Изображения страниц

a place in our poetry, if not in our prose. But this is an innovation which, to any great extent, the author would not presume to introduce. See the Observations on the Quinary Arrangement of Mr. VIGORS, Introduction, page 43. A few only of the terms proposed by this gentlemen has been adopted, and appear in the poetry in an anglicized dress; such are Raptor, Rasor, Scansor, Vulturid, &c. In short, although the author's own taste and inclinations lean to the use of scientific terms, (and he fears that some of his readers will think he has introduced too many,) there can be, he apprehends, no doubt that the general reader will prefer the common and more usual names. It is true he runs the risk of incurring the censure of those who are more partial to names than to things; and he may possibly offend the pride of the professor, but, on the most mature deliberation, he feels persuaded that the course which he has pursued for an elementary work is the most useful and most instructive: enough of science pervades, he hopes and believes, the INTRODUCTION and the NOTES.

These observations are made in order that the author's object in regard to the poetical portion of his work might not be misunderstood. If he have succeeded in rendering a knowledge of ornithology more pleasing and facile by the aid of POETRY, that object is accomplished.

To the originality of assembling the birds under the auspices of the EAGLE and the VULTURE the author lays no claim; he adopted it, believing that it offered an easy means of displaying the knowledge which he was desirous to convey. Candour, moreover, compels him to declare that the perusal of a little poem in MS., written by a lady, and entitled the Lanthorn Fly's Lecture, descriptive of many of our insects, suggested, more immediately, the present performance.

[blocks in formation]

Of the Prose portion of the work it may be sufficient to say, that a crowd of naturalists have, from time to time, recorded a variety of useful and amusing facts concerning BIRDS; that to bring the chief of these facts before the student, with the addition of many more from the author's own resources, and others from intelligent and scientific friends, and to combine them with familiar poetry, so as to render the science altogether more attractive, and to exhibit a useful epitome of it, have been the design of the pre. sent undertaking, which, the author flatters himself, will supply, at once, agreeable reminiscences to the ADULT, and elementary and useful instruction to YOUTH. Indeed, he frankly avows, that he looks forward to its becoming an every-day companion in our academies and our schools, as well as at our firesides.

Of his own ADDITIONS to the Natural History of Birds he does not wish to say much; they are numerous, and, he believes, not unimportant: an observer of nature for more than forty years ought to add something to our knowledge concerning her works. That he has been assiduous in the composition and arrangement of the volume will be, it is presumed, self-evident; in fact, no labour, trouble, nor research, has been spared. But that it is, even now, with all his assiduity, free from error, he is, nevertheless, neither so weak nor so vain as, for a moment, to suppose.

The NOTES contain notices of every genus and the most important of the specics described by LINNEUS; and also notices of the additional genera of Dr. LATHAM. The BIRDS, indeed, described in this little work, are more in number than all those described by LINNÆUS; so that, it is hoped, nothing very material has been omitted concerning this interesting portion of the animal kingdom.

It ought, perhaps, also to be mentioned that, although

the author's residence has been chiefly in and around the metropolis during the last ten years, many of which have been passed at LEWISHAM, with innumerable rambles to Sydenham, Forest Hill, &c. &c., yet, that the chief of his knowledge of the Natural History of Birds has been obtained by a long residence in Somersetshire, at HUNTSPILL, of which place he is a native; and where, to his shame be it spoken, in his earlier days, he was the most inveterate bird's-nester in the county. Not an egg or nest of any kind in hedge, bank, bush, the loftiest tree, or wall, could escape him. He had, while yet a boy, one year, an exhibition of nearly two hundred eggs, obtained from the various tribes, the Hawk, the Cuckoo, and a numerous et cætera. He is now, however, thoroughly convinced of the folly, not to say wickedness, of such predatory plunder; the birds which do us harm are, comparatively, so few, that, the House-sparrow perhaps excepted, (and he fears that he must except the house-sparrow of the country,) benevolence would bid us leave them ALL to their enjoy. ments; a moderate degree of care being sufficient to prevent any of their serious depredations. It is hoped that his inconsiderate example will be no inducement to any one to follow the idle and heartless pursuit of bird's-nesting. -No one can more truly regret than the author now does the pains to which his heedless and silly curiosity, or something worse, subjected them.

Should, therefore, any fact relative to the birds of this country be stated in the following pages, which may not seem in accordance with what is stated in books, or even with the experience of the accurate observer of nature— the Natural Historian, it is hoped that it will not be forgotten, that many facts may be observed in one place which might not occur in another. Even the nidification of birds,

[blocks in formation]

although in general pretty uniform, undergoes, occasionally some modification in consequence of the ease or difficulty with which certain materials can be obtained. We must not, therefore, be in haste to condemn what we have not ourselves witnessed. In the Natural History of Birds, even of those with which we are most familiar, we are still greatly deficient; there can be no doubt that more extended observation will add very materially to our knowledge of this truly delightful department of nature.


The author takes the present opportunity of returning his sincere and best thanks to those kind and intelligent FRIENDS and CORRESPONDENTS who have so promptly and liberally communicated to him many facts concerning the Natural History of Birds which were not previously known; and also for their hints and suggestions for the improvement of his work. Some of these gentlemen are specifically mentioned in the Introduction or the Notes; but he deems it incumbent upon him to state that he is indebted for valuable information to Dr. LATHAM, to whose interesting and voluminous work on Birds he is also under considerable obligation; to N. A. VIGORS, ESQ. M.A. F.L.S. &c. the learned Secretary of the Zoological Society, and the ingenious expounder of the Quinary Arrangement; to Dr. HORSFIELD, the author of Zoological Researches; to the POET LAUREATE; to RICHARD TAYLOR, Esq. F.L.S.; to the Rev. W. L. BOWLES; the Rev. W. PHELPS; to J. G. CHILDREN, Esq. F.L.S. &c. and Secretary to the Royal Society; to W. YARREL, Esq. F.L.S. whose collection of English Birds, and their eggs, as well as many anatomical preparations of Birds, evince, at once, his zeal and his extensive knowledge of this interesting science; and to R. SWEET, Esq. F.L.S. for whose valuable communication on

the singing of some of the warbler tribe in the Introduction, the author is also particularly indebted and obliged. Nor must he omit the name of Mr. DAVID DON, the ingenious librarian of the Linnean Society, who has, on numerous occasions, most kindly assisted the author in his ornithological researches.

While the author regrets that so long a time has elapsed since the first announcement of his work, the delay has been, from the state of trade, unavoidable,— yet the delay itself has been of infinite advantage to the completion of the volume. The substance of all the Lectures on Ornithology which the author gave during the last summer, at the City of London Institution, is incorporated in this work.

The student, in consulting the following pages, ought most carefully to attend to what is stuted in the Introduction. The INDEX, as it includes most of the provincial names of Birds, will considerably assist those who are not acquainted with the scientific terms. As the names of many Birds are mentioned in the Poem which have no notes of reference annexed, when information is wanted concerning them, recourse should be had to the Index.

It may seem almost superfluous to add that, as the author is desirous of rendering his work as interesting and complete as possible, a notice of any errors, or of any striking and recently observed facts concerning BIRDS, will be most thankfully received, if addressed to the author, at the publishers', free of expence, and with an authenticated signature.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »