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The Temple of Nature, Edited by Martin Priestman
p. 41

ORIGIN OF SOCIETY.

 

CANTO II.

 

REPRODUCTION OF LIFE.

 


p. 42

CONTENTS.

I. Brevity of Life 1. Reproduction 13. Animals improve 31. Life and Death alternate 37. Adonis emblem of Mortal Life 45. II. Solitary reproduction 61. Buds, Bulbs, Polypus 65. Truffle; Buds of trees how generated 71. Volvox, Polypus, Tænia, Oysters, Corals, are without Sex 83. Storgè goddess of Parental Love; First chain of Society 92. III. Female sex produced 103. Tulip bulbs, Aphis 125. Eve from Adam's rib 135. IV. Hereditary diseases 159. Grafted trees, bulbous roots degenerate 167. Gout, Mania, Scrofula, Consumption 177. Time and Nature 185. V. Urania and the muse lament 205. Cupid and Psyche, the deities of sexual love 221. Speech of Hymen 239. Second chain of Society 250. Young Desire 251. Love and Beauty save the world 257. Vegetable sexes, Anthers and Stigmas salute 268. Vegetable sexual generation 271. Anthers of Vallisneria float to the Stigmas 279. Ant, Lampyris, Glow-Worm, Snail 287. Silk-Worm 293. VI. Demon of Jealousy 307. Cocks, Quails, Stags, Boars 313. Knights of Romance 327. Helen and Paris 333. Connubial love 341. Married Birds, nests of the Linnet and Nightingale 343. Lions, Tigers, Bulls, Horses 357. Triumphal car of Cupid 361. Fish, Birds, Insects 371. Vegetables 389. March of Hymen 411. His lamp 419. VII. Urania's advice to her Nymphs 425. Dines with the Muse on forbidden Fruit 435. Angels visit Abraham 447-458.


p. 43


CANTO II.

REPRODUCTION OF LIFE.

       I. "How short the span of LIFE! some hours possess'd,*
Warm but to cool, and active but to rest!—
The age-worn fibres goaded to contract,*
By repetition palsied, cease to act;

        How short the span of Life, l. 1. The thinking few in all ages have complained of the brevity of life, lamenting that mankind are not allowed time sufficient to cultivate science, or to improve their intellect. Hippocrates introduces his celebrated aphorisms with this idea; "Life is short, science long, opportunities of knowledge rare, experiments fallacious, and reasoning difficult."—A melancholy reflection to philosophers!
        The age-worn fibres, l. 3. Why the same kinds of food, which enlarge and invigorate the body from infancy to the meridian of life, and then nourish it for some years unimpaired, should at length gradually cease to do so, and the debility of age and death supervene, would be liable to surprise us if we were not in the daily habit of observing it; and is a circumstance which has not yet been well understood.
        Before mankind introduced civil society, old age did not exist in the world, nor other lingering diseases; as all living creatures, as soon as they became too feeble to defend themselves, were slain and eaten [cont. below]

 
p. 44 When Time's cold hands the languid senses seize,
Chill the dull nerves, the lingering currents freeze;
Organic matter, unreclaim'd by Life,*
Reverts to elements by chemic strife.
Thus Heat evolv'd from some fermenting mass*
Expands the kindling atoms into gas;                    10
Which sink ere long in cold concentric rings,
Condensed, on Gravity's descending wings.

        "But REPRODUCTION with ethereal fires
New Life rekindles, ere the first expires;
Calls up renascent Youth, ere tottering age
Quits the dull scene, and gives him to the stage;
Bids on his cheek the rose of beauty blow,
And binds the wreaths of pleasure round his brow;
With finer links the vital chain extends,
And the long line of Being never ends.*                    20

by others, except the young broods, who were defended by their mother; and hence the animal world existed uniformly in its greatest strength and perfection; see Additional Note VII.
        But Reproduction, l. 13. See Additional Note VIII.

 
p. 45

        "Self-moving Engines by unbending springs*
May walk on earth, or flap their mimic wings;
In tubes of glass mercurial columns rise,
Or sink, obedient to the incumbent skies;
Or, as they touch the figured scale, repeat
The nice gradations of circumfluent heat.
But REPRODUCTION, when the perfect Elf*
Forms from fine glands another like itself,
Gives the true character of life and sense,
And parts the organic from the chemic Ens.—                    30
Where milder skies protect the nascent brood,*
And earth's warm bosom yields salubrious food;
Each new Descendant with superior powers
Of sense and motion speeds the transient hours;
Braves every season, tenants every clime,
And Nature rises on the wings of Time.

        "As LIFE discordant elements arrests,
Rejects the noxious, and the pure digests;

        Unbending springs, l. 21. See Additional Note I. 4.

 
p. 46

Combines with Heat the fluctuating mass,*
And gives a while solidity to gas;                    40
Organic forms with chemic changes strive,
Live but to die, and die but to revive!
Immortal matter braves the transient storm,
Mounts from the wreck, unchanging but in form.—

        Combines with Heat, 1. 39. It was shown in note on line 248 of the first Canto, that much of the aerial and liquid parts of the terraqueous globe was converted by the powers of life into solid matter; and that this was effected by the combination of the fluid, heat, with other elementary bodies by the appetencies and propensities of the parts of living matter to unite with each other. But when these appetencies and propensities of the parts of organic matter to unite with each other cease, the chemical affinities of attraction and the aptitude to be attracted, and of repulsion and the aptitude to be repelled, succeed, and reduce much of the solid matters back to the condition of elements; which seems to be effected by the matter of heat being again set at liberty, which was combined with other matters by the powers of life; and thus by its diffusion the solid bodies return into liquid ones or into gasses, as occurs in the processes of fermentation, putrefaction, sublimation, and calcination. Whence solidity appears to be produced in consequence of the diminution of heat, as the condensation of steam into water, and the consolidation of water into ice, or by the combination of heat with bodies, as with the materials of gun powder before its explosion.
        Immortal matter, l. 43. The perpetual mutability of the forms of matter seems to have struck the philosophers of great antiquity; the system of transmigration taught by Pythagoras, in which the souls of men were supposed after death to animate the bodies of a variety of animals, appears to have arisen from this source. He had observed the perpetual changes of organic matter from one creature to another, and concluded, that the vivifying spirit must attend it.

 
p. 47

        "So, as the sages of the East record*
In sacred symbol, or unletter'd word;
Emblem of Life, to change eternal doom'd,
The beauteous form of fair ADONIS bloom'd.—
On Syrian hills the graceful Hunter slain
Dyed with his gushing blood the shuddering plain;                    50
And, slow-descending to the Elysian shade,
A while with PROSERPINE reluctant stray'd;
Soon from the yawning grave the bursting clay
Restor'd the Beauty to delighted day;
Array'd in youth's resuscitated charms,
And young DIONE woo'd him to her arms.—

        Emblem of Life, 1. 47. The Egyptian figure of Venus rising from the sea seems to have represented the Beauty of organic Nature; which the philosophers of that country, the magi, appear to have discovered to have been elevated by earthquakes from the primeval ocean. But the hieroglyphic figure of Adonis seems to have signified the spirit of animation or life, which was perpetually wooed or courted by organic matter, and which perished and revived alternately. Afterwards the fable of Adonis seems to have given origin to the first religion promising a resurrection from the dead; whence his funeral and return to life were celebrated for many ages in Egypt and Syria, the ceremonies of which Ezekiel complains as idolatrous, accusing the women of Israel of lamenting over Thammus; which St. Cyril interprets to be Adonis, in his Commentaries on Isaiah; Danet's Diction.

 
p. 48

Pleased for a while the assurgent youth above
Relights the golden lamp of life and love;
Ah, soon again to leave the cheerful light,
And sink alternate to the realms of night.                    60

        II. "HENCE ere Vitality, as time revolves,*
Leaves the cold organ, and the mass dissolves;
The Reproductions of the living Ens
From sires to sons, unknown to sex, commence.
New buds and bulbs the living fibre shoots
On lengthening branches, and protruding roots;
Or on the father's side from bursting glands
The adhering young its nascent form expands;
In branching lines the parent-trunk adorns,
And parts ere long like plumage, hairs, or horns.                    70

        "So the lone Truffle, lodged beneath the earth,*
Shoots from paternal roots the tuberous birth;

        So the lone Truffle, l. 71. Lycoperdon tuber. This plant never rises above the earth, is propagated without seed by its roots only, [cont. below]

 
p. 49

No stamen-males ascend, and breathe above,
No seed-born offspring lives by female love.
From each young tree, for future buds design'd
Organic drops exsude beneath the rind;
While these with appetencies nice invite,
And those with apt propensities unite;
New embryon fibrils round the trunk combine
With quick embrace, and form the living line:                    80
Whose plume and rootlet at their early birth
Seek the dry air, or pierce the humid earth.

