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11. Generic names compounded of the entire generic name of one plant, and a portion of that of another, are unworthy of Botany; such as Cannacorus, Lilionarcissus, Laurocerasus.
12. A generic name, to which is prefixed one or more syllables, so as to alter its signification, and render it applicable to other plants, is not admissible. Bulbocastanum, Cynocrambe, Chamanerium, &c., are of this kind.
13. Generic names ending in oides are to be rejected; as, Agrimonoides, Asteroides, &c.
14. Generic names formed of other generic names, with the addition of some final syllable, are disagreeable, as Acetosella, Balsamita, Rapistrum, &c.
15. Generic names sounding alike, lead to confusion.
16. No generic names can be admitted, except such as are derived from either the Greek or Latin languages.
17. Generic names appertaining previously to Zoology, or other sciences, are to be cancelled, if subsequently applied in Botany.
18. Generic names at variance with the characters of any of the species are bad.
19. Generic names the same as those of the class or order cannot be tolerated.
20. Adjective generic names are not so good as substantive ones, but may be admitted.
21. Generic names ought not to be misapplied to gaining the goodwill or favour of saints, or persons celebrated in other sciences; they are the only reward that the Botanist can expect, and are intended for him alone.
22. Nevertheless, ancient poetical names of deities, or of great promoters of the science, are worthy of being retained.
23. Generic names that express the essential character or habit of a plant are the best of all.
24. The ancient names of the classics are to be respected.
25. We have no right to alter an ancient generic name to one more modern, even although it may be for the better : this would, in the first place, be an endless labour; and, in the next place, would tend to inextricable confusion.
26. If new generic names are wanted, it must be first ascertained whether no one among the existing synonymes is applicable.
27. If an old genus is divided into several new ones, the old name will remain with the species that is best known.
28. The termination and euphony of generic names are to be consulted, as far as practicable.
29. Long, awkward, disagreeable names are to be avoided, such as Calophyllodendron of Vaillant, Coriotragematodendros of Plukenet, and the like.
30. The names of classes and orders are subject to the same rules as those of genera. They ought always to express some essential and characteristic marks.
31. The names of both classes and orders must always consist of a single word, and not of sentences.
I have thought it right to give these Linnæan canons, firstly, because they are undoubtedly excellent in many respects; secondly, because we must attribute much of the greater perfection of natural history, since the time of Linnæus, to the adoption of them; and, thirdly, because they are constantly appealed to, by the school of Linnæus, as a standard of language, from which no departure whatever is allowable.
It is, however, necessary to remark, that, notwithstanding the undoubted excellence of many of these rules, yet there are others adherence to which is often out of the question, and which have, indeed, fallen wholly into disuse. It seems to be an admitted principle, that it is of little real importance what name an object bears, provided it serves to distinguish that object from every thing else. This is the material point, to which all other considerations are secondary: thus, if A. or B. are universally known by the names of Thomas or John, it is quite as well as if they were called William or James. This being so, it will follow that Nos. 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, and 16, of the Linnæan canons, are either frivolous or unimportant; or, at least, that no person is bound, either in reason or by custom, to observe them. This is particularly apparent in considering the practice now universally adopted, although
condemned by Linnæus, of converting the names by which plants are known in countries called barbarous, into scientific generic names, by adding a Latin termination to them. The advantage of this practice to travellers is known to be very great, as it puts them in possession of a certain part of the language of the country in which the plants are found. Such names are often not less euphonous than those admitted by the Linnæan school as unexceptionable : witness, Licaria and Eperua, rejected Caribean generic names; and Glossarrhena, Guldenstadtia, Schlechtendahlia; and similar admitted Linnæan names. Indeed, so impossible is it to construct generic names that will express the peculiarities of the species they represent, that I agree with those who think a good, wellsounding, unmeaning name as good as any that can be contrived. The great rule to follow is this:
In constructing a generic name, take care that it is harmonious, and as unlike all other generic names as it can be. In adopting a generic name, always take the most ancient, whether better or worse than those that have succeeded it. Attend as much as you will to the canons of Linnæus in forming a name of your own; but never allow them to induce you to commit the incivility of rejecting the names of other persons, because they do not think fit to acknowledge arbitrary rules which you are disposed to obey; and let the conduct of Schreber, a German Botanist, who has been held up to universal scorn for having presumed, without authority, or any sort of pretension to a knowledge of the plants of Aublet, to alter the whole nomenclature of that author, to the great confusion of science, be a warning to you, never to be induced to sanction any similar deviation from the rules of courtesy in science.
When species are named after individuals, the rule of construction is this: if the individual is the discoverer of the plant, or the describer of it, the specific name is then to be in the genitive singular; as Caprifolium Douglasii, Carex Menziesii; Messrs. Douglas and Menzies having been the discoverers of these species; and Planera Richardi, the species so called having been described by Richard: but if the name is merely given in compliment, without reference to either of these circumstances, the name should be rendered in an adjective form, with the termination anus, a, um; as Pinus Lambertiana, in compliment to Mr. Lambert: and, for this reason, such names as Rosa Banksiæ and R. Brunonii are wrong; they should have been R. Banksiana and R. Brunoniana.
It is customary to name an order from the genus that most accurately represents its characters, altering into aceæ the termination of such names as end in a or as, or even us; as Rosaceæ from Rosa, Spondiaceæ from Spondias, Connaraceæ from Connarus: or by converting the terminations us or um into eæ; as Rhamneæ from Rhamnus, Menispermeæ, from Menispermum. But this is not very strictly adhered to; many well-known old names, not constructed upon this principle, being still retained; such as Salicariæ, Leguminosæ, Caryophylleæ, Gramineæ, Palmæ, &c.
There is no rule for the construction of the names of the higher divisions in Botany.
In terminology, every name should have a distinct positive meaning, which cannot be misunderstood; all terms that have two meanings being bad. For instance, the term nectary, which is sometimes applied to glands secreting honey, sometimes to modifications of the petals or stamens, and even to the disk itself, is, in such an extended signification, unintelligible. Again, the term corolla, unless limited to the inner series of the floral envelopes, may be often applied to the calyx, and then ceases to have any precise signification. Capsule has been applied by various authors to a polyspermous dehiscent compound fruit, or to an indehiscent polyspermous fruit, or to an indehiscent monospermous fruit: so applied it has no distinct meaning. For this reason modern botanists have contrived a large number of new terms, which have contributed much to the perspicuity of botanical writings. But, if this has been, in many cases, done advantageously, it has unfortunately happened that in others additional terms have been created uselessly, to the great confusion of the science. Thus, the old word albumen is perfectly well understood as the matter lying between the embryo and the seed coats when the seed is mature; nevertheless, we have the terms perisperm
and endosperm contrived for the same part : testa is synonymous with episperm; putamen with endocarp: for funiculus umbilicalis we have trophosperm and podosperm; and, unfortunately, numerous other instances might be adduced. The rule to be observed in terminology is evidently this; that as no word ought to have two applications or meanings, so no idea should be expressed by more than one term; and, if a term expressive of a distinct point of structure already exists, no new term should on any account be created, from the fancy that it may be better, or more expressive, than the old one. To do so is not only unwise, but absolutely mischievous.