This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The first part of the superb work, which bears the above title, has lately been issued by the Naturalists' Agency. A work which should accurately describe and appropriately illustrate our American species of ferns, has long been needed in this country. The few which have been delineated are scattered through so many foreign publications that considerable trouble is experienced in finding them. Even in many of our finest libraries these works are generally wanting.
But the one before us, judging of the whole by the past, cannot fail to meet the necessity. The high character of Prof. Eaton, who prepares the text, and the reputation of Mr. Emerton, the artist, whose drawings are unequalled, are assurances that the work will be carefully, thoroughly and accurately done. The interest which is manifested in the undertaking by Dr. Gray, and others no less eminent in science, should convince us of the excellence of the work, even though other guarantees should be lacking.
Ferns have always attracted the attention and won the admiration of every true lover of Nature, not more by the elegance of their dark green foliage than by the gracefulness of their forms. Although ignorant of their names and the details of their growth and structure, man has never ceased to show his fondness for them. Shut out from such knowledge by the technicalities of science which enters so largely into our common text-books, a deep interest is nevertheless manifested in these beautiful objects of creation. This is evidenced by the care bestowed upon their culture, and upon the arrangement of them into suitable devices for the boudoir and drawing-room.
Who does not love ferns? The laughing, romping schoolgirl, as she trips leisurely along, anon stops from her journey to pluck them from their hiding places. And even the careful, busy housewife steals away from her weary labors to tend these idols of her affection. It is not merely to the scientific student that they bring unnumbered pleasures, for all in whom dwell a love for the beautiful in Nature render homage to these lovely children of the groves. But it is to the naturalist that they yield their profoundest wonders and most inspiring beauties.
There is no reason why these things should be hidden from minds that move in narrower spheres. Every effort that is made tending to the popularization of science, should be encouraged by every laudable means. Books should be written, not to reflect the erudition of authors, but to render easy and simple, as well as intelligible to the masses, the truths of which they speak. A due amount of pure science is often indispensable and sometimes unavoidable. English writers should adhere more rigidly to the Saxon element of the language and show less preference to the Latin and Greek elements.
Few books of a scientific character are written that fully commend themselves to popular favor. Those that do exist are mostly replete with the dryest details, which are clothed in Latinized expressions. Their tedium is often unrelieved by a single illustration. Not so with the one about which we are writing. In it a happy medium has been kept in view. It contains enough of science to satisfy, without cloying, the abnormal appetite of the thorough-going scientist; but, at the same time, the popular reader is drawn to its pages by the perspicuity of its phraseology, the simplicity of its arrangement, and the beauty of its illustrations.
I cannot allow the present opportunity to pass unnoticed without making a few favorable comments upon the mechanical part of the work. The excellence of the typography and the superior quality of the paper, which was manufactured expressly for it, are in harmony with the other particulars. The enterprising publisher is deserving of unstinted praise for his part of the undertaking. May this beautiful and matchless work meet with a success commensurate with the wishes of all concerned.