Page images

Nederländische Vögel, by Sepp.

This author had less success as an Ornithologist than as an Entomologist, "his talents being quite unsuited to this department; and his figures have all the stiffness and roughness of badly preserved dried specimens ;" but the work is useful as a fauna of the Netherlands.

Ornithologie; ou Méthode contenant la Division des Oiseaux, en Ordres, &c. 6 vols. 4to. 1760, by Brisson.

Ornithologia, sive Synopsis Methodicum sistens Avium, 2 vols. 8vo. 1762, by Brisson.

The descriptions in these voluminous works are remarkable for exactitude, but the figures, which are uncoloured, are very bad. Brisson was the first Ornithologist since the time of Linnæus who ventured to propose a system of his own, and displayed a singular and unwarrantable hostility towards the illustrious Swede. It seems strange that Naturalists, engaged in studying the works of the Creation, should ever stoop to these paltry bickerings, especially when we consider what a wide field they have for observation.-The system of Brisson had its merits, and, amongst others, that of drawing away many individuals from their blind admiration of the Systema Natura. The chief fault in the scientific part of Brisson's works is, that he sometimes gives only one Latin name to a bird, and sometimes three or more, thus departing from Linnæus's admirable principle of invariably giving a generic and specific appellation to each species. Several new birds were described in the above-mentioned works, which are still useful to the Ornithologist.

British Zoology, by Thomas Pennant, folio, 1766.

The system used in this work is mostly the Linnæan, and the descriptions of habits and manners are tolerably full, and interesting. Many editions of this work have appeared; that of 1812, with woodcuts, is best known. The British Zoology, although exceedingly useful at the time of its publication, is now by no means indispensable to the student of British Ornithology. Many works have since appeared, with infinitely more detail of the habits and manners of British birds, besides having the advantage of a better system, and good coloured plates.

Genera of Birds, 4to. 1781, by T. Pennant.

This compilation scarcely requires a notice, Pennant's genera being those of Willughby.

Arctic Zoology, by T. Pennant, 3 vols., 4to. 1792.

These volumes contain much interesting detail on every department of Natural History, in the widest acceptation of the term. The work is useful as an Arctic Fauna, and contains good figures. Pennant also published Indian Zoology, in one quarto volume (1792,) but this we have not seen.

Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux, par G. L. Buffon. 1770. Paris.

For eloquence and elegance of style, Buffon stands unrivalled amongst the Naturalists of his country, but the matter can seldom be depended

upon, and the figures are very bad. He was more bent on forming wild and absurd theories of his own--to which his countrymen generally are much addicted—than on collecting "facts, fresh from the fields." Thus his histories degenerate into mere interesting tales, which, though amusing to the general reader, can be of little use to the philosophic Naturalist; and hence the Histoire Naturelle cannot with safety be perused by the young Ornithologist, until he has attained a certain proficiency in the science, and learnt to judge for himself. The Crossbill (Crucirostra, Meyer,) Buffon considers a Lusus Naturæ, and supposes the Woodpeckers (Piciane, Swains.) to be the most unhappy of the feathered race; without reflecting that every living creature is perfectly adapted to its peculiar mode of life, and that were any part of its organization changed, it must inevitably perish. The only way in which the works of this author can be said to have advanced the interests of science is, that it increased the number of field Naturalists in about the same ratio that the Systema Naturæ did the cabinet class. The Histoire Naturelle may be had in every language and every shape.

General Synopsis of Birds, by John Latham, M.D. London, 1782, 3 vols., and two supplements, 4to.

Latham's Synopsis is well known in every part of the world where Natural History is studied, and was undoubtedly the most useful and valuable ornithological work that had as yet appeared, as it contained exact scientific descriptions and figures of every bird then known. The Synopsis certainly contains many errors, but the work was, and still is, indispensable to the Ornithologist. Dr. Latham's

primary divisions differ from those of Linnæus, and he introduced fourteen new genera.

Index Ornithologicus, by J. Latham, M.D. London. 1790. 2 vols. 4to.

This is a list of all the birds then known, and is a useful work for reference.

General History of Birds; by J. Latham, M.D. Winchester. 1821-4. 10 vols. 4to. 21 gs.

[ocr errors]

If in the General History of Birds, the author had used a more modern classification, instead of adhering to that of Linnæus, this work would unquestionably be the most complete and useful in existence, which is now by no means the case.The General History is merely an enlargement of the Synopsis. Consequently, those who possess the latter are under no necessity of giving twentyone guineas for the former. We think it may with safety be affirmed that no scientific works on Natural History, except those of Linnæus and Cuvier, ever obtained so much celebrity as those of our venerable countryman Dr. Latham, now (1835) in his ninety-fifth year.

Avium rariorum et minus cognitarum Icones et Descriptiones. 1786; by B. Merrem. Leipsic.

This work we have not seen, but it is probably of little or no value at the present day.

Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne ; by the Rev. Gilbert White. 1788.

This work is well known to every one for the delightful details it contains of the habits and manners of British birds. It is interspersed occasionally with notices of other animals, but the amiable author appears to have paid most attention to the feathered tribes, and we think the volume might almost be termed "Sketches of the Ornithology of Selborne." The Natural History of Selborne has passed through a great many editions, but Rennie's is the best. This edition (8vo. 1833) contains notes by Herbert, Sweet, Rennie, and Mitford, and should be in the hands of every one-the general reader no less than the professed Naturalist. All scientific detail is here avoided, and indeed White probably knew very few of the Linnæan names, as we frequently meet with such appellations as "Passer arundinaceus," "Regulus non cristatus," &c. The work consists of a series of letters addressed to Pennant and Daines Barrington.

Naturalist's Miscellany; by George Shaw, M.D. 1789, 8vo.

Zoology of New Holland; by G. Shaw, M.D. 1794. Several 8vo. Nos.

Zoological Lectures; by G. Shaw, M.D.

Both letterpress and figures in these works are almost entirely purloined from other authors, and are wholly devoid of merit.

General Zoology; or Systematic Natural History, by George Shaw, M.D., F.R.S. 14 vols. 8vo. 1800-1826; continued by Mr. Stephens.

Vols. seven to fourteen inclusive are devoted to Ornithology, and all except vols. seven and eight

« PreviousContinue »