THE CONTEMPORARY REVIEW
VOLUME XXXVI. SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER, 1879
STRAHAN AND COMPANY LIMITED 34 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 1879
Ballantyne Press BALLANTYNE AND HANSON, EDINBURGH CHANDOS STREET, LONDON
CONTENTS OF VOLUME XXXVI.
SEPTEMBER, 1879. PAGE The Future of China. By Sir Walter H. Medhurst 1
Animals and Plants. By Professor St. George Mivart 13
The Artistic Dualism of the Renaissance. By Vernon Lee 44
The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte. By Professor Edward Caird. IV. 66
The Problem of the Great Pyramid. By Richard A. Proctor 93
Conspiracies in Russia under the Reigning Czar. By Karl Blind 120
The First Sin, as Recorded in the Bible and in Ancient Oriental Tradition. By Francois Lenormant 148
Political and Intellectual Life in Greece. By N. Kasasis 164
I. Biblical Literature, under the Direction of the Hon. and Rev. W. H. Fremantle 182
II. Essays, Novels, Poetry, &c. under the Direction of Matthew Browne 187
India and Afghanistan. By Lieut.-Colonel R. D. Osborn 193
Critical Idealism in France. By Paul Janet 212
On the Moral Limits of Beneficial Commerce. By Francis W. Newman 232
The Myths of the Sea and the River of Death. By C. F. Keary 243
Mr. Macvey Napier and the Edinburgh Reviewers. By Matthew Browne 263
The Supreme God in the Indo-European Mythology. By James Darmesteter 274
Lazarus Appeals to Dives. By Henry J. Miller 290
The Forms and Colours of Living Creatures. By Professor St. George Mivart 313
Contemporary Life and Thought in Turkey. By an Eastern Statesman 334
I. History and Literature of the East, under the Direction of Professor E. H. Palmer 350
II. Classical Literature, under the Direction of Rev. Prebendary J. Davies 359
III. Essays, Novels, Poetry, &c.under the Direction of Matthew Browne 366
On Freedom. By Professor Max Mueller 369
Mr. Gladstone: Two Studies suggested by his "Gleanings of Past Years." I. By a Liberal.—II. By a Conservative 398
The Ancien Regime and the Revolution in France. By Professor von Sybel 432
What is the Actual Condition of Ireland? By Edward Stanley Robertson 451
The Deluge: Its Traditions in Ancient Nations. By Francois Lenormant 465
Suspended Animation. By Richard A. Proctor 501
John Stuart Mill's Philosophy Tested. IV.—Utilitarianism. By Professor W. Stanley Jevons 521
The Lord's Prayer and the Church: Letters Addressed to the Clergy. By John Ruskin, D.C.L. 539
India under Lord Lytton. By Lieut.-Colonel R. D. Osborn 553
On the Utility to Flowers of their Beauty. By the Hon. Justice Fry 574
Where are we in Art? By Lady Verney 588
Life in Constantinople Fifty Years Ago. By an Eastern Statesman 601
Miracles, Prayer, and Law. By J. Boyd Kinnear 617
What is Rent? By Professor Bonamy Price 630
Buddhism and Jainism. By Professor Monier Williams 644
Lord Beaconsfield:— 665
I. Why we Follow Him. By a Tory.
II. Why we Disbelieve in Him. By a Whig.
Contemporary Life and Thought in France. By Gabriel Monod 697
THE FUTURE OF CHINA.
The late reconquest by China of some of her former possessions in Central Asia, and the firm tone in which she is urging her demands upon Russia, in respect of the Kuldja territory, are giving her a prominence as a factor in Asiatic politics which she can scarcely be said to have claimed before. These signs of tenacity of purpose, if not of actual vitality, acquire an additional interest when viewed in connection with the recently modified policy of her Government towards Western States; a policy which, whether induced by an honest intention to forego the traditional exclusiveness of past ages, or by a shrewd determination to cope, if possible, with more advanced nations upon the advantageous footing secured by the cultivation of the progressive Arts and Sciences, has had the effect of bringing China into diplomatic relations with the principal Powers of Europe and America, and introducing her as a recognised element into the political calculations of the civilized world. The issue of the Kuldja controversy has a special interest for England, as the mistress of adjacent territory in India; but a far greater importance attaches to the result of the larger efforts which China is making to take up a position amongst the nations, and upon the success of which all her political future must depend. It is of that future, and of its bearing upon the interests of China's two great rivals in Asiatic dominion, Russia and Great Britain, that this paper proposes to treat.
It cannot be predicated of the Government of China, at any rate at present, that it is greedy of territory. On the contrary, its responsibilities are already as serious as it must feel at all competent to fulfil with credit to itself and satisfaction to its people. But, on the other hand, it is remarkably tenacious of parting with a single rood of ground, to which it may claim the right of traditional possession or more recent conquest. When portions of its territory have been torn from its grasp by successful rebellion, it has for the moment yielded to the inevitable. But the earliest opportunity possible has been seized for reentering upon possession, either by force or craft. The late recovery of the province of Yunnan in China proper, and of Chinese Turkestan in Central Asia, after crushing defeats and years of alienation, affords notable instances of this tenacity of purpose. But such successful reentries upon lost dominion have only been effected where the usurping power has partaken of the same or a similar Asiatic character with that of the Chinese themselves. Where circumstances have brought the Government into collision with the more energetic and enterprising people of the West, it has had no alternative but to make material concessions, and to confirm these by treaties of perpetual amity and commerce. Russia and England are the only Western Powers that have thus benefited themselves at the expense of China: Russia, with a view to the enlargement or rectification of her frontier, which from the mouth of the Amour to the foot of the Tien Shan is conterminous with that of China; and England, for the protection and promotion of her trade, which must have languished, if not perished, under the constraints of the old Co-hong system.
Whether the resubjugation of entire provinces by the Imperial Government may be regarded as a blessing or a curse to the populations concerned, it is difficult to decide. For them it is unhappily a mere choice between being at the mercy of unscrupulous adventurers, elated with a series of successes, and rendered ferocious by a life of rapine, but utterly unprepared to introduce any serious system of reform; or being restored to a rule which, although worn out and feeble, has the advantage of an old-established organization, and can prove, by its general policy at any rate, that it has the welfare of the governed seriously at heart. On the whole, setting aside the wholesale cruelty which has unhappily too often distinguished such governmental triumphs on the part of the Chinese, and to which, indeed, the unlucky people seem liable whichever party may happen to gain the ascendency, the preferable conclusion would seem to be that resubmission to native authority is perhaps the mildest fate that can be desired for those subjects of China whose country has unfortunately been the scene of civil war. But an entirely different result may be looked for when foreign dominion—that is to say, European—has taken the place of Chinese. In the case of England, there can be little fear but that, in spite of the notable mistakes which have at times marked her colonial administration of Asiatic peoples, the primary object to which she has always set herself has been the welfare of the governed, and the development of the resources of the country which they occupy. And even as regards Russia, however irresponsible her system of government, selfish and unscrupulous her foreign policy, and corrupt her executive, may be regarded from an English point of view, still there can be little question that her assumption of authority over any tract of Asian territory must be considered preferable in the interests of philanthropy and general expediency to its restoration to an intrinsically weak and unpractical Government like that of the Chinese.
Assuming that the above proposition is a reasonable one, it follows as a fair inference, that the sooner China or any part of it is brought under the sway of some strong and progressive Power the better. And really, looking at the matter from a purely philanthropic and utilitarian point of view, that is about the best fate that can befall its inhabitants, as well in their own interest as in that of the world at large. Many things conspire to show that the days of the ruling dynasty are numbered; and who can say, when the catastrophe does come, whether the huge but crumbling fabric will ever be reconstructed? or, if so, whose will be the head and hand that will accomplish the task? The probability is that the empire will, in spite of the marvellous homogeneity which characterizes its people, at once lose its cohesion, and break up into a number of petty chiefdoms; and one may well imagine the grievous and protracted misery that must follow upon such a dissolution. It would be ridiculous, nay wicked, to suggest that this contingency might be anticipated, and an endeavour made to avert it by the timely absorption of a portion or of the whole of the Chinese territory. But we are entitled to express the hope that the course of mundane affairs may so shape itself as that such a calamity may be indefinitely delayed; or, if it be inevitable, that it may fall to the lot of some nation to take up the reins which shall have the will as well as the power to use the opportunity to the best advantage of the millions concerned.
The speculation seems here to suggest itself, whether there is a Western Power at all likely to find itself placed in this position, or which may be considered a suitable instrument for carrying out the work of reconstruction. The sphere of selection is limited. England and Russia, as far as can at present be foreseen, appear to be the only two Powers whose mission or interest seems likely to impel their influence Eastwards. Any idea that England will ever deliberately enter upon the possession of even a part of Chinese territory may at once be dismissed as unworthy to be entertained. Although her vast trade and world-wide associations are perpetually landing her in perplexing complications with Eastern tribes, complications, too, which at times, in despite of herself, end in conquest or annexation, still her modern policy is anything but aggressive; and if there be one collision which the English people would be less inclined to tolerate than another, it would be that of a little war entered upon for the mere purpose of territorial acquisition or philanthropic reform. China, moreover, is no mere petty principality like Abyssinia, Ashantee, or Afghanistan, that she had need be liable to the risk of annihilation or annexation, even should she again unhappily venture to take up arms against England on account of a mere trade dispute. But with Russia the case is materially different. An acquisitive policy has been traditional with her ever since Peter the Great, with prophetic foresight, laid down the lines by which her future conduct was to be guided; and political interest has none the less urged her on to extend her possessions Asia-wards, and to secure as much seaboard in any direction as will suit her ambitious designs. Conquests in Asia, moreover, provide a convenient safety-valve for adventurous, discontented, or unscrupulous spirits, who might occasion mischief at home, and who cannot otherwise be readily disposed of; whilst they at the same time have the effect of furnishing that outlet for a through trade which has always been the Russian merchant's dream. Russia has already, as is well known, rectified her frontier on the north and west of China, seriously to the diminution of the area not so long ago comprised by the latter, and, by a well-directed combination of courage and craft, she has within the last twenty years succeeded in conquering or annexing extensive and fertile tracts of country in Central Asia. What more likely, therefore, than that, octopus-like, she should continue to stretch out her huge tentacles further and further, until they embrace some of the broad and fair provinces of China within their omnivorous grasp? The advantage of such an acquisition to Russia cannot be over-estimated. The Russian press, it is true, deprecates the acquisition of new territory, as being calculated to hinder the economical development of the people, and seriously to increase the present difficulties of the empire; and there can be little doubt that the dominions of the Czar are far too disproportioned to the numerical sum of his subjects to admit of their having realized, as they might have done, the immense natural riches of the empire. But with the acquisition of almost any part of China proper, Russia would gain territory already thickly peopled to her hand, and possessed of rich resources of every kind; and, could she approach the sea in any direction, she would acquire—what is so important to her maritime and commercial development—a coast-line that would go far towards giving her the commanding position as a naval Power which has always been one of her most cherished ambitions.
And what a glorious field would thereby be afforded her for developing her political designs! Instead of beating her wings to her own discomfiture against the bars which England must always throw about her as long as she persists in her attempts to absorb Turkey, or exercise a covert influence over the tribes on our Indian frontier, she would, if she pressed China-wards in preference, find unlimited opportunities for increasing her resources, enlarging her territory, and extending her sway, no nation caring, or being called upon, to say her nay. That she would prove the most suitable Power to be entrusted with so tremendous a responsibility, is an assertion that few would care to hazard without large qualification. The pitiless despotism which characterizes the Russian rule at home, the unrelenting harshness with which she has treated her Polish subjects, even to the studious stamping out of the nationalism of the people, and the license which has distinguished the grasp by Russian officials of civil power in Central Asia, scarcely tend to render the prospect of the extension of her sway to China very encouraging. But, as has been already advanced, a Russian administration is not without its advantages, as compared to a Chinese, and, unless a radical reform can be looked for in the existing system of government in China itself, a prospect at best problematical, it may safely be said that her people might fare worse than pass under the domination of the Czar.
For the Chinese concerned, as has been suggested, the loss might be almost, if not altogether, construed into a gain. They would acquire an autocratic and despotic Government very similar to their own, only more powerful and practical in its operation and results; and, if only one could hope that the rights and prejudices of the people could be respected, and their general interests consulted, the change would on the whole prove an advantageous one for the annexed territories generally. In one respect, at any rate, such a substitution might certainly be expected to bring about a material amelioration of the present condition and prospects of the country at large; and that is the improvement of general communication throughout the empire. Railways would undoubtedly be forthwith introduced, telegraphs laid down, river channels cleared and deepened, canals restored and maintained, and the many obstacles which now clog a might-be flourishing trade permanently removed. China, in fact, only needs a lion-hearted, capable, and progressive Government in order to encourage the enterprise of her people, bring out their many excellent characteristics, and develop the prolific natural resources which she undoubtedly possesses, in her own interest and that of the world in general; and, provided always such a result can be attained, combined with a discreet and paternal care for the people themselves, no one had need deprecate the substitution of a foreign for a native yoke.
It might be objected, Why should not such a thorough reconstruction and subsequent healthy development be attainable under the present dynasty, or, at any rate, under a purely native rule? To this we reply that it is not in the nature of the Chinese to initiate reform or carry it honestly and steadily out. Neither the rulers nor the ruled appreciate its necessity; and, could they be enlightened sufficiently to perceive it, they do not possess the strength of character and fixity of purpose to follow out implicitly the course pointed out. A curious example of this lack of interest and resolve was to be observed as regards the foreign-drilled levies raised at the instance of their foreign advisers after the treaty of Tientsin. Men and money were readily provided to the extent suggested, and the men easily learnt the drill. But the foreign instructors had always to superintend the paying of wages in order to prevent peculation by the native officers, and, the moment their vigilant eyes were removed, drill and discipline were voted a nuisance by officers and men alike, arms and accoutrements ceased to be kept in order, and the force rapidly assumed its purely Chinese character. Relics of these levies exist at this moment, but the most unremitting patience and effort have been needed on the part of the foreign officers to maintain them in a state of anything like respectable discipline or effectiveness. A recent writer calls attention to the stupendous efforts which the Chinese Government has of late been making towards a reorganization of its naval and military resources upon Western principles, and to the remarkable success which has in consequence attended its campaigns in Western China and Central Asia. But these measures have all owed their conception and execution to foreign energy, enterprise, and ability; and, as will be presently shown, wherever the salutary influence of these is weakened or removed, disorganization and relapse are sure to be the result. Something has, no doubt, been accomplished within the last twenty years towards opening the eyes of the Chinese Government to the wisdom of assuming a recognised place in the comity of nations, and inducing it to introduce various domestic measures of a useful and progressive nature. But, after all, pressure from without, and that of the most painstaking and persistent character, has been needed to effect what little has been done. Let this influence be removed; let the able customs organization now in vogue be taken out of alien hands; let foreign Ministers cease to impress upon the State departments the imperative importance of waking up to international and domestic responsibilities; let arsenals be deprived of foreign superintendence; let steamers throw overboard their foreign masters, mates, and engineers; in a word, let China try to keep afloat without corks, and what will be the consequence? Corruption would inevitably fatten on and extinguish foreign trade; foreign representatives would find Pekin too hot to hold them; arsenals would gradually languish and cease to work; native-owned steamers would leave off plying the waters; and the whole country would eventually fall back into a condition of even more rapid decadence than that in which it was found when England first interfered to prop it up. What is perhaps more melancholy to contemplate, there would be few, if any, of her most ardent patriots but would congratulate themselves on the miserable change.
China may, perhaps, be saved from an eventual collapse, or from falling under the sway of all-grasping Russia; but it can only be by a universal development of the existing system of extraneous aid. What has been done for her customs revenue must be extended to all departments of the State, and the employment of foreign heads and hands must be rendered so general as even to permeate the ramifications of the executive in the eighteen provinces. But then the difficulty suggests itself. Where is the personnel needful for such a mighty organization to be found, with the talent and probity equal to the charge? England has proved it possible, in the case of India, to produce a corps of administrators who possess a character for ability, uprightness, and high-minded devotion to duty, to which the world can show no equal. But, as experience has so far proved, political balance at Pekin demands that the prizes open to competition in the Chinese service should be distributed equally amongst subjects of all nationalities in treaty relations with China; and in such a huge army of employes as the exigency would require, and most of whom would probably owe their selection to patronage rather than to merit, it could not be but that many would find a place who might prove even greater curses to the governed than the worst type of the Chinese mandarins themselves. Moreover, such an innovation would practically amount to placing the entire nation under foreign authority, and it may be queried whether it would not be more advantageous for the people to have one uniform foreign rule universally substituted for the native, than to be at the mercy of an executive formed of such heterogeneous materials as those we have described.
It may not be out of place to consider here a suggestion, which has been thrown out by more than one representative of the English press, as to the identity of British interests with those of China in resisting the insidious advances of Russia eastwards, and the expediency of giving the former our sympathy, if not material support, in her endeavour to recover Kuldja from Russian cupidity. What British interests comprise in that quarter of the globe may be summed up in a few words. Rectification and consolidation of certain portions of the frontier of British India, the maintenance as far as possible of neutral and independent Khanates to act as "buffers" between her territories and those of Russia, and the development of a free and active trade between the Indian and Central Asian markets. It seems scarcely worth the trouble of refuting any arguments that could be brought forward to prove that the concession of a covert or direct support to China in the Kuldja controversy would be likely to advantage England in any one of these respects. On the contrary, her interference would more probably imperil her interests under each head, and would most certainly have the effect of greatly incensing a Power which, with all its ill-will, has already shown its desire to conciliate, by withdrawing at our request the influence which it had been tempted in view of certain contingencies to use to our disadvantage in Afghanistan; a Power, too, which must and will pursue its career of acquisition in Central Asia, whatever we may say or do to the contrary; and with which, in view of its probable future there, it is manifestly to our interest as holders of India to live on neighbourly terms. To quote a recent writer on the subject, "Our object now should be rather to initiate a frank understanding with Russia as to the aims of our respective policies, to secure her agreement to definite boundaries to the spheres of influence of both Powers, and to form, so far as is possible, a union of interests with her in the future development of Asia."
