As respects the two or three most notable instances, the conclusions which have been reached are among the very recent acquisitions of physiological science. Curiously enough, however, now that they are made out, it appears that they were in good part long ago attained, recorded, and mainly forgotten. The earlier observations and surmises shared the common fate of discoveries made before the time, or by those who were not sagacious enough to bring out their full meaning or importance. Vegetable morphology, dimly apprehended by Linnaeus, initiated by Casper Frederick Wolff, and again, independently in successive generations, by Goethe and by De Candolle, offers a parallel instance. The botanists of Goethe’s day could not see any sense, advantage, or practical application, to be made of the proposition that the parts of a blossom answer to leaves; and so the study of homologies had long to wait. Until lately it appeared to be of no consequence whatever (except, perhaps, to the insects) whether Drosera and Sarracenia caught flies or not; and even Dionaea excited only unreflecting wonder as a vegetable anomaly. As if there were real anomalies in Nature, and some one plant possessed extraordinary powers denied to all others, and (as was supposed) of no importance to itself!
That most expert of fly-catchers, Dionaea, of which so much has been written and so little known until lately, came very near revealing its secret to Solander and Ellis a hundred years ago, and doubtless to John Bartram, our botanical pioneer, its C probable discoverer, who sent it to Europe. Ellis, in his published letter to Linnaeus, with which the history begins, described the structure and action of the living trap correctly; noticed that the irritability which called forth the quick movement closing the trap, entirely resided in the few small bristles of its upper face; that this whole surface was studded C with glands, which probably secreted a liquid; and that the trap did not open again when an insect was captured, even upon the death of the captive, although it opened very soon when nothing was caught, or when the irritation