Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/March 1897/The Blaschka Flower Models of the Harvard Museum
|←The Year of the X Rays||Popular Science Monthly Volume 50 March 1897 (1897)
The Blaschka Flower Models of the Harvard Museum
By Marcia E. Hale
|The Cliff-Dweller's Sandal→|
THE Ware Collection of glass flower models in the University Museum of Cambridge is now so widely known and appreciated that a written introduction to it seems at first superfluous. Still, the fact remains that the interest and curiosity felt in regard to the history of the collection increase in proportion to its increasing fame.
Among the vast number of people who visit the exhibition rooms of the botanical department of the museum there must be few who do not feel on leaving that a revelation has been disclosed to them. The savant finds the rendering of the minutest details of vegetable organism almost inconceivably accurate, while the general public can hardly fail to derive from the beauty of these models an awakening interest in the mysteries of plant life.
Before considering the scope of the collection it might be well to examine the nature of the models themselves.
To the casual observer it seems almost incredible that these sprays of leaf and blossom — these magnified details of flower and fruit, true to Nature not only in form and color but also in texture — that these models before us should be made of glass. Not even the daintiest productions of the Venetian and Bohemian glass workers have prepared us for the delicacy and pliability which we find here, and it seems hardly necessary to state that the process employed in making these models is in no sense that of ordinary glass blowing. From the simpler methods of making window glass and bottles to the artistic fashioning of such work as this is a wide step, and it may be interesting to sketch incidentally a brief outline of the history of glass making.
The origin of this art, unlike that of pottery, seems to have spread from a single center, instead of having been discovered by different nations independently. The early history of the art is shrouded in the dim mists of tradition, but the ancients seem to agree in giving the credit of the invention to the Phœnicians.
The story is too well known to need repetition of the party of Phœnician merchants who, having kindled a fire on the banks of the river Belus, proceeded to cook their dinner in pots supported by blocks of niter (carbonate of soda) supplied from their stores, in place of the stones which this sandy region did not furnish. Under the heat of the flames the fusion of the alkali with the sand produced glass. Thus far tradition. The earliest known specimens of glass, however, are Egyptian, and there may be seen in the British Museum a small lion's head of blue-green glass found at Thebes, which is probably the oldest specimen extant.
Under the Egyptians the art developed in all its details. They knew how to melt, color, and carve it.
The Greeks, too, used it, and many beautiful medallions were made from it by them. By far the greatest number of specimens of ancient glass preserved to us are Roman, and many quaint cups, vases, and images in both public and private collections attest the skill of the Roman glass workers. Pliny gives many curious details in regard to the glass making of his time, and mentions the invention of mirrors. He also speaks of the manufacture of glass in Italy from "a sort of sand found on the banks of the river Volturno," and adds that the same process is used in Gaul and in Spain.
Many of the Gallo-Roman cemeteries have yielded treasures of cups, necklaces, and tear bottles, iridescent fragments in which the metallic reds, blues and greens, still keep their original splendor. For many centuries it was supposed that the secret of this prismatic luster was lost, but modern glass workers have succeeded in reproducing or at least in approximating it.
One might dwell at length on the gradual development and perfection of this wonderful art were it not that space forbids and that its course has been traced by abler pens. Let us, then, touch only on the Venetian fabrications, which seem to have had their origin somewhere toward the fifth century, when the Venetian population, hunted and persecuted by barbarous tribes, sought refuge in the seclusion of the lagoons. Here in unmolested peace they pursued their work, into whose mysteries they had been initiated perhaps by the Egyptians or the Phoenicians, and to which their own skill and artistic sense lent much. It was not until the middle of the thirteenth century that the city regulations, fearful of accidents from fire, compelled the glass makers of the Rialto to establish themselves on the island of Murano, at a safe distance from the homes of men. Since that time the name of this little island has been closely associated with the production of exquisite objects which seem to embody in their fragile forms the transparent clearness or opalescent tints of the waters of the Adriatic.