Even were China to pledge herself to grant us all the advantages which we should have to bargain for as a consideration for committing ourselves to the serious step of affording her aid, it may be doubted whether she is sufficiently strong to maintain her ground, not merely against Russia, but against any adventurer like Yakoob Beg or rebels like the Panthays, who may suddenly rise up and wrest her territory from her. Then, again, it must be remembered what an alliance with such a Government as that of China is likely to involve. Her civil administration, based although it may be on a system excellently well suited to a people like the Chinese, is so weakened, save in a few isolated instances, by the incapacity, and so debased by the venality of its executive, that it has long since forfeited the confidence and good-will of the masses, and rebellion has only to raise its head to find a fruitful soil for its speedy growth and development. Her army is numerically large, and can be recruited without difficulty, and she has constantly at command any quantity of the most approved war material, so long as there are foreigners to sell and she has the money to buy; to say nothing of what she can now to a certain extent manufacture for herself. But of strategy and the general science of war her officers are entirely ignorant, and beyond the capability of hurling huge masses of men at the enemy, irrespective of all consequences, she is in no way formidable as a military Power in the European sense of the term, nor could her troops permanently hope to hold their own against those of any Western State. Even the Japanese, in the little affair with China which threatened the peaceful relations of the two countries not long ago, showed themselves quite equal to the occasion, and their sailors and soldiers pined to exhibit their prowess, and prove the value of their recent acquirements in the art of war, as against the conservative and unpractical Chinese. If the rules of civilized warfare are to the Chinese a sealed book, still less can they be said to appreciate its humane side. Their officers fail to value the necessity, and indeed do not seem to possess the power, of protecting their own countrymen from the general license which marks the march of soldiery through, or the military occupation of, any peaceable district; and in the wholesale barbarities which invariably distinguish their triumphs over a conquered foe, they are scarcely to be surpassed by savages of the lowest type. Little more can be said in favour of the Chinese in respect of their relations with England and other Western nations. They have treaties of peace and commerce with the leading Powers, it is true, and they do not fail to act up to the strict letter of these engagements as construed by themselves. But the whole history of their foreign intercourse since 1842 has shown that the Chinese Government has borne with ill grace the restrictions thus imposed upon it, and has embraced every opportunity to evade them in spirit, whilst professing to carry them out in the letter. Trade has been everywhere hampered by vexatious imposts cunningly introduced on all kinds of pretexts, and as pertinaciously persisted in, in spite of pointed remonstrances on the part of foreign representatives. Outrages of a glaring kind have been passed over without redress, or perhaps with a show of redress so ingeniously conceded as to evince distinct sympathy with the perpetrators of the deeds complained of; and the case must be rare, if not unheard of, in which the initiative has been voluntarily taken by a Chinese official in righting a wrong suffered by a foreigner at the hands of a Chinese. Amicable relations prevail between the various foreign communities and the native population by whom they are surrounded; but these may be traced rather to the innate good-nature of the people, and the forbearing conduct of the "strangers from afar," than to any direct effort on the part of the native authorities to encourage and develop friendly feeling. The Chinese Court still affects to regard the Emperor as the Supreme Ruler of all People under Heaven; its recognition of foreign Ministers accredited to it seems never to have advanced beyond the not very flattering ceremonial which accorded them a so-called audience in a body a few years ago; and the relations between the representatives and the high officials at Pekin cannot as yet be said to have entered upon a phase which may strictly be styled cordial; and all this, notwithstanding that Chinese representatives to Western Courts have been treated with all the ceremony and consideration due to their official position, and have been received into the highest society of foreign capitals, not only without demur, but with a warmth and hospitality which, whilst on the spot, they have themselves been the first to acknowledge. Under these circumstances, with a civil administration so effete and corrupt, a military Power so unpractical, a style of warfare so barbarous, and a Government so wanting in the honest desire to conciliate, can it be thought politic to go out of our way in order to further its pretensions, and that to the prejudice of a Power which, with all its faults, is progressive in its tendencies, and prepared to acknowledge our international rights, and which more nearly approaches us in recognising the duty of consulting the material interests of the people subjected to its sway? The little experience at any rate which we have had of the results of co-operation with the Chinese Government has not been such as to encourage us in a repetition of the experiment. Take, for example, the important aid given by England in clearing the province of Kiangsu of rebels in 1862-63, and thereby bringing about the eventual extermination of the Taepings. Such a service, it might be presumed, would have earned the lasting gratitude of the nation, and induced a cordiality of sentiment towards their benefactors which would have exhibited itself in an endeavour on the part of the Chinese Government to relax the restrictions and remove the vexations by which mutual relations had up to that time been beset. But nothing of the kind transpired. No special and national recognition of the service rendered was ever accorded; and, so far from any improvement being observable, as a consequence, in British relations with China, these were marked in the sequel by some of the most trying and difficult crises with which we have had to deal. More than this, the very moment of triumph was disgraced by an act of treachery in the deliberate murder of the surrendered rebel chiefs at Soochow, which must have induced in the mind of Colonel Gordon, R.E., the keenest regret that he had ever embarked his honour and expended his labours in the cause of such allies. The only other instance in which British influence was brought to bear towards rescuing the Chinese Government from an awkward dilemma was when the Japanese threatened reprisals for outrages committed against their subjects, and went the length of sending a considerable force to occupy the island of Formosa. Hostilities had commenced, and the war might have proved a protracted if not hazardous one for the Chinese, had not H.B.M.'s Minister volunteered his services as mediator, and succeeded in arranging matters to the satisfaction of both parties, and with as little loss of prestige to the Chinese as they had any right to expect. Here, again, if any gratitude was felt, there was no public recognition of the service rendered, and the obligation certainly left no appreciable trace upon the subsequent policy of the Government; for, in the very next difficulty with China which occurred not long after—namely, the official murder of Margary—it needed the pressure of our demands to the very verge of war, in order to procure the vaguest attempt at redress, and then we had to rest contented with commercial concessions as a makeweight for the substantial justice which could not, or would not, be granted.
To conclude, China, nationally considered, is in a state of decline. The very efforts which the more enlightened amongst her statesmen are now making towards rescuing her from the collapse which threatens show how desperate they consider her case, and how anxious they are to prevent or even delay the catastrophe. Her history, it is true, shows that although she has passed through a series of such periodical lapses, she has ever exhibited a wonderful power of recuperation more or less effective in its nature and extent. But these changes have been experienced at times when she was comparatively isolated from the rest of the world. Her political crises were never before complicated by the interposition of a foreign element, such as must be the case in any revolution through which she may hereafter pass. Mr. Robert Hart, the Inspector-General of Customs, Joseph-like, has done China good service in reorganizing the maritime revenue department, and advocating reform generally in the policy and practice of the State; and did China know her own interest she would largely develop and extend the advantages of a foreign admixture in her whole system of executive. But Mr. Hart's efforts must have a limited result at best, and they can only serve to put off the evil day. He cannot reform the nature of the Chinese mandarin; and until there is a radical change in this respect there can be little hope of reconstruction and progress under purely native guidance. The process becomes the more embarrassing and futile with aggressive foreign Powers pressing on all sides with their irresistible influence and exacting pretensions. China must in time, and as at present constituted, yield to one or the other, and Russia promises to be the one whose ambition and interests will probably lead her to turn the opportunity to advantage. It may not be the best fate that can befall any part of China to be Russianized, but it will be a better alternative for her people to be subjected to the sway of a civilized and civilizing Power than to become the prey to interminable civil wars. It will be better, moreover, for England and other nations, whose interest in the question is mainly commercial, that China's millions should be brought under a vigorous and progressive Government, able and willing to develop the vast trade resources at their disposal, than that they should decimate themselves and ruin their country by perpetual internecine strife. Whether it will be to the interest of England in a political point of view that Russia should attain the commanding position which the possession of any part of China would undoubtedly secure her, is an entirely different question. If it be a danger, it is a danger which she must look in the face, for everything seems to point to the possibility of such a consummation. But no consideration of political expediency or self-preservation can certainly warrant her in interfering as yet; and it is to be hoped that the time may never come when she shall be called upon to thwart the ambitious designs of her great rival in Asian dominion in the extreme East, as she has so long and so successfully endeavoured to do in countries more directly affecting her political power and prestige in Europe and India.
