1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ornithology
ORNITHOLOGY, properly the methodical study and consequent knowledge of birds with all that relates to them; but the difficulty of assigning a limit to the commencement of such study and knowledge gives the word a very vague meaning, and practically procures its application to much that does not enter the domain of science. This elastic application renders it impossible in the following sketch of the history of ornithology to draw any sharp distinction between works that are emphatically ornithological and those to which that title can only be attached by courtesy; for, since birds have always attracted far greater attention than any other group of animals with which in number or in importance they can be compared, there has grown up concerning them a literature of corresponding magnitude and of the widest range, extending from the recondite and laborious investigations of the morphologist and anatomist to the casual observations of the sportsman or the schoolboy.
Though birds make a not unimportant appearance in the earliest written records of the human race, the painter's brush has preserved their counterfeit presentment for a still longer period. A fragmentary fresco taken from a tomb at Medum was deposited some years ago, though in a decaying condition, in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo. This Egyptian picture was said to date from the time of the third or fourth dynasty, some three thousand years before the Christian era. In it were depicted with a marvellous fidelity, and thorough appreciation of form and colouring (despite a certain conventional treatment), the figures of six geese. Four of these figures can be unhesitatingly referred to two species (Anser albifrons and A. ruficollis) well known at the present day. In later ages the representations of birds of one sort or another in Egyptian paintings and sculptures become countless, and the bassi-rilievi of Assyrian monuments, though mostly belonging of course to a subsequent period, are not without them. No figures of birds, however, seem yet to have been found on the incised stones, bones or ivories of the prehistoric races of Europe.
History of Ornithology to End of 18th Century.
Aristotle was the first serious author on ornithology with whose writings we are acquainted, but even he had, as he tells Early works. us, predecessors; and, looking to that portion of his works on animals which has come down to us, one finds that, though more than 170 sorts of birds are mentioned, yet what is said of them amounts on the whole to very little, and this consists more of desultory observations in illustration of his general remarks (which are to a considerable extent physiological or bearing on the subject of reproduction) than of an attempt at a connected account of birds. One of his commentators, C. J. Sundevall—equally proficient in classical as in ornithological knowledge—was, in 1863, compelled to leave more than a score of the birds of which Aristotle wrote unidentified. Next in order of date, though at a long interval, comes Pliny the Elder, in whose Historia Naturulis Book X. is devoted to birds. Neither Aristotle nor Pliny attempted to classify the birds known to them beyond a very rough and for the most part obvious grouping. Aristotle seems to recognize eight principal groups: (1) Gampsonyches, approximately equivalent to the Accipitres of Linnaeus; (2) Scolecophaga, containing most of what would now be called Oscines, excepting indeed the (3) Acanthophaga, composed of the goldfinch, siskin and a few others; (4) Scnipophaga, the woodpeckers; (5) Peristeroide, or pigeons; (6) Scizopoda, (7) Steganopoda, and (8) Barea, nearly the same respectively as the Linnaean Grallae, Anseres and Gallinae. Pliny, relying wholly on characters taken from the feet, limits himself to three groups—without assigning names to them—those which have “hooked tallons, as Hawkes; or round long clawes, as Hennes; or else they be broad, flat, and whole-footed, as Geese and all the sort in manner of water-foule”—to use the words of Philemon Holland, who, in 1601, published a quaint and, though condensed, yet fairly faithful English translation of Pliny's work.
About a century later came Aelian, who died about A.D. 140, and compiled in Greek (though he was an Italian by birth) a number of miscellaneous observations on the peculiarities of animals. His work is a kind of commonplace book kept without scientific discrimination. A considerable number of birds are mentioned, and something said of almost each of them; but that something is too often nonsense according to modern ideas. The twenty-six books De Animalibus of Albertus Magnus (Groot), printed in 1478, are founded mainly on Aristotle. The twenty-third of these books is De Avibus, and therein a great number of birds' names make their earliest appearance, few of which are without interest from a philologist's if not an ornithologist's point of view, but there is much difficulty in recognizing the species to which many of them belong. In 1485 was printed the first dated copy of the volume known as the Ortus sanitatis, to the popularity of which many editions testify. Though said by its author, Johann Wonnecke von Caub (Latinized as Johannes de Cuba), to have been composed from a study of the collections formed by a certain nobleman who had travelled in Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Egypt—possible Breidenbach, an account of whose travels in the Levant was printed at Mentz in 1486—it is really a medical treatise, and its zoological portion is mainly an abbreviation of the writings of Albertus Magnus, with a few interpolations from Isidorus of Seville (who flourished in the beginning of the 7th century, and was the author of many works highly esteemed in the middle ages) and a work known as Physiologus (q.v.). The third tractatus of this volume deals with birds—including among them bats, bees and other flying creatures; but as it is the first printed book in which figures of birds are introduced it merits notice, though most of the illustrations, which are rude woodcuts, fail, even in the coloured copies, to give any precise indication of the species intended to be represented.
The revival of learning was at hand, and William Turner, a Northumbrian, while residing abroad to avoid persecution at home, printed at Cologne in 1544 the first commentary on the birds mentioned by Aristotle and Pliny conceived in anything like the spirit that moves modern naturalists. In the same year and from the same press was issued a Dialogus de Avibus by Gybertus Longolius, and in 1570 Caius brought out in London his treatise De rariorum animalium atque stirpium historia. In this last work, small though it be, ornithology has a good share; and all three may still be consulted with interest and advantage by its votaries. Meanwhile the study received a great impulse from the appearance, at Zurich in 1555, of the third book of Conrad Gesner's Historia Animalium “qvi est de Auium natura,” and at Paris in the same year of Pierre Belon's (Bellonius) Histoire de la nature des Oyseaux. Gesner brought an amount of erudition, hitherto unequalled, to bear upon his subject; and, making due allowance for the times in which he wrote, his judgment must in most respects be deemed excellent. In his work, however, there is little that can be called systematic treatment. Like nearly all his predecessors since Aelian, he adopted an alphabetical arrangement, though this was not too pedantically preserved, and did not hinder him from placing together the kinds of birds which he supposed (and generally supposed rightly) to have the most resemblance to that one whose name, being best known, was chosen for the headpiece (as it were) of his particular theme, thus recognizing to some extent the principle of classification. Belon, with perhaps less book-learning than his contemporary, was evidently no mean scholar, and undoubtedly had more practical knowledge of birds—their internal as well as external structure. Hence his work, written in French, contains a far greater amount of original matter; and his personal observations made in many countries, from England to Egypt, enabled him to avoid most of the puerilities which disfigure other works of his own or of a preceding age. Besides this, Belon disposed the birds known to him according to a definite system, which (rude as we now know it to be) formed a foundation on which several of his successors were content to build, and even to this day traces of its influence may still be discerned in the arrangement followed by writers who have faintly appreciated the principles on which modern taxonomers rest the outline of their schemes. Both his work and that of Gesner were illustrated with woodcuts, many of which display much spirit and regard to accuracy.
Belon, as has just been said, had a knowledge of the anatomy of birds, and he seems to have been the first to institute a direct comparison of their skeleton with that of man; but in this respect he only anticipated by a few years the more precise researches of Volcher Coiter, a Frisian, who in 1573 and 1575 published at Nuremberg two treatises, in one of which the internal structure of birds in general is very creditably described, while in the other the osteology and myology of certain forms is given in considerable detail, and illustrated by carefully drawn figures. The first is entitled Externarum et internarum principalium humani corporis Tabulae, &c. while the second, which is the most valuable, is merely appended to the Lectiones Gabrielis Fallopii de partibus similaribus humani corporis, &c., and thus, the scope of each work being regarded as medical, the author's labours were wholly overlooked by the mere natural historians who followed, though Coiter introduced a table, “De differentiis Auium,” furnishing a key to a rough classification of such birds as were known to him, and this as nearly the first attempt of the kind deserves notice here.
Contemporary with these three men was Ulysses Aldrovandus, a Bolognese, who wrote an Historia Naturalium in sixteen folio volumes, most of which were not printed till after his death in 1605; but those on birds appeared between 1599 and 1603. The work is almost wholly a compilation, and that not of the most discriminative kind, while a peculiar jealousy of Gesner is continuously displayed, though his statements are very constantly quoted—nearly always as those of “Ornithologus,” his name appearing but few times in the text, and not at all in the list of authors cited. With certain modifications in principle not very important, but characterized by much more elaborate detail, Aldrovandus adopted Belon's method of arrangement, but in a few respects there is a manifest retrogression. The work of Aldrovandus was illustrated by copper plates, but none of his figures approach those of his immediate predecessors in character or accuracy. Nevertheless the book was eagerly sought, and several editions of it appeared.
Mention must be made of a medical treatise by Caspar Schwenckfeld, published at Liegnitz in 1603, under the title of Theriotropheum Silesiae, the fourth book of which consists of an “Aviarium Silesiae,” and is the earliest of the works we now know by the name of fauna. The author was well acquainted with the labours of his predecessors, as his list of over one hundred of them testifies. Most of the birds he describes are characterized with accuracy sufficient to enable them to be identified, and his observations upon them have still some interest; but he was innocent of any methodical system, and was not exempt from most of the professional fallacies of his time.
Hitherto, from the nature of the case, the works aforesaid treated of scarcely any but the birds belonging to the orbis veteribus notus; but the geographical discoveries of the 16th century began to bear fruit, and many animals of kinds unsuspected were, about one hundred years later, made known. Here there is only space to name Bontius, Clusius, Hernandez (or Fernandez), Marcgrave, Nieremberg and Piso, whose several works describing the natural products of both the Indies—whether the result of their own observation or compilation—together with those of Olina and Worm, produced a marked effect, since they led up to what may be deemed the foundation of scientific ornithology.
This foundation was laid by the joint labours of Francis Willughby (1635-1672) and John Ray (1628-1705), for it is Willughby and Ray. impossible to separate their share of work in natural history more than to say that, while the former more especially devoted himself to zoology, botany was the favourite pursuit of the latter. Together they studied, together they travelled and together they collected. Willughby, the younger of the two, and at first the other's pupil, seems to have gradually become the master; but, he dying before the promise of his life was fulfilled, his writings were given to the world by his friend Ray, who, adding to them from his own stores, published the Ornithologia in Latin in 1676, and in English with many emendations in 1678. In this work birds generally were grouped in two great divisions—“land-fowl” and “water-fowl”—the former being subdivided into those which have a crooked beak and talons, and those which have a straighter bill and claws, while the latter was separated into those which frequent waters and watery places, and those that swim in the water—each subdivision being further broken up into many sections, to the whole of which a key was given. Thus it became possible for almost any diligent reader without much chance of error to refer to its proper place nearly every bird he was likely to meet with. Ray's interest in ornithology continued, and in 1694 he completed a Synopsis Methodica Avium, which, through the fault of the booksellers to whom it was entrusted, was not published till 1713, when Derham gave it to the world.
Two years after Ray's death, Linnaeus, the great reformer of natural history, was born, and in 1735 appeared the first Linnaeus. edition of the celebrated Systema Naturae. Successive editions of this work were produced under its author's supervision in 1740, 1748, 1758 and 1766. Impressed by the belief that verbosity was the bane of science, he carried terseness to an extreme which frequently created obscurity, and this in no branch of zoology more than in that which relates to birds. Still the practice introduced by him of assigning to each species a diagnosis by which it ought in theory to be distinguishable from any other known species, and of naming it by two words—the first being the generic and the second the specific term, was so manifest an improvement upon anything which had previously obtained that the Linnaean method of differentiation and nomenclature established itself before long in spite of all opposition, and in principle became almost universally adopted. In his classification of birds Linnaeus for the most part followed Ray, and where he departed from his model he seldom improved upon it.
In 1745 P. Barrère brought out at Perpignan a little book called Ornithologiae Specimen novum, and in 1752 Möhring published at Aurich one still smaller, his Avium Genera. Both these works (now rare) are manifestly framed on the Linnaean method, so far as it had then reached; but in their arrangement of the various forms of birds they differed greatly from that which they designed to supplant, and they deservedly obtained little success. Yet as systematists their authors were no worse than Klein, whose Historiae Avium Prodromus, appearing at Lübeck in 1750, and Stemmata Avium at Leipzig in 1750, met with considerable favour in some quarters. The chief merit of the latter work lies in its forty plates, whereon the heads and feet of many birds are indifferently figured.
But, while the successive editions of Linnaeus's great work were revolutionizing natural history, and his example of precision in language producing excellent effect on scientific writers, several other authors were advancing the study of ornithology in a very different way—a way that pleased the eye even more than his labours were pleasing the mind. Between 1731 and 1743 Mark Catesby brought out in London his Natural History of Carolina—two large folios containing highly coloured plates of the birds of that colony, Florida and the Bahamas. Eleazar Albin between 1738 and 1740 produced a Natural History of Birds in three volumes of more modest dimensions; but he seems to have been ignorant of ornithology, and his coloured plates are greatly inferior to Catesby's. Far better both as draughtsman and as authority was George Edwards, who in 1743 began, under the same title as Albin, a series of plates with letterpress, which was continued by the name of Gleanings in Natural History, and finished in 1760, when it h;id reached seven parts, forming four quarto volumes, the figures of which are nearly always quoted with approval.
The year which saw the works of Edwards completed was still further distinguished by the appearance in France, where little had Brisson. been done since Belon's days, in six quarto volumes, of the Ornithologie of Mathurin Jacques Brisson—a work of very great merit so far as it goes, for as a descriptive ornithologist the author stands even now unsurpassed; but it must be said that his knowledge, according to internal evidence, was confined to books and to the external parts of birds' skins. It was enough for him to give a scrupulously exact description of such specimens as came under his eye, distinguishing these by prefixing two asterisks to their name, using a single asterisk where he had only seen a part of the bird, and leaving unmarked those that he described from other authors. His attempt at classification was certainly better than that of Linnaeus; and it is rather curious that the researches of the latest ornithologists point to results in some degree comparable with Brisson's systematic arrangement, for they refuse to keep the birds-of-prey at the head of the Class Aves, and they require the establishment of a much larger number of “Orders” than for a long while was thought advisable. Of such “Orders” Brisson had twenty-six and he gave pigeons and poultry precedence of the birds which are plunderers and scavengers. But greater value lies in his generic or sub-generic divisions, which, taken as a whole, are far more natural than those of Linnaeus, and consequently capable of better diagnosis. More than this, he seems to be the earliest ornithologist, perhaps the earliest zoologist, to conceive the idea of each genus possessing what is now called a “type”—though such a term does not occur in his work; and, in like manner, without declaring it in so many words, he indicated unmistakably the existence of subgenera—all this being effected by the skilful use of names. Unfortunately he was too soon in the field to avail himself, even had he been so minded, of the convenient mode of nomenclature brought into use by Linnaeus. Immediately on the completion of his Règne Animale in 1756, Brisson set about his Ornithologie, and it is only in the last two volumes of the latter that any reference is made to the tenth edition of the Systema Naturae, in which the binomial method was introduced. It is certain that the first four volumes were written if not printed before that method was promulgated, and when the fame of Linnaeus as a zoologist rested on little more than the very meagre sixth edition of the Systema Naturae and the first edition of his Fauna Suecica. Brisson has been charged with jealousy of, if not hostility to, the great Swede, and it is true that in the preface to his Ornithologie he complains of the insufficiency of the Linnaean characters, but, when one considers how much better acquainted with birds the Frenchman was, such criticism must be allowed to be pardonable if not wholly just. Brisson's work was in French, with a parallel translation (edited, it is said, by Pallas) in Latin, which last was reprinted separately at Leiden three years afterwards.