Strange stories have come down to us of the vigilance with which Venice guarded the secrets of her delicate handicraft. Throughout the intricately woven, many-colored web of her history runs the thread of her glass-makers' chronicle, like the gleaming lines of gold which intermingle on some fantastic Venetian goblet.
In the thirteenth century a fresh impetus was given to the art by the Venetian traveler Marco Polo, who brought home reports of the demand among Eastern nations for imitation gems, especially pearls, and these were consequently made in vast quantities for exportation.
Not all her jealous care, however, could prevent the art of Venice from spreading to other countries. The makers of these flower models of the Ware Collection claim that their ancestors brought from Venice to Bohemia the secrets of their craft. Be this as it may, Bohemia was the next country to manufacture glass, and the Bohemians introduced a new decorative system, that of engraving glass. To this succeeded the art of glass cutting and of luster making as well as that of painting glass.
Germany, France, and Belgium were not slow to follow Bohemia, and in each country new processes and new decorative ideas were developed. Thus the manufacture of glass spread throughout the civilized world.
To come down to the personal history of the artists in question, Leopold Blaschka was born in 1822, in Aicha, a village of northern Bohemia. His father, Joseph Blaschka, was not only a skilled glass worker, but was also an able mechanic and electrician.
After his early education in the grammar school of his native town, Leopold Blaschka was placed in the studio of the painter Eisner, with whom he studied for some time. At the same time he acquired from his father a thorough knowledge of the gold-smith's trade, becoming expert in the cutting and setting of gems and in gold and silver work — a knowledge which he put to a practical use in the manufacture of fancy articles for exportation.
From childhood, however, he had felt an absorbing interest in natural history, and when in the interest of his business he made a voyage in a sailing vessel to America in 1854, he found ample opportunity during a calm at sea to make many studies and drawings of marine invertebrates. On his return he began what proved to be his life work — the modeling of plants and animals in glass.
Some of these earlier models came under the notice of the botanist Prince Camille de Rohan, for whom Blaschka made a collection of about sixty orchids in glass. These were first exhibited in Prince de Rohan's palace in Prague in 1862. They afterward came into the possession of the museum at Liége, where they, were unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1863.
Certain annoying circumstances connected with one of these earlier collections, together with the fate of the Liége models, gave Blaschka a distaste for this branch of his work, which he abandoned forthwith, devoting himself exclusively to the manufacture of animal models.
In this work he was assisted by his only son, Rudolf, who was born in 1857, and who became, in 1870, his father's associate in his work. He was the only apprentice whom the elder man initiated into the mysteries of his art — the only person, therefore, since the death of Leopold Blaschka, in 1895, who possesses the secret of these marvelous productions. Both father and son were diligent and careful students of zoology, and their accurately rendered models met with a ready sale for museums throughout the world, the most complete of these collections being perhaps that which was purchased by the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy.
In 1885 the privilege of constructing for its own use the central portion of the University Museum at Cambridge was offered to the Botanical Department by Mr. Alexander Agassiz, who has carried so far toward completion his father's plans for a Museum of Comparative Zoölogy. Through the advice and cooperation of Mr. Agassiz, and through the untiring zeal and energy of Prof. George L. Goodale, who succeeded Dr. Asa Gray in the Fisher Professorship of Natural History, the large sum necessary for the construction of the building was obtained by subscription, the result being a most satisfactory structure which furnished ample space for laboratories and for exhibition rooms in which to display illustrations of all the chief types of plants. It was now necessary to provide these illustrations, and no means hitherto employed seemed wholly adequate to the desired end.
Flowers in all known states of preservation are apt to lose both color and character, and to become unsightly as well as uninteresting. Even if accurately represented by colored drawings, something is still wanting, as they must fail in expressing at least one of the dimensions of space. Gelatin seemed too perishable a substance to be used, papier-maché was hardly desirable, and the idea of wax models was altogether distasteful. It was a happy inspiration of Prof. Goodale's when one day studying the beautiful glass models in the Zoölogical Museum which led to the solution of the problem. If these marvels of the sea could be copied in glass with such beauty and fidelity, why should not the same medium be employed for the models of flowers?