WALTER H. MEDHURST.
 Captain C. A. G. Bridge, R.N.: "The Revival of the Warlike Power of China," Fraser's Magazine, June, 1879.
 See Blackwood's Magazine, July, 1879, pp. 120, 121.
 Apropos of these remarks it is worth while quoting here a memorial by the ex-Ambassador Kwo Sung-t'ao, published in the London and China Telegraph of 7th July, 1879, as the first presented to the Throne on his return to China, and in which the best that he can say of England, notwithstanding his cordial reception and marvellous experiences, seems to be that he was "excessively cast down in a strange country," where, "had he been put into a ditch, there would have been nobody to cover him with earth." The very name of the place to which he was accredited appears to have been beneath mention to his august master. The Peking Gazette of the 3rd moon, 3rd day, contains the following memorial from Kwo Sung-t'ao, late Ambassador at the Court of St. James's, to the Emperor:—"Your servant," he writes, "has suffered from many bodily infirmities. Relying upon the heavenly (i.e., your Majesty's) grace, I was appointed to go abroad on service of heavy responsibility. I am now feeble with age, having served at so great a distance; I also deplore my stupidity, and am extremely apprehensive of my inability in performing the functions devolving upon me. Since the sixth or seventh moon of the year before last I have suffered from insomnia. A year ago my spirits became daily more abattu. In the second month of last year I suddenly experienced phlegm rising in my mouth, and vomited fresh red blood, without being able to stop it, so that in a trice a basin would get quite full. I consider that my life has been marked by increasing afflictions; my respiration is impeded; I am agitated and nervous; already I have contracted an asthma, and this I certainly had not formerly. Excessively cast down, in a strange country several tens of thousands of li away, I thought that if I were put in a ditch there would be nobody to cover me with earth. Fortunately, by virtue of the heavenly (i.e., Imperial) compassion, having been graciously permitted to give up my office, all that remains of me, protractedly wearing out my failing breath, is due to the overflowing grace of the Holy Lord (the Emperor). During the two years I have been abroad I have passed under the hands of foreign doctors not a few, who felt my pulse and administered medicine in a manner very different from native practitioners. In relieving my indigestion and removing the torpor [of my liver] they occasionally produced some little effect; but my constitution became weaker every day, and there was no restoring it. After casting about this way and that, there seemed but one resource left to me—to take advantage of a steamer bound for Fu (i.e., Shanghai), and then to return by way of the Yangtsze River to my native place and put myself under medical advice. Prostrate I implore the Heavenly Compassion to grant me three months' leave of absence, in order to establish a complete cure, so that perhaps I may not contract disease that will prove incurable. After your servant has got home it will be his duty to report early the day of his arrival, and he earnestly desires that he may be restored to health. Then I will return to the capital to resume my functions, and implore that some trifling post may be given me that I may testify my gratitude by strenuous exertions, like a dog or a horse. Wherefore I, your humble servant, now beg for leave of absence on account of my ill-health, and respectfully present the petition in which my request is lucidly set forth, entreating with reverence that the sacred glance may rest upon it."
ANIMALS AND PLANTS.
In the first of the present series of Essays it was pointed out that the number of kinds of living creatures is so prodigious that it would be a hopeless task for any man to attempt to grasp the leading facts of their natural history, save with the help of a well-arranged system of classification. Such a system enables the student to consider the subjects of his study collectively in masses—masses arranged in a series of groups, which are successively smaller and more and more subordinate. By "subordinate groups" are meant groups which are successively contained one within the other. As an example of such subordinate grouping we may take the group of familiar objects denoted by the word "money." This group contains within it the large subordinate groups, "paper money" and "metallic money;" the latter group again contains the more subordinate and smaller groups, "gold money," "silver money," and "copper money," and these respectively contain still more subordinate and smaller groups. Thus, the group "silver money" contains the subordinate groups—(1) crowns, (2) half-crowns, (3) florins, (4) shillings, (5) sixpences, &c.; and any one of these (e.g., shillings) is further divisible into groups of "shillings" of the coinage of different reigns.
Reversing the process we may, as another illustration, select the group of articles of furniture called "chairs," which (with other co-ordinate groups, such as "tables" and "sofas") is contained within, and is subordinate to, the larger group of objects, "wooden furniture." This latter and larger group is again classifiable (together with its co-ordinate group, "metal furniture") in the yet higher and larger group of "furniture made of hard material," to which the wooden and metal groups are both subordinate. Co-ordinate with the group of "hard material" we have another group (carpets, curtains, &c.) of "furniture of soft material," and these two groups are again subordinate to the largest group of all "furniture."
It was also pointed out in the introductory Essay that there are two kinds of classification, one artificial, the other natural—the latter (the kind aimed at in this Essay) being such a system of classification as leads to the association together in groups, of creatures which are really alike and which will be found to present a greater and greater number of common characters the more thoroughly they are examined.
The system of classification which zoologists and botanists adopt is a system founded upon the form, structure, number, and relations of the parts of which each living being consists. It is, therefore, a morphological system, and rests rather upon the appearances of parts and organs than upon the offices which such parts and organs fulfil. It rests, that is to say upon their forms, not upon their functions.
The mode in which animals have been arranged in zoological grouping affords an exceptionally good model for classification generally, as has been noted by the late John Stuart Mill. In fact, the number of subordinate groups is very great in zoology. Thus, the kingdom of animals is subdivided into a certain number of very large groups, called sub-kingdoms. Each sub-kingdom is again divided into subordinate groups termed classes. Each class is again divided into still more subordinate groups called orders. Each order is again divisible into families; each family into genera, and each genus into species, while a zoological "species" may be provisionally defined as "a group of animals which differ only by inconstant or sexual characters."
It could be wished that the reader should pursue his further inquiries into the natural history of animals and plants, with a knowledge of biological classification already acquired. But this is, unfortunately, impossible, since biological classification reposes upon anatomical facts, and cannot, therefore, be really understood until the main facts of anatomy have been already mastered. Yet something in the way of a classification, or at least of a definitely arranged catalogue, must be even now attempted for the following reason:—
In the second of this series of Essays we indicated the lines of inquiry which must be followed up by any reader who would become acquainted with the natural history of animals and plants. We saw that their gross and minute structure, their very varied functions, their relations to past time, and their geographical relations as well as their relations to the physical forces and to their fellow organisms, would all have to be successively considered. Obviously, however, it is impossible to make known the facts of anatomy, physiology, and hexicology without constant references to animals and plants which may be expected to be either altogether unknown, or at least very incompletely known, to persons as yet unacquainted with zoological and botanical science.
References to creatures so unknown or so little known would plainly be of small profit and less interest, unless the reader was already furnished with some mental images of such creatures and groups of creatures—images calculated to sustain his attention and excite his interest in the various kinds of animals and plants, otherwise unknown, which will have to be again and again referred to. Accordingly, an attempt must now be made to set before the reader a rough and general sketch, or catalogue, of what the creatures and groups of creatures are, the names of which will have so frequently to appear in the pages which are to follow. In a word, as the preceding Essay was devoted to explaining what are the special characters of living beings—i.e., what the phrase "animals and plants" connotes; so the present Essay is intended to explain what that phrase denotes. It is not by any means intended at present to place before the reader a definitive and complete system of classification—that task must be reserved for the conclusion of the series, as it will be the expression of all the facts and inferences which will have been in the meantime brought forward.
For the purpose now in view it will be well, perhaps, to follow the suggestion of the great naturalist, Buffon, and begin with creatures which are amongst the best known and most familiar, and thence proceed to speak of less and less familiar forms.
In this Essay assertions will be freely made as to the natural affinities which the author believes to exist between the creatures to be enumerated, but no attempt will be made to give the reasons for such assertions. The justification of such affirmations will, it is believed, become apparent later, when the organization of living beings shall have been portrayed as far as the space and the ability at the command of the writer may enable him to portray them.
As before said the object now in view is to endeavour to present a general view of living beings—of animals and plants—in the hope of fixing in the reader's memory the names of species, and of groups of species, to which names reference will have to be more or less frequently hereinafter made. At the least, such a catalogue may serve for reference whenever the reader may come upon the names of animals or plants, or of groups of animals or plants, the meanings of which names may have escaped his recollection.
The animals most familiar to us, our domestic cattle and our dogs and cats, all belong to a group of animals technically termed mammals, from the circumstance that the females have milk-glands (or mammae), by which they nourish their young. The name "beasts" may be set apart for the brute animals belonging to this group; but they do not altogether form it, since man himself—the most individually numerous of all the large animals—is, structurally considered, also a mammal.
