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The work os Rirysch, Prosessor of Anatomy and Botany at Amsterdam is well known. This illustrious author intended chieSy to treat of quadrupeds, of sishes, and birds, foreign and domestic. He has however in the course of Iris general derail given us the description of a sew insects illustrated with sigures. This addition is not the least valuable part , of his work.
The general history of insects which Swarrw merdam published in t669 deserves to six our attention for a moment. This work, which was printed at Utrecht, seems] to have no other fault, but that of being written in a language not generally known. This occasioned its being translated from Dutch intoFrench. The translation was printed in i689,. at the same place in 4to, the size of the original publication. H. Ch. Henninius translated it also into Latin. To render the author's descriptions more intelligible, he added plates representing the four different changes which insects undergo; sirst in their natural size, and then as they appear in the Microscope. This second translation was reprinted at Utrecht in 16931 augmented with a dissertation, in order to shew she analogy of insects, with other animals and with plants. It cannot be denied that Swammerdam h?.$ excelled all those who had gone" over the same course before him. He himself went in pursuit of insects into the woods and sields; he collected their eggs, brought out the young, and fed them with all imaginable care. He was seen observing them from morning to night, and at every moment ment redoubling his attention to them, left their smallest change should escape his curiosity.- An intimate acquaintance with the external conformation of' insects appeared to him a very superficial attainment;' he employed anatomical instruments for the dissection of these minute animals, and penetrated into the very convolutions of their viscera. He employed a painter three times a week, to paint under his eye, the objects that nature presented him with. He likewise preserved in a cabinet all those insects, their external and internal parts, their eggs, their webs and their nests. Such apparatus, so many experiments, such labour and penetration could not fail of producing an excellent work. The public could not reasonably have exacted more from him than this General History, but he did not mean to stop here: death surprised him at a time when he was employed in composing a history of each particular species. Mr Thevenot, his friend, inherited his papers; but the many occupations of this gentleman prevented him from being able to lay them before the public. From him, the manuscript passed into the hands of J. du Verney an able anatomist, who enriched his own cabinet with it. There it lay buried till there could be found a man as zealous for the advancement of Science as the illustrious BoeThaave. He purchased the work, and was ho sooner in possession of it than he hasted to communicate this treasure to the world, and put it to the press in the year 1736. He joined with it the other history of the author: the work is full of excellent figures and he called it Biblia Naturœfive historia Insectorum. The first part contains the geneCm]
ral history of infects with additions and corrections j and the second the history of ea«h of them in particular. We find in this second part the natural history of gnats, of bees, of the maggots in cheese, of moths, of the gad-fly, of the caterpillars thaf lodge within the leaves of the oak, willow, &c ; we find also that of the frog; of the Ephemeræ, insects which are produced and die the fame day; of the flea, and water-scorpion* Besides these, the author has given the anatomy of the Sepia, and that of the louse, and the description of the Lucanus Cervus* or flying stag. There are also four particular treatises; one of them on the infects which grow in the galls of Plants; the other on the feed of the Fern; another shews how the butterfly is formed under the skin of the caterpillar \ and a fourth on the sea animal called Physalus. The whole work is full of curious observations which besides entertainment furnish much information.
The learned have likewise profited greatly by the treatise of the celebrated Valisnieri. His book contains a great number of curious and interesting observations.
Such are the assistances afforded us m the study of insects. They are no doubt considerable, and guided by the works of the learned men I have just named, we cannot fail of making very great progress, I cannot however but regret the loss of the Works which a great King composed on the natural history of plants and animals. What light would tjney not'
I n 3 ,
throw on the subject I am treating of, considered as the productions of a Prince,' who was wiser than
* all men, and who spake of trees, from the Cedar f tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hysop that
* springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts ? and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.'
But why deplore a loss which Heaven has thought fit we should sustain? Let us pus an end to our regrets, and repair that loss by a continual study of -the works of those great men whom I have just named.
But we must not confine ourselves even to this. However numerous the observations of these celebrated Naturalists may be, they are far from having exhausted the subject: they have left to posterity a large field for discovery, Those Insects that are best known are not perfectly known: the more one studies them, the more one is convinced of this truth, and if we can add any thing to the labours of those who have gone before us, in those very places where they have been most successful, what may we not do in those where they have failed? Besides, as we are not acquainted with all the different species of insects, those which remain to be discovered furnifli an ample field for exercising the industry and sagacity of the curious. The subject is inexhaustible, every day furnishes us with something new ; and he who thinks he has made great proficiency, will receive information from one who ha3 not made so much as himself. We have the same opportunities of improvement, and the fame assistances with our predecessors; why do we not make use of them? The microscope which has discovered to them so many wonders, till then unvinknown, has equal wonders in store for us. That instrument withdraws the veil, which conceals nature from our eyes, and makes, if we may use the expression, an elephant of a fly, by exhibiting it to us sixteen millions of times larger than it really is.
These reflections on the discoveries that still remain to be made in the world of insects are the fruit of my experience. For many years I have applied myself to this study. I have observed those minute animals sometimes with the assistance of nature alone, and sometimes with the aids which art had procured me; but I was always convinced that the subject was not exhausted. In this belief I do not hesitate to present this work to the public, notwithstanding so many others have preceded it. Among the great number of new remarks I have made there may be some that will not be displeasing to my readers.
This work will therefore be composed of my own observations, and of those of others, which mutually support each other. When mine do not appear sufficient, 1 shall call those of others to my aid. In this case I shall endeavour to borrow with discretion and sidelity. For this end I shall follow the authors who are most exact, and most to be depended on; and I shall mention to whom I am indebted for my observations. As to method, I will not follow that of any