1835 (Temple University, Owen Letters, I, fol. 32). I acknowledge the assistance of Jessie Dobson, Frederick Burckhardt, E. H. Cornelius of the Royal College of Surgeons Library, and Jacob Gruber of Temple University in my search for this diary.Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    This is the twelfth in a series of fifteen pocket notebooks similar to the Darwin transmutation notebooks, covering the period from February 1836 to December 1837, which have been taken apart and pasted on separate folio sheets (BMNH Owen Papers, O.C. O.O. 25). The notebook in question, kept from both ends, meets with the last entries near the middle. The entries written from the front end typically deal with more specific issues in comparative anatomy, those from the rear with more theoretical questions. It is in the entries reading from the rear that we find the first measurements and reflections on the head of Darwin's Toxodon fossil, the notes on the marine invertebrates, the drawings of the muscular fibers, and the embryological notes.Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    Ibid., MS: pp. 78b–78a.Google Scholar
  112. 112.
    Ibid. Owen's own preexistent concern with the “granular matter” is strikingly illustrated by an entry in the same notebook dated 8 March 1836, reporting observations on the hydatid cysts of a sow: “The inside of the Hydatid beset with minute granules, which when a piece of hydatid was put under fluid floated off — The granules had life and motion [,] were oblong — with a retracted orifice at the two ends, which was moved inwards, & again protruded —Numerous minute granules clear, moved in the substance.” Ibid., p. 11 from front. Similarly, in an undated entry reading from the rear and following by some pages the zoophyte-embryology discussions, Owen reports on studies of the fine structure of cartilage and “granules in shortened, irregular form, not simply round —as if group of granules ... Out of focus ... we get Müller's simple granules — in focus we have them subdivided” (ibid., p.59).Google Scholar
  113. 113.
    Owen's active work on this skull commenced around January 1837, which gives us a guide to the dating of the entries in this general section of the notebook. The extended series of measurements on the skull, with the heading “Toxodon” written over the name “Toxoreodon,” closely matches those published in 1839 by Owen for the Toxodon skull in his Fossil Mammalia, vol. 1 of The Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, ed. Charles Darwin (London: 1839; reprint ed., Wellington: Nova Pacifica, 1980), pp. 29–30. The apparent change of the Toxodon name would date these measurements prior to 19 April when Owen presented his paper on Toxodon to the Geological Society and formally settled on this designation. The use of a name for this form also place these entries after the end of January, when Owen communicated to Lyell his preliminary results for the 15 February presidential address, in which the form is still only referred to as a giant rodent.Google Scholar
  114. 114.
    Owen MS: pp. 80b–79b (reading from rear).Google Scholar
  115. 115.
    Sulloway has painstakingly dated the immediately preceding passages to 15 March 1837 (“Darwin's Conversion,” p. 381). The passage in question is then separated by a half-page of blank space and is in pencil rather than the ink of the preceding discussion. I feel that simple proration can not be employed to date this passage. Probably the most that could reasonably be claimed is that Darwin was obviously thinking about the zoophytes and the individual species analogy these forms provided, sometime close to the meeting with Farre, who would have most likely been deep in the in the final stages of his zoophyte paper.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
    Darwin, Red Notebook, Herbert ed., p. 67: MS p. 132. The importance of the Owen-Farre context should be noted. In Owen's 1835 article discussing the status of the Acrita, he had been concerned with their “fissiparous and gemmiparous modes of reproduction” and had seen the lowest acrites, the infusoria, as “analogous to the ova or germs of the higher classes” (Owen, “Acrita,” p. 48b).Google Scholar
  117. 117.
    On the dating of this lecture see note 77.Google Scholar
  118. 118.
    That Darwin may have attended the Owen lectures is not implausible, although I can find no direct evidence to substantiate the possibility. Given the significance of the event, marking the reopening of the new Hunterian museum, with the lectures delivered to a packed audience of approximately four hundred students, members, and visitors in the new auditorium of the College of Surgeons, it would be surprising if Darwin were not in attendance. Lyell, for example, whose direct interest in the topics would have seemed less than Darwin's, is recorded as having attended the lecture of 8 June and wrote Owen to congratulate him on the delivery (Life, I, 112). William Buckland is reported to have attended most of the twenty-four lectures in the series (ibid., p. 111). The large capacity of the new hall is carefully documented in William Clift's diary for 1837, which records his measurements of the seating capacity of the new theater in preparation for the opening of the remodeled college on 14 February 1837. He arrived at a theoretical capacity of 413 persons. (Clift Diary, RCS Archives, p. 26). Rupke, “Owen's Hunterian. Lectures” p. 240, cites evidence for a capacity of up to 800, but this figure is difficult to reconcile with Clift's careful measurements. Although extant Darwin correspondence from the dates of the lectures, a total of elevent letters, does not make mention of attendance, Darwin was in London each of the days of the lectures, and the 4:00–5:00 P. M. Tuesday–Thursday–Saturday scheduling would not have conflicted with meetings of the zoological, entomological, or geological societies during those dates. Whether or not Darwin was actually present in this large audience, he was certainly conversant with Owen's specific terminology by mid-1837.Google Scholar
  119. 119.