For various reasons, which will appear later, the domestic cat (which is a member of the genus Felis) may serve as an instructive, as it is a familiar, example of a highly-organized mammal. Allied to the cat, and formed on so completely the same model as hardly to differ, save in size and colour, are the lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, lynxes, and wild-cats of different kinds. What are commonly called pole-cats are not really cats, but belong to a different "family;" while civet-cats are not cats in the strict sense of that term. Civet-cats pertain to a group of beasts called Viverrines (Viverridae), to which all ichneumons and mongouses (which appear to have been the domestic cats of the ancient Romans) as well as the bone-eating hyaenas also belong.
The viverrines and the cats, however, together form one great family to which the scientific name Felidae has been assigned. The pole-cats, together with the ermine, ferret, weasel, marten, sable, skunk, badger, the otter and the bear, raccoon, coati-mondi, with the kinkajoo, panda, &c., all belong to another family. Of this family the bears are the largest in size, and constitute a small group or "genus" called Ursus, whence the whole family bears the designation Ursidae.
Our dogs (genus Canis) are, as every one knows, first cousins to jackals and wolves and near allies of the different species of fox, the whole forming a family—Canidae.
The otter has been already referred to, and it may be thought that mention of the seals and sea-lions has been unintentionally omitted. But the seals and sea-lions, in spite of a certain slight resemblance to otters, due to similarity of habit, are not really near allies of the latter. They (i.e., seals and sea-lions), together with the walrus, form, indeed, a very distinct family, which is termed Phocidae, because its type, the common seal, belongs to a subordinate group, or "genus," named Phoca.
All these families, Felidae, Ursidae, Canidae, and Phocidae form together one greater group or "order," to which, of course, these four families are subordinate. This order is called "Carnivora," because it is made up of carnivorous or flesh-eating beasts.
The other familiar beasts first referred to—our domestic cattle of all kinds—form, together with all swine, horses and all asses, deer, antelopes and camels, another great order of beasts called Ungulata, because the nails of their feet are so large and solid as to form "hoofs." This order of hoofed-beasts, or ungulates, is a very large order, and is divided into two sub-orders, and in each sub-order are various families containing more or fewer genera.
The two sub-orders are characterized by the structure of the foot. The toes of the hind foot, which are made use of in progression, are even in number in one sub-order and are odd-numbered in the other sub-order.
The sub-order of odd-toed ungulates, or Perissodactyla, includes in our day only the horses, asses, zebras, and quaggas (united together in the family Equidae); the tapirs, the rhinoceroses, and the little hyrax—the coney of Scripture. In ancient times, however, this sub-order was a very large one, but the great majority of the forms belonging to it, which formerly lived, have now become extinct.
The sub-order of even-toed ungulates, or Artiodactyla, comprises all oxen, sheep, goats, antelopes, giraffes, deer, chevrotains, llamas, and camels. All these, from their practice of "chewing the cud," are called "ruminants," and they are multitudinous in kinds. The great plains of Southern Africa are the special home of most kinds of antelope, and the giraffe is exclusively African. Deer have their head-quarters in Asia, though they exist in South America as well as throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Besides the ruminating artiodactyles there is also an extensive group of non-ruminating artiodactyles, made up of all the various kinds of swine (including the American peccaries), together with the hippopotamus, now found nowhere but in Africa. Distinct as are the ruminating and non-ruminating artiodactyles now, they were in ancient time connected by a great number of intermediate forms which have utterly passed away.
The llamas of South America represent the camels of the Old World, where the latter are to-day exclusively found. When South America was discovered by the Spaniards, llamas were the only beasts of burthen found there, and, indeed, the only cattle of any kind then and there existing; although horses had formerly abounded and had become extinct in South America at a long anterior period.
Somewhat allied to ungulates, but distinct from them, are the elephants, which form an order (Proboscidea) by themselves—an order once rich in many species widely distributed over the earth.
Hardly less familiar than our domestic animals, are our hares, rabbits, mice, squirrels, and their allies, which together form an "order" called Rodentia from the gnawing habits of its members which nourish themselves on vegetable substances. This order of rodents is very rich in species, and consists of many genera grouped in several distinct families—such, e.g., as the family of mice and rats (Muridae), of squirrels (Sciuridae), of guinea-pigs and spine-bearing porcupines (Hystricidae), &c. The largest form of rodent is the capybara (or river-hog of the Rio de la Plata),—which is preyed on by the jaguar. Though a near ally of the little guinea-pig, it is as large as a hog. Amongst the more interesting rodents may be mentioned beavers, the fur-bearing chinchilla, the jerboa (Dipus), the musk-rat (Fiber), and the rat-mole (Spalax). The jerboa has very long hind legs, and a habit of jumping, so that it resembles superficially (but not really) a small kangaroo. The Spalax is quite blind, and has the burrowing habit, and somewhat the shape of the common mole. Some rodents are fitted to flit through the air in long jumps, by means of the wide extensibility of the skin of their flanks, which, when stretched out, acts as a parachute. Such forms are the flying squirrels, and a curious rodent called Anomalurus, from the exceptional clothing of the base of its tail, which is furnished with large scales at its under part.
Another order of beasts may here be referred to, because it affords interesting examples of the co-existence of external resemblance without any real affinity. This order includes the insect-eating beasts, or Insectivora, and comprises the moles, hedgehogs, shrew-mice (which are not really "mice" at all), and their allies. The Insectivora and Rodentia present us with a singular parallelism in the respective modifications of structure, which are found in these two very distinct orders. But the insectivorous forms (as might perhaps be expected from their less abundant food) are always smaller in size than are the parallel vegetable-eating groups of rodents. Indeed, one insectivore of the genus Sorex (the shrew-mouse genus) is the absolutely smallest mammal which is known to exist.
As examples of the parallelism referred to may be mentioned the moles (which resemble the rat-moles), the shrew-mice (which resemble true mice), the hedgehogs, and the less known spiny tanrec of Madagascar (which resemble porcupines in their clothing); certain graceful and active tree-frequenting insectivores of the Indian Archipelago, Tupaia (which resemble squirrels); an aquatic African form, Potomogale (which resembles the musk-rat); certain elephant shrews—long-legged, jumping, African insectivores (which resemble the jerboa amongst rodents); and, lastly, the so-called flying lemur of the Philippine Islands, or Galeopithecus, which resembles the flying squirrel, and the curious rodent Anomalurus before referred to.
The only beasts, however, which truly fly are the bats, which form an order by themselves, well-named, from the structure of their wings, Cheiroptera. The bats which fly about in the twilight in this country, or sometimes in the afternoon of a warm day in winter, are all insect-eating forms. But in the warm regions of the Old World, and of Australia, there are large fruit-eating kinds, called "flying foxes;" while in South America there are blood-sucking bats, or vampires, some of which, as we shall hereafter see, present the most curious and interesting modifications of structure in harmony with their peculiar habits.
The creatures which are in some respects the most interesting to us, because they are the most like ourselves in form, are the apes. Moreover, not only are they so like us in form, but they are so widely marked-off from all other creatures except ourselves, that it seems impossible they can have any real affinity to one more than to another group of mammals below man. Apes and man then together form one order, which as ranking first was named by Linnaeus, Primates. With the apes are commonly associated certain animals called Lemurs, which inhabit the vicinity of the Indian Ocean, especially Madagascar. They have not, however, any real affinity to apes; and if they are to be placed in the same order at all, they must be well distinguished from its other members. It has therefore been proposed to divide the order Primates into two sub-orders (as the hoofed order is divided into the "odd-toed" and "even-toed" sub-orders), one of these to include man and apes, and to be called, from the resemblance to the human form pervading it, "Anthropoidea;" the other sub-order to be termed "Lemuroidea."
The first "sub-order" is divisible into three "families." One of these (Hominidae) contains man (forming the genus Homo), the second (Simiadae) contains all the apes of the Old World only, while a third (Cebidae) contains all those of America.
Amongst the Simiadae are the orang, the chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the long-armed apes (or Gibbons), which are the most man-like of all the apes; and there can be no question but that there is very much less difference in structure between these four kinds of apes and man, than there is between them and the lowest of the apes—i.e., the marmosets.
Concerning this resemblance, Buffon has observed, when speaking of the ape, the most man-like (and so man-like) as to brain: "Il ne pense pas: y a-t-il une preuve plus evidente que la matiere seule, quoique parfaitement organisee, ne peut produire ni la pensee, ni la parole qui en est le signe, a moins qu'elle ne soit animee par un principe superieur?"
As to the second sub-order, it contains some very curious forms. The typical lemurs (which inhabit Madagascar) have long fox-like snouts and long tails. Certain African forms (the genus Galago) are very active in their movements, and great leapers. A tailless group (the slender loris) is interesting, as presenting a diminutive quasi-human form, reflected, as it were, through a Lemurine prism, just as the rat-mole shows us a mole-form reflected through a rodent prism.
