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1892 Botany

Antique Books mk95528 at navix.net
Wed Jan 1 06:44:05 EST 1997

Botany Literature From the Year 1892


The science of Botany includes everything relating to the Vegetable
Kingdom, whether in a living or in a fossil state. Its object is not,
as some have supposed, merely to name and arrange the vegetable
productions of the globe. It embraces a consideration of the external
forms of plants - of their anatomical structure, however minute - of
the functions which they perform - of their arrangement and
classification - of their distribution over the globe at the present
and at former epochs - and of the uses to which they are subservient.
It examines the plant in its earliest state of development, when it
appears as a simple cell, and follows it through all its stages of
progress until it attains maturity. It takes a comprehensive view of
all the plants which cover the earth, from the minutest lichen or
moss, only visible by the aid of the microscope, to the most gigantic
productions of the tropics. It marks the relations which subsist
between all members of the vegetable world, and traces the mode in
which the most despised weeds contribute to the growth of the mighty
denizens of the forest.
The plants which adorn the globe more or less in all countries must
necessarily have attracted the attention of mankind from the earliest
times. The science that treats of them dates back to the days of
Solomen, for that wise monarch "spake of trees," from the cedar of
Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall. The Chaldeans, Egyptians, and
Greeks were the early cultivators of science, and Botany was not
neglected, although the study of it was mixed up with crude
speculations as to vegetable life, and as to the change of plants into
animals. Aesculapius and his priests, the Asclepiades, who studied the
art of medicine, had their attention directed to plants in a
pharmaceutical point of view. About 300 years before Christ
Theophrastus wrote a History of plants, and described about 500
species used for the treatment of diseases. Dioscorides, a Greek
writer, who appears to have flourished about the time of Nero, issued
a work on Materia Medica. The elder Pliny described about a thousand
plants, many of them famous for their medicinal virtues. Asiatic and
Arabian writers also took up this subject. Little, however, was done
in the science of  Botany, properly so called, until the 16th century
of the Christian era, when the revival of learning dispelled the
darkness which had long hung over Europe. Brunfels, a physician of
Bern, has been looked upon as the restorer of the science in Europe.
He published a History of Plants, illustrated by figures, about the
beginning of the 16th century.
One of the earliest attempts at a methodical arrangement of plants was
made in Florence by Andrea's Caesalpinus, a native of Arezzo, some
time professor of Botany at Padua, and afterwards physician to Pope
Clement VIII.
He is called by Linnaeus primus verus systematicus. In his work De
Plantis, published at lorence in 1583, he distributed the 1520 plants
then known into fifteen classes - the distinguishing characteristics
being from the fruits.
John Ray, a native of essex, did much to advance the science of
botany. He was born in 1628, and died in 1705. He promulgated a system
which may be considered as the dawn of the "natural system" of the
present day (Ray, Methodus Plantarum, 1682). He separated flowering
from flowerless plants, and divided the former into Dicotyledona and
Monocotyledons. His orders were founded on a correct idea of the
affinities of plants, and he far outstripped his contempories in his
enlightened views of arrangement.
About the year 1670 Dr. Robert Morison of Aberdeen (Proeludia
Botanica, 1672; Plantarium Historia Universalis, 1680) published a
systematic arrangement of plants. He divided them into eighteen
classes, distinguishing plants according as they were woody or
herbaceous, and taking into account the nature of the flowers and
fruit. In 1690 Rivinus ((Augustus Quirinus) paterno nomine Bachmann,
Introductio generalis in Rem Herbariam, Lipsiae, 1690).
promulgated a classification founded chiefly on the forms of the
flowers. Tournefort (Elemens de Botanique, 1694; Institutions Re
Herbariae, 1700.) about the same time took up the subject of vegetable
taxonomy. He was a contempory of Ray, and was professor of botany at
Paris in 1683. He was long at the head of the French school of botany,
and published a systematic arrangement in 1694-1700. He described
about 8000 species of plants, and distributed them into twenty two
classes, chiefly according to the form of the corolla, distinguishing
herbs and under-shrubs on the one hand from the trees and shrubs on
the other. The system of Tournefort was for a long time adopted on the
continent, but was ultimately displaced by that of Linnaeus.
Carl von Linne, or, as he is commonly called, Linnaeus (System
Naturae, 1735; Genera Plantarum, 1737; Philosophia Botanica, 1751;
Species Plantarum, 1753) was born on the 23rd of May 1707, at the
