Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/543

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527
A BOTANIST OF THE NINTH CENTURY.

and thereby put themselves in a condition to resist the attack of the wind, to support the fruits, and to spread themselves out. Those stocks that bear fruit are called palmites, the fruitless ones spadones. The leaf of the vine serves to protect the branches from cold and heat, and to defend the clusters against injury. The clusters are composed of fat and juicy berries hanging from the comb." The different kinds of fruits, pulse, field-plants, and kitchen-garden vegetables are then described.

The next division treats of the habitat of plants, and shows how each plant prefers a particular kind of soil, whence one will succeed better on one kind of soil, another on a different kind, and neither will do well in a situation badly adapted to it.

Descriptions are afterward given of plants coming under other heads than those above mentioned—those whose fruits are fit for food: the oak, beech, Phœnix, Pomaceæ, Syrian bean, fig, cherry, mulberry, almond, cherry, Ceratonia, pepper (with a recipe for detecting adulteration), Nardus crocus (saffron); those which are antidotes to poison: the walnut (Nux), radish (Raphanus), celery, rue, oleander, germander; medical plants: myrtle, sage, hyacinth, lettuce, thyme, aristolochia, Prunus, Solarium, mallow, mint, ceterach, saxifrage, dictamus, wormwood, spurge, fennel, ivy, madder, hellebore, heliotrope, thistle, maiden-hair, borage, cinnamon, cyclamen, mandrake, poppy; poisonous plants: hemlock, water-hemlock, hyoscyamus, aconite, Ocimum, basil (if one pulls up a handful of basil, he says, all the scorpions in the neighborhood will come around); resin-and gum-bearing plants: the pine (which affords amber), cedar, pistachio, olive, Docema, Populus, Boswellia, balsam-tree (with a recipe for the detection of adulterations), liquidambar, convolvulus, ferula; timber-trees: spruce, cypress, juniper, persimmon, linden, willow, poplar, oak, larch, aquilaria, box.

The scope, arrangement; and method of treatment of the several parts of the work differ but little from those of the botanical department, which we have thus briefly reviewed.

We close with a return to the figure with which we began. Rabanus is not one of the grand towers of the temple of Science at which posterity will gaze admiringly, nor is he one of the massive buttresses whence numerous shafts and points arise; we should rather compare him to one of the solid stones that are sunk one upon the other into the soft ground to be hardly ever seen again by the eyes of men—one of those who in quiet, busy toil have laid the foundation among the people which now bears so mighty a structure. Such men will always be worthy of our esteem, and should be gratefully remembered by us. Rabanus was one of the most eminent among these men. He was incontestably the most learned man of his times; and he was the first German who ever wrote on science.