        "So safe in waves prolific Volvox dwells,*
And five descendants crowd his lucid cells;
So the male Polypus parental swims,
And branching infants bristle all his limbs;

and seems to require no light. Perhaps many other fungi are generated without seed by their roots only, and without light, and approach on the last account to animal nature.
        
While these with appetencies, l. 77. See Additional Note VIII.
        Prolific Volvox, 1. 83. The volvox globator dwells in the lakes of Europe, is transparent, and bears within it children and grandchildren to the fifth generation; Syst. Nat.
        The male Polypus, l. 85. The Hydra viridis and fusca of Linneus
[cont. below]

 
p. 50

So the lone Tænia, as he grows, prolongs
His flatten'd form with young adherent throngs;
Unknown to sex the pregnant oyster swells,
And coral-insects build their radiate shells;                    90

dwell in our ditches and rivers under aquatic plants; these animals have been shown by ingenious observers to revive after having been dried, to be restored when mutilated, to be multiplied by dividing them, and propagated from portions of them, parts of different ones to unite, to be turned inside outwards and yet live, and to be propagated by seeds, to produce bulbs, and vegetate by branches. Syst. Nat.
       
 The lone Tænia, 1. 87. The tape-worm dwells in the intestines of animals, and grows old at one extremity, producing an infinite series of young ones at the other; the separate joints have been called Gourd-worms, each of which possesses a mouth of its own, and organs of digestion. Syst. Nat.
        
The pregnant oyster, l. 89. Ostrea edulis dwells in the European oceans, frequent at the tables of the luxurious, a living repast! Newborn oysters swim swiftly by an undulating movement of fins thrust out a little way from their shells. Syst. Nat. But they do not afterwards change their place during their whole lives, and are capable of no other movement, but that of opening the shell a little way: whence Professor Beckman observes, that their offspring is probably produced without maternal organs; and that those, who speak of male and female oysters, must be mistaken: Phil. Magaz. March 1800. It is also observed by H. I. le Beck, that on nice inspection of the Pearl oysters in the gulf of Manar, he could observe no distinction of sexes. Nicholson's Journal. April 1800.
        
And coral-insects, 1. 90. The coral habitation of the Madrepora of Linneus consists of one or more star like cells; a congeries of which form rocks beneath the sea; the animal which constructs it is termed Medusa; and as it adheres to its calcareous cavity, and thence cannot [cont. below]

 
p. 51

Parturient Sires caress their infant train,
And heaven-born STORGE weaves the social chain;*
Successive births her tender cares combine,
And soft affections live along the line.

        "On angel-wings the GODDESS FORM descends,
Round her fond broods her silver arms she bends;
White streams of milk her tumid bosom swell,
And on her lips ambrosial kisses dwell.
Light joys on twinkling feet before her dance
With playful nod, and momentary glance;                    100
Behind, attendant on the pansied plain,
Young PSYCHE treads with CUPID in her train.

        III. "IN these lone births no tender mothers blend
Their genial powers to nourish or defend;

travel to its neighbours, is probably without sex. I observed great masses of the limestone in Shropshire, which is brought to Newport, to consist of the cells of these animals.
        
And heaven-born Storge, 1. 92. See Additional Note IX.

 
p. 52

No nutrient streams from Beauty's orbs improve*
These orphan babes of solitary love;
Birth after birth the line unchanging runs,
And fathers live transmitted in their sons;
Each passing year beholds the unvarying kinds,
The same their manners, and the same their minds.                    110
Till, as erelong successive buds decay,
And insect-shoals successive pass away,
Increasing wants the pregnant parents vex
With the fond wish to form a softer sex;*
Whose milky rills with pure ambrosial food
Might charm and cherish their expected brood.

        A softer sex, l. 114. The first buds of trees raised from seed die annually, and are succeeded by new buds by solitary reproduction; which are larger or more perfect for several successive years, and then they produce sexual flowers, which are succeeded by seminal reproduction. The same occurs in bulbous rooted plants raised from seed; they die annually, and produce others rather more perfect than the parent for several years, and then produce sexual flowers. The Aphis is in a similar manner hatched from an egg in the vernal months, and produces a viviparous offspring without sexual intercourse for nine or ten successive generations; and then the progeny is both male and female, which cohabit, and from these new females are produced eggs, which endure the winter; the same process probably occurs in many other insects.

 
p. 53

The potent wish in the productive hour
Calls to its aid Imagination's power,*
O'er embryon throngs with mystic charm presides,
And sex from sex the nascent world divides,*                    120
With soft affections warms the callow trains,
And gives to laughing Love his nymphs and swains;*

        Imagination's power, 1. 118. The manner in which the similarity of the progeny to the parent, and the sex of it, are produced by the power of imagination, is treated of in Zoonomia. Sect. 39. 6. 3. It is not to be understood, that the first living fibres, which are to form an animal, are produced by imagination, with any similarity of form to the future animal; but with appetencies or propensities, which shall produce by accretion of parts the similarity of form and feature, or of sex, corresponding with the imagination of the father.
        His nymphs and swains, 1. 122. The arguments which have been adduced to show, that mankind and quadrupeds were formerly in an hermaphrodite state, are first deduced from the present existence of breasts and nipples in all the males; which latter swell on titillation like those of the females, and which are said to contain a milky fluid at their birth; and it is affirmed, that some men have given milk to their children in desert countries, where the mother has perished; as the male pigeon is said to give a kind of milk from his stomach along with the regurgitated food, to the young doves, as mentioned in Additional Note IX. on Storge.
        Secondly, from the apparent progress of many animals to greater perfection, as in some insects, as the flies with two wings, termed Diptera; which have rudiments of two other wings, called halteres, or poisers; and in many flowers which have rudiments of new stamina, or filaments without anthers on them. See Botanic Garden, Vol. II. Curcuma, Note, and the Note on 1. 204 of Canto I. of this work.
[cont. below]

 
p. 54

Whose mingling virtues interweave at length
The mother's beauty with the father's strength.

        "So tulip-bulbs emerging from the seed,*
Year after year unknown to sex proceed;
Erewhile the stamens and the styles display
Their petal-curtains, and adorn the day;
The beaux and beauties in each blossom glow
With wedded joy, or amatorial woe.                    130

        It has been supposed by some, that mankind were formerly quadrupeds as well as hermaphrodites; and that some parts of the body are not yet so convenient to an erect attitude as to a horizontal one; as the fundus of the bladder in an erect posture is not exactly over the insertion of the urethra; whence it is seldom completely evacuated, and thus renders mankind more subject to the stone, than if he had preserved his horizontality: these philosophers, with Buffon and Helvetius, seem to imagine, that mankind arose from one family of monkeys on the banks of the Mediterranean; who accidentally had learned to use the adductor pollicis, or that strong muscle which constitutes the ball of the thumb, and draws the point of it to meet the points of the fingers; which common monkeys do not; and that this muscle gradually increased in size, strength, and activity, in successive generations; and by this improved use of the sense of touch, that monkeys acquired clear ideas, and gradually became men.
        Perhaps all the productions of nature are in their progress to greater perfection! an idea countenanced by modern discoveries and deductions concerning the progressive formation of the solid parts of the terraqueous globe, and consonant to the dignity of the Creator of all things.