A little animal, the Tarsier, which is found on the islands of Celebes and Borneo, is very exceptional in its structure. Still more so is the aye-aye (Cheiromys). This very remarkable species was discovered by Sonnerat in Madagascar in 1770, and was never again seen till 1844, when a specimen was forwarded to Paris. It has now, however, become well known.
Inhabiting the sea are many beasts, which are, by mistake, popularly spoken of as "fishes." Such are the whales and the porpoises—animals which, in spite of their form and habit, suckle their young, and have hot blood, as all other mammals have. These creatures form an order by themselves, called Cetacea.
Another order of aquatic beasts is termed Sirenia, and the animals which compose it were long confounded with the Cetacea, from which, however, they are widely divergent in structure, in spite of the general similarity which exists between them in external appearance. The order Sirenia contains but two existing genera. One of these is the now well-known manatee (Manatus), the other is the dugong (Halicore)—an animal very similar to the manatee, and found in the rivers of regions about the Indian Ocean. A third form, the Rhytina, existed in the Aleutian Isles till recent times, but was extirpated almost as soon as discovered, from its incapacity for flight or defence, and from its flesh affording a welcome change of diet to hungry sailors.
The Cetacea and Sirenia are examples of creatures organized for a completely aquatic life—for never coming to land.
The forest-regions of South America offer to animal life so enormous a mass of foliage that it may not unjustly be termed a sea of verdure, and creatures there exist which are specially organized for a completely arboreal life—for never coming to the ground. Such creatures are the sloths, which pass their lives hanging back-downwards, suspended to the branches by their huge claws. Thus, they sleep without effort (from the peculiar mechanism of their limbs), and they move slowly from tree to tree, having no need to hurry after food, since they live suspended in the midst of a perennial banquet.
Nearly allied to the sloths were certain huge beasts, now extinct, which formerly inhabited the same Continent—such as the Megatherium and Mylodon, which rivalled or exceeded our largest rhinoceroses in bulk. They fed on the same food which nourishes the sloth, but obviously the branches of no tree could sustain such monsters. They obtained their leafy pasture, therefore, by a different method. Rearing themselves on their massive hind legs and powerful tail, as on a tripod, they embraced the trees with their vigorous arms, and swayed them to and fro, till the tree embraced was prostrated, and literally fell a prey to their efforts. These bulky creatures were protected against that danger which such a mode of life rendered imminent by a specially strong skull structure, which enabled them to bear a broken head with but little inconvenience.
In the same region of the earth are found the ant-eaters and armadillos, and more or less allied to them are the pangolins (Manis) of Africa and Asia. The horny scales which cover the bodies of the last-named animals caused them for some time to be associated with reptiles rather than with beasts, though they are true and perfect mammals. Lastly must be mentioned the aard-vark (Orycteropus) of South Africa.
All these creatures, from the sloths to the aard-vark, are commonly associated together in an order which is termed Edentata.
The whole of the orders of mammals yet mentioned agree in certain important details with respect to their reproductive processes, as well as in certain smaller anatomical peculiarities, and the whole of the creatures included within these orders are (and will be) often spoken of as Placental Mammals.
The only beasts which it yet remains to speak of are grouped in two other orders.
The first of these is called the order Marsupialia, and comprises all opossums (Didelphys), kangaroos (Macropus), phalangers (Phalangista), the Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus), the dasyures (Dasyurus), the bandicoots (Perameles), and their allies. With the exception of the true opossums (Didelphys), all the members of the order are found in Australia or its vicinity, and nowhere else in the present day; although, as we shall better see hereafter, Europe once possessed animals closely allied to Australian forms of to-day—notably to a pretty little quadruped which bears the generic name Myrmecobius.
As last of the class of beasts, we have two extremely exceptional mammals (both found only in the Australian region), the duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus), and the Echidna. The first of these, as its name implies, has a muzzle quite like the bill of a duck, with a squat, hairy body, and short limbs. The echidna is covered with strong, dense spines, and has a long and slender snout. These creatures together form the order Monotremata—an order which differs very much more from any other Mammalian order than any of the other orders of mammals differ one from another.
Thus, that great group which embraces man and beasts, and which group ranks as a "class"—the class Mammalia—comprises (as we have now seen) a number of subordinate groups termed "orders," the orders being made up of families, and these again of genera.
It would be impossible as yet (when hardly any anatomical facts have been even referred to) to give the characters of the class Mammalia. It must at present suffice to point out that, in addition to mammary glands, the creatures have hot blood, and the body bears more or less hair—at least at some time of life.
We may now pass to the next class, that of birds—the class Aves. In spite of the great multitude of kinds which ornithologists enumerate—upwards of ten thousand species—there is very much less diversity of form amongst birds than there is amongst beasts.
Starting in the present class as in the preceding one from the most familiar kinds, we may begin with the domestic fowl. This is one of an "order" to which belong the peacock, all pheasants and tragopans (three forms which have their home in Central and Southern Asia), also the Guinea fowls (African forms), and the turkeys and curassows, which are American representatives of the order. Besides these may be mentioned partridges, grouse, black-cock, the capercalzie and quails, and, lastly, the megapodius or bush-turkey of Australia. This last is the only bird which hatches its eggs by artificial heat, depositing them in a mound of earth and decaying vegetable matter, wherein they are hatched fully-fledged, so that they can fly away immediately on leaving the egg. All the birds yet mentioned are called gallinaceous birds, or Gallinae, and sometimes Rasores or "Scratchers."
More or less allied to them are the doves and pigeons, which form the order Columbae, in which the curious ground-pigeon Didunculus is included—a form which presents an interesting resemblance to the celebrated and extinct dodo of Mauritius, long known only by certain pictures, and a foot and head preserved, one in the British Museum, and the other in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.
Our sparrows, robins, and all our song birds are members of an exceedingly numerous "order" "Paseres." In it are included the crows (with those gaily-decorated crows, the Birds of Paradise, found only in New Guinea and the Moluccas), the bower birds and the lyre bird of Australia; the flycatchers, the pittas (or ground thrushes), the water-ouzel, the weaver birds, the wrens, the tits, the creepers, the honey-eaters, those African gems, the sun birds, and also the swallows.
To another order—the order Macrochires—belong those most beautiful of all birds, the humming birds, found only in America, and long thought to be allied with the really very different sun birds just mentioned. With these may be associated the swifts (which have such marvellous powers of flight) and the wide-gaped goat-suckers or nightjars.
Woodpeckers are considered to form an order (Pici) by themselves, while the cuckoos are thought to be near relations of the beautiful and eccentric toncans, the plaintain-eaters, the touracous, the kingfishers, the hoopoes, the bee-eaters, the hornbills, and the trogons, all, from the cuckoos to the trogons, being included in the order Coccyges.
The parrots form an isolated group of birds—the order Psittaci. Their most peculiar forms are the macaws on the one hand, and the brush-tailed loris on the other. The order Accipitres includes all the birds of prey—that is to say, the eagles, falcons, hawks, buzzards, vultures, and owls. In this order is included the long-legged secretary bird, which looks like a cross between a hawk and heron.
Pelicans, gannets, cormorants (or shags), and darters go together to constitute the order called Steganopodes. The flamingoes are isolated, and by themselves form the order Odontoglossae. The same is the case with the penguins, which have the order Impennes assigned exclusively to them.
The ducks and geese form alone the order Lamellirostres, in which is included the curious bird Palamedea, which is a goose adapted to live in trees in harmony with its South American forest habitat.
The rails and coots go with the bustards and cranes to constitute the order Alectorides. Similarly the auks, divers, puffins, terns, and grebes, noddies, and guillemots may be associated together in one order—the order Pygopodes. The gulls and petrels form another association—the order Gaviae; while the plovers, snipes, curlews, peewits, turnstones, &c., constitute the order Limicolae. The order Heridiones includes the herons, the bitterns, the storks, spoonbill, ibis, &c.
All the foregoing birds have a multitude of points in common; indeed, so close is the similarity of their structure that their subdivision into orders is a matter of much difficulty and dispute. They are collectively spoken of as the Carinatae, from the keeled form of their breast-bone.
Widely apart from them stands another group made up almost entirely of large birds, which agree not only in having no power of flight, but also in certain significant structural characters, amongst which may be mentioned the absence of a keel on the breast-bone.
This latter group is sometimes spoken of as the order Struthiones from the ostrich (Struthio), which is its typical form. Sometimes these keelless birds are called Ratitae. Besides the ostrich, the rhea, cassowary, and emeu are included within the group; also the small and nocturnal Apteryx of New Zealand and those giants of featherdom, the huge species of dinornis, all also of New Zealand and all now extinct.
With this our list of birds might close, but for a bird which anciently existed in Europe so strangely different from all modern kinds, that it must certainly be here adverted to. This bird is the Archeopteryx, found in fossil in the Solenhofen States.
The class Aves, like the class Mammalia, consists of animals with hot blood, but all birds have feathers and a number of other peculiarities of structure, as will appear later.
