Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

about to print it, travelled himself to Holland and Germany to procure the Oriental types necessary for the purpose. On his return, two hundred and fifty copies only were printed, and the work is now very difficult to procure. I owe the use of it to my excellent friend Robert Brown, Esquire, without whose kindness in advising me and procuring for me books which I could not otherwise have commanded, my own little work, if executed at all, must have been defective indeed.*

The enthusiastic Hasselquist, short as was his career, did much for Scripture botany. Struck with an expression in one of Linnæus’s lectures, regretting that so little was known of the natural history of Palestine, the young man devoted himself to travels in that country; and, overcoming difficulties of which poverty and bad health were not the least, he reached Syria, saw some part of Egypt, but never recovered

* It may seem vain-glorious thus publicly to boast of the friendship of this great botanist, who, by the universal voice of the naturalists on the continent of Europe, has received the title of PRINCEPS BOTANICORUM, a title hitherto bestowed only on Linnæus. But I shall soon be beyond the power of expressing gratitude in this world, and I am willing with what breath I have to thank him, and to express a regard that has lasted long, and can only end with life. His friend Mr. Bennet has also done much for me, and must receive my thanks here for all his trouble.

from the heat and fatigue of his journeys in Palestine, and died a martyr to science.*

Forskal, another of the same class, if he did not travel expressly to seek Bible plants or to explore the vegetation of the Holy Land, did very much to increase our knowledge of the botany of the East, and, like poor Hasselquist, became a victim to the effects of fatigue and a hot climate.

On the revival of letters after the long night of the dark ages, the ancient botanists and physicians had their share of the attention of scholars. Hermolaus Barbarus, in his lectures at Rome, included botany, as known to the Greeks, among the natural sciences on which he discoursed. Mathiolus wrote more than one treatise on the botany of Dioscorides, and others followed in the same train.

But the travels of Clusius into Spain and Africa, and the visit of Prosper Alpinus into Egypt, gave an impulse to the study of living plants which could not but bear worthy fruit.

Of their followers among the older travellers, I have profited most by the journeyings of Rauwolf, in whose book we find the work of a cheerful active mind, allowing nothing to escape observation. His descriptions are consequently satisfactory, and the few figures he has given of rare plants are trustworthy as far as they go.

* His papers were placed in the hands of Linnæus, who best knew their value. Few biographical sketches are so interesting as that prefixed by the master to the travels of his unhappy pupil.

Kæmpfer's agreeable Amenitates Exotice has furnished me with much instruction relative to the Oriental drugs and plants, especially the palm.

Among more recent travellers I have read with great advantage Tournefort's travels in the Levant, Bruce's in Abyssinia, Dr. Russell's history of Aleppo, and Sonnini's account of the visit of the French sçavans to Egypt: and, of contemporary travellers, I have found Dr. Royle most to be depended upon, either for confirming old notions concerning the drugs of the East, or adding the weight of his testimony to those of more recent botanists, illustrated as his work is by beautiful coloured figures.

From Mr. Loddiges's curious collection of exotic plants, he kindly sent me specimens from which I have drawn three of my most interesting subjects.

But were I to name every friend to whom I owe plants or prints to copy, and every book I have consulted, this notice would become unreasonably long.

I must, however, mention two little modern books, now published in English. The first and best we owe to an American author. Dr. Harris's Dictionary of the Natural History of the Bible is most carefully and conscientiously compiled, and is an admirable book for the table of every reader of Scripture, though it is not, as the ingenious writer imagines, so perfect as to supersede the necessity of any other.

The second small book I would name is Rosenmüller's Mineralogy and Botany of the Bible. This I did not see till my own work was just ready for the press. At first the great array of learned names at the foot of each page alarmed me, even more than the words in Oriental characters. But I was soon satisfied that Rosenmüller, though a diligent and laborious compiler on Scripture matters, had depended for his botany entirely on the authors whom I had already consulted, adopting their quotations as his

Of course I was pleased, after looking through the work of so meritorious a Bible scholar, that I had nothing to alter, and nothing to add to what I had previously gleaned from his predecessors.

I must now say something of the cuts which head the descriptions of the plants. The collecting the figures and drawing them on the wood-blocks, as it was a work of labour, so it was a labour of love. The

own.

authorities whence they are taken will be found in the index to the cuts; and the great solace I have derived from the drawing of them, confined as I am to a sick bed, makes up for whatever pain there might be in acknowledging that the faults are entirely my own, since my lines were most carefully and accurately followed by that excellent wood-engraver Mr. W. Folkard, to whose exactness and diligence I am greatly indebted.

That the drawings and the descriptions, together with the illustrative matter contained in my humble book, may effect the object I have already laid open, namely, that of inducing even a few to unite the study of the unwritten book of God with that of his written law, is the ardent wish and fervent

prayer of

THE AUTHOR.

Note.— I have never been able to discover the author of the beautiful lines set to music by Handel, which I have chosen for my motto. They are not Dr. Watts's. But tradition assigns the poem of the Solomon, as well as some other oratorios of Handel, to his friend Dr. Morell.

« PreviousContinue »