« VorigeDoorgaan »
The belief that there was formerly a tomical conditions, in favor of the hypothvery widely diffused marsupial fauna is esis that the Australian mammals are not one which has, however, gained consid- survivals of a once widely diffused form erable acceptance; and that its area was of life, since the mammals in question do really larger at one time than at present is not form a really homogeneous group, certain, from the discovery by Cuvier of and may have sprung from two distinct a fossil opossum (allied to the American roots, so that their resemblance may have opossums) in the quarries of Montmartre. been rather superinduced than inherited. More than this, however, is widely ac- The anatomical conditions referred to cepted. It is very often supposed that, refer to the structure of the hind foot in in times spoken of in geology as “trias. different marsupials. sic," there were no mammals which were One of the most curious points of not marsupial; and that we have in Austra. structure in the kangaroo is to be found lia what is, as it were, a modified triassic in the feet of that animal. Each hind fauna still surviving.
foot has but two large and conspicuous There is a good deal to be said in favor toes, the inner one of which is much the of this view. In the first place, the exist-larger, and bears a very long and strong ing marsupials of Australia are not the claw a formidable defensive weapon first which have inhabited that region. when the creature stands at bay. On the Huge beasts – closely allied to the kan.inner side of this is what appears to be garoos of 10-day, but of very different one very minute toe, but which is fur. shape and proportions — have lived, be. nished with two small claws. An exaincome extinct, and left their fossil remains, ination of the bones of the foot shows us, thus showing that the existing mammalian however, that it really consists of two very life of this newest world is, at the least, slender toes (answering to our second and not the newest kind of such life. Second third toes), united together in a common ly, the most ancient beasts, the remains fold, or sheath, of skin. Another charof which have been as yet discovered,* acter of the kangaroo is that a pair of although inhabitants of the northern hem- bones, called "marsupial bones,” lie with: isphere, have more resemblance to certain in the flesh of the front of the animal's Australian forms than to any other exist- belly, each being attached at one end to ing mammals. They are known to us by the front (or upper) margin of that bony scanty relics preserved in the solidified girdle to which the bind limbs are articu. mud of ancient triassic and colitic waters, lated, and which is called the pelvis. Anand the animal they most resemble is the other point is that the lower binder por: beautifully marked small insectivorous tion of each side of the bone of the lower marsupial known in zoology by the generic jaw is bent in, or inflected. term ilyrmecobius. A third argument for
Now almost all marsupials agree with the antiquity of the Australian fauna is the kangaroo in having marsupial bones afforded by a living animal of a very dif- and inflected angles to the jaw, while a ferent class. Certain fossil teeth bave certain number of them also agree with it long been known to zoologists as objects in having the second and third toes reoccasionally found in triassic strata, and duced in size. the animal to which such teeth belonged Amongst Australian mammals which so was distinguished by the designation Ce- agree with the kangaroo - i.e., in having ratodus. A few years ago a large flat. these toes more or less reduced - are the headed fish was found in Australia, which arboreal phalangers (Phalangista), the on examination was discovered to possess Aying phalanger (Petaurus), the koala, or the very teeth then only known in a fossil native bear (Phascolarctus), the wombat condition Ceratodus, in fact, was dis. (Phascolomys), and the bondicoot (Periz. covered still living, a still surviving relic meles). Oiher marsupials in which these of the ancient oolitic and triassic seas ! toes are not reduced in size are the native
These three facts cannot be denied to cat (Dasyurus), together with the Ameripossess a certain weight in favor of the can opossums (Didelphys) and the Aushypothesis of the great antiquity of the tralian forms Phascogale and MyrmecoAustralian fauna. Still, as we shall shortly bius. see, they are not conclusive; while there Does this divergence of character throw is an argument, drawn from certain apa. any light, and if any, what, on the origin
of the Australian marsupials, and the • Microlestes, Dromatherium, Amphitherium, question of the true relation borne by the Amphilestes, Phascolotherium, and Stereognathus. Australian mammalian fauna to the inhab.
