[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #2 1923]
His Excellency the Governor, Lord RAGLAN, in the Chair,
The Hundredth Anniversary of the birth of Edward Forbes was celebrated by a meeting, thrown open to the public, attended by 35 members of the Society and a representative gathering of the general public.
A very interesting collection of works and relics of Forbes, gathered by Mr, W. Cubbon, was on exhibition and greatly admired. A biographical sketch, also prepared by Mr. Cubbon, was circulated.
Lord Raglan having explained the object and purpose of the meeting and his full sympathy with the desire of the Society to raise a suitable memorial, stated that while the Committee thought a Museum would indeed be a worthy monument to their great naturalist, they realized that it would be costly and might take a long time to raise the necessary funds; in the meantime, it had been suggested, it would be possible to have immediately a small but permanent memento in the form of a Tablet to mark the site of the house in which Edward Forbes was born. It was for this meeting to consider the matter fully and decide what should be attempted; he called upon Mr. Kermode to open the discussion.
Mr. P. M. C, Kermode, founder of the Society, then addressed the meeting as follows :
We are gathered together to mark the Hundredth Anniversary of the birth in this town, of Edward Forbes the greatest naturalist of his day. Had he been spared to reach the full span of human life, he would have been one of the greatest naturalists of all time. .
We bring our wreath of laurel; we bring our meed of praise and homage to one whose brief career has added a page to Britain's story of scientific research and progress, and brought lustre to the name of his native isle.
In order to appreciate at its true worth the amount and the value of the work accomplished by Edward Forbes, two considerations must be borne in mind : first, the state of biological and of geological knowledge when he entered the field, that is to say, with the publication in 1838 of Malacologia Monensis, which was very far removed from that of the present day; secondly,. the fact that, only sixteen years later, he was cut off in his prime, his work not half done, just as he had attained to a position of comparative ease and leisure which, as was fondly hoped by his friends, would at last enable him to set out in order and to publish to the world the results of those stores of biological information which had been gathered by him after prolonged original research.
It happened mevitably that mach of his knowledge died with him, and we had to suffer the loss of his wide experience, his ripe judgment and his spirit of philosophy. Besides what he lived to accomplish, we must consider the power he possessed of influencing others in the field of his labours, the wide-reaching effects of those new lines of inquiry struck ont by him which have since been so successfully followed up by others, especially the bearing of various departments of Natural Science one upon another. To him it is mainly due that two such departments have now developed into separate sciences, namely, Palæontology and Marine Biology.
From the beginning of the nineteenth century the attention of some leading geologists was directed in a particular and practical manner to the study of fossil remains of plant and of animal life preserved in various sedimentary rocks, and to the lessons taught by them with respect to the relative ages of different formations. Forbes' life-long interest, special training and wide experience of living things amid their natural surroundings and conditions enabled him to throw new light on the distribution of plants and animals in past geological ages, and to recognise the changes in climate and alterations in the relative distribution of land and water; his study of fossil remains led to their comparison with existing plants and animals, and so advanced the science of Comparative Anatomy. In 1840, the first volume of the ' Geological Survey Memoirs ' contained a striking contribution from him accounting for the present assemblage of plants and animals in the British Islands-a problem which, as pointed out by his biographers, 'had never vet been propounded by any of the geologists or botanists who had treated of the distribution of our indigenous fauna and flora.'
Early in the following year he suggested the formation of a Society to bring out for the use of all, the costly publications necessary for the adequate description and illustration of fossil forms, as, more and more, new and unlooked for species and varieties came to light. Thus originated the Palaeontographical Society, the latest volume of which is on the table and will give you some indication of the scope of its work and the beauty and perfection of its illustrations. Certain contributions dealing with the limestone formations in the Isle of Man will have a special interest for members of our Society.
Turning now to another field of his activities. It was not until after the time of Edward Forbes that Zoology came into its own as a science. In days gone by it was generally regarded as implying no more than a special museum-knowledge of animals in their dried skins, skeletons and shells. So lately as 1823, William Lawrence, in his lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons, had lamented that we had ' no national collection of living animals; no museum of natural history; no public institution for teaching natural science.' Even the mode of preservation of bodies in alcohol was a recent introduction. At that time, Cuvier raised Comparative Anatomy to the dignity of a science, and the theory that living things had developed by a slow process of transmutation in successive generations from more simple ancestors was being discussed. In his lectures at the Royal Institution in 1845, Edward Forbes expressed his disbelief in transmutation, holding that the laws which regulated the distribution of animals in time were probably correspondent with those which regulate their present distribution in space. It is not to be wondered that, like many other leaders of science, Forbes did not accept Lamarck's views of transmutation of species in time, or of creation in a. strict serial order. Progressive development from lower to higher forms was not invariable, and no evidence had been submitted, no compelling or sufficient cause suggested for such evolution. It was not until 1859 that the ' Origin of Species' was published, and though towards the end of his short career Forbes was ' thinking out a novel theory of developments in opposite directions, or Polarity,' we may fairly. suppose that had he been spared to consider the demonstrations of Darwen and of Wallace, he would, like his friend Lyell, have revised his views and come to recognize that theory of evolution as the true one.
From childhood Forbes had been observant of all living things which came within his reach in relation to their surroundings and conditions. As a student he had spent his vacations at Ballaugh in going out with the fishermen to the fishing-banks, and in using his microscope to examine the still living forms brought up by the dredge. In 1839, he got the British Association to appoint a Committee for researches with the dredge with a view to investigate the Marine Zoology of Great Britain. In 1841, partly resulting from his dredging operations, he published his ' British Starfishes,' his classlfication of which opened up a new era in that branch of Zoology.
