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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
SIR JOSEPH BANKS, K. B. &c. &c.
WHOSE GENEROUS PATRONAGE OF SCIENCE
EVEN TO THE OBSCURE LABOURS OF THE AUTHOR,
AS AN HUMBLE TRIBUTE OF ADMIRATION,
IS MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
BY HIS OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVANT,
MR Low's merits, as a laborious and accurate observer of Nature, were, it is believed, scarcely known beyond the narrow circle of his particular friends; and it is to be regretted, that a recent historian has not scrupled to avail himself of the advantages which this obscurity offered to a plagiary. It having been the Editor's fortune to procure the MS. Fauna Orcadensis of Mr Low, he now begs leave to lay it before the public, in the form in which it was left by its Reverend Author. It appears to have been revised by the late Mr PENNANT, as it contains a few corrections in that gentleman's handwriting. The Editor trusts that it will be found to afford an interesting and valuable addition to the Natural History of the British Islands, and prove far more useful than the closet compilations of some modern zoologists.
Ir may not be uninteresting to relate the few facts which the Editor has been enabled to collect †, respecting the author of the following pages. Mr Low was born, in 1746, in the parish of Edzel, in Forfarshire. After prosecuting his studies at the Colleges of Aberdeen and St Andrew's, he became tutor in the family of a gentleman of the name of GRAHAM, at Stromness, in Orkney. While he remained at this place, Sir JOSEPH (then Mr) BANKS and Dr SOLANDER touched at the islands, on their return from the last and ill-fated voyage of discovery, in which Captain Cooke fell. Mr Low having early acquired a taste for Natural History, was much noticed by these distinguished philosophers, and was requested to accompany them in their excursions through the Orkneys, and also to the Shetland Islands, which he did.
On the 14th of December 1774, Mr Low was ordained minister of Birsay and Haray, a parish in Pomona, or the Mainland of Orkney. The duties of this charge he continued to fulfil throughout the remainder of his life.
The Rev. George Barry, D. D. in his History of Orkney, 4to. 1805.
+ For these particulars the Editor is indebted to Patrick Neill, Esq. author of a Tour in Orkney and Shetland, whose ardour in the pursuits of science is too well known to require any praise in this place, and to Mr Hugh Moare at Birsay, an intimate friend of Mr Low's.