itants of other parts of the earth's sur-phia, seem rather to be related to the face ?
monodelphous order Insectivora (the order It seems to us that it does; for it seems of the hedgehog and its allies) than to to prove that the characters common to the Marsupialia. all marsupials are not so peculiar and im- From this insectivorous root, then, the portant as to show that they must all have marsupials, as we at present know them, had a common origin, since had they had not improbably diverge as a relatively such common origin, there would hardly unimportant branch, while the main stem be this curious diversity in foot-structure. of the mammalian tree continued on and
Moreover, if the placental modification gave origin to the various successively of mammalian struciure could have arisen arising orders of mammalian life. once, what is there to prevent its having This view may be strengthened by the arisen twice, and so have made such uni- indication that the existing marsupial formity as does exist between the equal. (Myrmecobius) which most nearly resemtoed and unequal-toed groups of marsu- bles the old triassic mammals, is just one pials, an induced uniformity and not an of those marsupials in which the specially aboriginal one?
marsupial character, “the pouch," is The three reasons before referred to as wanting. The same is the case with the favoring the view of the great antiquity allied genus Phascogale, while in most of and general diffusion of marsupial life are the small American opossums (Didelphys) (as has been before said) not conclusive, the pouch is not developed; the character for the following reasons. That large ex- is still a very variable one in many forms tinct forms of kangaroos, etc., preceded of the order, as if it had not become, even the existing forms in recent geological yet, a completely established character. times is only what we might expect, see. It is the very highly specialized Australian ing how at the same time gigantic sloth. forms, the kangaroos and phalangers like creatures, ant-eaters and armidillos, forms that may be relatively modern depreceded, in South America, the small velopments — which have the pouch most sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos of too completely formed, and which may be day. The surviving triassic fish will considered to be the typical representa: agree as well with the later as with the tives of marsupial life. It is also far from earlier development of Australian mam. impossible that some of the existing mar. mals. It is only the remaining argument supials have come, as before suggested, which has any force, but the force it at from a different root to that which gave first appears to have becomes much di- rise to the others. Forms may have minished by a critical examination of the grown alike from different origins, as few matter. Only one of the triassic fossil things are more certain in the matter of mammals before referred to had (as mar- development than that similar structures supials have) inflected angles to its jaw, often arise independently, and causes while in the number of cutting.teeth they which would induce marsupial modificaall (where evidence on this point exists) tions in the descendants of one root-form diverge from the marsupial type and agree might well induce them in another rootwith that of the carnivorous placentals. form also. The singular difference in the All that these fossil forms can be held to structure of the hind foot, which exists demonstrate is that there existed at the between two sets of marsupials seems (as țime of their entombment species which before observed) to point to a twofold had both marsupial and monodelphous origin of the order Marsupiulia (as it affinities, and which may have been some now exists) from pre-existing forms, the of the as yet undifferentiated ancestors nearest allies to which are those monodelwhence those two most widely divergent phous mammals, the Insectivora. Thus and unequal groups of mammals (the pla- viewed, the marsupial order appears to cental and the marsupial) have descended. represent the more or less modern culmi. This is the more likely, since the oldest nation, in the remote Australian region, known mammals of the next geological of the process of evolution, or unfolding, epoch with mammalian remains the according to preimposed divine law, as eocene — present us with forms * which, directed to the multifold elaboration of though still somewhat intermediate be the marsupial type of mammalian life, a tween the Marsupialia and the Monodel. type which never reached those higher
stages of development which the class * Arctocyon, Pterodon, Provinerra, Hyænodon, mainmalia has elsewhere attained. Palæonictis, etc.