 
 
 
p. 55

Unmarried Aphides prolific prove
For nine successions uninform'd of love;
New sexes next with softer passions spring,
Breathe the fond vow, and woo with quivering wing.

        "So erst in Paradise creation's LORD,*
As the first leaves of holy writ record,
From Adam's rib, who press'd the flowery grove,
And dreamt delighted of untasted love,
To cheer and charm his solitary mind,
Form'd a new sex, the MOTHER OF MANKIND.                    140
—Buoy'd on light step the Beauty seem'd to swim,
And stretch'd alternate every pliant limb;
Pleased on Euphrates' velvet margin stood,
And view'd her playful image in the flood;
Own'd the fine flame of love, as life began,
And smiled enchantment on adoring Man.
Down her white neck and o'er her bosom roll'd,
Flow'd in sweet negligence her locks of gold;

        The Mother of Mankind, 1. 140. See Additional Note X.

 
p. 56

Round her fine form the dim transparence play'd,
And show'd the beauties, that it seem'd to shade.                    150
—Enamour'd ADAM gaz'd with fond surprise,
And drank delicious passion from her eyes;
Felt the new thrill of young Desire, and press'd
The graceful Virgin to his glowing breast.—
The conscious Fair betrays her soft alarms,
Sinks with warm blush into his closing arms,
Yields to his fond caress with wanton play,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous, delay.*

        IV. "WHERE no new Sex with glands nutritious feeds,*
Nurs'd in her womb, the solitary breeds;                    160
No Mother's care their early steps directs,
Warms in her bosom, with her wings protects;
The clime unkind, or noxious food instills
To embryon nerves hereditary ills;
The feeble births acquired diseases chase,
Till Death extinguish the degenerate race.

        Acquired diseases, 1. 165. See Additional Note XI.

 
p. 57

       "So grafted trees with shadowy summits rise,*
Spread their fair blossoms, and perfume the skies;
Till canker taints the vegetable blood,
Mines round the bark, and feeds upon the wood.                    170
So, years successive, from perennial roots
The wire or bulb with lessen'd vigour shoots;
Till curled leaves, or barren flowers, betray
A waning lineage, verging to decay;
Or till, amended by connubial powers,
Rise seedling progenies from sexual flowers.

       "E'en where unmix'd the breed, in sexual tribes*
Parental taints the nascent babe imbibes;
Eternal war the Gout and Mania wage
With fierce uncheck'd hereditary rage;                    180

        So grafted trees, 1. 167. Mr. Knight first observed that those apple and pear trees, which had been propagated for above a century by ingraftment were now so unhealthy, as not to be worth cultivation. I have suspected the diseases of potatoes attended with the curled leaf, and of strawberry plants attended with barren flowers, to be owing to their having been too long raised from roots, or by solitary reproduction, and not from seeds, or sexual reproduction, and to have thence acquired those hereditary diseases.

 
p. 58

Sad Beauty's form foul Scrofula surrounds
With bones distorted, and putrescent wounds;
And, fell Consumption! thy unerring dart
Wets its broad wing in Youth's reluctant heart.

       "With pausing step, at night's refulgent noon,*
Beneath the sparkling stars, and lucid moon,
Plung'd in the shade of some religious tower,
The slow bell counting the departed hour,
O'er gaping tombs where shed umbrageous Yews
On mouldering bones their cold unwholesome dews;                    190
While low aerial voices whisper round,
And moondrawn spectres dance upon the ground;
Poetic MELANCHOLY loves to tread,
And bend in silence o'er the countless Dead;
Marks with loud sobs infantine Sorrows rave,
And wring their pale hands o'er their Mother's grave;

       And, fell Consumption, 1. 183.

. . . . . . . . . . Hæret lateri lethalis arundo. VIRGIL.

 
p. 59

Hears on the new-turn'd sod with gestures wild
The kneeling Beauty call her buried child;
Upbraid with timorous accents Heaven's decrees,
And with sad sighs augment the passing breeze.                    200
'Stern Time,' She cries, 'receives from Nature's womb
Her beauteous births, and bears them to the tomb;
Calls all her sons from earth's remotest bourn,
And from the closing portals none return!'

        V. URANIA paused,—upturn'd her streaming eyes,*
And her white bosom heaved with silent sighs;
With her the MUSE laments the sum of things,
And hides her sorrows with her meeting wings;*
Long o'er the wrecks of lovely Life they weep,
Then pleased reflect, "to die is but to sleep;"                    210
From Nature's coffins to her cradles turn,
Smile with young joy, with new affection burn.

        And now the Muse, with mortal woes impress'd,
Thus the fair Hierophant again address'd.

 
p. 60

—"Ah me! celestial Guide, thy words impart
Ills undeserved, that rend the nascent heart!*
O, Goddess, say, if brighter scenes improve
Air-breathing tribes, and births of sexual love?"—
The smiling Fair obeys the inquiring Muse,
And in sweet tones her grateful task pursues.                    220

        "Now on broad pinions from the realms above
Descending CUPID seeks the Cyprian grove;
To his wide arms enamour'd PSYCHE springs,*
And clasps her lover with aurelian wings.
A purple sash across HIS shoulder bends,
And fringed with gold the quiver'd shafts suspends;
The bending bow obeys the silken string,
And, as he steps, the silver arrows ring.

        Enamour'd Psyche, l. 223. A butterfly was the ancient emblem of the soul after death as rising from the tomb of its former state, and becoming a winged inhabitant of air from an insect creeping upon earth. At length the wings only were given to a beautiful nymph under the name of Psyche, which is the greek word for the soul, and also became afterwards to signify a butterfly probably from the po­pularity of this allegory. Many allegorical designs of Cupid or Love warming a butterfly or the Soul with his torch may be seen in Spence's Polymetis, and a beautiful one of their marriage in Bryant's Mythology; from which this description is in part taken.

 
p. 61

Thin folds of gauze with dim transparence flow
O'er HER fair forehead, and her neck of snow;                    230
The winding woof her graceful limbs surrounds,
Swells in the breeze, and sweeps the velvet grounds;
As hand in hand along the flowery meads
His blushing bride the quiver'd hero leads;
Charm'd round their heads pursuing Zephyrs throng,
And scatter roses, as they move along;
Bright beams of Spring in soft effusion play,
And halcyon Hours invite them on their way.

        "Delighted HYMENhears their whisper'd vows,*
And binds his chaplets round their polish'd brows,                    240
Guides to his altar, ties the flowery bands,
And as they kneel, unites their willing hands.
'Behold, he cries, Earth! Ocean! Air above,
'And hail the DEITIES OF SEXUAL LOVE!
'All forms of Life shall this fond Pair delight,*
'And sex to sex the willing world unite;

 
p. 62

'Shed their sweet smiles in Earth's unsocial bowers,
'Fan with soft gales, and gild with brighter hours;
'Fill Pleasure's chalice unalloy'd with pain,
'And give SOCIETY his golden chain.'*                    250

        "Now young DESIRES, on purple pinions borne,*
Mount the warm gales of Manhood's rising morn;
With softer fires through virgin bosoms dart,
Flush the pale cheek, and goad the tender heart.
Ere the weak powers of transient Life decay,
And Heaven's ethereal image melts away;
LOVE with nice touch renews the organic frame,
Forms a young Ens, another and the same;
Gives from his rosy lips the vital breath,
And parries with his hand the shafts of death;                    260
While BEAUTY broods with angel wings unfurl'd
O'er nascent life, and saves the sinking world.

