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In offering this book to the public, the Author hopes to have ren dered the first principles of the Science of Botany of easy attainment; and that Instructers, in the developement of the work, will find such methodical arrangements, and simple illustrations, as may render it easy for their pupils, and agreeable to themselves.
The most proper time for commencing botanical studies, seems to be that of the opening of flowers in the spring; though, should circumstances render it desirable to commence in winter, every assist ance thought necessary, is offered by engravings, especially by the representations of dissected plants. The arrangement of subjects might be altered in pursuing the study, without the aid of natural flowers. The second part, which treats of the various organs of plants, the formation of buds, and other subjects connected with vege iable physiology; the fourth part, which gives the history of science, with the distinctions in the kingdoms of nature, might be studied to advantage, before attending much to the principles of classification, which are mostly illustrated in the first and third parts.
The Botanical Class in this Institution, has for some years past been composed of about forty pupils.* The method pursued in teach ing, has been very laborious, as the want of suitable books rendered it necessary for the Author of these Lectures, who has had charge of the class, to devote much time and attention, in gleaning from different writers, such facts and principles as would illustrate the science, and make it interesting to the pupils. This work contains the sub stance of what has been thus collected, and the method in which those facts and principles were illustrated and arranged. A brief view of the manner in which I have proceeded in teaching, may be satisfactory to those about to commence the science.
On the first meeting of the class, after some explanation as to the nature of the study they are about to commence, each member is presented with a flower for analysis. The flower selected is always a simple one, exhibiting in a conspicuous manner the different opgans of fructification ; the lily and tulip are both very proper for this purpose. The names of the different parts of the Hower are then explained, each pupil being directed to dissect and examine her flower as we proceed. After noticing the parts of fructification, the pupils are prepared to understand the principles on which the artificial classes are founded, and to trace the plant to its proper class, order, &c. At each step, they are required to examine their flowers, and to answer simultaneously the questions proposed; as, how many stamens has your flower? Suppose it 10 be a lily, they answer six They are then told it is of the sixth class. How many pistils? They
* The summer term after the publication of the first edition of this work, the number was increased to 70.
answer one--they are told it is of the first order. They are then directed to take their books and turn to the sixth class, first order, to find the genus. In each step, in the comparison, they are questioned as above described, until
, having seen in what respects their plant agrees with each general division, and differs from each genus under the section in which it is found, they ascertain its generic name. They are taught in the same manner to trace out its species: their minds perceiving at each step, some new circumstances of resemblance or difference, until they come to a species, the description of which answers to the plant under consideration.
Technical terms are explained as we proceed; and the advantage in this kind of explanation, over that of any abstract idea, is, that it is manifested to the senses of the pupils, by the object before them. If a teacher attempt to define the words, reason, will, foc. or any
other abstract terms, there is danger that the pupil may, from misunderstanding the language used in the explanation, obtain but a very confused and imperfect idea of the definition; and, indeed, what two authors or philosophers give to abstract terms the same definition ? Though mankind do not, in the purely mental operations, exhibit an entire uniformity, yet, in their external senses, they seldom disagree. A flower which appears to one person to be composed of six petals, corolla bell-form, and of a yellow colour, is seen to be so by another. Pupils who find it difficult to understand their other studies, (which in early youth are often too abstract,) are usually delighted with this method of analyzing plants; they feel that they understand the whole process, by which they have brought out the result, and perhaps for the first time enjoy the pleasure of a clear idea upon a scientific subject.
It is necessary, before the meeting of the class, to have a suitable number of plants collected, so that all may have specimens. In examining the pupils as they proceed in their study, each one, besides reciting a lesson, should be required to give an analysis of a plant; sometimes the whole class having but one species; sometimes giving to each pupil permission to bring any flower she chooses. This, also, at public examinations, is a satisfactory method of testing their knowledge of the subject. With respect to those portions of the work to which their attention should most particularly be paid, it must be left to the judgment of the teacher. Whatever relates to modes of classification, and makes part of a system, should be noted; many remarks, illustrations, and quotations, are designed merely for reading, without being considered as important matter for recitations.
An analysis of the subjects of each Lecture is given, as a substitute for questions; the practice of having set questions, appearing too mechanical for teachers, who feel an interest in the sciences they teach. This analysis, it is thought, will answer all the purposes of questions, without being attended with their disadvantages.
Importance of System.-Advantages to be derived from the Study
of Botany. The universe consists of matter and mind. By the faculties of mind with which God has endowed us, we are able to examine into the properties of the material objects by which we are surrounded.
If we had no sciences, nature would present exactly the same phenomena as at present. The heavenly bodies would move with equal regularity, and preserve the same relative situations, although no system of Astronomy had been formed. The laws of gravity and of motion, would operate in the same man. ner as at present, if we had no such science as Natural Phi. losophy. The affinities of substances for each other were the same, before the science of Chemistry existed, as they are now. It is an important truth, and one which cannot be too much impressed upon the mind in all scientific investigations, that no systems of man can change the laws and operations of Nature; though by systems, we are enabled to gain a knowledge of these laws and relations.
