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Prefaces and Criticism.
There are many creatures, described by those nato
ralists of antiquity, which are so imperfectly chaTO DR. BROOKES'S NEW AND ACCURATE SYSTEM OF racterized, that it is impossible to tell to what ani.
mal now subsisting we can refer the description. NATURAL HISTORY.
This is an unpardonable neglect, and alone suffi(Published in 1753.]
cient to depreciate their merits; but their creduli
ty, and the mutilations they have suffered by time, Of all the studies which have employed the in- have rendered them still less useful, and justify dustrious or amused the idle, perhaps natural his- each subsequent attempt to improve what they tory deserves the preference: other sciences gene- have left behind. The most laborious, as well as rally terminate in doubt, or rest in bare specula- the most voluminous naturalist among the mo tion; but here every step is marked with certainty ; derns, is Aldrovandus. He was furnished with and, while à description of the objects around us every requisite for making an extensive body of teaches to supply our wants, it satisfies our cu- natural history. He was learned and rich, and riosity.
during the course of a long life, indefatigable and The multitude of nature's productions, how- accurate. But his works are insupportably tedious ever, seems at first to bewilder the inquirer, rather and disgusting, filled with unnecessary quotations than excite his attention; the various wonders of and unimportant digressions. Whatever learning the animal, vegetable, or mineral world, seem to he had he was willing should be known, and unexceed all powers of computation, and the science wearied himself, he supposed his readers could appears barren from its amazing fertility. But a never tire: in short, he appears a useful assistant nearer acquaintance with this study, by giving to those who would compile a body of natural hismethod to our researches, points out a similitude tory, but is utterly unsuited to such as only wish in many objects which at first appeared different; to read it with profit and delight. the mind by degrees rises to consider the things Gesner and Jonston, willing to abridge the fobefore it in general lights, till at length it finds na luminous productions of Aldrovandus, have atture, in almost every instance, acting with her tempted to reduce natural history into method, but usual simplicity.
their efforts have been so incomplete as scarcely to Among the number of philosophers who, un- deserve mentioning. Their attempts were imprordaunted by their supposed variety, have attempted ed upon, some time after, by Mr. Ray, whose me to give a description of the productions of nature, thod we have adopted in the history of quadrupeds, Aristotle deserves the first place. This great phi- birds, and fishes, which is to follow. No systemalosopher, was furnished, by his pupil Alexander, tical writer has been more happy than he in reducwith all that the then known world could produce ing natural history into a form, at once the shortest, to complete his design. By such parts of his work yet most comprehensive. as have escaped the wreck of time, it appears, that The subsequent attempts of Mr. Klein and Linhe understood nature more clearly, and in a more næus, it is true, have had their admirers, but
, as comprehensive manner, than even the present all methods of classing the productions of nature age, enlightened as it is with so many later dis- are calculated merely to ease the memory and encoveries, can boast. His design appears vast, and lighten the mind, that writer who answers such his knowledge extensive; he only considers things ends with brevity and perspicuity, is most worthy in general lights
, and leaves every subject when it of regard. And, in this respect, Mr. Ray undoubtbecomes tuo minute or remote to be useful. In his edly remains still without a rival: he was sensible History of Animals, he first describes man, and that no accurate idea could be formed from a mere makes him a standard with which to compare the distribution of animals in particular classes; he deviations in every more imperfect kind that is to has therefore ranged them according to their most follow. But if he has excelled in the history of obvious qualities;
and, content with brevity in bio each, he, together with Pliny and Theophrastus, distribution, has employed accuracy only in the has failed in the exactness of their descriptions particular description of every animal. This in
tentional inaccuracy only in the general system of some measure satisfied. Such of them as have Ray, Klein and Linnæus have undertaken to been more generally admired, have been longest inamend; and thus by multiplying divisions, instead sisted upon, and particularly caterpillars and butof impressing the mind with distinct ideas, they tertlies, relative to which, perhaps, there is the only serve to confound it, making the language of largest catalogue that has ever appeared in the the science more difficult than even the science it- English language. self.
