網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

PAGE 10, 1.'2c. *Many curious men. Here the author enumerates several collections in Germany, and in Holland; and Mr Lyonet, in a note, mentions one that he had omitted : but, as these have now passed into other hands, we thought it needless to translate this part of the work.

Page 11, l. 13: Maria Sibylla Merian. This lady was a native of Frankfort on the Maine. She acquired a taste for the study of insects, by breeding filk- worms. After having studied those of her native place, she went to Nuremberg, where the continued her researches. In 1679, the published the first part of her description of European insects, and in 1683, the second. Shë afterwards came to the United Provinces, where the same animals continued the object of her studies at Frieseland and Amsterdam. The opportunities she there had, of seeing those that were brought from the Indies, infpired her with the desire of undertaking a voyage to America. She departed in 1699, for Surinam, where she remained two years, employed in delineating the most beautia ful insects of those countries; and, the afterwards published her work, in a magnificent edition, adorned with plates of exquisite beauty.

i Page 11, 1. 28. The edition which was printed. This work contains onig the mere delineation of a great number of insects, without any description. The plates are engraved with taste; many of the figures give a pretty accurate representation of the originals ; but others are very imperfect, and in general, the specific differences are but little attended to. This col. lection cannot be of great use to the naturalist, because Hoo efnagel did not follow his insects through their different changes, but contented himself with painting them in the Itate in which chance presented them to him, without oba Serving either order or method.

Page 12, l. 9. Thife drawings. Among those who have given uso representations of infects, in their different forms, I know none who have performed the task fo well as Mr L'Admiral of Amsterdam. He has begun to publish his work on in

fects,

Lects, in folio, which will, as he supposes, contain about 400 pages of letter press, and 100 plates. After having painted each animal from nature, he etches them himself. The eight plates, which have only yet been published, are an evidence of his ability, and make us expect with impatience, the performance of his work, which he seems at prefent to have discontinued. In imitation of Mad. Merian, he proposes to represent each insect on the plant it uses for food : if he had spared himself this trouble, his book would not have been less valued by the learned. These superfluous ornaments serve but to divert the attention from the principal object; which is in some measure loft, when sura rounded by so many accessory objects, greater than itself; and a treatise on insects, ornamented with so many plants, looks more like a botanical performance.

PAGE 13, 1. g. Twenty five thousand times. One would suppose there was here some error in the text: for how can we imagine, that the author would mention, as a remarkable circumstance, a microscope which magnified twenty five thousand times, when he speaks afterwards, in this introduction, of a microscope which magnified fixteen millions of times ?

PAGE 13, 1. last. Ph. Bonanni. Bonanni did not'content himself; with treating merely of the wings of insects: we have of his, a volume in quarto, the first part of which contains diffuse discussions on equivocal generation, and he dues his utmost to prove, that corruption may produce living beings. His manner of reafoning, is fingular in this, that all his arguments proceed from his ignorance of Natural History. He could not conceive, low certain plants, or certain insects were produced, therefore, they were generated from putrefaction. The gnat, for instance, which every body knows, proceeds from an aquatic maggot, generated by other gnats, is produced, according to him, from flacked lime: and his argument is, that he does not know, whence gnats are produced, but he has often seen them on walls, newly white. Ded. Is not this an excellent proof, that wet lime can create goats ? and yet, it is his way of reasoning. After this essay, which he might well have spared himself the trouble of publishing, he describes several tells, and then.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be liezle pork. The dis, appe

treats of the conitruction of microscopes, and lastly, speaks of the objects lie has examined, with the help of these in. struments. It is on this occasion, that he describes the wings of some flies, and the little plumes on those of butterflies. Such is the plan of his work. The plates are in-', different enough, and what he says of insects, appears to . me, very fuperficial.