The Deity has not only placed before us an almost infinite variety of objects, but has given to our minds the power of reducing them into classes, so as to form beautiful and regular systems, by which we can comprehend, under a few terms, the vast number of individual things, which would, otherwise, present to our bewildered minds a confused and indiscriminate mass. This power of the mind, so important in classification, is that of discovering resemblances. We perceive two objects, we have an idea of their resemblance, and we give a common name to both; other similar objects are then referred to the same class or receive the same name. A child sees a flower which he is told is a rose; he sees another resembling it, and nature teaches him to call that also a rose. On this operation of the mind depends the power of forming classes or of generalizing.
By the faculties of mind we examine the properties of matter--Human science cannot alter the laws of nature-Power of the mind to form classes,
Some relations or resemblances are seen at the first glance; others are not discovered until after close examination and reflection; but the most perfect classification is not always founded upon the most obvious resemblances. ignorant of Botany, on beholding the profusion of flowers which adorn the face of nature, would discover general resemblances, and perhaps form in his mind, some order of arrangement; but the system of Botany now in use, neglecting the most conspicuous parts of the flower, is founded upon the obser. vation of small parts of it, which a common observer might not notice.
System is necessary in every science. It not only assists in the acquisition of knowledge, but enables us to retain what is thus acquired; and, by the laws of association, to call forth what is treasured up in the storehouse of the mind. System is important not only in the grave and elevated departments of science, but is essential in the most common concerns and operations of ordinary life. In conducting any kind of business, and in the arrangement of household concerns, it is indispensable to the success of the one, and to the comfort of those interested in the other. The very logical and systematic arrange. ment which prevails in Botanical science, has, without doubt, a tendency to induce in the mind the habit and love of order; which, when once established, will operate, even in the minu. test concerns. Whoever traces this system, through its various connexions, by a gradual progress from individual plants to general classes, until the whole vegetable world seems brought into one point of view; and then descends in the same methodi. cal manner, from generals to particulars, must acquire a habit of arrangement, and a perception of order, which is the true practical logic.
The study of Botany seems peculiarly adapted to females; the objects of its investigation are beautiful and delicate; its pursuits, leading to exercise in the open air, are conducive to health and cheerfulness. It is not a sedentary study which can be acquired in the library, but the objects of the science are scattered over the surface of the earth, along the banks of the winding brooks, on the borders of precipices, the sides of mountains, and the depths of the forest.
A knowledge of Botany is necessary to the medical profession. Our Almighty Benefactor, in bestowing upon us the vegetable tribes, has not only provided a source of refined en.
Classification not always founded upon the most striking resemblances, as in Botany-Importance of system-The study of Botany is practical logicProper for femalesNecessary to the medical profession.
joyment in the contemplation of their beautiful forms and colours ; in their fragrance, by which, in their peculiar language, they seem to hold secret communion with our minds; He has not only given them for our food and clothing, but with kind, parental care, has, in them, provided powers to counteract and remove the diseases to which mankind are subject. For many ages plants were the only medicines known, or used; but modern discoveries in Chemistry, by forming compounds of previously existing elements, have, in some degree, superseded their use. Although the science of medicine has received much additional light from Chemistry, it may perhaps in modern days have occupied the attention of medical men too exclusively; inducing them to toil in their laboratories to form those combinations which nature had done, much more perfectly, in the plants which they pass unheeded. It is probable that the medicinal productions of the animal and mineral king. doms, bear but a small proportion to those of the vegetable.
When our forefathers came to this country, they found the natives in possession of much medical knowledge of plants. Having no remedies prepared by scientific skill, the Indians were led, by necessity, to the use of those which nature offered them; and, by experience and observation, they had arrived at many valuable conclusions as to the qualities of plants. Their mode of life, leading them to penetrate the shades of the forest, and to climb the mountain precipices, naturally associated them much with the vegetable world. The Indian woman, the patient sharer in these excursions, was led to look for such plants as she might use for the diseases of her family. Each new and curious plant, though not viewed by her as a botanist would now behold it, doubíless was regarded with scrutinizing attention; the colour, taste, and smell, were carefully remarked as indications of its properties. But the discoveries and observations of the Indians have perished with themselves; having no system for the classification or description of plants, nor any written language by which such a system might have been conveyed to others, no vestige, but uncertain tradition, remains of their knowledge of the medicinal qualities of plants.
The study of nature in any of her varieties is highly interesting and useful. But the heavenly bodies are far distant from us, and were they within our reach, are too mighty for us to grasp; our feeble minds seem overwhelmed in the contemplation of their immensity.
Animals, though affording the most striking marks of design
Experience of the Indians with respect to plants--Medicinal virtues of plants—Heavenly bodies—Animals.