In 1767 there was issued at Paris a book entitled L'Histoire naturelle éclaircie dans une de ses parties principales, l'ornithologie. This was the work of Salerne, published after his death, and is often spoken of as being a mere translation of Ray's Synopsis, but a vast amount of fresh matter, and mostly of good quality, is added.
The success of Edwards's very respectable work seems to have provoked competition, and in 1765, at the instigation of Buffon, the younger d'Aubenton began the publication known as the Planches enluminéez d'histoire naturelle, which appearing in forty-two parts was not completed till 1780, when the plates it contained reached the number of 1008—all coloured, as its title intimates, and nearly all representing birds. This enormous work was subsidized by the French government; and, though the figures are utterly devoid of artistic merit, they display the species they are intended to depict with sufficient approach to fidelity to ensure recognition in most cases without fear of error, which in the absence of any text is no small praise.
But Buffon was not content with merely causing to be published this unparalleled set of plates. He seems to have regarded the work just named as a necessary precursor to his own labours in ornithology. His Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, was begun in 1749, and in 1770 he brought out, with the assistance of Guénau de Montbeillard, the first volume of his great Histoire naturelle des oiseaux. Buffon was the first man who formed any theory that may be called reasonable of the geographical distribution of animals. He proclaimed the variability of species in opposition to the views of Linnaeus as to their fixity, and moreover supposed that this variability arose in part by degradation. Taking his labours as a whole, there cannot be a doubt that he enormously enlarged the purview of naturalists, and, even if limited to birds, that, on the completion of his work upon them in 1783, ornithology stood in a very different position from that which it had before occupied.
Great as were the services of Buffon to ornithology in one direction, those of a wholly different kind rendered by John Latham. Latham must not be overlooked. In 1781 he began a work the practical utility of which was immediately recognized. This was his General Synopsis of Birds, and, though formed generally on the model of Linnaeus, greatly diverged in some respects therefrom. The classification was modified, chiefly on the old lines of Willughby and Ray, and certainly for the better; but no scientific nomenclature was adopted, which, as the author subsequently found, was a change for the worse. His scope was co-extensive with that of Brisson, but Latham did not possess the inborn faculty of picking out the character wherein one species differs from another. His opportunities of becoming acquainted with birds were hardly inferior to Brisson's, for during Latham's long lifetime there poured in upon him countless new discoveries from all parts of the world, but especially from the newly-explored shores of Australia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. The British Museum had been formed, and he had access to everything it contained in addition to the abundant materials afforded him by the private museum of Sir Ashton Lever. Latham entered, so far as the limits of his work would allow, into the history of the birds he described, and this with evident zest whereby he differed from his French predecessor; but the number of cases in which he erred as to the determination of his species must be very great, and not infrequently the same species is described more than once. His Synopsis was finished in 1785; two supplements were added in 1787 and 1802, and in 1790 he produced an abstract of the work under the title of Index Ornithologicus, wherein he assigned names on the Linnaean method to all the species described. Not to recur again to his labours, it may be said here that between 1821 and 1828 he published at Winchester, in eleven volumes, an enlarged edition of his original work, entitling it A General History of Birds; but his defects as a compiler, which had been manifest before, rather increased with age, and the consequences were not happy.
About the time that Buffon was bringing to an end his studies of birds, Mauduyt undertook to write the Ornithologie of the Encyclopédie méthodique—a comparatively easy task, considering the recent works of his fellow-countrymen on that subject, and finished in 1784. Here it requires no further comment, especially as a new edition was called for in 1790, the ornithological portion of which was begun by Bonnaterre, who, however, had only finished three hundred and twenty pages of it when he lost his life in the French Revolution; and the work thus arrested was continued by Vieillot under the slightly changed title of Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la Nature—the Ornithologie forming volumes four to seven, and not completed till 1823. In the former edition Mauduyt had taken the subjects alphabetically; but here they are disposed according to an arrangement, with some few modifications, furnished by d'Aubenton, which is extremely shallow and unworthy of consideration.
Several other works bearing upon ornithology in general, but of less importance than most of those just named, belong to this period. Among others may be mentioned the Genera of Birds by Thomas Pennant, first printed at Edinburgh in 1773, but best knoivn by the edition which appeared in London in 1781; the Elementa Ornithologica and Museum Ornithologicum of Schäffer, published at Ratisbon in 1774 and 1784 respectively; Peter Brown's New Illustrations of Zoology in London in 1776; Hermann's Tabulae Affinitatum Animalium at Strasburg in 1783, followed posthumously in 1804 by his Observationes Zoologicae; Jacquin's Beytraege zur Geschichte der Voegel at Vienna in 1784, and in 1790 at the same place the larger work of Spalowsky with nearly the same title; Sparrman's Museum Carlsonianum at Stockholm from 1786 to 1789; and in 1794 Hayes's Portraits of rare and curious Birds from the menagery of Child the banker at Osterley near London. The same draughtsman (who had in 1775 produced a History of British Birds) in 1822 began another series of Figures of rare and curious Birds.
The practice of Brisson, Buffon, Latham and others of neglecting to name after the Linnaean fashion the species they described gave great encouragement to compilation, and led to what has proved to be of some inconvenience to modern ornithologists. In 1773 P. L. S. Müller brought out at Nuremberg a German translation of the Systema Naturae, completing it in 1776 by a Supplement containing a list of animals thus described, which had hitherto been technically anonymous, with diagnoses and names on the Linnaean model. In 1783 Boddaert printed at Utrecht a Table des planches enluminéez, in which he attempted to refer every species of bird figured in that extensive series to its proper Linnaean genus, and to assign it a scientific name if it did not already possess one. In like manner in 1786, Scopoli—already the author of a little book published at Leipzig in 1769 under the title of Annus I. Historico-naturalis, in which are described many birds, mostly from his own collection or the Imperial vivarium at Vienna—was at the pains to print at Pavia in his miscellaneous Deliciae Florae et Faunae Insubricae a Specimen Zoologicum containing diagnoses, duly named, of the birds discovered and described by Sonnerat in his Sonnerat. Voyage aux Indes orientales and Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée, severally published at Paris in 1772 and 1776. But the most striking example of compilation was that exhibited by J. F. Gmelin, who in 1788 commenced what he called the Gmelin. Thirteenth Edition of the celebrated Systema Naturae, which obtained so wide a circulation that, in the comparative rarity of the original, the additions of this editor have been very frequently quoted, even by expert naturalists, as though they were the work of the author himself. Gmelin availed himself of every publication he could, but he perhaps found his richest booty in the labours of Latham, neatly condensing his English descriptions into Latin diagnoses, and bestowing on them binomial names. Hence it is that Gmelin appears as the authority for so much of the nomenclature now in use. He took many liberties with the details of Linnaeus's work, but left the classification, at least of the birds, as it was—a few new genera excepted.
During all this time little had been done in studying the internal structure of birds; but the foundations of the science of embryology had been laid by the investigations into the development of the chick by the great Harvey. Between 1666 and 1669 Perrault edited at Paris eight accounts of the dissection by du Verney of as many species of birds, which, translated into English, were published by the Royal Society in 1702, under the title of The Natural History of Animals. After the death of the two anatomists just named, another series of similar descriptions of eight other species was found among their papers, and the whole were published in the Mémoires of the French Academy of Sciences in 1733 and 1734. But in 1681 Gerard Blasius had brought out at Amsterdam an Anatome Animalium, containing the results of all the dissections of animals that he could find; and the second part of this book, treating of Volatilia, makes a respectable show of more than one hundred and twenty closely-printed quarto pages, though nearly two-thirds is devoted to a treatise De Ovo et Pullo, containing among other things a reprint of Harvey's researches, and the scientific rank of the whole book may be interred from bats being still classed with birds. In 1720 Valentini published, at Frankfort-on-the-Main, his Amphitheatrum Zootomicum, in which again most of the existing accounts of the anatomy of birds were reprinted. But these and many other contributions, made until nearly the close of the 18th century, though highly meritorious, were unconnected as a whole, and it is plain that no conception of what it was in the power of Comparative Anatomy to set forth had occurred to the most diligent dissectors.
It was reserved for Georges Cuvier, who in 1798 published at Paris his Tableau élémentaire de l'histoire naturelle des Cuvier. animaux, to lay the foundation of a thoroughly and hitherto unknown mode of appreciating the value of the various groups of the animal kingdom. Yet his first attempt was a mere sketch. Though he made a perceptible advance on the classification of Linnaeus, at that time predominant, it is now easy to see in how many ways—want of sufficient material being no doubt one of the chief—Cuvier failed to produce a really natural arrangement. His principles, however, are those which must still guide taxonomers, notwithstanding that they have in so great a degree overthrown the entire scheme which he propounded. Confining our attention here to ornithology, Cuvier's arrangement of the class Aves is now seen to be not very much better than any which it superseded. But this view is gained by following the methods which Cuvier taught. In the work just mentioned few details are given; but even the more elaborate classification of birds contained in his Leçons d'anatomie comparée of 1805 is based wholly on external characters, such as had been used by nearly all his predecessors; and the Règne Animal of 1817, when he was in his fullest vigour, afforded not the least evidence that he had ever dissected a couple even of birds with the object of determining their relative position in his system, which then, as before, depended wholly on the configuration of bills, wings and feet. But, though apparently without such a knowledge of the anatomy of birds as would enable him to apply it to the formation of that natural system which he was fully aware had yet to be sought, he seems to have been an excellent judge of the characters afforded by the bill and limbs, and the use he made of them, coupled with the extraordinary reputation he acquired on other grounds, procured for his system the adhesion for many years of the majority of ornithologists.
Hitherto mention has chiefly been made of works on general ornithology, but it will be understood that these were largely aided by the enterprise of travellers, and as there were many of them who published their narratives in separate forms their contributions have to be considered. Of those travellers then the first to be here especially named is Marsigli, the fifth volume of whose Danubius Pannonico-Mysicus is devoted to the birds he met with in the valley of the Danube, and appeared at the Hague in 1725, followed by a French translation in 1744. Most of the many pupils whom Linnaeus sent to foreign countries submitted their discoveries to him, but Kalm, Hasselqvist and Osbeck published separately their respective travels in North America, the Levant and China. The incessant journeys of Pallas and his colleagues—Falk, Georgi, S. G. Gmelin, Güldenstädt, Lepechin and others—in the exploration of the recently extended Russian empire supplied not only much material to the Commentarii and Acta of the Academy of St Petersburg, but more that is to be found in their narratives—all of it being of the highest interest to students of Palaearctic or Nearctic ornithology. Nearly the whole of their results, it may here be said, were summed up in the important Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica of the first-named naturalist, which saw the light in 1811—the year of its author's death—but, owing to circumstances over which he had no control, was not generally accessible till twenty years later. Of still wider interest are the accounts of Cook's three famous voyages, though unhappily much of the information gained by the naturalists who accompanied him on one or more of them seems to be irretrievably lost; the original observations of the elder Forster were not printed till 1844, and the valuable collection of zoological drawings made by the younger Forster still remains unpublished in the British Museum. The several accounts by John White, Collins, Phillips, Hunter and others of the colonization of New South Wales at the end of the last century ought not to be overlooked by any Australian ornithologist. The only information at this period on the ornithology of South America is contained in the two works on Chile by Molina, published at Bologna in 1776 and 1782. The travels of Le Vaillant in South Africa having been completed in 1785, his great Oiseaux d'Afrique began to appear in Paris in 1797; but it is hard to speak properly of this work, for several of the species described in it are certainly not, and never were in his time, inhabitants of that country, though he sometimes gives a long account of the circumstances under which he observed them.
From travellers who employ themselves in collecting the animals of any distant country the zoologists who stay at home and study those of their own district, be it great or small, are really not so much divided as at first might appear. Both may well be named “Faunists,” and of the latter there were not a few who having turned their attention more or less to ornithology should here be mentioned, and first among them Rzaczynski, who in 1721 brought out at Sandomirsk the Historia naturalis curiosa regni Poloniae, to which an Auctuarium was posthumously published at Danzig in 1742. This also may be perhaps the most proper place to notice the Historia avium Hungariae of Grossinger, published at Posen in 1793. In 1734 J. L. Frisch began the long series of works on the birds of Germany with which the literature of ornithology is enriched, by his Vorstellung der Vögel Teutschlands, which was only completed in 1763, and, its coloured plates proving very attractive, was again issued at Berlin in 1817. The little fly-sheet of Zorn—for it is scarcely more—on the birds of the Hercynian Forest made its appearance at Pappenheim in 1745. In 1756 Kramer published at Vienna a modest Elenchus of the plants and animals of Lower Austria, and J. D. Petersen produced at Altona in 1766 a Verzeichniss balthischer Vögel; while in 1791 J. B. Fischer's Versuch einer Naturgeschichte von Livland appeared at Königsberg, next year Beseke brought out at Mitau his Beytrag zur Naturgeschichte der Vögel Kurlands, and in 1794 Siemssen's Handbuch of the birds of Mecklenburg was published at Rostock. But these works, locally useful as they may have been, did not occupy the whole attention of German ornithologists, for in 1791 Bechstein reached the second volume of his Gemeinnützige Naturgeschichte Deutschlands, treating of the birds of that country, which ended with the fourth in 1795. Of this an abridged edition by the name of Ornithologisches Taschenbuch appeared in 1802 and 1803, with a supplement in 1812; while between 1805 and 1809 a fuller edition of the original was issued. Moreover in 1795 J. A. Naumann humbly began at Cöthen a treatise on the birds of the principality of Anhalt, which on its completion in 1804 was found to have swollen into an ornithology of northern Germany and the neighbouring countries. Eight supplements were successively published between 1805 and 1817, and in 1822 a new edition was required. This Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands, being almost wholly rewritten by his son J. F. Naumann, is by far the best thing of the kind as yet produced in any country. The fulness and accuracy of the text, combined with the neat beauty of its coloured plates, have gone far to promote the study of ornithology in Germany, and while essentially a popular work, since it is suited to the comprehension of all readers, it is throughout written with a simple dignity that commends it to the serious and scientific. Its twelfth and last volume was published in 1844—by no means too long a period for so arduous and honest a performance, and a supplement was begun in 1847; but, the editor—or author as he may be fairly called—dying in 1857, this continuation was finished in 1860 by the joint efforts of J. H. Blasius and Dr Baldamus. In 1800 Borkhausen with others commenced at Darmstadt a Teutsche Ornithologie in folio which appeared at intervals till 1812, and remains unfinished, though a reissue of the portion published took place between 1837 and 1841.