        While Beauty broods, 1. 261. *

Alma Venus! per to quoniam genus omne animantum
Concipitur, visitque exortum lumina cœli. LUCRET.

 
p. 63

        "HENCE on green leaves the sexual Pleasures dwell,*
And Loves and Beauties crowd the blossom's bell;
The wakeful Anther in his silken bed*
O'er the pleased Stigma bows his waxen head;
With meeting lips and mingling smiles they sup
Ambrosial dewdrops from the nectar'd cup;*
Or buoy'd in air the plumy Lover springs,
And seeks his panting bride on Hymen-wings.                    270

         From the nectar'd cup, 1. 268. The anthers and stigmas of flowers are probably nourished by the honey, which is secreted by the honey gland called by Linneus the nectary; and possess greater sensibility or animation than other parts of the plant. The corol of the flower appears to be a respiratory organ belonging to these anthers and stigmas for the purpose of further oxygenating the vegetable blood for the production of the anther dust and of this honey, which is also exposed to the air in its receptacle or honey-cup; which, I suppose, to be necessary for its further oxygenation, as in many flowers so complicate an apparatus is formed for its protection from insects, as in aconitum, delphinium, larkspur, lonicera, woodbine; and, because the corol and nectary fall along with the anthers and stigmas, when the pericarp is impregnated.
        Dr. B. S. Barton in the American Transactions has lately shown, that the honey collected from some plants is intoxicating and poisonous to men, as from rhododendron, azalea, and datura; and from some other plants that it is hurtful to the bees which collect it; and that from some flowers it is so injurious or disagreeable, that they do not collect it, as from the fritillaria or crown imperial of this country.

 
p. 64

        "The Stamen males, with appetencies just,*
Produce a formative prolific dust;
With apt propensities, the Styles recluse
Secrete a formative prolific juice;
These in the pericarp erewhile arrive,
Rush to each other, and embrace alive.
—Form'd by new powers progressive parts succeed,
Join in one whole, and swell into a seed.

        "So in fond swarms the living Anthers shine
Of bright Vallisner on the wavy Rhine;*                    280

        With appetencies just, 1. 27l. As in the productions by chemical affinity one set of particles must possess the power of attraction, and the other the aptitude to be attracted, as when iron approaches a magnet; so when animal particles unite, whether in digestion or reproduction, some of them must possess an appetite to unite, and others a propensity to be united. The former of these are secreted by the anthers from the vegetable blood, and the latter by the styles or pericarp; see the Additional Note VIII. on Reproduction.
        Of bright Vallisner, 1. 280. Vallisneria, of the class of dioecia. The flowers of the male plant are produced under water, and as soon as their farina or dust is mature, they detach themselves from the plant, rise to the surface and continue to flourish, and are wafted by the air or borne by the current to the female flowers. In this they resemble those tribes of insects, where the males at certain seasons [cont. below]

 
p. 65

Break from their stems, and on the liquid glass
Surround the admiring stigmas as they pass;
The love-sick Beauties lift their essenced brows,
Sigh to the Cyprian queen their secret vows,
Like watchful Hero feel their soft alarms,
And clasp their floating lovers in their arms.

        "Hence the male Ants their gauzy wings unfold,*
And young Lampyris waves his plumes of gold;
The Glow-Worm sparkles with impassion'd light
On each green bank, and charms the eye of night;                    290
While new desires the painted Snail perplex,
And twofold love unites the double sex.

acquire wings, but not the females, as ants, coccus, lampyris, phalæna, brumata, lichanella; Botanic Garden, Vol. II. Note on Vallisneria.
        
And young Lampyris, 1. 288. The fire-fly is at some seasons so luminous, that M. Merian says, that by putting two of them under a glass, she was able to draw her figures of them by night. Whether the light of this and of other insects be caused by their amatorial passion, and thus assists them to find each other; or is caused by respiration, which is so analogous to combustion; or to a tendency to putridity, as in dead fish and rotten wood, is still to be investigated; see Botanic Garden, Vol. I. Additional Note IX.

 
p. 66

        "Hence, when the Morus in Italia's lands*
To spring's warm beam its timid leaf expands;
The Silk-Worm broods in countless tribes above
Crop the green treasure, uninform'd of love;
Erewhile the changeful worm with circling head
Weaves the nice curtains of his silken bed;
Web within web involves his larva form,
Alike secured from sunshine and from storm;                    300
For twelve long days He dreams of blossom'd groves,
Untasted honey, and ideal loves;

        Untasted honey, 1. 302. The numerous moths and butterflies seem to pass from a reptile leaf-eating state, and to acquire wings to flit in air, with a proboscis to gain honey for their food along with their organs of reproduction, solely for the purpose of propagating their species by sexual intercourse, as they die when that is completed. By the use of their wings they have access to each other on different branches or on different vegetables, and by living upon honey probably acquire a higher degree of animation, and thus seem to resemble the anthers of flowers, which probably are supported by honey only, and thence acquire greater sensibility; see Note on Vallisneria, 1. 280 of this Canto.
        A naturalist, who had studied this subject, thought it not impossible that the first insects were the anthers and stigmas of flowers, which had by some means loosened themselves from their parent plant, like the male flowers of vallisneria, and that other insects in process of time had been formed from these, some acquiring wings, [cont. below]

 
p. 67

Wakes from his trance, alarm'd with young Desire,
Finds his new sex, and feels ecstatic fire;
From flower to flower with honey'd lip he springs,
And seeks his velvet loves on silver wings.*

        VI. "The Demon, Jealousy, with Gorgon frown
Blasts the sweet flowers of Pleasure not his own,
Rolls his wild eyes, and through the shuddering grove
Pursues the steps of unsuspecting Love;                    310
Or drives o'er rattling plains his iron car,
Flings his red torch, and lights the flames of war.

        Here Cocks heroic burn with rival rage,*
And Quails with Quails in doubtful fight engage;
Of armed heels and bristling plumage proud,
They sound the insulting clarion shrill and loud,

others fins, and others claws, from their ceaseless efforts to procure food or to secure themselves from injury. He contends, that none of these changes are more incomprehensible than the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies; see Botanic Garden, Vol. I. Additional Note XXXIX.

 
p. 68

With rustling pinions meet, and swelling chests,
And seize with closing beaks their bleeding crests;
Rise on quick wing above the struggling foe,
And aim in air the death-devoting blow.                    320
There the hoarse stag his croaking rival scorns,*
And butts and parries with his branching horns;
Contending Boars with tusk enamell'd strike,
And guard with shoulder-shield the blow oblique;

        There the hoarse stag, 1. 321. A great want of one part of the animal world has consisted in the desire of the exclusive possession of the females; and these have acquired weapons to combat each other for this purpose, as the very thick shield-like horny skin on the shoulder of the boar is a defence only against animals of his own species, who strike obliquely upwards, nor are his tushes for other purposes, except to defend himself, as he is not naturally a carnivorous animal. So the horns of the stag are sharp to offend his adversary, but are branched for the purpose of parrying or receiving the thrusts of horns similar to his own, and have therefore been formed for the purpose of combating other stags for the exclusive possession of the females, who are observed, like the ladies in the times of chivalry, to attend the car of the victor.
        The birds, which do not carry food to their young, and do not therefore marry, are armed with spurs for the purpose of fighting for the exclusive possession of the females, as cocks and quails. It is certain that these weapons are not provided for their defence against other adversaries, because the females of these species are without this armour; Zoonomia, Sect. XXXIX. 4, 8.

 
p. 69

While female bands attend in mute surprise,
And view the victor with admiring eyes.—

        "So Knight on Knight, recorded in romance,*
Urged the proud steed, and couch'd the extended lance;
He, whose dread prowess with resistless force,
O'erthrew the opposing warrior and his horse,                    330
Bless'd, as the golden guerdon of his toils,
Bow'd to the Beauty, and receiv'd her smiles.