The same year he joined the surveying ship ' Beacon ' (Commander Graves, Captain), and for two vears made full use of his dredge in his studies of life in the Ægean Sea, his report of which raised him to the highest rank among living naturalists. Thus did he establish the dredge as an instrument of scientific research, and start that important and practical work in Marine Zoology which has since brought forth such abundant fruit all over the face of the globe. As these studies developed and their great importance became recognized, special institutions were eventually founded, and Marine Biological Stations came to be established or supported by all civilized States. The finest of these, at Naples, was founded in 1872 ; the largest in the British Isles, at Plymouth, in 1888; our own Station at Port Erin originating under the Liverpool Marine Biological Committee, at Puffin Isle, was transferred to our shores in 1892; and here the work initiated by our Manx naturalist is being ably and successfully carried out by the ex President of our Society, Dr. Herdman, who is to-day our leading authority on Marine Biology.
Such a record thus briefly and imperfectly sketched in the short time at my disposal will, I trust, convince you that in honouring the name of our Manx naturalist we are doing honour to ourselves, and that it is most right and proper that his own countrymen should set up in the land of his birth a Memorial worthy of such a genius, and creditable to themselves. This, I submit, should take the form of a Manx Museum, to be for ever associated with the name of our great leader in Science, Edward Forbes.
The Mayor of Douglas, Deemster Callow, the Rev. .J. Davidson, High-Bailiff Gell, the Archdeacon, Mr. R. B. Moore, and several others, took part in the discussion which followed. All were agreed that a Museum was urgently wanted and would suitably perpetuate the name and fame of Forbes, but the difficulties were many and great. It was felt that something should be done immediately, and finally it was unanimously resolved 'That a memento be set on the Town Hall to mark the site of the house in which Forbes was born.' It was explained that the actual house had stood quite close to the Town Hall, and had been pulled down in the making of Ridgway Street.
On the recommendation of the General Committee, Sir Archibald Geikie, F.R.S., whose 'Life of Forbes' is in the Society's Library, was elected an Honorary member of the Society. The following were elected members :-Mr. H. Callow, D. Maitland, S.H.K., and Mr. Philip Teare.
A telegram was received from the Liverpool Marine Biological Committee offering congratulations. A communication from Professor Herdman announced his intention of giving £100 for the purpose of establishing an 'Edward Forbes ' prize at the Port Erin Biological Station, to be held by an approved post-graduate student from the Liverpool or other University who would carry on research in the Manx waters in which Edward Forbes was the pioneer.
A telegram was sent to the London Manx Society, which was to celebrate the centenary the following day, Among the many interesting addresses then given, and afterwards published, were two which we are permitted to re-publish in our Proceedings, as revised for that purpose by the respective authors.
On the motion of the Mayor, a vote of thanks was passed to the Governor for presiding.
Lord Raglan, in responding, said he only hoped that the Museum he had had before his eyes for many years would eventually materialise, It seemed a shocking thing that they had not one. Things were being taken off the Island, people were leaving, and things getting lost which there was no replacing. There was nothing he had more at heart than the provision of a Museum, and he would dearly love to see a beginning made,
The proceedings having concluded, those present were then entertained to tea by the Mayor,
In the entrance hall of the Port Erin Biological Station, the most conspicuous object is the large white bust of Edward Forbes, whose clear-cut intellectual features and genial expression at once arrest the eye, and appear to preside over the activities and destiny of the institution. And what better position could there be for this finely-formed reminder of the Manx pioneer of Science than in this workshop of Manx Marine Biology, devoted to the continuation and extension of Forbes' work in his native land ? For here, all researchers who work in the laboratory, everyone of the hundreds of senior students who enter on a course of study at Port Erin, and even the many thousands of visitors who frequent the Aquarium, recognise or learn who Professor Edward Forbes was, and what he did. His works are in our Library at the Biological Station, the star-fishes and molluscs he described so well with pen and pencil are in the sea before our doors, his home at Ballaugh is almost in sight. In all our work at Port Erin, we keep his words, as well as his familiar features, constantly before us as an example and an inspiration,
Others will no doubt testify to the work of Professor Edward Forbes as a geologist and as a botanist, as a great teacher, and as a charming writer. At Port Erin we think of him as the typical ' field-naturalist' of the older days, when it was still possible to take all nature for your province and do useful work in many fields--constantly investigating, constantly observing wherever he went, and throwing welcome light on Science by all his observations.
All Forbes' later and more famous work in Marine Biology and the relations between Zoology and Geology-work that extended from Hebridean and Scandinavian seas, through the Mediterranean to the far Ægean--may be said to have sprung from and been founded on his early work done as a lad in the college vacations in his home Manx waters.
A little to the north of Peel, on the west coast of Man, lies a submarine elevation, the Ballaugh fishing bank, which was the scene of some of Forbes' earliest explorations-about 80 years ago. The path of the pioneer is proverbially rough, and no doubt it is easier for us now, when, on occasions, we take our students to the Ballaugh Bank for a day's dredging from Port Erin. Forbes, in his day, must have gone in a small sail-boat from the shore below his house, or possibly in one of the 'nobbies ' of the Peel fishing fleet, and was certainly more dependent upon wind and weather than is now the case, when we can steam to the bank from Port Erin in an hour or two, and carry on our work there without much regard to wind or tide, in any moderate weather. But we find, in going over Forbes' records from Ballaugh, that his work was wonderfully detailed and accurate, and there is little or nothing to add. He found nearly all there is to find, and he marked out the distribution of life upon the various depths and parts of the bank with remarkable precision. And that, I think, is characteristic of much of his work. That he did so much, and did it so well in so short a life, full of other duties and cares, must constantly excite the wonder and admiration of those who humbly follow in his footsteps.