Acting promptly upon this suggestion, the next step to be taken was a journey to Dresden for the purpose of making the proposition to the artists. At first Dr. Goodale's trouble seemed likely to prove useless, for he found the Blaschkas most unwilling to abandon the making of animal models, which occupied all their time, and for which there was an unfailing demand.
Up to this time, Prof. Goodale had never seen any glass flowers made by the Blaschkas, and it was during this first visit to their home at Hosterwitz, near Dresden, that his attention was drawn to a vase of orchids, apparently freshly cut, but whose freshness proved to be perennial, since they were the work of the elder Blaschka, who had made them for his wife some twenty years before this date! During all these years the flowers had stood uninjured from exposure to the air and dust of the room, though without even the protection of a glass shade. Here was a convincing argument in favor of glass models for the Harvard Museum.
After much consideration on the part of the Blaschkas, they consented to undertake, on their own terms, the preparation of a certain number of models.
In consenting to this, Leopold Blaschka was strongly influenced by his wish to afford his son further opportunities for carrying on his studies in botany, a science to which he had given much attention; another potent factor in gaining his consent being the kindly sentiment he had cherished for America since his early voyage to that country.
Feeling that he had accomplished the first and most important step in his mission. Prof. Goodale returned to America, and in the autumn of 1887 the first consignment of flower models reached him — shattered to fragments in the New York Custom House, whose inspectors had done their work "not wisely but too well!" The fragments were, however, sufficient to show the quality of the models, and to inspire much enthusiasm.
Among the first to appreciate the excellence of the models, both from an artistic and a scientific point of view, were the two ladies who later became known as the donors of the collection. At first, by their own wish, their names were not connected with the enterprise, which afterward took the form in which the public now recognizes and honors the collection — that of a beautiful and lasting memorial to a graduate of Harvard University, the late Dr. Charles Eliot Ware, of the class of 1834. Each successive step toward the accomplishment of this purpose has been attended by the happiest results, and no element has been wanting to give completeness to the collection.
The second consignment of models arrived, passed safely through the perils of the custom house, and proved satisfactory in every way.
The undertaking hitherto had been a personal experiment of Dr. Goodale's, and he has had from its very inception the entire charge of it. Under the new conditions new contracts became necessary, the final one of which, executed at the consular office in Dresden in 1890, engaged all the time of the two Blaschkas, thus securing a fixed number of models to be sent in two consignments each year, until the collection is completed. The time necessary for this completion is at present uncertain, owing to the death of Leopold Blaschka in July, 1895, since the work now falls wholly on his surviving son.
One of the questions asked most often is whether there is no one besides Rudolf Blaschka who can make these models, or who can at least assist him in making them.
When the nature of the work is investigated, it becomes evident that the only answer to this question is a negative one. This is due, not so much to the existence of any one secret connected with the production of the flowers, as to the fact that they are the result of the keenest artistic perceptions, and of absolute scientific accuracy, combined with a wonderful delicacy of manipulation, and also with infinite patience! That the family possesses certain technical secrets is not to be denied; and not only these hereditary secrets, but many new devices of the art have been called into requisition by these two wonder-workers in whose hands the brittle substance has assumed a plastic character. It is not glass blowing but glass modeling which has produced these marvelous imitations of Nature. Glass of all degrees of fusibility has been used in their composition, and the colors have been subjected to many experiments: some are imparted to the glass while fused, some while cooling, and some are applied afterward. All the pigments used are mineral colors, as an attempt to supplement these with aniline tints failed utterly.
