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JOHN LATHAM, M.D.
F.R.S., A.S., L.S., &c.
FOR HIS DISTINGUISHED TALENTS
AS A MARK OF ESTEEM,
IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
BY HIS SINCERE FRIEND
It has long been a complaint among amateur Naturalists, and those who are commencing the study of Natural History, that no account of the works relating to this delightful subject has yet been published. The present volume is, accordingly, intended to supply the desideratum with regard to what may perhaps be considered the most interesting branch of the science, and it will, we hope, and indeed anticipate, prove a useful guide to the Ornithologist in the choice of his books. That it is not so complete as might be wished, especially as regards the less important works of the continental writers, we freely admit, but we think that no British work of importance is omitted.
If we have failed to notice any important works of our continental brethren, we wish it to be clearly understood that such omissions are occasioned by our not having had access to the works, and not by a wilful disregard of their merits.
It may be objected, on the other hand, that we have reviewed several works unworthy of notice, such as the barefaced compilations and “conglomerates” of “ Alphabet Rennie,” and the Ornithologia of Jennings; but we answer that the evil practices of this tribe of “ literary Lestri” should be exposed.
We have given short notices of the beautiful and expensive illustrative monographs of Vieillot, Desmarest, Lesson, and other French Naturalists, as it is only necessary, with regard to these, to state whether the plates are well or ill executed, and whether the descriptions are accurate. But such works as Mudie's Feathered Tribes of the British Islands, Selby's Illustrations of British Ornithology, Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary, and others of this class, require a considerably more minute analysis; and this, accordingly, we have given them. In works of this kind we have frequently given long extracts, which are certainly far better calculated to convey an idea of the spirit of the author than a dry abstract review. We have endeavoured to conduct the whole with perfect impartiality. Whether or not we have succeeded in attaining this desirable object, our readers will be best able to determine.
With regard to the synoptical tables of systems, we have thought it better to give the names of the several groups in French than in English, where the classification was framed by a French Naturalist, and have in many cases added the Latin or scientific terms, in order to point out how well the continental Naturalists have succeeded in giving to each genus a French generic appellation, to which British Naturalists have hitherto paid little or no attention.
In the Supplement we have thrown together some hints for the formation of what would, in our estimation, form a complete work on general Ornithology.
Foston Hall, Derbyshire.
Jan. 1, 1836.