The next class to be adverted to is the class which includes all reptiles properly so-called—the class Reptilia.
The reptiles which exist in the world to-day may be classed in four well-marked sets, each of which has the value of an "order"—(1) crocodiles, (2) lizards, (3) serpents, and (4) tortoises. The names of these creatures alone suffice to indicate the fact that the class of reptiles presents us with an extraordinary amount of diversity of form as compared with the class of birds with which, nevertheless, reptiles have, as we shall hereafter see, very close relations. Indeed, in the diversity of kinds which it contains, the class Reptilia at the least fully equals the class Mammalia, especially if the extinct kinds are taken into consideration. The number of species of reptiles, both living and extinct, much exceeds also the number of living and extinct mammals.
To begin once more with forms which are the least strange and unknown, we may start with the little elegant and harmless lizards of our heaths and commons, which will serve as types of the order to which they belong—the order Lacertilia. That order is an extremely numerous one, containing many families, differing much in form. Our English lizards are true lizards, belonging to the typical genus Lacerta and to the typical family Lacertidae. The rather well-known large American lizard, Iguana, is the type of another and very extensive family (almost entirely confined to America), while a nearly-allied family (Agamidae) is an Old World group. Amongst the curious forms found in the latter family may be mentioned the frilled and moloch lizards of Australia, and those little harmless lizards of India which go by the formidable name of "flying dragons" (Draco). They are the only existing aerial reptiles—not that they can truly "fly" at all, but they are enabled to take prolonged jumps, and to sustain themselves to a considerable extent in the air by means of the extremely distensible skin of their flanks which, when extended, is supported by a peculiar solid framework hereafter to be described. Some of the largest lizards are called "monitors," and are common in Egypt; they belong to the family Monitoridae.
In the warmest period of the year, certain lizards are found in the South of Europe, called geckos. They have a power of running, not only up walls, but across ceilings by means of a peculiar structure of their toes. They are types of a large family (Geckotidae) widely spread over the world.
Another large family (Scincidae) has also its type in the South of Europe in the skink (Scincus), which was formerly supposed to possess much medicinal value. This large family contains a number of species which exhibit a series of gradations in structure leading to forms which have the external aspect of serpents. One such form is the perfectly harmless slow-worm, or blind-worm, of our own country, which in spite of its scientific name, Anguis fragilis, is a legless lizard, and no snake.
Other lizards of a very different kind forming the family Amphisbaeidae are also legless, with the single exception of the genus Chirotes, which has a pair of anterior limbs, but no posterior ones. The name of this family is derived from the similarity of appearance presented by both ends of the body, so that either end looks as if ready to take the lead as "head."
A family of lizards familiar by name to us all from our childhood is the family of chameleons (Chameleonidae). There are many species of chameleons, but they are found in the Old World only; they are among the most exceptional and peculiar of all lizards, but there is one form which is yet more so.
This most exceptional of lizards is one found in New Zealand, and named Sphenodon. Its external aspect would not lead the ordinary observer at all to suspect that it is so remarkable a creature as its anatomy shows it really to be.
The order Crocodilia contains, of course, the true crocodiles which are found both in the Old and New Worlds. It contains besides the alligators (which are peculiar to America), as well as the long and slender-snouted gavials which are now found only in India and Australia. At one time the number of kinds of this order was very much greater than at present, and interesting structural modifications have taken place in it during the course of ages, as will be pointed out later.
On the whole, the order of crocodiles makes a much nearer approach to mammals and birds—especially (strange as it may seem) to birds, than is made by any other group of existing reptiles.
Reptiles, however, once existed have left their remains fossilized (in the rocks of what is termed the "secondary" or "mesozoic" period), which reptiles in the structure of their skeleton approach much more closely to birds, and especially to birds of the ostrich order, than crocodiles do. Amongst these reptiles may be mentioned the huge Iguanododon (type of the, extinct order Dinosauria), which once roamed over the Weald of Kent, and has left its remains in the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. Such remains were collected by its discoverer, the late Dr. Mantell, and are now preserved in our British Museum.
The crocodilia and some of the lizards of our own day are aquatic, but none live constantly in the ocean, as do the cetacea amongst beasts. This was, however, by no means always the case. In the secondary period just adverted to, huge marine reptiles (Ichthyosauria and Plesiosauria) lorded it over the other then inhabitants of the deep, and presented some noteworthy resemblances to the whales and porpoises which have since succeeded them.
But other remains preserved in those same secondary rocks show us that in that period which has been so deservedly called "the age of reptiles," not only did many huge species of the class stalk over the land (either browsing on its foliage or preying on their fellows), and many others swarm in the then existing waters, but it shows us that the atmosphere also had its reptilian tenants. Flying reptiles which formed the now extinct order, Pterosauria, and which were some of small, some of very large size, as truly "flew" as do the bats of our own day fly, and by a very similar mechanism. Moreover, if the Dinosauria present, as they do present, very noteworthy and interesting resemblances to birds of the ostrich order, no less noteworthy and interesting are the resemblances presented by these flying reptiles to ordinary—i.e., to "carinate"—birds.
The orders of extinct reptiles just referred to are not the only ones which formerly existed and have now passed away. There were reptiles with peculiarities in their teeth such as to have caused their order to be named Amnodontia, and it is members of this extinct order that the lizard Sphenodon more or less resembles, and it is this resemblance which gives it that special interest before noted.
We may now return from these very various extinct forms to enumerate other kinds of reptiles which exist to-day. But before doing so the fact may be adverted to, that though amongst beasts many forms have become extinct, yet the proportion borne by the known extinct forms to the living kinds is much less than amongst reptiles, and that while it is the most highly-organized reptiles which have ceased to exist, the highest mammals which are in any way known to us are those which at present inhabit the earth's surface.
In passing from the orders of crocodiles and lizards to that of serpents—i.e., to the order Ophidia—we might select as first to be mentioned kinds which much resemble the legless lizards; but such kinds are not familiar ones in Europe.
The only serpents met with in England are but of three species—two harmless snakes and the common viper, which latter is the only really poisonous reptile in this country.
Of the harmless snakes, the ringed or collared snake (Tropidonotus) is much the commoner and more widely diffused. It ought to escape destruction on account of the ease with which it may be discriminated from the viper by means of the white collar-like mark which appears so conspicuously just behind its head.
Our viper is the type of a large and poisonous family, but by no means all poisonous snakes are vipers. The deadly cobras belong to a different group, having much more affinity with our own harmless snakes than with the vipers. The rattle-snakes again form a family (Crotalidae) by themselves.
There are such things as true sea-serpents, and they are poisonous. They are not, however, allies of any "sea serpent," such as every now and again figures in startling paragraphs in our journals. The true sea-serpents are snakes of small or moderate size, which have their tails flattened from side to side, and which inhabit the Indian Ocean. Of other serpents which are not poisonous, the family of boas and pythons (which kill by crushing) is tolerably familiar to all who have visited zoological collections. There are many beautiful and harmless snakes, such as the families of tree-snakes and whip-snakes, but the snakes which more or less resemble legless lizards are burrowing forms which have the habits and more or less the appearance of earth-worms, such as those which form the families of Uropeltidae and Typhlopsidae.
The last existing reptilian order (Chelonia) includes, besides the land tortoises of very various dimensions, a variety of aquatic forms.
The best known of these in this country, is the marine family (Chelonidae), to which the edible and tortoise-shell turtles belong. The best known family in the United States and in the Continent of Europe, is the Emydae, to which pertain the terrapins or ordinary river tortoises. Besides these, however, there is a very small family (Trionicidae) of curious and exceptional forms, called mud-tortoises (Trionyx).
The creatures which have next to be glanced at are those familiar forms, the frogs, toads and efts, which, together with their allies, form another class,—the class Batrachia. These animals were long confounded with reptiles but are really widely distinct from them. They are arranged in four orders, three of which have living representatives. The creatures of the first order (the order of tailless Batrachians or Anoura)—frogs and toads—exist over almost all the habitable globe; and though the number of their kinds is very great, yet they are all extremely alike in organization. Many kinds (of both frogs and toads) are found to live in trees, the ends of their fingers and toes being dilated to enable them to cling to the surfaces of leaves. The most exceptional species of the whole group are the two tongueless toads, the Pipa of South America and the Daclytethra of Africa, the last-named kind being the lowest of all known animals provided with finger nails.
Closely related to the frogs and toads are the efts so common in our ponds. These familiar English forms are represented in other countries of the Northern Hemisphere by creatures, some of which (as we shall hereafter see) are of very great interest indeed. The whole group constitutes the second Batrachian order—the order Urodela.
One of the most noteworthy forms of the order is the eft Proteus, which inhabits the dark, subterranean caverns of Carniola and Istria. Allied to this is the Menobranchus of North America and the Axolotl of Mexico. Other forms of the order are the American eft-genera Spelerpes and Amblystoma, the Menopoma, and the gigantic Salamander (Cryptobranchus) of Japan and China, the eel-like Amphiuma—with its very long body and minute legs—and the two-legged Siren of the United States.