British naturalists are iustly proud of the thorough manner in which the contents of the home seas have been made known by their distinguished predecessors, and of these famous mono- graphs, which will remain classics of Science throughout all time, some of the chiefest glories both in text and plates are those bearing the honoured name of Edward Forbes.
We hope in the Island to have some day a worthy Manx National Museum, at Douglas, and when that temple of the Natural and Antiquarian Sciences comes to be rearced, one of the principal halls-designed to c ontain the vast collections of Marine Biology, and to illustrate the applications of that science to the Sea. Fisheries-will surely be dedicated to the immortal memory of Edward Forbes, the great Manx naturalist, who first made known the abundant treasures of our seas,
The custom of commemorating the anniversaries of great men or great events has, in recent years, been much developed among us. Though it may sometimes be carried too far, it is, on the whole, a salutary custom, furnishing opportunities to keep in grateful remembrance the lives and work of the leaders from whose hands the torch of progress has been passed on to us, of estimating how much advance has been made since their time, and of drawing encouragement for the future from the success of the past. To-day we are met here on the hundredth anniversary of a great naturalist who, although he died young, has put his imperishable mark upon the studies which he pursued, and has left an example of noble character, of unwearied enthusiasm, and of brilliant achievement, which deserves to be held up as a. pattern and stimulus to all who would follow the same pursuits.
Edward Forbes was born in the Isle of Man on 12th February, 1815. Looking back over his short but memorable career, let us for a moment recall some of its main features. We think, first, of his happy childhood and youth, spent by him in his native isle, where, along the winding shores, in the picturesque dells, and among the towering hills, he developed that over- m aster ing love of Nature which remained the chief joy and furnished the main occupation of his life. We follow him to Edinburgh, where he spent nice years; first, in pursuing medical studies, which he had nearly completed when he abandoned them in order to devote himself heart and soul to the prosecution of Natural History in the widest acceptation of that science. We call to mind his attempts to make his favourite pursuit a. means of gaining a livelihood, even of the most modest kind ; how his efforts one after another failed; and how at last, when hope had almost fled, there unexpectedly came to him the offer of a place as Naturalist on the staff of the surveying vessel 'Beacon,' stationed in the Mediterranean. We recall the boundless delight of the busy and fruitful year and a half which he spent in exploring the AEgean Sea and its islands, the pride wherewith he contemplated the future working out of the vast mass of material then accumulated, and his ultimate bitter disappointment that the exigencies of subsequent years never allowed him to complete that task.
We remember with what acclaim he was received by the naturalists of this country, when on his return from the East he settled in London as Professor of Botany at King's College. We think of his successive appointments-the Curatorship of the Geological Society, the post of Naturalist to the Geological Survey, and the Professorship of Natural History at the School of Mines-and of those eleven years in the Metropolis, during which, overworked and underpaid, he strove with unfailing courage and a high sense of duty to meet the ceaseless and multifarious demands on his time and thought which his official duties brought with them, and which hindered the progress of his original researches, Lastly, we picture him, amidst universal congratulations, accepting the Chair of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh-the goal to which from his student days he had wistfully looked as the one position in the country that would fulfil his aspirations as a teacher, and at the same time afford him the necessary leisure for the completion of the work which he could never continue in London, and for putting into definite shape his conceptions in regard to some of the higher problems of Natural History, The goal was indeed reached, and the prospect of a bright and fruitful future seemed now at last to open before him. But only six months had passed before that busy brain and eloquent tongue were for ever stilled. Into his short life, for he had not completed his fortieth year, he crowded an array of work, remarkable alike for its amount and for its high quality. How much more would not the world have gained had his career been prolonged! His early death was one of the most grievous losses which British Science has sustained in our time.
Up to the end of his AEgean expedition, it would have been hard to foretell what department of Natural History Edward Forbes would finally select, as that to which his energies should be specially devoted. He had ranged far and wide over the whole vast domain. At one time he might have been regarded as a confirmed botanist who would certainly dis- tinguish himself in any branch of the science which he might choose, but who bade fair to make a reputation as an investigator of the many interesting problems connected with the geographical distribution of plants. At another time he might be thought to have caught some of the enthusiasm of his master, Robert Jameson, for Mineralogy and Geology, since he not only made a collection of specimens, but rambled at home and abroad to study minerals and rocks in the field. Again, he would seem to be altogether absorbed in Zoological pursuits, now scouring mountain and moor in search of land and fresh-water mollusks, now exploring the depths of our firths and inlets by means of the dredge, which he was one of the first to make an indispensable implement of marine research, and with which he added a number of new species to the known fauna of our seas, This wide range of interest and acquirement gave him that breadth of outlook over the whole realm of Natural History which especially distinguished him among the naturalists of his time.
I will leave to others, better qualified than I can pretend to be, to give at this Commemoration an appreciation of the original contributions of Edward Forbes to the purely Botanical and Zoological divisions of Science. His writings on these subjects have delighted many readers who would not claim to be naturalists. His pleasant volume on 'British Starfishes,' published when he was only six-aid-twenty, has many attractions for outsiders, while his 'History of British Mollusca,' written in conjunction with Mr. Hanley, has been for two generations the companion and guide of all who in these islands take interest in the shells of land or sea.
