Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/354

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342
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

himself might have observed with envy; and there are fish that fly through the air of heaven with a grace and swiftness that would put to shame innumerable species among their feathered competitors. Nay, there are even fish, like some kinds of eels and the African mud-fish, that scarcely live in the water at all, but merely frequent wet and marshy places, where they lie snugly in the soft ooze and damp earth that line the bottom. If I have only succeeded, therefore, in relieving the mind of one sensitive and retiring fish from the absurd obloquy cast upon its appearance when it ventures away for a while from its proper element, then, in the pathetic and prophetic words borrowed from a thousand uncut prefaces, this work will not, I trust, have been written in vain.—Cornhill Magazine.


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THE FLOWER OR THE LEAF.

By Dr. MARY PUTNAM-JACOBI.

"Quod she agen, 'But to whom do ye owe
Your service? and which wolle ye honour,
 Tel me I pray, this yere, the Leaf or the Flower?'"

Chaucer, "The Flower and the Leaf."

THE comments made by Miss Youmans,[1] upon a single remark in my article on "Primary Education," show how much can be unfolded out of an apparently limited subject, when all its bearings are thoroughly discussed. Already this discussion trenches upon several philosophical principles which involve much more than the apparently trivial question whether children should begin the study of botany by the flower or the leaf. An inquiry into these principles may therefore be not uninteresting.

Miss Youmans lays down certain propositions, with some of which I do in reality agree, while with others I am in decided disagreement, for reasons I will take the liberty of here setting forth. Thus:

1. Children should study the external characters of plants before attempting to study their life-processes or physiology.

2. Children can not be suitably impressed with such "tremendous ideas as evolution," and therefore it is useless to signalize these to them.

3. Children should not be detained to draw the leaves or other natural objects they study, because of "the delay" thus entailed, and because "they could not draw one in a hundred of the specimens with which it is necessary that they become familiar."

4. The modern systems of botanical classification are based on the sum total of the characters of the plant, and not on the corolla. It is therefore unphilosophical to study the flower containing the corolla

  1. "Popular Science Monthly," October, 1885.