American Association of Anatomists.

The Anatomical record online

. (page 2 of 50)
Online LibraryAmerican Association of AnatomistsThe Anatomical record → online text (page 2 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


in answering one of the questions. With apparent seriousness
Brooks said : "Your mistake is a serious one, for it makes you re-
six)nsible for misinforming my whole class on that subject; I used
your answer as my lecture this morning."

He was an artist of much ability and his drawings were made
with much care; in general they were not only accurate but also
artistic. He expected all his students to learn to draw, and he fre-
quently said to them, "You can't do anything well without patience."
He loved to work with simple apparatus and his technique was never
complicated. He never mistook paraphernalia for science, and he
went directly to the end he sought.

Although Professor Brooks would present a subject in his
lectures in the clearest and most entertaining manner, he rarely, if
ever, attempted to smooth the path of the investigator ; the latter was
to a very large extent thrown upon his OAvn resources. He believed
so thoroughly in the law of natural selection, as he once said, that
he thought it was best for a student to find out for himself, as soon
as possible, whether he was fitted for independent investigation or
not, and by this rigid discipline the unfit were weeded out from thw
fit. This was certainly no school for weakling's^ but it afforded



Digitized by



Google



G Edwin G. Conklin.

magnificent training for those who had ability and determination.
For those who endured this ordeal he maintained the warmest
r^ard, and his interest and pride in the work of his students was
as marked as it was stimulating.

In connection with his work as teacher and director must be
mentioned the establishment by him of the Chesapeake Zoological
Laboratory in 1878. This was the second marine laboratory in
this country founded for advanced work in pure zoology, the first
being the Penikese Laboratory, established by Louis Agassiz in
1873. The Chesapeake Laboratory, unlike the one at Penikese,
was not limited to one place ; it consisted neither of buildings nor fine
equipment, but of men and ideas. For the first few years of its
existence it was situated at several different points on Chesapeake
Bay ; afterwards it was located at Beaufort, N. C, then at different
places in the Bahama Islands, and finally in Jamaica. In the
various expeditions of Brooks and his students to these different
places they made not only a thorough biological survey of each region,
but they did work of most fundamental and far-reaching importance
on the various groups of animals found. Out of these expeditions
has grown the beautiful and permanent station of the U. S.
Fisheries Bureau at Beaufort, N. C, in which Brooks took great
interest and pride. It was on these expeditions that his students
came to know him most intimately and affectionately. In the mem-
017 of each of them is fixed some scene of his enthusiasm over the
discovery of a rare specimen or an unknown stage in some life
history; his long vigils full of exciting discoveries; his quiet talks
on nature and philosophy, after the day's work was done.

The "Scientific Results of the Sessions of the Chesapeake Zoologi-
cal Laboratory" wore at first published as a separate journal of
which Brooks was the founder and editor, later this was incorporated
in the "Studies from the Biological Laboratory" of which he was
joint editor with H. Newell Martin. He subsequently established
and edited "^lemoirs from the Biologiciil Lalx)ratorv/' a large
quarto for the publication of important monographs. lie was also
one of the editors of the Journal of Experimental Zoology,

As a scientific investigator Brooks showed sound judgment,
depth of insight, and untiring industrs^ and enthusiasm. In his



Digitized by



Google



The Life and Work of Professor Brooks. 7

researches he did not attempt to cover the whole field of zoology, but
he did attempt to do thoroughly and \v^\l all that he undertook. His
work began at a time when descriptive embryology was the newest
and most promising branch of zoology and much of his earlier work
was devoted to this field. His first important paper was on the
"Development of Salpa," and many of his later works^ some of them
monumental monographs, were devoted to the anatomy, embryology
and evolution of this interesting group of ascidians. Indeed his
latest work, which was left in manuscript and for which he had pre-
pared hundreds of beautiful drawings, was a continuation of his
great "Monograph on the Gtenus Salpa." Among other important
researches may be mentioned his studies on the "Lucayan Indians,"
on the "Development of Marine Prosobranchiate Gasteropods,"
"Early Stages in the Development of Fresh Water Pulmonates,"
"The Development of Lingula and the Systematic Position of the
Brachiopoda,"' "The Relatiooiship of MoUusca and MoUuscoidea,"
"The Life History of the Hydromedusse," "The Stomatopoda of the
Challenger Expeditioai," "Lucifer: A Study in Morphology," "The
Embiyolc^ and Metamorphosis of the Macroura" (with F. H.
Herrick), and a "Monograph of the Genus Doliolum."

