« ZurückWeiter »
efficient barrier to that practical atheism and moral turpitude which, under the mask of unitarianism, are insinuating themselves among men. If then a knowledge of the natural sciences be as useful to the support of virtue as Ray, Newton, Boyle, Derham, and others, have proved it favourable to Christianity, its diffusion at the present crisis must be considered as a great national good. When fanaticism has gained such an ascendancy in the minds of the vulgar, and infidelity and vice in those of the vain and ambitious, we do hope that the propagation of natural philosophy *, and the increase of philosophical societies, may contribute to prevent these kingdoms from experiencing those horrors and excesses which usually attend immorality and irreligion. Under this conviction it is evident that we must be friendly to the extension and views of the Horticultural Society; but, as some persons may prefer political to moral arguments, we shall extract Mr. Knight's “ Introductory Remarks relative to the Objects which the Horticultural Society have in view.”
Were it possible to ascertain the primeval state of those vegetables which now occupy the attention of the gardener and agriculturist, and immediately, or more remotely, conduce to the support and happiness of mankind; and could we trace out the various changes which art or accident has, in successive generations, produced in each, few inquiries would be more extensively interesting. But we possess no sources from which sufficient information to direct us in our inquiries can be derived; and are still ignorant of the native country, and existence in a wild state, of some of the most important of our plants. We, however, know that improved flowers and fruits are the necessary produce of improved culture; and that the offspring, in a greater or less degree, inherits the character of its parent. The austere crab of our woods has thus been converted into the golden pippin; and the numerous varieties of the plumb can boast no other parent than our native sloe. Yet few experiments have been made, the object of which has been new productions of this sort; and almost every meliorated variety of fruit appears to have been the offspring of accident, or of culture applied to other purposes. therefore infer, with little danger of error, that an ample and unexplored field for future discovery and improvement lies before
here be remarked, that it was not the naturalists but the metaphysicians who made such ravages on society in France. The same class of men are no little unsound in this country, and there'fore, the study of nature, while it gratifies their passion for speculation, may also, perhaps, check their vanity and ambition by its variety and immensity.--Rev.
us, in which nature does not appear to have formed any limits to the success of our labours, if properly applied.
“ The physiology of vegetation has deservedly engaged the attention of the Royal and Linnean Societies; 'and much information has been derived from the exertions of those learned bodies, Societies for the improvement of domestic animals, and of agriculture in all its branches, have also been established, with success, in almost every district of the British empire. Horticulture alone appears to have been neglected, and left to the common gardener, who generally pursues the dull routine of his predecessor; and, if he deviates from it, rarely possesses a sufficient share of science and information to enable him to dieviate with success.
• The establishment of a national society for the improvement of horticulture has therefore long been wanted; and if such an institution meet with a degree of support proportionate to the importance of its object; if it proceed with cautious circumspection to publish well-ascertained facts only, to detect 'the errors of ignorance, and to expose the misrepresentations of fraud; the advantages which the public "may últimately derive from the establishment, will probably exceed the most sanguine hopes of its founders.
“ Horticulture, in its present state, may with propriety be divided into two distinct branches, the useful, and the ornamental: the first must occupy the principal attention of the members of the Society, but the second will not be neglected; and it will be their object, wherever it is practicable, to combine both.”
This great vegetable physiologist then reverts to the ability of plants to adopt their habits to every climate; and shows that the pear-tree, which is a native of Southern Europe, or the adjoining parts of Asia, is completely naturalised in Britain, 'as the English crab-tree is in the frozen region of Siberia, although these trees when newly imported from happier climates do not yield mature fruit even with the assistance of a south wall.
“ As the pear and crab tree, in the preceding cases, have açquired powers of ripening their fruits in climates much colder than those in which they were placed by nature, we have some grounds
hope that the vine and peach tree may be made to adapt their habits to our climate, and to ripen their fruits without the aid of artificial heat or the reflexion of a wall; and though we are at present little acquainted with the mode of culture best calculated to produce the necessary changes in the constitution and habit of
plants, attentive observation and experience will soon discover it; and experiments have already been made, which prove the facility of raising as fine varieties of fruit in this country, as any which have been imported from others.”
• In the culture of many fruits, without reference to the introduction of new varieties, the Society hope to be able to point-out same important improvements. Several sorts, the walnut and
by Sir Walter Raleigh when he returned from his voyage
mulberry for instance, are not produced till the trees have acquired
" In training wall trees there is much in the modern practice which appears defective and irrational: no attention whatever is paid to the form which the species or variety naturally assumes; and be its growth upright or pendent, it is constrained to take precisely the same form on the wall.
“ The construction of forcing houses appears also to be generally
very defective, and two are rarely constructed alike, though intended for the same purposes; probably not a single building of this kind has yet been erected, in which the greatest possible quantity of space has been obtained, and of light and heat admitted, proportionate to the capital expended. It may even be questioned, whether a single hotbed has ever been made in the most advantageous form; and the proper application of glass, where artificial heat is not employed, is certainly very ill understood.”
