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vations, we might find as great a diversity as among our own. Asplenium præmorsum, for example, a widespread tropical species, varies greatly in its forms even in our stoves.
While variation of form appears thus to be peculiarly prevalent, variation of colour has been, up to a very recent period, quite unrecognised among ferns; though among phenogamous plants it prevails widely. But the new-fashioned love for piebald plants appears to have created a supply for the demand even here. Within a year or two four distinctly marked species have occurred, and have been very largely multiplied; as, like the monstrous forms, the colour-variegation proves constant. The first variegated fern that was announced was Mr. Veitch's Pteris argyrea, which appears to be a condition of the noble Pt. quadriaurita of India. Then M. Linden, of Brussels, produced the much more showy Pt. aspericaulis, var. tricolor, with its fine purple mid-rib running through a broad stripe of white. And then Pt. Cretica, var. albo-lineata, was sent to Kew, from the mountains of Java. Now our own brake is added to the list; for Mr. Stansfield, of Todmorden, informs us, that, making a botanical excursion with Mr. Eastwood lately, the latter discovered a patch of Pt. aquilina, 'so beautifully and distinctly variegated, that it had the appearance of being sprinkled with snow; and it figures in his catalogue as P. aquilina, var. variegata. It is remarkable that all four examples of variegation belong to the same genus, Pteris; but, probably, other genera will before long come into the sportive category.
We have placed among the publications at the head of this article two works of an ephemeral character yet not unimportant as indications of a taste whose rapid growth is characteristic of our age and nation. They are fern-catalogues. That of Messrs. Stansfield and Son is remarkable as showing to what extent a single house (that, to be sure, one of the first, if not the very first, in the trade) can minister to the pteriophilous propensities of us amateurs. It contains, with its supplement, above eight hundred species and named varieties, arranged under three divisions,-British, Hardy exotic, and Tender exotic. Brief but graphic descriptions are annexed to the names; and, as the whole bears marks of care in the preparation, it becomes valuable as a hand-book.
* See a paper by 'Delta,' in the 'Gardeners' Weekly Magazine,' Feb. 4th, 1861.
Kennedy's Catalogue, while far less extensive than Stansfield's, is more attractive, being printed on excellent paper, and sewed in a coloured wrapper; its chief claim to notice, however, being a large number of illustrations, representing either entire plants, most graphically drawn and delicately engraved on wood, or characteristic parts of fronds, calculated to assist in identification. The letter-press gives authorities for the nomenclature, conscientiously investigated; and the whole effort is very successful, as praiseworthy in design as in execution.
Mr. Lowe's book is a work of far higher pretensions. It has given, and doubtless will yet give, a great impulse to the love and culture of ferns; but we have no hesitation in saying, that whoever seeks to work with it will find it disappointing. It professes to give a coloured figure and description of every species of fern cultivated in Great Britain. Much of the practical value of such a work, if it is to be anything more than the ornament of a drawing-room, lies in its exhaustiveness. If we know that every fern cultivated is delineated, we know that the plant we are seeking to identify must be in the book; and this is a great help to satisfaction. The reality, however, is far otherwise. We have worked with the book, and find that, in our own small collection, not extending to two hundred species, many are not described under any name. So far as they go, the figures are good, particularly the woodcuts of details; and these will, probably, be found the most valuable, as they present the most attractive, feature of the book. So large a number of coloured figures (printed in colours, however, and not always very correct in tint) of cultivated ferns, is a fine addition to a horticulturist's library. The letter-press is mean, and unworthy of the subject. The printing and paper are, indeed, good; but the author's style is poor, tautological, and slovenly.
Very different is the character of Dr. Hofmeister's book. In every page it carries the impress of the most patient, enduring, and careful research, employed on a peculiarly recondite and difficult subject. We have alluded only to that portion of his work which relates to ferns; but his investigations extend also over the Ricciacea, the Marchantiacea, the Jungermanniacea, the Mosses, the Lycopods, the Horse-tails, the Pepperworts, and even the coniferous trees; and everywhere he displays the same admirable power of discovering, comprehending, and combining
the most hidden details of physiology. His elaborate work is a complete Thesaurus of our latest knowledge on the subjects of reproduction and development in these plants. The style is clear and simple; the copious figures, engraved by Tuffen West's known skill, are highly instructive, and auxiliary to the text; and, finally, the translator, himself a well-known and accomplished cryptogamic botanist, has transferred the statements of the author into excellent English
ART. IV.-1. The Oxonian in Iceland; or, Notes of Travel in that Island in the Summer of 1860, with Glances at Icelandic Folk Lore and Sagas. By the REV. FREDERICK METCALFE, M.A. London: 1861.
