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dividuals are utterly devoid of interest, what a pleasing field of intellectual enjoyment do these humble plants, which are then as at all other times in perfection, open up to him! Their endless forms—their adaptations to their circumstances—the peculiar properties they very often possess

the very remarkable way in which they carry on the processes of nutrition and reproduction—not to speak of the beauty with which they frequently invest their growing places—their utility in the economy of nature and man—and the interesting associations that are connected with them by the labours and fame of those great men who spent their lives in their study—are all subjects of never-failing interest and instruction to him, and often compel him to learn and observe, even when least disposed to inquiry and reflection. The illustrious Linnæus was surely right after all, when he gave utterance to the seeming paradox, that “Nature seems greatest even in her least productions !"

NATURE PRINTING.

In one thing this age may claim precedence, when we look back on the past,—we are certainly far ahead of our fathers in the supply of natural objects, for the gratification of the taste for the beautiful in our home circles. The Aquarium, the Wardian Case, and the Window Conservatory, are within the reach of very many of the households of Britain. The first, with its plants and animals which inhabit the sea, or the pond, or the river; the second, with its delicate mosses and ferns; and the third, with its fuchsias, geraniums, myrtles, and great variety of heaths, lend a charm to the parlour and the drawing-room, which, a few years ago, they were without, and invite old and young to pleasant observation and study, both during the long days of summer and, especially, during the long nights of winter. These facilities for the study of nature are not only conducive to refinement of taste, but to healthy moral principle also. The ferns and the mosses, however, are not confined to the hill-side, or, in miniature, to the Wardian Case. We have now, in the Art of Nature Printing, a method by which, in all the delicacy of their leafage and stalks, they can be bound up in a volume, and so true to the original are they that the copy may be often mistaken for the real plant. The method employed in realising this is a very simple

Ferns, or other plants, are subjected to such an amount of pressure as causes them to leave their image on the plate into which they are pressed. These impres

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sions being copied, are used in the same way as the common copperplates are. The hint which may have led to this invention, lies plainly written in the past history of the earth's crust. When we break the fossiliferous rocks, we find that entire plants have left their image on them, and this not in general outline merely, but in minute leaflets, in veins which require the aid of the Stanhope glass to discover them. We recently found one of those plants, a fern (Sphenopteris affinis), in fresh

water limestone, so finely preserved, that one could not well imagine the living plant itself could have been set more distinctly before us.

We have, also, frequently met with the fillet fern (Toeniopteris), in which not only the midrib of the leaf was preserved, but every minute, thread-like vein stood out uninjured, and with another (Sphenopteris crenata), in which the characteristic jagged ends of the leaves had not lost one of their sharpest points, even after having lain in the place of their deposit throughout those great ages which have elapsed since the time when they grew luxuriant on the earth as it then was. Here, then, we have the first specimens of Nature Printing, and under this form we meet with it in a peculiarly interesting light. It was the design of God, that the forms of life which were peculiar to those grand epochs, the records of which we find in the thick fossiliferous strata of the earth's crust, should be kept until man thought of seeking after Him in the very depths of the earth. But the preservation of the living things themselves was not consistent with that piling of world on world, in the building up

of the earth to be man's dwelling-place, and so he printed the images of those forms of life on the rocks, and now, as man turns over the pages of the wondrous book, he reads the writing of the Divine hand upon them. .

But we meet with a more simple form of Nature Printing than this, in looking at the art-a mode which the writer of this notice practised in boyhood, as an amusement, before the highly scientific elaborations of it, which we meet with in the present day, were heard of. If we take a stiff piece of paper, sprinkle it with lamp black, moisten the lamp black with a little olive oil, take a leaf or a fern, lay it with its face to the oiled paper, put a piece of blotting-paper above it, and then

press the leaf with the one hand, while it is kept in its position by the other, it will be found that every part of the leaf_even its finest vein—which has been pressed by the fingers, has not only left its form dimly upon the black ground, but has taken up part of the colour also. If the leaf be then lifted, laid on a clean piece of paper, again covered with blotting-paper, and again pressed by the hand, on being removed, a positive impression of it remains. This is, perhaps, the art in its rudest form. Yet, something of style may be imparted even to this. If verdigris be used instead of lamp black, you have the leaf or fern realised in green beauty, and, if care be taken, two or more colours may be used. We have seen in this way a spot of finely-powdered yellow ochre prepared for the corolla of a butter-cup, verdigris for its leaves, and little Spanish brown for the termination of the stalk-and the result was a specimen of Nature Printing not to be despised. The

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may be managed most successfully. A little gum rubbed in with the oil, gives permanence to the colours. Ferns answer best for the first trials. Thus, by a very simple and rude process, we may preserve the outlines of many of those plants which are found growing in native beauty nowhere but

“In lonely glens, amid the roar of rivers." Nature Printing seems to have been known and, to some extent, practised from a very early time. Traces of it have been discovered at a date so remote as 1572. The first great step in advance, however, which seems to have helped to give it the importance beginning to be attached to it now, in connection with the study of certain branches of Natural Science, appears to have taken

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