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THE further I proceed in this work, the more I am impressed with admiration of the ancients; and the greater the number of plants that remain to be described, the more I am induced to venerate the zeal displayed by the men of former times in their researches, and the kindly spirit manifested by them in transmitting to us the results thereof. Indeed their bounteousness in this respect would almost seem to have surpassed the munificent disposition even of Nature herself, if our knowledge of plants had depended solely upon man's spirit of discovery: but as it is, it is evident beyond all doubt that this knowledge has emanated from the gods themselves, or, at all events, has been the result of divine inspiration, even in those cases where man has been instrumental in communicating it to us. In other words, if we must confess the truth—a marvel surpassed by nothing in our daily experience—Nature herself, that common parent of all things, has at once produced them, and has discovered to us their properties.

Wondrous indeed is it, that a Scythian1 plant should be brought from the shores of the Palus Mæotis, and the euphorbia2 from Mount Atlas and the regions beyond the Pillars of Hercules, localities where the operations of Nature have reached their utmost limit! That in another direction, the plant britannica3 should be conveyed to us from isles of the Ocean situate beyond the confines of the earth!4 That the æthiopis5 should reach us from a climate scorched by the luminaries of heaven! And then, in addition to all this, that there should be a perpetual interchange going on between all parts of the earth, of productions so instrumental to the welfare of mankind! Results, all of them, ensured to us by the peace that reigns under the majestic sway of the Roman power, a peace which brings in presence of each other, not individuals only, belonging to lands and nations far separate, but mountains even, and heights towering above the clouds, their plants and their various productions! That this great bounteousness of the gods may know no end, is my prayer, a bounteousness which seems to have granted the Roman sway as a second luminary for the benefit of mankind.

1 He alludes to the Glycyrrhiza or Scythice, our Liquorice, which is still found on the banks of the river Volga. See B. xxi. c. 54, B. xxii. c. 11, B. xxv. c. 43, and B. xxvi. cc. 15, 87.

2 See B. xxv. c. 38.

3 See B. xxv. c. 6.

4 "Extra terras." Meaning, the continental part of the earth.

5 See c. 3 of this Book.

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