His studies on the development of moUusks led him to an ex-
amination of the life history and habits of the oyster. He discov-
ered that the eggs of the oyster could be fertilized artificially and
this was followed by a consideration of the best methods of propa-
gating and cultivating oysters. His work on this subject was em-
bodied in a book called "The Oyster," which has recently appeared
in a second edition. Because of its economic importance. Brooks
has been more widely known through this work than through any
other. He was made chairman of the Maryland Oyster Commission
and did much to improve this industry by a scientific treatment of
the subject.

He wrote but one text-book, his "Handbook of Invertebrate
Zoology" (1882), but this was so excellent that it still remains a
model, and in some respects has not been excelled, if equalled, by
any later book on that subject. He was also the author of many
scientific articles of a popular sort, in which work he showed unusual



Digitized by



Google



8 Edwin G. Conklin.

ability. He was inclined to look upon various human problems,
such as the education and political position of woman, from the
standpoint of zoology, and his popular discussions of the possible
improvement of the human race, of instinct and intelligence, of
heredity and variation, etc., were both novel and suggestive.

His chief interest was always in the philosophical side of biology
and into this he put the larger part of his life work. Even the
special researches, some of which, have been named above, were
permeated by philosophical inquiry, and most of his books and later
contributions were devoted to the deeper philosophical meanings of
vital phenomena.

As a boy he had read the works of Darwin and had been im-
mensely impressed by them and to the last he yielded to no one in
his admiration and reverence for that great master. Probably no
other disciple of Darwin was more thoroughly acquainted with his
works, and very frequently when criticisms of Darwinism appeared
he would point out the fact that the critic did not understand what
Darwinism is, or that Darwin had already met and answered the
objection raised.

In 1884 he published a book entitled "The Law of Heredity,"
which in some respects anticipated the theories of Weismann, and
De Vries, and which won the highest commendation from Huxley
and other leaders of biology. But probably the book by which he
will be longest remembered is the series of lectures delivered at
Columbia University and published in the Biological Series of that
institution under the title "The Foundations of Zoology' (1899). In
this book he deals with many subjects fundamental not only tb
zoology, but to science and philosophy in general. Among these
may be mentioned "Xature and Xurture," "Zoolog\^ and the Philos-
ophy of Evolution," "Natural Selection and the Antiquity of Life,"
"Natural Selection and Natural Theology," "Paley and the Argu-
ment from Contrivance," "The Mechani-^m of Nature," "Louia
Agassiz and George Berkeley," etc. On the whole his chief points
of view may be summarized in his oft-quoted remark of Aristotle
that the "essence of a living thing is not what it is made of nor what
it does, but why it does it," or as he expresses it elsewhere, "the



Digitized by



Google



The Life and Work of Professor Brooks. 9

essence of a living thing is not protoplasm but purpose ;" and in the
further statements, which he draws from Berkeley, that "nature is
a language/* that "phenomena are appearances," and that "natural
laws are not arbitrary nor necessary, but natural, t. c, neither less nor
more than one who has the data has every reason to expect." In his
philosophical writings he was most deeply influenced by Aristotle,
Berkeley, Darwin, and Huxley.

On his fiftieth birthday, March 25, 1898, his former students
xmited in presenting to him an oil portrait of himself (see frontis-
piece) together with a congratulatory address, and at the end of his
book on the "Fotmdations of Zoology," he added on this date, the
following note :

"For you who have, at this time, for my encouragement, called
yourselves my students, I have written this book which has been my
own so long that I should part with it with regret, did I not hope
that, as you study the great works to which I have directed you, you
may still call me teacher. If you are indeed my students, you are
not afraid of hard work, so in this day of light literature, when even
learning must be made easy, you must be my readers, and you must
do double duly; for I take the liberty of a teacher with his pupils,
and ask that, after you have read the book, you will some day read it
again ; since I hope that what may seem obscure, may, on review, be
found consistent and intelligible."

