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BATH AND WEST OF ENGLAND
On the Cultivation of Fiorin Grass.
[By W. RICHARDSON, D.D. of Moy, Ireland.]
To the Honour able the Bath and West of England
conferred upon me by the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society, in proposing a considerable premium to encourage the cultivation of a grass, first brought into notice by me, as of any value.
A condition very flattering to me is added, that to entitle any person to this premium, it is necessary that he should have obtained his original stock of Fiorin Grass from Dr. Richardson; and on my part I have shewn my promptness to enable candidates to fulfil this condition, having already transmitted to the Secretary of the Society a considerable package of Fiorin roots and strings; and I lhall continue to transmit similar parcels, whenever I find an opportunity.
I have been very fanguine in diffeminating a discovery, which I had a certainty would lead to the improvement of the united kingdom, to an extent and with a facility hardly to be conceived. I spared no pains in laying before the public, in different shapes, the valuable properties of Fiorin grass, as I successively discovered them; I gave the necessary instruction for its cultivation ; and held out every encouragement in my power to those who wished to avail themselves of the fingular qualities of this extraordinary grass, or rather of that part of its produce, its stolones, upon the value of which I first brought notice.
Though not without success, my progress was far short of my expectations: difficulties indeed lay in my way, of extraordinary magnitude, which prevented even the necessary attention from being given to my several statements. respectable Society has set the example, and has been so good as to give my discovery a fair opportunity of proving its merits, I no longer fear its finking into oblivion from neglect. Should it fail from the non-performance of my promises, (or rather boasts, I have earned the ridicule I bring on myself.
The positions, indeed, which must necessarily be acceded to, before fiorin cuitivation can be entered upon with confidence, are of such extraordinary magnitude, that I am not surprized the world should be astonished at my hazarding them.
But when your
The first is, That man has for five thousand years been cutting grass crops as winter provender for his cattle, without discovering what part of the grassy produce was best suited to his purpose.
The second, That Nature has been for the same time unremittingly employed in obtruding upon the notice of man this the most valuable of the graffy tribe, indeed by far the most valuable indigenous vegetable with which she has favoured our islands; and yet that, at the end of that period, she had not fucceeded. I have on different occasions already stated many instances of these obtrusions, and shall now recapitulate some of them.
Where uninterrupted, this grass is perpetually pressing itself forward. If the gardener did not interfere, you have not a gravel walk in England which fiorin would not occupy in September and October; shooting its strings (Polones) across them. Fiorin is luxuriant in cvery bog, mire, and morass in this kingdom; and I venture to say in England. And I found it myself as abundant in Scotland (where I went for the purpose) as in Ireland.
I have examined the summits of several of our high mountains, and always found it in poffeffion.
Wherever a portion of ground is by any means laid bare, fiorin is the first grass to occupy it.
I have quoted the letter of a noble Correspondent, in which his Lordship informs me, that he had the day before pointed out to several friends on New
market Race-Course a fiorin string, shooting across (its mode of taking possession) a bare spot of ground, whence a fod had been raised.
I have quoted also the authority of friends of equal rank, to establish instances where spontaneous fiorin had taken poffeffion of neglected roads in both England and Ireland ; and particularly of a turnpikeroad which had been closed up in consequence of a new line. In our poorest, shalloweit, dry grounds, and barren lands, we find its panicles, when no other grass can shew itself.
I shall take the liberty of quoting a passage from a former essay of mine, printed two years and a half ago, and intended as notes and comments on my first Memoir on Fiorin Grafs, published in the Tranfa&ions of the Board of Agriculture.
“ I have hitherto omitted mentioning a property “ of fiorin grass of some curiosity. Its panicles “ stand through the year undefaced, while those of - all other graffes soon disappear.-Is this accident? 6 or is it rather the kindness of Nature, endowing " this valuable present of her's with a property, by " which she points out to man, that it will thrive in “ places of various description, which have not as
yet called forth his exertions ?”-“ Very late in “ last April I travelled through much wild country “in a geological pursuit; and I venture to say, that “ in every twenty yards I found fiorin panicles in