Mr. Edwards and Mr. Buffon, one in the HisAll order whatsoever is to be used for the sake tory of Birds, the other of Quadrupeds, have unof brevity and perspicuity; we have therefore fol- doubtedly deserved highly of the public, as far as lowed that of Mr. Ray in preference to the rest, their labours have extended; but as they have
whose method of classing animals, though not so hitherto cultivated but a small part in the wide field | accurate, perhaps, is yet more obvious, and being of natural history, a comprehensive system in this
shorter, is more easily remembered. In his life- most pleasing science has been hitherto wanting. time he published his “Synopsis Methodica Quad- Nor is it a little surprising, when every other rupelum et Serpentini Generis," and, after his branch of literature has been of late cultivated with death, there came out a posthumous work under the so much success among us, how this most interestcare of Dr. Derham, which, as the title-page in- ing department should have been neglected. It forins us, was revised and perfected before his has been long obvious that Aristotle was incomdeath. Both the one and the other have their plete, and Pliny credulous, Aldrovandus too prolix, merits; but as he wrote currente calamo, for sub- and Linnæus too short, to afford the proper entersistence, they are consequently replete with errors, tainment; yet we have had no attempts to supply and though his manner of treating natural history their defects, or to give a history of nature at once be preferable to that of all others, yet there was complete and concise, calculated at once to please still room for a new work, that might at once retain and improve. his excellencies, and supply his deficiencies. How far the author of the present performance
As to the natural history of insects, it has not has obviated the wants of the public in these rebeen so long or so greatly cultivated as other parts spects
, is left to the world to determine; this much, of this science. Our own countryman Moufett is however, he may without vanity assert, that wheththe first of any note that I have met with who has er the system here presented be approved or not, treated this subject with success. However, it he has left the science in a better state than he was not till lately that it was reduced to a regular found it. He has consulted every author whom he system, which might be, in a great measure, owing imagined might give him new and authentic inforto the seeming insignificancy of the animals them- mation, and painfully searched through heaps of selves, even though they were always looked upon lumber to detect falsehood; so that many parts of as of great use in medicine ; and upon that account the following work have exhausted much labour in only have been taken notice of by many medical the execution, though they may discover little to writers. Thus Dioscorides has treated of their the superficial observer. nze in physic; and it must be owned, some of them Nor have I neglected any opportunity that offerhave been well worth observation on this account. ed of conversing upon these subjects with travelThere were not wanting also those who long since lers, upon whose judgments and veracity I could had thoughts of reducing this kind of knowledge rely. Thus comparing accurate narrations with to a regular form, among whom was Mr. Ray, what has been already written, and following who was discouraged by the difficulty attending it : either, as the circumstances or credibility of the this study has been pursued of late, however, with witness led me to believe. But I have had one diligence and success. Reaumur and Swammer- advantage over almost all former naturalists, namedam have principally distinguished themselves on ly, that of having visited a variety of countries mythis account ; and their respective treatises plainly self
, and examined the productions of each upon show, that they did not spend their labour in vain. the spot. Whatever America or the known parts Since their time, several authors have published of Africa have produced to excite curiosity, has their systems, among whom is Linnæus, whose been carefully observed by me, and compared with method being generally esteemed, I have thought the accounts of others. By this I have made some proper to adopt. He has classed them in a very improvements that will appear in their place, and regular manner, though he says but little of the have been less liable to be imposed upon by the insects themselves. However, I have endeavoured hearsay relations of credulity. to supply that defect from other parts of his works, A complete, cheap, and commodious body of and from other authors who have written upon natural history being wanted in our language, it this subject; by which means, it is hoped, the curi- was these advantages which prompted me to this osity of such as delight in these studies will be in undertaking. Such, therefore, as choose to range
TO A NEW
in the delightful fields of nature, will, I flatter my. self, here find a proper guide ; and those who have
INTRODUCTION a design to furnish a cabinet, will find copious instructions. With one of these volumes in his hand, a spectator may go through the largest mu- HISTORY OF THE WORLD. seum, the British not excepted, see nature through all her varieties, and compare her usual operations Intended to have been published in twelve volumes, octavo,
by J. Newberry, 1764.] with those wanton productions in which she seems. to sport with human sagacity. I have been sparing, however, in the description of the deviations
TO THE PUBLIC. from the usual course of production; first, because such are almost infinite, and the natural historian, EXPERIENCE every day convinces us, that no who should spend his time in describing deformed part of learning affords so much wisdom upon such nature, would be as absurd as the statuary, who easy terms as history. Our advances in most other should fix upon a deformed man from whom to studies are slow and disgusting, acquired with eftake his model of perfection.