village of Rooahoolt (Rashult), in Smaland, a province of Sweden,
where his father, Nicholas Linnaeus, was clergyman. He entered as a
pupil at the University of Lund, and about the years 1727-28 was
recieved into the house of Stobaeus, a physician in that city, where
he had to struggle with great difficulties during his studies there.
He aided Celsius in his Hierobotanicon. or account of the plants of
the scripture, and he became assistant to Rudbeck, professor of
botany. He afterwards travelled in Lapland, took his degree in
Holland, visited England, and commenced practice in Stockholm, where
he lectured on botany and mineralogy. He finally became professor of
botany at Upsal, and was one of the most popular lecturers of the day.
He died on the 8th of January 1778, in the 71st year of his age. His
herbarium is now in the possession of the Linnean Society.
One of his biographers, in summing up his merits, says, - "Educated in
the severe school of adversity, accustomed from his earliest youth to
put a high value on verbal accuracy and logical precision, endowed
with a powerful understanding, and capable of undergoing immense
fatigue, both of body and mind, Linnaeus produced a most important
revolution in botanical science. He improved the distinctions of
genera and species, introduced a better nomenclature on the binomial
method, and invented a new and comprehensive system founded on the
stamens and pistils. His verbal accuracy and the remarkable terseness
of his technical language reduced the crude matter that was stored up
in the folios of his predecessors into a form which was accessable to
all men. He separated with singular skill the important from the
unimportant in their descriptions. He arranged their endless synonyms
with a patience and a lucid order that were quite inimitable. By
requiring all species to be capable of a rigorous definition, not
exceding twelve words, he purified botany from the endless varieties
of the gardeners and herbalists; and by applying the same strict
principles to genera, and reducing every character to its differential
terms, he got rid of the cumberous descriptions of old writers. It is
said of Linnaeus, that, although no man of science ever exercised  a
greater way, or had more enthusiastic admirers, yet his merit was not
so much that of a discoverer as of a judicious and strenuous reformer.
The knowledge which he displayed, and the value and simplicity of the
improvements which he proposed, secured the universal adoption of his
suggestions, and crowned him with a success altogether unparalled in
the annals of the science."
The system of Linnaeus is founded on the sexes of plants, and hence it
is often denominated the sexual system. It is called an artificial
method, because it takes into account only a few marked characters in
plants, and does not propose to unite them by natural affinities. It
is an index to a department of the book of nature, and as such is
useful to the student. It does not aspire to any higher charactor, and
although it cannot be looked upon as a scientific and natural
arrangement, still it has a certain facility of application which
comends it to the tyro. In using it however, let it ever be
remembered, that it will not of itself give the student any view of
the true relations of plants as regards structure and properties, and
that by leading to the discovery of the name of the plant, it is only
a stepping stone to the natural system. Linnaeus himself claimed
claimed nothing higher for it. He says - "Methodi Naturalis fragmenta
studiose inquirenda sunt. Primum et ultimum hoc in botanicis
desideratum est. Natura non facit saltus. Plantae omnes utrinque
affinitatem monstrant, uti territorium in mappa geographica".
Accordingly, besides his artificial index, he also promulgated
fragments of a natural method of arrangement.
The Linnean system was strongly supported by Sir James Edward Smith,
who adopted it in his English Flora, and who also became possessor of
the Linnean collection. The system was for a long time the only one
taught in the schools of Britain, even after it had been discarded by
those in France and in many other Continental countries.
The foundation of Botanic Gardens during the 16th centuries did much
in the way of advancing botany. They were at first appropriated
chiefly to the cultivation of medicinal plants. This was especially
the case at universities, where medical schools existed. The first
Botanic Garden was established at Padua in 1545, and was followed by
that of Pisa. The garden at Leyden dates from 1577, that at Leipsic
from 1579. Gardens also early existed at Florence and Bologna. The
Montpellier Garden was founded in 1592, that of Giessen in 1605, of
Strasburg in 1620, of Altorf in 1625, and of Jena in 1629. The Jardin
des Plantes at Paris was established in 1626, and the Upsal Garden in
1627. The Botanic Garden at Oxford was founded in 1632. The garden at
Edinburgh was founded by Sir Andrew Balfour and Sir Robert Sibbald in
1670, and, under the name of the Physic Garden, was placed under the
