This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
An arboricultural friend has sent us the following notice of a new edition of Michaux's splendid work on American Forest Trees, and Nuttall's continuation of the same, which we commend to all our readers who would enrich their libraries. Ed.
One of the very best works published on the subject of our beautiful forest trees, a work which, from the accuracy of the engravings, and the beauty of their coloring, has always been found indispensable for the study and identification of specimens, is undoubtedly Michaux's "North American Sylva, or a description of the Forest Trees of the United States, Canada and Nova Scotia." The original edition was published in Paris, and has become extremely rare, and difficult to be obtained; the plates were brought over to this country by the late celebrated patron of science, William Maclure, who, for the benefit of his countrymen, had an edition struck off at New Harmony, Indiana; it was executed, however, so rudely, on such bad paper, and with so many typographical errors, as to be nearly worthless and unsaleable. Knowing the great value of the engravings, Mr. Mac lure's brother presented the original copper plates to the late lamented President of the Academy of Sciences at Philadelphia, in whose hands they remained untouched and uninjured several years; himself a devotee of Science, and anxious for its diffusion, he looked round for some person to superintend, and for a publisher to reissue this beautiful and instructive work, in a dress commensurate with its value and utility.
A suitable editor was found in Doctor Morton's brother-in-law, Mr. J. Jay Smith, himself a lover and successful planter of these beautiful productions of nature. The plates were retouched where necessary, and this was not often found to be needful; the translation was carefully re moddled, and its numerous errors corrected, and Mr. Smith's son, likewise as a labor of love, undertook the laborious work of superintending the printing, and the still by living specimens of the leaves and fruits. The result has been the republication in Philadelphia, of this superb work, in three large, handsome octavo volumes; a most valuable gift to the American student it is, and we are happy to be able to say, confidently, that the plates and coloring are in no way inferior to the original, while the text is much improved. The editor, too, has added notes taken from his own extensive experience, and from other writers, and given directions for soil and the cultivation of each species. His notes add value to the work, which has been reduced one-half in price, and thus made accessible to every gentleman's library.
This reduction could never have been made, but for the fact that no charge whatever was made for the use of the plates; had this been the case, Michaux would have still been an inaccessible work to the gardener and cultivator; it is now within their reach. The labor necessary to color well so many plates, makes the production of copies a slow process, since few colorists are to be found who will do them justice. Thus far, the sales have been confined to private demand almost entirely; lately, however, a few copies in ad* vance of that demand have been got ready, and are to be procured of Mr. Robert P. Smith, the publisher, Philadelphia, and of Mr. G. P. Putnam, New-York.
If praise is to be awarded in no stinted terms to this effort at diffusing accurate information regarding our own trees, we should give further credit for the completion, by the same publisher, of the invaluable continuation of Michaux's great work, by Nut tall, who has taken up the subject where his predecessor left off, and completed our list of American trees in a very handsome and correct manner, with colored lithographic plates, Michaux being on copper by the celebrated Redodte. Nuttall's continuation forms also three superb volumes, embracing the newly discovered trees of California, New Mexico, and Oregon, productions much valued in Europe, and which are now finding their way to our own ornamental plantations. We cannot do better than to transcribe that portion of Mr. Smith's preface which alludes to these additional volumes; he says: "It was a singular circumstance, and a happy one it has proved for advancing science, that Mr. Nuttall arrived in this country the very year that the younger Michaux left it.
From that time he devoted his talents to Botany, and after visiting a large portion of the United States, with an aptitude of observation, a quickness of eye, tact in discrimination, and tenacity of memory, rarely possessed by one man, he published his extended, and most happily executed botanical work, the 'Genera of North American plants.' In 1834 he crossed the Rocky Mountains, and explored the territory of Oregon, and Upper California. With his peculiar qualifications, he prepared the supplement to Michaux's Sylva, in three handsome volumes, corresponding in size with the present, the publication of which, after many delays, was completed in 1849, by my son, in Philadelphia. The two works are now one and homogeneous, the former most highly valued by all lovers of trees, and the latter destined to be equally so, when the fine products of our newly acquired western regions make their way to our gardens and plantations. The frequent references I have made to Mr. Nuttall's volumes, will show the reader that his additions to our Sylva, are both extensive and important; inspection will convince him that both authors stand on the highest pedestal of merit."
The editions of both, are very small ones, and may never again appear to be sufficiently remunerative to warrant others; indeed no copies of Nuttall have yet been prepared for
Native and Foreign, Pictorially and Botanl-cally Delineated, and Scientifically and Popularly Described; being considered principally with reference to their Geography and History; Soil and Situation; Propagation and Culture; Accidents and Diseases; Properties and Uses; Economy in the Arts; Introduction into Commerce; and their Application in Useful and Ornamental Plantations. By D. J. Browne. Illustrated by numerous Engravings. 8vo, Muslin, 4 50.