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an almost unlimited range of useful and general learning, so little. account is made of botany, Why, we may ask, does it form no part of the daily routine of school work? Is it because it is not generally considered practical knowledge, or because it is (or is esteemed) so dry and uninteresting a subject that it would rather tend to disgust than to instruct the young? It will not be difficult to show that the study of the vegetable world, which is, perhaps, the most extensive and diversified portion of the creation, cannot be less interesting and instructive to children, who are spending their early years amid rural scenes,—rambling through the fields and woodlands,-culling in sportive innocence the wild flowers scattered by Nature over the verdant meads, and watching the grateful vicissitudes of the seasons, and the various changes of the vegetable scenery,-it cannot be less instructive, I say, to those than the usual drudgery in English Grammar, or the dry details of Foreign Geography. Nor can it be less useful to the youthful farmer, who is destined to spend his life in agricultural pursuits, to study the nature of those trees, and shrubs, and herbs, and flowers, among which his lot will be cast, and on the knowledge of which will depend his skill and ultimate success in the art of husbandry than the rudiments of Astronomy, Algebra, Political Economy, or the more refined studies of the school-room.
But the utility of Botany is not limited to one class of society ; it extends equally to all: we are all indebted to the vegetable world to an incredible degree. Not only man, but the countless hosts of animals, depend entirely on vegetation for their subsistence. And although some animals feed on others, those others will be found to owe their existence to the vegetable world. But not only our food, but also our drink, whether wine or beer, cider or milk, tea, coffee, cocoa, or chocolate, whatever it may be, was once growing in the vineyards, the orchards, or the fields. Our clothing, too, whether silk or cotton, linen or woollen, came originally from the same source. The mulberry tree, without doubt, supplies us with silk; the wellknown cotton plant with cotton; the flax tree with linen; and wool refers us to the sheep which was fed on the grass which grows in the meadows. Then, again, our houses, with the costly furniture they contain, came originally from the forest or the field. Indeed, can you point out any part of the vegetable world which is not of service to man or beast. We are told that the common thistle, which we regard as a most noxious herb, makes the best glass, and their thorns and prickles furnish the most valuable salt. And is not the common bramble of immense importance to the husbandman? And the stinging nettle, which, as children, we tread on with contempt, is it not invaluable as a medicine? The plants which we may think but of little worth are no doubt useful for other of God's creatures. Animals require physic as well as food, and beasts and birds know well enough the medicinal herbs. Why do dogs eat grass, and the wounded stags dittany? And we are told, whether true or not, that swallows cure the sore eyes of their young with celandine. Dr. Sloane records a species of aloe which supplied fishing lines, bowstrings, as well as stockings, to a secluded people. And
Dampier, in his voyage to the Campeachy, speaks of a wild pine; and Navarette, in his collection of travels, of a tree called bejuco; and Dr. Sloane also of a plant of Jamaica, called the waterwith, the leaves of which trees catch and preserve a considerable quantity of water, clear and refreshing, which proves an inestimable blessing to the inhabitants of those hot climates, particularly the herdsmen and thirsty travellers. Were it not for these vegetable reservoirs, the condition of some countries would be in the highest degree distressing; for when the rivers fail these plants are the only, resource for the people. The non-importance of common weeds is founded entirely on our ignorance. The virtues of the common sunflower have not long been discovered, and yet how valuable is every part. The flowers furnish a rich supply of honey to the bee,-the leaves a nourishing food for cattle,-pigs will fatten on their seeds,-a uselul oil is also pressed from them, -- their stalks are good for kindling, and their ashes produce a large supply of alkali. Without enumerating more instances, are we not indebted to the vegetable world for the very air we breathe ? Oxygen gas, which is the vital air, is prepared and produced by trees and plants. They give out oxygen for animal life, and animals, in return, give out carbon for vegetable life; and thus one part of creation is essentially dependent on the other.
Carbon the basis.
s Hydrogen (15).
s Nitrogen (72).
