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TO MAKE A HORTUS SICCUS, OR
PERHAPS it may not be unacceptable to our readers to make a few remarks on the benefit of procuring a collection of dried plants: we will therefore quote Sir James Smith's observations on the subject.
“ The advantage of preserving specimens of plants, as far as it can be done, for examination at all times and seasons, is abundantly obvious. Notwithstanding the multitude of books filled with descriptions and figures of plants, and however ample such may be, they can teach no more than their authors observed. But when we have the works of nature before us, we can investigate them for ourselves, pursuing any train of inquiry to its utmost extent, nor are we liable to be misled by the errors or misconceptions of others.
“A good practical botanist must be educated among the wild scenes of nature, while a finished theoretical one requires the additional assistance of gardens and books, to which must be superadded the frequent use of a good herbarium. When plants are well dried, the original forms and positions of even their minutest parts, though not their colours, may at any time be restored by immersion in hot water. By this means, the productions of the most distant and various countries, such as no garden could possibly supply, are brought together at once under our eye, at any season of the year. If these be assisted with drawings and descriptions, nothing less than an actual survey of the whole vegetable world in a state of nature could excel such a store of information.
“ The greater part of plants dry with facility between the leaves of books, or other paper; tbe smoother the better.
“ If there be plenty of paper, they often dry best without shifting ; but if the specimens are crowded they must be taken out frequently, and the paper dried, before they are replaced.
“The great point to be attended to is, that the process should meet with no check. Several vegetables are so tenacious of their vital principle, that they will grow between papers, the consequence of which is a destruction of their proper habit and colour. It is necessary to destroy the life of such, either by immersion in boiling water, or by the application of a hot iron, such as is used for linen, after which they are easily dried.
“I cannot, however, approve of the practice of applying such an iron, as some persons do with great labour and perseverance, till the plants are quite dry, and all their parts incorporated into a smooth flat mass, this renders them unfit for subsequent examination, and destroys their natural habit, the most important thing to be preserved.
“ Even in spreading plants between papers, we should refrain from that precise and artificial disposition of their branches, leaves, and other parts, which
takes away from their natural aspect, except for the purpose of displaying the internal parts of some one or two of their flowers for ready observation.
“ Dried specimens are best preserved by being fastened with weak carpenter's glue to paper, so that they may be turned over without damage. and heavy stalks require the additional support of a few transverse slips of paper, to bind them more firmly down. A half sheet of a convenient size should be allotted to each species.
“One great and mortifying impediment to the perfect preservation of an herbarium, arises from the attacks of insects; to remedy this inconvenience, I have found a solution of corrosive sublimate of mercury in rectified spirits of wine, about two drachms to a pint, with a little camphor, perfectly efficacious, applied with a camel-hair pencil when the specimens are perfectly dry, not before; and if they are not too tender, it is best done before they are pasted, as the spirit extracts a yellow dye from many plants, and stains the paper. A few drops of this solution should be mixed with the glue used for pasting. The herbarium is best kept in a dry room, without a constant fire.” SIR JAMES EDWARD SMITH'S Introduction to Botany.
When with a serious musing, I behold
desire To that which is above me I aspire, And all my best affections, I profess
him that is the Sun of Righteousness. Oh! keep the morning of his incarnation, The burning noontide of his bitter passion,
The night of his descending, and the height
TO THE CROCUS.
Lowly, sprightly little flower!
Herald of a brighter bloom,
From thy winter tomb.
Hues you bring, bright, gay, and tender,
As if never to decay ;
Soon, alas ! it fades away.
Thus, the hopes I long had cherished,
Thus, the friends I long had known,
Blighted—I must fade alone.