That eventually Forbes should have been drawn away from the Botany and Zoology of the living world to the investiga- tion of the plants and animals of former ages in the history of our planet was due less to his own choice than to the circum- stances in which he found himself when, after his return from the East, he settled in London. Among these circumstances, the first in point of time was his official connection with the Geological Society, which he resigned after two years in order to join the Geological Survey and the School of Mines. The enforced consideration of geological questions involved in the duties of these several appointments, and the close personal and friendly relations into which he was brought with the most able and active geologists of the day, led him to give renewed attention to subjects which had engrossed much of his thoughts during his student life in Edinburgh, and which he then included in what he called zoo-geology, or geo-zoology, or what is now known as Palaeontology-the study of the organisms of past ages in connection with living forms, and the bearing of geological changes on the history and distribu- tion of life m space and time. It is mainly the work which he accomplished in this department of research that entitles him to a prominent place in the bead-roll of Science. To this section of his labours, therefore, I will confine the brief sketch which I propose to offer to-day of the character and value of his contributions to our knowledge of Nature.
From his early years at Edinburgh, the problem presented by the geographical distribution of plants and animals fascinated the interest and stimulated the imagination of Edward Forbes. In his rambles as a student, he took special note of the range of the plants which he collected, both in regard to the areas over which they were spread and the heights above the sea to which they could be traced. Again, he devoted much time to follow the distribution of pulmoniferous mollusks, horizontally and vertically, not only in the British Isles, but in the foreign countries visited by him on his holidays, and afterwards in the AEgean Islands and Asia. Minor. His published notes on these observations doubtless helped to foster the increased attention that was now beginning to be given by naturalists to the subject of geographical distribution. While facts were being accumulated, Forbes a1. an early period recognised that the problem of the origin of the fauna and flora of a country probably could not be solved from the biological side alone, but that the data furnished by zoology and botany would need to be considered in connection with the evidence supplied by geology in regard to former vicissitudes of climate and changes in the relative positions of land and sea.
The data supplied by a flora are more copious than those afforded by a fauna for the study of this subject. In regard to the British Isles, the labours of a succession of active botanists, culminating in the voluminous 'Cybele Britannica ' of Hewett Cottrell Watson, had shown that the indigenous vegetation of the country comprises a number of distinct assemblages of plants, each characteristic of one or more districts, Edward Forbes distinguished five such assemblages, which he called 'floras'-(1st) a limited flora in the west and south-west of Ireland, comprising saxifrages, heaths, the arbutus, and other plants which are identical with species found abundantly in the north of Spain; (2nd) another local flora in the south-west of England and south-east of Ireland, resembling the vegetation of the Channel Isles and north- western France; (3rd) a restricted flora found on the chalk downs of the south-eastern counties of England; (4th) a remarkable though limited flora, flourishing on the tops of the mountains, chiefly in Scotland, but also on the hills of Cumberland and Wales, and even on some uplands in Ireland. In this vegetation all the plants are specifically identical with Scandinavian forms; (5th) and last, a general or Germanic flora, like that of Central Europe, everywhere present either alone or mingled with the others.
The problem which Forbes set himself to solve was to account for the existence and grouping of these several assemblages in the areas which they now occupy. He felt assured that they could not have appeared simultaneously, but must have found their way to Britain during a protracted period of time, in the course of which some important geological changes probably affected Europe. The essential features of his solution of the problem had shaped themselves in his mind some time before the spring of 1846, for he was able to give a sketch of his views in an evening discourse at the Royal Institution on 27th February of that year. It was his habit, when any speculation occupied his thoughts, to discuss the subject with one or other of his colleagues in the offices of the Geological Survey. We can picture him standing with his back to the fire in the room of his old friend and colleague, Ramsay, and unfolding with eager animation the successive stages in what he conceived to have been the history of the British vegetation. His delight over what he felt sure was an important advance in the study of geographical distribution was expressed at the time in a letter to his Irish friend, William Thompson (9th March):' Though the father of it myself, I will say that it will change, nay, revolutionise the whole subject of the geography of botany and zoology, or, rather, will be the herald of such a change." *'Memoir of Edward Forbes,' p. 394.
To understand fully the circumstances in which Forbes was placed for dealing with his problem, we must bear in mind that at the time when it was engaging his attention an active discussion was going on in this country regarding what was called the 'Northern Drift,' The history of what has come to be popularly known as the Ice Age was then just beginning to be deciphered. As far back as the year 1839, James Smith, of Jordanhill, had found, in the upraised marine deposits of the Clyde-basin, shells belonging to species now quite extinct in our seas, but still living plentifully in boreal and Arctic waters. He drew from them the inference that at the time when they flourished in the Firth of Clyde the climate of these islands must have been much colder than it is now. In the following year, the eminent Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz, in the course of a visit to this country, was astonished to find among the hills of Scotland and Wales, over which he was conducted by Dean Buckland, abundant examples of smoothed and striated rock-surfaces, together with moraines and scattered boulders precisely the counterpart of those with which he was familiar in the glacier valleys of Switzerland. He had no hesitation in confidently affirming his belief that, at a comparatively late geological period, the British Isles must have been covered with extensive snowfields, whence glaciers crept down into the valleys, there to deposit their loads of earth and boulders. The opinion of so experienced a glacialist gave a fresh impulse to the study of the subject here. But the British geologists, though they acknowledged the proofs of the former existence of valley-glaciers in this country, could not for many years bring themselves to believe that these islands ever underwent the severe glaciation claimed by the Swiss observer. They preferred to regard the smoothing and scratching of the rocks and the dispersion of the drift and the boulders as the work of icebergs, floating in an icy sea and grating on the submerged land, when only the higher hill-tops rose out of the water.