        "So when fair HELEN with ill-fated charms,
By PARIS wooed, provoked the world to arms,
Left her vindictive Lord to sigh in vain
For broken vows, lost love, and cold disdain;
Fired at his wrongs, associate to destroy
The realms unjust of proud adulterous Troy,
Unnumber'd Heroes braved the dubious fight,
And sunk lamented to the shades of night.                    340

 
p. 70

        "Now vows connubial chain the plighted pair,*
And join paternal with maternal care;
The married birds with nice selection cull
Soft thistle-down, gray moss, and scattered wool,
Line the secluded nest with feathery rings,
Meet with fond bills, and woo with fluttering wings.
Week after week, regardless of her food,
The incumbent Linnet warms her future brood;
Each spotted egg with ivory lips she turns,
Day after day with fond expectance burns,                    350
Hears the young prisoner chirping in his cell,
And breaks in hemispheres the obdurate shell.

        The incumbent Linnet, 1. 348. The affection of the unexperienced and untaught bird to its egg, which induces it to sit days and weeks upon it to warm the enclosed embryon, is a matter of great difficulty to explain; See Additional Note IX. on Storge. Concerning the fabrication of their nests, see Zoonomia, Sect. XVI. 13. on instinct.
        Hears the young prisoner, 1. 351. The air-vessel at the broad end of an incubated egg gradually extends its edges along the sides of the shell, as the chick enlarges, but is at the same time applied closer to the internal surface of the shell; when the time of hatching approaches the chick is liable to break this air-bag with its beak, and thence begin to breathe and to chirp; at this time the edges of the enlarged air-bag extend so as to cover internally one hemisphere of the egg; [cont. below]

 
p. 71

Loud trills sweet Philomel his tender strain,
Charms his fond bride, and wakes his infant train;
Perch'd on the circling moss, the listening throng
Wave their young wings, and whisper to the song.

        "The Lion-King forgets his savage pride,*
And courts with playful paws his tawny bride;
The listening Tiger hears with kindling flame
The love-lorn night-call of his brinded dame.                    360
Despotic LOVE dissolves the bestial war,
Bends their proud necks, and joins them to his car;

and as one half of the external shell is thus moist, and the other half dry, as soon as the mother hearing the chick chirp, or the chick itself wanting respirable air, strikes the egg, about its equatorial line, it breaks into two hemispheres, and liberates the prisoner.
        And whisper to the song, 1. 356. A curious circumstance is mentioned by Kircherus de Musurgia, in his Chapter de Lusciniis. "That the young nightingales, that are hatched under other birds, never sing till they are instructed by the company of other nightingales." And Johnston affirms, that the nightingales that visit Scotland, have not the same harmony as those of Italy, (Pennant's Zoology, octavo, p. 255), which would lead us to suspect, that the singing of birds, like human music, is an artificial language rather than a natural expression of passion.

 
p. 72

Shakes o'er the obedient pairs his silken thong,
And goads the humble, or restrains the strong.—
Slow roll the silver wheels,—in beauty's pride
Celestial PSYCHE blushing by his side.—
The lordly Bull behind and warrior Horse
With voice of thunder shake the echoing course,
Chain'd to the car with herds domestic move,
And swell the triumph of despotic LOVE.                    370

        "Pleased as they pass along the breezy shore*
In twinkling shoals the scaly realms adore,
Move on quick fin with undulating train,
Or lift their slimy foreheads from the main.

        With undulating train, 1. 373. The side fins of fish seem to be chiefly used to poise them; as they turn upon their backs immediately when killed, the air-bladder assists them perhaps to rise or descend by its possessing the power to condense the air in it by muscular contraction; and it is possible, that at great depths in the ocean the air in this receptacle may by the great pressure of the incumbent water become condensed into so small a space, as to cease to be useful to the animal, which was possibly the cause of the death of Mr. Day in his diving ship. See note on Ulva, Botan. Gard. V. II.
        The progressive motion of fish beneath the water is produced principally by the undulation of their tails. One oblique plain of a [cont. below]

 
p. 73

High o'er their heads on pinions broad display'd
The feather'd nations shed a floating shade;

part of the tail on the right side of the fish strikes the water at the same time that another oblique plain strikes it on the left side, hence in respect to moving to the right or left these percussions of the water counteract each other, but they coincide in respect to the progression of the fish; this power seems to be better applied to push forwards a body in water, than the oars of boats, as the particles of water recede from the stroke of the oar, whence the comparative power acquired is but as the difference of velocity between the striking oar and the receding water. So a ship moves swifter with an oblique wind, than with a wind of the same velocity exactly behind it; and the common windmill sail placed obliquely to the wind is more powerful than one which directly recedes from it. Might not some machinery resembling the tails of fish be placed behind a boat, so as to be moved with greater effect than common oars, by the force of wind or steam, or perhaps by hand?
        On pinions broad display'd, 1. 375. The progressive motion of birds in the air is principally performed by the movement of their wings, and not by that of their tails as in fish. The bird is supported in an element so much lighter than itself by the resistance of the air as it moves horizontally against the oblique plain made by its breast, expanded tail and wings, when they are at rest; the change of this obliquity also assists it to rise, and even directs its descent, though this is owing principally to its specific gravity, but it is in all situations kept upright or balanced by its wings.
        As the support of the bird in the air, as well as its progression, is performed by the motion of the wings; these require strong muscles as are seen on the breasts of partridges. Whence all attempts of men to fly by wings applied to the weak muscles of their arms have been ineffectual; but it is not certain whether light machinery so contrived as to be moved by their feet, might not enable them to fly a little way, though not so as to answer any useful purpose.

 
p. 74

Pair after pair enamour'd shoot along,
And trill in air the gay impassion'd song.
With busy hum in playful swarms around
Emerging insects leave the peopled ground,*                    380
Rise in dark clouds, and borne in airy rings
Sport round the car, and wave their golden wings.
Admiring Fawns pursue on dancing hoof,
And bashful Dryads peep from shades aloof;
Emerging Nereids rise from coral cells,
Enamour'd Tritons sound their twisted shells;
From sparkling founts enchanted Naiads move,
And swell the triumph of despotic LOVE.

        "Delighted Flora, gazing from afar,*
Greets with mute homage the triumphal car;                    390
On silvery slippers steps with bosom bare,
Bends her white knee, and bows her auburn hair;
Calls to her purple heaths, and blushing bowers,
Bursts her green gems, and opens all her flowers;

 
p. 75

O'er the bright Pair a shower of roses sheds,
And crowns with wreathes of hyacinth their heads.—
—Slow roll the silver wheels with snowdrops deck'd,
And primrose bands the cedar spokes connect;
Round the fine pole the twisting woodbine clings,
And knots of jasmine clasp the bending springs;                    400
Bright daisy links the velvet harness chain,
And rings of violets join each silken rein;
Festoon'd behind, the snow-white lilies bend,
And tulip-tassels on each side depend.
—Slow rolls the car,—the enamour'd Flowers exhale
Their treasured sweets, and whisper to the gale;
Their ravelled buds, and wrinkled cups unfold,
Nod their green stems, and wave their bells of gold;
Breathe their soft sighs from each enchanted grove,
And hail THE DEITIES OF SEXUAL LOVE.                    410

        "ONWARD with march sublime in saffron robe*
Young HYMEN steps, and traverses the globe;

 
p. 76

O'er burning sands, and snow-clad mountains, treads,
Blue fields of air, and ocean's briny beds;
Flings from his radiant torch celestial light
O'er Day's wide concave, and illumes the Night.
With dulcet eloquence his tuneful tongue
Convokes and captivates the Fair and Young;
His golden lamp with ray ethereal dyes
The blushing cheek, and lights the laughing eyes;                    420
With secret flames the virgin's bosom warms,
And lights the impatient bridegroom to her arms;
With lovely life all Nature's frame inspires,
And, as they sink, rekindles all her fires."

        VII. Now paused the beauteous Teacher, and awhile*
Gazed on her train with sympathetic smile.
'Beware of Love! she cried, ye Nymphs, and hear
'His twanging bowstring with alarmed ear;
'Fly the first whisper of the distant dart,
'Or shield with adamant the fluttering heart;                    430

 
p. 77

'To secret shades, ye Virgin trains, retire,
'And in your bosoms guard the vestal fire."
—The obedient Beauties hear her words, advised,
And bow with laugh repress'd, and smile chastised.

