Page images
PDF
EPUB

and seventy-eight. During the year it held thirteen evening meetings for the discussion of subjects connected with the objects of the Institute. These meetings commenced on the 8th Nov., and continued on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. The interest manifested in them, we are informed, gave assurance of their utility. The Society possesses a liberary and museum of great value and interest. During the year a Horticultural Exhibition was held under its auspices. From the report of the Ornithological Committee, we find that the collection is in good condition and well arranged, comprising 209 mounted specimens of North American Birds, containing 148 species ; 137 specimens of foreign birds, 12 of foreign bird's nests; 74 do. do. eggs, containing 41 species determined; also 23 species contained in 72 specimens not determined ; 50 specimens, containing 32 specimens of American Bird's nests; 200 specimens of American bird's eggs, containing 81 species, not including about 27 species contained in 50 specimens of undetermined ones. This seems to be a favorite department. Large additions have been made to it by donations during the year.

In the Ichthyological section, we find the committee, while complaining somewhat, yet reporting the large number of 263 specimens of American fishes, embracing 26 families, 61 genera, and 80 species ; of foreign fishes there in all 144 specimens, embracing 62 species. In Mammalia the collection is certainly very poor, containing only 48 specimens, exclusive of duplicates. In the department of Botany there appears to be a good Herbarium in excellent order, gradually expanding and increasing in value. We note these things to show what can be done by a few zealous students of Natural History.

We would notice as worthy of imitation by our own Society, the appointment by this Institute of curators, not only of specia] departments, but of sections of each department;-e. g. in the Historical department there are curators in Ethnology, in M.SS., and in the Fine Arts. In Natural History there are curators in Botany, Mammalia, Ornithology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Comparative Anatomy,Articulata, Mollusca, and Radiata, for Mineralogy, Geology, Palæontology. This division of labour in the hands of real lovers of the magnificent and beautiful works of the Creator, is the true method of success and progress.

Another feature of this Institute which we deem well worthy of commendation, is that of its field meetings during the favourable seasons of the year. The record of one runs as follows: “ Field Meeting at Topsfield, an exploration of the ponds, streams and woods, such as the extrerne heat would permit, having been made by several members in the forenoon, a session was held at 3 o'clock in the Hall of the Academy.” Another runs. "Field Meeting at Danvers. A very warm day, ending in a thundershower and much rain. The morning was spent in examining the woods, near the residence of Wm. A. Lander, to whose hospitable reception and welcome to his grounds the party were greatly indebted.” Why may we not have such meetings in Montreal ? We surely do not lack either enthusiasm or scientific knowledge to render them both interesting and profitable? A day spent upon our Mountain by an intelligent band of explorers, such as we might muster, could not fail to be both healthful and profitable. Another on St. Helen's island, or at Isle Jesus, or Belæil, or among our quarries, or fifty other places, would be also delightful. To such excursions many merchants and professional men would we doubt not, be allured from the toils of their daily work. They would be sure to get their bodies refreshed, and their knowledge of places, persons and things greatly enlarged.

Many of these papers contained in the “ Proceedings” of the Essex Institute are of much value. They are remarkably well edited. The style in which most of them are written is very pure and good ; we say much when we say that it is English of a good type. We might expect this from Massachusetts, and from a city that lies under the literary shadows of Boston. It is so pleasant to find American writings free from national and provincial corruptions that we cannot avoid marking this excellency in these “ Proceedings” and appending to it our note of admiration.

The Historical and Scientific lore which the volume contains is considerable. We would especially instance as valuable the Historical paper by S. P. Fowler of Danvers, embracing an elaborate and minute account of the life, character, &c. of the Rev. S. Parris of Salem village, and of his connection with the Witchcraft delusion of 1692. This Biography extends over nineteen closely printed pages, and is of deep interest. It portrays the character of a learned, laborious, and withal sagacious divine. It depicts also the characteristics of the people among whom he lived, and the rise of the curious delusion into which they were drawn by the crafty, the wicked and the credulous.

Another paper, of much botanical interest, was read before the Institute by the Rev. I. Russel, being a review of a book entitled :

“ New England's Varieties Discoverd, in Birds, Fishes, Serpents and Plants of that country. Together with the Physical and Chirurgical Remedies, wherewith the Natives constantly use to cure their Distempers, Wounds and Sores, &c. &c. By John Josselyn, Gent. Second Addition, London, 1675.”

The Reviewer's object is, chiefly to identify the plants contained in the list, observed by Josselyn. These are classified (1) into such plants as are common to the two countries, England and America. (2) Such as are peculiar to America, and which had a name. (3) Such as belong to the country, but had no name. With few exceptions the plants described are identified with much interesting criticism and some valuable historical notes. As a specimen of this paper we quote from page 164 :—“Hollow-Leaved Lavender, (Sarracenia purpurea). The description of this fine plant, “ proper to the country,” and really worthy of being one of “New England's Varieties Discovered," is so unique that I shall transcribe it at length.—There is also a very good figure by which the plant in question was easily recognised, “ Hollow-Leaved Lavender is a plant that grows in (Salt) Marshes, overgrown with moss, with one straight stalk about the bigness of an oat-straw,better than a cubit high ; upon the top standeth one fantastical flower ; the leaves grow close from the root in shape like a tankard, hollow, tough, and always full of water, the root is made up of many small strings, growing only in the moss and not in the earth; the whole plant comes to its perfection in August, and then it has leaves stalks and flowers, as red as blood excepting the flower, which has some yellow admixt. I wonder where the knowledge of this flower has slept all this while i. e. above forty years ?"