It cannot theo by any means be safely
affirmed that, as regards marsupials, the
From The Spectator. newest world - the world of Australia
COLERIDGE'S INTELLECTUAL has the oldest animal population, though its marsupial fauna is the most peculiar If we are to trust Mr. Traill, whose and aberrant of all the faunas to be found little book on Coleridge we have reviewed upon the earth's surface. Peculiar in its in another column, Coleridge left us degree is the fauna of South Africa, still only the delight of his few great poems more so that of the island of Madagascar, and of his fine poetical criticism, while while the peculiarity of the animals of the the influence which he exercised as South American continent has been point. thinker is almost nil. He hints, indeed, ed out in the beginning of this article that while he genuinely impressed " a few animais amongst which are included many mystics of the type of Maurice,” he exerspecies of a genus (Didelphys) of marsu- cised no permanent influence on English pials. But the nature of the whole mar. thought." Cardinal Newman thinks difsupial order, interesting and puzzling as ferently. He holds that Coleridge had the question may be, is but a small puzzle paved the way philosophically for a new compared with that which relates to the and deeper apprehension of theology; and nature and origin of those Australian ani. we confess that we attach far more value mals the platypus and echidna. By the to the judgment of Cardinal Newman in possession of these animals that'region of such a matter than we do to the judgment the earth's surface is indeed zoologically of Mr. Traill. Indeed, there can, we distinguished. The great island of New think, hardly be any question that Cole. Guinea has made us acquainted with a ridge led the way in that reaction against new and larger kind of echidna, but as the philosophy of Locke which made even yet no fossil remains anywhere discovo Carlyle's vague transcendentalism itself ered throw a single ray of light as to the possible, though it did not, and could not, mode of origin of these two most peculiar make such transcendentalisin a real power forms. They stand widely apart from in the actual life of England. Coleridge and at a much lower level than all other was quite right in thinking that his phil. mammals, yet they do not stand near to-osophy was useful chiefly as a rationale gether. In brain, in heart, and in many of man's nature in perfect harmony with other anatomical characters, these two the Christian revelation, a description beasts differ greatly, which tends to show which certainly would not apply to the that whatever may be the case with mar. philosophy of Condillac, or Locke, or supials, these two aberrant monotremes Hume, or Herbert Spencer. Coleridge, are the last survivors of an extinct race if he exerted any really great and perma. which must once have had to show a nent influence over English thought, ex. number of forms and kinds of life more erted it in this direction, by effecting a or less intermediate between the platypus reconciliation between the theology of the and echidoa. Whether these unknown New Testament and the philosophy of the and lost progenitors were inhabitants of nineteenth century. Australia, or whether their descendants But did he really do this? Did the migrated into that region from some other various metaphysical disquisitions, so culand now covered by the waters of the riously wedged into the " Biographia Lit. Southern Ocean, a vast antiquity can eraria,” or those volumes of Mr. Green's alone account for their evolution, 'multi- which professed to be the fruits of Cole. plication of types, and extinction. As re- ridge's teaching, succeed in refuting the gards these monotremes, then, we may philosophy of the materialist school, or of not fear to affirm that this newest world that purely evolutionist school which does contain certain survivors of a very maintains that the mind of man bears no ancient, if not most ancient, form of incip- witness in itself to the antecedent exist. ient, or highly aberrant, mammalian life. ence of a consciousness infinitely larger They are the most peculiar beasts which and grander than ours, but is only the have as yet anywhere been found; nor slowly ripening fruit of an experience first should we hesitate to affirm that the frag: gathered in the lower regions of blind ments of the earth's surface yet unvisited sensation? We lay no great stress on will make science acquainted with no the drift of Coleridge's more abstract disliving forms (wbatever fossils they may quisitions, and no stress at all on the afford) nearly so strange and so sugges. legacy of his faithful pupil's labors. It tive of a hoar antiquity as these denizens was not by his metaphysical dissertations, of our newest world, the platypus and the subtle and instructive as these often are, echidna.