Much that he has written still seems to me obscure, although I
have read it more than once, but I bear in mind his parting request,
and in the meantime profit by that which I do understand and am
charmed by the classical and almost poetical diction in which it is
written. Whatever one may be inclined to say of his conclusions
and theories, it cannot be denied that in an age when biological
investigators have been content with discovering phenomena, he at-
tempted to go back of phenomena to their real meaning and signi-
ficance and to point out the relationship of these newly discovered
phenomena to the great current of philosophy which has flowed do^vn
to us from the remote past.

In his review of this book under the caption "A Sage in Science,"
David Starr Jordan said : — "Brooks' lectures on the Foundations of



Digitized by



Google



10 Edwin G. Conklin.

Biologj- constitute a book that will live as a permanent addition to
the common sense of science. It belongs to literature as well as to
science. It belongs to philosophy as much as to either, for it is full
of that fundamental wisdom about realities which alone is worthy of
the name of philosophy. Writers of literature have been divided into
those with quotable sentences, such as Emerson and Thoreau, and
those whose style runs along without break in the e'ucidation of
matter in hand, as Hawthorne and Irving. To the former class
Brooks certainly belongs. His lectures are full of nuggets of wis-
dom, products of deep thought as well as of careful observation.
There is not an idea fundamental to biology that is not touched and
made luminous by some of these sagacious paragraphs. Whether
it be to show the significance of some unappreciated fact, or to illus-
trate the true meaning of some complex argument, or to brush away
the fine-spun rubbish of theory, the hand of the master is seen in
every line." . . . "The stones which Dr. Brooks has chosen as
Toundations of Zoology' will remain for centuries, most of them as
long as human ^visdom shall endure. The volume is a permanent
contribution to human knowledge, the worthy crown of a life of wise
thought as well as of hard work and patient investigation. The
biologists of America have long since recognized Dr. Brooks as a
master, and this volume, the modem and scientific sequel to Agassiz's
^Essay on Classification/ places him in the line of succession from
the great interpreter of nature, whose pupil and friend he was."
(Science, No. 224).

His abilities received early and generous recognition. Apart
from his university advancement, he received many honors. He
received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Williams College in
1893, from Hobart College in 1899, and from the University of
Pennsylvania at the Franklin Bicentenary, in 1906. In 1884, at
the age of thirty-six, he was elected a member of the !N'ational
Academy of Sciences; he was chosen a member of the American
Philosophical Society in 1886 ; of the Academy of ITatural Sciences
of Philadelphia in 1887 ; he was also a member of the Boston Society
of Natural Historj'^, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
of the ^Maryland Academv of Arts and Sciences, and of the Ameri-



Digitized by



Google



The Life and Work of Professor Brooks. 11

can Society of Zoologists ; he was a fellow of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, and also a fellow of the Eoyal
Microscopical Society. For his work on the oyster he received the
medal of the Societe d'Acclimatation of Paris; for his work on the
scientific results of the Challenger Expedition he was given a Chal-
lenger Medal; and he received a medal at the St. Louis Exposition
of 1904, where he gave an address. He was Lowell Lecturer in
Boston in 1901, and he gave one of the principal addresses before
the Latemational Zoological Congress at Boston in 1907.

In his home life Professor Brooks was most happy and devoted.
He married in June, 1878, Amelia Schultz of Baltimore, a woman
of simple and charming personality. Two children were bom to
them, Charles E. Brooks, who took the degree of Ph.D. in mathe-
matics at the Johns Hopkins University, and who now resides at
Elizabeth, N. J., and Menetta W. Brooks, a graduate of Vassar
College, who, after the death of Mrs. Brooks in 1901, took charge
of her father's home and became his daily companion. One of the
miost delightful memories which zoological students have of their
life in Baltimore is of those pleasant evenings spent at his home
when biological classics were read and discussed, when the various
biological expeditions were talked of, and, in lighter vein, when the
sayings of the children were reported, the animal pets shown, and the
home-grown orchids exhibited. No one who experienced it can ever
forget the simple and cordial hospitality of Professor and Mrs.
Brooks, nor the sense of deep and abiding happiness which these
glimpses of their home life gave.

