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productions of nature. Secondly, that of describ- history may, in some measure, be compared to a ing the properties, manners, and relations, which dictionary of words. Both are solely intended to they bear to us, and to each other. The first, explain the names of things; but with this differwhich is the most difficult part of the science, is ence, that in the dictionary of words, we are led systematical
, dry, mechanical, and incomplete. The from the name of the thing to its definition, wheresecond is more amusing, exhibits new pictures to as, in the system of natural history, we are led the imagination, and improves our relish for exist- from the definition to find out the name. ence, by widening the prospect of nature around Such are the efforts of writers, who have com
posed their works with great labour and ingenuity, Both, however, are necessary to those who would to direct the learner in his progress through naunderstand this pleasing science in its utmost ex- ture, and to inform him of the name of every anitent. The first care of every inquirer, no doubt, mal, plant, or fossil substance, that he happens to should be, to see, to visit, and examine every ob- meet with; but it would be only deceiving the ject, before he pretends to inspect its habitudes or reader to conceal the truth, which is, that books its history. From seeing and observing the thing alone can never teach him this art in perfection; itself
, he is most naturally led to speculate upon and the solitary student can never succeed. Withits uses, its delights, or its inconveniences. out a master, and a previous knowledge of many
Numberless obstructions, however, are found in of the objects in nature, his book will only serve to this part of his pursuit, that frustrate his diligence confound and disgust him. Few of the individual and retard his curiosity. The objects in nature plants or animals that he may happen to meet are so many, and even those of the same kind are with are in that precise state of health, or that ex. exhibited in such a variety of forms, that the in- act period of vegetation, whence their descriptions quirer finds himself lost in the exuberance before were taken. Perhaps he meets the plant only him, and, like a man who attempts to count the with leaves, but the systematic writer has described stars unassisted by art, his powers are all distracted it in flower. Perhaps he meets the bird before it in barren superfluity.
has moulted its first feathers, while the systematic To remedy this embarrassment, artificial systems description was made in the state of full perfection. have been devised, which, grouping into masses He thus ranges without an instructor, confused those parts of nature more nearly resembling each and with sickening curiosity, from subject to subother, refer the inquirer for the name of the single ject, till at last he gives up the pursuit in the mulobject he desires t know, to some one of those tiplicity of his disappointments. Some practice, general distributions where it is to be foond by fur- therefore, much instruction, and diligent reading, ther examination. If, for instance, a man should are requisite to make a ready and expert naturalin his walks meet with an animal, the name, and ist, who shall be able, even by the help of a sysconsequently the history of which he desires to tem, to find out the name of every object he meets know, he is taught by systematic writers of natural with. But when this tedious, though requisite history to examine its most obvious qualities, wheth- part of study is attained, nothing but delight and er a quadruped, a bird, a tish, or an insect. Having variety attend the rest of his journey. Wherever determined it, for explanation sake, to be an insect, he travels, like a man in a country where he has he examines whether it has wings; if he finds it many friends, he meets with nothing but acquaintpossessed of these, he is taught to examine whether ances and allurements in all the stages of his way. it has two or four; if possessed of four, he is taught The mere uninformed spectator passes on in gloomy to observe, whether the two upper wings are of a solitude, but the naturalist, in every plant, in every shelly bardness, and serve as cases to those under insect, and every pebble, finds something to enterthem; if he finds the wings composed in this man- tain his curiosity, and excite his speculation, ner, he is then taught to pronounce, that this in- Hence it appears, that a system may be consect is one of the beetle kind: of the beetle kind sidered as a dictionary in the study of nature. The there are three different classes, distinguished from ancients, however, who have all written most deeach other by their feelers; he examines the insect lightfully on this subject, seem entirely to have rebefore him, and finds that the feelers are elevated jected those humble and mechanical helps of sci. o knobbed at the ends; of beetles, with feelers jence. They contented themselves with seizing thus formed, there are ten kinds, and among those, upon the great outlines of history; and passing over he is taught to look for the precise name of that what was common, as not worth the detail, they which is before him. If, for instance, the knob be only dwelt upon what was new, great, and surdivided at the ends, and the belly be streaked with prising, and sometimes even warmed the imagina white, it is no other than the Dor or the May-bug, tion at the expense of truth. Sua 1 of the moderns an animal, the noxious qualities of which give it a as revived this science in Europe, undertook the very distinguished rank in the history of the insect task more methodically, though not in a manner creation. In this manner, a system of natural so pleasing. Aldrovandus, Gesner, and Jonston.