superintendence of James Sutherland, afterwards professor of botany in
the university. The park and garden at Kew date from about 1730. The
garden of the Royal Dublin Society at Glasnevin was opened about 1796;
that of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1807; and that of Glasgow in 1818.
The Madrid Garden dates from 1763, and that of Coimbra from 1773.
Gesner states that at the end of the 18th century there were 1600
Botanic Gardens in Europe.
A new era dawned on botanical classification when Antoine Laurent de
Jussieu appeared. He was born at Lyons in 1748, and was educated at
Paris under the care of his uncle, Bernard de Jussieu. At an early age
he became botanical demonstrator in the Jardin des Plantes, and was
thus led to devote his time to the science of  botany. Being called
upon to arrange the plants in the garden, he necessarily had to
consider the best method of doing so, and adopted a system founded in
a certain degree on that of Ray, in which he embraced all the
discoveries in organography, adopted the simplicity of the Linnean
definitions, and displayed the natural affinities of plants. His
Genera Plantarum, begun in 1778, and finally published in 1789,
indicated an important advance in the principle of classification.
Jussieu subsequently became professor of rural botany; he died in 1836
at the age of 88.
The system of Jussiea made its way slowly in Great Britain, and it was
not until Robert Brown brought it under notice that it was adopted
(Brown, Prodomus Florce NovaeHollandiae, 1810) It is now the basis of
all natural classifications. One of the early Supporters of this
natural method was Augustin Pyrame De Candolle, who was born in 1778,
and who, after attending the lectures of Vaucher at Geneva, devoted
himself to botanical pursuits. He subsequently prosecuted his studies
at Paris, and lectured on botany at the College of France. He
commenced his publications in 1802, and in 1804 he promulgated his
Elementary Principles of Botany. In 1807 he became professor of botany
at Montpellier, and in 1816 he was appointed to the chair of natural
history at
Geneva, with the charge of the Botanic Garden. In that city he carried
on his future botanical labours, and began his Prodromus Systematis
Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, which was intended to
embrace an arrangement and description of all known plants. He was
enabled to complete eight Volumes of the work before his death, and it
has Since been carried on by his son Alphonse De Candolle, with the
aid of other eminent botanists. It now embraces descriptions of the
genera and
species of Dicotyledonous plants. The system followed by De Candolle
is a modification of that of Jussieu, and it is adopted more or less
at the present day. De Candolle's own herbarium was extremely rich. He
had visited and carefully examined many of the most extensive
collections, especially those of Paris; and many entire collections,
as well as separate families, on which he was Specially engaged, were
from time to time submitted to his examination by their possessors He
had thus opportunities of comparison greatly beyond what in ordinary
circumstances fall to the lot of an
individual. His library, too, was stored with almost every important
publication that could be required for his undertaking. With such
ample materials, aided by his untiring zeal and the persevering energy
of his character, he steadily pursued his allotted task, and only
ceased to labour at it when he ceased to live. For some years his
health declined, and it is to be feared that the severe and incessant
attention which he paid to the elaboration of the great family of
Compositae had made a deep inroad upon it. As a relaxation from his
labours he undertook in the last years of his life a long journey, and
attended the scientific meeting held at Turin; but he did not derive
from this the anticipated improvement in his health, which gradually
failed some until his death on the 9th September 1841. Since De
Candolle's time various modifications of his system have been
introduced by Endlicher, Lindley, Hooker, and Bentham.

In arranging plants according to a natural method, we require to have
a thorough knowledge of structural and morphological botany, and hence
we find that the advances made in these departments have materially
aided the efforts of systematic botanists.
Robert Brown, a Scottish botanist, was the first in this country to
support and advocate,the natural system of classification. The
publication of his Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae, according to the
natural method, led the way to the adoption of that method in the
universities and schools of Britain. Sir William (then Dr) Hooker, in
his prelections in the University of Glasgow, and in his Numerous
writings, ably supported Brown. John Lindley also came into the field,
and in 1830 published the first edition of his Introduction to the
Natural System. Dr Robert Kaye Greville and Dr Walker Arnott were able
coadjutors, more especially in the department of Cryptogamic Botany.

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