        Now at her nod the Nymphs attendant bring*
Translucent water from the bubbling spring;

        With laugh repress'd, 1. 434. The cause of the violent actions of laughter, and of the difficulty of restraining them, is a curious subject of inquiry. When pain afflicts us, which we cannot avoid, we learn to relieve it by great voluntary exertions, as in grinning, holding the breath, or screaming; now the pleasurable sensation, which excites laughter, arises for a time so high as to change its name, and become a painful one; and we excite the convulsive motions of the respiratory muscles to relieve this pain. We are however unwilling to lose the pleasure, and presently put a stop to this exertion; and immediately the pleasure recurs, and again as instantly rises into pain. Which is further explained in Zoonomia, Sect. 34. 1. 4. When this pleasurable sensation rises into a painful one, and the customs of society will not permit us to laugh aloud, some other violent voluntary exertion is used instead of it to alleviate the pain.
        And smile chastised, 1. 434. The origin of the smile has generally been ascribed to inexplicable instinct, but may be deduced from our early associations of actions and ideas. In the act of sucking, the lips of the infant are closed round the nipple of its mother, till it has filled its stomach, and the pleasure of digesting this grateful food succeeds; then the sphincter of the mouth, fatigued by the continued action of sucking, is relaxed; and the antagonist muscles of the face gently acting, produce the smile of pleasure, which is thus during our lives associated with gentle pleasure, which is further explained in Zoonomia, Sect. 16. 8. 4.

 
p. 78

In crystal cups the waves salubrious shine,
Unstain'd untainted with immodest wine.
Next, where emerging from its ancient roots
Its widening boughs the Tree of Knowledge shoots;                    440
Pluck'd with nice choice before the Muse they placed
The now no longer interdicted taste.
Awhile they sit, from higher cares released,
And pleased partake the intellectual feast.
Of good and ill they spoke, effect and cause,
Celestial agencies, and Nature's laws.

        So when angelic Forms to Syria sent*
Sat in the cedar shade by ABRAHAM'S tent;
A spacious bowl the admiring Patriarch fills
With dulcet water from the scanty rills;                    450
Sweet fruits and kernels gathers from his hoard,
With milk and butter piles the plenteous board;
While on the heated hearth his Consort bakes
Fine flour well kneaded in unleaven'd cakes.

 
p. 79

The Guests ethereal quaff the lucid flood,
Smile on their hosts, and taste terrestrial food;
And while from seraph-lips sweet converse springs,
Lave their fair feet, and close their silver wings.

END OF CANTO II.

Notes

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 1. Without further preamble, Urania begins the canto by bemoaning the brevity of life, as adumbrated at the end of Canto I. This sets up her ensuing celebration of reproduction as a response to the previous canto's presentation of life as purely mortal, moving from dust to dust. Retrospectively, Canto I becomes the presentation of death which marked the first of the Eleusinian Mysteries's four "scenes," while the present canto corresponds to its second scene, the marriage of Cupid and Psyche by which the fear of death is overcome (see I, 137n). The note corrects a common impression that Hippocrates's "ars longa, vita brevis" celebrates the eternity of art: the context makes clear that "ars" indicates the unattainable goal of complete scientific understanding, rather than completed artistic achievement. The reference is particularly poignant given Darwin's imminent death, in anticipation of which the present poem reads as a determined attempt to put his own scientific house in order.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 3. See Phytologia (p. 557) for the source of 3n's argument that old age is a disease of "civil society," before which the struggle to survive weeded out the old and infirm. On the other hand, Additional Note VII (to which 3n refers us) draws heavily on Zoonomia's psychosomatic physiology to suggest that nowadays ageing can be postponed by a proper balance of stimuli, concluding that constant injections of novelty and surprise to the system may shake it out of its desensitizing habits and defer "the debilities of age, and consequent death" indefinitely (p. 32). The idea that death may be avoided by keeping in the right state of mind was shared by the radical atheists Thomas Holcroft, William Godwin and the latter's disciple Percy Shelley (see William Hazlitt, Memoirs of Thomas Holcroft, pp. 364-5; Desmond King-Hele, Shelley: His Thought and Work, pp. 30, 36).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 7. The idea that life constantly has to "reclaim" matter from a "chemic strife" leading to ultimate entropy reverses the earlier image of life "stay[ing] . . . chemic change" (I, 420).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 9. This image of the effects of heat overcome by those of gravity likewise reverses an earlier picture of them working in harmony to create life (I, 235-42). While 9-12 technically constitute a simile for death, they gain force from a subliminal sense that the "chemic strife" of 8 might lead to the "fermenting mass" of 9: if so, that hope is defeated in its turn.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 20. The introduction of the canto's main theme, "Reproduction" (13), brings us to the progressive, horizontal image of the constantly improving "vital chain" of "the long line of Being"—replacing the more traditional hierarchical image of a fixed and vertical "great chain of being."

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 21. In contrast to ideas associated with the French philosophe Julien Offray de la Mettrie (L'Homme machine, 1747), human and other animals are not machines; but stating this gives Darwin a chance to touch on some Lunar Society inventions: Richard Lovell Edgeworth invented a "robot caterpillar" and a "walking table" capable of carrying forty people; Darwin himself constructed a spring-powered artificial bird; and Matthew Boulton made important advances in thermometer design (see Desmond King-Hele, Erasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled Achievement, pp. 228, 81, 137-8, 49).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 27. "Elf" here simply means "being." In l. 30, “parts” means "separates" and "Ens" means "entity" or, again, "being."