    Hodge, “Darwin and the Terrestrial System.”Google Scholar
  120. 120.
    Darwin, Journal of Researches, p. 212. (Italics added.)Google Scholar
  121. 121.
  122. 122.
    Red Notebook, Herbert ed., p. 36; cover. Inserted on line 2 is “& Lyell,” and on line 7, “Lyell's Geology”. Herbert has shown that all the references to Lyell's Principles in the Red Notebook are to the first rather than to the new fifth edition, which appeared only in February 1837 and was not available for general sale until March. The addition of these references suggests that the note was added sometime after March, although there is no relevant connection between the “living atoms” issue and anything specifically in Lyell's new edition. Hodge, “Darwin and the Terrestrial System,” esp. pp. 24–25 has argued for the importance of Lyell's summary (in the Principles of Giovanni Brocchi's discussions of species senescence) to these early 1837 statements. I suggest, however, that there is a much more fully developed and richer context of these discussions directly available in Owen's lectures, which provides a more immediate set of arguments against which Darwin is responding. The use of terms like “germ” and “definite life” in the precise sense in which these appear in the Darwinian texts are key indicators of Darwin's contact with the Müller Owen discussions. This is not to deny that by early 1837 Darwin was in a position to synthesize the full range of issues presented by Lyell, Owen, Henslow, Brocchi, and Robert Brown and that the reading of Lyell's new fifth edition, the only edition to bear significant annotations by Darwin on the biological discussions, surely might have been one of the factors stimulating this synthesis.Google Scholar
  123. 123.
    See note 112.Google Scholar
  124. 124.
    For Grant's endorsement of this thesis, see his Essay on the Study of the Animal Kingdom (London: Taylor, 1828), p. 18: “From numerous experiments, Naturalists have been led to believe that the simplest organized bodies, as Monads and Globulinae, originate spontaneously from matter in a fluid state, and that these simple bodies, of spontaneous origin, are the same with the gelatinous globules which compose the soft parts of Animals and Plants.” Similar views are embraced by Macleay and Smith. See Jacyna, “The Romantic Programme,” pp. 20–31. Ehrenberg's observations had dashed the romantic thesis that in the infusorial monad was to be found the unifying point of all forms of life.Google Scholar
  125. 125.
    Ehrenberg, “Über das Entstehen des Organischen aus einfacher sichtbarer Materie ...”, Ann. d. Physik und Chemie100 (1832) pp. 15–16, 18–19. Ehrenberg's paper embedded the discussion in the larger problem of the existence of atoms and directly related this to Brown's observations. Ehrenberg claimed a “bottomless” [Unergründlichkeit] immortality for the infusoria (p. 34), although he does not attempt to explicate a theory of vitality to support it. Like Brown, however, he sees the granular particules as themselves possessed of “lebendigen Bewegungen” (p. 15), which had been precisely the point dividing Candolle, Henslow, and Brongniart from Brown and Lister. Darwin's comment in the Red Notebook shows that he had universalized the issue to supply a theory of extinction for the more organized forms in terms of a conservation of this inherent vitality.Google Scholar
  126. 126.
    The meeting of Darwin and Owen can be precisely dated. Clift's 1837 Diary (Clift Papers, RCS MSS 1837) notes that Owen left London for Ramsgate on Friday 30 June, with plans to return on Tuesday, 4 July. He is noted as leaving for his family home at Lancaster for an extended vacation on 6:00 a.m. on Friday, 14 July. On the evening of 6 July Darwin had returned from a week's visit to Shrewsbury, but he makes no mention on the seventh of meeting with Owen or of his work on fossils, although this would have been a likely topic of discussion in the letter to W. D. Fox, 7 July 1837 (Fox MSS, Christ College, Cambridge, letter #52). Consequently, the meeting could have only occurred between 7 and 13 July. The Ehrenberg paper appeared in print in English after July. See announcement of the forthcoming publication of pt. 4 of Taylor's Scientific Memoris containing this paper in London and Edinburgh Phil. Mag., 11 (July 1837), p. 11.Google Scholar
  127. 127.
    Letter of C. D. to Lyell, 30 July 1837, in Wilson, Charles Lyell, p. 445.Google Scholar
  128. 128.
    Hodge, “Darwin and the Terrestrial System,” p. 80, and Gruber and Barrett, Darwin on Man, chap. 7. The conservation model I have supplied provides the answer to Gruber and Barrett's puzzlement (p. 139) over Darwin's early linkage of the monad theory to species extinction.Google Scholar
  129. 129.
