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Paris, has pursued his inquiries into the anatomical structure, and the physical operations of plants, to an extent not exceeded by any other naturalist ; his “ Elemens de Botanique” is a splendid work, which forms a very important and valuable ad. dition to a botanical library.
The Baron Humboldt spent five years in investigating the vegetable productions of the equatorial regions in America, and his remarks on vegetables, as a criterion of climate, are original and interesting.
Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon, was distinguished for her fondness for this study; other ladies of distinction, stimula. ted by her example, cultivated plants with reference to scien. tific observations.
In England, Mrs. Wakefield, and the industrious and talent. ed Mrs. Marcet (author of Conversations on Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, &c.), have distinguished themselves as the authors of useful treatises on Botany.
De Candolle’s “ Elementary Theory of Botany,” is highly valued as a scientific and able performance; but it is useful, rather for those who have already attained a knowledge of the elements of botany, than for the beginner in the science.
In turning from Europe to the United States, we find the state of literature flourishing, and a taste for the natural sciences becoming extensively diffused. The names of many of our naturalists stand high in Europe, as well as in their own country.
Among these are Silliman, who established the first scienti. fic journal,* and encouraged others to pursue the course of investigation which he himself has followed so successfully. Ea. ton has indefatigably laboured to bring science within the reach of every inquirer, by divesting it of the dress of foreign languages, and the parade of learning ; not only rendering the labours of others of more general utility, but adding to the common stock, the result of years of inquiry and observation. To
go back to the infancy of science in the United States, we find the name of Bartram stands recorded in history, as that of the first nạtive of our country who was conspicuous for botanical researches.
Houston investigated the region of Canada, and described many of its plants; in honour of him is named the little flower HOUSTONIA cærulea.
* Except the Mineralogical Journal of Bruce, which ceased after the appearance of a few numbers.
Females who have interested themselves in the study of botany-Naturalists of the United States.
Clayton made a list of Virginian plants, and is commemorated in the beautiful CLAYTONIA virginica.
Kalm, a pupil of Linnæus, whose name is given to the KalMIA (American laurel), spent three years in America, and returned to Europe laden with botanical treasures; the sight of the American plants brought by his pupil, many of which were entirely new to him, is said to have produced such an effect upon Linnæus, that although lying ill of the gout, and unable to move, his spirits were rekindled, and in the delight of his mind he forgot his bodily anguish, and recovered from his disease.
Among the earliest botanists of North America, were Col. den, Michaux, and Muhlenberg ; Pursh was the first who furnished a system of North American plants, so arranged as to be useful to the student. Some of the first teachers of the science were Barton, Hosack and Mitchell. The first lecturer on Botany in the interor of North America, was Professor Amos Eaton. Dr. Bigelow gave a course of lectures in Bos. ton, in the year 1813, and soon after published his Boston Flora.
Professor Ives and Dr. Tully did much in New England towards awakening a zeal for the science, in the years 1815 and 1816; and at a later period, Dr. Sumner has pursued and illustrated the study with much ardor and success.
Want of books was a great impediment to the progress of the science when Eaton published his Botanical Dictionary and Manual of Botany ; this book gave a new impulse to the progress of the science ; its familiar method and simple style induced many to commence the study. This was followed by many other works describing plants, and several elementary works ; of the former class were Nuttall's Genera, Elliott's Southern Plants, Barton's Flora of Philadelphia, Darlington's, Torrey's, and Bigelow's Floras ; these furnished descriptions of most American Plants, not included in the works of Pursh. Among Elementary books are · Barton's Elements," a large work containing much that is interesting in the physiology of plants ; “ Lock's Botany,” a small book, but exhibiting a plan of arrangement simple and methodical; “Sumner's Compendium of Botany," written in a beautiful and pure style; and more recently, “ Nuttall's Elementary Work,” which gives, in popular language, more facts with regard to plants, than almost any other work of the kind. In all the books which we have enumerated, none have been designed as a full and connected course of botanical study. The publication of our present course of instruction, may, perhaps, remove some ob
American botanists--American works on botany,
stacles which have hitherto impeded the progress of botanical information, particularly in schools, and among our own sex. From some examples in our own class, we see that even children may become botanists, and lay aside their toys to divert themselves by distinguishing the organs of plants and tracing out their classification. A few years since, the science of Botany was confined almost wholly to those of the medical profession, now it is within the reach of all who can read the English language, and few indeed are the natives of our re. public who are destitute of this qualification.
Of all sciences, perhaps no one is settled on a firmer foun. dation than that of botany; the improvements of future years, we are not able to anticipate ; but it is probable that as discoveries and improvements are made, they will cluster around the principles already established ; each taking its proper place in the various departments now arranged for the reception of scientific truths.