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 31. In good conditions, each descendant will grow healthier than its parents: it is not completely clear whether this just implies generational improvement in the same species, or hints at the evolution of well-adapted animals into new ones.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 39. Though the note directs us to I, 248, the relevant discussion of organisms' conversion of gas into solids through fusion with heat is in I, 268n: another reminder that 20 lines were inserted late into Canto I.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 45. Together with its note and 43n, the canto's first extended classical simile relates many ancient birth and resurrection myths to the conservation of organic matter after the individual's death. 43n argues that Pythagoras's belief in reincarnation or transmigration of souls was based on the idea that, since organic matter was recycled between organisms, life itself must be also. Similar truths (known as usual to the pre-literate Egyptian magi) about life regularly emerging and disappearing from organic matter underlie the myth of Adonis, slain by a boar and condemned to divide the year between the underworld goddess Proserpine (herself the subject of a similar myth) and his lover Venus (or Dione) who has secured him a partial reprieve. Having established (I, 372n) that Dione's own sea-birth represented the conversion of the seabed's organic deposits into land by volcanic eruptions, Darwin now argues that her affair with Adonis represents the endless migration of life in and out of organic matter. In a sidelong glance at Christianity, Darwin calls the myth the source of (only) "the first religion promising a resurrection from the dead" and reminds us that the Old Testament prophets saw such cults as idolatrous. The simile's closing alternation of "light" and "night" (59-60) echoes the last couplet of the earlier account of Orpheus's partial resurrection of Eurydice (I, 203-4), perhaps another variant on the same theme. For Danet's Dictionary of Antiquities, see I, 83n.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 61. The second section of the canto begins by focussing on primitive, asexual reproduction. The postulation of the parents "unknown to sex" as male "sires" betrays a certain gender-bias, but does prepare for Darwin's later handling of the Adam story. We begin with plants, which can propagate from bulbs, roots and shoots without recourse to the sexually produced seeds.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 71. The "lone truffle" only accounts for lines 71-4; 75-82 describe the asexual formation of tree-buds. Additional Note VIII, to which 77n refers us, moves from asexual to sexual reproduction, drawing heavily on Phytologia, Section VII (pp. 89-131), and concluding with a carefully worded restatement of Darwin's first full-blown statement of evolutionary theory in Zoonomia, vol. II, pp. 233-48—see my note to I, 134n. Here the formula "would it be too bold to imagine that [. . .]?" is changed to the more insinuating "But it may appear too bold in the present state of our knowledge on this subject, to suppose that [ . . .]?," where the final question mark subverts the initial apparent disclaimer of certainty.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 83. These microbes, tapeworms, oysters and coral-builders also reproduce asexually. Darwin's notes refer to Carl Linnaeus's Systema Naturae (1735); these examples also feature in Phytologia, VII (pp. 89-131).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 92. "Storge" is the Greek for the affection of parents to children: in Additional Note IX, Darwin attempts to explain it in terms of physical rewards to the parent, imitation of parental behaviour and transmitted memories from earlier evolutionary states. Though Darwin is here applying it to supposedly male non-sexual parenting, his personification of Storge (95-102) is perhaps unavoidably female. The Psyche and Cupid who follow in her train (102) will make a fuller reappearance at II, 221, and represent the way sexual love is a later development than parental.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 105. "Beauty's orbs": Canto III (207-22) explains that the mother's breasts are in fact the source of our ideas of beauty.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 114. As the note explains, many species switch from asexual to sexual reproduction after several generations, and then back again. The poem blurs the "increasing wants" leading to this occasional switch within particular species with a more general impulse among asexual species to become sexual.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 118. The "potent wish" of single-sex parents, envisaged as male, produces a second sex. Though there is some poetic licence here, in this belief in willed species-change Darwin's evolutionism resembles that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), whom he probably influenced, rather than that of Charles Darwin. 118n refers to one of Zoonomia's more curious arguments—related to the idea of voluntary evolution—that the sex and appearance of the child is determined by what the father was imagining at the moment of conception. Though the 1801 3rd ed. retracts this argument in favour of the more modern view—worked out in Phytologia (pp. 130-1)—that elements from both parents contribute equally (vol. II, pp. 277-80), the earlier argument is also retained there in full (vol. II, pp. 263-77). The present note suggests either that Darwin had still not made up his mind upon final revision in 1802, or that most of Temple of Nature was written before 1801, and not completely revised.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 120. "Nascent world" reminds us that we are still considering the very earliest separation of the sexes.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 122. The "nymphs and swains" are personifications of non-human sexual differentiation as in Loves of the Plants. However, 122n considers the possibility that humans too "were formerly in an hermaphrodite state," before moving to somewhat stronger evidence that we evolved from quadrupeds thanks to the development of opposable thumbs. This note is (I think) the only time Darwin speculates that we may have evolved from Mediterranean (i.e. African) apes—a theory held not just by the controversial French philosophes Buffon and Helvetius but by the ur-anthropologist Lord Monboddo (see my note to I, 36) and the poet Richard Payne Knight in The Progress of Civil Society, whose resemblances to Darwin's draft The Progress of Society are discussed elsewhere in this edition. By and large Darwin is uninterested in such speculations, which often emerged from an implicitly racist concern to place Africans at the bottom of the human scale, rather than from verified scientific research.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 125-134. This section versifies the points made in 114n about species which switch between asexual and sexual reproduction. But the opening "So" leaves it ambiguous whether the tulips and greenfly (the "Aphides" of 131) are examples of "ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny" or simply similes for the once-for-all development just described.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 135. We return to Adam, last seen cheerfully bartering "life for love" in I, 33-46. The "So" makes the creation of Eve in response to Adam's desirous dream merely a simile for the evolution of sexual reproduction, but—as usual—Additional Note X (indicated by 140n) suggests that the myth actually encodes ancient hieroglyphic wisdom about precisely this development, as allegorized by the Egypt-educated Moses. As usual, the Fuseli engraving embodies a moment of somewhat strange erotic fantasy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 158. The account of Adam and Eve's lovemaking concludes with a verbatim echo of Paradise Lost (IV, 311), as if to remind us that the frank description of prelapsarian sex has full Miltonic sanction. Perhaps Eve's "amorous delay" gets extra force from the idea that the female principle was itself an evolutionary latecomer, only appearing when the lone male had become desperate, as it were.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 159. We turn to the disadvantages of non-sexual reproduction: the ill-effects of disease and other environmental factors accumulate through the generations.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 167. Grafted trees, raised from roots or shoots rather than seed, are particularly prone to such decline unless allowed to propagate sexually from flower to seed. 167n refers to Richard Payne Knight's brother Thomas Andrew, to whose research on the diseases of grafted apple and pear trees Darwin also refers in Phytologia (pp. 95-7).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 177. The argument widens somewhat to include the effects of inbreeding even in "sexual tribes," especially man: gout, insanity, scrofula and tuberculosis are all seen as more likely to be inherited when "unmix'd the breed."