Other European countries, though not quite so prolific as Germany, bore some ornithological fruit at this period; but in all southern Europe only four faunistic products can be named: the Saggio di storia naturale Bresciana of Pilati, published at Brescia in 1769; the Ornitologia dell' Europa meridionale of Bernini, published at Parma between 1772 and 1776; the Uccelli di Sardegna of Cetti, published at Sassari in 1776; and the Romana ornithologia of Gilius, published at Rome in 1781—the last being in great part devoted to pigeons and poultry. More appeared in the North, for in 1770 Amsterdam sent forth the beginning of Nozeman's Nederlandsche Vogelen, a fairly illustrated work in folio, but only completed by Houttuyn in 1829, and in Scandinavia most of all was done. In 1746 the great Linnaeus had produced a Fauna Svecica, of which a second edition appeared in 1761, and a third, revised by Retzius, in 1800. In 1764 Brünnich published at Copenhagen his Ornithologia borealis, a compendious sketch of the birds of all the countries then subject to the Danish crown. At the same place appeared in 1767 Leem's work, De Lapponibus Finmarchiae, to which Gunnerus contributed some good notes on the ornithology of northern Norway, and at Copenhagen and Leipzig was published in 1780 the Fauna Groenlandica of Otho Fabricius.
Of strictly American origin can here be cited only W. Bartram's Travels through North and South Carolina and B. S. Barton's Fragments of the Natural History of Pennsylvania, both printed at Philadelphia, one in 1791, the other in 1799; but J. R. Forster published a Catalogue of the Animals of North America in London in 1771, and the following year described in the Philosophical Transactions a few birds from Hudson Bay. A greater undertaking was Pennant's Arctic Zoology, published in 1785, with a supplement in 1787. The scope of this work was originally intended to be limited to North America, but circumstances induced him to include all the species of Northern Europe and Northern Asia, and though not free from errors it is a praiseworthy performance. A second edition appeared in 1792.
The ornithology of Britain naturally demands greater attention. The earliest list of British birds we possess is that given by Merrett in his Pinax rerum naturalium Britannicarum, printed in London in 1667. In 1677 Plot published his Natural History of Oxfordshire, which reached a second edition in 1705, and in 1686 that of Staffordshire. A similar work on Lancashire, Cheshire and the Peak was sent out in 1700 by Leigh, and one on Cornwall by Borlase in 1758—all these four being printed at Oxford. In 1766 appeared Pennant's British Zoology, a well-illustrated folio, of which a second edition in octavo was published in 1768, and considerable additions (forming the nominally third edition) in 1770, while in 1777 there were two issues, one in octavo, the other in quarto, each called the fourth edition. In 1812, long after the author's death, another edition was printed, of which his son-in-law Hanmer was the reputed editor, but he received much assistance from Latham, and through carelessness many of the additions herein made have often been ascribed to Pennant. In 1769 Berkenhout gave to the world his Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain and Ireland, which reappeared under the title of Synopsis of the same in 1795. Tunstall's Ornithologia Britannica which appeared in 1771, is little more than a list of names. Hayes's Natural History of British Birds, a folio with forty plates, appeared between 1771 and 1775, but was of no scientific value. In 1781 Nash's Worcestershire included a few ornithological notices; and Walcott in 1789 published an illustrated Synopsis of British Birds, coloured copies of which are rare. Simultaneously William Lewin began his seven quarto volumes on the Birds of Great Britain, a reissue in eight volumes following between 1795 and 1801. In 1791 J. Heysham added to Hutchins's Cumberland a list of birds of that county, whilst in the same year began Thomas Lord's valueless Entire New System of Ornithology, the text of which was written or corrected by Dr Dupree, and in 1794 Donovan began Donovan. a History of British Birds which was only finished in 1819—the earlier portion being reissued about the same time. Bolton's Harmonia ruralis, an account of British song-birds, first appeared between 1794 and 1796, but subsequent editions appeared up to 1846.
All the foregoing publications yield in importance to two that remain to be mentioned, a notice of which will fitly conclude this part of our subject. In 1767 Pennant, several of whose works have already been named, entered into correspondence with Gilbert White, receiving from him much information, almost wholly drawn from his own observation, for the succeeding editions of the British Zoology. In 1769 White began exchanging letters of a similar character with Barrington. The epistolary intercourse with the former continued until 1780 and with the latter until 1787. In 1789 White's share of the correspondence, together with some miscellaneous matter, was published as The Natural History of Selborne—from the name of the village in which he lived. Observations on birds form the principal though by no means the whole theme of this book, which may be safely said to have done more to promote a love of ornithology in England than any other work that has been written, nay more than all the other works (except one next to be mentioned) put together. It has passed through a far greater number of editions than any other work on natural history in the whole world, and has become emphatically an English classic—the graceful simplicity of its style, the elevating tone of its spirit, and the sympathetic chords it strikes recommending it to every lover of Nature, while the severely scientific reader can scarcely find an error in any statement it contains, whether of matter of fact or opinion. It is almost certain that more than half the zoologists of the British Islands for many years past have been infected with their love of the study of Gilbert White; and it can hardly be supposed that his influence will cease.
The other work to the importance of which on ornithology in England allusion has been made is Bewick's History of British Birds. The first volume of this, containing the land-birds, appeared in 1797—the text being, it is understood, by Beilby—the second, containing the water-birds, in 1804. The woodcuts illustrating this work are generally of surpassing excellence, and it takes rank in the category of artistic publications. Fully admitting the extraordinary execution of the engravings, every ornithologist may perceive that as portraits of the birds they are of very unequal merit. Some of the figures were drawn from stuffed specimens, and accordingly perpetuate all the imperfections of the original; others represent species with the appearance of which the artist was not familiar, and these are either wanting in expression or are caricatures; but those that were drawn from live birds, or represent species which he knew in life, are worthy of all praise. It is well known that the earlier editions of this work, especially if they be upon large paper, command extravagant prices; but in reality the copies on smaller paper are now the rarer, for the stock of them has been consumed in nurseries and schoolrooms, where they have been torn up or worn out with incessant use. Moreover, whatever the lovers of the fine arts may say, it is nearly certain that the “Bewick Collector” is mistaken in attaching so high a value to these old editions, for owing to the want of skill in printing—indifferent ink being especially assigned as one cause—many of the earlier issues fail to show the most delicate touches of the engraver, which the increased care bestowed upon the edition of 1847 (published under the supervision of John Hancock) has revealed—though it must be admitted that certain blocks have suffered from wear of the press so as to be incapable of any more producing the effect intended. Of the text it may be said that it is respectable, but no more.
The existence of these two works explains the widely-spread taste for ornithology in England, which is to foreigners so puzzling, and the zeal—not always according to knowledge, but occasionally reaching to serious study—with which that taste is pursued.
Ornithology in the 19th Century.
On reviewing the progress of ornithology since the end of the 18th century, the first thing that will strike us is the fact that general works, though still undertaken, have become proportionally fewer, while special works, whether relating to the ornithic portion of the fauna of any particular country, or limited to certain groups of birds—works to which the name of “Monograph” has become wholly restricted—have become far more numerous. Another change has come over the condition of ornithology, as of kindred sciences, induced by the multiplication of learned societies which issue publications as well as of periodicals of greater or less scientific pretension. A number of these must necessarily be left unnoticed here. Still it seems advisable to furnish some connected account of the progress made in the ornithological knowledge of the British Islands and those parts of the European continent which lie nearest to them or are most commonly sought by travellers, the Dominion of Canada and the United States of America, South Africa, India, together with Australia and New Zealand. The more important monographs will usually be found cited in the separate articles on birds contained in this work, though some, by reason of changed views of classification, have for practical purposes to be regarded now as general works.
It will perhaps be most convenient to begin by mentioning some of these last, and in particular a number of them which appeared at Le Vaillant. Paris very early in the 19th century. First in order of them is the Histoire naturelle d'une partie d'oiseaux nouveaux et rares de l'Amérique et des Indes, a folio volume published in 1801 by Le Vaillant. This is devoted to the very distinct and not nearly-allied groups of horn bills and of birds which for want of a better name we must call “Chatterers,” and is illustrated, like those works of which a notice immediately follows, by coloured plates, done in what was then considered to be the highest style of art and by the best draughtsmen procurable. The first volume of a Histoire naturelle des perroquets, a companion work by the same author, appeared in the same year, and is truly a monograph, since the parrots constitute a family of birds so naturally severed from all others that there has rarely been anything else confounded with them. The second volume came out in 1805, and a third was issued in 1837-1838 long after the death of its predecessor's author, by Bourjot St-Hilaire. Between 1803 and 1806 Le Vaillant also published in just the same style two volumes with the title of Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de Paradis et des rolliers, suivie de celle des toucans et des barbus, an assemblage of forms, which, miscellaneous as it is, was surpassed in incongruity by a fourth work on the same scale, the Histoire naturelle des promerops et des guêpiers, des couroucous et des touracos, for herein are found jays, waxwings, the cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola), and what not besides. The plates in this last are by Barraband, for many years regarded as the perfection of ornithological artists, and indeed the figures, when they happen to have been drawn from the life, are not bad; but his skill was quite unable to vivify the preserved specimens contained in museums, and when he had only these as subjects he simply copied the distortions of the “bird-stuffer.” The following year, 1808, being aided by Temminck of Amsterdam, of whose son we shall presently hear more, Le Vaillant brought out the sixth volume of his Oiseaux d'Afrique, already mentioned. Four more volumes of this work were promised; but the means of executing them were denied to him, and, though he lived until 1824, his publications ceased.
A similar series of works was projected and begun about the same time as that of Le Vaillant by Audebert and Vieillot, though Audebert and Vieillot. the former, who was by profession a painter and illustrated the work, was already dead more than a year before the appearance of the two volumes, bearing date 1802, and entitled Oiseaux dorés ou à reflets metalliques, the effect of the plates in which he sought to heighten by the lavish use of gilding. The first volume contains the “Colibris, Oiseaux-mouches, Jacamars et Promerops,” the second the “Grimpereaux” and “Oiseaux de Paradis”—associations which set all the laws of systematic method at defiance. His colleague, Vieillot, brought out in 1805 a Histoire naturelle des plus beaux chanteurs de la Zone Torride with figures by Langlois of tropical finches, grosbeaks, buntings and other hard-billed birds; and in 1807 two volumes of a Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de l'Amérique septentrionale, without, however, paying much attention to the limits commonly assigned by geographers to that part of the world. In 1805 Anselme Desmarest Desmarest. published a Histoire naturelle des tangaras, des manakins et des todiers, which, though belonging to the same category as all the former, differs from them in its more scientific treatment of the subjects to which it refers; and, in 1808, K. J. Temminck. Temminck, whose father's aid to Le Vaillant has already been noticed, brought out at Paris a Histoire naturelle des pigeons illustrated by Madame Knip, who had drawn the plates for Desmarest's volume.
Since we have begun by considering these large illustrated works in which the text is made subservient to the coloured plates, it may be convenient to continue our notice of such others of similar character as it may be expedient to mention here, though thereby we shall be led somewhat far afield. Most of them are but luxuries, and there is some degree of truth in the remark of Andreas Wagner in his Report on the Progress of Zoology for 1843, drawn up for the Ray Society (p. 60), that they “are not adapted for the extension and promotion of science, but must inevitably, on account of their unnecessary costliness, constantly tend to reduce the number of naturalists who are able to avail themselves of them, and they thus enrich ornithology only to its ultimate injury.” Earliest in date Audubon. as it is greatest in bulk stands Audubon's Birds of America in four volumes, containing four hundred and thirty-five plates, of which the first part appeared in London in 1827 and the last in 1838. It does not seem to have been the author's original intention to publish any letterpress to this enormous work, but to let the plates tell their own story, though finally, with the assistance, as is now known, of William Macgillivray, a text, on the Macgillivray. whole more than respectable, was produced in five large octavos under the title of Ornithological Biography, of which more will be said in the sequel. Audubon has been greatly extolled as an ornithological artist; but he was far too much addicted to representing his subjects in violent action and in postures that outrage nature, while his drawing is very frequently defective. Elliot. In 1866 D. G. Elliot began, and in 1869 finished, a sequel to Audubon's great work in two volumes, on the same scale—The New and Hitherto unfigured Species of the Birds of North America, containing life-size figures of all those which had been added to its fauna since the completion of the former.
In 1830 John Edward Gray commenced the Illustrations of Gray and Hardwicke. Indian Zoology, a series of plates of vertebrated animals, but mostly of birds, from drawings, it is believed by native artists in the collection of General Hardwicke, whose name is therefore associated with the work. Scientific Lear. names are assigned to the species figured; but no text was ever supplied. In 1832 Edward Lear, afterwards well known as a humorist, brought out his Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, a volume which deserves especial notice from the extreme fidelity to nature and the great artistic skill with which the figures were executed.
This same year (1832) saw the beginning of the marvellous series of illustrated ornithological works by which the name of John Gould. Gould is likely to be always remembered. A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains was followed by The Birds of Europe in five volumes, published between 1832 and 1837, while in the interim (1834) appeared A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, of which a second edition was some years later called for, then the Icones avium, of which only two parts were published (1837-1838), and A Monograph of the Trogonidae (1838), which also reached a second edition. Sailing in 1838 for New South Wales, on his return in 1840 he at once commenced the greatest of all his works, The Birds of Australia, which was finished in 1848 in seven volumes, to which several supplementary parts, forming another volume, were subsequently added. In 1849 he began A Monograph of the Trochilidae or Humming-birds extending to five volumes, the last of which appeared in 1861, and was followed by a supplement by Mr Salvin. A Monograph of the Odontophorinae or Partridges of America (1850); The Birds of Asia, in seven volumes, the last completed by Mr Sharpe (1850-1883); The Birds of Great Britain, in five volumes (1863-1873); and The Birds of New Guinea, begun in 1875, and, after the author's death in 1881, undertaken by Mr Sharpe, make up the wonderful tale consisting of more than forty folio volumes, and containing more than three thousand coloured plates. The earlier of these works were illustrated by Mrs Gould, and the figures in them are fairly good; but those in the later, except when (as he occasionally did) he secured the services of Mr Wolf, are not so much to be commended. There is, it is true, a smoothness and finish about them not often seen elsewhere; but, as though to avoid the exaggerations of Audubon, Gould usually adopted the tamest of attitudes in which to represent his subjects, whereby expression as well as vivacity is wanting. Moreover, both in drawing and in colouring there is frequently much that is untrue to nature, so that it has not uncommonly happened for them to fail in the chief object of all zoological plates, that of affording sure means of recognizing specimens on comparison. In estimating the letterpress, which was avowedly held to be of secondary importance to the plates, we must bear in mind that, to ensure the success of his works, it had to be written to suit a very peculiarly composed body of subscribers. Nevertheless a scientific character was so adroitly assumed that scientific men—some of them even ornithologists—have thence been led to believe the text had a scientific value, and that of a high class. However, it must also be remembered that, throughout the whole of his career, Gould consulted the convenience of working ornithologists by almost invariably refraining from including in his folio works the technical description of any new species without first publishing it in some journal of comparatively easy access.