For the purpose of Forbes' investigation, it did not much matter whether the ice over the site of Britain was moving on the sea, or, as is now admitted, on the land. He accepted the iceberg hypothesis. What mainly concerned his generalisa- tion was the incontrovertible proofs of the former presence here of an Arctic climate. He saw that if Britain lay more or less submerged in a sea over which abundant icebergs were drifting, the vegetation upon such parts of the islands as appeared above the water could only be of a northern character. When the sunken land began to rise again, this vegetation would descend over the uncovered tracts of ground, and would continue to be the prevalent flora as long as the climate remained Arctic, But when in the course of the elevation of the sea-floor on the west of Europe, Britain, ceasing to be insular, became part of the Continent, and a much milder climate supervened, the abundant general flora which had now appeared all over Central Europe would spread westward into our area, covering the lowlands and creeping up the hills as far as the climatal conditions would allow. The northern flora would be extirpated from the lower grounds, but would maintain its place in the more chilly temperatures of the mountains. Hence, according to this view, our Alpine flora is a surviving relic of the Ice Age, and furnishes an interesting corroboration of the interpretation given to the other evidence for the existence of that period in the geological history of the country. Forbes extended his generalisation far beyond the bounds of our islands. He remarked that 'the Alpine floras of Europe and Asia, so far as they are identical with the flora of the Arctic and sub-Arctic zones of the Old World, are fragments of a flora which was diffused from the north, either by means of transport not now in action on the temperate coasts of Europe, or over continuous land which no longer exists.'
* Mem. Geol. Survey I, p. 400.
There can be little doubt that the establishment of this conclusion was the first step taken by our naturalist in his endeavour to account for the present distribution of plants in the British Islands. The title of his discourse on the subject at the Royal Institution was 'On the relation of the existing fauna and flora of Britain to the later geological changes, and especially to the epoch of the Northern Drift.' He could now account for the appearance of two of his five floras-the fourth, or Scandinavian, and the fifth, or Germanic. For the dis- cussion of the remaining three, the available evidence was by no means so clear in his day, and it still remains scanty. Moreover, certain facts have come to light since Forbes lived, which, had he known them, would have modified his conclusions.
The striking resemblance of some parts of the flora of the west and south-west of Ireland to the vegetation of the Asturias, and, further, the identity of a number of species of plants peculiar to the southern parts of England and Ireland with plants that flourish in the Channel Islands and the north- west of France, led Forbes to the inference that 'at an ancient period there was a geological union or close approximation of the west of Ireland with the north of Spain.' and a corresponding land connection, either then or later, stretching from south-eastern Ireland and south-western England across the Channel Isles into France. He supposed that the southern parts of our islands were probably not submerged under the glacial sea, and that over land now lost his three southern sub- floras may have migrated successively northwards from Spain and from France, before, during, or after the Ice Age. At the same time, it seemed to him that there were strong reasons for believing that they migrated before that period. His impres- sion was that, as a general rule, the most southern floras are the oldest, since 'they are more fragmentary and their characters more southern.'* Ibid. p, 346.
It has since been ascertained that although the 'Northern Drift ' does not reach the southern coast of England, there is good evidence that the Arctic climate of the Ice Age, with its characteristic plants and animals, stretched from this country into France. Icebergs and coast-ice were plentiful in the English Channel, while in Ireland the massive ice-sheet that covered that island advanced southward beyond the limits of the present south-western shores, and probably projected into the Atlantic as a long wall of ice. Obviously, if a southern vegetation had migrated northwards into Ireland before the time of the Ice Age, it would be exterminated by the severe climate which then prevailed. Hence any vegetation of that type which now exists within our borders must have found its way hither after a milder condition of things had been estab- lished over Western Europe. Consequently, the three southern floras of Forbes, instead of being the oldest, must be the latest of his series. To what extent they migrated over a land connection now lost, or were diffused by birds or by some other natural agency, is a question which is open to discussion.
That there was a time when land actually did extend from our own country to France cannot be doubted. The charts of soundings in the seas of Western Europe show that if the bottom of these seas were upraised to the extent of only 60o feet, not only would Britain and Ireland become a part of the European Continent, but the floor of the North Sea would be turned into a great plain which would stretch southward through the strait of Dover and the English Channel, whence a strip of low ground would run along the west side of France, narrowing southwards and curving round the north. coast of Spain. The deep ocean-hollow of the Bay of Biscay is probably a geographical. feature of so ancient a date that no land can be imagined to have stretched across its site within the lifetime of any existing flora.
In the history of modern science, there was a day, before the oceans of the globe had been explored, when biologists and geologists could take great liberties with the crust of the earth, They indulged in fanciful speculations regarding lost con- tinents and the former connection of lands which are separated by the deepest abysses of the ocean. Edward Forbes belonged to that time. Ile may indeed be said to have led the way in the invocation of stupendous geological revolutions for the solution of biological problems. This tendency appears in the famous essay on the origin of the British flora, which we have been considering. Nevertheless, after every allowance is made for imperfections arising it) large measure from the scanty knowledge of the time, this essay must be acknowledged to have been an original and brilliant contribution to the study of the geographical distribution of plants and animals. Far in advance of its day, it opened tip a fresh field of investigation and proved to be the starting point and stimulus of subsequent research. Its publication added greatly to the author's rising reputation. Adam Sedgwick, it is said, declared that it had furnished him with the materials for half a dozen lectures to his students at Cambridge.
