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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/79

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physiology. The numerous accessions of physiological knowledge during the last seventy years tend to obscure the unpropitious outlook at the dawn of the period. Referring to the time (1841) when he became préparateur to his distinguished predecessor, Magendie, at the Collège de France, Claude Bernard drew a gloomy picture.[1] The established "natural history" sciences—geology, botany, zoology—possessed fair equipment, particularly on the museum side. While chemistry, thanks doubtless, to Liebig's activity at Giessen, made rapid strides. But physiology enjoyed no such advantages, was opposed, indeed, even by a genius of the calibre of Cuvier. "So soon as an experimental physiologist was discovered he was denounced; he was given over to the reproaches of his neighbors and subjected to annoyances by the police."[2] Sir Charles Bell had intimated the contrasted functions of the anterior and posterior roots of the spinal nerves (1807), but had given no experimental proof: and Marshall Hall (1835) had discovered the reflex function of the spinal cord. But no group of investigators had arisen such as was to place Germany in the leadership. Her preeminence, unchallenged still for physiological psychology, dates from the life-work of Johannes Müller, and his profound influence, especially at Berlin, from 1833 till his death in the year before "The Origin of Species" (1859).

At this date the intellectual condition of Germany may be called unprecedented without exaggeration. And the fate reserved for unique things has overtaken it. Later men, particularly on the scientific side, have heaped on it multiplied misunderstanding or even obloquy. Little as I cling to them, I am compelled to declare that Schelling and Hegel were no day-dreamers, evolving camels from their inner self-consciousness. Both were great men, and Hegel takes his place among the few marvellous intellects of history. But both suffered from their very success. Hegel's philosophy formed the seedplot of that comparative and critical Wissenschaft for which human history supplies the material. As these disciplines developed, the defects of the Hegelian system became more and more irremediable. Yet, the system lacking, the sciences could not have come to birth. Schelling stood in similar case. German science from 1797, the year of the publication of his "Ideen zur einer Philosophic der Natur," till 1830 or thereby, drew inspiration from his humane, if vaulting, spirit. Alex. von Humboldt, as his biographer Bruhns points out, attempted "by means of a comprehensive collation of details, and the institution of the most searching comparisons, to give a scientific foundation to the ideal cosmology of Herder, Goethe, Schelling and their disciples." Further, Schelling stimulated Carus, the comparative anatomist: Oersted, the father of

  1. Cf. "Physiologie générale," p. 203.
  2. Ibid., l. c.