An ambitious attempt to produce in England a general series of coloured plates on a large scale was Louis Fraser's Zoologia Typica, Fraser. the first part of which bears date 1841-1842. Others appeared at irregular intervals until 1849, when the work, which seems never to have received the support it deserved, was discontinued. The seventy plates (forty-six of which represent birds) composing, with some explanatory letterpress, the volume, are by C. Ceusens and H. N. Turner—the latter (as his publications prove) a zoologist of much promise, who in 1851 died, a victim to his own zeal for investigation, of a wound received in dissecting. The chief object of the author, who had been naturalist to the Niger Expedition, and curator to the Museum of the Zoological Society of London, was to figure the animals contained in its gardens or described in its Proceedings, which until the year 1848 were not illustrated.
The publication of the Zoological Sketches of Joseph Wolf, from animals in the gardens of the Zoological Society of London, was Wolf. begun about 1855, with a brief text by D. W. Mitchell, at that time the Society's secretary, in illustration of them. After his death in 1859, the explanatory letterpress was rewritten by P. L. Sclater, his successor in that office, and a volume was completed in 1861. Upon this a second series was commenced, and brought to an end in 1868. Though a comparatively small number of species of birds are figured in this magnificent work (seventeen only in the first series, and twenty-two in the second), it must be mentioned here, for their likenesses are so admirably executed as to place it in regard to ornithological portraiture at the head of all others. There is not a single plate that is unworthy of the greatest of all animal painters.
Proceeding to illustrated works generally of less pretentious size, but of greater ornithological utility than the books last mentioned, which are fitter for the drawing-room than the study, we next have to consider some in which the text is not wholly subordinated to the plates, though the latter still form a conspicuous feature of the publication. First of these in point of time as well as in importance is the Nouveau recueil des planches coloriées d'oiseaux of Temminck Temminck and Langier. and Langier, intended as a sequel to the Planches enluminées of D'Aubenton before noticed, and like that work issued both in folio and quarto size. The first portion of this was published at Paris in 1820, and of its one hundred and two livraisons, which appeared with great irregularity (Ibis, 1868, p. 500), the last was issued in 1839, containing the titles of the five volumes that the whole forms, together with a “Tableau méthodique” which but indifferently serves the purpose of an index. There are six hundred plates, but the exact number of species figured (which has been computed at six hundred and sixty-one) is not so easily ascertained. Generally the subject of each plate has letterpress to correspond, but in some cases this is wanting, while on the other hand descriptions of species not figured are occasionally introduced, and usually observations on the distribution and construction of each genus or group are added. The plates, which show no improvement in execution on those of Martinet, are after drawings by Huet and Prêtre, the former being perhaps the less bad draughtsman of the two, for he seems to have had an idea of what a bird when alive looks like, though he was not able to give his figures any vitality, while the latter simply delineated the stiff and dishevelled specimens from museum shelves. Still the colouring is pretty well done, and experience has proved that generally speaking there is not much difficulty in recognizing the species represented. The letterpress is commonly limited to technical details, and is not always accurate; but it is of its kind useful, for in general knowledge of the outside of birds Temminck probably surpassed any of his contemporaries. The “Tableau méthodique” offers a convenient concordance of the old Planches enluminées and its successor, and is arranged after the system set forth by Temminck in the first volume of the second edition of his Manuel d'ornithologie, of which something must presently be said.
The Galerie des oiseaux, a rival work, with plates by Oudart, seems to have been begun immediately after the former. The Oudart. original project was apparently to give a figure and description of every species of bird; but that was soon found to be impossible; and, when six parts had been issued, with text by some unnamed author, the scheme was brought within Vieillot. practicable limits, and the writing of the letterpress was entrusted to Vieillot, who, proceeding on a systematic plan, performed his task very creditably, completing the work, which forms two quarto volumes, in 1825, the original text and fifty-seven plates being relegated to the end of the second volume as a supplement. His portion is illustrated by two hundred and ninety-nine coloured plates that, wretched as they are, have been continually reproduced in various text-books—a fact possibly due to their subjects having been judiciously selected. It is a tradition that, this work not being favourably regarded by the authorities of the Paris Museum, its draughtsman and author were refused closer access to the specimens required, and had to draw and describe them through the glass as they stood on the shelves of the cases.
In 1825 Jardine and Selby began a series of Illustrations of Ornithology, the several parts of which appeared at long and irregular Jardine and Selby. intervals, so that it was not until 1839 that three volumes containing one hundred and fifty plates were completed. Then they set about a Second Series, which, forming a single volume with fifty-three plates, was finished in 1843. These authors, being zealous amateur artists, were their own draughtsmen to the extent even of lithographing the figures. In 1828 James Wilson. Wilson (author of the article Ornithology in the 7th and 8th editions of the present work) began, under the title of Illustrations of Zoology, the publication of a series of his own drawings (which he did not, however, himself engrave) with corresponding letterpress. Of the thirty-six plates illustrating this volume, a small folio, twenty are devoted to Ornithology, and contain figures, which, it must be allowed, are not very successful, of several species rare at the time.
Though the three works last mentioned fairly come under the same category as the Planches enluminées and the Planches coloriées, Des Murs. no one of them can be properly deemed their rightful heirs. The claim to that succession was made in 1845 by Des Murs for his Iconographie ornithologique, which, containing seventy-two plates by Prévot and Oudart (the latter of whom had marvellously improved in his drawings since he worked with Vieillot), was completed in 1849. Simultaneously with this Du Bus began a Du Bus. work on a plan precisely similar, the Esquisses ornithologiques, illustrated by Severeyns, which, however, stopped short in 1849 with its thirty-seventh plate, while the letterpress unfortunately does not go beyond that belonging to the twentieth. In 1866 the succession was again taken up by the Exotic Sclater and Salvin. Ornithology of Messrs Sclater and Salvin, containing one hundred plates, representing one hundred and four species, all from Central or South America, which are neatly executed by J. Smit. The accompanying letterpress is in some places copious, and useful lists of the species of various genera are occasionally subjoined, adding to the definite value of the work, which, forming one volume, was completed in 1869.
Rowley's Ornithological Miscellany in three quarto volumes, profusely illustrated, appeared between 1875 and 1878. The Rowley. contents are as varied as the authorship, and, most of the leading English ornithologists having contributed to the work, some of the papers are extremely good, while in the plates, which are in Keulemans's best manner, many rare species of birds are figured, some of them for the first time.
More recent monographs have been more exact, and some of them equally sumptuous. Amongst these may be mentioned F. E. Blaauw's Monograph of the Cranes (1897, folio); St G. Mivart's Monograph of the Lories (1898, folio); the Hon. W. Rothschild's Monograph of the Genus Casuarius (1899, quarto); R. B. Sharpe's Monograph of the Paradiseidae (1898, folio); H. Seebohm's Monograph of the Thrushes (1900, imp. quarto); J. G. Millais' British Surface-feeding Ducks (1902, folio); and the Hon. W. Rothschild's Extinct Birds (1907, quarto).
Most of the works lately named, being very costly, are not easily accessible. The few next to be mentioned, being of smaller size (octavo), may be within reach of more persons, and, therefore, can be passed over in a briefer fashion without detriment. In many ways, however, they are nearly as important. Swainson's Zoological Swainson. Illustrations in three volumes, containing one hundred and eighty-two plates, whereof seventy represent birds, appeared between 1820 and 1821, and in 1829 a second series of the same was begun by him, which, extending to another three volumes, contained forty-eight more plates of birds out of one hundred and thirty-six, and was completed in 1833. All the figures were drawn by the author, who as an ornithological artist had no rival in his time. Every plate is not beyond criticism, but his worst drawings show more knowledge of bird-life than do the best of his English or French contemporaries. A work of somewhat similar character, but one in which the letterpress is of greater value, is the Lesson. Centurie zoologique of Lesson, a single volume that, though bearing the date 1830 on its title-page, is believed to have been begun in 1829, and was certainly not finished until 1831. It received the benefit of Isidore Geoffroy St-Hilaire's assistance. Notwithstanding its name it only contains eighty plates, but of them forty-two, all by Prêtre and in his usual stiff style, represent birds. Concurrently with this volume appeared Lesson's Traité d'ornithologie, which is dated 1831, and may perhaps be here most conveniently mentioned. Its professedly systematic form strictly relegates it to another group of works, but the presence of an “Atlas” (also in octavo) of one hundred and nineteen plates to some extent justifies its notice in this place. Between 1831 and 1834 the same author brought out, in continuation of his Centurie, his Illustrations de zoologie with sixty plates, twenty of which represent birds. In 1832 Kittlitz began to publish some Kittlitz. Kupfertafeln zur Naturgeschichte der Vögel, in which many new species are figured; but the work came to an end with its thirty-sixth plate in the following year. In 1845 Reichenbach Reichenbach. commenced with his Praktische Naturgeschichte der Vögel the extraordinary series of illustrated publications which, under titles far too numerous here to repeat, ended in or about 1855, and are commonly known collectively as his Vollständigste Naturgeschichte der Vögel. Herein are contained more than nine hundred coloured and more than one hundred uncoloured plates, which are crowded with the figures of birds, a large proportion of them reduced copies from other works, and especially those of Gould.
It now behoves us to turn to general and particularly systematic works in which plates, if they exist at all, form but an accessory to the text. These need not detain us for long, since, however well some of them may have been executed, regard being had to their epoch, and whatever repute some of them may have achieved, they are, so far as general information and especially classification is concerned, wholly obsolete, and most of them almost useless except as matters of antiquarian interest. It will be enough merely to name Duméril's Zoologie analytique (1806) and Gravenhorst's Vergleichende Übersicht des linneischen und einiger neuern zoologischen Shaw and Stephens. Systeme (1807); nor need we linger over Shaw's General Zoology, a pretentious compilation continued by Stephens. The last seven of its fourteen volumes include the Class Aves, and the first part of them appeared in 1809, but, the original author dying in 1815, when only two volumes of birds were published, the remainder was brought to an end in 1826 by his successor, who afterwards became well known as an entomologist. The engravings which these volumes contain are mostly bad copies, often of bad figures, though many are piracies from Bewick, and the whole is a most unsatisfactory performance. Of a very different kind is the next we have to notice, the Prodromus systematis mammalium et Illiger. avium of Illiger, published at Berlin in 1811, which must in its day have been a valuable little manual, and on many points it may now be consulted to advantage—the characters of the genera being admirably given, and good explanatory lists of the technical terms of ornithology furnished. The classification was quite new, and made a step distinctly in advance of anything Vieillot. that had before appeared. In 1816 Vieillot published at Paris an Analyse d'une nouvelle ornithologie élémentaire, containing a method of classification which he had tried in vain to get printed before, both in Turin and in London. Some of the ideas in this are said to have been taken from Illiger; but the two systems seem to be wholly distinct. Vieillot's was afterwards more fully expounded in the series of articles which he contributed between 1816 and 1819 to the second edition of the Nouveau dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle containing much valuable information. The views of neither of these systematizers pleased Temminck, who in Temminck. 1817 replied rather sharply to Vieillot in some Observations sur la classification méthodique des oiseaux, a pamphlet published at Amsterdam, and prefixed to the second edition of his Manuel d'ornithologie, which appeared in 1820, an Analyse du système général d'ornithologie. This proved a great success, and his arrangement, though by no means simple, was not only adopted by many ornithologists of almost every country, but still has some adherents. The following year Ranzani of Bologna, in his Elementi Ranzani. di zoologia—a very respectable compilation—came to treat of birds, and then followed to some extent the plan of De Blainville and Merrem (concerning which much more has to be said by and by), placing the Struthious birds in an Order by Wagler. themselves. In 1827 Wagler brought out the first part of a Systema avium, in this form never completed, consisting of forty-nine detached monographs of as many genera, the species of which are most elaborately described. The arrangement he subsequently adopted for them and for other groups is to be found in his Natürliches System der Amphibien (pp. 77-128), published in 1830, and is too fanciful to require any further attention. Kaup. The several attempts at system-making by Kaup, from his Allgemeine Zoologie in 1829 to his Über Classification der Vögel in 1849, were equally arbitrary and abortive; but his Skizzirte Entwickelungs-Geschichte in 1829 must be here named, as it is so often quoted on account of the number of new genera which the peculiar views he had embraced compelled him to invent. These views he shared more or less with Vigors and Swainson, and to them attention will be immediately especially invited, while consideration of the scheme gradually developed from 1831 onward Bonaparte. by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, and still not without its influence, is deferred until we come to treat of the rise and progress of what we may term the reformed school of ornithology. Yet injustice would be done to one of the ablest of those now to be called the old masters of the science if mention were not here made of the Conspectus generum avium, begun in 1850 by the naturalist last named, with the help of Schlegel, and unfortunately interrupted by its author's death six years later. G. R. Gray. The systematic publications of George Robert Gray, so long in charge of the ornithological collection of the British Museum, began with A List of the Genera of Birds published in 1840. This, having been closely, though by no means in a hostile spirit, criticized by Strickland (Ann. Nat. History, vi. p. 410; vii. pp. 26 and 159), was followed by a second edition in 1841, in which nearly all the corrections of the reviewer were adopted, and in 1844 began the publication of The Genera of Birds, beautifully illustrated—first by Mitchell and afterwards by Mr Wolf—which will always keep Gray's name in remembrance. The enormous labour required for this work seems scarcely to have been appreciated, though it remains to this day one of the most useful books in an ornithologist's library. Yet it must be confessed that its author was hardly an ornithologist, but for the accident of his calling. He was a thoroughly conscientious clerk, devoted to his duty and unsparing of trouble. However, to have conceived the idea of executing a work on so grand a scale as this—it forms three folio volumes, and contains one hundred and eighty-five coloured and one hundred and forty-eight uncoloured plates, with references to upwards of two thousand four hundred generic names—was in itself a mark of genius, and it was brought to a successful conclusion in 1849. Costly as it necessarily was, it has been of great service to working ornithologists. In 1855 Gray brought out, as one of the Museum publications, A Catalogue of the Genera and Subgenera of Birds, a handy little volume, naturally founded on the larger works. Its chief drawback is that it does not give any more reference to the authority for a generic term than the name of its inventor and the year of its application, though of course more precise information would have at least doubled the size of the book. The same deficiency became still more apparent when, between 1869 and 1871, he published his Hand-List of Genera and Species of Birds in three octavo volumes (or parts, as they are called). Giebel's Thesaurus Giebel. ornithologiae, also in three volumes, published between 1872 and 1877, is a slight advance, but both works have been completely superseded by the British Museum Catalogue of Birds, the twenty-seventh and final volume of which was published in 1895, and by the compact and invaluable British Museum Hand-List, the four volumes of which were completed by Dr R. B. Sharpe in 1903.
It may be convenient here to deal with the theory of the Quinary System, which was promulgated with great zeal by its Quinary system. upholders during the end of the first and early part of the second quarter of the 19th century, and for some years seemed likely to carry all before it. The success it gained was doubtless due in some degree to the difficulty which most men had in comprehending it, for it was enwrapped in alluring mystery, but more to the confidence with which it was announced as being the long-looked-for key to the wonders of creation, since its promoters did not hesitate to term it the discovery of “the Natural System,” though they condescended, by way of explanation to less exalted intellects than their own, to allow it the more moderate appellation of the Circular or Quinary System.