In the domain of pure Palæontology, Forbes accomplished a large amount of original research. His official duties at the Geological Society, and afterwards in the Geological Survey, made it unavoidable that much of his time should be taken up with what may be called routine work, His boundless good- nature made him ever ready to give his time and attention to friends who sought his opinion or help, One part of his duties was to name the fossils sent in for determination, and in the performance of this necessary and important work, the toil of many hours might often be represented by no more than a label on a specimen, or the addition of a single name to a list of fossils. He succeeded, however, in finding time for the continuous stud- of certain groups of invertebrate fossils. Thus, his detailed account of the British Tertiary Echino- derms, published by the Palacontographical Society, and his Monographs on fossil Asteriadae, the Silurian Cystideae and other organisms in the Memoirs of the Geological Survey, remain ag'monlaments of his skill in the determination of organic structure and of his power of clear and accurate description. To his wide range of Palæontological knowledge and his artistic taste we owe the admirable arrangement of the galleries of fossils in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, where the headquarters of the Survey were established in 1851. Such a vivid presentation of British geology had never till then been placed before the public. Specimens, carefully grouped and labelled, were ranged in order of time from the most ancient known organisms through the successive periods of the Geological Record up to the epoch when primitive man set foot in the country. I shall never forget the impression made on my own mind when, as a boy, I paid my first visit to the Museum, the year after its opening. To walk along those well-lighted galleries and to see in due sequence actual examples of once-living creatures that had followed each other during the long ages of the past, was a. fascinating revelation, which did much to turn my thoughts more earnestly than ever to geologiqal studies.
But not only did Forbes work for the Geological Survey in his little, dark, odd-cornered den at the Jermyn Street Museum. It was also part of his duty, and one which he greatly prized, to visit the officers in the field, in order to consult with them as to the bearing of evidence from organic remains found in the rocks which were being surveyed. On these occasions he was able to bring his minute zoological knowledge to aid in the interpretation of the details of the Geological Record. Two memorable instances of this co-operation may be cited, one in his study of the Purbeck strata, the other in his investigation of the Upper Tertiary deposits of the Isle of Wight.
In the autumn of 1849 he spent some months on the coast of Dorset for the purpose of subjecting the Purbeck group to a more critical Palæontological examination than it had yet received, though it had long been familiar to geologists and was believed to be fairly well known. Forbes was soon able to show how much additional information could be gathered from these familiar strata by a more minute investigation of their fossil contents on the actual spot where these lie entombed. With magnifying-glass at eye, he crept over the faces of rock, layer by layer, noting the peculiarities of each from top to bottom. As the result of this detailed scrutiny, while there was no evidence that any physical disturbance had taken place in the area during the deposition of the whole of the strata., the testimony of the included fossils revealed a remarkable series of alternations of fresh, brackish, and salt-water conditions over this part of England when the Purbeck group was in course of deposition. Our naturalist- made the further important discovery that on several separate horizons these strata enclose the shells of some living genera of air-breathing mollusks-creatures which had not till then been found in so ancient a formation. It was characteristic alike of his humour and of his habit of making fun of his scientific brethren, and even of himself, that in some verses on what he called 'Negative Facts,' he instanced the finding of these shells as upsetting a premature conclusion.
Down among the Purbecks deep enough,
A Physa and Planorbis
were grubbed last year out of freshwater stuff
By Bristow and E. Forbes.
(Agassiz just had given his bail-
'Twas adverse to creation-
That there should live :pulmoniferous snail
Before the chalk formation).** Song on Negative Facts, a new Ballad in the State of Geological Science, Literary Gazette,' rath July, 1851.
The discovery, however, carried with it a wider significance. The occurrence of these snails suggested to Forbes that if air-breathing mollusks existed in Purbeck time, remains of mammalian life might hopefully be searched for in the same stratum as that which contained the shells. His sagacious prognostication was fulfilled not long after, when bones of reptiles and insectivorous mammals were exhumed where he had indicated.
There was yet another interesting discovery made by him in these same Purbeck deposits. In the bands of limestone he detected seeds of the freshwater plant Chara-an organism which had not before been met with in any formation of older than Tertiary Age. As far back as the year 1839 he had come to the conclusion that fresh-water shells do not furnish a reliable criterion for determining the stratigraphical position of the strata in which they are contained, and this opinion was now entirely corroborated by his Purbeck researches. He pointed out that, while so great a change has taken place in the marine invertebrate fauna of the globe since the date of the Purbeck deposits, the fresh-water shells of these deposits are so like living forms that, if they could now be made alive again, they would quite accord with 'the present state of. things, ' These considerations,' he said, 'open out long vistas of reflection.' He realised, as few geologists did until the appearance. of Darwin's 'Origin of Species,' how vast may have sometimes been the intervals between the deposition of strata which follow each other in undisturbed conformable succession. His conclusion on the subject was thus expressed
'The causes which led to a complete change of life three times during the deposition of the. fresh-water and brackish strata of the Purbeck series must be sought for, not simply in either a rapid or a sudden change of their area into land or sea, but in the great lapse of time which intervened between the epochs of deposition at certain periods during their formation.** British Association Report, 1850 Sec. p. 81.
