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Published two years before the Origin of Species, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz’s Essay on Classification (1857)—the most articulate nineteenth-century expression of classical biology—embodied theories from which Darwin later differed radically. Natural history “exhibits not only thought,” Agassiz said, “but omniscience, providence.” His Essay, with its acute comments on animal ecology, distribution, and the value of classification, shows the forces with which Darwin and his followers had to contend.