A comparison of the relation of created beings to a number of intersecting circles is as old as the days of Nieremberg, who in 1635 wrote (Historia naturae, lib. iii. cap. 3)—“Nullus hiatus est, nulla fractio, nulla dispersion formarum, invicem connexa sunt velut annulus annulo”; but it is almost clear that he was thinking only of a chain. In 1806 Fischer de Waldheim, in his Tableaux synoptiques de zoognosie (p. 181), quoting Nieremberg, extended his figure of speech, and, while justly deprecating the notion that the series of forms belonging to any particular group of creatures—the Mammalia was that whence he took his instance—could be placed in a straight line, imagined the various genera to be arrayed in a series of contiguous circles around Man as a centre. Though there is nothing to show that Fischer intended, by what is here said, to do anything else than illustrate more fully the marvellous interconnexion of different animals, or that he attached any realistic meaning to his metaphor, his words were eagerly caught up by the Macleay. prophet of the new faith. This was William Sharpe Macleay, a man of education and real genius, who in 1819 and 1821 brought out a work under the title of Horae Entomologicae, which was soon after hailed by Vigors as containing a new Vigors. revelation, and applied by him to ornithology in some “Observations on the Natural Affinities that connect the Orders and Families of Birds,” read before the Linnean Society of London in 1823, and afterwards published in its Transactions (xiv. pp. 395-517). In the following year Vigors returned to the subject in some papers published in the recently established Zoological Journal, and found an energetic con disciple and coadjutor in Swainson. Swainson, who, for more than a dozen years—to the end, in fact, of his career as an ornithological writer—was instant in season and out of season in pressing on all his readers the views he had, through Vigors, adopted from Macleay, though not without some modification of detail if not of principle. What these views were it would be manifestly improper for a sceptic to state except in the terms of a believer. Their enunciation must therefore be given in Swainson's own words, though it must be admitted that space cannot be found here for the diagrams, which it was alleged were necessary for the right understanding of the theory. This theory, as originally propounded by Macleay, was said by Swainson in 1835 (Geogr. and Classific. of Animals, p. 202) to have consisted of the following propositions:—
“1. That the series of natural animals is continuous, forming, as it were, a circle; so that, upon commencing at any one given point, and thence tracing all the modifications of structure, we shall be imperceptibly led, after passing through numerous forms, again to the point from which we started.
“2. That no groups are natural which do not exhibit, or show an evident tendency to exhibit, such a circular series.
“3. That the primary divisions of every large group are ten, five of which are composed of comparatively large circles, and five of smaller: these latter being termed osculant, and being intermediate between the former, which they serve to connect.
“4. That there is a tendency in such groups as are placed at the opposite points of a circle of affinity ‘to meet each other.’
“5. That one of the five larger groups into which every natural circle is divided ‘bears a resemblance to all the rest, or, more strictly speaking, consists of types which represent those of each of the four other groups, together with a type peculiar to itself.’ ”
As subsequently modified by Swainson (tom. cit. pp. 224, 225), the foregoing propositions take the following form:—
“I. That every natural series of beings, in its progress from a given point, either actually returns, or evinces a tendency to return, again to that point, thereby forming a circle.
“II. The primary circular divisions of every group are three actually, or five apparently.
“III. The contents of such a circular group are symbolically (or analogically) represented by the contents of all other circles in the animal kingdom.
“IV. That these primary divisions of every group are characterized by definite peculiarities of form, structure and economy, which, under diversified modifications, are uniform throughout the animal kingdom, and are therefore to be regarded as the primary types of nature.
“V. That the different ranks or degrees of circular groups exhibited in the animal kingdom are nine in number, each being involved within the other.”
Though, as above stated, the theory here promulgated owed its temporary success chiefly to the extraordinary assurance and pertinacity with which it was urged upon a public generally incapable of understanding what it meant, that it received some support from men of science must be admitted. A “circular system” was advocated by the eminent botanist Fries, and the views of Macleay met with the partial approbation of the celebrated entomologist Kirby, while at least as much may be said of the imaginative Oken, whose mysticism far surpassed that of the Quinarians. But it is obvious to every one who nowadays indulges in the profitless pastime of studying their writings that, as a whole, they failed in grasping the essential difference between homology (or “affinity,” as they generally termed it) and analogy—though this difference had been fully understood and set forth by Aristotle himself—and, moreover, that in seeking for analogies on which to base their foregone conclusions they were often put to hard shifts. Another singular fact is that they often seemed to be totally unaware of the tendency if not the meaning of some of their own expressions: thus Macleay could write, and doubtless in perfect good faith (Trans. Linn. Society, xvi. p. 9, note), “Naturalists have nothing to do with mysticism, and but little with a priori reasoning.” Yet his followers, if not he himself, were ever making use of language in the highest degree metaphorical, and were always explaining facts Fleming. in accordance with preconceived opinions. Fleming, already the author of a harmless and extremely orthodox Philosophy of Zoology, pointed out in 1829 in the Quarterly Review (xli. pp. 302-327) some of the fallacies of Macleay's method, and in return provoked from him a reply, in the form of a letter addressed to Vigors On the Dying Struggle of the Dichotomous System, couched in language the force of which no one even at the present day can deny, though to the modern naturalist its invective power contrasts ludicrously with the strength of its ratiocination. But, confining ourselves to what is here our special business, it is to be remarked that perhaps the heaviest blow dealt at these strange doctrines was that delivered by Rennie, who, in an edition of Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary (pp. xxxiii.-lv.), published in 1831 and again issued in 1833, attacked the Quinary System, and especially its application to ornithology by Vigors and Swainson, in a way that might perhaps have demolished it, had not the author mingled with his undoubtedly sound reason much that is foreign to any question with which a naturalist, as such, ought to deal—though that herein he was only following the example of one of his opponents, who had constantly treated the subject in like manner, is to be allowed. This did not hinder Swainson, who had succeeded in getting the ornithological portion of the first zoological work ever published at the expense of the British government (namely, the Fauna Boreali-Americana) executed in accordance with his own opinions, from maintaining them more strongly than ever in several of the volumes treating of Natural History which he contributed to the Cabinet Cyclopaedia—among others that from which we have just given some extracts—and in what may be deemed the culmination in England of the Quinary System, the volume of the “Naturalist's Library” on The Natural Arrangement and History of Flycatchers, published in 1838, of which unhappy performance mention has already been made in this present work (vol. x. p. 584, note). This seems to have been his last attempt; for, two years later, his Bibliography of Zoology shows little trace of his favourite theory, though nothing he had uttered in its support was retracted. Appearing almost simultaneously with this work, an article by Strickland (Mag. Nat. Strickland. History, ser. 2, iv. pp. 219-226) entitled Observations upon the Affinities and Analogies of Organized Beings administered to the theory a shock from which it never recovered, though attempts were now and then made by its adherents to revive it; and, even ten years or more later, Kaup, one of the few foreign ornithologists who had embraced Quinary principles, was by mistaken kindness allowed to publish Monographs of the Birds-of-Prey (Jardine's Contributions to Ornithology, 1849, pp. 68-75, 96-121; 1850, pp. 51-80; 1851, pp. 119-130; 1852, pp. 103-122; and Trans. Zool. Society, iv. pp. 201-260), in which its absurdity reached the climax.
The mischief caused by this theory of a Quinary System was very great, but was chiefly confined to Britain, for (as has been already stated) the extraordinary views of its adherents found little favour on the continent of Europe. The purely artificial character of the System of Linnaeus and his successors had been perceived, and men were at a loss to find a substitute for it. The new doctrine, loudly proclaiming the discovery of a “Natural” System, led away many from the steady practice which should have followed the teaching of Cuvier (though he in ornithology had not been able to act up to the principles he had lain down) and from the extended study of Comparative Anatomy. Moreover, it veiled the honest attempts that were making both in France and Germany to find real grounds for establishing an improved state of things, and consequently the labours of De Blainville, Etienne, Geoffroy St-Hilaire and L'Herminier, of Merrem, Johannes Müller and Nitzsch—to say nothing of others—were almost wholly unknown on this side of the Channel, and even the value of the investigations of British ornithotomists of high merit, such as Macartney and Macgillivray, was almost completely overlooked. True it is that there were not wanting other men in these islands whose common sense refused to accept the metaphorical doctrine and the mystical jargon of the Quinarians, but so strenuously and persistently had the latter asserted their infallibility, and so vigorously had they assailed any who ventured to doubt it, that most peaceable ornithologists found it best to bend to the furious blast, and in some sort to acquiesce at least in the phraseology of the self-styled interpreters of Creative Will. But, while thus lamenting this unfortunate perversion into a mistaken channel of ornithological energy, we must not over blame those who caused it. Macleay indeed never pretended to a high position in this branch of science, his tastes lying in the direction of Entomology; but few of their countrymen knew more of birds than did Swainson and Vigors; and, while the latter, as editor for many years of the Zoological Journal, and the first secretary of the Zoological Society, has especial claims to the regard of all zoologists, so the former's indefatigable pursuit of Natural History, and conscientious labour in its behalf—among other ways by means of his graceful pencil—deserve to be remembered as a set-off against the injury he unwittingly caused.
It is now incumbent upon us to take a rapid survey of the ornithological works which come more or less under the designation Faunae. of “Faunae”; but these are so numerous that it will be necessary to limit this survey, as before indicated, to those countries alone which form the homes of English people, or are commonly visited by them in ordinary travel.
Beginning with New Zealand, it is hardly needful to go further back than Sir W. L. Buller's beautiful Birds of New Zealand (4to, New Zealand. 1872-1873), with coloured plates by Keulemans, since the publication of which the same author has issued a Manual of the Birds of New Zealand (8vo, 1882), founded on the former; but justice requires that mention be made of the labours of G. R. Gray, first in the Appendix to Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand (1843) and then in the ornithological portion of the Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. “Erebus” and “Terror,” begun in 1864, but left unfinished from the following year until completed by Mr Sharpe in 1876. A considerable number of valuable papers on the ornithology of the country by Sir W. L. Buller, Drs Hector and Von Haast, F. W. Hutton, Mr Potts and others are to be found in the Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. Sir W. L. Buller's Supplement to the Birds of New Zealand (1905-1906) completes the great work of this author.
Passing to Australia, we have the first good description of some of its birds in the several old voyages and in Latham's works before Australia. mentioned. Shaw's Zoology of New Holland (4to, 1794) added those of a few more, as did J. W. Lewin's Natural History of the Birds of New South Wales (4to, 1822), which reached a third edition in 1838. Gould's great Birds of Australia has been already named, and he subsequently reproduced with some additions the text of that work under the title of Handbook to the Birds of Australia (2 vols. 8vo, 1865). In 1866 Mr Diggles commenced a similar publication, The Ornithology of Australia, but the coloured plates, though fairly drawn, are not comparable to those of his predecessor. This is still incomplete, though the parts that have appeared have been collected to form two volumes and issued with title-pages. Some notices of Australian birds by Mr Ramsay and others are to be found in the Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales and of the Royal Society of Tasmania.
Coming to British Indian possessions, and beginning with Ceylon, we have Kelaart's Prodromus faunae Zeylanicae (8vo, 1852), and Ceylon. the admirable Birds of Ceylon by Captain Legge (4to, 1878-1880), with coloured plates by Mr Keulemans of all the peculiar species. It is hardly possible to name any book that has been more conscientiously executed than this. Blyth's Mammals and Birds of Burma (8vo, 1875) contains much valuable information. Jerdon's Birds of India (8vo, 1862-1864; reprinted 1877) is a comprehensive work on the ornithology of the peninsula. A very fairly executed compilation on the subject by India. an anonymous writer is to be found in a late edition of the Cyclopaedia of India, published at Madras, and W. T. Blanford's Birds of British India (1898) remains the standard work. Stray Feathers, an ornithological journal for India and its dependencies, contains many interesting and some valuable papers.
In regard to South Africa, besides the well-known work of Le Vaillant already mentioned, there is the second volume of Sir South Africa. Andrew Smith's Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa (4to, 1838-1842), which is devoted to birds. This is an important but cannot be called a satisfactory work. Its one hundred and fourteen plates by Ford truthfully represent one hundred and twenty-two of the mounted specimens obtained by the author in his explorations into the interior. Layard's handy Birds of South Africa (8vo, 1867), though by no means free from faults, has much to recommend it. A so-called new edition of it by K. B. Sharpe apiieared in 1875-1884, but was executed on a plan so wholly different that it must be regarded as a distinct work. C. J. Andersson's Notes on the Birds of Damara Land (8vo, 1872), edited by J. H. Gurney, was useful in its day, but has been superseded by the more comprehensive and extremely accurate volumes, the Birds of Africa, by G. E. Shelley (1900-1907), and the German work on the same subject by Anton Reichenow (1900-1905).
Of special works relating to the British West Indies, C. Waterton's well-known Wanderings has passed through several editions since West Indies. its first appearance in 1825, and must be mentioned here, though, strictly speaking, much of the country he traversed was not British territory. To Dr Cabanis we are indebted for the ornithological results of Richard Schomburgh's researches given in the third volume (pp. 662-765) of the latter's Reisen im Britisch-Guiana (8vo, 1848), and then in Léotaud's Oiseaux de l'île de la Trinidad (8vo, 1866). Of the Antilles there is only to be named P. H. Gosse's excellent Birds of Jamaica (12mo, 1847), together with its Illustrations (sm. fol., 1849) beautifully executed by him. A nominal list, with references, of the birds of the island is contained in the Handbook of Jamaica.