seemed desirous of uniting the entertaining and late spent much time, great pains, and some learn: rich descriptions of the ancients with the dry and ing, all to very little purpose, in systematic arrangesystematic arrangement of which they were the ment, he seems so much disgusted by their trifling, tirst projectors. This attempt, however, was ex- but ostentaticus efforts, that he describes his ani. tremely imperfect, as the great variety of nature mals almost in the order they happen to come bewas, as yet, but very inadequately known. Never- fore him. theless, by attempting to carry on both objects at This want of method seems to be a fauit, but he once; first, of directing us to the name of the thing, can lose little by a criticism which every dull man and then giving the detail of its history, they drew can make, or by an error in arrangement
, from out their works into a te lious and unreasonable which the dullest are the most usually free. length; and thus mixing incompatible aims, they In other respects, as far as this able philosopher have left their labours rather to be occasionally has gone, I have taken him for my guide. The consulted, than read with delight by posterity. warmth of his style, and the brilliancy of his imagi
The later moderns, with that good sense which nation, are inimitable. Leaving him, therefore, they have carried into every other part of science, without a rival in these, and only availing myself have taken a different method in cultivating na- of his information, I have been content to describe tural history. They have been content to give, things in my own way, and though many of the not only the brevity, but also the dry and disgusting materials are taken from him, yet I have added, reair of a dictionary to their systems. Ray, Klein, trenched, and altered, as I thought proper. It was Brisson, and Linnæus, have had only one aim, my intention, at one time, whenever I differed that of pointing out the object, in nature, of discov- from him, to have mentioned it at the bottom of ering its name, and where it was to be found in the page; but this occurred so often, that I soon those authors that treated of it in a more prolix and found it would look like envy, and might, perhaps satisfactory manner. Thus, natural history, at convict me of those very errors which I was wantpresent, is carried on in two distinct and separate ing to lay upon him. channels, the one serving to lead us to the thing, I have, therefore, as being every way his debtor, the other conveying the history of the thing, as concealed my dissent, where my opinion was differsupposing it already known.
ent; but wherever I borrow from him, I take care The following natural history is written with at the bottom of the page to express my obligaonly such an attention to system as serves to re- tions. But, though my obligations to this writer move the reader's embarrassments, and allure him are many, they extend but to the smallest part of to proceed. It can make no pretensions in direct- the work, as he has hitherto completed only the ing him to the name of every object he meets with; history of quadrupeds. I was, therefore, left to that belongs to works of a very different kind, and my reading alone, to make out the history of birds, written with very different aims. It will fully fishes, and insects, of which the arrangement was answer my design, if the reader, being already so difficult, and the necessary information so widepossessed of the name of any animal, shall find ly diffused, and so obscurely related when found, bere a short, though satisfactory history of its habi- that it proved by much the most laborious part of tudes, its subsistence, its manners, its friendships, the undertaking. Thus, having made use of M. and hostilities. My aim has been to carry on just Buffon's lights in the first part of this work, I may, as much method as was sufficient to shorten my with some share of confidence, recommend it to the descriptions by generalizing them, and never to public. But what shall I say of that part, where follow order where the art of writing, which is but I have been entirely left without his assistance? another name for good sense, informed me that it As I would affect neither modesty nor confidence, would only contribute to the reader's embarrass- it will be sufficient to say, that my reading upon ment.
