Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/119

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THE BOTANIC GARDENS AT KEW.

known, for which Mr. Darwin left a bequest. Mr. Daydon Jackson, Secretary to the Linnæan Society, has had the work in hand over three years, and it is not nearly finished. He employs a staff at the British Museum also, The catalogue of the library is not printed, but is contained in a ponderous manuscript volume in the keeper's room. The books include, besides all modern volumes and pamphlets on botany, a great number of those antique curiosities which bibliomaniacs treasure.

The work at Kew covers a vast field. In the first place officially stand the botanic interests—to study new plants and class them. Next, where plants are wanted for cultivation, which can not be obtained readily in the market, or which the service of the public demands, the Royal Gardens will supply them if possible. Where diseases, vegetable or animal or insect pests, threaten local plantations, Kew will look into the matter and consult with experts at home. Kew is ready also to report and to obtain advice upon new-industries which those upon the spot suggest. Furthermore, it keeps an eye on all institutions of the same class throughout the British Empire, which act in concert with their great model in the mother-country, and through it with one another. Foreign institutions co-operate in like manner with Kew to a certain extent. From time to time the authorities of Kew publish a list of new plants, which at present seem to average five hundred to six hundred a quarter, including those renamed for scientific purposes. From time to time, also, they publish a list of the seeds matured in the Royal Gardens, which are exchanged, on application, with all regular correspondents. One of these seed-lists includes something like four thousand species. This magazine of seeds is collected, nominally, for the benefit of institutions which may be able some time to return the favor in part, but in practice no one who applies with a serious purpose for seeds or plants is refused. How the rapidly increasing population of the globe is to be provided with food and clothing is a problem which the authorities of Kew believe falls within their department. They welcome every vegetable product which is reported to have qualities that make it useful to mankind, whether as a food, a medicine, a convenience, or a substance useful in manufactures. They are glad to report upon specimens of such substances, or to obtain the reports of trustworthy experts.

The story of the cinchona plantations is a good instance of the work of the Royal Gardens. Some forty years ago both the English and the Dutch authorities in the East Indies took alarm at the growing price of quinine, due to the rapid decrease of the forests of cinchona in Peru. The Dutch moved first, and imported a great number of seeds and seedlings, which they planted in Java at a heavy cost. But, probably because they had no Kew to advise