[An admirable “List of Faunal Publications relating to North American Ornithology” up to 1878 has been given by Elliott North America. Coues as an appendix to his Birds of the Colorado Valley (pp. 567-784). Special mention should be made of the following works most of which have appeared since that time: S. F. Baird, T. M. Brewer and Robert Ridgway, History of North American Birds: The Land Birds (3 vols., Boston, 1875), The Water Birds (2 vols., Boston, 1884); Elliott Coues, Check List of North American Birds (Boston, 1882), Key to North American Birds (Boston, 1887), Birds of the Northwest, U.S. Geological Survey, Misc. pubs., No. 3 (1874) and Birds of the Colorado Valley, ibid. No. 11 (1878); Robert Ridgway, Manual of North American Birds (Philadelphia, 1887); Frank M. Chapman, Color Key to North American Birds (New York, 1903); Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America (ibid., 1895) and The Warblers of North America (ibid., 1907), with notable coloured illustrations by L. A. Fuertes and Bruce Horsfall; Dr. A. K. Fisher, Hawks and Owls of the United States in their Relation to Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bull. No. 3 (Washington, 1893), a very important work; D. G. Elliot, Gallinaceous Game Birds of North America (Mew York, 1897) and Wild Fowl of the United States and British Possessions (1898), and Robert Ridgway's learned and invaluable Birds of North and Middle America, published by the Smithsonian Institution, Bull. No. 50 (Washington, 1901 sqq.). Among contemporary writers in a more popular style are John Burroughs (q.v.); Herbert K. Job and A. R. Dugmore who have done much remarkable work in bird photography; Dallas Lore Sharp, Bradford Torrey, E. H. Parkhurst, Mrs Florence Merriam Bailey, Olive Thorne Miller (Mrs Harriet Mann Miller) and Mrs Mabel Osgood Wright. Alexander Wilson's American Ornithology, originally published beween 1808 and 1814, has gone through many editions including those issued in Great Britain, by Jameson (4 vols. 16 mo, 1831), and Jardine (3 vols. 8vo, 1832). The former of these has the entire text, but no plates; the latter reproduces the plates, but the text is in places much condensed, and excellent notes are added. A continuation of Wilson's work was issued by Bonaparte between 1825 and 1833, and most of the later editions include the work of both authors. The works of Audubon, and the Fauna Boreali-Americana of Richardson and Swainson have already been noticed, but they need naming here, as also do Nuttall's Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and of Canada (2 vols., Boston, 1832-1834; 2nd ed., 1840); and the Birds of Long Island (8vo. New York, 1844) by J. P. Giraud, remarkable for its excellent account of the habits of shore-birds. The Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club was published from 1876 to 1884, when it was superseded by The Auk. A bi-monthly, Bird-Lore, established in 1899, is edited by Frank M. Chapman. A recent valuable work is that of Mary B. Beebe and C. W. Beebe, Our Search for a Wilderness (New York, 1910) which deals with the birds of Venezuela and British Guiana, while Central America is fully treated in the comprehensive and beautiful Biologia Centrali-Americana of F. du Cane Godman and O. Salvin (1898-1905). X.]
Returning to the Old World, we have first Iceland, the fullest—indeed the only full—account of the birds of which is Faber's Prodromus der isländischen Ornithologie (8vo, 1822), though the island has since been visited by several good ornithologists—Proctor, Scandinavia. Krüper and Wolley among them. A list of its birds, with some notes, bibliographical and biological, has been given as an Appendix to Baring-Gould's Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas (8vo, 1862); and Shepherd's North-west Peninsula of Iceland (8vo, 1867) recounts a somewhat profitless expedition made thither expressly for ornithological objects. For the birds of the Faeroes there is H. C. Müller's Faeröernes Fuglefauna (8vo, 1862), of which a German translation has appeared. The ornithology of Norway has been treated in a great many papers by Herr Collett, some of which may be said to have been separately published as Norges Fugle (8vo, 1868; with a supplement, 1871), and The Ornithology of Northern Norway (8vo, 1872)—this last in English. For Scandinavia generally Herr Collin's Skandinaviens Fugle (8vo, 1873) is a greatly bettered edition of the very moderate Danmarks Fugle of Kjaerbölling; but the ornithological portion of Nilsson's Skandinavisk Fauna, Foglarna (3rd ed., 2 vols., 8vo, 1858) is of great merit; while the text of Sundevall's Svenska Foglarna (obl. fol., 1856-1873), unfortunately unfinished at his death, and Herr Holmgren's Skandinaviens Foglar (2 vols. 8vo, 1866-1875) deserve naming.
Works on the birds of Germany are far too numerous to be recounted. That of the two Naumanns stands at the head of all, Germany. and perhaps at the head of the “Faunal” works of all countries. It has been added to by C. R. Hennicke—Naumann's Birds of Middle Europe (1907). For want of space it must here suffice simply to name some of the ornithologists who have elaborated, to an extent elsewhere unknown, the science as regards their own country: Altum, Baldamus, Bechstein, Blasius (father and two sons), Bolle, Borggreve, whose Vogel-Fauna von Norddeutschland (8vo, 1869) contains what is practically a bibliographical index to the subject, Brehm (father and sons), Von Droste, Gätke, Gloger, Hintz, Alexander and Eugen von Homeyer, Jäckel, Koch, König-Warthausen, Krüper, Kutter, Landbeck, Landois, Leisler, Von Maltzan, Bernard Meyer, Von der Mühle, Neumann, Tobias, Johann Wolf and Zander. Were we to extend the list beyond the boundaries of the German empire, and include the ornithologists of Austria, Bohemia and the other states subject to the same monarch, the number would be nearly doubled; but that would overpass our proposed limits, though Herr von Pelzeln must be named. Passing onward to Switzerland, we must content ourselves by referring to the list of works, forming a Bibliographia ornithologica Helvetica, drawn up by Dr Stölker for Dr Fatio's Italy. Bulletin de la Société Ornithologique Suisse (ii. pp. 90-119). As to Italy, we can but name here the Fauna d'Italia, of which the second part, Uccelli (8vo, 1872), by Count Salvadori contains an excellent bibliography of Italian works on the subject, and the posthumously published Ornitologia italiana of Savi (3 vols. 8vo, 1873-1877). Coming to the Iberian peninsula, we must in default of separate works depart from our rule of not mentioning contributions to journals, for of the former there are only Colonel Irby's Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar (8vo, 1875) and Mr A. C. Smith's Spring Tour in Portugal to be named, and these only partially cover the ground. However, Dr A. E. Brehm has published a list of Spanish birds (Allgem. deutsche naturhist. Zeitung, iii. p. 431), and The Ibis contains several excellent papers by Lord Lilford and by H. Saunders, the latter of whom there records (1871, p. 55) the few works on ornithology by Spanish authors, and in the Bulletin de la Société Zoologique de France (i. p. 315; ii. pp. 11, 89, 185) has given a list of the Spanish birds known to him.
Returning northwards, we have of the birds of the whole of France nothing of real importance more recent than the volume France. Oiseaux in Vieillot's Faune française (8vo, 1822-1829); but there is a great number of local publications of which Mr Saunders has furnished (Zoologist, 1878, pp. 95-99) a catalogue. Some of these seem only to have appeared in journals, but many have certainly been issued separately. Those of most interest to English ornithologists naturally refer to Britanny, Normandy and Picardy, and are by Baillon, Benoist, Blandin, Bureau, Canivet, Chesnon, Degland, Demarle, De Norguet, Gentil, Hardy, Lemetteil, Lemonnicier, Lesauvage, Maignon, Marcotte, Nourry and Taslé, while perhaps the Ornithologie parisienne of M. René Paquet, under the pseudonym of Nérée Quepat, should also be named. Of the rest the most important are the Ornithologie provençale of Roux (2 vols. 4to, 1825-1829); Risso's Histoire naturelle . . . des environs de Nice (5 vols. 8vo. 1826-1827); the Ornithologie du Dauphiné of Bouteille and Labatie (2 vols. 8vo, 1843-1844); the Faune méridional of Crespon (2 vols. 8vo, 1844); the Ornithologie de la Savoie of Bailly (4 vols. 8vo, 1853-1854), and Les Richesses ornithologiques du midi de la France (4to, 1859-1861) of MM. Jaubert and Belgium. Barthélemy-Lapommeraye. For Belgium the Faune belge of Baron De Selys-Longchamps (8vo, 1842), old as it is, remains the classical work, though the Planches coloriées des oiseaux de la Belgique of M. Dubois (8vo, 1851-1860) is so much Holland. later in date. In regard to Holland we have Schlegel's De Vogels van Nederland (3 vols. 8vo, 1854-1858; 2nd ed., vols., 1878), besides his De Dieren van Nederland: Vogels (8vo, 1861).
Before considering the ornithological works relating solely to the British Islands, it may be well to cast a glance on a few of those Europe in general. that refer to Europe in general, the more so since most of them are of Continental origin. First we have the already-mentioned Manuel d'ornithologie of Temminck, which originally appeared as a single volume in 1815; but that was speedily superseded by the second edition of 1820, in two volumes. Two supplementary parts were issued in 1835 and 1840 respectively, and the work for many years deservedly maintained the highest position as the authority on European ornithology—indeed in England it may almost without exaggeration be said to have been nearly the only foreign ornithological work known; but, as could only be expected, grave defects are now to be discovered in it. Some of them were already manifest when one of its author's colleagues, Schlegel (who had been employed to write the text for Susemihl's plates, originally intended to illustrate Temminck's work), brought out his bilingual Revue critique des oiseaux d'Europe (8vo, 1844), a very remarkable volume, since it correlated and consolidated the labours of French and German, to say nothing of Russian, ornithologists. Of Gould's Birds of Europe (5 vols. fol., 1832-1837) nothing need be added to what has been already said. The year 1849 saw the publication of Degland's Ornithologie européenne (2 vols. 8vo), a work fully intended to take the place of Temminck's; but of which Bonaparte, in a caustic but by no means ill-deserved Revue critique (12 mo, 1850), said that the author had performed a miracle since he had worked without a collection of specimens and without a library. A second edition, revised by M. Gerbe (2 vols. 8vo, 1867), strove to remedy, and to some extent did remedy, the grosser errors of the first, but enough still remain to make few statements in the work trustworthy unless corroborated by other evidence. Meanwhile in England Dr Bree had in 1858 begun the publication of The Birds of Europe not observed in the British Isles (4 vols. 8vo), which was completed in 1863, and in 1875 reached a second and improved edition (5 vols.). In 1862 M. Dubois brought out a similar work on the “Espèces non observées en Belgique,” being supplementary to that of his above named. In 1870 Anton Fritsch completed his Naturgeschichte der Vögel Europas (8vo, with atlas in folio); and in 1871 Messrs Sharpe and Dresser began the publication of their Birds of Europe, which was completed by the latter in 1879 (8 vols. 4to), and is unquestionably the most complete work of its kind, both for fulness of information and beauty of illustration—the coloured plates being nearly all by Keulemans. This work has since been completed by H. E. Dresser's Supplement to the Birds of Europe (1896). H. Noble's List of European Birds (1898) is a useful compilation, and Dresser's magnificent Eggs of the Birds of Europe is another great contribution by that author to European ornithology.
Coming now to works on British birds only, the first of the present century that requires remark is Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary British Isles. (2 vols. 8vo, 1802; supplement 1813), the merits of which have been so long and so fully acknowledged both abroad and at home that no further comment is here wanted. In 1831 Rennie brought out a modified edition of it (reissued in 1833), and Newman another in 1866 (reissued in 1883); but those who wish to know the author's views had better consult the original. Next in order come the very inferior British Ornithology of Graves (3 vols. 8vo, 181 1-1821), and a work with the same title by Hunt (3 vols. 8vo, 1815-1822), published at Norwich, but never finished. Then we have Selby's Illustrations of British Ornithology, two folio volumes of coloured plates engraved by himself, between 1821 and 1833, with letterpress also in two volumes (8vo, 1825-1833), a second edition of the first volume being also issued (1833), for the author, having yielded to the pressure of the “Quinarian” doctrines then in vogue, thought it necessary to adjust his classification accordingly, and it must be admitted that for information the second edition is best. In 1828 Fleming brought out his History of British Animals (8vo), in which the birds are treated at considerable length (pp. 41-146), though not with great success. In 1835 Mr Jenyns (afterwards Blomefield) produced as excellent Manual of British Vertebrate Animals, a volume (8vo) executed with great scientific skill, the birds again receiving due attention (pp. 49-286), and the descriptions of the various species being as accurate as they are terse. In the same year began the Coloured Illustrations of British Birds and their Eggs of H. L. Meyer (4to), which was completed in 1843, whereof a second edition (7 vols. 8vo, 1842-1850) was brought out, and subsequently (1852-1857) a reissue of the latter. In 1836 appeared Eyton's History of the rarer British Birds, intended as a sequel to Bewick's well-known volumes, to which no important additions had been made since the issue of 1821. The year 1837 saw the beginning of two remarkable works by Macgillivray and Yarrell respectively, and each entitled A History of British Birds. Of Yarrell's work in three volumes, a second edition was published in 1845, a third in 1856, and a fourth, begun in 1871, and almost wholly rewritten. Of the compilations based upon this work, without which they could not have been composed, there is no need to speak. One of the few appearing since, with the same scope, that are not borrowed is Jardine's Birds of Great Britain and Ireland (4 vols. 8vo, 1838-1843), forming part of his Naturalist's Library; and Gould's Birds of Great Britain has been already mentioned. The local works on English birds are too numerous to be mentioned; almost every county has had its ornithology recorded. Of more recent general works there should be mentioned A. G. Butler's British Birds with their Nests and Eggs (6 vols., 1896), the various editions of Howard Saunders's Manual of British Birds, and Lord Lilford's beautifully illustrated Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Islands (1885-1897).
The good effects of “Faunal” works such as those named in the foregoing rapid survey none can doubt, but important as they are, they do not of themselves constitute ornithology as a science; and an inquiry, no less wide and far more recondite, still remains. By whatever term we choose to call it—Classification, Arrangement, Systematizing or Taxonomy—that inquiry which has for its object the discovery of the natural groups into which birds fall, and the mutual relations of those groups, has always been one of the deepest interest. It is now for us to trace the rise of the present more advanced school of ornithologists, whose labours yet give signs of far greater promise.
It would probably be unsafe to place its origin further back than a few scattered hints contained in the “Pterographische Nitzsch. Fragmente” of Christian Ludwig Nitzsch, published in the Magazin für den neuesten Zustand der Naturkunde (edited by Voigt) for May 1806 (xi. pp. 393-417), and even these might be left to pass unnoticed, were it not that we recognize in them the germ of the great work which the same admirable zoologist subsequently accomplished. In these “Fragments,” apparently his earliest productions, we find him engaged on the subject with which his name will always be especially identified, the structure and arrangement of feathers. In the following year another set of hints—of a kind so different that probably no one then living would have thought it possible that they should ever be brought in correlation with those of Nitzsch—are contained in a memoir on Fishes contributed to the tenth volume of the Annales É. G. St-Hilaire. du Museum d'histoire naturelle of Paris by Étienne Geoffroy St-Hilaire in 1807. Here we have it stated as a general truth (p. 100) that young birds have the sternum formed of five separate pieces—one in the middle, being its keel, and two “annexes” on each side to which the ribs are articulated—all, however, finally uniting to form the single “breast-bone.” Further on (pp. 101, 102) we find observations as to the number of ribs which are attached to each of the “annexes”—there being sometimes more of them articulated to the anterior than to the posterior, and in certain forms no ribs belonging to one, all being applied to the other. Moreover, the author goes on to remark that in adult birds trace of the origin of the sternum from five centres of ossification is always more or less indicated by sutures, and that, though these sutures had been generally regarded as ridges for the attachment of the sternal muscles, they indeed mark the extreme points of the five primary bony pieces of the sternum.
In 1810 appeared at Heidelberg the first volume of F. Tiedemann's carefully-wrought Anatomie und Naturgeschichte Tiedemann. der Vögel—which shows a remarkable advance upon the work which Cuvier did in 1805, and in some respects is superior to his later production of 1817. It is, however, only noticed here on account of the numerous references made to it by succeeding writers, for neither in this nor in the author's second volume (not published until 1814) did he propound any systematic arrangement of the Class. More germane to our present subject are the Osteographische Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte der Vögel of C. L. Nitzsch, printed at Leipzig in Nitzsch. 1811—a miscellaneous set of detached essays on some peculiarities of the skeleton or portions of the skeleton of certain birds—one of the most remarkable of which is that on the component parts of the foot (pp. 101-105) pointing out the aberration from the ordinary structure exhibited by the Goatsucker (Caprimulgus) and the Swift (Cypselus)—an aberration which, if rightly understood, would have conveyed a warning to those ornithological systematists who put their trust in birds toes for characters on which to erect a classification, that there was in them more of importance, hidden in the integument, than had hitherto been suspected; but the warning was of little avail, if any, till many years had elapsed. However, Nitzsch had not as yet seen his way to proposing any methodical arrangement of the various groups of birds, and it was not until some eighteen months later that a scheme of classification in the main anatomical was attempted.
