Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism
By Asa Gray
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date:October 2010
Original Publication Year:1876
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511693281.006
Subjects: Evolutionary biology
The session being now happily inaugurated, your presiding officer of the last year has only one duty to perform before he surrenders the chair to his successor. If allowed to borrow a simile from the language of my own profession, I might liken the President of this Association to a biennial plant. He flourishes for the year in which he comes into existence, and performs his appropriate functions as presiding officer. When the second year comes round, he is expected to blossom out in an address and disappear. Each president, as he retires, is naturally expected to contribute something from his own investigations or his own line of study, usually to discuss some particular scientific topic.
Now, although I have cultivated the field of North American botany, with some assiduity, for more than forty years, have reviewed our vegetable hosts, and assigned to no small number of them their names and their place in the ranks, yet, so far as our own wide country is concerned, I have been to a great extent a closet botanist. Until this summer I had not seen the Mississippi, nor set foot upon a prairie.
To gratify a natural interest, and to gain some title for addressing a body of practical naturalists and explorers, I have made a pilgrimage across the continent.