aòd certainly not by the testimony of bis VOL. XLVIII 2472
favorite disciple, that Coleridge has ex- | the reader is brought back to the single image erted the great influence he has on En. by glish thought. We should say that it is He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded. chiefly, if not wholly, by his scattered criticisms of the secrets of spiritual and The dramatic imagination does not throw back, poetical truth; by his exposition of the and that its own, meaning, as in Lear through
but brings close; it stamps all nature with one, magic of the greatest writers, sacred or profane; by his criticisms of the Bible, of Shakespeare, of Milton, of Wordsworth ; Well, who can accept that account of the by his striking comments on history and secret of imagination, as of a power which politics; and by the flashes of wisdom is in a flash gives a true wholeness to any his “ Table 'Talk," that he has done so part of human life, and yet believe that much to subvert the theory that there is Aash to visit the poet as a mere overflow of no room in man for true communion with the material forces of nature, though its rethe Divine, and to implant the belief that sult is to bring about a new illumination of man's nature is not intelligible at all, ex. the secrets of the universe, a light then and cept on the assumption of an organic there arising for the first time? Does pot relation between his mind and a spring of Coleridge's account of the imagination iminfinite wisdom, an assumption altogether ply necessarily that this mastery of a liv. beyond the range of sense evolution. We ing whole spriogs from a true insight into admit freely that the way in which Cole. the integrity of the universe, an insight ridge produced this conviction in the best which nothing but light from the true minds of his age was in the highest de creative power could give; that poetic in. gree desultory, by the multitude of little spiration is really traceable to living rela. glimpses, in fact, which he gave us into tions with much more vital and, therefore, the organic relations of human life with much higher spiritual knowledge than our the life above us. But then, what way
owa? Would not evolution from beneath would be more effective than this ? Take, necessarily forbid the notion of these sud. for instance, that discussion of his of the den springs into a far higher mastery of secret of true imaginative power, to which the facts of life than any which our toil. Mr. Traill himself bears such cordial tes. some advances, our slowly accumulated timony in the little book to which we have experience, our unassisted gropings, could referred. We will quote a very short pas possibly account for? The whole of Colesage from the “ Table Talk” by way of ridge's analysis of the secret of poetic illustration :
power virtually assumes that the genius
of man is an overflow from the genius of You may conceive the difference in kind be the true creative spirit, and that genius tween the Fancy and the Imagination in this could not spring to the heights it does, and way, - that if the check of the senses and the that, too, without the least clue to its own reason were withdrawn, the first would be mode of operation, were there not at its come delirium, and the last mania. The Fancy brings together images which have no
source a far stronger grasp of the secrets connection natural or moral, but are yoked
of creation than any which the highest together by the poet by means of somec acci- human genius can reach. dental coincidence; as in the well-known pas. Again, take such a comment as this sage in Hudibras:
also to be found in the “ Table Talk," The sun had long since in the lap
which may be said to be essence of ColeOf Thetis taken out his nap,
ridge, while all his other works are mere And like a lobster boyi'd, the morn From black to red began to turn.
tinctures of Coleridge, on the unique The Imagination modifies images, and gives feature of Jewish history: unity to variety; it sees all things in one, il più The people of all other nations, tut the nell' urlo.
There is the epic imagination, the Jewish, seem to look backwards and also to perfection of which is in Milton; and the exist for the present; but in the Jewish scheme dramatic, of which Shakespeare is the absolute everything is prospective and preparatory;
The first gives unity by throwing nothing, however trifling, is done for itself back into the distance; as after the magnifi. alone, but all is typical of something yet to cent approach of the Messiah to battle, the come. poet, by one touch from himself far off their coming shone! —
This, again, is a criticism as pithy as it is makes the whole one image. And so at the
obviously true. And what does it not conclusion of the description of the appear argue as to the informing spirit of the ance of the entranced angels, in which every leaders of the Jewish people? The most sort of image from all the regions of earth and sceptical of critics will not deny that, how. air is introduced to diversify and illustrate, ever little credit they may give to proph.
ecy in detail, the prophetic attitude was tical. Facts only and cool common sense are of the very genius of the Jewish people; then in fashion. But let the winds of passion nor that this prophetic attitude did at swell, and straitway men begin to generalize; least point to an event, many centuries to connect by remotest analogies ; to express distant, which actually revolutionized hu. the most universal positions of reason in the map history, however little they may be most glowing figures of fancy; in short, to feel inclined to admit that this event was an.