this part of the subject has been very extensive; Still, however, the reader will perceive, that I and that I have taxed my scanty circumstances in have formed a kind of system in the history of procuring books, which are on this subject, of all every part of animated nature, directing myself by others, the most expensive. In consequence of the great and obvious distinctions that she herself this industry, I here offer a work to the public, of seems to have made, which, though too few to a kind which has never been attempted in ours, o point exactly to the name, are yet sufficient to il- any other modern language that I know of. The luminate the subject, and remove the reader's per- ancients, indeed, and Pliny in particular, have anplexit. M. Buffon, indecd, who has brought ticipated me in the present manner of treating nagreater talents to this part of learning than any tural history. Like those historians who described other man, bas almost entirely rejected method in the events of a campaign, they have not condeclassing quadrupeds. This, with great deference scended to give the private particulars of every into such a character, appears to me running into the dividual that formed the army; they were content opposite extreme; and, as some moderns have of with characterising the generals, and describing their operations, while they left it to meaner hands choose for themselves; for persons whose profes. to carry the muster-roll. I have followed their sions turn them to different pursuits, or who, not manner, rejecting the numerous fables which they yet arrived at sufficient maturity, require a guide adopted, and adding the improvements of the mod- to direct their application. To our youth, particuerns, which are so numerous, that they actually larly, a publication of this sort may be useful; make up the bulk of natural history.
since, if compiled with any share of judgment, it The delight which I found in reading Pliny, may at once unite precept and example, show them first inspired me with the idea of a work of this what is beautiful, and inform them why it is so; nature. Having a taste rather classical than sci- I therefore offer this, to the best of my judgment, entific, and having but little employed myself in as the best collection that has as yet appeared; turning over the dry labours of modern system- though, as tastes are various, numbers will be of a makers, my earliest intention was to translate this very different opinion. Many, perhaps, may wish agreeable writer, and, by the help of a commentary, to see it in the poems of their favourite authors, to make my work as amusing as I could. Let us others may wish that I had selected from works less dignify natural history ever so much with the generally read, and others still may wish that I had grave appellation of a useful science, yet still we selected from their own. But my design was to must confess, that it is the occupation of the idle give a useful, unaffected compilation ; one that and the speculative, more than of the ambitious might tend to advance the reader's taste, and not part of mankind. My intention was to treat what impress him with exalted ideas of mine. Nothing I then conceived to be an idle subject, in an idle is so common, and yet so absurd, as affectation in manner; and not to hedge round plain and simple criticism. The desire of being thought to have a narrative with hard words, accumulated distinc more discerning taste than others, has often led tions, ostentatious learning, and disquisitions that writers to labour after error, and to be foremost in produced no conviction. Upon the appearance, promoting deformity. however, of M. Buffon's work, I dropped my In this compilation, I run but few risks of that former plan and adopted the present, being con- kind; every poem here is well known, and possessed, vineed by his manner, that the best imitation of or the public has been long mistaken, of peculiar the ancients was to write from our own feelings, merit ; every poem has, as Aristotle expresses it, a and to imitate nature.
beginning, a middle, and an end, in which, howIt will be my chief pride, therefore, if this work ever trifling the rule may seem, most of the poetry may be found an innocent amusement for those in our language is deficient.. I claim no merit in . who have nothing else to employ them, or who re- the choice, as it was obvious, for in all languages
quire a relaxation from labour. Professed natui- best productions are most easily found. As to the ralists will, no doubt, find it superficial ; and yet 1 short introductory criticisms to each poem, they should hope, that even these will discover hints are rather designed for boys than men; for it will and remarks, gleaned from various reading, not be seen that I declined all refinement, satisfied wholly trite or elementary ; I would wish for their with being obvious and sincere. In short, if this approbation. But my chief ambition is to drag up work be useful in schools, or amusing in the closet, the obscure und gloomy learning of the cell to the merit all belongs to others; I have nothing to open insparown; to strip it from its garb of aus. boast
, and at best can expect, not applause but terity, and snow the beauties of that form, which pardon. only the talustrious and the inquisitive have been
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. bitharty *smitted to approach.
