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A FULL EXPLANATION
THE SCIENCE OF BOTANY;
ROBERT JOHN THORNTON, M.D.
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, LECTURER ON BOTANY AT GUY'S HOSPITAL, AUTHOR
OF THE “TEMPLE OF FLORA,” &c. &c.
Or all studies there is none wbicb appeals, exercise to the understanding. It is to the more to the fancy and the understanding, than praise of the study of botany, that it furnishes this delightful science. Our best Poets seem. exertiou to the talents of those who could not to have been of this opinion. --Shakespear is be persuaded to employ them in any other Never so much at ease as when he is culling
It is an exercise which invigorates simples in the fields and gardens; and the most whilst it a nuses the mind. It increases, condelightful employment which Milton can give firms, and still more frequently forms a his Eve in her state of primæval innocence, is memory. By the habits which it induces, that of ranging through the bowers of Eden, it often calls forth latent powers of the and giving names and distinctions to the several understanding, and those who begin with herbs, trees, and flowers of Paradise. Even Mowers, herbs, and trees, may pass on to the genius of the Poet seems itself to rise | greater objects. To a word, a person who with renovated wing as he flies through this has become a good botanist, may ultimately store-house of nature. If he must want all become a good reasoner, and if his taste should feeliug who can bear unmoved the sounds of so lead him, a good natural philosopher. music, whose soul and whose senses are dead Bctany is a science which has so many to the concord of sweet sounds, still more charms that it must bave been cultivated senseless must be be who can walk unmoved from time immemorial. We learn from Scripamidst the charms of nature ; who can see ture, when man was first created, he was put with undelighted eye “the lilies of the field,” into Paradise, and had enjoined him the culand all the luxuriant bounty of nature in tivation of plants, an employment as poble beauty and variety.
as it must be agreeable. Every heart must Botany may be truly defined the study and indeed be filled with delight, at seeing the contemplation of the most beautiful part of bounty and profusion of nature in the vegetable nature. The natural philosophers study her kingdom. Besides the gratification of the in other modes; the one takes her minerals, sight, how are the other senses regaled by the the other her animals. Every part of nature vegetable race. Independent of the smiling certainly well werits, and well repays, the aspect of Howers, the sense of smelling is also Jabour and the attention of the student. excited by the most agreeable odours, whilst The botanist, however, with happier taste, the murmuring of quivering leaves gently leaving the harder science of general physiology
rouses the sense of hearing; and lastly, a to the philosopher by profession, selects for thousand delicious fruits from the bended bimself from the vegetable world. He follows bouglis invite us to partake of a rich and nature as it were to her dressing-room, and be. | wholesome repast. The variety of hill and comes spectator of the art and felicity in which dale, the broad expanse of water, the luxuriant she invests herself, and of the beauty in which verdure beneath, the multitude of trees clothhe sees her. Like Solomon he learns the name of ing the mountains to their very tops; animals, every flower that grows, and no herb that sips : birds, and insects, which seem as it were formed the morning dew, no lowering tree that rises to make the landscape alive ; the clouds floatto the mid-day sun, is unknown to him. ing above, whose skirts are brightened by the
Of studies equal in the innocence of their all-enlivening sun, which gently drop from ohject, the preference seems due to that which, i their bosoms the fructifying shower; the va. whilst it contributes to the amusement of the riety of seasons, with their successive produc. leisure hour, provides at the same time an tions, forming, as it were, a diversified drama, No. I. Vol. I.N.S.