, and retained with difficulty; but in a wellBut I would not raise expectations in the reader written history, every step we proceed only serves which it may not be in my power to satisfy: he to increase our ardour : we profit by the experience who takes up a book of science must not expect to of others, without sharing their toils or misfortunes; acquire knowledge at the same easy rate that a and in this part of knowledge, in a more particular reader of romance does entertainment; on the con- manner, study is but relaxation. trary, all sciences, and natural history among the Of all histories, however, that which is not conrest, have a language and a manner of treatment fined to any particular reign or country, but which peculiar to themselves; and he who attempts to extends to the transactions of all mankind, is the dress them in borrowed or foreign ornaments, is most useful and entertaining. As in geography every whit as uselessly employed as the German we can have no just idea of the situation of one apothecary we are told of, who turned the whole country, without knowing that of others; so in hisdispensatory into verse. It will be sufficient for tory it is in some measure necessary to be acme, if the following system is found as pleasing as quainted with the whole thoroughly to comprehend the nature of the subject will bear, neither obscured a part. A knowledge of universal history is tbersby an unnecessary ostentation of science, nor fore highly useful, nor is it less entertaining. Tå. lengthened out by an affected eagerness after need-citus complains, that the transactions of a few less embellishment.
reigns could not afford him a sufficient stock of maThe description of every object will be found as terials to please or interest the reader; but here that clear and concise as possible, the design not being objection is entirely removed; a History of the to amuse the ear with well-turned periods, or the World presents the most striking events, with the imagination with borrowed ornaments, but to im- greatest variety. press the mind with the simplest views of nature. These are a part of the many advantages which To answer this end more distinctly, a picture of universal history has over all others, and which such animals is given as we are least acquainted have encouraged so many writers to attempt comwith. All that is intended by this is, only to guide piling works of this kind among the ancients, as the inquirer with more certainty to the object itself, well as the moderns. Each invited by the manifest as it is to be found in nature. I never would ad- utility of the design, yet many of them failing vise a student to apply to any science, either anato-through the great and unforeseen difficulties of the my, physic, or natural history, by looking on pic-undertaking; the barrenness of events in the early tures only; they may serve to direct him more periods of history, and their fertility in modern readily to the objects intended, but he must by no times
, equally serving to increase their embarrass means suppose himself possessed of adequate and ments. In recounting the transactions of remote distinct ideas, till he has viewed the things them- antiquity, there is such a defect of materials, that selves, and not their representations.
the willingness of mankind to supply the chasm bas Copper-plates, therefore, moderately well done, given birth to falsehood, and invited conjecture. answer the learner's purpose every whit as well as The farther we look back into those distant pe those which can not be purchased but at a vast ex- riods, all the objects seem to become more obscure, pense; they serve to guide is to the archetypes in or are totally lost, by a sort of perspective diminunature, and this is all that the finest picture should tion. In this case, therefore, when the eye of truth be permitted to do, for nature herself ought al- could no longer discern clearly, fancy undertook to ways to be examined by the learner before he has form the picture; and fables were insented where done.