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
This seems to be Mr. Pope's most finished pro duction, and is, perhaps, the most perfect in om
language. It exhibits stronger powers of imagı. LEAUTIES OF ENGLISH POETRY. nation, more harmony of numbers, and a greater
knowledge of the world than any other of this [First printed in the year 1767.)
poet's works ; and it is probable, if our country My bookseller having informed me that there were called upon to show a specimen of their *as no collection of English Poetry among us, of genius to foreigners, this would be the work fixed any estimation, I thought a few hours spent in upon. making a proper selection would not be ill be
IL PENSEROSO, stowed.
Compilations of this kind are chiefly designed I have heard a very judicious critic say, that he for such as either want leisure, skill, or fortune, to had a higher idea of Milton's style in poetry, fron
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
IN IMITATION OF SPENSER,
the two following poems, than from his Paradise A LETTER FROM ITALY
RIGHT HONOURABLE CHARLES Italians, and hurts an English ear.
LORD HALIFAX, 1701.
Few poems have done more honour to English genius than this. There is in it a strain of politi
cal thinking that was, at that time, new in our This is a very fine poem, but overloaded with epithet. The heroic measure, with alternate poetry. Had the harmony of this been equal to
that of Pope's versification, it would be incontestarhyme, is very properly adapted to the solemnity of the subject, as it is the slowest movement that our
bly the finest poem in our language; but there is language admits of. The latter part of the poem the pleasure excited both by the poet's judgment
a dryness in the numbers, which greatly lessens is pathetic and interesting.
and imagination. LONDON,
ALEXANDER'S FEAST; OR, THE IN IMITATION OF THE THIRD SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
POWER OF MUSIC. This poem of Mr. Johnson's is the best imita
AN ODE IN HONOUR OF ST. CECILIA'S DAY. tion of the original that has appeared in our language, being possessed of all the force and satirical This ode has been more applauded, perhaps resentment of Juvenal. Imitation gives us a much than it has been felt; however, it is a very fine one, truer idea of the ancients than even translation and gives its beauties rather at a third or fourth, could do.
than at a first perusal. THE SCHOOL-MISTRESS,
ODE FOR MUSIC ON ST. CECILIA'S
DAY. This poem is one of those happinesses in which This ode has by many been thought equal to a poet excels himself, as there is nothing in all the former. As it is a repe:ition of Dryden's manShenstone which any way approaches it in merit; ner, it is so far inferior to him. The whole hint and, though I dislike the imitations of our old of Orpheus, with many of the lines, has been English poets in general, yet, on this minute sub taken from an obscure Ode upon Music, published ject, the antiquity of the style produces a very in Tate's Miscellanies. ludicrous solemnity.
THE SHEPHERD'S WEEK,
These are Mr. Gay's principal performance. deserves the highest applause, as it far surpasses They were originally intended, I suppose, as a all that went before it; the concluding part, burlesque on those of Phillips; but perhaps, withthough a little too much crowded, is very masterly. out designing it, he has hit the true spirit of pasto
ral poetry. In fact he more resembles Theocritus ELOISA TO ABELARD.
than any other English pastoral writer whatsoever. The harmony of numbers in this poem is.
There runs through the whole a strain of rustic fine. It is rather drawn out to too tedious à pleasantry, which should ever distinguish this spelength, although the passions vary with great cies of composition; but how far the antiquated judgment. It may be considered as superior to expressions used here may contribute to the huany thing in the epistolary way; and the many mour, I will not determine ; for my own part, I translations which have been made of it into the could wish the simplicity were preserved, without modern languages, are in some measure a proof of recurring to such obsolete antiquity for the manner this.
of expressing it. AN EPISTLE FROM MR. PHILIPS
its versification, give it a distinguished rank in this EARL OF DORSET.
species of composition. At present, an ordinary The opening of this poem is incomparably fine. reader would scarcely suppose that Shadwell
, who l'he latter part is tedious and trifling.