a continually shifted scene, which never ! Only remove from your ideas the total ex cloys, and always deliglits, must have at the istence of vegetables, as Cicero said, “deprive first struck man, even the more barbarons, the world of friendship," or as Lavoisier or least instructed. How much more then said, “fancy the sun extinct,” cach to exalt must be the satisfaction of virtuous and culti- the value of their suljects, then no longer vated miuds. What must be the enjoyment of would those trees wbich afford us shade, that that person who beholds these wonders of cre- verdure which delights vur eyes, and feeds our ative powers throngh the medium of science! fucks and berds, thuse plants which produce How much more will be rejoice who sees oot us linen, cordage, and paper, the very bread these things collectively, but can scparate tbe we eat, those medicives which assuage our component parts. A single object to the in- ills, all those vumberless flowers which regale structed will arrest his attention for hours. It our sight and smell, all would be desolation; is here that the botanist will find an unknown
and as all animals are supported primarily on plant, which he probably observes for the first vegetables, animal life must quickly cease to tiine, a new acquaintance, wbo will ever after exist; so much depends ou plants. wear the same smiling countenance: there he
To some persous the study of botany may will behold another, which be has for some
appear an arduous and disagreeable task: but tiine lost sight of, and will now be to him as
I it should be remembered ibat nothing worthy welcome as a relative returned from a distant acquisition is 10 be obtained without lacountry; and at every walk he will meet with bour. The aucients, who used to clothe their his old acquaintances, who annually come to
sentiments in bieroglypbical representations, pay him their visits. Every season, every
expressed this by the marriage of Vulcan climate, every country will present a new
with Venus, the god of Deformity to the spectacle to bis sight. Even places the most goddess of Beauty, to point out that the wild and uncultivated has its charms, for hewing of stones, shaping them, bringing there nature will be found to work fresh won
them togetber, bad the appearance of a task, ders. There is no solitude to him, he is of roughness, and deformity; whereas, when always surrounded with agreeable companions these were associated, and the temple or pawhich interest him, as those who take the
lace was constructed, nothing appeared but circuit round the world, and observe new symmetry and beauty; or to use our former inhabitants, new manners, and new customs;' comparison, as on a bright day the elevation aud in this pursuit he never feels bis spirits of a telescope shews us the primary planets in Hag; his faculties become improved, his bealth all their splendour, and their attendant satelis thereby increased or renovated, he is away lites, so will a knowledge of the terms of bofroin the smoke and confusion of cities, be tany make us see the vegetable world with feels an inward contentment such as no other other optics than with tbuse they appear in pursuit can give bim; and in reading over the to the generality of spectators. pages of the book of nature, if ever it be the In order to acquire a true knowledge of lot for man to he happy, it is then.
botany, the terms of the science must be first But in order to possess this bigh prerogative, learnt, and as an apology for our terms, what denied to the lower ranks of mankind, to see
science is there devoid of terms? Geography, nature as she is, through the optics of science, astrouony, chemistry, and music, have each it is necessary that the youthful botanist their respective or peculiar expression, and should understand well the terms, or defini- habit as readily familiarizes us to them, as we tions of our art.
acquire a new language, and the apparent Butanists will see order and contrivance difficulty is only at the ouset. Unfortunately, where the uninformed spectater behoids but as the terms apply to things, these should the confusion of parts, and splendour of co.
either be pointed out in nature, or their picJour; botanists will discern a vitality in piants,' tures presented us, or our notions will be which approximate them to our own natures; confused, for what is addressed to the ear botanists will rise from class to order, from cannot equally express what is given by the genera to species; will compare and establish painter; and the defect of botanical publicathe difference of resembling individuals; will | tions in general is, that a right definition separate rarieties from this last; and if ever with demonstration has seldom gone hand in there was an atheist, that being could not be hand; but it is the intention of the Proprietor one conversant with our science, for the bo- of this Magazine *, to forward the purposes tanist cannot fail to acknowledge an order, a design, a contrivance, that mark both in- * It has been proposed to Doctor Thornton, finite power, wisdom, and goodness!
and accepted by him, to give the world a New
of science, to let them mutually assist each of such, as are very little known, cannot renother, and this by means of Wooden Cuts, | der the science more easily attainable, since which are abundantly adequate to accomplish both the terms and their definitions must ueall that students can wish.
cessarily be learnt. And if words, sanctioned lo a purely descriptive science, like bo- | by general use, were applied in a new sense, tany, wbere a great nuniber of terms is indis. little or no advantage would result from it, pensably requisite, it becomes an object of for they would require explanation as much primary importance to have these well chosen, as perfectly new terms; and they would be and accurately defined. And the rapid exten- liable to produce confusion, by suggesting to sion of botanical knowledge, within the last the mind their ordinary signification. On the seventy years, is perhaps not less owing to other hand, the benefit to be derived from the superior precision of the language em- rendering our native botanical language a more ployed, and, in a great measure, invented by exact resemblance of the original, is obviously Linnæus, than to the excellence of his arrange- very great. Not only its conciseness and prement. If the study of botany had remained cision are thereby improved; but the transconfined to such persons as were able to read lated and Latin terms, in most ivstances, will bis original writings, it would not have been mutually serve to suggest each other: wlience necessary to form a vernacular botanical lan- | those who have been accustomed to read boguage. But, since botany bas been long : tavical writings in the Latin or English lanfavourite pursuit, both in this and other na- guage only, will find very little difficulty in tions, amongst persons, who bave not had the understanding the botanical terms in works, advantages of a classical education, it has written in the other language. * been found vecessary to translate the different In order to render the conception of works of Lindæus. And, that the class of each term clearer, as well as to correct any readers, just mentioned, may enjoy the full error we may have fallen into, the definitions benefit, to be derived from these translations, of the most distinguished botanists will be it is requisite that appropriate vernacular also given, as notes, in order that the views terms be employed in them, which shall equal, of the most learned botanists may be seen, or be as little inferior as possible to the ori-' and the expressions in their several works ginal ones, in precision and conciseness. understood. t. In Great Britain very considerable atten
TRUNK (Truncus.) tion bas heen paid to this point by several in
Is the body or substance of a plant. genious writers, and the result is a material
NOTES. improvement of our botanical language, iu
1. Truncus. Organum multiplicans plantam. consequence of its being made to approach
LINNÆUS. more nearly to the Latin. This reform may, at first view, render the science more forbid