    Darwin B Notebook, DAR 121, MS: p. 3. Henslow opens his discussion of reproduction with: “Propagation.—There are two distinct modes, according to which the propagation of the vegetable species is naturally secured, viz. ‘subdivision’ and ‘reproduction’ ... This function of reproduction is to the species, what life is to the individual — a provision made for its continued duration on the earth” (Descriptive and Physiological Botany, pp. 248–249).Google Scholar
  130. 130.
    Darwin, DAR 121, MS: p. 4.Google Scholar
  131. 131.
    Ibid., MS. pp. 16–19.Google Scholar
  132. 132.
    Owen MSS, BMNH O.C. 38. vii. MS: p. 39.Google Scholar
  133. 133.
    I suggest that to understand adequately Darwin's use of “monad” in this discussion, it should not be seen as the infusorial monad of Macleay, Grant, and Owen. Ehrenberg's work demonstrated clearly that this could not be the ultimate biological entity. For the same reason it is not simply Owen's microscopic germ, since this was restricted to the animal kingdom. Owen (“Acrita” and the 13 May lecture) had already admitted that this could not be seen, by analogy to the infusoria, as the linking point between the plant and animal kingdoms. I understand Darwin's “monad,” “molecule,” and “monucle”, in this discussion to be most closely captured by his conception of the microscopic granules, and not the infusoria. This would provide a material unification of all life and would utilize Ehrenberg's analysis to his own theoretical advantage. Hence the query, “How is this Ehrenberg?” The unusual term “monocle” appears in a note to Ehrenberg's 1832 paper (p. 10n), quoting J. B. Fray's description of the infusoria in his Essai sur l'origine des corps organisés (Paris, 1817), p. 71.Google Scholar
  134. 134.
    DAR 121, MS: pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  135. 135.
    Ibid., MS: pp. 21–23. If we interchange “monad” and “living atoms,” this passage is almost a paraphase of that in the Red Notebook.Google Scholar
  136. 136.
    Ibid., MS: pp. 25–26. The use of “germs” in this passage seems unequivocal on my reading of the original manuscript, although the published de Beer transcription reads “genera in progress.” Paul Barrett's transcription of this passage, in Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 122 (1959–60), 247–96:253 and more recently in his selection in Darwin on Man, (p. 422) also reads “germs.” I have carefully examined all the apparent uses of “germ,” “genera,” and “genus” in this document, and with the exception of the reading at B MS: p. 29 (see quote below), where decision was impossible from examination under magnification of the original, I have encountered little difficulty in separating the two words, and the use at MS: p. 29 makes sense in the context of the larger discussion only when read as “germs,” although the reading in the more recent Barrett transcription (Darwin on Man, p. 442) of the document reads the word as “genus”. The utilization of similar “germs” terminology in the Journal of Researches examined previously supports my reading. It is also supported by the remarkable recurrence of this language in Darwin's pangenesis chapter of the Variation. There he speaks of “the germ, which before impregnation undergoes a certain amount of development, ceases to progress and perishes, unless it be acted on by the male element” “Variation of Plants and Animals under Domestication, ed. 2 (New York: Appleton, 1876), p. 355.Google Scholar
  137. 137.
    B Notebook, MS: pp. 29, 29e, restoring excised page. The de Beer edition of these excisions in G. R. de Beer, M. J. Rowlands, and B. M. Skramrousky, eds., “Darwin's Notebooks on Transmutation of Species, Part VI: Pages Excised by Darwin, “Bull. Brit. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Hist. Ser., 3) (1967), 133, reads, “There does appear some connection shortness of existence, imperfect species from many changes and base of branches being dead from which they bifricated.”Google Scholar
  138. 138.
    DAR 121, MS:p. 35.Google Scholar
  139. 139.
    Some idea of this can be obtained in the following quotation from the C Notebook, stimulated by reading Carus’ “On the Kingdoms of Nature, Their Life and Affinities,” in Scientific Memoirs, ed. R. Taylor (London: Taylor, 1837), I, 223: “There is one living spirit prevalent over this world (subject to certain contingencies of organic matter and chiefly heat), which assumes a multitude of forms each having acting principle according to subordinate laws. There is one thinking sensible principle intimately allied to one kind of organic matter ... which is modified into endless forms bearing a close relation in degree & kind to the endless forms of the living beings. We see thus unity in thinking and acting principle.” G. de Beer, “Darwin's Notebooks on Transmutation of Species: Part II, Second Notebook, “Bull. Brit. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Hist. Ser.), 2 (1960), 108, with excision restored from de Beer et al., p. 152. Detailed exploration of this point will be carried out elsewhere.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phillip R. Sloan
    • 1
  1. 1.Program of Liberal Studies/Program in History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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