truths were wanting. For this reason, we have
declined enlarging on such disquisitions, not for sabridgment, the judicious are left to determine. it' of materials
, which offered themselves at We here offer the public a History of mankind, every step of our progress, but because we thought from the earliest accounts of time to the present them not worth discussing. Neither have we en- age, in twelve volumes, which, upon mature decumbered the beginning of our work with the va- liberation, appeared to us the proper mean. It has rious opinions of the heathen philosophers con- been our endeavour to give every fact its full scope; cerning the creation, which may be found in most but, at the same time, to retrench all disgusting of our systems of theology, and belong more pro- superfluity, to give every object the due proportion perly to the divine than the historian. Sensible it ought to maintain in the general picture of manhow liable we are to redundancy in this first part kind, without crowding the canvass. We hope, of our design, it has been our endeavour to unfold therefore, that the reader will bere see the revoluancient history with all possible conciseness; and, tions of empires without confusion, and trace arts solicitous to improve the reader's stuck of know- and laws from one kingdom to another, without ledge, we have been indifferent aş to the display losing his interest in the narrative of their other of our own. We have not stopped to discuss or transactions. To attain these ends with greater confute all the absurd conjectures men of specula- certainty of success, we have taken care, in some tion have thrown in our way. We at first had even measure, to banish that late, and we may add determined not to deform the page of truth with Gothic, practice, of using a multiplicity of notes ; the names of those, whose labours had only been a thing as much unknown to the ancient histocalculated to encumber it with fiction and vain rians, as it is disgusting in the moderns. Balzac speculation. However, we have thought proper, somewhere calls vain erudition the baggage of anupon second thoughts, slightly to mention them tiquity; might we in turn be permitted to make an and their opinions, quoting the author at the bot-apophthegm, we would call notes the baggage of a tor of the page, so that the reader, who is curious bad writer. It certainly argues a defect of method, about such particularities, may know where to have or a want of perspicuity, when an author is thus recourse for fuller information.
obliged to write notes upon his own works; and it As, in the early part of history, a want of real may assuredly be said, that whoever undertakes to facts hath induced many to spin out the little that write a comment upon himself, will for ever remain was known with conjecture, so in the modern part, without a rival his own commentator. We have, the superfluity of trifling anecdotes was equally apt therefore, lopped off such excrescences, though not to introduce confusion. In one case, history has to any degree of affectation; as sometimes an acbeen rendered tedious, from our want of knowing knowledged blemish may be admitted into works the truth; in the other, from knowing too much of of skill, either to cover a greater defect, or to tako truth not worth our notice. Every year that is a nearer course to beauty. Having mentioned the added to the age of the world, serves to lengthen danger of affectation, it may be proper to observe, the thread of its history; so that, to give this branch that as this, of all defects, is most apt to insinuate of learning a just length in the circle of human itself into such a work, we have, therefore, been pursuits, it is necessary to abridge several of the upon our guard against it. Innovation, in a perleast important facts. It is true, we often at pre- formance of this nature, should by no means be atsent see the annals of a single reign, or even the tempted: those names and spellings which have transactions of a single year, occupying folios : but been used in our language for time immemorial, can the writers of such tedious journals ever hope ought to continue unaltered; for, like states, they to reach posterity, or do they think that our de- acquire a sort of jus diuturna possessionis
, as the scendants, whose attention wis naturally be turned civilians express it, however unjust their original to their own concerns, can exhaust so much time claims might have been. in the examination of ours? A plan of general his- With respect to chronology and geography, the tory, rendered too extensive, deters us from a study one of which fixes actions to time, while the other that is perhaps, of all others, the most useful, by assigns them to place, we have followed the most rendering it too laborious; and, instead of alluring approved methods among the moderns. All that our curiosity, excites our despair. Writers are un- was requisite in this, was to preserve one system pardonable who convert our amusement into la- of each invariably, and permit such as chose to bour, and divest knowledge of one of its most adopt the plans of others to rectify our deviations pleasing allurements. The ancients have repre- to their own standard. If actions and things are sented history under the figure of a woman, easy, made to preserve their due distances of time and graceful
, and inviting: but we have seen her in our place mutually with respect to each other, it matters days converted, like the virgin of Nabis, into an little as to the duration of them all with respect to instrument of torture.
eternity, or their situation with regard to the uniHow far we have retrenched these excesses, and verse. steered between the opposites of exuberance and Thus much we have thought proper to premise