Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Botanical Gazette (September 1893).


As we have gathered up the scattered masses of botanical knowledge, laboriously wrought out by many isolated workers, and attempted to fit them together into a consistent whole, which should outline the structure of the temple of botany, we have found that the workmen have not always followed the same architectural plan, and have often used different units of measurement. With the increasing specialization so noticeable year by year there is a corresponding lack of coordination of work. To this lack of coordination, this want of unity of measurement, this misunderstanding of plan, we can no longer close our eyes, and I therefore feel free to invite your attention to the following somewhat summary discussion of the causes of the present unsatisfactory condition, in the hope that we may thereby be enabled to see how we may make some improvement.

All botanical knowledge finally culminates in some kind of classification. The facts of histology, morphology and physiology are of great biological importance, but the greatest of all biological facts is that the world is peopled with living things. w e may group and arrange in orderly sequence the histological facts of the science; we may do likewise with the facts which the morphologist has discovered; we may make a classification of all the known physiological facts; but beyond and above these lies the greatest grouping of all, the grouping in orderly sequence of the organisms themselves, whose histology, morphology and physiology we have studied.