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The Second Book, entitled Collection and Preservation of Insects, contains nothing worthy of comment; it will be useful to beginners, and thus the author's only object in writing it will be attained.
The Third Book, entitled Physiology or Anatomy of Insects, is the record of the author's own observations : he has given the names employed by other writers, when he could understand to what parts they referred, but in names alone has he availed himself of their labours ; the facts, the descriptions, unless given as quotations, are entirely his own.
The Fourth Book, entitled Classification of Insects, may be charged with being too original : it may be said that the author should have given the views and arrangements of others in preference to his own. He would ask, whose system was he to select ? That his own is the most simple and the most readily understood, no one will deny: that it is more perfect, or more accurate, or more philosophical, than any other, he does not presume to contend. As for a disquisition on system it would have been dangerous ground; pleasurable to the writer, but unprofitable to the reader : it would have doubled the size of the volume without adding a fraction to its value.
The want of an easy introduction to the Natural History of Insects has been felt by many. For the last two years, during which time it has been generally known that he has contemplated the task, the author has received numerous and pressing solicitations to proceed with it: he has at last made the attempt. He has done his best ; whether successfully or not, others must decide.
Postscript, May, 1841. — This little book was observed as a caterpillar in 1835; in 1837 it disappeared and remained concealed as a quiescent and lethargic pupa, until, roused by the genial influence of the
present spring, it has burst its cere-cloths and assumed the ornamented wings of the gay and volatile butterfly. We need scarcely enquire the physical causes combining to induce this prolonged slumber : suffice it to know that the imago is at last on the wing, and perchance ere long may be flitting amid the live oaks of America and the Eucalypti of Australia : it will be sure to flutter about its native home, and many a fair finger will lightly touch its wings, and many a bright eye rest well pleased on its decorations : even the schoolboy will regard it as a thing to be desired, and if obtained will consider it a treasure.
To descend to prose — the first edition appeared in 1835. In 1837 a second edition was announced, from which circumstance it may fairly be concluded that the first was out of print; but notwithstanding this announcement, the second edition was delayed from month to month, until it was abandoned and almost forgotten: at length it was determined to reprint the work in its present illustrated and altered form.
The illustrations are almost entirely original: one is copied from Curtis, one or two from Shuckard and Spry, one or two from Westwood : two of the drawings, those at pages 27 and 96, are by the author's brother; the others by himself, and with the exceptions above specified, invariably from Nature : all the illustrations have been drawn and engraved expressly for this edition. The alterations are in every instance introduced with the view of making the work more easy to the beginner. The author would gladly have added to the number of pages, in fact, he had determined on doing so, he had prepared several most scientific and erudite passages, but
“ The best laid schemes o mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley."
On talking the matter over with his publisher - and what author ever presumed to decide for himself ?
it was deemed advisable to restrict the volume in its dimensions to three hundred pages, and in its character to a simple introduction,-a kind of “reading made easy" to the youthful butterfly-hunter.
The author cannot lay down his pen before he has acknowledged the gratification he feels from the liberal encouragement his literary labours have received : it would be false modesty to pretend blindness to the fact that the humble efforts of his pen and pencil have been unusually successful; and this knowledge raises in his heart a feeling of honest pride and gratitude he would fain express, yet knows not how.
Reader, should the author persuade thee, by a perusal of these pages, to follow in his footsteps, tread the paths which he has trodden, — to gaze with an enquiring and delighted eye on those things which he has gazed on,—it is enough. He bids thee, affectionately, farewell!
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAP. VI.-History of the Sexton Beetle,
CHAP. VII.—History of the White Ants, 57. Description of their
hills, 58. Internal structure of the nest, 61. Subterranean
passages, 63. Winding road and bridges, 64. Labourers, Sol-
diers, Kings and Queens, 65. Oviposition of the Queen, 68.
Wild bulls stand on the hills,
CHAP. VIII.-Metamorphosis of Insects, 73. Metamorphosis described,
Amorpha, 76. Necromorpha, Isomorpha, 77. Anisomorpha, - 78