Professor Brooks once told the writer of this sketch that he
proposed to retire from his university position when he had reached
the age of sixty, and thereafter devote himself entirely to philosophi-
cal and scientific work. He reached the age of sixty last March,
but how different was his realization from his plan. His retirement
was not to the scholarly leisure for which he longed but to pain,
weakness and mortal sickness. For nine months he struggled against
a complication of organic heart trouble and kidney disease, and at
simrise on Thursday, November 12, he breathed his last.

Personally Professor Brooks was rather short and stout, slow
and deliberate in his movements and speech, and undemonstrative in



Digitized by



Google



12 Edwin G. Conklin.

maimer. Mere conventionalities counted for little with him; he
was simple, sincere, and natural. With him talking meant expressing
ideas, not merely passing the time, and if he had no answer ready
when a question was asked him, he usually gave no answer until he
was ready — it might be several days later, — ^when he would answer
as naturally as if the question had been asked only a moment before.
He was often so absorbed in his work that he paid little attention to
his dress, and he would sometimes humorously say that he envied the
man who was not compelled to wear a collar or necktie, or to have
his hair cut. These characteristics made him appear somewhat
unique and picturesque, and gave rise to many charming anecdotes
about him, w^hich his students and friends relate with merriment,
but real affection.

He was a man of wide culture, though his absorption in his
work was so great that many knew him only as a naturalist. He
knew well the world's best literature and art, and in his later years
he found that he had a strong liking for music, especially the great
compositions of Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner and Bach.

One of his strongest characteristics was his judicial and
philosophical temper. WTien he was once asked if he did not fear
that some one would anticipate him in his great work on Salpa, on
which he had worked for many years, he said, " I long since ceased
to be troubled by such thoughts, for if another shouM publish on
this or any other subject before I do, his work would probably be
better or worse than mine. If it was better I should be glad to be
saved the mortification of having published poorer work; if worse,
it w^ould only afford additional material for my paper." His mind
was too large for little things, too sane for foolish ones. He was
remarkably original and suggestive in his methods of thought, and
in his views of scientific, social and philosophical problems he was as
artless and direct as a child. He was critical, yet tolerant; modest,
but dignified; loyal to his friends, his University, and his ideals;
independent in thought and action, and not easily moved from a
position he had once taken.

He was kind and gentle; and neither in his publications nor in
his relations with students did he ever deal in scorn, irony, nor



Digitized by



Google



The Life and Work of Professor Brooks. 13

invective. President Kemsen said that he had been called the most
lovable man in the faculty. His interest in his former students
was genuine and hearty, though he rarely expressed it directly to the
person concerned. "One of the joys of a teacher," he once said, "is
to see his students surpass him." On the other hand his students
delighted to honor him; and on the occasion of his promotion to a
full professorship, on his fiftieth birthday, at the twenty-fifth anni-
versary of the founding of the Johns Hopkins University, and at the
International Zoological Congress in Boston, they showed him how
deep a place he held in their affections. On December 31, 1908,
sixty of his former students met in Baltimore to pay honor to his
memory, and the occasion was one of delightful reminiscence and
of grateful recognition of indebtedness to him.

What was the secret of his remarkable influence over others, which
his students and associates recognize ? By general consent it is attri-
buted not merely to his greatness as an investigator and teacher, but
also to his character as a man. In his life there was nothing either
to be concealed or explained. He was "a man in whom there was no
guile;" a man of such transparent simplicity and sincerity, of such
single-hearted devotion to science, so simple-minded, natural, pure
in thought and deed, that his life as well as his tvorh has left an
indelible impression upon all who knew him.

Received for publication, January 11, 1909.