“ This the purple Side Saddle flower is one of the finest and most ornamental of our native plants, and well known for its singular beauty.” “Parkinson's Theatre of Plants," was published in 1640, while John Josselyn Gent's Treatise was published in 1675, (the former contains a good figure and description of this plant,) so that our author seems to have “slept all this while in ignorance of the Hollow-Leaved Lavender, rather than as he supposes others about him had done. The term Lavender is probably expressive of the form of the leaf : lavo lavendum, to wash, &c. Querem hence the derivation of pitcher plant, or forefather's pitcher, or Tankard and the like ?"

We wculd only further refer to a report by a committee of the Institute on the question of “Lightning conducting rods." This paper we deem of so much practical value that we have transferred t entire to our pages, recommending it to the careful perusal of those of our readers, who are interested in the preservation of ships or houses from injury by lightning.

From this imperfect review of these Proceedings of the Essex Institute, it will be manifest that its labours during the year have been highly fruitful. Its original papers we hesitate not to say, are real contributions to knowledge, and worthy of a place in any scientific library. On reading them we have asked ourself, Why could not Montreal produce something of equal value and interest as this? It is not for the want of men that we do not. Science is represented among us by names of European celebrity, and we have several Amateurs of ability and zeal. There is therefore the material; of this fact no one can doubtwhy is it then that we cannot as a Natural History Society occupy a higher place than we do? The reason obviously is that with but one or two honorable exceptions, our Scientific men whom we honor and of whose works we are proud, stand almost entirely aloof from our Society. We have men of liberal educatîon and scientific culture, not a few in our good city, who if they would but associate themselves together to advance the cause of literature and Science would, we are persuaded, do incalculable service to the city and Province. Why should the Canadian Institute of Toronto be better off in this respect than we are? . It embraces most, if not all the men of science and literature in the city, and the result is, that its light is shining with ever increasing brightness. If our Natural History Society is not suitable for the rception of our savans and cognoscenti, let it be reformed, or let a new one be instituted of a kind more suitable to promote the objects of science.

Let not the reproach hang upon us that we are little better than a nominal society. We have now erected a more suitable building for our Museum, Meetings and Lectures. We trust, that this will be the means of attracting many new members and of adding to the ranks of old workers many lovers of Science who will be something more than ornamental members of the time honored Natural Iristory Society of Montreal.

Wild Flowers : how to see and how to gather them. With re

marks on the economical and medicinal uses of our native plants. By SPENCER Thomson, M.D. New edition, revised; with illustrations from designs by Noel Humphreys. London: G. Routledge & Co. Montreal: B. Dawson & Son.

This work is written by one who has a true love of nature and an intimate knowledge of her floral kingdom. Its chief design is to lead the mind to the study of the subject of which it treats in deeper and professedly more scientific works, and to present, in as interesting and comprehensible a form as possible, such a view of the vegetable kingdom as could be illustrated by the plants and flowers of Great Britain. The author has succeeded, we think, in writing a book that will be sure to interest young minds, and amateurs, in the observation of those lovely, and, at the same time, most accessible of God's created works—the wild flowers of the field. He says truly in his preface, and to this we cordially subscribe, “that the time is coming fast when no man or woman will be considered properly educated who is ignorant of the leading facts, at least, of the natural sciences, and when the knowledge and study of these natural revelations from God will rank second only to a knowledge of the higher revelation He has given as of Himself.” After an interesting and lively introduction the author, in the first part of the book, enumerates and describes the various organs of a plant, their arrangements and development. In part second he gives a brief but lucid explana. tion, amply illustrated, of the Linnæan and Natural sy-tems of classification. Part third contains a monthly illustration of Bri. tish wild flowers, into which are introduced particulars of much interest to those who are entering upon the study of Botany. There are concluding chapters on the flowerless plants and on the economical and medicinal properties of those native to Britain, The book contains one hundred and seventy-one good woud-cut illustrations. It is one of Routledge's cheap series of publications and is an instance of what is doing at the present day by enterprising writers and publishers to bring the highest productions of science and literature within the reach of persons with limited incomes. We cordially recommend this work as one of great merit and deep interest. Its style is remarkably lively and clear and its aim highly commendable.

A Life of Linnæus. By Miss BRIGHTWELL, of Norwich. Lon.

don: John Van Voorst. Montreal: B. Dawson & Son

Pp. 191. This little book gives a most interesting account of the life of the great Swedish Naturalist. It begins with his childhood and youth in the parsonage of Stenbrohult in Smæland, a province in

« EelmineJätka »