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have some thousand years of age. In England, at Blenheim Park, it is said, may be seen trunks of trees which shaded the bower of fair Rosamond, and which it is supposed are not less than a thousand years old.
At Hartford, in Connecticut, is the Charter-oak, which was a hollow-tree in the days of James II. 143 years ago. In the hollow of this tree was concealed the charter of the state when the King of England, through his agents attempted to deprive the colonists of that guarantee of their civil rights. This oak must, at that period, have been an aged tree.
Useful Plants. We perceive among the various species of vegetable beings, some which seem destined only to beautify and enliven the earth; others, with little or no beauty, are valuable only for their utility; and in some instances we find utility and beauty united; roses, lilies, tulips, carnations, and most of the green-house and garden plants belong to the first mentioned class. Trees are not only beautiful, but many of them are highly useful ; afford. ing fuel, shelter and shade, nuts, berries and other fruits ; their bark is used for tanning, for medicine and spices; and their sap and secretions furnish
and various medicinal extracts. Trees with respect to their wood, may naturally be divided, 1st, into such as have hard wood, as the oak, elm, apple, &c. 2d, such as have soft wood, as the poplar and willow. 3d, such as have resinous wood, as the pine and fir. 4th, such as are evergreens but not resinous, as the evergreen oak of the south of Europe.
Hard wood is considered best for fuel ; as it contains the greatest quantity of carbon it causes a more intense and permanent heat; resinous wood, containing more hydrogen, burns with a more brilliant flame.
The fermented juice of the grape produces wine. Grain of different kinds produces gin, whiskey, &c. Apples by their fermentation produce cider; this liquor, concentrated by distillation, produces brandy and alcohol. The vineyards of Italy and France, and of some of the Atlantic islands are the most celebrated for their wine. In America, the vine does not flourish in the same luxuriance as upon the eastern continent.
Grasses are the palms of cold climates ; they are of the class of monocotyledons, and have endogenous stems. . Some are perennial, some annual; the meadow grasses are of the former kind. The grains, Indian corn and rice are annual. There
Charter-oak-Plants which are chiefly valuable for beauty-For utilityDivision of trees with respect to wood-Liquors produced from plants Grasses.
grasses which are called artificial, because they do not spring up without cultivation; of this kind is clover, a leguminous plant, of the artificial class diadelphia ; Saintfoin and Lucerne are of the same natural and artificial class. Gramineous plants, although very important as furnishing from their leaves food for cattle, are yet more especially useful for their seeds which furnish food for man.
Some plants furnish oils, which are of important uses in various ways.
Of the fixed and volatile oils we have already spoken. The fixed oils are extracted from plants called oleaginous ; they may be considered under three heads, Ist, olive oil produced from the olive in warm countries ; 2d, nut oil of temperate climates, as obtained from walnuts, &c. ; 3d, oil obtained from the seed of oleaginous or oily plants, as the flax.
Tuberous roots afford the turnip, potatoe, carrot, beet, parsnip, &c. which are all important articles of food.
Asparagus when young is esteemed a luxury; the rhubarb plant is used in making pies; celery, onions, and even garlic, are esteemed valuable for food and seasoning. Many of the labiate plants, as thyme, sage, &c. are used in cookery. The Cruciform family presents us with the cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, &c. The Leguminous family affords beans, peas, &c.
The Cucurbitaceæ furnishes us with melons, squashes, and cucumbers. Umbelliferous plants present us with the aroma. tics, caraway, coriander, &c. which are useful in medicine and confectionary.
History of Botany from the Creation of the World, to the Revival
of Letters in the reign of Charlemagne, A. D. 770.
We propose to give an account of the progress of botanical knowledge, and this being closely connected with other scien. ces, you may consider it as a general view of the progress of natural science.
After becoming familiar with a science, the mind very natu. rally seeks for information respecting its origin, and the progress by which it advanced from the first rude conceptions which might have been formed, to its gradual developement and comparative perfection.
Oleaginous plants—Tuberous roots--Asparagus, &c.—Cruciform, &c.Melons-Umbelliferous plants-History of botanical science-After becoming, familiar with a science we wish to know its history.
The history of the progress of a science makes à part of the science itself; we are interested in the various efforts of philosophers, their experience and observations, and the trains of reasoning by which they have arrived at those conclusions which are the basis of science.
In botany as in the other sciences, physical wants were the first guides ; man at first sought to find in vegetables, food, then remedies for diseases, and lastly amusement and instruction.
The first account of plants may be traced to the history of the creation, by Moses. It was on the third day of this great work that God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so; and the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself after his kind ; and God saw that it was good.” After this, it is recorded that God gave to Adam every herb and every tree bearing fruit ; the latter was for him exclusively, but to the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of the air, and to every thing wherein there is life, he also gave the green herb for meat.