2. Anciently, and in common English, trunk ding and difficult to the mere English reader.
is put for the stem, budy, stock, or bole of a The difficulty, however, will be ultimately tree, for which Linnæus uses the word caudex. found to exist in appearance rather than in
He applies truncus to the stem or main body reality. Many terms must necessarily be learnt
of vegetables in general, and explains it to be, in this department of the science of nature,
“tbat which produces the leaves and fructifiand, since we have comparatively few sterling cation," or " the organ multiplying the English words of exactly the same import as
plant.”—MARTYN. the Linnean terms, if we reject those used
3. Truncus, in general, the body, stem, or by this celebrated botanist, and such as may
stock of a tree or plant, defined by Linnæus, be formed from them by a change of termina
to be that which produces the leaves and fruction, we must either invent new words, and
* Vide Hull's Preface to his Elements of Bogive them an equivalent signification, or we
tany. must employ words not generally received ;
† Vide Martyn's Language of Botany, wliose or we must apply words, which have beeu ad
definitions of the terms, and remarks, with mitted into general use, in an entirely new
those of Linnæus, in his Philosophia Botanica, sense, or, at least, in a more precise and defi.
Berkenhout, in his Botanical Lexicon, Dr. nite signification. Now it is evident, that the
Smith, in his Introduction to Physiological and introduction of new terms, or the employment | Systematical Botany, and Lamark, in his Prin
cipes élémentaire de Botanique, and Brisseau System of Botany, bat whether this will su- Mirbel, iv his Traité d'Anatomie et Physiologie persede the Sexual System of Linnæus remains Végétales, will be given by us to completely for a discerning public to determine.
satisfy the reader respecting each term.
tification. Former botanists applied the word , cipally suggested by the difference of size and Truncus, to trees only. - BERKEN HOUT. duration of the plants in question. Be that
4. Le trone, ou le tige (truncus, caulis) est as it may, the division was esteemed so natucette partie de la plaute qui tend toujours á hral and spoutaneous, that, from the time of monter verticalement, qui s'élève da collet de Aristotle and Theophrasius to the present la racine, et qui porte les feuilles lorsque la age, it has obtained a principal place in almost plante en a.-LAMARK.
every system, those of Rivinus and Linnæus There are several kinds of trunks, viz.
excepted, which mix herbs and trees promisI. A TREE (Arbor.) A vegetable or
cuously together. plant rising with one uniform permanent which have retained the ancient distinction,
Among the celebrated names in botany, ligneous body, called the trunk (truncus), are numbered Casalpinus, the father of sysdividing above into branches, having tematic botany; Morison, Hermanuus, Chrisbuds.
topher Knaut, Boerhaave, Ray, Pontedera, and Tournefort. The latter, rather than omit a division, through custom become necessary, chose to hurt the elegance and uniformity of his plan; and, in fact, spun out into twentytwo classes, what, without such a division, might have been easily comprised in seventeen.
On the opposite side are ranged, besides Rivinus and Linueus, already mentioned, Christian Knaut, Ludwig, and other names of less note.