Botany, then, is a useful study; it is practical knowledge,—the wisest of men esteemed it worthy of his attention ; for it is said that he "spake of trees, from the cedar of Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall” (1 Kings, iv. 33); and I am sure it is amusing and entertaining to children. It gave me and my schoolfellows infinite delight in our school days, and, if taught upon the same principles, will afford equal delight to others. The plan i propose is this-not to teach the subject to a whole school indiscriminately, but to make it serve as a stimulus to industry and a reward to merit. Select the best boys from the upper classes, and form them into a class by themselves. These, during the spring and early summer, occasionally—say once a week, on the half holiday, or during a part of some afternoon- I would accompany on a botanical excursion over the meadows and the moors, along the retired rural lanes, by rock and rivulet, and would there examine the modest unpretending beauties of nature. I know not a more effectual means than this to inspire children with just notions of the wisdom and goodness of God,-10 lead them to reflect on and admire the common, the meanest objects in nature, and to attach them to their school and teacher. But to make an excursion of this kind interesting to children, they should previously be made acquainted with the first elements of botany ;-I mean simply the alphabet of the science. I would not bore them with a dry list of scientific terms, to disgust them at starting. This is not the way we teach any other science. We do not commence, for instance, common arithmetic by first giving the definition of fractions and decimals, algehra and
geometry. Let them feel the want of suitable terms to express their ideas before you give them; then, in all probability, they will remember them. All that will be needful will be common specimens of the different parts of plants and flowers to illustrate your lessons. You will also require a piece of chalk, and a large slate or black board, on which to sketch your diagrams, and describe the terms you explaiu. Then arrange the class before you, so that you may catch every eye, and every eye may see the board; give each a scrap of paper and a pen for notes, and then begin with the definition of the subject.
On the Seeds and Roots of Trees. I am going to tell you something, children, about what is called the vegetable world. All the things which God has created here below are put into three great classes-called worlds. All the animals, from the huge elephant to the little mite, are put into one class—and called the animal world. Then, again, all the vegetables, from the giant oak, which flourishes through a thousand winters, to the delicate little flower, which scarce lives through a summer, are put into another class, and called the vegetable world. Then, again, if we take away all the animals and vegetables, there would remain only stones and earth, and such things as are taken out of the earth by means of mines or deep pits—these are named the mineral world. Vegetables, then, you see, are a large class of creatures; and the study or knowledge of vegetables, remember, is called botany.
We have borrowed the word botany from the Greek language. Botane in Greek simply meant a plant. And there is a place now called Botany Bay, peopled by English transports, which took its name from the number of plants and flowers discovered there. (Point out the spot, and explain transports.) But in English the word botany has a wider meaning than it had in Greek. It implies a knowledge of plants, with their different names and natures. It teaches us also how they are to be cultivated, -what soil will best suit them,- what are wholesome and what hurtful. Hence it is doubly useful to colonists—those who leave one country to cultivate and occupy the barren and uncultivated parts of another. They may meet with a number of plants they have never before seen, as Robinson Crusoe did; and they may also have to remove some from their native country to a foreign soil. To do this successfully, they ought to know the nature of the plants as well as the nature of the soil. How botany teaches all this we shall see by and by. Tell me, now, how you would divide the vegetable world. (Into trees, shrubs or bushes, herbs and small plants.) You can tell me, with a little thought, in what respect plants differ from animals; but can you tell me in what respect they resemble or are alike each other? (Try and impress the following analogy upon the class :-)
I. They have parents, and a birth, like animals.
to strength. III. They have mouths, at the ends of the roots and under the leaves. IV. The earth serves them for a stomach, and digests the food for them.
V. If they have no blood-vessels, they have sap-vessels, which are the VI. They feel the cold in the winte and are subject to diseases. VII. They have bones and limbs in the hard frame-work of the trunk and
branches. VIII. They require rest and repose, which they get in the winter.
IX. And they are liable to death, and after death to corruption.
They may carry the analogy even farther than this. Name the different parts of a tree, beginning from the roots. (Roots—trunk-stem or stalk, boughs or branches-leaves-buds and blossoms-and the fruit.)
Which of these ought we to consider first? ('The seeds, to be sure; for they contain all the rest.) Did it ever strike you how small the seeds are when compared to the parent tree, and how wisely God has so ordained it ? Suppose the acorn bore the same proportion to the oak as the common bean does to its stalk-it would be larger than a man's head, and would probably lie on the ground and die, because it would be unable to bury itself as it now does. Who would suppose, on viewing an acorn, that it contained within it the roots, trunk, and branches of the mighty oak? But so it is ; and if you were to soak the acorn in warm water for a few days, you would easily distinguish the shape of the future tree. You shall know more about the seeds when you come to the fruit,—but I wish you to take notice how wonderfully and wisely God has provided for the sowing of the seeds, and how his providential care extends even to the meanest of his creatures.