2. Iceland: its Volcanoes, Geysers, and Glaciers. CHARLES FORBES, Commander R.N. 3. A Tour in Iceland in the Summer of 1861. By E. T. HOLLAND, B.A. (One of the Chapters in Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers being Excursions by Members of the Alpine Club. Second Series. London: 1862.)
Or old, Iceland was almost regarded in the light of a mythical island in unknown waters. Whether Pytheas, a Marseillais adventurer, mentioned by Strabo, really touched there or not, is a geographical puzzle; and whether Virgil by his Ultima Thule meant Iceland or the Shetland Isles, is as uncertain to us as it probably was to himself. Certain it is, that only within a period comparatively modern have the almost boundless lava-deserts and lofty snow-fields of this mysterious region become the dwelling-place of civilized men.
As to its physical constitution, Iceland is a huge accumulation of volcanic matter. It is a cold, solidified testimony to the fierce energies of internal fires. Like a grey or blackened cinder, it stretches its desolate mass upon the bosom of the everswelling seas. At first, the island seems to have been nothing more than a volcanic cone, forced upwards in defiance of the natural downward pressure of fathom upon fathom of ocean. Fire and water were here in continual strife,—the fire furiously impelling its molten lavas towards the surface of the sea,-the water unceasingly rolling its deluges upon the unsubdued fire beneath it. In the course of years mile after mile of lava was piled up, and the ever-added beds of scoriæ rose one upon another, like an immense vitrified fort, whose frowning battlements maintained themselves against all assaults of waves and tempests, icebergs and earthquakes. The accumulative processes went on, until a deeply founded, and now immoveable, territory was established in mid ocean, extending over some forty thousand square miles, and exceeding by about one-fifth
the area of Ireland. The fire has mastered the water; but the fiery product is still and for ever surrounded by the tempestuous forces of its opponent.
To liken the exterior to some familiar object, we may say that it resembles a flat, ascending arch, having a crowning elevation of about seven hundred and fifty yards above the sea. To cause this elevation, the centre of the former volcanic activity, there can be no doubt that many thousands of volcanic craters must have burned and erupted for an unreckoned number of centuries. The deep and narrow fiords which indent the coast on all sides, and allow the sea to run up for miles towards the interior, were probably formed by numerous lava-streams, which originally radiated from a common submarine centre, and were afterwards, at various epochs, impelled upwards to their present position. The interior of the island is little besides one vast lava-desert, partly varied with perennial ice-mountains. The latter, locally named Yökulls, or Jökulls,* are the most interesting feature to the traveller, and will be presently referred to in particular. Lava and ice together occupy at least a tenth part of the whole island, and the districts so covered are now, and probably will continue to be, uninhabited. Neither blade of welcome grass, nor even hard and stunted bush, relieves the death-like solitude. The traveller ranges through a theatre of great conflagrations, blasted with flames, scorched up with fiercest heats, and covered with cinder-like blocks that can neither yield nor hold fresh water. The coast is marked by many marshy districts, which in other countries would be shunned, but which are here occupied as the most eligible portions of the country. In these the Icelander fixes his home, erects a poor and unsightly house, and, if he is able to find some spots for pasture along the banks of the numerous rivers which run down from lake and ice-mountain into every fiord upon the coasts, begins a neverending contest with the adverse circumstances of his dwellingplace. How strongly his lot contrasts with that of the inhabitants of sunny lands and fertile soils! Grain will scarcely
* A Jökull (otherwise Jökul or Yökul) signifies any spot covered with perennial ice. Henderson says, 'an ice-mountain; 'but the Jökulls are often merely immeuse ice-fields, which, in their highest parts, do not rise to an elevation of more than a few hundred feet above the sea. Many of them are nearly flat, and extend for miles at about the same level.