SINCLAIR, George (1787-1834)
Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis: or, an Account of the Results of Experiments on the Produce and Nutrititive Qualities of Different Grasses and other Plants used as the food of the more valuable domestic animals; instituted by John, Duke of Bedford ... Second Edition
London: James Ridgway, 1825. 8vo. 60 hand coloured plates, printed by Hullmandel. Publisher's ads in the rear. Uncut.
Contemporary boards, rebacked
Second octavo edition, with hand coloured plates: and an important proto-Darwinian work of evolutionary botany.
"On instructions from the Duke, and under the direction of Sir Humphry Davy, Sinclair [gardener to the Duke of Bedford] conducted an extensive series of experiments on the nutritive qualities of various types of animal fodder. The results were published in 1816 in Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis, an expensive folio volume containing dried specimens of the grasses. These were replaced by plates in [subsequent editions] ... The nutritional value of the grasses described in Hortus was assessed through comparison of their water-soluble constituents, the theory being that these formed the bulk of the feeding material. As a comparative guide, the technique did have some value" (ODNB). Interestingly, Sinclair's work would have a profound influence on Charles Darwin, who refers to Sinclair's experiments with soil and various grasses in On the Origin of Species in his explanation of the principle of divergence, i.e. how natural selection favors diverging ecological requirements of cohabitating species within the same area. See Andy Hector and Rowan Hooper, "Darwin and the first ecological experiment," Science Magazine 295, no. 5555 [25 Jan. 2002]: 639-40.
Nissen BBI 1850.