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Botany for Young People and Common Schools: How Plants Grow

Asa Gray

Detail from cover.

From the book ...

"Considering of plants inquiringly and intelligently is the study of Botany. It is an easy study, when pursued in the right way and with diligent attention. There is no difficulty in understanding how plants grow, and are nourished by the ground, the rain, and the air; nor in learning what their parts are, and how they are adapted to each other and the way the plant lives. And any young person who will take some pains about it may learn to distinguish all our common plants into their kinds, and find out their names.

"Interesting as this study is to all, it must be particularly so to Young People. It appeals to their natural curiosity, to their lively desire of knowing about things: it calls out and directs (i.e. educates) their powers of observation, and is adapted to sharpen and exercise, in a very pleasant way, the faculty of discrimination. To learn how to observe and how to distinguish things correctly, is the greater part of education, and is that in which people otherwise well educated are apt to be surprisingly deficient. Natural objects, everywhere present and endless in variety, afford the best field for practice; and the study when young, first of Botany, and afterwards of other Natural Sciences, as they are called, is the best training that can be in these respects. This study ought to begin even before the study of language. For to distinguish things scientifically (that is, carefully and accurately) is simpler than to distinguish ideas. And in Natural History the learner is gradually led from the observation of things, up to the study of ideas or the relations of things.

"This book is intended to teach Young People how to begin to read, with pleasures and advantages, one large and easy chapter in the open Book of Nature; namely, that in which the wisdom and goodness of the Creator are plainly written in the Vegetable Kingdom."

 

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