PAGE 16, 1. 1. I return to Blancard. The pompous title of this book, and even the manner in which it is here mentioned, would make one believe, that Biancard had treated the subject much more at large than he has done. Would one imagine, that his whole work contains only the description, (and that too, not always compleat,) of seventeen caterpillars, one false caterpillar, twelve maggots which change into Hies, and four forts of gall infects, three beetles, one ephemera, fix aphides, one fpider, one shelled, and one naked snail, amounting only to forty seven different infects? Mr Frisch, in the preface to his fourth book on insects, reckons only forty fix, among which he says, there are only eleven caterpillars. There must be fome error in his calculation, or some diiference in the editions. But however this may be, the greater part of Blancard's figures are exceedingly well engraved,

PAGE 16, 1. 19. Frisch. This author is very accurate in his description of the external parts of insects. He does not enter into any anatomical details, but, to make amends for this deficiency, he gives a very faithful history, and often very complete, of a great number of insects, containing many curious and enteresting facts. The nunber of 300 insects, which he feems to have proposed to publish, has obliged him, in order to make it complete, to give only a mere description of these animals in their perfect state, without any historical detail. His plates, though they do net come from the hand of a master, represent, (at least many of them) their originals, tolerably well. It is to be wished, that the author had treated his subject methodically, and that he had written in a language more generally understood; his work would, in that cafe, have been much more useful to the world. Each part of that work appeared separately, the first was printed in 1720, and the last in 1738. The whole make a pret

ty thick quarto volume, and the more instructive, as it contains the description of a very great number of German insects, especially those of the environs of Berlin ; and thus facilitates the knowledge of such as are peculiar to that country. His work, however, would have been still more useful, had the author been careful to distinguish the insects be found in the neighbourhood, or in the environs of the place of his retidence, from those he may have procured elsewhere.

On this occasion, I cannot help remarking, that it would tend greatly to the advancement of Natural History, if those who publish on insects, would apply to the study of such insects only, as are to be found in the neighbourhood of their own place of residence. This would give them an opportunity of repeating their experiments, as often as they should judge it necessary for the ascertainment of a fact; and, being limited to a small district, they would more easily discover what it contained, and this could not fail of making them find a great number of insects, which are still entirely unknown, and will continue so, as long as people content themselves, with making, in different places, vain and superficial investigations.

I with also, that those who write on such subjects, would take particular care, to cause each animal be represented of its na:ural fize; to express the outline with accuracy, and to trace minutely, the form and colour of the spots, and to mark with precision, the light and dark parts, that nothing may be wanting, which may serve to characterise the specific differences in the various species of insects, of the (ame genus.

This circumstance, it must be confeffed, has hitherto been very much neglected. There are but very few works which are not liable to some blame in this respect: for, unless a naturalist be himself an able draughtsman, and have the requisite talent, of expreiling with accuracy, the nice and de. licate characters which distinguish insells of the fame genus, it will be very difficult for him to publish any thing of a finished nature on the subject. The perfons employed to make such designs, though expert enough in their art, rarely satisfy our expectation. Being accustomed to draw from fancy, and to follow their own manner, to make their subject picturesque, and to improve upon nature, they have not patience to follow her, step by step, in the delineation of an Nn 2

animal,

equire at lealta hifman: but as that every o
y to direct thet, that they kneas this is imposaturalift

animal, so despicable in their eyes, as an insect. They gror țired, therefore, in copying so many minutiæ, their attention relaxes, and the work exhibits evident marks of their ne. gligence.

It were to be wished, therefore, that every naturalist were a skilful draughtsman: but as this is impoffible, I would require at least, that they knew enough of the art, properly to direct the painters they employ, and to judge of their work as connoisseurs, that they might receive nothing from their hands, except what was correct and well-finished. It is by this means alone, and by that I have already men. tioned, that we can ever become able to fix the number of known insects, to understand their history, to determine such as are peculiar to any country, what effects difference of climate produces on them ; in a word, to have as gene, ral and distinct a knowledge of insects, as we have of other animals and plants, but if these precautions are neglected, authors will give themselves much useless trouble: and even the more that is written on the subject, the more danger there will be, of disseminating uncertainty and confusion, when we descend to particulars. There will, no doubt, be a great number of curious facts brought to light, respecting insects; but, when one shall attempt to verify these facts, by bis own experience, he will not know where to find the animal, nor when found, will he know it: and the fame animal, represented in ten different works, will appear in each, of a different species ; while ten different animals to be found there, might be taken for the same animal. This cannot but load Natural History with a vast number of ima. ginary infects, while the true species will, for the most part, be unknown.

Page. 17. 1. 3. Goedart. The work of this author is to be ranked among those that have plates indifferently engraved, especially those in the French translation. Many in. sects are there so ill represented that they cannot be known, and those that are krown are for the most part so defective that if the detail of their changes and the descriptions that accompany it did not fupply the faults of the figure, almost the whole of the plates would become useless. It must be confefied likewise that the descripcions are in general very imperfect; and as Goedart lived at a

time

« 上一頁繼續 »