Altogether, this Dorset experience keenly delighted Forbes. It provided that combination of biological and geological interest which had for him such fascination, and in the pursuit of which he was conscious that his highest faculties as a naturalist were called into play, The months spent by him on that southern coast-line had enabled him to make an appreciable advance in this kind of research, and had furnished him with an excellent example of how greatly geology may be aided by the application of minute Palaeontological investigation to its problems.
At a later time, Forbes continued a similar line of inquiry among the younger Tertiary formations of the Isle of Wight. These strata had been the subject of careful scrutiny by a succession of eminent geologists; but, here again, the eye of a. trained palaiontologist enabled our naturalist to throw new light upon a well-worked field of research. Applying to the fossils in their actual sites among the rocks the same minute examination which had been so successful on the Dorset coast, he obtained results which were perhaps even more original and important. In association with his colleague, H. W. Bristow, he re--cast the classification of what he called 'The Fluvio- marine Series,' and he has left his mark deeply graven on this section of the Geological Record.
Throughout his life Edward Forbes loved to generalise on the material that gathered around him in the course of his researches. His mind constantly alive to the affinities and analogies of Nature, loved to speculate on the wider relations of the facts that disclosed themselves before him. To some of his associates, he seemed to carry this tendency too far. Yet there was always something irresistibly attractive and suggestive in his speculations. They would sometimes explain so much if they could be solidly established, that even men like Charles Darwin, who refrained from accepting some of them, could not help wishing that they might be proved.'
Forbes regarded his calling as that of a philosopher who could not be content with merely collecting and sifting facts, but would always strive to reach a higher or inner idea whereof the facts were in his view the outer symbols.
But he was as far as possible removed from the dry-as-dust type of philosopher. Eminently genial and sociable, he made friends everywhere, and once made, they were never lost. His talk, with its flashes of wit and sallies of humour, made him the joyous centre of many a pleasant company. The famous dinners of the Red Lions, which he started at the meeting of the British Association in Birmingham in 1839, and afterwards the festivities of the Geological Survey, were the scenes where his joviality could be seen in its highest glow. What with merry verses which he wrote for the occasion, and sang or drawled to popular airs, and speeches in which the recent progress of science or other congenial topic was cleverly and always good-naturedly caricatured, he would keep the party happy and hilarious. He used to pride himself that he and his scientific comrades were not, as the world was apt to imagine, 'a grim and unamuseable race'-mere hookworms, beetle-hunters, bird-stuffers, or plant-gatherers-but were really men of the world, quite capable of holding their own in any circle of society. In one of his pleasant little articles in the ' Literary Gazette,' wherein he notices the fourth edition of Sir Humphry Davy's 'Salmonia,' he avers that he 'would undertake, without travelling far, to furnish philosophers of various scientific callings, who could ride a race, hunt a. fox, shoot a snipe, cast a fly, pull an oar, sail a boat, dance a polka, sing a song, or mix a bowl, against any man with unexercised brains, or even with none at all, in the United Kingdom.' '* 'more Letters of Charles Darwin,' Vol. 1, p. 412.
Edward Forbes was noteworthy among the naturalists of his day for his literary distinction. In his youth he had browsed far and near over the wide domain of English literature, and early in life acquired great facility with his pen. In his college days at Edinburgh he was always at the service of the 'University Magazine,' whether in prose, verse, or cartoon. He formed a style of writing that was natural, easy, and graceful; suited, on the one hand, . to the clearness and succinctness of scientific description, and on the other, to the lightness and brightness of a practised essayist. He was a constant contributor to the columns of the 'Literary Gazette,' and the 'Athenaeum,' occasionally even to the pages of 'Punch,' while more important articles from him appeared in the 'Westminster Review,' and the 'Quarterly Review.' Unfortunately, a good deal of this literary activity arose from the necessity of adding; to the slender sum which his combined official salaries yielded. It is melancholy to reflect that a. naturalist who stood in the forefront of the scientific men of the country should have had for years to struggle with an income not equal to that of a second-class clerk. But the poorness of the pay was not the only grievance under which he had to fight his way. Having always made a stand for the dignity of Science and for the nobility of the calling of those who devote themselves to her service, he found, from his own personal experience in the Geological Survey, that he and his colleagues seemed to the official mind to be holding only clerk- ships of a kind. He and they were accordingly ranked by their salaries in a lower grade than many other officers in the same department, such as registrars and secretaries, who,. be felt, had no right on any grounds to a superiority of position, and whose duties required no special capacity or peculiar training beyond that of many thousands of clerks in public and private establishments. It was in one of his fits of vexation under the unsympathetic domination of these officials that Forbes relieved his heart by writing some caustic verses on `The Red Tape-worm.' I have never seen them in print, but their refrain, if my memory serves me, ran thus:-
O, the red tapeworm is munching my poll
O, the red tapeworm is crunching my soul
Spirit and substance, body and form,
All eaten up by the red tapeworm.