Where should you think the seeds of trees would fall if left to themselves ? (Beneath the trees on which they grew.) But the ground beneath is generally very hard and dry, and receives but little rain or sunshine in the summer; and if all the seeds fell beneath, in the first place they would be too thick to grow; and in the next, they would be unable to penetrate the earth, or feel the beneficial effects of the rain and sun. To remedy or prevent this, you will find some seeds provided with wings to enable the wind to carry them from the tree and scatter them about. Some have one wing, some have
Others have a hooked wing, to prevent them being carried too far. Pines have short legs or wings, just to enable them to crawl or flutter from beneath their parent tree, while dandelions are wafted to a distance like a feather. Some are shut up in a case, and when the seeds are ripe, the case bursts open as with a spring, and shoots the seeds far away. Many of the berry species are planted by birds. They swallow the berry, but the little hard stone which contains the seeds passes through them uninjured. Mistletoe is planted in this way; so are nutmegs in the East. These are most difficult to rear in any other way.
Now we know a little about the seeds, we shall pass on to the roots. What purpose do roots answer? (They fix the plant firmly to the ground, and so prevent the wind from upsetting it; and they also supply it with nourishing food, which they extract from the earth.) Many plants have two kinds of roots,-a large root, which is called the caudex, or stump,--from this spring a great number of small fibres or roots, called radicles. At the end of these radicles are some small white fibres called spongelets, at the end of which are the mouths of the plant. Here is a radish; the word means simply a root; this red part, which we eat, is the caudex or stump; these fibres are the radicles ; at the end of these are the spongelets and feeders. To explain how the roots are formed, be provided with some broad beans which have been previously soaked or buried until they have begun to grow. Hand them round the class, together with some seed beans which have not been planted. Bid them open the latter, and they will discover between the two halves, which are called lobes and cotyledons, the germ or vital principle of the future plant. In the former they will observe the two lobes parting asunder, and a little green shoot making its appearance in one direction, and some small fibres in the opposite. The little shoot is called the plumule, and the fibres (as before) radicles. And as it will interest them to know what causes a hard, dead-looking seed to grow, they may be told that it is warmth, in the first instance. A seed is similar to an egg, which must be warmed by the hen, or in an oven (as in Egypt) before it can be hatched into life. Seeds contain air, and when put into the earth the air becomes warmed and expands (remember what causes the wind and what the water to boil in the kettle). After they have thus expanded, by a change of temperature and other causes, they gradually cool again, and again expand or swell. This expansion and condensation continues until these lobes (point to them) become soft and pulpy. Then the roots begin to show themselves, and, being weak, are nourished by these soft, milky lobes, or cotyledons, until they are able to draw it for themselves from the soil. In fact, they are like the udder and teats of an animal. Now if the seeds be bad or withered, they could not of course nourish the young plant : so the roots would die, and the crop fail. We cannot be too particular in securing good seeds. In many plants these two cotyledons show themselves above ground with the young shoot. They are the bottom leaves, and are different in shape from the leaves of the plant. There is one thing more to remember about the roots, and that is their various shapes and ages. How many different shaped roots can you enumerate ?
I. There is the branching root, such as in the oak and other trees.
IX. The coated bulb, as in the onion and hyacinth.
Others live through two seasons, or through one winter, and die at the close of the following summer, and are called biennials. Wheat is a biennial.
Others, again, live and flourish through many years, as trees and shrubs, and are hence called perennials.
(To be continued.)
ON THE NEGLECT OF ARITHMETIC IN OUR MOST
EMINENT CLASSICAL SCHOOLS. In a recent notice of Dr. Whewell's work, entitled, “Of a Liberal Education in general; and with particular Reference to the leading Studies at Cambridge,” allusion was made in our Journal to his remarks upon the relation between the university system and school teaching, and upon the great classical schools. The importance of this relation is obvious, especially when we consider the nature of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as compared with foreign universities, or with the University of London, which has been framed upon a foreign model. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are Educating Bodies, and not, like the London University, bodies whose sole function it is to award prizes, confer degrees, and the like. Young men are sent to Oxford and Cambridge, not merely to show what they have learnt, but also to learn. Hence the teaching of our schools should have, for one of its objects, to fit youths for being further educated while at the universities. This view of the relation of our schools to our universities suggests some important rules for the general conduct of the studies of young men.
Of these one, for instance, is, that the object of schoolmasters and early tutors should be, not to carry their pupils through all the subjects of university teaching, from the highest to the lowest, so much as to teach them thoroughly well in the lower subjects, and to