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time after by Mr. Ray, whose method we have adopted in the History of Quadrupeds, Birds, and Fishes, which is to follow. No systematical writer has been more happy than he in reducing Natural History into a form, at once the shortest yet most comprehensive. The subsequent attempts of Mr. Klein and Linnaeus. it is true, have had their admirers, but as all methods of classing the productions of Nature are calculated merely to ease the memory and enlighten the mind, that writer who answers such ends with brevity and perspicuity is most worthy of regard. And in this respect Mr. Ray undoubtedly remains still without a rival; he was sensible that no accurate idea could be formed from a mere distribution of animals in particular classes; he has therefore ranged them according to their most obvious qualities; and content with brevity in his distribution, has employed accuracy only in the particular description of every animal. This intentional inaccuracy only in the general system of Ray, Klein and Linnaeus have undertaken to amend, and thus, by multiplying divisions, instead of impressing the mind with distinct ideas, they only serve to confound it, making the language of the science more difficult than even the science itself. All order whatsoever is to be used for the sake of brevity and perspicuity; we have therefore followed that of Mr. Ray in preference to the rest, whose method of classing animals, though not so accurate, perhaps is yet more obvious, and being shorter, is more easily remembered. In his lifetime he published his Synopsis Methodica Quadrupedum et Serpentini Geheris, and after his death there came out a posthumous work under the care of Dr. Derham, which, asthetitle page informs us, was revised and perfected before his death. Both the one and the other have their me. sits, but as he wrote currente calamo, for subsistence,

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they are consequently replete with errors, and though his manner of treating Natural History be preferable to that of all others, yet there was still room for a new work, that might at once retain his excellencies, and supply his deficiencies. As to the Natural History of Insects, it has not been so long or so greatly cultivated as other parts of this science. Our own countryman Mousettis the first of any note, that I have met with, who has treated this subject with success. However it was not till lately that it was reduced to a regular system, which might be in a great measure owing to the seeming insignific cancy of the animals themselves; even though they were always looked upon as of great use in medicine, and upon that account only have been taken notice of by many medical writers. Thus Dioscorides has treatcd of their use in physic; and it must be owned, some of them have been well worth observation on this account. There were not wanting also those who long since had thoughts of reducing this kind of knowledge to a regular form, among whom was Mr. Ray, who was discouraged by the difficulty attending it; this study has been pursued of late, however, with diligence and success. Reaumur and Swammerdam have principally distinguished themselves on this account; and their respective treatises plainly shew, that they did not spend their labor in vain. Since their time several authors have published their Systems, among whom is Linnaeus, whose method being generally esteemed, I have thought proper to adopt. He has classed them in a very regular manner, though he says but little of the insects themselves. However, I have endeawored to supply that defect from other parts of his works, and from other authors who have written upon this subject; by which means it is hoped, the curiosity of such as delight in these studies, will be in some measure satisfied. Such of them as have been more generally admired, have been longest insisted upon, and particularly Caterpillars and Butterflies, relative to which, perhaps, there is the largest catalogue that has ever appeared in the English language. Mr. Edwards and Mr. Buffon, one in the History of Birds, the other of Quadrupeds, have undoubtedly deserved highly of the public, as far as their labors have extended; but as they have hitherto cultivated but a small partin the wide field of Natural History, a comprehensive system in this most pleasing science has been hitherto wanting. Nor is it a little surprising, when every other branch of literature has been of late cultivated with so much success among us, how this most interesting department should have been neglected. It has been long obvious that Aristotle was incomplete, and Pliny credulous; Aldrovandus too prolix, and Linnaeus too short to afford the proper entertainment : yet we have had no attempts to supply their defects, or to give an history of Nature at once complete and concise, calculated at once to please and improve. How far the author of the present performance has obviated the wants of the public in these respects, is left to the world to determine ; this much, however, he may without vanity assert, that whether the system here presented be approved or not, he has left the science in a better state than he found it. He has consulted every author whom he imagined might give him new and authentic information, and painfully searched through heaps of lumberto detect falsehood; so that many parts of the following work have exhausted much laborin the execution, though they may discover little to the superficial observer. Nor have I neglected any opportunity that offered of conversing upon these subjects with travellers, upon

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whose judgments and veracity I could rely. Thus comparing accurate narrations with what has been already written, and following either, as the circumstances or credibility of the witness led me to believe. But I have had one advantage over almost all former Naturalists, namely, that of having visited a variety of countries myself, and examined the productions of each upon the spot. Whatever America, or the known parts of Africa have produced to excite curiosity, have been carefully observed by me, and compared with the accounts of others. By this I have made some improvements that will appear in their place, and have been less liable to be imposed upon by the hearsay relations of credulity. A complete cheap and commodious body of Natural History being wanted in our language, it was these advantages which prompted me to this undertaking. Such therefore as choose to range in the delightful fields of Nature, will, I flatter myself, here find a proper guide : and those who have a design to furnish a cabinet, will find copious instructions. With one of these volumes in his hand, a spectator may go through the largest Museum, the British not excepted, see Nature through all her varieties, and compare her usual operations with those wanton productions, in which she seems to sport with human sagacity. I have been sparing however in the description of the deviations from the usual course of production, first, because such are almost infinite, and the Natural Historian, who should spend his time in describing deformed Nature, would be as absurd as the Statuary, who should fix upon a deformed man, from whom to take his model of perfection. But I would not raise expectations in the reader which it may not be in my power to satisfy; he who takes up a book of science must not expect to acquire knowledge at the same easy rate that a reader of romance does entertainment; on the contrary, all sci*nces, and Natural History among the rest, have a language and a manner of treatment peculiar to themSelves, and he who attempts to dress them in borrowed or foreign ornaments, is every whit as uselessly employed as the German apothecary we are told of, who turned the whole dispensatory into verse. It will be sufficient for me, if the following system is found as pleasing as the nature of the subject will bear, neither obscured by any unnecessary ostentation of science, hor lengthened out by an affected eagerness after heedless embellishment. The description of every object will be found as clear and concise as possible, the design not being to amuse the ear with well-turned periods, or the imagihation with borrowed ornaments; but to impress the mind with the simplest views of nature. To answer this end more distinctly, a picture of such animals is given as we are least acquainted with. All that is intended by thisis, only to guide the enquirer with more certainty to the object itself, as it is to be found in nature. I never would advise a student to apply to any science, either Anatomy, Physic, or Natural History, by looking on pictures only; they may serve to direct im more readily to the objects intended, but he must by no means suppose himself possessed of adequate and distinct ideas till he has viewed the things themselves and not their representations. Copper-plates, therefore, moderately well done, answer the learner's purpose every whit as well as those which cannot be purchased but at a vast expence; they serve to guide us to the archetypes in Nature, and this is all that the finest picture should be permitted to do, for Nature herself ought always to be examined by the learner before he has done,

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