The spirit of our government is highly favourable to the promotion and dissemination of knowledge ; and although Europe may boast of many stars which irradiate her firmament of letters, shining with brilliant lustre amidst the surrounding darkness of ignorance ; may we not justly feel a national pride in that more general diffusion of intellectual light, which is radiating from every part, and to every part of the American republic !
GENERAL VIEW OF NATURE.
Organized and Inorganized Bodies.-Classification of
HAVING considered the vegetable kingdom under its various aspects, it
proper, before closing our course of botan. ical study, to take a general view of that external world of matter, of which the part we have examined, extended and diversified as it is, constitutes but a very small portion. The science you have been investigating, with some others, constitutes a general branch of knowledge, termed Natural sci
The study of nature presents in a lively and forcible manner, the power and wisdom of the Creator; and offers to the enlightened mind a never failing source of the most pure
Study of botany within the reach of all.—This science firmly settled-Difførence between the state of science in Europe and America.—Natural science. and refined enjoyment. Those who know nothing of this source of happiness, cannot appreciate its value ; they may in. quire the use of studying into the nature of objects, without any reference to the enjoyment of the senses, to personal gain, or honour. A celebrated naturalist* observes ; « The rich and the great imagine, that every one is miserable, and out of the world, who does not live as they do; but they are the persons who, living far from nature and from God, live out of the world. Misled by the prejudices of a faulty education, I have pursued a vain felicity amid the false glories of arms, the fa. vour of the great, and sometimes in frivolous and dangerous pleasures. I have never been happy but when I trusted in God; opposed to Thee, the AUTHOR of all things! power is weakness ! supported by THEE, weakness becomes strength! When the rude Northern blasts have ravaged the earth, Thou callest forth the feeblest of winds; at the sound of The voice, the zephyr breathes, the verdure revives, the gentle cowslip and the humble violet cover the bosom of the bleak earth with a mantle of gold and purple.”
To the pious reflections of this French writer we will add the following quotation from an English author,f the energies of whose rich and cultivated intellect were devoted to the cause of religion ; who viewed nature as a philosopher, but what is far better, as a Christian. Happy indeed, are those in whom philosophy and Christianity are blended, and delightful is the intercourse even in this world between minds thus enlightened and purified !
“ There is peculiar sweetness in the recollection of those hours which we have spent with friends of a kindred spirit, amidst the beauties of created nature. The Christian can alone find that congeniality in associates, who not only possess a lively and cultivated sense of the high beauty which land. scape scenery presents to the eye, but who can also see crea. tion's God in every feature of the prospect. The painter can imitate, the poet describe, and the tourist talk with ecstacy of the sublime and beautiful objects which constitute the scene before him. But he can only be said to enjoy them aright, whose talents, taste, and affections are consecrated to the glory of Him by whom all things were made, and without whom was not any thing made that was made.
When the pencil that traces the rich and animated landscape of mountains, lakes and trees, is guided by a grateful heart as well as by a skilful hand, then the picture becomes no less an acceptable offering to God, than it is a source of well directed pleasure to the mind of man. And when the poet, in harmonious numbers, makes hill and dale responsive to his song, happy is it if his soul be in unison with the harp of David, and if he can call on all created nature to join in one universal chorus of gratitude and praise. The Christian traveller best enjoys scenes like these. In every wonder he sees the hand that made it-in every landscape, the beauty that adorns it-in rivers, fields and forests, the Providence that ministers to the wants of man -in every surrounding object he sees an emblem of his own spiritual condition, himself a stranger and a pilgrim, journeying on through a country of wonders and beauties ; alternately investigating, admiring, and praising the works of his Maker, and anticipating a holy and happy eternity to be spent in the Paradise of God, where the prospects are ever new, and the landscapes never fade from the sight !”
* St. Pierre.
Reflections on the study of natural science.
“O! for the expanded mind that soars on high,
To make the Rose of Sharon all our song. Naturalists, to the great discredit of science, have formerly shewn an unhappy tendency to scepticism; enabled to compre. hend some of the great operations of nature, they presumed to set up their own reason against the revelation of God, and impiously refused to believe any thing which could not be explained according to the principles of human science. Searching into the elements which compose the human body; and observing the dispersion of the same, and their incorporation into other substances, they affirmed that it was “a thing impossible for God to raise the dead.” Well might we, in addressing such a philosopher, say, with the Apostle, « Thou fool!” Cannot He who formed all things of nothing, reani. mate the sleeping dust, and recal the spirit to its own body ? Happily this melancholy perversion of human learning seems to have passed away, and we now see many of the most enlightened investigators of the principles of science among the most humble disciples of Jesus.*
* In the character of Dr. Mason Good, as exhibited in his biography, written by Olinthus Gregory, we find this union of science with deep and fervent piety most happily exemplified.
Naturalists formerly inclined to scepticism.