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respondence; and this must be true, when we remember that if every point in the structure of any two plants is found to be alike, then those two must be identical. But it will be obvious, that an examination of all plants, through every detail of their organisation, is impossible. Experience has shown that the organs of vegetation are of very different degrees of value in determining resemblance in structure;-that some are of a paramount importance, others of less consequence, and others of comparative insignificance. Hence the relative value of characters, forms a most important part of the study of the botanist. The only intelligible principle by which to estimate their respective value, is according to their known physiological importance, regarding those organs of the highest rank which are most essential to the life of a plant ; placing next in order those with which the plant cannot dispense, if its race is to be maintained ; assigning a still lower station to such organs as may be absent without considerable disturbance of the ordinary functions of life ; and fixing at the bottom of the scale, those parts, or modification of parts, which may be regarded as unconnected with obviously important functions. Such is a rapid sketch of the natural method of classification. The founders of this scheme were Jussieu of Paris, and Professor Decandolle of Geneva.
But great as the progress of modern systematic botany has undoubtedly been, the progress of physiological botany is perhaps still greater; and our knowledge of this subject may now be regarded as resting upon the foundation of a body of the most incontrovertible facts, and assuming a degree of importance inferior only to that of the physiology of animals. But to come a little nearer home. What is our position in relation to our subject ? Every art must be affected by the government under which it is exercised, either directly by its laws and institutions, or indirectly bý the state of society as modified by their influence. Gardening and agriculture differ from other arts in being still more affected by climates than by governments; the influence of the latter is temporary or accidental, while that of the former is absolute and unchangeable. Under paternal forms of government the taste of the monarch will generally be followed by such of his subjects as can indulge in it, and thus fashion will assume the province of reason. Such a government must be favourable or unfavourable to the
arts, according to the taste of its chief. Monarchs generally love splendour more than elegance and use, and in garden, ing are less likely to render its useful productions common among their subjects, than to increase the luxurious enjoyments of a few wealthy courtiers: but there are exceptions. The late lamented Prince Consort, who took an active interest in everything that was elevating and refining, was elected President of the Royal Horticultural Society of London, about twelve months before his death. For many years prior to his election to the presidency of the society, the efforts of the council were completely paralysed by reason of the heavy debt they had contracted. Unfortunately, we in Stretford need not travel many miles to find a very similar case. Directly His Royal Highness brought his unbounded influence to bear upon the affairs of the society, hundreds of new members joined, and of course plenty of inoney was forthcoming, old debts were paid, and the council began to look ont for a piece of land nearer London, thinking their old garden at Chiswick too far from the metropolis : the result is a new garden at Kensington, 21 acres in extent, adjoining the International Exhibition and I was told the other day, by a member of the council, that no less than £150,000 had been expended already. On what? Echo says, what ?—for really, after a critical examination of the garden, a few weeks ago, I have failed to discover their horticultural excellence, or their English character. There is nothing broad and massive about them (except, by-the-way, the sum of money spent): such a style of gardening may be admired on the continent, but I fear it will never be a favourite place of resort with the English public. It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty takes a very lively interest indeed in the progress of Horticulture, for almost immediately after the death of her royal husband, the first public body with whom she communicated was the London Horticultural Society, expressing her interest in their affairs, and desiring copies of their transactions to be forwarded to her as often as published ; and it is pleasing to find that some of our wisest philanthropists are now beginning to appreciate the fact, that to cultivate a love for flowers is to raise up a most powerful agent in moral reform.
At a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Bishop of Ripon said that the parish of Skipton, in Yorkshire, was inhabited principally by a rude, and to a considerable extent immoral, population, when the Rev. Mr. Boyd was appointed its rector. The first step he took towards their improvement, was to lay out and plant a beautiful flower-garden attached to the rectory, to which he gave free access to his parishioners at all times
. He afterwards encouraged some of them to ornament the gardens attached to their cottages, by giving them plants and seeds; and in the course of a very few years this rude population was, by the kindly influence of horticulture, transformed into a most orderly, gentle, and refined community. Flowers, says a great writer, are no trifles, as one might know if he would only think how much pains God has taken with them every where. Not one unfinished, not one bearing the marks of brush or pencil, fringing the eternal borders of mountain waters, gracing the pulseless breast of the old grey granite. Everywhere they are softening and humanising. Murderers do not wear roses in their button-holes ; villains seldom train vines over cottage doors. Why is so much beauty sčattered around us, but to be perceived and enjoyed ? and where shall we find it so perfectly developed, and so easy of observation, as in the delicate organisms of the vegetable kingdom? To the contemplative mind, no walk can be uninteresting; the humblest wayside flower will repay the observer for his attention, and he will often find unexpected wonders in those common things which he has so often passed over with indifference. To the wanderer, the beauties of nature preach a perpetual sermon of innocence, which cannot be lost on any one whose attention is once fairly drawn to the subject. It is to be regretted that so many are deterred from the study of plants by reason of its technicalities; and the question is often asked—Why not make use of English words for the study, instead of Greek and Latin ? The answer is, because the science is not confined to England alone, and therefore must have one uniform language which can be understood by all, in whatever part of the world they may reside. If the great Linnæus had written his admirable system of classification of plants in the language of his country, the probability is that it would never have been known beyond the limits of the Swedish tongue, and one of the most complete helps to botanical arrangement that the ingenuity of man ever devised, would
have been lost to all other parts of the world. But there is really, after all, nothing worthy of the name of difficulty in the objection raised; and if there was, why do difficul. ties present themselves but to be overcome, and what are we made for but to overcome them?
Taken as a whole, it may be confidently asserted that botanical science was never in such an advanced state as at the present time. We have the Royal Gardens at Kew, the finest place of the kind in Europe, supported by a handsome Government grant. The gardens at Edinburgh and Dublin are kept up by the same means. Collectors are in all parts of the world searching for new plants; some sent by the government, others by private enterprising individuals; and the result is, flowers exotic grace our northern clime. Nearly every town of importance in the country has its public garden. Botanical and horticultural societies exist throughout the kingdom, who offer prizes for new productions, or superior cultivation ; and thus the whole community is indirectly benefited by the existence of these societies, inasmuch as they are the means of introducing new varieties, and producing superior cultivation; and a very great disservice is done to a community where these institutions are allowed to languish for want of support.
The universal use of the vegetable kingdom in the food of every country, in the arts of clothing, architecture, and, in fact, in-almost every branch of industry, would furnish material for profitable study; but we cannot enlarge on it
We all know the cause of the sad distress that has unfortunately fallen upon these districts——the want of cotton, and the attention of some gentlemen has been directed to the laudable object of finding a substitute among other plants: this I fear will prove a failure, and I don't believe that cotton-clad people could ever be induced to change the material which they have always been accustomed to. There has been a deal of talk about the fibre of a plant called Zostera Marina, being made available for the purpose, The plant in question is very common on low shores, and is often thrown up in large quantities by the waves, so as to form a long unbroken roll towards high-water mark. The dry and often bleached leaves are collected for stuffing beds, for packing, and other purposes, and are sold under the name of Alva marina. It makes a good material for
paper, and is employed largely for that purpose in several parts of Europe, especially in Italy; and I fear we must be content with these qualities. As a substitute for cotton in wearing, I do not think it available.
Such is a brief and imperfect sketch of the origin and progress of the Study of Plants. Natural history is essentially a science of observation ; and if I have awakened in any mind present a desire to penetrate beneath the superficial covering, my object will be attained The more we understand created things, the more intelligent views shall we have of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator.