If the balance of nature is broken, the entry concluded, “we can no longer trust nature” to restore herself. Animals, plants and their environment were in an equilibrium, Madison realized, and brilliantly linked these ideas to Priestley’s and Ingenhousz’s theories of plant respiration. Animals respired air that was “unfitted for their further uses,” he explained, but plants reversed the process. If the “whole class of vegetables were extinguished,” Madison concluded, animals would not survive, as they were dependent upon each other. The “economy of nature,” Madison told the members of the Agricultural Society, was an “admirable arrangement” and a “beautiful feature.” Never before had an American so vividly explained how to learn from nature.