During the lifetime of the elder Blaschka, the father and son were inseparable in their Work; no one step, however slight, was taken by the one without first consulting the other. They worked at the same table, and Prof. Goodale, who alone has been privileged to see the process, confesses himself even more puzzled by their rapidity and skill after seeing the work than before!
The highest degree of excellence, too, has been attained in the use of cements and in the method of securing the models to the tablets; the reproduction of the widely different textures of leaf and petal is a marvel by itself, and such perfection can have been reached only by infinitely painstaking experiment and study. All these matters, as may readily be seen, are not easily acquired or imparted, and for these reasons the collection seems likely to remain, as it is at present, absolutely unique. The artists have been given every opportunity and advantage in the way of plants for study. A photograph of their pleasant home in Hosterwitz shows a large but unpretending house, surrounded by a garden in which American plants are grown. The Blaschkas have had the benefit, too, of the Royal Gardens at Pilnitz, the summer home of the court of Saxony, which is situated on the Elbe within a mile of Dresden.
The Blaschka house contains two studios, in which the models of the Ware Collection are exhibited to a number of invited guests before each consignment is sent to this country. The method of packing is in itself interesting, so carefully are these fragile treasures prepared for their long journey. Each model is secured to its tablet by means of fine wire, then the tablet is fitted into its pasteboard box; under every curve of stem and tendril, supporting each leaf and petal, wherever there is space for it between tablet and model, are soft folds of tissue paper. More of the same paper, lightly crushed, fills the box to the brim, the cover is fastened on, and the boxes are then placed in a strong wooden case, which is in turn embaled in straw and finally enveloped in coarse sacking. It may readily be imagined that the task of unpacking is an equally delicate one, and it is a proof of the skill with which both processes are accomplished that so few of the flowers have suffered in either.
Rudolf Blaschka has made two visits to America in search of subjects for models — the first in 1893, when he made a journey to Jamaica in order to study subtropical plants, as well as one to Arizona and California, returning by way of Colorado and the nearer Western States. These journeys yielded rich results in the way of sketches and studies, which were for the most part rapid pencil drawings made from the living plant, with only slight washes or crayon touches of color, Blaschka's minute memoranda furnishing all further necessary detail.
The second trip to America was made in the summer of 1895, and from this expedition Rudolf Blaschka was recalled by the sad news of his father's death.
The original plan of the collection had been to represent only the flora of North and South America, as it had seemed doubtful if the services of the two artists could be secured for a longer time than would be necessary for this. After beginning to make models of flowers, however, the Blaschkas had found their old work of making marine animals, which must be duplicated, extremely distasteful, and had signified their willingness to devote themselves wholly to the new enterprise, which they evidently wished to be considered their monumental work.
From the very beginning of the undertaking, both father and son have acted from the highest principles and with perfect integrity, and the relations on both sides have been of a most cordial and pleasant nature.
All subsequent offers, no matter how advantageous they might appear to be, have been steadfastly declined by them; and that the contract has been fulfilled, not in the letter alone, has been ably proved by the evident fact that the flower models have, if possible, shown greater excellence in the later than in the earlier instances.
So greatly has the proposed scope of the original scheme been enlarged, that it now seems probable that five or six years' time will see illustrated by this collection all the great types of plant life throughout the world, all except eight of these types being represented among the plants native to North or South America. Already more than one hundred orders are represented, and here it must be clearly understood that no attempt has been made to show every species of plant. This would indeed be an impossibility! Not more than six or seven species of an order are given, but the collection thus illustrates a large proportion of the genera. Certain tablets, prepared for demonstration, exhibit a larger number of details than others; sometimes several species of a genus are shown, in order to emphasize the more or less strongly marked variation of certain characteristics, but in general the aim has been to show the typical species of different genera.
