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Men of leisure, of all descriptions, residing in the country, could scarcely find a more delightful employment than in attempting to elucidate, from their own observations, the various branches of Natural History, and in communicating them to others.--BEWICK.
ANOTHER year has closed. Its botanical events have not been without interest: they have been faithfully chronicled in the pages of the ‘Phytologist.'
The most prominent subject has been the failure of the potato : and unwilling as I have shown myself to become alarmist on this subject, I cannot shut my eyes to the consequences it has produced. The present deplorable state of Ireland appears mainly, if not entirely, attributable to this cause, What is wanted for that wretched country is not hypothesis, but food, and he who gives according to his ability, to save his wretched fellow-creatures from starvation, will surely reap the reward of an approving conscience. It is in vain for us to discuss problems either in politics or Natural History while the objects interested in the discussion are perishing around us.
The disease in question, although so greatly aggravated of late, is not of that recent date which has been generally imagined. When in the west of Ireland, in 1839, I found that the potato had almost entirely failed; many fields exhibited large, bare patches, where the haulm had disappeared, and in other places the haulm was blackened, the leaves presenting an appearance of being scorched or frostbitten. In the vicinity of Waterford the crop, though not perhaps so abundant as in former years, was sufficient to allow a large export to the west. The price at Waterford was 3d. p stone of 14 tbs., while at Clifden it was 7d., a difference swhich of course led to the export of large quantities. These remarks were printed at the time,