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 185. The reminder that even the advent of sexual reproduction has not removed suffering or death plunges Urania into the mode of "graveyard poetry" in the tradition of Milton's Il Penseroso, Young's Night Thoughts and Gray's Elegy. The speaker of 201-4 is Poetic Melancholy, though not strongly distinguished from the grieving mother she has just observed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 205. The first break in Urania's speech occurs as she completes a circle, reverting to the gloomy theme of the canto's opening words, "How short the span of life!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 208. The only mention of the Muse's wings, which do not appear in Fuseli's Frontispiece. The next four lines are more a summary of those which follow than a prelude to them. The idea that death is only sleep echoes much Christian thought as well as Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech, the difference being that for Darwin the "sleep" comes between different formations of our organic matter in this world rather than between it and the next.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 216. The word "nascent" often carries a certain ambiguity in this canto (see "nascent world," 120). Here the Muse could be referring back to the way hereditary Consumption and other ills attack the innocent "Youth's reluctant heart" (II, 184), but "nascent heart" could also refer to the dashing of the Muse's and reader's renewed hopes on learning of the promise held out by reproduction; lastly, it could remind us that up to now we have chiefly been considering very primitive species (with references to more developed ones such as man as similetic illustrations only), "nascent" in the sense of being part of the dawn of organic life. The next couplet seems to confirm this by suggesting that we have not yet considered air-breathing species or healthy examples of sexual reproduction.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 223. To establish the topic of successful sexual love, Urania reverts to the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, whom we last glimpsed on line 102. This marriage constitutes the second "scenical representation" of the Eleusinian Mysteries as described in I, 137n: its full-dress presentation here is the clearest indication so far that the poem's four cantos will correspond with the Mysteries' four stages. 223n summarises part of Economy of Vegetation, Additional Note XXII: Psyche's "aurelian" wings (denoting the gold of a chrysalis) identify her with the butterfly, whose "rising from the tomb" of its cocoon made it an ancient symbol for the soul's rebirth after death. Though "Psyche" specifically means "soul," this should perhaps be read alongside 43n's suggestion that Pythagoras's belief in reincarnation of souls was based on the recurrence of the same organic matter in different organisms. Thus her "marriage" to Cupid symbolizes the way life propagates itself through sex rather than more conventional ideas about the soul as a separate immortal essence. It is also, more directly, a depiction of sexual love itself: Cupid's much-emphasized quiver of arrows—usually denoting his power to make mortals fall in love—seems here to be a delicate way of talking about sperm; and Psyche's "blushing" tallies with later accounts of female sexual arousal (see e.g. 253-4).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 239. Hymen, the god of marriage, sets his seal on the union and expands its significance further.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 245. i.e., "This fond pair will delight all forms of life, and unite the willing world, sex to sex." The second line nicely echoes and carries forward the poem's opening address to Immortal Love, who links "sex to sex" (I, 26) and connects "the whirling world!" (I, 20): "willing" shows how Love holds the otherwise scarily whirling world together.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 250. One of the first reminders of Darwin's intended title, "The Origin of Society." Love and the family form the basic "chain," or tie of obligation, which holds society together: it is "golden" because pleasurable (and also perhaps because it is the basis of property-transmission).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 251. In the following description of sexual love, "desires" are pluralized to suggest specific physical changes, their purple wings suggesting the arterial blood which at puberty causes male erections and female blushing and heart-throbbing.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 256. "Heaven's ethereal image" refers to the Biblical idea that man is in God's image, but also to the way in which the parent's image—and, in a sense, identity—is passed on to the child.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 260. Cupid has become generalized as Love, but his ability to parry "the shafts of death" reminds us of the function of his own arrows.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 261n. The note refers to Lucretius's opening address, in De Rerum Natura, to "life-giving Venus": "Through you all living creatures are conceived and come forth to look upon the sunlight" (I, 2, 4-5). This acknowledges one of the main sources for the whole poem, but also draws attention to Darwin's decision to identify Venus with female "Beauty" throughout the poem (see, e.g., I, 372n), transferring her more usual identification with sexual love to the male Cupid. Though sex could not take place without attraction, here "Beauty" mainly denotes the female maternal principle, her winged "brooding" reminding us of the sexually ambiguous "immortal love" at the start of Canto I and thence, perhaps, of the creative Holy Spirit at the start of Paradise Lost. The "sinking world" she saves reminds of how, as Venus/Dione, she represented the first emergence of land from water.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 263. From various human representations of love we return to where we left the scientific account of reproduction—with the drawbacks of asexual plant propagation. Now a number of plant sexual mechanisms are described, very much in the manner of Loves of the Plants. Again, "Loves" are male and "Beauties" female.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 265. Anther = pollen-holding part of stamen, male organ of plant; stigma = pollen-receiving part of the female organ, which also includes styles and pericarp (see 271n).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 268. In suggesting that flowers produce nectar for their own nutrition, and that some of it is poisonous to bees, 268n reveals the prevailing unawareness that its function is precisely to lure bees and other insects to facilitate pollination. In Economy of Vegetation Additional Note XXXIX, Darwin argues that flowers need to protect their nectar from the insects which prey on them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 271. As 271n explains, the desires of the male and female parts are "just" in the sense of perfectly suited, each producing complementary "prolific" substances—pollen and nectar—which combine in the pericarp, or what will become the wall of the fruit.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 280. The stigmas of the floating plant vallisneria (or frogbit) resemble Hero (285) because their male counterparts detach themselves from their stems and "swim" to pollinate with distant females, as her lover Leander regularly swam to her across the Hellespont. For other accounts of this plant, see Loves of the Plants, I, 393-406, and Phytologia, p. 108, from which 280n is copied. The Cyprian queen (284) is Venus.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 287. The "Hence" reminds us that we are still looking at examples of sexual reproduction. We now move on to insects and other small animals. The male ant only grows wings at mating time, and Darwin speculates in 288n as to whether the lights of fireflies and glow-worms have a sexual function in locating mates. For hermaphrodite snails, containing "both male and female organs," see Phytologia, pp. 100-101.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 293. "Morus" = mulberry. Following Phytologia (pp. 110-11), the silkworm is used here as an example of moths in general, whose dramatic change from leaf-eating grubs "uninform'd of love" to winged, honey-sipping sexually desirous adults prompts the speculation in 302n that they may have evolved from anthers, broken loose from their parent plants like those of vallisneria (see 285 above), since the change from plant to animal is no stranger than that from caterpillar to butterfly. In Economy of Vegetation Additional Note XXXIX, the naturalist to whom Darwin attributes this idea is only identified as an acquaintance.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 307. Section 4 begins with an abrupt switch from the benefits of sexual love to one of its drawbacks: jealousy. Its frown is like a Gorgon's because it freezes others' pleasures and thus, ultimately, life; its pursuit of Love in its iron chariot evokes the menace of the dogged stalker, but also prepares us for the later lengthy image of Love and Psyche triumphing in their own more beautiful but even more "despotic" chariot (361-410).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 313. The "war" instilled by jealousy appears throughout nature, equipping male fowl with clawed heels, rufflable plumage and loud crowing ability. The bloodied "crests" of 318 evoke the medieval knights to be described later (327).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 321. As the note makes clear, Darwin focusses on male fowl, deer and boars because their "weapons" have no function other than to fight their own species for sexual possession. 321n is copied verbatim from the section of Zoonomia to which it refers.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 327. As often, the "So" introduces similes which are also examples: medieval tournaments were clearly structured round the symbolism (at least) of courtship battles, of which the Greeks' ten-year war on Troy, to avenge Menelaus's loss of his wife Helen to the Trojan Paris, is another supreme example.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 341. With another unexplained leap we return to successful love, as manifested in the familial- and pair-bonding of nest-building birds. The notes to 348 and 351 stress the length of time mother-birds such as linnets sit on the nest and their assistance with their chicks' hatching, while 356 gives a role to the father in teaching young nightingales to sing, as explained in 356n.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 357. The sideways leaps of 307 and 341 begin to be resolved as we see love conquering the "bestial war" of jealousy. The extended description of the chariot of "despotic Love" acquires an awesome, somewhat frightening dimension from the fact that ferocious animals such as lions and tigers are actually harnessed to it, albeit with "silken thongs": the demon jealousy that we last saw stalking Love has now become incorporated into its power. The mention of Psyche at Love's side (365-6), linking this passage with the earlier account of their marriage, confirms their domination of the canto as a whole, in conformity with the Eleusinian Mysteries' second stage.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 371. Fish and birds also follow the chariot, occasioning fascinating if tangential notes on their swimming and flying techniques, with suggestions for imitating these mechanically: 373n looks forward to the principle of the (steam- or otherwise-fuelled) ship propellor; less clearly, 375n's points on the changing "obliquity" of birds' body shapes enabling them to rise or sink look forward to the careful angling of aeroplane wings, though the second paragraph's emphasis on mere energy expenditure somewhat disperses the aerodynamic point.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 380. Insects round off the list of Love's animal devotees, followed by a full selection of classical spirits of land (fauns), trees (dryads), sea (female nereids, male tritons) and fresh water (naiads).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 389. The plant world now joins in, as personified by Flora. Like that of the Goddess Botany in Economy of Vegetation, I, 61-8, the hitherto unadorned chariot becomes lavishly bedecked with flowers, whose description brings the account of the triumph of sexual love to a satisfying poetic climax.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 411. Previously encountered on 239, the god of marriage Hymen condenses the theme of sexual love into a single rather more sober personification. His torch, which becomes the central image from 415 and in 424 "rekindles" nature's fires in the new generation as the old one wanes, looks forward to the third stage of the Eleusinian Mysteries: the "procession of torches, which . . . probably signified the return of light, and the resuscitation of all things" (I, 137n).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 425. Urania ends her speech by somewhat conventionally warning her virginal followers against Love. This seems hard to take too seriously, unless as a warning simply to hold out until marriage: the "vestal fire" of 432 is a mark of virginity (Rome's Vestal Virgins tended an undying flame), but also perhaps the "secret flame" we have just seen inspired in virgin bosoms by Hymen, the god of respectable married love (421). The length of the two notes to 434 suggests that the virgins' repressed giggles are the real point of the passage. If the virgins are familiar with Lucretius, they will know that De Rerum Natura's similar warnings against love, at the end of Book IV (1037-1287), do not preclude healthily self-centred sexual activity (1063-72).

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 435. The mood of somewhat saucy comedy continues as Urania's attendants serve the poet's Muse with a picnic of "no longer interdicted" fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, washed down with clear spring water (perhaps from the spring of the Pierides or Muses, from which Lucretius drinks the clear water of knowledge in De Rerum Natura I, 925-8: better known as the "Pierian Spring" of Learning from which Pope advises us to "drink deep, or taste not" in An Essay on Criticism (216)). The casual lifting of the ban on the fruit of Knowledge continues the undermining of the Eden myth begun in I, 33-46, and neatly introduces us to the topics of Cantos III and IV: the progress of the mind and the nature of good and evil.

EDITOR'S NOTE: l. 447. But the passage also subliminally links the Lucretian/Epicurean preference for water over alcohol (see 435-8) with the vegetarian sympathies of Canto III's reading of Edenic innocence (see my note to III, 449). As a doctor and agrarian economist, Darwin regularly inveighed against excessive consumption of meat and alcohol. See, e.g., Canto IV, 77-82; Phytologia, pp. 467-8.

Published @ RC

October 2006

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