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- Si delectamur cum scribimus, quis est tam invidus, qui ab eo nos abducat ? sin laboramus, quis est, qui alienæ modum statuat industriæ,"CICERO.
1966 at $176
Bourd april 28
It will be obvious, on a cursory examination, that this Work has been the amusement of its Author. Having, on his en. trance into business, much unoccupied time, a portion of it could not, he thought, be better employed, than in enlarging that knowledge of Natural History, which, when a student, it had been his duty to acquire, and which has always, and never more so than at the present time, been deemed a necessary part of the education of a physicia. For this purpose he began to examine, with some care, the indigenous plants of the neigh. bourhood, and the catalogue made of his discoveries gradually assumed a form which, perhaps too fondly believes, may without presumption be submitted to the friends of Botany.
The chief object of the book is to give such a description of the plants growing wild in the vicinity of Berwick, as may enable any one acquainted with the elements of the science, to ascertain the names by which they are known; and it will like. wise serve as a guide to conduct the inquirer to the places where the rarer species are to be found. The utility of a work of this kind, consists in its facilitating the investigation of species to those resident within the limits of which it treats, by lessening the objects of comparison; while others may find in it some facis illustrative of the geographical distribution of our native plants, and of the influence which particular situations exert in producing changes in their appearances.
To relieve, however, the dryness of mere descriptive de. tail, and to point out the manner in which this study may be made most conducive to onrr amusement, if not to our instruction, various particulars have been added relative to the uses of our plants in agriculture, in the arts, and in medicine. And, in the Flora of a river, so celebrated as the Tweed in pastoral poetry, and “ where flowers of fairy blow," it seemed allowable to notice, at greater length than is usual in works of science, the purposes to which superstition has applied them in former times, and the illustrations which they have afforded to the poets of our own day, -A few faets şelative to the phy. siology of vegetable life have been also given; but-of what I had collected, by far the greater -portion has been cancelled, lest our work should have exceeded its proper limits. I ean. not, however, but strongly recommend to the young botanist the attentive observation of such phenomena ;-it will add greatly to the pleasure of the walks which he must take in search of the objects of his study, and will remove from him the reproach which has sometimes been cast- upon us, of being mere collectors of vegetable curiosities, of which we seemed anxious to know nothing beyond the barbarous name that some dull systematist may have given them. -I indeed cannot praise the botanist, who has no other object in his excursions than to add a specimen to his herbarium, and who confines his examination of it to those characters by which he ascertains its name in the system. I know well that such investigations are not void of interest, it is akin to that which the mathemati. cian feels in the solution of a problem,--but Botany has other
pleasures. There is not a flower which blows but has some beauty only unveiled to the minute inquirer,--some peculiarity in structure fitting it for its destined place and purpose, and yet not patent to a casual glance. Many are full of remembrances and associations, in which it is good for us to indulge. To the student “ a yellow primrose on the brim" should be something more than a yellow primrose. He should, to bor, row the words of the author of the “ Sketch Book," be conti. nually coming upon some little document of poetry in the blos. somed hawthorn, the daisy, the cowslip, the primrose, or some other simple object that has received a supernatural value from the muse. And, as his pursuit leads him into the most wild and beautiful scenes of nature, so his knowledge enables him to enjoy them with a higher relish than others. They are full of his “ familiar friends,” with whom he holds a kind of intellectual communion ; he can analyse the landscape, and assign to every individual its share in the general effect.
The district, whose native vegetable productions I have attempted to describe, is bounded on the south by a ridge of basaltic rocks, which take their rise at Buddle, and run in a westerly direction to Belford. From this we suppose a line drawn across the elevated moor, until it reaches the river Till, which forms the western boundary, until it joins the Tweed. To the north of this river the political bounds of Berwickshire are considered those of this Flora; and the sea bounds the whole district on the east.
* It is necessary, however, to remark, that I have had few opportunities of botanizing in the west of Berwickshire. The plants of the Fern Islands, Bamborough Castle, and Cheviot, though a little beyond our limits, are included, as these places are often visited from curiosity.
Within these limits we find soils of every kind and quality The sea-shore to the south of the river is flat and sandy, interrupted in some places by elevated banks of sandstone, in others by a muddy soil, deposited by the rivulets which terminate there. It is bounded by a narrow stripe of links, formed of sand-knolls, fixed by means of the bent and other plants with creeping roots; and, though barren and waste in an agricultural view, it is rich to the botanist in flowers of great beauty, and not of such commonness as to render them uninteresting. External to this stripe the country is flat, highly cultivated, and, in general, of a productive soil, until we reach, at the distance of three miles or more, the elevated moors which occupy such a large space in the heart of the district. Beyond these the ground rapidly declines, to form the fertile and beautiful vale, through which the Till winds its sluggish course. No part rises to an elevation exceeding 400 feet; nor is it intersected by any river, but a few burns run in the ravines, which are numerous and rich in plants. The largest, and indeed the only sheet of water, is the Lough on Holy Island, a place than which no one will more amply gratify the naturalist.
This, the southern half of our district, abounds in coal and lime, which are indeed the prevailing minerals. There is, comparatively speaking, little sandstone ; and the chain of rocks which take their rise near Bamborough, and terminate at Ky. loe, are trap-rocks, at some places covered with a shallow ver. dant soil, at others bare, and forming “ lofty picturesque cliffs, in their struture approaching the columnar,” with more or less of debris at their base*. Such a ridge, as we might anticipate
* For an account of the Geology of Northumberland, I refer to Mr Winch's Essay on that subject, and to a paper by Mr TREVELYAN, on the Geognosy of the Coast near Bamborough, in Wernerian Memoirs, vol. iv. p. 253.