Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


416 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the Professorship of Materia Medica, with the view of confining his attention exclusively to Botany ; which he accordingly did upon the subsequent first of June. The exertions of Dr. Hope in promoting the study of botany in Edinburgh were attended with the most beneficial results. In all the chief seminaries of learning in Europe LinnEus's classification had been adopted, a new impulse was given to the study, and it began now to be prosecuted with vigour. Instead of the dry, confused, and nnmethodical plan which had long kept. possession of the schools, and in which the reference to genera and species was but little regarded, they had now a complete system of botany founded upon this principle, and comprehending an arrangement by which the description of attributes peculiar to one species could be easily distinguished from those of another. The facilities which this afforded to the student were incalculable, and the philosophical accuracy which the author displayed has excited universal admiration.' Dr. Hope's great object was to inspire his pupils with a love for the science itself j for he justly concluded that, were this once secured, there would be little danger of their not prosecuting the study with success, For the purpose of exciting emulation among them, he annually, towards the conclusion of the session, gave a medal to the student who had distinguished himself most by his diligence and zeal in the cultivation of the science. The medal contained a suitable inscription.' Every competitor produced his Floya, and the adjudging of the reward was determined by the extensiveness of the collection, and the taste and accuracy displayed in the philosophical arrangement of the articles it contained. The Botariic Garden was for many years situated on the low ground east of the North Bridge, adjacent to Trinity Hospital. The Doctor used every endeavour to procure a more favourable situation; and, by his exertions, succeeded in obtaining such aid and countenance from Government as enabled him to accomplish so desirable an object. A piece of ground situated betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, on the west of the Walk, was accordingly purchased. It was laid out under the immediate inspection of the Doctor himself, and the plants were arranged according to the system of Linnsus. Suitable hothouses, etc, were erected, as also a pond for the nourishment of aquatic plants By the Print which precedes this sketch, the Doctor is represented in the act of superintending and directing the workmen.' It is not unworthy of notice that Dr. Alston, the immediate predecessor of Dr, Hope, pubJished an Essay in 1751, at Edinburgh, expressly against the Linnzan System. The inscription on the medal was-" A Cedro ITysopwn wsgw." At the bottom was-" J. HOPEB,o t. Prof. daL" It may here be mentioned that the Doctor gave out as a prescribed exercise to. one of his students (the late Mr. Smellie, printer), the liberty of confuting Linnausk System. When he undertook the task, he considered the sexual vegetable hypothesis of Linnaus to be established on the firmest basis of fact and experi. ment ; but, after perusing the works of Linnaeus, and many other books on the subject, he was astonished to find himself thoroughly persuaded that this theory was supported neither by facta nor nrguments capable of producing conviction even in the most prejudiced mind, * The ground in Leith Walk was abandoned in 1822 for a more suitable situation at Inverleith Row, where the Botanical Garden is now flourishing in a high state of perfection. Mr. Smellie nearly upset the whole theory.
Volume 9 Page 556
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