particular truths and mere facts, as poor, cold,
narrow, and incommensurate with their feel. ticipated in minute detail. Now what is ings. With his wonted fidelity to nature, our the explanation of this unique forward own great poet has placed the greater number glance of the only people whose history of his profoundest maxims and general truths, really claims to be ordained of God, un- both political and moral, not in the mouths of less it be found in the assumption that men at case, but of men under the influence of there was a spiritual power higher than passion, when the mighty thoughts overmaster the prophets, and which commanded the and become the tyrants of the mind that has future, presented to them in but dim brought them forth. In his “Lear,” “Othelglimpses and intimations, in true com
10," " Macbeth,” “ Hamlet,” principles of deepmunion with the prophets ?
est insight and widest interest fly off like sparks Or take again that passage in the Lay hammer.
from the glowing iron under the loud forge.
It seems a paradox only to the unSermon on the Bible as “ The States. thinking, and it is a fact that none, but the man's Manual,” in which Coleridge antici- unread in history, will deny, that in periods of pated one of the chief ideas of Carlyle's popular tumult and innovation the more ab“ French Revolution,” and expounded the stract a notion is, the more readily has it been intimate relation between the passions found to combine, the closer has appeared its and the generalizations, true or false, of affinity, with the feelings of a people and with the buman reason:
all their immediate impulses to action. At the
commencement of the French Revolution, in I have known men, who with significant nods the remotest villages every tongue was emand the pitying contempt of smiles have denied ployed in echoing and enforcing the almost all influence tožthe corruptions of moral and geometrical abstractions of the physiocratic political philosophy, and with much solemnity politicians and economists. The public roads have proceeded to solve the riddle of the were crowded with armed enthusiasts disputing French Revolution by Anecdotes! Yet it on the inalienable sovereignty of the people, would not be difficult, by an unbroken chain the inprescriptible laws of the pure reason, of historic facts, to demonstrate that the most and the universal constitution, which, as rising important changes in the commercial relations out of the nature and rights of man as man, of the world had their origin in the closets or all nations alike were under the obligation of lonely walks of uninterested theorists; that the adopting. Turn over the fugitive writings, mighty epochs of commerce that have changed that are still extant, of the age of Luther; the face of empires; nay, the most important peruse the pamphlets and loose sheets that of those discoveries and improvements in the came out in flights during the reign of Charles mechanic arts, which have numerically in- 1. and the Republic; and you will find in these creased our population beyond what the wisest one continued comment on the aphorism of statesmen of Elizabeth's reign deemed possible, Lord Bacon (a man assuredly sufficiently acand again doubled this population virtually ; quainted with the extent of secret and per. the most important, I say, of those inventions sonal influence), that the knowledge of the that in their results
speculative principles of men in general bebest uphold
tween the age of twenty and thirty is the one War by her two main nerves, iron and gold, great source of political prophecy. And Sir had their origin not in the cabinets of states. Philip Sidney regarded the adoption of one men, or in the practical insight of men of busi- set of principles in the Netherlands, as a proof ness, but in the visions of recluse genius. To of the divine agency and the fountain of all the immense majority of men, even in civilized the events and successes of that Revolution. countries, speculative philosophy has ever been, and must ever remain, a terra incognita. Yet This teaching that there is the closest it is not the less true, that all the epoch-form- possible alliance between the social pas. ing revolutions of the Christian world, the sions and the generalizing reason of man, revolutions of religion and with them the civil, points to just the same inference as that social, and domestic habits of the nations con forced upon us by the other passages we cerned, have coincided with the rise and fall have quoted, namely, that power over men of metaphysical systems. So few are the minds that really govern the machine of society, and can only be gained by those who, whether so incomparably more numerous and more im- truly or falsely, speak with the authority
of that portant are the indirect consequences of things
categorical imperative” which than their foreseen and direct effects. It is professes to apply to all. It is a true or with nations as with individuals. In tranquil a false creed which sets men on fire. It moods and peaceable times we are quite prac. is a creed they seek. It is a creed which