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make some sacrifices for. A Botanist's Guide to the whole of Britain, on the same plan as the Flora Metropolitana, would have extended through twenty or thirty volumes such as that of Mr. Cooper, and at a cost of five guineas, instead of being published at one-sixth part of that price. I believe that lists for counties, or areas of larger extent, will give the best combination of usefulness and moderate cost; leaving to individuals the task of re-casting the general list into subordinate ones, for any particular counties in which they may feel especially interested. Some further remarks on the increase of cost connected with a more expanded form of description, may be seen on page 591. In books that are designed to be useful to others, the cost should be kept down as much as possible.
One gentleman wrote me that he had been much disappointed at finding so few localities indicated about the town in which he is a resident; but since neither this gentleman nor any one else, so far as is known to me, has ever published any list or localities of plants to be found in that part of the country, it was impossible that I could ascertain what plants were growing there; my abode being one or two hundred miles off, and the town having been seen by myself only two or three times, from the windows of a mail, in the night. Moreover, I must not pretend to inform botanists what plants they tread upon round their own houses. Surely they may be presumed to know this much better than a distant stranger can do ; and if desirous of seeing the plants of their own neighbourhoods more fully mentioned, the localities of such might have been communicated to this work, or otherwise made public by themselves. The gentleman alluded to favoured me with a list of the plants which he had gathered within a distance of five or six miles from home. They amounted to 187, including the commonest kinds.
It might have been supposed that a single day would have sufficed for procuring this number; and if, as a resident botanist, he had carried his own labours to this extent only, he should not have felt disappointed with the small success or efforts of others.
When the manuscript sheets of the first volume were on the point of going to the printer, two or three friends strongly urged the addition of the vascular, or ductulose, cryptogamic plants. In consequence of this advice, a note was introduced on page 5, expressing a wish to make such addition in an Appendix, which it was then anticipated would soon become requisite. The SUPPLEMENT, in the latter part of the second volume, supplies the intended. Appendix; but on further reflection it was deemed advisable still to omit all the cryptogamic plants. Localities for such have not been sent to me in any thing like the same proportion as for the flowering plants; nor have I bestowed any proper attention upon them myself. Consequently, the lists would not be at all full; and though half a loaf is said to be better than no bread, I trust the half loaf, or more, may be soon supplied by another hand. Mr. Francis informs me that he is bringing out a small work devoted to these orders of plants, illustrated by figures, and which is intended to contain as full an enumeration of localities as he can ascertain. This intimation induced me to copy the greater part of the notes of localities which I had received up to the summer of 1836, and to send them for his use, instead of introducing them into the present work. At the time of writing this, the work of Mr. Francis is not published; but I have seen some of the figures, which are expressive, though small.
Thus far I have been writing a Preface in answer to the comments and suggestions of others, touching the
contents of these two volumes only. with the first of these was published a second work, intimately connected with them, and which I had once intended to constitute a part of one single work, embracing the contents of all the three volumes, together with other matters not yet published. A reviewer in the Medical Gazette has recognised their connection, and termed the New Botanist's Guide "part and parcel" of the Remarks on the Geographical Distribution of British Plants. The connection will become more apparent when the other matters alluded to are published. Meantime, the 'Remarks' have been only imperfectly understood, probably because the work contains chiefly general and generalised facts, the ultimate bearings of which will not be discovered by persons who have paid little or no attention to the relations between vegetation and physical geography. A reviewer in the Athenæum (apparently rather at a loss what opinion to form respecting the Remarks,') resorted to the old-fashioned yet sensible enough "cui bono," by asking what useful result is to ensue from such investigations into the distribution of plants, and seemed to pity the author's oversight in not explaining why such facts were put on record. Thus called on, I wish to devote a page or two to this subject, and know not any more appropriate place and opportunity than is here afforded. Readers may pass them over, if the subject appears irrelevant in their eyes. Certainly, we ought to keep an eye steadily to the value and probable usefulness of scientific enquiries; but if "cui bono" had been effectively thrust forward to press down every bud of science in its first rudimentary state, how could we ever have seen one single well-grown and fruit-bearing branch formed?
The ultimate tendency of botany, as of any other science worthy of cultivation, should be found in some
beneficial results to the human race, equivalent to the cost of time and money expended on the pursuit. Unless some such results be in prospect, however distantly, it is difficult to conceive what adequate advantages are to be derived from our sedulous efforts to describe and give names to every peculiarity of structure, form and proportion in plants; from our voluminous collections of specimens, dried and living, including the productions of nearly every clime and country; from our intense (a psychologist might say, monomaniacal) devotion to the devising of systems and classifications; and from the great expense of time and money necessarily made in effecting all this. Unless there be some prospect of equivalent return, I repeat, some reasonable hope of thereby eventually adding much to the stock of power and enjoyment which mankind at present derives from the vegetable world, it will be the duty of political economists to stigmatise botanists as the unproductive consumers or supernumerary drones of society.
Now mere descriptions, mere classifications, mere invention of names, howsoever complete and ingenious, produce nothing to the human race. They only consume time and labour. And although such occupation may be an agreeable amusement to the parties personally concerned in it, yet, taken alone, it is as valueless to the world as would have been their occupation for an equal length of time at a card-table. We cannot make the earth yield us a greater quantity of food and clothing, through means of its vegetable productions, merely by knowing their names, resemblances and structure. After learning these things, (which I by no means undervalue, as a groundwork for something more,) we must still take other steps, by studying the relations existing between vegetables and the rest of creation. One set of these relations is found in the connections established between
vegetation, on the one hand, and the physical conditions of its existence, on the other; that is to say, the influence of climate, soil, and the other external circumstances determining the vegetation of the globe, whether general or special. The more we come to understand these connections, the greater will be our power of modifying them for our benefit. But we must first carefully ascertain the facts, before we can rationally expect or hope to make them beneficial. Hitherto, almost all our applied knowledge on this subject has been purely empirical; having been left to farmers and gardeners, who have derived little assistance from technical botanists. Experiments and accidental observations, with some aid from chemistry and mechanical inventions, have enabled practical farmers greatly to augment and improve the vegetable produce of Britain: but it is hardly saying too much, to suggest that a scientific knowledge of the laws of vegetation, though it will be slowly acquired, must place a future race of cultivators as much above the present workmen, in skill and power, as the scientific chemist of to-day is superior to the cooks and the drug-venders, who were the chemists, empirically, centuries ago. The collecting and arranging of facts, such as appear likely to bear upon one department of a study which may become so important to mankind, has been my aim hitherto, as it has been the aim of others. No one has yet advanced a step beyond this preliminary labour, in so far as that one department is concerned; and no one can go beyond it at present. An attempt to do so, would be only a leap from twilight into utter darkness. My reviewer appears to have forgotten this, in his allusion to Humboldt. That philosopher only collected facts together, (chiefly those ascertained by others,) and made an imperfect generalisation of them. He could do no more than this, and most assuredly he "built" no "system;" for how