This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
By Franklin B. Hough, Cincinnati. Robert B. Clark & Co. 1882.
To review this work in the critical sense would do an injustice to its excellent author. Although it is entitled " Elements of Forestry," it is rather a treatise on forestry, and the chief aim has evidently been to gather together a great amount of information that may be of service to those interested in American forestry. From this point of view the work is a success, which could not be said of it in the light of an elementary work. Dr. Hough disclaims, in the preface, originality for the cuts employed in the book. There is much laid down as scientific fact, which few modern scientific men would subscribe to, and which it is quite likely Dr. H. would not himself advocate if placed before him in the shape of distinct propositions. Take, for instance, the paragraphs and cut on page 67, of a two year-old growth of oak wood. "The wood, h, is the growth of two years, and is separated by the line jj." There is nothing just here to explain the manner*in which wood is made. It would have been just the place to explain that when wood commences to form in spring the cells at the outside of last year's layer divide and form a new course of cells; the cells of this new course again divide and form another and (in the English Oak as it grows in favorable soils) it makes usually a dozen of these successive cell divisions during the month of June, when all the wood growth is accomplished for the year.
The last thing the growth of the season results in, early in July, is the formation of the large ducts; so large that they can be seen by any good naked eye. Thus we have as the result of the " annual growth of wood" in the English Oak, about a dozen hair-line circles, and one large circle in which are most of the large ducts, and by which we readily detect the " annual ring " even in an old tree. But in this cut we have only four of these hair lines and the " line jj," is behind the ducts instead of in front, and makes it appear what is contrary to fact, that the ducts commence instead of terminate the annual cell growth. The cut was evidently intended to illustrate some other points when originally called into service, and these probably minor points which in such cases the engraver is very apt to overlook, but they become major points if we are to regard the work as really an " elementary work." The cuts indeed frequently seem out of place. At page 262 is one of the " Wild Black Cherry," but there is nothing called "Wild Black Cherry" in the text.
There is "The Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)" described, but the cut does not belong to that species, but is evidently intended for the common Mazzard, or possibly the "Red Cherry." Cerasus Pennsylvania is described in this work as the "Bird Cherry (Prunus Pennsylvanica)".
It would probably have been better if the author had not been so anxious to give us everybody's notions, which by the necessity of so much dove-tailing, make the work far too cumbersome, and not always logically clear in sequence as a purely elementary treatise on forestry would have been. In such a treatise all that is of no immediate service should be carefully eschewed. Of what possible use is the numbering of paragraphs in a compiled work ? In real elementary works like Lindley's Theory of Horticulture, or Gray's Structural Botany, or Sach's Text Book, the paragraphs are numbered because there are cross-references all through the pages. But here we have paragraphs numbered to the total amount of 1,428, without one solitary use of them throughout the work that we remember ! If the author had only thought to use them in his index, as Gray has in his Structural Botany, it would have been an admirable idea. Let the reader, however, look on this "Elementary" title as a misnomer, and pass the criticism which a real work of that character would rightfully suggest - taking the work rather as a contribution to forest knowledge and nothing else, he will thank Dr. Hough warmly for his labors.
There is a vast amount of information gathered together in the book which makes it one of great value. This is rendered practically available by the admirable index at the end. It is a common fault to find excellent works almost useless for want of a comprehensive index. Dr. Hough's work will be a model in this respect. Though there are but 381 pages in the book, a rough estimate shows 1,938 references in the index. If it cannot be considered that the title is borne out by the body of the work, it can at least be said it is among the best - perhaps the best reference book on American forestry that has yet appeared, and no arbori-cultural library can afford to be without it.