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FROM the unorganised world, which has formed the main subject of our two last lectures, let us now rise a step higher in the scale of creation: and ascend from insentient matter to life, under the various modifications it assumes, and the means by which it is upheld and transmitted.

If I dig up a stone, and remove it from one place to another, the stone will suffer no alteration by the change of place; but if I dig up a plant and remove it, the plant will instantly sicken, and perhaps die. What is the cause of this difference? Both have proceeded from a minute molecule, a nucleus or a germ; both have a tendency to preserve their derivative or family configuration, and both have been augmented and perfected from one common soil. If I break the stone to pieces, every individual fragment will be found possessed of the characteristic powers of the aggregate mass: it is only altered in its shape and magnitude: but if I tear off a branch from the plant, the branch will instantly wither, and lose the specific properties of the parent stock.

No external examination, or reasoning à priori will explain this difference of effect. It is only by minute attention to the relative histories, interior

structures, and modes of growth of the two substances, that we are enabled to offer any thing like a satisfactory answer: and by such examination we find that the stone has been produced fortuitously, has grown by external accretion, and can only be destroyed by mechanical or chemical force; while the plant has been produced by generation, has. grown by nutrition, and been destroyed by death: that it has been actuated by an internal power, and possessed of parts mutually dependent and contributary to each other's functions.

In what this internal power consists we know not. Differently modified, we meet with it in both plants and animals: and wherever we find it we denominate it the principle of life, and distinguish the individual substance it actuates by the name of an organised being. And hence, all the various bodies in nature arrange themselves under the two divisions of organised and unorganised: the former possessing an origin by generation, growth by nutrition, and termination by death; and the latter a fortuitous origin, external growth, and a termination by chemical or mechanical force.

This distinction is clear, and it forms a boundary that does not seem to be broken in upon by a single exception. In what, indeed, that wonderful power of crystallisation consists, or by what means it operates, which gives a definite and geometrical figure to the nucleus or primary molecule of every distinct species of crystal; and which, with an accuracy that far exceeds all human precision, continues to impress the same figure upon the growing crystal through every stage of its enlargement, thus naturally separating one species from

another, and enabling us to discriminate each by its geometrical shape alone—we know not: but even here, where we meet with an approach towards that formative effort, that internal action and consent of parts which peculiarly characterise the living substance, there is not the smallest trace of an organised arrangement: while the origin is clearly fortuitous, and the growth altogether external, from the mere apposition of surrounding


So, on the other hand, in corals, sponges, and fuci, which form the lowest natural orders among animals and vegetables, and the first of which seems to constitute the link that connects the animal and vegetable with the mineral world, for it has in different periods been ascribed to each, - simple as is their structure, and obtuse as is the living principle that actuates them, we have still sufficient marks of an organised make; of an origin by generation, the generation of buds or bulbs, of growth by nutrition, and of termination by death.

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But the animal world differs from the vegetable as widely as both these differ from the mineral. How are we to distinguish the organisation of animals from that of plants? - In what does their difference consist? And here I am obliged to confess, that the boundary is by no means so clearly marked out; and that we are for the most part compelled to characterise the difference rather by description than by definition. Nothing, indeed, is easier than to distinguish animals and vegetables in their more perfect states; we can make no mistake between a horse and a horse-chestnut tree, a butterfly and a blade of grass. We behold the

plant confined to a particular spot, deriving the whole of its nutriment from such spot, and affording no mark either of consciousness or sensation : we behold the animal, on the contrary, capable of moving at pleasure from one place to another, and exhibiting not only marks of consciousness and sensation, but often of a very high degree of intelligence as well. Yet, if we hence lay down consciousness or sensation, and locomotion, as the two characteristic features of animal life, we shall soon find our definition untenable; for while the Linnæan class of worms affords instances, in perhaps every one of its orders, of animals destitute of locomotion, and evincing no mark of consciousness or sensation, there are various species of plants that are strictly locomotive, and that discover a much nearer approach to a sensitive faculty.

However striking, therefore, the distinctions between animal and vegetable life, in their more perfect and elaborate forms, as we approach the contiguous extremities of the two kingdoms we find these distinctions fading away so gradually,

Shade, unperceived, so softening into shade,

and the mutual advances so close and intimate, that it becomes a task of no common difficulty to draw a line of distinction between them, or to determine to which of them an individual may belong. And it is probable, that that extraordinary order of beings called zoophytes, or animated plants, as the term imports, and which by Woodward and Beaumont were arranged as minerals*, and by Ray and Lister

as vegetables, have at last obtained an introduction into the animal kingdom*, less on account of any other property they possess, than of their affording, on being burnt, an ammoniacal smell like that which issues from burnt bones, or any other animal organs,

and which is seldom or never observed from burnt vegetable substances of a decided and unquestionable character. Ammonia, however, upon destructive distillation, is met with in small quantities in particular parts of most if not of all vegetables, though never perhaps in the whole plant. Thus it occurs slightly in the wood or vegetable fibre; in extract, gum-mucilage, camphor, resin, and balsam; gumresin, gluten, and caoutchouc: besides those substances that are common to both animals and vegetables, as sugar, fixed oil, albumen, fibrine, and gelatine. There are some plants, however, that even in their open exposure to a burning heat give forth an ammoniacal smell closely approaching to that of animal substance. The clavarias or clubtops, and many other funguses, do this. But a distinction in the degree of odour may even here be observed, if accurately attended to. Yet the clavarias were once regarded as zoophytes, and are arranged by Millar in the same division as the corals and corallines.t

* Parkinson's Organic Remains, i. 23. ii. 157, 158.

+ Several species of this genus of fungi have very singular properties: thus, the c. hæmatodes has so near a resemblance to tanned leather, though somewhat thinner and softer, as to be named oak-leather club-top, from its being chiefly found in the clefts and hollows of oak trees. In Ireland, it is employed as leather to dress wounds with; and, in Virginia, to spread plasters upon.

There are some cryptogamic plants, and especially among

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