It is recorded that Adam gave names to all the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air; and Milton imagines that to Eve was assigned the pleasant task of giving names to flowers, and numbering the tribes of plants. When our first parents, after their wicked disobedience of the Divine command, are about to leave their' delightful Eden, Eve, in the language of the Poet, with bitter regret exclaims :
“Must I thus leave thee, Paradise ? thus leave
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount ?" The Bible, and the poems of Homer, afford us the only vestiges of the botanical knowledge of the earliest ages of the world.
Great advantages were afforded to the Jews for obtaining a knowledge of plants, in their long wanderings over the face
First account of plants traced to the history of the creation-Milton imagines that Eve gave names to the plants and numbered their tribes—The Bible and the poems of Homer afford the only botanical facts known in the earliest ages of the world.
of the earth, before they settled in Judea. When in possession of this fertile country, they extended their intercourse with foreign nations ; the vessels of Solomon frequented the shores of the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the East Indian Islands. In the Book of Kings it is said, “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding above all the children of the East country, and all the wisdom of Egypt, for he was wiser than all men. He spake proverbs and songs; he also spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop, that springeth out of the wall; and people from all countries came to hear his wisdom."
The Magi, or “ wise men of the east,” cultivated the sciences to a great extent; but they kept their discoveries in mys. terious concealment, in order the better to tyrannize over the minds of the people. Their researches were in a great mea. sure lost to the world. Greece, however, received from Asia and Egypt the first elements of knowledge.
The philosophers of Greece, too eager to learn nature at one glance, were not satisfied with the slow process of observ. ation and experiment, and to ascend from particular facts to general principles ; but they believed themselves able, by the force of their own genius, to build up systems that would explain all phenomena; supposing that man had in his mind, preconceived ideas of what nature ought to be. This error in the philosophy of the ancients, for a long time obstructed the progress of all science; and it was not until laying aside this false notion, and admitting that the only sure method of learning nature was to study her works, that the labours of philosophers began to be followed by important discoveries.
The greater part of the ancient Greek philosophers assert. ed, that plants were organized like animals, that they possessed sensible and rational souls, capable of desires and fears, pleasure and pain. Pythagoras of Samos, who travelled in Egypt, and was there instructed by the priests of the goddess Isis, is said by Pliny to have been the first of the Greek writers who composed a treatise on the properties of plants.
Seven men of the name of Hippocrates, wrote upon the medicinal properties of plants; but their descriptions, being destitute of system, are vague and cannot be applied to plants with any degree of certainty.
Aristotle, perceiving that the course taken by preceding philosophers had not conducted them to the true knowledge of things, partially renounced their false ideas, and rested more upon observation and experience. In his researches he was
Solomon is said to have spoken of trees and other plants—The Magi-Philosophers of Greece. Pythagoras-Hippocrates--Aristotle.
favoured by Alexander, of whom he had been the preceptor. That conqueror, in the midst of pride and the fury of passion, still possessed the love of true glory, and a desire that his conquests might serve to promote the improvement of the human mind; he allowed to Aristotle, in the prosecution of his scientific investigations, every facility that wealth and power could bestow.
Aristotle believed, that in nature there was a regular progress, from inorganized matter upwards to man, and from man upwards to the Deity ; that beings were connected together by certain affinities, composing an immense chain, of which the links were all connected. Thompson seems to have had this idea in his mind when he wrote thus :
“ And lives the man whose universal eye
Has any seen
Of dreary nothing, desolate abyss !" This idea of a regular chain of beings, presenting itself with such grandeur and simplicity, has had many admirers ; but facts do not always seem to correspond with this theory. In the vegetable kingdom we should find it impossible to trace a regular gradation from the oak to a moss (if we were to make these the extremes of the chain of vegetable substances), and say exactly in what part of the scale each family of plants should be placed ; it would rather seem in many cases, as if the links of the chain had been broken or disunited.
Aristotle considered plants as intermediate between inorganized matter and animals. Plants, he said, are not distin. guished from animals in being destitute of the seat of life, the heart ; because of this, the reptiles and inferior order of ani. mals are also destitute. Plants have no consciousness of themselves, or organs of sense to know what is out of themselves ; animals possess these faculties, therefore Aristotle says they are different. We think it would have been difficult for him to have discovered any evidence of consciousness in the sponge, or any marks by which it might appear that this animal substance (for such it is thought to be), has any knowledge of any thing external to itself. However great may be the venera. tion entertained for the opinions of Aristotle, we believe his distinction between plants and animals will at this time find no supporters. This philosopher published his works on natural history about 384 years before Christ.
Theophrastus, the friend and pupil of Aristotle, published, a