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THE HE many advantages which would result from a work of this nature, properly executed, and supported by the assistance and contributions of the well-informed part of the community, must be so obvious as to require no observation. The compiler has only to 1egret, that his abilities, and his opportunities of acquiring knowledge on the subject, are not adequate to the task of rendering it perfect: a task, indeed, hardly to be performed by an individual,
The principal motive which induced to this collection was a consideration of the great scarcity of almost every valuable work which treated of the plants of Jamaica, and the little probability of their republication. Possessed of these books, as well as many others on the science of botany, which he had studied as an amusement, and having occasionally leisure time, the compiler thought he could not better employ such advantages, than by collecting together the observations of different authors on each particular plant, and.comparing
them, as far as in his power, with the plant itself. In this way he has gathered and arranged a considerable mass of materials, of which the present humble specimen is offered, with all due deference, for the opinion of the public. Should that opinion prove, fortunately, favourable the publication will be continued, or, if otherwise, relinquished; and it may not, perhaps, be thought improper to state, in this place, the general nature of the work, as now prepared for the press, and the authors principally quoted from; that the public expectation may not be 'dissappointed.
It claims no other merit than that of a careful compilation from Barham, Sloane, Browne, Long, Grainger, Wright, Swartz, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Chambers's Cyclopedia, Martyn's Miller's Gardeners' Dictionary, (a work of inestimable value, and from which the greatest assistance has been derived in the scientific part), besides many other valuable books, as, in its progress, the discerning reader will easily perceive..
As Barham has treated of, and pointed out, more of the virtues of the plants of this island than any other writer, and as the very limited edition which was printed of his Hortus Americanus has long ago been exhausted, the whole of that book will be found interspersed throughout this work. Dr. Barham came to this island early in the last century, was a member in assembly about the year 1731, and returned to England in the year 1740. He was a man of great probity, an able physician, and a skilful naturalist... He collected and arranged a number of the plants of Jamaica, which he presented to Şir Hans Sloane, who acknowledges his obligations to him in several parts of his Natural History, and made some communications to the
Royal Society: he also published a Treatise on the Silk Worm, in the year 1719, and, in the same year, a Practical Kitchen Gardener, in two octavo volumes, made its appearance, with the name of Barham as the author, which most probably was his composition. Excepting some extracts published by Sloane and Long, no part of his Hortus Americanus was printed until the year 1794, the manuscript of which was rescued from destruction by a fortunate accident; having, it is asserted, been thrown into an out-house, where it was discovered by a gentleman who know how to estimate its value. A more complete copy is, indeed, mentioned to be in the possession of a gentleman in the parish of St. Ann, which, if so, it is to be hoped he will no longer withhold from the public eye. The compiler would rejoice in the opportunity of enriching this publication by any extracts he might be favoured with from so valuable a manuscript.
The celebrated naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane, arrived in this island in December, 1687, in quality of physician to his grace the Duke of Albemarle; but, owing to the death of his grace, his stay here was only fifteen months; yet, in that short space of time, it has been justly observed, he converted his minutes into hours, and brought together such a prodigious number of plants as astonished the learned in Europe. These plants formed the materials for the greatest part of his Natural History of Jamaica, in two folio volumes, the first of which was published in the year 1707, and the second not till eighteen years afterwards.
From the preface of Dr. Patrick Browne we understand that he resided several years in this island, during which time he practised as a physician, and that all his leisure hours had been employed in col
lecting materials for his Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. Is was an expert botanist, contemporary with the great Lineus, with whom he corresponded, who is one of the subscribers to his book, and who adopted most of his classifications of plants into his system. His elegant work contains a more correct and scientific description, of the indigenous plants of this island, than any other book, previ ously published.
The very valuable observations of Dr. William Wright, formerly surgeon-general of this island, on its medicinal plants, were first and principally published in the London Medical Journal, and some have been gleaned from his other publications, as well as from his notes upon Grainger, who has likewise afforded some useful information. The Synopsis of Mr. Long has also furnished many extracts which are of considerable value.
The learned and indefatigable professor Olob Swartz, lately libra rian to the King of Sweden, travelled through most of the West-India islands, in pursuit of botanical knowledge, between the years 1783 and 1787, and has published three able works, frequently referred to, containing an account of the discoveries and improvements he made in his favourite science. In these he has very correctly described and arranged a vast number of the indigenous plants of this and the other islands, which have been approved, and his arrange ments adopted, by the most eminent modern botanists.
In quoting from the before-mentioned or other authors, care has been taken to avoid repetition as much as possible, and where the descriptions are nearly the same the best has been preferred. Refer