" In the execution of their plan, the committee feel that the Society have many difficulties to encounter, and, they fear, some -prejudices to contend with; but they have long been convinced, as individuals
, and their aggregate observations have tended only to increase their conviction, that there scarce exists a single species of esculent plant or fruit, which (relative to the use of man) has yet attained its utmost state of perfection; nor any branch of practical horticulture, which is not still susceptible of essential improvement: and, under these impressions, they hope to receive the support and assistance of those who are interested in, and capable of promoting, the success of their endeavours,"
The part before us contains ten other papers, three of which are by Sir Joseph Banks, and three by T. A. Kuight, Esq. F.R.S. The first is “An Allempt to ascertain the Time when the Potatoe (Solanum Tuberosum) was first introduced into the United Kingdom'; with some Account of the Hill Wheat of India," by Sir Joseph Banks. It has always been known that the potatoe was brought to this country
" for discovering and planting" colonies, undertaken in 1584 and completed in July 1586. Mr. Thomas Herriot, the mathematician, in describing potatoes, says “ these roots are round, some as large as a walnut, others much larger; they grow in damp soil, many hanging together, as if fixed on ropes; they are good food, either boiled or
roasted.” (De Bry's Collection of Voyages.) --The right honourable president adds a fact worthy of attention. “The manuscript minutes of the Royal Society, December 13, 1693, tell us, that Sir Robert Soutbweil, then president, informed the fellows, atea 'meeting, that his grandfather brought [took] potatoes into Ireland, who first had them from Sir Walter Raleigh." Thus, we find that the Irish papists are indebted to England and to a Protestant for the potatoe, and that their tradition of its having been brought to Ireland by an Irish priest from France, when the faculty of Paris had pronounced it poisonous, is without foundation.
- This fact may furnish Mr. Plowden, or some other writer of the same school, with a subject for a 4to volume to prove it impossible that Ireland could be indebted to England for her potatoes.-This root, however, was first introduced into Europe by the Spaniards, who brought it from the kingdom of Quito, in Peru, to Spain, whence it was transplanted to Austrian Flanders, where it was cultivated and sent as presents to Rome and Vienpa before 1598. Peter Cieca in his Chronicle, printed in 1553, says
that the inhabitants of Quito had, besides Mays, a tuberous root, which they eat, and call Papas. Clusius, a botanist of Vienna, concludes that this was the same plant, living specimens of which he had received from Flanders. The circumstance of the Italians having an edible root, which they called taratoufli, does not sufficiently prove their early acquaintance with potatoes. The roots introduced by Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John Hawkins, were sweet potatoes from Spain and the Canaries, which were used as a great delicacy long before the common potatoe was known: they were supposed to possess the power of restoring decayed vigour. The kissing comfits of Falstaff*, and other confections of similar imaginary qualities, were principally made of these and of eringo roots. The potatoes themselves were sold by itinerant dealers in the neighbourhood of the Royal Exchange, and purchased at no inconsiderable cost, by those who were silly enough to repose any confidence in their alleged properties. To this paper is, subjoined à curious fact relative to the “ Hill Wheat” of India. Mr. Lambert, seven or eight years ago, received a parcel of seeds, among which was a paper marked "Hill Wheat," and containing seed not larger than that of our wild grasses ;
* “ Let it rain potatoes, and hail kissing comfits." --Merry Wives of Windsor, ACT v. SCENE 5.
Mode of inuring Transactions of the London Horticultural Society. 299 but when examined with a lens it appeared of the same figure as wheat. Sir Joseph and Mr. Lambert sowed a little of it in their gardens, and both had a fine crop of spring wheat, the grains of which were equal to the usual size of that kind. This circumstance proves the effect of cultivation on grain.
" On the Cultivation of the Crambe, Maritima of Linné, or Sea Kale. By Mr. John Maher, F. H. S.”—The author ac-. knowledges his obligations to the late Mr. Curtis, whose pamphlet on sea kale first taught him to cultivate this early and indigenous esculent. This plant requires three years to bring it to maturity, and should be cultivated in
wide, they will hold twenty-four blanching pots, (made in La
the shape of hemispheres, and designed to exclude the
Sir Joseph furnishes the society with « Some Hints
, , our Climate,” in which he proposes that they should be raised from the seeds, and not propagated by cuttings. He instances the laurel, which although cultivated by cuttings, above two centuries, in our gardens, cannot yet bear our winter frosts; whereas some seeds of sizania aquatica were brought from Canada, and sown in a pond of his at Spring Grove, near Hounslow, and after fourteen years the seeds of each year producing stronger and stronger plants, which now grow six feet high, and in every respect as vigorous as in their native country. We think the learned presi: dent's theory of raising by seeds well founded, as by. this method a new generation takes places, and the organs of the infant plant are necessarily assimilated to the soil and climate. Sir Joseph proposes to attempt the cultivation of myrtle and laurel himself in this manner.
Mr. J. Dickson describes “a Variety of the Brassica