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to the Linnæan system. It facilitates exceedingly almost every inquiry into the history of our vegetables, both indigenous and imported. It is the guide for surveying the plains, and penetrating the fastnesses of our states and territories. With such competent aid he traverses the different regions with an ease and advantage which nobody knew or felt until the North American Flora was published 1804.
The researches of Mr. Rafinesque Schmaltz deserve to be noticed in this place. Several of his compositions are extant in the volumes of the Medical Repository. They evince careful observation, with patience in describing, and skill in classifying. It is a subject of regret that this gentleman should have been obliged, by the state of his private affairs, to remove to Palermo in Sicily; and that the war raging in Europe, should have retarded the publication of the great work he had prepared upon the vegetables of the middle states. I am not without expectation it will one day appear, and enrich this branch of our natural history.
1806. F. Depons, an agent of the French government at Caraccas, published in Paris, his voyage to the eastern part of Terra Firma, on the Spanish Main, made during the four first years of the 19th century. A translation was shortly after made, and printed, in New York, with a map of all the region since comprehended within the new republic of Venezuela.
The work, though instructive, cannot be denominated scientific. And the seventh chapter, which treats of the growing and preparation of produce, treats of cacao, cotton, sugar-cane, and tobacco, more like a planter and a merchant, than a botanist. It now becomes me to mention a few of the
separate tracts, which have been published on individual plants. I do not pretend to give a complete enuteration; nor is it to be understood that every one of them belongs to the 19th century.
Julius Van Rohr's history of the cotton plant is an important performance in this way. It was written at the special instance of the Danish government. The author resided long in the island of St. Crois, and was eminently qualified for the task. I knew this virtuous and intelligent gentleman, when he was in New York preparing for a voyage in the gulf of Guinea. His government had determined to make a settlement there, and with a view to gratify Van Rohr's passion for bo. tanical and entomological researches, had appointed him to superintend the colony. I expected much from his skill and ardour; but, alas! the vessel he chartered in this port was never heard of after departure; and was supposed to have foundered on the ocean, with the governor on board!
Monseiur Thierry de Menonville's Treatise on the cultivation of the nopal, and on the management of the cochineal insect in Saint Domingo, was published in 1787, at Cape Français. Such an elaborate work on this cactus, or species of prickly pear, is worthy of special notice.' It consists of two volumes 8vo; and the second contains several elegant figures, coloured from nature, of the leaf and its inhabitants. In beholding this work, I am led to lament the ruin of St. Domingo, and the academy of sciences there, which, in 1792, before its downfal, had chosen me a member.
The memoir entitled a botanical description of the Cheiranthodendron, or hand-flower tree of Toluca near Mexi-co, is a performance on a very rare and curious subject. It was translated from the Spanish original of Don L’Arreategui, by a gentleman, now
of this city, equally distinguished for a polite and honourable disposition, for a love of science, and a proficiency in Persian and Asiatic litera
ture. To Baron L'Escallier, the consul-general of France, we owe the satisfaction of examining, in drawing and description, this rare and exquisite American plant. It was published at Paris in 1805.
John M. Walker's experimental inquiry into the similarity in virtue between the cornus florida and sericea, and the Peruvian bark, was published at Philadelphia in 1803. It is embellished with a figure of the dogwood, and may be justly ranked among the respectable exercises of this kind.
About the year 1806, New-York witnessed a dissertation on the statice limonium, or marsh rosemary, by Valentine Mott, M. D. To a fine drawing of the plant is added a chemical and medical history of its qualities, highly creditable to the author, and instructive to the student.
I might mention the several tracts extant in the scientific journals of New York, on the Xanthoriza tinctoria, by the late professor Woodhouse, on the American Columbo, by W. P. Hildreth of Marietta, on the scutularia laterifolia, by Robert Bowne, Esq. and on the Canada thistle, by Mr. T. Buckley; but I forbear to descend deeper into particulars, lest I weary an audience, patient beyond example, with my observations on this almost exhaustless theme.
1808. In 1787 appeared at Bologna, a Geographical, Natural, and Civil History of Chili, by the Abbè Ignatius Molina. In 1808, a beautiful version, from the original Italian into English, was made by R. Alsop, Esq. and published in NewYork, in two octavos. The first volume of this highly respectable and very instructive work is devoted to natural history, and the third chapter treats particularly on the herbs, shrubs, and trees of that important American kingdom. The author has long been quoted for his acuteness in observing, and his correctness in describing. It is honourable to our age and country, that the first translation into our own tongue, should have been done at Middletown in Connecticut, by one of our own literati, and published in this city.
1810, I must, however, intreat their indulgence, while I present to their attention a few publications more.
The first no less than the History of the Forest Trees of North America, now publishing at Paris, by Andrew Michaux, the younger, son of the distinguished botanist already mentioned.
The work is beautifully printed, and embellished with figures copied from life and nature. The author has had the benefit of his father's labours ; and in addition thereto, has made repeated and extensive journies through the United States. Enjoying great opportunities, and possessed of the requisite qualifications, he may be considered capable of performing his task better than, perhaps, any other person. It comes out in livraisons, or numbers. To the first of these is prefixed a list of the species he intends to describe. He has begun with the pines and firs, which he has separated into distinct genera. The pines are those which have thread-like leaves connected at their base, to the number of two, three, or five, in the same sheath, and at the same point of attachment; winie the firs have short leaves, fixed one by one around the branches, or to their sides.
Next follow the hickories and oaks. These are succeeded by the birches and magnolias : and so, proceeding ihrough the beaches, cypresses, junipers, and others, the whole American forest is to be displayed.
Such a work, at this time, by so able a hand, may be pronounced a most seasonable and valuable addition to our knowledge; and worth a place in the library of every political economist, botanist, and landed proprietor.
1813. The present year has witnessed a publication which may almost be reckoned a botanical phenomenon. This is, a Catalogue of the hitherto known native and naturalized plants of North America, by Henry Muhlenberg, 1. D. published at Lancaster in Pennsylvania. It is a performance of uncommon labour and research. To his own observations on living plants, the author has added all the information he could procure from dried specimens forwarded to him from all quarters by his numerous correspondents. He has compressed, and, as it were, condensed, a grand mass of knowledge into the compass of one hundred and twelve octavo pages. He has profited by the light of modern improvement; and is, in reality, a guiding luminary himself. Eight hundred and sixtythree genera witness at once the profusion with which the Creator has decked the middle and northern latitudes of the western hemisphere, and the accuracy with which these productions of his power have been registered and named.
What shall be said of American plants after all this? Why, truly, that as, during the verdant period, they surpass those which grow in other quarters of the globe, so they excel in the peculiar beauty and variety of autumnal hues, whereby our forests exhibit, during the season in which the leaves are preparing to fall, a spectacle of richness and gayety that all persons of observation admire, and which our artists might pourtray for the purpose of giving a national style and character to their landscapes.