The three exhibition rooms are so arranged as to illustrate plant life in all its relations, from a biological point of view. The models are displayed in admirably constructed cases of plate glass and bear labels giving the names of the plants as well as other details in regard to them, thus offering every opportunity for study. The first room or hall, which one enters from the staircase, is intended to show plants in the following relations:
1. In relation to soil, water, air, heat, light, electricity, and gravitation.
2. In relation to insects and other animals by which plants are benefited.
3. In relation to insects and other animals by which plants are injured.
4. The relation of plants of the past to plants of the present time.
Here are also seen the plants used as forage.
The room on the left of this hall represents the Department of Economic Botany, Here we find illustrated plants in their relation to man — i. e., the plants used for shelter, clothing, and food; then those used for drugs, dyes, etc.; and here also are the plants of historic interest.
In the third and largest room the lower floor is devoted to flowering plants (by far the greater proportion of the collection), while the balcony contains the illustrations of cryptogams. In regard to the quality of the work, it is hardly possible to speak too highly. The mastery of color alone is marvelous, but when we appreciate the fact that the most minute detail of the tiniest flower, even to the starlike hairs on the sepal of a calyx, will bear the scrutiny of a microscope, words fail us in which to express our admiration for the creative power of these artists. The closer the study the more extraordinary seems the fact that the material employed for these models is glass! As in Nature no two flowers or leaves of a single plant are exactly the same, so in the glass reproduction every infinitesimal variation is rendered with a fidelity which is almost painful. A distinguished local botanist has made a test of this accuracy by selecting at random a number of specimens from various orders and submitting them to the lens. In one of these examples, that of Aralia spinosa, L., he counted nearly eight thousand buds and flowers, some of the former so small as to be indistinguishable to the naked eye, while every flower was yet found to be complete even to the number of petals and stamens. The same exactness is shown in the large compound leaf of this plant, even in the under surfaces, which are hidden from the eye of the observer by being turned toward the cardboard on which it rests. The result, as may be imagined, is simply unequaled, and one hardly knows whether to give the greater credit to the genius which inspired such work, or to the conscience and patience which have made its execution possible. Let us linger before one or two of the object lessons taught in the economic room. One of the most complete studies is that of the Indian corn (Zea mays). Here we find, first, the glass model, a stalk of corn from two to three feet in length, showing the long, wavy-margined leaves, the tasseled flowers, and the developed ear in its infolding wrappings of husk and with its delicate plume of "silk." The magnified details in this instance give a single flower, a stamen, and a single grain of maize in its development from the flower. On a shelf above the models, but still in the same case, are displayed dried ears of ripe corn of all sizes and varieties, from the tiny pop corn to the largest and most highly cultivated product of the market garden.
Next these are arranged glass jars containing the articles of commerce prepared from corn : here are corn meal, hominy, bran and cattle feed, corn oil and oil cake, starch in all its forms, climax sugar, anhydrous sugar and caramel, American and British gum, dextrin, mucilage, and whisky.
A beautiful specimen is that of the nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), one spray of which gives the amber-tinted flowers in their small, axillary clusters, while another branch shows the ripened fruit. There is also in glass a thin section or slice, showing the nut in its surrounding aril which forms the mace of commerce, and the enveloping husk outside this again.
A number of small, open boxes hold various kinds of nutmegs, some from India, some from Java, and there is even a wooden nutmeg to complete the collection!
The exhibit which seems to awaken perhaps the most popular interest (at least among the children, who visit the museum in throngs) is that of the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao). The beautiful glass reproduction is interesting enough in itself, as it shows the way in which, the flowers and fruit grow from the old wood instead of from the young twigs. From a section of woody trunk or branch, perhaps two inches in diameter, spring the delicate pinkish flowers on their threadlike crimson pedicels. They grow in clusters of three to six, and the effect of these little galaxies of pale stars against the dark background of bark is very charming. The model shows, too, a spray of the glossy green leaves, and one of the ripened orange-colored fruits. Photographs beside it give an excellent idea of the growth of the plant in Central America and Jamaica, and accompanying the prepared products are printed slips containing the desired information — as, for instance, that "chocolate consists of the roasted seeds of the cacao freed from their shells," or that "cocoa is made from the roasted seeds freed not only from the shells but from the excess of oil." Here, in the glass jars, are many varieties of the cocoa seeds and of chocolate pods preserved in alcohol. Here, too, we find both raw and roasted cocoa from Trinidad and Carácas, from Santo Domingo and from Ceylon, from Surinam and from Bahia. Among the finished products are cocoa shells and breakfast cocoa, chocolate of all grades, and cocoa butter.