As years went on, he realised that his most important office, that connected with the Geological Survey, gave him no consideration, although its duties took up almost all his time and energies; and that his position in society depended, not on his official status, but on the outside work which he could find time to undertake in such leisure as he might secure. This unsatisfactory state of things was one of the causes which weighed with him when he at last resolved to leave London and accept the Chair of Natural History at his old University in the north, where he would have an assured position, a large assembly of eager students, and at the same time opportunity for original. research and for the working out of the AEgean material, which, during those crowded years in the Metropolis, had been hitherto impossible, Before vacating his post at Jermyn Street, he took every opportunity to make known his views regarding the treatment of Science and its cultivation in this country. Possibly in part, owing to its representations, some improvement was made in the condition of the staff of the Geological Survey. Since those days, sixty years ago, the practical importance of scientific education, and the value to the State of the services of the men engaged in scientific research, have been tardily acknowledged. But even yet, when the matter has been so forcibly brought home to us by the efrtects of foreign competition in the loss or dwindling of some of our industries, it may be gravely doubted whether the necessity of inviting and supporting research in every direction has been adequately realised among us.
There is still another endowment of the great naturalist to which allusion must be made. In his boyhood he had some ambition to embrace the profession of an artist, and he actually went up from the Isle of Man to London in his seventeenth year and became an art student. He met with so little encouragement in this direction, however, that at the end of four months he returned to his native island and prepared to enter on his medical studies at Edinburgh. Nevertheless, in spite of this failure, he assuredly had no mean talent as a draughtsman, and the possession of this gift proved to be of value to him all through life. It was especially serviceable in his capacity as a teacher of Natural History. In his time many facilities, now at the command of the lecturer, did not exist, such as lantern-slides, photographs; and other modes of pictorial illustration. Pence much more use was then made of wall-diagrams and outlines drawn by the teacher on the blackboard. It was in itself a. rare pleasure to watch Edward Forbes sketch on the blackboard the outer forms and internal organisation of some invertebrate creature; to see how, as he went on with his description, his hand would keep pace with his tongue, as with divers coloured chalks he would build up the whole complex structure, every line, with true artistic deftness, curving gracefully and accurately into its place, until the organism stood out as not merely an instructive diagram, but as really a work of art-greeted usually with the hearty applause of the students.
His published volumes, especially those of early date, are full of proofs of artistic talent and likewise of a delicate fancy and strong sense of humour. His 'History of British Starfishes' (1841), from its first to its last page, is interspersed with views of scenes interesting to naturalists, and with quaint vignettes and tail-pieces, where sea creatures creep about among gnomes, elves and fairies, in all kinds of comical positions and employments. The title-page is particularly noteworthy for its central vignette, combining an allusion to the author's beloved Island and to his favourite pursuits. The Manx shield, with its tripartite arms, is placed in front of a zoological dredge, surmounted by. a starfish, radiating beams of light, and supported on the right by a crowned merman bearing a sword, and on the left by a mermaid with long tresses, a star above her forehead, and a mirror in her hand.
The death of Edward Forbes, in the prime of life, when he had gained the position that seemed to promise a still more brilliant career in the years that were to come, was mourned as a national loss. To all naturalists in this country, and to many in every country in the world, it was an irreparable bereavement. But, above all, to those who had lived in intimate association with him it was the extinction of one of the closest and dearest friendships of life. One of the most eminent of these sorrowing contemporaries gave vent to their feelings in these memorable words:-'Within the privileged circle of his friends, the old mourn hint as a son, and the young as a brother. It is not because he was so gifted that the veterans of science one and all affirm his loss to be irreparable: and the aspirants know that they may succeed, but cannot replace him. Our affections cling to character, and not to intellect; and rare as was the genius of Edward Forbes, his character was rarer still. The petty vanities and heart- burnings, which are the besetting sins of men of science and of men of letters, had no hold upon his large and generous nature; he did not even understand them in others. A thorough spirit of charity-a complete toleration for everything but empiricism. and pettiness-seemed to hide from him all but the good and worthy points in his fellow-men. If he ever wronged a man, it was by making him fancy himself better than he was. Worked to death, his time and his knowledge were at the disposal of all comers; and though his published works have been comparatively few, his ideas have been as the grain of mustard-seed in the parable-they have grown into trees and brought forth fruit an hundredfold ; but he never seemed to think it worth while to claim his share.
The question has naturally suggested itself, whether advantage should not be taken. of this Centenary to place in his own native Island some tangible memorial of Edward Forbes, who was certainly one of the most illustrious men of whom the Isle of Man can boast. A proposal has, I understand, been mooted among Manxmen to make vigorous efforts to have the long-deferred Manx Museum erected without much further delay, in order that the various ïnteresting and valuable collections of Natural History and Antiquity, which are now housed in different parts of the Island, shall be brought together under one roof. Having myself some personal acquaintance with the Isle of Man, and having from my own experience realised what an advantage it would be to the Island to possess such a central Museum, I would most warmly support the proposal. An island standing in the midst of the seas, complete and self-contained within its shores, is an ideal place for the erection of a Museum in which its own productions and history can be fully illustrated, and the Isle of Man is pre-eminently suitable for the purpose. It has a most varied and interesting geological structure. Its natural history is in many respects remarkable, for, over and above its land fauna and flora, it is surrounded by a sea which is famous for the variety and abundance of its marine life. And, to crown all, the Isle is rich in antiquities of the deepest interest and value in relation to the races that have peopled the British Islands. If illustrations of all these different departments of study were arranged in a central, well-lighted building, the institution would take its place as a valuable source of educational influence. Every patriotic Manxman would have pleasure in seeing there what the Isle can produce, and would doubtless have pride in adding, as far as he could, to its collections. To the many visitors drawn to the Island by the charm and variety of its attractions, the Museum would be an indispensable centre of information and instruction. If, in any way, the name of Edward Forbes were connected with such an institution, it would be the most appropriate and beneficent tribute to his memory that his fellow-countrymen could raise.
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