This scheme was the work of Blasius Merrem, who, in a communication to the Academy of Sciences of Berlin on the Merrem. 10th December 1812, which was published in its Abhandlungen for the following year (pp. 237-259), set forth a Tentamen systematis naturalis avium, no less modestly entitled than modestly executed. The attempt of Merrem must be regarded as the virtual starting-point of the latest efforts in Systematic Ornithology, and in that view its proposals deserve to be stated at length. Without pledging ourselves to the acceptance of all its details—some of which, as is only natural, cannot be sustained with our present knowledge—it is certainly not too much to say that Merrem's merits are almost incomparably superior to those of any of his predecessors. Premising then that the chief characters assigned by this systematist to his several groups are drawn from almost all parts of the structure of birds, and are supplemented by some others of their more prominent peculiarities, we present the following abstract of his scheme:—
|C. Mellisugae.—Trochilus, Certhiae et Upupae plurimae.|
|D. Dendrocolaptae.—Picus, Yunx.|
|E. Brevilingues.—a. Upupa; b. Ispidae.|
|F. Levirostres.—a. Ramphastus, Scythrops?; h. Psittacus.|
|G. Coccyges.—Cuculus, Trogon, Bucco, Crotophaga.|
The most novel feature, and one the importance of which most ornithologists of the present day are fully prepared to admit, is the separation of the class Aves into two great divisions, which from one of the most obvious distinctions they present were called by its author Carinatae and Ratitae, according as the sternum possesses a keel (crista in the phraseology of many anatomists) or not. But Merrem, who subsequently communicated to the Academy of Berlin a more detailed memoir on the “flat-breasted” birds, was careful not here to rest his divisions on the presence or absence of their sternal character alone. He concisely cites (p. 238) no fewer than eight other characters of more or less value as peculiar to the Carinate Division, the first of which is that the feathers have their barbs furnished with hooks, in consequence of which the barbs, including those of the wing-quills, cling closely together; while among the rest may be mentioned the position of the furcula and coracoids, which keep the wing-bones apart; the limitation of the number of the lumbar vertebra to fifteen, and of the carpals to two; as well as the divergent direction of the iliac bones—the corresponding characters peculiar to the Ratite Division being the disconnected condition of the barbs of the feathers, through the absence of any hooks whereby they might cohere; the non-existence of the furcula, and the coalescence of the coracoids with the scapulae (or, as he expressed it, the extension of the scapulae to supply the place of the coracoids, which he thought were wanting); the lumbar vertebrae being twenty and the carpals three in number; and the parallelism of the iliac bones.
As for Merrem's partitioning of the inferior groups there is less to be said in its praise as a whole, though credit must be given to his anatomical knowledge for leading him to the perception of several affinities, as well as differences, that had never before been suggested by superficial systematists. But it must be confessed that (chiefly, no doubt, from paucity of accessible material) he overlooked many points, both of alliance and the opposite, which since his time have gradually come to be admitted.
Notice has next to be taken of a Memoir on the Employment of Sternal Characters in establishing Natural Families among De Blainville. Birds, which was read by De Blainville before the Academy of Sciences of Paris in 1815, but not published in full for more than five years later (Journal de physique . . . et des arts, xcii. 185-215), though an abstract forming part of a Prodrome d'une nouvelle distribution du règne animal appeared earlier (op. cit. lxxxiii. 252, 253, 258, 259; and Bull. soc. philomath. de Paris, 1816, p. 110). This is a very disappointing performance, since the author observes that, notwithstanding his new classification of birds is based on a study of the form of the sternal apparatus, yet, because that lies wholly within the body, he is compelled to have recourse to such outward characters as are afforded by the proportion of the limbs and the disposition of the toes—even as had been the practice of most ornithologists before him! It is evident that the features of the sternum of which De Blainville chiefly relied were those drawn from its posterior margin, which no very extensive experience of specimens is needed to show are of comparatively slight value; for the number of “échancrures”—notches as they have sometimes been called in English—when they exist, goes but a very short way as a guide, and is so variable in some very natural groups as to be even in that short way occasionally misleading. There is no appearance of his having at all taken into consideration the far more trustworthy characters furnished by the anterior part of the sternum, as well as by the coracoids and the furcula. Still De Blainville made some advance in a right direction, as for instance by elevating the parrots and the pigeons as “Ordres,” equal in rank to that of the birds of prey and some others. According to the testimony of L'Herminier (for whom see later) he divided the “Passereaux” into two sections, the “faux” and the “vrais”; but, while the latter were very correctly defined, the former were most arbitrarily separated from the “Grimpeurs.” He also split his Grallatores and Natatores (practically identical with the Grallae and Anseres of Linnaeus) each into four sections; but he failed to see—as on his own principles he ought to have seen—that each of these sections was at least equivalent to almost any one of his other “Ordres.” He had, however, the courage to act up to his own professions in collocating the rollers (Coracias) with the bee eaters (Merops), and had the sagacity to surmise that Menura was not a Gallinaceous bird. The greatest benefit conferred by this memoir is probably that it stimulated the efforts, presently to be mentioned, of one of his pupils, and that it brought more distinctly into sight that other factor, originally discovered by Merrem, of which it now clearly became the duty of systematize rs to take cognizance.
Following the chronological order we are here adopting, we next have to recur to the labours of Nitzsch, who, in 1820, in Nitzsch. a treatise on the nasal glands of birds—a subject that had already attracted the attention of Jacobson (Nouv. Bull. soc. philomath. de Paris, iii. 267-269)—first put forth in Meckel's Deutsches Archiv für die Physiologie (vi. 251-269) a statement of his general views on ornithological classification which were based on a comparative examination of those bodies in various forms. It seems unnecessary here to occupy space by giving an abstract of his plan, which hardly includes any but European species, because it was subsequently elaborated with no inconsiderable modifications in a way that must presently be mentioned at greater length. But the scheme, crude as it was, possesses some interest. It is not only a key to much of his later work—to nearly all indeed that was published in his lifetime—but in it are founded several definite groups (for example, Passerinae and Picariae) that subsequent experience has shown to be more or less natural; and it further serves as additional evidence of the breadth of his views, and his trust in the teachings of anatomy.
That Nitzsch took this extended view is abundantly proved by the valuable series of ornithotomical observations which he must have been for some time accumulating, and almost immediately afterwards began to contribute to the younger Naumann's excellent Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands, already noticed above. Besides a concise general treatise on the organization of birds to be found in the Introduction to this work (i. 23-52), a brief description from Nitzsch's pen of the peculiarities of the internal structure of nearly every genus is incorporated with the author's prefatory remarks, as each passed under consideration, and these descriptions being almost without exception so drawn up as to be comparative are accordingly of great utility to the student of classification, though they have been so greatly neglected. Upon these descriptions he was still engaged till death, in 1837, put an end to his labours, when his place as Naumann's assistant for the remainder of the work was taken by Rudolph Wagner; but, from time to time, a few more, which he had already completed, made their posthumous appearance in it, and, in subsequent years, some selections from his unpublished papers were through the care of Giebel presented to the public. Throughout the whole of this series the same marvellous industry and scrupulous accuracy are manifested, and attentive study of it will show how many times Nitzsch anticipated the conclusions of modern taxonomers. Yet over and over again his determination of the affinities of several groups even of European birds was disregarded; and his labours, being contained in a bulky and costly work, were hardly known at all outside of his own country, and within it by no means appreciated so much as they deserved—for even Naumann himself, who gave them publication, and was doubtless in some degree influenced by them, utterly failed to perceive the importance of the characters offered by the song-muscles of certain groups, though their peculiarities were all duly described and recorded by his coadjutor, as some indeed had been long before by Cuvier in his famous dissertation on the organs of voice in birds (Leçons d'anatomie comparée, iv. 450-491). Nitzsch's name was subsequently dismissed by Cuvier without a word of praise, and in terms which would have been applicable to many another and inferior author, while Temminck, terming Naumann's work an “ouvrage de luxe”—it being in truth one of the cheapest for its contents ever published—effectually shut it out from the realms of science. In Britain it seems to have been positively unknown until quoted some years after its completion by a catalogue-compiler on account of some peculiarities of nomenclature which it presented.
Now we must return to France, where, in 1827, L'Herminier, a Creole of Guadaloupe and a pupil of De Blainville's, contributed L'Herminier. to the Actes of the Linnaean Society of Paris for that year (vi. 3-93) the “Recherches sur l'appareil sternal des Oiseaux,” which the precept and example of his master had prompted him to undertake, and Cuvier had found for him the means of executing. A second and considerably enlarged edition of this very remarkable treatise was published as a separate work in the following year. We have already seen that De Blainville, though fully persuaded of the great value of sternal features as a method of classification, had been compelled to fall back upon the old pedal characters so often employed before; but now the scholar had learnt to excel his teacher, and not only to form an at least provisional arrangement of the various members of the Class, based on sternal characters, but to describe these characters at some length, and so give a reason for the faith that was in him. There is no evidence, so far as we can see, of his having been aware of Merrem's views; but like that anatomist he without hesitation divided the class into two great “coupes,” to which he gave, however, no other names than “Oiseaux normaux” and “Oiseaux anomaux”—exactly corresponding with his predecessor's Carinatae and Ratitae— and, moreover, he had a great advantage in founding these groups, since he had discovered, apparently from his own investigations, that the mode of ossification in each was distinct; for hitherto the statement of there being five centres of ossification in every bird's sternum seems to have been accepted as a general truth, without contradiction, whereas in the ostrich and the rhea, at any rate, L'Herminier found that there were but two such primitive points, and from analogy he judged that the same would be the case with the cassowary and the emeu, which, with the two forms mentioned above, made up the whole of the “Oiseaux anomaux” whose existence was then generally acknowledged. These are the forms which composed the family previously termed Cursores by De Blainville; but L'Herminier was able to distinguish no fewer than thirty-four families of “Oiseaux normaux,” and the judgment with which their separation and definition were effected must be deemed on the whole to be most creditable to him. It is to be remarked, however, that the wealth of the Paris Museum, which he enjoyed to the full, placed him in a situation incomparably more favourable for arriving at results than that which was occupied by Merrem, to whom many of the most remarkable forms were wholly unknown, while L'Herminier had at his disposal examples of nearly every type then known to exist. But the latter used this privilege wisely and well—not, after the manner of De Blainville and others subsequent to him, relying solely or even chiefly on the character afforded by the posterior portion of the sternum, but taking also into consideration those of the anterior, as well as of the in some cases still more important characters presented by the pre-sternal bones, such as the furcula, coracoids and scapulae. L'Herminier thus separated the families of “Normal Birds”:—
|1. “Accipitres”—Accipitres, Linn.|
|2. “Serpentaires”—Gypogeranus, Illiger.|
|3. “Chouettes”—Strix, Linn.|
|4. “Touracos”—Opaetus, Vieillot.|
|5. “Perroquets”—Psittacus, Linn.|
|6. “Colibris”—Trochilus, Linn.|
|7. “Martinets”—Cypselus, Illiger.|
|8. “Engoulevents”—Caprimulgus, Linn.|
|9. “Coucous”—Cuculus, Linn.|
|10. “Couroucous”—Trogon, Linn.|
|11. “Rolliers”—Galgulus, Brisson.|
|12. “Guêpiers”—Merops, Linn.|
|13. “Martins-Pêcheurs”—Alcedo, Linn.|
|14. “Calaos”—Buceros, Linn.|
|15. “Toucans”—Ramphastos, Linn.|
|16. “Pies”—Picus, Linn.|
|17. “Epopsides”—Epopsides, Vieillot.|
|18. “Passereaux”—Passeres, Linn.|
|19. “Pigeons”—Columba, Linn.|
|21. “Tinamous”—Tinamus, Latham.|
|22. “Foulques on Poules d'eau”—Fulica, Linn.|
|23. “Grues”—Grus, Pallas.|
|24. “Hérodions”—Herodii, Illiger.|
|25. No name given, but said to include “les ibis et les spatules.”|
|26. “Gralles ou Échassiers”—Grallae.|
|27. “Mouettes”—Larus, Linn.|
|28. “Pétrels”—Procellaria, Linn.|
|29. “Pélicans”—Pelecanus, Linn.|
|30. “Canards”—Anas, Linn.|
|31. “Grèbes”—Podiceps, Latham.|
|32. “Plongeons”—Colymbus, Latham.|
|33. “Pingouins”—Alca, Latham.|
|34. “Manchots”—Aptenodytes, Forster.|
The preceding list is given to show the very marked agreement of L'Herminier's results compared with those obtained fifty years later by another investigator, who approached the subject from an entirely different, though still osteological, basis. Many of the excellencies of L'Herminier's method could not be pointed out without too great a sacrifice of space, because of the details into which it would be necessary to enter; but the trenchant way in which he showed that the “Passereaux”—a group of which Cuvier had said, “Son caractère semble d'abord purement négatif,” and had then failed to define the limits—differed so completely from every other assemblage, while maintaining among its own innumerable members an almost perfect essential homogeneity, is very striking, and shows how admirably he could grasp his subject. Not less conspicuous are his merits in disposing of the groups of what are ordinarily known as water-birds, his indicating the affinity of the rails (No. 22) to the cranes (No. 23), and the severing of the latter from the herons (No. 24). His union of the snipes, sandpipers and plovers into one group (No. 26) and the alliance, especially dwelt upon, of that group with the gulls (No. 27) are steps which, though indicated by Merrem, are here for the first time clearly laid down; and the separation of the gulls from the petrels (No. 28)—step in advance already taken, it is true, by Illiger—is here placed on indefeasible ground. With all this, perhaps on account of all this, L'Herminier's efforts did not find favour with his scientific superiors, and for the time things remained as though his investigations had never been carried on.
Two years later Nitzsch, who was indefatigable in his endeavour to discover the natural families of birds and had been pursuing Nitzsch's grouping. a series of researches into their vascular system, published the result, at Halle in Saxony, in his Observationes de avium arteria carotide communi, in which is included a classification drawn up in accordance with the variation of structure which that important vessel presented in the several groups that he had opportunities of examining. By this time he had visited several of the principal museums on the Continent, among others Leyden (where Temminck resided) and Paris (where he had frequent intercourse with Cuvier), thus becoming acquainted with a considerable number of exotic forms that had hitherto been inaccessible to him. Consequently his labours had attained to a certain degree of completeness in this direction, and it may therefore be expedient here to name the different groups which he thus thought himself entitled to consider established. They are as follows:—
I. Aves Carinatae [L'H. “Oiseaux normaux”].
A. Aves Carinatae aereae.
1. Accipitrinae [L'H. 1, 2 partim, 3]; 2. Passerinae [L'H. 18]; 3. Macrochires [L'H. 6, 7]; 4. Cuculinae [L'H. 8, 9, 10 (qu. 11, 12?)]; 5. Picinae [L'H. 15, 16]; 6. Psittacinae [L'H. 5]; 7. Lipoglossae [L'H. 13, 14, 17]; 8. Amphibolae [L'H. 4].