This slender stalk of blue-flowered flax seems a fragile wand to wield such widespread power until we study its manifold products and comprehend its range. Contributions have come from all lands, from Friesland to China, and we see them in all stages of manufacture. With the model of the cotton plant are some seed capsules from one of the Southern States; and here we find a set of the standard types of cotton arranged in boxes and presented by the Classification Committee of the New York Cotton Exchange.
In the larger room the flowers are arranged in close accordance with the accepted synopsis of orders. Of course, in following this method of classifying the models, little attention could be paid to the juxtaposition of colors, yet at the same time one is impressed by the admirable harmony of these kaleidoscopic tints.
This harmony may be in a measure due to the large proportion of white flowers, as well as to the perfection of color and texture shown in the foliage.
The shades of red rank next the white flowers in number, then come the yellows, and last of all the blues, with their gradations of purple, lilac, and lavender. The distribution of color seems to bear no relation to the conditions of climate or of soil, though we find that certain species grown in the German garden of the Blaschkas have deviated slightly from the colors which the same flowers wear in our own fields and forests; the Mayflower (Epigœa), for instance, seems paler and less vigorous and the wild geranium of a more intense shade than with us; but we may be sure that the models are absolutely true to the subjects furnished for them, wherever they were grown.
It is interesting to make a study of several species of a single order, noting at the same time the typical characteristics and the variations of detail. Take, for instance, one of the most common and easily recognized orders — that of the Malvaceœ. Here we have no less than eight species, representing six genera. They are: Hibiscus clypeatus, Hibiscus palustris, Spheralcea acerifolia, Sida carpinifolia, Sida napœa, Nuttallia malvœflora, Anoda Dilleniana, and Malva miniata.
All these species show the distinguishing characteristics of the family — the translucent texture of the petals, with their clearly marked veinings; the delicate tints of the corolla, varying from white to deep rose-purple, or, as in the case of the Sidas, to a tawny, crimson-throated orange. All have certain enlarged details in which we again easily recognize the distinguishing features of the order the column of stamens, the peculiarly shaped anther (in the example of Hibiscus palustris shown in two stages of its development, while an immature anther of H. moscheutos is given), the style with its capitate stigmas, and also both longitudinal and cross sections of the ovary showing the arrangement of the ovules in their cells.
In Spheralcea acerifolia the inflated, heart-shaped anther is speckled with pale red like a bird's egg, and here we have also a pollen grain magnified one thousand times. Among the details of the Nuttallia is a sepal with its stellate hairs and a single one of these hairs enlarged two hundredfold and looking like a tiny snow crystal. Probably none of the models illustrate better the value of these magnified details, in studying the more recondite orders, than those of the Euphorbiaceœ, where the inflorescence owes its beauty to a highly colored involucre, while the flower proper is reduced to a single organ. So in Jatropha officinalis the brilliant, flame-colored involucre attracts the eye, while the insignificant flower is represented by a solitary stamen or pistil. The three- celled ovary, the three styles each with its two-cleft stigma, may here be carefully studied without recourse to the aid of the lens. Especially delicate is the little Euphorbia montana, gray as if with the dust of the California deserts it comes from. A detail of the inflorescence shows the inner side of the involucral bract to which the sterile flowers or stamens are attached.
Still another plant of the same order is most baffling to the student, from the arrangement of the pale pink flowers on the margins of what appear to be flat, cactuslike leaves, but which are in reality the rudimentary branches of this curious growth; this is the Xylophylla Roezlii.
