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THE following pages have been written in the hope of clearing up several disputed points in Ornithology, and setting others on a surer foundation. reviews, it is to be hoped, will be found useful, and the chapter on the song of birds, as far as I am aware, sets the subject in a new point of view. But still, other authors may have treated it in a similar way for aught I know; only I am not aware of it. If I have erred in any particular, I shall be most happy to be righted.
Si quid novisti rectius istis, Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum."
That some such catalogue as that affixed to this little volume has long been wanted, is evident on entering any museum whether public or private : the objects being generally without any label at all, or otherwise having an inscription illegible or errone
And thus the visitor, unless he comes merely for beautiful colors and elegant forms, loses half the pleasure which an attentive examination of one of these collections is calculated to afford.
marks on this subject relating to the British Museum I refer the reader to a very sensible article in Part 169 of the MIRROR, (vol. xxvi. p. 69,) where the subject is taken up in the proper spirit. Much of the value of DR. HORSFIELD's collection is also lost through a similar neglect. The museum in Bruton Street is worse still. On looking for information concerning the birds, our eyes are perpetually greeted with a label to the following effect, "Presented by N. A. VIGORS, Esq." The student must certainly be very much edified by this piece of intelligence repeated many dozen times; and his scientific knowledge cannot fail to be greatly augmented thereby! Why not write this piece of information over the cabinet (if they please, in the largest characters they can invent,) and then label each bird with its vernacular and latin name, giving at the same time one or two of its most striking habits? The value of the gift would thus be tenfold greater than at present.
MR. WEAVER, the spirited proprietor of the Birmingham Museum, numbers each of the specimens, so that, on referring to the printed catalogue, the name of any bird may be found. This is certainly an improvement; but I think it would be preferable to label the birds at once. For many do not possess themselves of the catalogue, and those who do, frequently omit searching out the name of a bird, which, had it been before them, might have been indelibly impressed on their memory.
The catalogue now presented to the world will
enable the proprietors of Museums to remedy these defects, and another also-incorrect nomenclature. This subject has been fully discussed in the following pages, and those who take an interest in the subject will be gratified by an article thereon in No. 12, of the ANALYST.
I have thought that the utility of our public museums would be greatly increased if books treating of the different departments were placed within the reach of all. On Ornithology I should recommend SELBY's British Ornithology, and MUDIE'S Feathered Tribes-the two best works which have yet appeared on the subject.
In fine, I sincerely hope and trust that this little volume will meet with indulgence, and be treated with that fairness with which I have endeavoured to judge the works herein reviewed. I may now mention that this is merely the forerunner of a more extensive undertaking in preparation, and I shall be most happy to receive any communication on Ornithology, or Natural History in general, directed, for C. T. W., care of Neville Wood, Foston Hall, Derby. Such communications will be gratefully received and duly acknowledged.
September 24, 1835.
C. T. WOOD.