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A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural History by William Swainson

By William Swainson

William Swainson F. R. S., used to be regarded mostly as a zoologist, an ornithologist and a talented and prolific illustrator. He additionally had an immense enthusiasm for looking and picking new species. during this 1834 quantity despite the fact that, Swainson addressed the character of, foundations for and profitable pursuit of zoology. It argues firmly for the most important significance of taxonomy. Swainson was once an ardent recommend of MacLeay's now totally superseded 'quinary' procedure of category - even then a tremendously minority view. This sought affinities, styles and analogies between organisms, so that it will figure God's order. greater than a trifling interest, such paintings was once of pivotal obstacle to enterprising naturalists of the 1820s and 1830s - together with the younger Charles Darwin. It additionally reached Robert Chambers, whose 1844 Vestiges of the ordinary historical past of construction used to be an immense landmark within the improvement of the speculation of evolution.

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Hence it led the vivid and excursive fancy of BufFon into wild and fanciful theories, positive assertions, and palpable blunders. And these errors, although clothed with all the charms of eloquence, faded away—like the mists of a summer morn—before the rays of truth. That the writings of this celebrated man promoted, indirectly, the extension and the advancement of na< RISE AND PROGRESS OF ZOOLOGY. 45 tural history, is beyond all doubt; but it may safely be affirmed, that its science, or its philosophy, derived little or no direct benefit from his splendid compositions.

It is worth remarking that in this extinct museum was the leg of a Dodo (mentioned at p. ): can this be the one now in the British Museum? or was it the companion? Grew's catalogue is a poor performance, although interesting to show how greatly natural history was at one time cultivated by the Royal Society. About this time, indeed, museums and collections were formed with much assiduity: the two most remarkable were those of Pettiver, a most zealous and indefatigable collector in all departments of nature; and whose museum was considered so valuable by his great but friendly rival, Sir Hans Sloane, that the latter eventually purchased it for the sum of 4000/.

Or, The Characters of Insects, according to Linnc. Zurich, 1761. 1 vol. 4to. ) Abgekiirzte geschichte der Insecten, &c. ; or, The abridged History of Insects, according to Linne. Winterthur, 1770. -2 vols. 4to. RISE AND PROGRESS OF ZOOLOGY. 47 Europe. No better evidence of these facts can be adduced than the rapid increase of new works in this department towards the middle of the last century. * This publication came out in numbers, and perfect sets are now exceedingly rare: those portions we possess relate exclusively to the Lepidoptera, each species being delineated, in all its several transformations, from the egg to the perfect insect: the drawing of the subjects is chaste; elegant, and cannot be excelled for accuracy; while the style of engraving is admirably suited to express all the softness of the original drawings.

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