One might spend weeks over the exquisite Compositœ, whose examples are incomparable. Here, again, the aid given by the enlarged details is incalculable, and it is delightful to be able to study the infinite variations of the multitudinous florets without the microscope. Let us note the difference of detail shown in three species of a single genus. Here are the three Encelias — farinosa, canescens, and eriocephala respectively — California plants with what might be described as starry, yellow flowers, all much alike in the careless eye of the amateur botanist. Each of the three species shows in detail a single floret enlarged from ten to twenty times, and also one of the surrounding ray flowers. In studying these we begin to find in what respects the flowers do not resemble each other.
E. canescens shows the receptacle and a chaff scale, varying in form from that of E. farinosa, a scale of the involucre with its silvery hairs and the fruit magnified ten times.
In the third species (E. eriocephala) the color as well as the form of the floret differs from those of the first-named species — the yellow, tubular floret with its protruding pistil deepening to a warm brown, thus giving to the crowded head of flowers the appearance of a dark, velvety disk amid t-:e surrounding rays of a brilliant yellow.
The foliage, too, of the three species shows a marked distinction in coloring, that of E. canescens being of a rich warm green,which in E. farinosa changes to a glaucous blue-green, while in E. eriocephala both stem and leaves assume a downy texture.
The Asters and Erigerons are wonderfully perfect, from the young buds showing only the involucral scales or the tips of the closed ray flowers, to the matured flowers in which the discoid florets are fully opened, while the rose or purple rays curve inward as they fade.
Such plants as Bromelia pinguin and Ananassa sativa, together with the Cactaceœ, demonstrate the impossibility of rendering these plants satisfactorily through any other medium than the glass used here. The heavy flowers of the Opuntias and the Cereus, their fleshy stalks and spiny leaves, are too substantial to be satisfactorily preserved either in alcohol or by drying. In the glass model we seem to see the living plant.
The barbed leaves of the Bromelia keep their free outward curve as if to defend from trespassers the strong, club-shaped spike from which spring in spiral ranks the pink-purple flowers, each in turn protected by a flower sheath tipped with fierce scarlet. The whole plant has a martial aspect — it is a warrior, and a dried specimen of it would fail to give any idea of its true character.
The Orchids might be dwelt on at great length did space permit, but here, again, all are so exquisite that it is difficult to make a choice. Equally fine are the golden butterfly-plant from Trinidad, the spiderlike, black-barred Brassias, the beautiful blue and white Catteya crispa with its crimped edges, and the lustrous rose-tinted Catteya amethystina.
New beauties appear at every step. Convolvuli and starry Ipomeas fling their light garlands across their cardboard tablets, as if feeling for some trellis to wind about; the pimpernel opens its little red weather-glass of a flower; the dainty sundew catches the light in its tiny diamonds; the Venus's flytrap shows the unwary victim caught in its fatal leaves.
In the gallery overhead are the cryptogams — plants whose nature renders them difficult subjects for illustration. The utmost care has been exercised here in selecting the types which will prove of the greatest use, and there will probably be added from time to time the examples most needed. It is intended to present the lower forms of plant life in a well-chosen series of types from motile protoplasm, fungi, and algæ, through mosses, club mosses, and liverworts to ferns. These models are quite as wonderful in their way as those of the flowering plants, if less interesting to the general public. Among the ferns an Adiantum shows in its magnified details the entire process of reproduction, from the tiny spores to the young fern with developed rootlet and frond.
No written description of these models can give an adequate idea of the immense service rendered to science by them; to appreciate this it is necessary to study the collection in all its length and breadth.
Considered in the light of a memorial, we need only say it is worthy of the earnest life it commemorates. The bronze tablet on the wall, beautiful in its simplicity, bears the following inscription:
|caroli eliot ware|
|hujus universitatis alumni|
|conjux et filia superstites|
|rura flores amicus ex animo colvit|