is here meant by Mac Flecknoe, was worth benig
IN SIX PASTORALS.
chastised; and that Dryden, descending to such am told, had no good original manner of his own, game, was like an eagle stooping to catch flies. yet we see how well he succeeds when he turns an
The truth however is, Shadwell at one time held imitator; for the following are rather imitations divided reputation with this great poet. Every age than ridiculous parodies. produces its fashionable dunces, who, by following the transient topic or humour of the day, supply
A NIGHT PIECE ON DEATH. talkative ignorance with materials for conversation.
The great fault of this piece, written by Dr. ON POETRY.-A RHAPSODY.
, is, that it is in eight syllable lines, very
improper for the solemnity of the subject; otherHere follows one of the best versified poems in wise, the poem is natural, and the reflections just. our language, and the most masterly production of its author. The severity with which Walpole is A FAIRY TALE. BY DR. PARNELL. here treated, was in consequence of that minister's
Never was the old manner of speaking more haphaving refused to provide for Swift in England: pily applied, or a tale better told, than this. when applied to for that purpose, in the year 1725 (If I remember right). The severity of a poet, PALEMON AND LAVINIA. however, gave Walpole very little uneasiness. A man whose schemes, like this minister's, seldom Mr. Thomson, though in general a verbose and extended beyond the exigency of the year, but little affected poet, has told this story with unusual simregarded the contempt of posterity.
plicity: it is rather given here for being much es
teemed by the public than by the editor. OF THE USE OF RICHES.
THE BASTARD. This poem, as Mr. Pope tells us himself, cost much attention and labour; and from the easiness Almost all things written from the heart, as this that appears in it, one would be apt to think as certainly was, have some me:it. The poet here much.
describes sorrows and misfortunes which were by FROM THE DISPENSARY.—CANTO VI. of thinking through this poem, without which it
no means imaginary; and thus there runs a truth This sixth canto of the · Dispensary, by Dr. would be of little value, as Savage is, in other reGarth, has more merit than the whole preceding spects, but an indifferent poet. part of the poem, and, as I am told, in the first edition of this work, it is more correct than as here THE POET AND HIS PATRON. exhibited; but that edition I have not been able to
Mr. Moore was a poet that never had justice find. The praises bestowed on this poem are more done him while living; there are few of the mothan have been given to any other ; but our appro- derns have a more correct laste, or a more pleasing bation at present is cooler, for it owed part of its
manner of expressing their thoughts. It was upon faine to party.
these fables he chiefly founded his reputation, yet SELIM; OR, THE SHEPHERD'S MORAL. they are by no means his best production. The following eclogues, written by Mr. Collins,
AN EPISTLE TO A LADY. are very pretty; the images, it must be owned, are not very local; for the pastoral subject could not
This little poem, by Mr. Nugent, is very pleaswell admit of it. The description of Asiatic mag-ing. The easiness of the poetry, and the justico nificence and manners is a subject as yet unat- of the thoughts, constitute its principal beauty. tempted among us, and, I believe, capable of fur
HANS CARVEL. nishing a great variety of poetical imagery.
This bagatelle, for which, by the by, Mr. Prior THE SPLENDID SHILLING.
has got his greatest reputation, was a tale told in all This is reckoned the best parody of Milton in the old Italian collections of jests, and borrowed from our language: it has been a hundred times imi- thence by Fontaine. It had been translated once tated without success. The truth is, the first thing or twice before into English, yet was never re. in this way must preclude all future attempts; for garded till it fell into the hands of Mr. Prior. A nothing is so easy as to burlesque any man's man- strong instance how much every thing is improved ner, when we are once showed the way.
in the hands of a man of genius. A PIPE OF TOBACCO.
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON. IN IMITATION OF SIX SEVERAL AUTHORS. This poem is very fine, and, though in the same Mr. Hawkins Browne, the author of these, as I strain with the preceding, is yet superior.