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time, several authors have published their systems, among whom is Linnæus, whose method being generally esteemed, I have thought proper to adopt. He has classed them in a very regular manner, though he says but little of the insects themselves. However, I have endeavoured to supply that defect from other parts of his works, and from other authors who have written upon this subject; by which means, it is hoped, the curiosity of such as delight in these studies will be in some measure satisfied. Such of them as have been more generally admired; have been longest insisted upon, and particularly caterpillars and butterflies, relative to which, perhaps, there is the largest catalogue that has ever appeared in the English language.

Mr Edwards and Mr Buffon, one in the History of Birds, the other of Quadrupeds, have undoubtedly deserved highly of the public, as far as their labours have extended; but as they have hitherto cultivated but a small part in the wide field of natural history, a comprehensive system in this most pleasing science has been hitherto wanting. Nor is it a little surprising, when every other branch of literature has been of late cultivated with so much success among us, how this most interesting department should have been neglected. It has been long obvious that Aristotle was incomplete, and Pliny credulous, Aldrovandus too prolix, and Linnæus too short, to afford the proper entertainment; yet we have had no attempts to supply their defects, or to give a history of nature at once complete and concise, calculated at once to please and improve.

How far the author of the present performance has obviated the wants of the public in these respects, is left to the world to determine; this much, however, he may without vanity assert, that whether the system here presented be approved or not, he has left the science in a better state

than he found it. He has consulted every author whom he imagined might give him new and authentic information, and painfully searched through heaps of lumber to detect falsehood; so that many parts of the following work have exhausted much labour in the execution, though they may discover little to the superficial observer.

Nor have I neglected any opportunity that offered of conversing upon these subjects with travellers, upon whose judgments and veracity I could rely. Thus comparing accurate narrations with what has been already written, and following either, as the circumstances or credibility of the witness led me to believe. But I have had one advantage over almost all former naturalists, namely, that of having visited a variety of countries myself, and examined the productions of each upon the spot. Whatever America or the known parts of Africa have produced to excite curiosity, has been carefully observed by me, and compared with the accounts of others. By this I have made some improvements that will appear in their place, and have been less liable to be imposed upon by the hearsay relations of credulity.

A complete, cheap, and commodious body of natural history being wanted in our language, it was these advantages which prompted me to this undertaking. Such, therefore, as choose to range in the delightful fields of nature, will, I flatter myself, here find a proper guide; and those who have a design to furnish a cabinet, will find copious instructions. With one of these volumes in his hand, a spectator may go through the largest museum, the British not excepted, see nature through all her varieties, and compare her usual operations with those wanton productions in which she seems to sport with human sagacity. I have

been sparing, however, in the description of the deviations from the usual course of production; first, because such are almost infinite, and the natural historian, who should spend his time in describing deformed nature, would be as absurd as the statuary, who should fix upon a deformed man from whom to take his model of perfection.

But I would not raise expectations in the reader which it may not be in my power to satisfy : he who takes up a book of science must not expect to acquire knowledge at the same easy rate that a reader of romance does entertainment; on the contrary, all sciences, and natural history among the rest, have a language and a manner of treatment peculiar to themselves; and he who attempts to dress them in borrowed or foreign ornaments, is every whit as uselessly employed as the German apothecary we are told of, who turned the whole dispensatory into verse. It will be sufficient for me, if the following system is found as pleasing as the nature of the subject will bear, neither obscured by an unnecessary ostentation of science, nor lengthened out by an affected eagerness after needless embellishment.

The description of every object will be found as clear and concise as possible, the design not being to amuse the ear with well-turned periods, or the imagination with borrowed ornaments, but to impress the mind with the simplest views of nature. To answer this end more distinctly, a picture of such animals is given as we are least acquainted with. All that is intended by this is, only to guide the inquirer with more certainty to the object itself, as it is to be found in nature. I never would advise a student to apply to any science, either anatomy, physic, or natural history, by looking on pictures only; they may serve to direct him more readily to the objects intended, but he must by no

means suppose himself possessed of adequate and distinct ideas, till he has viewed the things themselves, and not their representations.

Copper-plates, therefore, moderately well done, answer the learner's purpose every whit as well as those which cannot be purchased but at a vast expense; they serve to guide us to the archetypes in nature, and this is all that the finest picture should be permitted to do, for nature herself ought always to be examined by the learner before he has done.






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