The third order of Batrachians is one which contains very few species, but these are very strange, for though allied to frogs they have the appearance of snakes, or rather perhaps of worms. With long and slender bodies (marked by many transverse wrinkles), devoid of every rudiment of limb, they remind us of the before-noticed Anguis, Typhlops, and Uropeltis amongst reptiles. The Batrachians in question (which belong to the genera Caecilia and Siphonops) form the order Ophiomorpha.
The fourth order of Batrachians is one which has entirely passed away and become extinct. It is the order Labyrinthodonta, and the species which composed it were, some of them, of large size, with great heads like those of crocodiles. Others bore more or less resemblance to enlarged Ophiomorpha.
Every one knows that frogs begin their existence in the water as tadpoles, which have the habits and mode of life of fishes. Thus, the class Batrachia naturally conducts us to the class Pisces, the class of true fishes. This class contains a prodigious variety of forms, and is far more rich in species than any other of the classes before enumerated—even that of birds.
The fishes most familiar to us—such as the perch, carp, mackerel, cod, herring, sole, turbot, salmon, pike, dory, and eel—all belong to one great order called Teleostei, and which is made up of what are called "bony" fishes, though there are some bony fishes which do not belong to it. To the same order also belong the Muroena, the electric eel (Gymnotus), the flying fishes (Exocetus and Dactyloptera), the sucking fish (Remora), the pipe-fish and sea-horse (Hippocampus), the diodon, the ostracion, the file-fish (Balistes), the largest of all fresh-water fishes (Sudis gigas of South America), with a multitude of other forms.
Certain more or less singular Teleosteans are classed together in a subordinate group of "Siluroids" (of which fish the Silurus is a type), and which group includes, amongst others, the singular, cuirassed fish Callichthys.
A group of fishes, which is now very small, but which at an earlier period of the world's history was very large, includes within it all those fishes which will be hereinafter occasionally spoken of as "Ganoids," as they compose the order Ganoidei. Of all the forms of this order, the sturgeon is that which is least unfamiliar to us. The Ganoids are mostly fresh-water fishes and consist of the spoonbill-fish (Polyodon), the bony-pike (Lepidosteus), the African Polypterus, the mud fish (Lepidosiren), and the curious Australian fish Ceratodus, which last is a singular instance of piscine survival.
Another order, Elosmobranchii, is made up of the sharks, together with the skates (or rays) and the curious Chimaera. Amongst the skates may be mentioned the celebrated torpedo or electric ray.
The three groups above enumerated contain almost all known fishes, but a few other kinds, all of lowly organization, constitute two other groups of very different structure.
One of these groups is called Marsipo-branchii, and contains the lamprey, the Myxine (or Glutinous Hag), and the Bdellestoma. They are fishes of parasitic habits and of relatively inferior structure.
Last of all comes a creature of such exceptional build, so widely different from, and so greatly inferior to, any kind of animal yet noticed, that it may but doubtfully be reckoned as a fish at all. The animal referred to is the lancelet (Amphioxus), which is a small, almost worm-like animal, living in the sand on our own coasts, and also widely distributed over other parts of the world. The Amphioxus has no distinct head or heart, and its breathing apparatus—its gill structure—differs so much from that of all other fishes as to give a name to its "order" (which contains it alone)—the order Pharyngobranchii.
We have now, then, hastily surveyed no less than five "classes" of animals—(1) Mammalia, (2) Aves, (3) Reptilia, (4) Batrachia, and (5) Pisces.
But, as was said in the first beginning of this Essay, "classes" are the groups into which "sub-kingdoms" are divided, and which, by their union, make up such "sub-kingdoms."
The five classes above-mentioned together constitute the highest of those sub-kingdoms into which the whole animal kingdom itself is divided. This highest sub-kingdom is named VERTEBRATA, and is called the vertebrate sub-kingdom, because every creature which belongs to it possesses a "spinal column," which is generally built up of bones, each of which is called a "Vertebra."
We ourselves are members of the genus Homo, of the family Hominidae, of the order Primates, of the class Mammalia, of the sub-kingdom Vertebrata, and it is desirable to treat this sub-kingdom at considerable length, both because it is, to us who are members of it, the most interesting and important, and because, by treating it somewhat fully, a good example can be once for all given of biological classification.
But the number of animal kinds which belong to other sub-kingdoms vastly exceeds the total number of vertebrate animals, and the structural contrasts found between different non-vertebrate species is very much greater than any such contrasts as can be found to exist between any two members of the highest, or vertebrate sub-kingdom. This is only what we might expect; for non-vertebrate animals—often spoken of collectively as "Invertebrata"—form several distinct sub-kingdoms, each of which has a rank approximatively co-ordinate with that sub-kingdom to which we ourselves belong. Nevertheless, since the members of the invertebrata sub-kingdoms are, speaking generally, much less known and familiar than are vertebrate animals, and as the structural differences between them cannot be pointed out till an initial acquaintance has been made with comparative anatomy, for these reasons we may treat the various animal sub-kingdoms which have yet to be noticed at much less length than we have treated the vertebrata. The details of their peculiarities and the various degrees of significance and interest which they present will begin to appear when we proceed to treat of "The Forms of Animals."
The last class of vertebrates is, as we have seen, constituted by the fishes, which are fishes properly so called. But there are many animals which are familiarly and improperly spoken of as "Fishes," but which are even more below true fishes than whales and porpoises are above them. Thus, we hear of cuttle-fishes, and a variety of creatures are spoken of as "shell-fish," which are not in the least related to true fishes. Indeed, the many so-called "shell-fish" are not even nearly related one to another. Thus, the oyster and the lobster are both commonly thus named, but they belong respectively to two altogether distinct sub-kingdoms of the world of animals.
The oyster is an animal which belongs to a vast assemblage of species, with much variety of form and structure, which, on account of their soft bodies (whether or not enclosed in shells), are called MOLLUSCA or "Mollusks." This assemblage ranks as a sub-kingdom and contains within it at least four subordinate great groups, or "classes." All snails and whelks, with their allies, and also all cuttle-fishes, belong to the sub-kingdom of "soft animals."
Amongst the most familiar of mollusks is the common snail, which may serve as a type of the "class" of mollusks to which it belongs—the class Gasteropoda. The snail, with the slug, are representatives of land-forms of mollusca, but the bulk of the class and of the whole sub-kingdom are aquatic animals, such as the whelk (Buccinum), periwinkle (Littorina), limpet (Patella), &c. The Gasteropods generally possess spirally coiled shells (like the cowry or whelk), but some kinds have their shells in the form of simple cones—like a Chinaman's cap—as, e.g., the limpet. There are a few Gasteropods in which the shell consists of a series of similar segments as is the case with Chiton, while many are altogether naked. In some kinds the soft body is drawn out into a number of tufted processes, as in Doris and Eolis, and sometimes the body is almost worm-like, as in Phylliroe, or provided with a pair of ring-like lateral processes and a rudimentary shell, as in the sea-hare Aplysia.
Next above the Gasteropods comes a group of animals forming the class Pteropoda. These pteropods are small, active, oceanic, surface-swimming creatures, many of which live in delicate glass-like shells, and some of which form a large part of the food of the whalebone whale. They flit through the water by the aid of lateral processes which much resemble those before-mentioned as existing in the sea-hare. Allied to these pteropods is a curious little animal, the shell of which resembles a miniature elephant's tooth and which is named Dentalium.
Highest of all the mollusca stand the cuttle-fishes, forming (with the Nautilus and many extinct animals, such as ammonites and their allies) the great class Cephalopoda. The Cephalopoda, such as the cuttle-fish (Sepia) and the Poulp (Octopus), have now become familiar objects through our aquaria, where their very eccentric forms and remarkable movements naturally attract attention. To this group also belongs Spirula, the coiled and chambered shell of which is found so abundantly, but its soft tenant so very rarely. To it also belongs the extinct Belemnite, which was provided with a dense, conical internal shell, specimens of which found in rocks were at one time taken for thunderbolts. Of a lower grade of organization is the Nautilus, sole existing representative of a great group of Cephalopoda (including the ammonites and other forms) which has, with the above exception, long become entirely extinct.
The oyster is an animal which belongs to a much lower class of mollusca—namely, to the class called Lamellibranchiata, from the plate-like (or lamellar) structure of the gill. To that class also belongs the scallop (Pecten), the mussel (Magilus), the fresh-water mussel (Anodon), the razor-shell (Solen), the cockle (Cardium), species with a long fleshy tube such as Mya, stone-perforating shells such as Pholas, and the well-known wood-boring "ship-worm" (Teredo)—which is no "worm" at all—with a multitude of other forms.