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



CONSEKVATISM IN ANATOMY.^

BY

J. PLAYFAIR McMURRICH.
Professor of Anatomy in the University of Toronto.

When our colleagues of other societies are commemorating the
cc-ntenary of the birth of Charles Darwin and, at the same time, the
semicentenary of the publication of the great work which placed upon
a firm basis the most fertile philosophical theory the world has ever
known, it seems fitting that we too, as Anatomists, should make
acknowledgments of our indebtedness to him for having laid the
foundation upon which Anatomy has grown to be a science in fact
as well as in name, for having furnished the thread of theory, which,
as a golden weft, weaves the warp of facts into a substantial fabric.
And in some ways we are especially interested, for the bitter opposi-
tion Darwin's views at first encountered in certain quarters was
largely based upon the question of their applicability to the origin
of Man, and Darwin himself tells us that "The Descent of Man,"
published in 1871, was written for the purpose of determining "how
far the general conclusions arrived at in my former works were ap-
plicable to man." And he further states "This seemed all the more
desirable as I had never deliberately applied these views to a species
taken singly."

Until Darwin's time Anatomy was essentially a descriptive science,
if such an expression may be used, if anything which is merely
descriptive can properly be termed a science. The objective for which
Anatomists strove was the most thorough description possible of the
structure of the body, a perfect and detailed exposition of the facts
of human anatomy. A basis for a determination of the significance
of the facts, except a teleological one founded upon physiological or,

^Presidential Address, Association of American Anatomists, December
29. 1908.

(15)



Digitized by



Google



16 J. Playfair McMurrich.

in some cases, theological, considerations, was lacking, and, to use
a trite simile, Anatomy was like a structure built of stones most
carefully piled, but lacking the mortar necessary to bind them together
into a substantial edifice. This mortar Darwin supplied, and even
although some parts of our building are still but imperfectly supplied
with it, yet we have the satisfaction of showing our visitors through
many parts which are well built, solid and substantial.

But it must be admitted that Darwin's contributions to Anatomy
were indirect rather than direct, for, greatly to his regret in later
years, his anatomical studies during his student days were conducted
under depressing and, to him, most distasteful conditions. In his
brief autobiography he gives a moving picture of the course at Edin-
burgh, speaking thus, "The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether
by lectures, and these were intolerably dull, with the exception of
those on chemistry by Hope ; but to my mind there are no advantages
and many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading. Dr.
Duncan's lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o'clock on a winters

morning are something fearful to remember. Dr. made

his lectures on human anatomy as dull as he was himself, and the
subject disgusted me. It has proved one of the greatest evils in my
life that I was not urged to practise dissection, for I should soon
have got over my disgust; and the practice would have been invalu-
able for all my future work. This has been an irremediable evil,
as well as my incapacity to draw."

The teacher whose methods were so deterrent was Alexander
Munro, the third of the famous trio of that name who presided over
the destinies of Anatomy at Edinburgh for a period of 139 years.
He was, however, an unworthy successor to his more illustrious
father and grandfather, and was not a teacher likely to arouse
enthusiasm in Darwin. For his style has been described by a biog-
rapher as "confused, prolix and illogical," all characteristics which
must have been highly distasteful to one whose mind worked clearly,
concisely and logically. We must regret that Darwin did not accom-
pany his brother Erasmus to "Mr. Sizars on Anatomy, who is a
charming lecturer," for had his interest in the subject been aroused
what possibilities there are that his keen powers of observation and



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



Conservatism in Anatomy. 17

marvellous faculty for perceiving correlations and significances might
have supplied material for the expansion and elaboration of the first
chapter of the "Descent of Man," thereby making it, to even a greater
extent than it is in its present form, a notable monument to his
scientific insight.

Perhaps in no department of science was the stimulus which Dar-
win supplied more needed than in Anatomy. For, owing to the rela-
tion which that science held to the practice of medicine and surgery,
there was an imminent danger that it would be cultivated solely on
account of its applications, and its teaching thereby becoiHe formal
It needed a lamp to guide it past the pitfalls of empiricism and tele-
ology into which it had often stumbled, and show it the way along
the broad path leading to a solid foothold on the rock of Science.
And that was the lamp which Darwin supplied. But Anatomists



Online LibraryAmerican Association of AnatomistsThe Anatomical record → online text (page 2 of 50)