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THE LEARNED, POETIC, SCIENTIFIC,
BY THEIR FOSTERING ENCOURAGEMENT, During a period of unexampled Commercial Difficulty, it has been published.
THE MARQUIS OF. LANSDOWNE;
THE COUNTESS OF MAYO;.
Adlard, Messrs. J. and C. Bar-
SIR WILLIAM JARDINE, Bart. F.L.S. &c.
Burrows, W. esq. Islington.
Coope, Miss, Hackney.
Cullen, Mr., Canterbury, (2
Dickinson, William, esq. M.P.
ALTHOUGH the science of ORNITHOLOGY has already many votaries, it is presumed that it can be rendered more generally interesting by a combination with POETRY, an attempt at which is here made; with what success must be left to the public to determine.
Having made the attempt, the author will not, of course, be understood as agreeing with the sentiment expressed by an ancient writer, namely, that
Miranda canunt sed non credenda Poeta.
CATO. For, although, doubtless, one of the objects of the POET ought to be to excite attention, and, if you please, with our ancient, admiration, yet poor indeed must that poetry be which excites admiration and nothing else. Perhaps the author's notions concerning poetry might not be in exact accordance with the opinions of those who affect to be, or who are considered, the arbitri elegantiarum, but he nevertheless thinks that the Poetry, however admirable, however splendid, which neither instructs, reforms, nor persuades, is good for little; hence the non credenda, in the passage above quoted, is not admissible as a general truism. He thinks, indeed, that POETRY ought, if possible, always to be made subservient to TRUTH-its handmaid; not, as is too frequently the case,-TRUTH made subservient
to POETRY, and, too often, her distorted slave. And he feels assured that POETRY, as the handmaid of TRUTH, may become, as it sometimes has been, eminently beneficial and useful to mankind.
The author desires it, however, to be distinctly understood, that the higher order of poetry in the following work has neither been his object nor his aim. The style and versification of the splendid effort of DARWIN, the BOTANIC GARDEN, have not escaped his observation; but, notwithstanding, that poem has had, and, no doubt, always will have, many admirers, because it contains some striking imagery combined with TRUTH and SCIENCE; yet it appears, and the coldness of its general reception warrants the conclusion, that so much elegant labour, so much pomp of diction, have failed to render it popular; and a work on such a subject ought to be popular to be extensively useful. The style, versification, and diction of DARWIN, have been, therefore, in the present work, studiously avoided. Whether the author have succeeded in more simple measures, and in a more familiar style, is not, of course, for him to answer; but, it must be evident, that the method of treating a scientific subject, which is here adopted, promises, at least, more popularity.
While the author has endeavoured to be simple, he has, he hopes, avoided vulgarity. Aware of the truth which HORACE has long ago told us, that,
Difficile est proprie communia dicere,—
it is difficult to express common things well; still the difficulty has not deterred him from the attempt. He has, contrary to the example of DARWIN, introduced few scientific terms into the poetry; these have been consigned to the INTRODUCTION and to the NOTES, where they appear
to the author most appropriate. For this course, one reason, among others, may be assigned, namely, that our scientific naturalists, as will be seen in the INTRODUCTION, have not yet exactly agreed as to the ARRANGEMENT and TERMS which are most suitable to the science; and, therefore, were the Linnean or any other systematic arrangement and terms adopted in the text, as, very possibly, some future naturalist may strike out or discover another method more consonant with nature, which might become more popular, the poem, thus written, would be rendered comparatively useless. By using the common names this is not very likely to occur: for the author is not so sanguine as to expect that the common names of birds will be ultimately and entirely superseded by scientific ones; at least by such scientific ones as are now in use: the latinity and novelty of these, if nothing else, presenting to the uninitiated a disinclination, nay, a repugnance, to their introduction.
The classical ear will, it is presumed, be always more pleased with Picus martius, than with Great Black Backed Woodpecker; with Tringa pugnax, than with Ruff and Reeve; with Larus canus, than with Common Gull, or even Sea-mew;* and Picus erythrocephalus, no very musical expression, will be preferred by many to the Red-headed Woodpecker; yet it is to be feared that learning will never succeed in rendering such terms popular. The best method of making them so will be to anglicize them; then, indeed, the Luscinian Sylvia, or Sylviad, instead of Nightingale, and Canorous Cuculid, for the Cuckoo, may occasionally find
Yet who would wish in that beautiful song of Lord Byron's, (Childe Harold, Canto I.) to see sea-mew exchanged for Larus canus? In truth, classical names may be dignified, but they generally want the charm of simplicity.