페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

dans lours filets perfides, je me hatai de lo delivrer des atteiutes de ces odieux insectes.'" To which a foot-note is appended: "Cette observation parait s'appliquer a une tSp&re du genre Nephile; car M. Vinson dit que l'lle de France ne nourrit aucune espece de Mygaliformes."

The logic of this paragraph, which we were afraid might have been spoilt if translated, would appear to be this:

A small bird was found in the web of a Hephila (one of the Mpviridce), Therefore the larger species of Myyale feed on birds!

It is quite true that M. Simon goes on to say: "M. Perty a confirme le fait" [but what fact ?] "etaprouve que le naturaliste Langsdorf s'etait trompe' en disant que les aviculaires du BreBil ne se nourrissent que de fourmis, de mouches, de gugpes et non d'oiseaux."

Fortunately we can supplement the imperfect information of the French author, by the interesting observation made by Mr. Bates, and recorded in ' The Naturalist on the Biver Amazons,' voL i. p. 160, where we have the testimony of an eye-witness to the fact that a large Mygale was observed eating a living bird.

"In the course of our walk," writes Mr. Bates, "I chanced to verify a fact relating to the habits of a large hairy spider of the genus Mygale in a manner worthy recording. The species was M. avicularia, or one very closely allied to it; the individual was nearly two inches in length of body, but the legs expanded seven inches, and the entire body and legs were covered with coarse grey and reddish hairs. I was attracted by a movement of the monster on a treetrunk: it was close beneath a deep crevice in the tree, across which was stretched a dense white web. The lower part of the web was broken, and two small birds, finches, were entangled in the pieces: they were about the size of the English siskin, and I judged the two to be male and female. One of them was quite dead; the other lay under the body of the spider, not quite dead, and was smeared with the filthy liquor or saliva exuded by the monster. I drove away the spider and took the birds, but the second one soon died."

Should a second edition of M. Simon's work be called for, we would recommend him to substitute the passage we have quoted above for that which he has cited from Milbert.

Specimens of a large Mygale, received by M. Lucas from Bahia, were kept alive in the Jardin des Plantes at Paris for several months, and we should think that some of these "horrid monsters" might prove an attractive addition to the gardens of our own Zoological Society.

The only European representative of the family MygaluLe, Atypm Sulzeri, which has occasionally occurred in England, is of much more moderate dimensions than the Mygalidee of tropical countries; it belongs to that section of the family which excavate subterranean habitations, which they carefully line with silk.

The treatise by Keyserling on the Epdirida would scarcely have called for notice at our hands, consisting almost entirely of simple descriptions of species; but it is preceded by a table of the genera into which the family may be divided, and by the following introductory remarks:—

"This family has been divided by the various authors who have written on the Araneina into very different numbers of genera, thus Walckenaer makes but 4 genera, Sundevall 7, and Koch 16.

"In my classification I have omitted several of the genera of Koch, and for this very simple reason, that Herr Koch has established them without characterising them; and, notwithstanding all my endeavours, I have not been able to succeed in finding sufficient characters by which the genera Miranda, Attea, Zilla, and Sing a of Koch can be satisfactorily distinguished from Ep'eira. Judging from the species which he refers to these genera, the characters consist only of slight differences in the position of the eyes and the form of the abdomen; both of which are characters to which, in a classification of spiders, I should attach only a secondary importance, since the form of the abdomen and the position of the eyes may vary in the same species according to the age or sex. Had we to deal only with the European species of the genus Ep'eira of Walckenaer, these genera might at any rate have been retained, but when we take into our consideration the great number of exotic species, we find so many and such gradual transitions, that it appears quite impossible to divide the genus Ep'eira of Walckenaer into several genera, and I find myself accordingly forced to reunite them all into one, with the exception of Argyopes, Savigny, and Nephila, Leach.

"The genus Tetragnatha, W., I have rather extended, referring to it Koch's genus Meta, with the exception of the two species M. cellularia and M. tigrina, which I agree with Westring in referring to the genus Theridion.

"I have hithorto had no opportunity of examining the gonora

Oea and Oalena of Koch, and am therefore unaware whether they truly belong to the Epeirida, and by what characters they are to be distinguished from the other genera.

"The genus Uloborus of Latreille can not be placed in this group, as the form of the spiunerets is totally different. According to the spinnerets and the peculiar double row of bristles on the metatarsi of the hind legs (the so-called calamistrum), this must be referred to the Ciniflonidce, as has already been done by Blackwall, for, in my opinion, his Veleda lineata (History of the Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland, p. 150, tab. x. fig. 96) is nothing else than Uloborus Walckenaerius, Latreille.

"The genus Mithras of Koch also differs so very much in the form of the spinnerets, that I cannot refer it to this family, as Thorell had proposed."

The table of genera given by Keyserling appears to be very concisely arranged.

L.—Botanical Lesson-books.

