Saturday, October 16, 2010

Distractions from Botany

I remembered last night that I had a book about 19th-century plant collectors which I had yet to read, and thought it was an excellent juncture at which to browse through and get an extra line or two on David Douglas. It was the browsing that proved to be a bit of a difficulty: shuffling through the pages, I was detained by the wonderfully botanical name of Richard Spruce. But I ask you, what kind of book is it, that drawing you in close to read about an Englishman with a wonderfully botanical name, casually drops the information that he played the bagpipes, and never bothers to tell you whether they were Highland or Northumbrian (or Galician, for all one can guess), or the steps he took to maintain a good reed in the mountains of South America, where he collected quinine trees? Not a very nice kind of a book, if you ask me.

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