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PREF A C E.
ALTHOUGH the number of works on Natural History might deter any new writer from venturing on so extensively handled a subject, there is at present no work of a really popular character in which accuracy of information and systematic arrangement are united with brevity and simplicity of treatment.
All the best-known popular works on Natural History are liable to many objections, among which may be named a want of correct classification, the absence of explanations of the meanings and derivations of scientific words, the strange inaccuracy of many of the accompanying illustrations, and of the accounts of many animals. Nor do the conventional anecdotes chronicled in their pages evince that personal experience of the animal race which alone can repress romance and prevent inaccuracy. These deficiencies, it is hoped, are at all events partly supplied in the present work.
The present volume, although exceeding the limits originally contemplated, is but a brief digest of a large mass of materials, derived either from personal experience, from the most recent zoological writers, or from the kindness of many friends, who are familiar with almost every portion of the world, and to whom my best thanks are due. My original intention was to carry
work as far as the Zoophytes, but it grew so rapidly, especially in the first two classes, the Mammals and Birds, that it was found necessary to conclude at the Insects, and even then to give but an exceedingly short and meagre account of them. This was much regretted by me, as my experience had lain so much in the practical entomological part of Natural History, that during the earlier stages of the work I looked forward with some pleasure to giving a very much fuller account of the British Insects than will be found in the last few pages of this volume.
In arrangement, the order of the Catalogue of the British Museum has been followed, with the view of rendering it a useful companion to that most valuable collection, especially for young visitors. In accordance with that catalogue, the volume commences with a short sketch of mankind and of the theories respecting the different races of humanity; and at the same time a few of the distinctions are mentioned which so widely separate man from
other inhabitant of the earth. As for the Illustrations, they will best speak for themselves. It will, however, be well to observe that they have all been designed expressly for the present work, and that the combined abilities of Messrs. Harvey and Dalziel, as artist and engravers, are a guarantee for their accuracy and perfect execution. For the anatomical and microscopical vignettes, I am myself answerable, as well as for several of the later drawings, such as the Thorny Woodcock-shell, the Leaf Insect, the Rove Beetle, together with parts of a few others, all of which were drawn from actual specimens.
It has been an object with me in the accounts of each animal, to give as far as possible new anecdotes. In many cases, the anecdotes related have never been published before, and in many