The distinction into trees and shrubs, though of equal antiquity, is neither so obvious, nor are its limits so accurately ascertained. In fact, of the numerous characteristic differences which have been suggested by botanical wri. ters, not one is perfectly satisfactory. To declare, with Tournefort, that trees are universally taller than shrubs, is, in effect, saying
nothing, unless a certain fixed, immutable
standard were previously established. BeNotes.
sides, every thing respecting dimension is so 1. Arbor, a tree.—Not in Linnæus, but variable in its nature, and depends so much Truncus arboreus, which is thus defined, peren- upon difference of climate, soil and managevis caudice simplici.--LINNÆUS.
ment, tbat were a standard of this kind at. Arbor est planta, quæ truncum simplicem tempted to be established, the greatest con. et lignosum habet.--Ludwig.
fusion would ensue; and the same plant in 2. Not in Martyn, but truncus arboreus, an different conntries, and even in opposite soils arboreous trunk, single, woody, permanent, in the same country, would receive different as the bole of a tree opposed to shrubby, under appellations, according as it exceeded, or came shrubby, and herbaceous - Martyn.
short of the given standard. 3. Trees are hy Linnæus classed iu the se Thus the ricinus, or palma-christi; the venth family of the vegetable kingdom, and dwarf rosebay, rhododendron ; the strawberryare distinguished from shrubs in that their tree, arbutus ; and several others, which grow stems come up with buds on them; but this to the size of very large trees in warm cli. distinction bolds not universally, there being mates, are, in this country, equalled and even rarely any buds on the large trees in India. exceeded in height by many of our smallest BERKEN HOUT.
surubs. 4. Not in SMITH.
The difference of soil and culture in the 5. Arbre, quand la tige est simple et nue same climate, produces a like diversity in didans la base, et se divise en branches vers le mension. Thus to take an example from herhaut. LAMARK.
baceous vegetables, the marigold, which, in a OBSERVATIONS.-Upon these obvious and fat and moist earth rises two feet high, scarce striking differences was founded the very auci- exceeds the same number of inches in a dry ent division of vegetables into herbs and trees; and gravelly soil. though, perhaps, tbat distinction was prin Nature, says Linnæus, has put no limits
between trees and shrubs. Where then are 2. In its general acceptation, it is a vegewe to search for the foundation of this distinc table with several permanent woody stems, tion. Not in the difference of size and height, dividing from the bottom, more slender and of for nothing can be more fallible. Either, he lower growth than in trees. Linnæus makes continues, there are no limits at all, or they the distinction of a shrub from a tree to conare to be found in the buds; and the plants sist in its having no buds, but trees bave na are styled trees, when their stems come up | buds in hot climates. He acknowledges at the with buds; shrubs when they arise without same time, that nature has placed no exact buds; but this distinction is sufficiently con- Tianits between them.-MARTYN. futed by its author, who immediately'subjoins, 3. Shruls, according to Linnæus, make a that there are seldom any buds upon the very branch of the seventh family in the vegetable Jarge trees in India; which must, therefore, kingdom, and are distinguished from trees in notwithstanding their great height, according that they come up without buds; but this to this definition, be reckoned shrubs.
distinction is not universal, though it be geThe learned Dr. Alston, in his Tyrociniam nerally just with regard to those of Europe. Bolenicam, seems to consider the distinction Nature hath made no absolute distinction bejuto trees and shrohs às a true natural distinc-tween shrubs and trees. Fruter, in its genetion, and endeavours to trace its foundation ral acceptation, is a plant, whose trunk is in the internal structure of the plants them- perennial, gemmiparous, woody, dividing and selves. All trees, says he, whether they bear subdividing into a great number of branches. buds or not, are covered with the two basks, In short, it is the epitome of a tree. BERthe outer and inner, called by botanists, cortex KEN HOUT. and liber. Shrubs differ from herbaceous ve 4. Not in SMITH. getables in the duration of their stems; from 5. Arbustes (frutices), lorsqu'elle jettent des trees in the nature of their covering, which is branches dès leur base, et me portent poins not a bark, but a cuticle, or simple skiu. des boutons. LAMARK.
This thought is ingenious; but the fact on But BRISSEAU-MIRBEL defines caulis fruwhich it depends is not sufficiently ascertained. ticosus, frutescente, cette tige appartient aux
II. A SHRUB (fruter), resembles a tiges de la trosiéme espèce (arboreus) elle est tree, by having a permanent ligneous body, toujours ligneuse ; elle est moins épause que la but dividing below, near the earth, into precedente, et jette des branches à sa partisie twigs or branches, without buds.
inférieure; elle porte si des boutons; les arbresseaux.
III. A FALSE SHRUB, or Undershrub (suflruter), having a ligneous and sbrub-like body, but the stem and branches die yearly, without buds, as the rubus ida 18, raspberry.
Notes. 1. Frutex, a shrub.Caulis adscendens supra terram absque genunis, sed intra fruti. cem et arborem, nullos limites posuit natura, sed opiuio vulgi -LINN.EUS.