Lessons In Elementabt Botant; The Systematic Part Based Upon Matebials Left Bt The Late Professor Henslow; With Numerous Illustrations. By Daniel Oliver, F.B.S., E.L.S. Macmillan and Co. 1864. Judging from the number of introductory works to the study of plants that appear in this country, all of which find a more or less remunerative sale, Botany would seem to be the most widely cultivated of the Natural Sciences in the British islands. Tet it is rare to meet in ordinary society with a person who possesses even an elementary knowledge of any branch of the subject; and the number of working botanists is almost confined to a very few of those who are or have been professors of the science in the medical schools. Of scientific associations devoted exclusively to Botany there are none in England, and but one in the United Kingdom; viz. the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. And this appears to be kept alive by the exertions of some of the medical professors in that city: whilst its publications are few, far between, and contain little original matter and few works of research. In London the Linnean Society monopolizes the whole of the scientific botany; in the -Royal Society's Transactions there have not been six papers during the present century! At the meetings of the British Association this science but just finds a place in connection with Zoology, and has been very rarely represented by a paper or treatise of the smallest consequence.

With regard to the men who are actively engaged in botanical pursuits, there are very few in the British islands and possessions who have added any important general facts to our knowledge of physiological or structural botany. Still fewer, perhaps, could arrange a miscellaneous Hortus siccus of 500 tropical plants in their Orders and genera; or could determine the generic names of as many living plants, Belected at random from our stoves and greenhouses.

Carrying our inquiries into the subject of flowerless plants, Cryptogamic botany is found to be even worse represented; and the study of those most beautiful and easily collected and preserved Orders, the Ferns, Mosses, Hepatica? and Seaweeds, if not wholly abandoned, appears certainly to have declined, although of late years the microscope has been perfected, and has found its way into every one's hands. Thus, Sir Wm. Hooker, Mr. J. Smith of Kew, and Mr. Moore of Chelsea, have alone, during the last twenty years, written scientifically on Ferns. Of Muscology, Mr. Wilson of Warrington, and Mr. Mitten of Hurstpierpoint, are the only cultivators of European celebrity; on the Hepatic© the latter alone has recently published anything. As regards the Algae (exclusive of the Diatomace®) Dr. Harvey of Dublin and Mr. Ealfs are the sole authorities of eminence; whilst oddly enough, the Fungi and Lichens, which are popularly regarded as the least attractive (and by some indeed as repulsive) members of the vegetable kingdom, boast of the most followers. In the former department Mr. Berkeley, Mr. Currey? Mr. Broome of Bath, and Mr. Cooke are all distinguished labourers; whilst in the latter we find the Rev. Churchill Babington of Cambridge, Mr. Mitten, the Bev.W. A. Leighton, Dr. Lauder Lindsay of Perth, and Mr. Mudd of Ayton—all of them authors of excellent works.

This dearth of botanists is the more remarkable, when it is considered how universally botany is regarded as the most fascinating of pursuits. Whether or not wo owe it to the 2nd chapter of Genesis, the fact remains, that those are generally considered happy who devote some time (however little), to garden, field, or herbarium botany. Human bliss is popularly supposed to be represented in professional scientific life, by a Professor of Botany, or the Director of a botanical garden, or museum. It is not our object in the present article to enter upon these paradises, but to inquire a little into the system of botanical teaching in this country, which is certainly widely spread and largely followed, but of which the results seem so totally disproportioned to the number of teachers, lecturers, and books.

Till within the last very few years the teaching of Botany has been confined to the medical schools; this has been primarily due to the real or supposed value of practical pharmacy, which is traditionary in medical education, and more perhaps to the indifference of the scholarly classes, especially the clergy (who still so largely sway the education of the people), to the Natural Sciences. This indifference is so great that in Oxford the botanical class-room is almost deserted, and in Cambridge the most attractive lectures of Professor Henslow were attended by a very limited number, of whom the future clergymen formed an insignificant proportion.

It is therefore to the strictly medical schools that we must direct our inquiries. Here a very little insight into the methods of instruction generally pursued sufficiently explains their failure to diffuse any knowledge of elementary botany even amongst medical men; and when it is considered that from 800 to 1000 young men are annually instructed in this science for 5 or 6 days a week, during 2 or 3 months, it is high time to call attention to the system.

The original meaning of the term "botany" was " a knowledge of herbs," in reference to the practice of medicine j and, as the means of providing this knowledge, Botany has from time immemorial taken high rank in the medical curriculum. Considering what was the state of the healing art until the last century, the importance of Botany could not well have been overrated. Not only were all aches and pains, all fevers and fluxes almost exclusively treated by drugs, but, the practice of Surgery being still in its infancy, all bruises and breaks, whether of flesh, ligaments or bones, were treated by them also; whilst as cures for meutal disorders, as love-philtres, as antidotes against witchcraft, the evil eye, and poisons, herbs were held in universal repute. Hence we see that the herbalist, botanist, and doctor, were once practically synonymous, and placed in the first rank of the profession. This is still the case in the New Cut, Shoreditch, in the hamlets of our most backward agricultural counties, andamid the teeming population of Sheffield and other manufacturing towns; where the Herbalist may now be seen standing on a platform, surrounded by gigantic paintings of his plants, vaunting his cures, and driving a very fair business.

To meet the exigences of such a practice, a considerable training in

« 이전계속 »