B. Aves Carinatae terrestres.
1. Columbinae [L'H. 19]; 2. Gallinaceae [L'H. 20].
C. Aves Carinatae aquaticae.
1. Alectorides ( = Dicholophus+Otis) [L'H. 2 partim, 26 partim]; 2. Gruinae [L'H. 23]; 3. Fulicariae [L'H. 22]; 4. Herodiae [L'H. 24 partim]; 5. Pelargi [L'H. 24 partim, 25]; 6. Odontoglossi ( = Phoenicopterus) [L'H. 26 partim]; 7. Limicolae [L'H. 26 paene omnes].
8. Longipennes [L'H. 27]; 9. Nasutae [L'H. 28]; 10. Unguirostres [L'H. 30]; 11. Steganopodes [L'H. 29]; 12. Pygopodes [L'H. 31, 32, 33, 34].
II. Aves Ratitae [L'H. “Oiseaux anomaux”].
To enable the reader to compare the several groups of Nitzsch with the families of L'Herminier, the numbers applied by the latter to his families are suffixed in square brackets to the names of the former; and, disregarding the order of sequence, which is here immaterial, the essential correspondence of the two systems is worthy of all attention, for it obviously means that these two investigators, starting from different points, must have been on the right track, when they so often coincided as to the limits of what they considered to be, and what we are now almost justified in calling, natural groups. But it must be observed that the classification of Nitzsch, just given, rests much more on characters furnished by the general structure than on those furnished by the carotid artery only. Among all the species (188, he tells us, in number) of which he examined specimens, he found only four variations in the structure of that vessel, namely:—
1. That in which both a right carotid artery and a left are present. This is the most usual fashion among the various groups of birds, including all the “aerial” forms excepting Passerinae, Macrochires and Picinae.
2. That in which there is but a single carotid artery, springing from both right and left trunk, but the branches soon coalescing, to take a midway course, and again dividing near the head. This form Nitzsch was only able to find in the bittern (Ardea stellaris).
3. That in which the right carotid artery alone is present, of which, according to our author's experience, the flamingo (Phoenicopterus) was the sole example.
4. That in which the left carotid artery alone exists, as found in all other birds examined by Nitzsch, and therefore as regards species and individuals much the most common—since into this category come the countless thousands of the passerine birds—a group which outnumbers all the rest put together.
Considering the enormous stride in advance made by L'Herminier, it is very disappointing for the historian to have to record that the Berthold. next inquirer into the osteology of birds achieved a disastrous failure in his attempt to throw light on their arrangement by means of a comparison of their sternum. This was Berthold, who devoted a long chapter of his Beiträge zur Anatomie, published at Göttingen in 1831, to a consideration of the subject. So far as his introductory chapter went—the development of the sternum—he was, for his time, right enough and somewhat instructive. It was only when, after a close examination of the sternal apparatus of one hundred and thirty species, which he carefully described, that he arrived (pp. 177-183) at the conclusion astonishing to us who know of L'Herminier's previous results—that the sternum of birds cannot be used as a help to their classification on account of the egregious anomalies that would follow the proceeding—such anomalies, for instance, as the separation of Cypselus from Hirundo and its alliance with Trochilus, and the grouping of Hirundo and Fringilla together.
At the very beginning of the year 1832 Cuvier laid before the Academy of Sciences of Paris a memoir on the progress of ossification Cuvier and Geoffroy. in the sternum of birds, of which memoir an abstract will be found in the Annales des sciences naturelles (xxv. pp. 260-272). Herein he traced in detail, illustrating his statements by the preparations he exhibited, the progress of ossification in the sternum of the fowl and of the duck, pointing out how it differed in each, and giving his interpretation of the differences. It had hitherto been generally believed that the mode of ossification in the fowl was that which obtained in all birds—the ostrich and its allies (as L'Herminier, we have seen, had already shown) excepted. But it was now made to appear that the struthious birds in this respect resembled, not only the duck, but a great many other groups—waders, birds-of-prey, pigeons, passerines and perhaps all birds not gallinaceous—so that, according to Cuvier's view, the five points of ossification observed in the Gallinae, instead of exhibiting the normal process, exhibited one quite exceptional, and that in all other birds, so far as he had been enabled to investigate the matter, ossification of the sternum began at two points only, situated near the anterior upper margin of the side of the sternum, and gradually crept towards the keel, into which it presently extended; and, though he allowed the appearance of detached portions of calcareous matter at the base of the still cartilaginous keel in ducks at a certain age, he seemed to consider this an individual peculiarity. This fact was fastened upon by Geoffroy in his reply, which was a week later presented to the Academy, but was not published in full until the followng year, when it appeared in the Annales du Muséum (ser. 3, ii. pp. 1-22). Geoffroy here maintained that the five centres of ossification existed in the duck just as in the fowl, and that the real difference of the process lay in the period at which they made their appearance, a circumstance which, though virtually proved by the preparations Cuvier had used, had been by him overlooked or misinterpreted. The fowl possesses all five ossification's at birth, and for a long while the middle piece forming the keel is by far the largest. They all grow slowly, and it is not until the animal is about six months old that they are united into one firm bone. The duck, on the other hand, when newly hatched, and for nearly a month after, has the sternum wholly cartilaginous. Then, it is true, two lateral points of ossification appear at the margin, but subsequently the remaining three are developed, and when once formed they grow with much greater rapidity than in the fowl, so that by the time the young duck is quite independent of its parents, and can shift for itself, the whole sternum is completely bony. Nor, argued Geoffroy, was it true to say, as Cuvier had said, that the like occurred in the pigeons and true passerines. In their case the sternum begins to ossify from three very distinct points—one of which is the centre of ossification of the keel. As regards the struthious birds, they could not be likened to the duck, for in them at no age was there any indication of a single median centre of ossification, as Geoffroy had satisfied himself by his own observations made in Egypt many years before. Cuvier seems to have acquiesced in the corrections of his views made by Geoffroy, and attempted no rejoinder; but the attentive and impartial student of the discussion will see that a good deal was really wanting to make the latter's reply effective, though, as events have shown, the former was hasty in the conclusions at which he arrived, having trusted too much to the first appearance of centres of ossification, for, had his observations in regard to other birds been carried on with the same attention to detail as in regard to the fowl, he would certainly have reached some very different results.
In 1834 C. W. L. Gloger brought out at Breslau the first (and unfortunately the only) part of a Vollständiges Handbuch der Gloger. Naturgeschichte der Vögel Europa's, treating of the land-birds. In the Introduction to this book (p. xxxviii., note) he expressed his regret at not being able to use as fully as he could wish the excellent researches of Nitzsch which were then appearing (as has been above said) in the successive parts of Naumann's great work. Notwithstanding this, to Gloger seems to belong the credit of being the first author to avail himself in a book intended for practical ornithologists of the new light that had already been shed on Systematic Ornithology; and accordingly we have the second order of his arrangement, the Aves Passerinae, divided into two suborders: singing passerines (melodusae), and passerines without an apparatus of song-muscles (anomalae)—the latter including what some later writers called Picariae. For the rest his classification demands no particular remark; but that in a work of this kind he had the courage to recognize, for instance, such a fact as the essential difference between swallows and swifts lifts him considerably above the crowd of other ornithological writers of his time.
An improvement on the old method of classification by purely external characters was introduced to the Academy of Sciences of Sundevall. Stockholm by C. J. Sundevall in 1835, and was published the following year in its Handlingar (pp. 43-130). This was the foundation of a more extensive work of which, from the influence it still exerts, it will be necessary to treat later at some length, and there will be no need now to enter much into details respecting the earlier performance. It is sufficient here to remark that the author, even then a man of great erudition, must have been aware of the turn which taxonomy was taking; but, not being able to divest himself of the older notion that external characters were superior to those furnished by the study of internal structure, and that Comparative Anatomy, instead of being a part of zoology, was something distinct from it, he seems to have endeavoured to form a scheme which, while not running wholly counter to the teachings of Comparative Anatomists, should yet rest ostensibly on external characters. With this view he studied the latter most laboriously, and in some measure certainly not without success, for he brought into prominence several points that had hitherto escaped the notice of his predecessors. He also admitted among his characteristics a physiological consideration (apparently derived from Oken) dividing the class Aves into two sections Altrices and Praecoces, according as the young were fed by their parents or, from the first, fed themselves. But at this time he was encumbered with the hazy doctrine of analogies, which, if it did not act to his detriment, was assuredly of no service to him. He prefixed an “Idea Systematis” to his “Expositio”; and the former, which appears to represent his real opinion, differs in arrangement very considerably from the latter. Like Gloger, Sundevall in his ideal system separated the true passerines from all other birds, calling them Volucres; but he took a step further, for he assigned to them the highest rank, wherein nearly every recent authority agrees with him; out of them, however, he chose the thrushes and warblers to stand first as his ideal “Centrum”—a selection which, though in the opinion of the present writer erroneous, is still largely followed.
The points at issue between Cuvier and Étienne Geoffroy St-Hilaire before mentioned naturally attracted the attention L'Herminier and Isidore Geoffroy St-Hilaire. of L'Herminier, who in 1836 presented to the French Academy the results of his researches into the mode of growth of that bone which in the adult bird he had already studied to such good purpose. Unfortunately the full account of his diligent investigations was never published. We can best judge of his labours from an abstract reprinted in the Comptes rendus (iii. pp. 12-20) and reprinted in the Annales des sciences naturelles (ser. 2, vol. vi. pp. 107-115), and from the report upon them by Isidore Geoffroy St-Hilaire, to whom with others they were referred. This report is contained in the Comptes rendus for the following year (iv. pp. 565-574), and is very critical in its character.
L'Herminier arrived at the conclusion that, so far from there being only two or three different modes by which the process of ossification in the sternum is carried out, the number of different modes is very considerable—almost each natural group of birds having its own. The principal theory which he hence conceived himself justified in propounding was that instead of five being (as had been stated) the maximum number of centres of ossification in the sternum, there are no fewer than nine entering into the composition of the perfect sternum of birds in general, though in every species some of these nine are wanting, whatever be the condition of development at the time of examination. These nine theoretical centres or “pieces” L'Herminier deemed to be disposed in three transverse series (rangées), namely the anterior or “prosternal,” the middle or “mesosternal” and the posterior or “metasternal”—each series consisting of three portions, one median piece and two side-pieces. At the same time he seems, according to the abstract of his memoir, to have made the somewhat contradictory assertion that sometimes there are more than three pieces in each series, and in certain groups of birds as many as six. It would occupy more space than can here be allowed to give even the briefest abstract of the numerous observations which follow the statement of his theory and on which it professedly rests. They extend to more than a score of natural groups of birds, and nearly each of them presents some peculiar characters. Thus of the first series of pieces he says that when all exist they may be developed simultaneously, or that the two side-pieces may precede the median, or again that the median may precede the side-pieces—according to the group of birds, but that the second mode is much the commonest. The same variations are observable in the second or middle series, but its side-pieces are said to exist in all groups of birds without exception. As to the third or posterior series, when it is complete the three constituent pieces are developed almost simultaneously; but its median piece is said often to originate in two, which soon unite, especially when the side-pieces are wanting. By way of examples of L'Herminier's observations, what he says of the two groups that had been the subject of Cuvier's and the elder Geoffrey's contest may be mentioned. In the Gallinae the five well-known pieces or centres of ossification are said to consist of the two side-pieces of the second or middle series, and the three of the posterior. On two occasions, however, there was found in addition, what may be taken for a representation of the first series, a little “noyau” situated between the coracoids—forming the only instance of all three series being present in the same bird. As regards the ducks, L'Herminier agreed with Cuvier that there are commonly only two centres of ossification—the side-pieces of the middle series; but as these grow to meet one another a distinct median “noyau,” also of the same series, sometimes appears, which soon forms a connexion with each of them. In the ostrich and its allies no trace of this median centre of ossification ever occurs; but with these exceptions its existence is invariable in all other birds. Here the matter must be left; but it is undoubtedly a subject which demands further investigation, and naturally any future investigator of it should consult the abstract of L'Herminier's memoir and the criticisms upon it of the younger Geoffroy.
Hitherto our attention has been given wholly to Germany and France, for the chief ornithologists of Britain were occupying Macgillivray. themselves at this time in a very useless way—not but that there were several distinguished men who were paying due heed at this time to the internal structure of birds, and some excellent descriptive memoirs on special forms had appeared from their pens, to say nothing of more than one general treatise on ornithic anatomy. Yet no one in Britain seems to have attempted to found any scientific arrangement of birds on other than external characters until, in 1837, William Macgillivray issued the first volume of his History of British Birds, wherein, though professing (p. 19) “not to add a new system to the many already in partial use, or that have passed away like their authors,” he propounded (pp. 16-18) a scheme for classifying the birds of Europe at least founded on a “consideration of the digestive organs, which merit special attention, on account, not so much of their great importance in the economy of birds, as the nervous, vascular and other systems are not behind them in this respect; but because, exhibiting great diversity of form and structure, in accordance with the nature of the food, they are more obviously qualified to afford a basis for the classification of the numerous species of birds” (p. 52). Fuller knowledge has shown that Macgillivray was ill-advised in laying stress on the systematic value of adaptive characters, but his contributions to anatomy were valuable, and later investigators, in particular H. Gadow and P. Chalmers Mitchell, have shown that useful systematic information can be obtained from the study of the alimentary canal. Macgillivray himself it was, apparently, who first detected the essential difference of the organs of voice presented by some of the New-World Passerines (subsequently known as Clamatores), and the earliest intimation of this seems to be given in his anatomical description of the Arkansas Flycatcher, Tyrannus verticalis, which was published in 1838 (Ornithol. Biography, iv. p. 425), though it must be admitted that he did not—because he then could not—perceive the bearing of their difference, which was reserved to be shown by the investigation of a still greater anatomist, and of one who had fuller facilities for research, and thereby almost revolutionized, as will presently be mentioned, the views of systematists as to this order of birds. There is only space here to say that the second volume of Macgillivray's work was published in 1839, and the third in 1840; but it was not until 1852 that the author, in broken health, found an opportunity of issuing the fourth and fifth. His scheme of classification, being as before stated partial, need not be given in detail. Its great merit is that it proved the necessity of combining another and hitherto much-neglected factor in any natural arrangement, though vitiated as so many other schemes have been by being based wholly on one class of characters.
But a bolder attempt at classification was that made in 1838 by Blyth in the New Series (Charlesworth's) of the Magazine of Blyth. Natural History (ii. pp. 256-268, 314-319, 351-361, 420-426, 589-601; iii. pp. 76-84). It was limited, however, to what he called Insessores, being the group upon which that name had been conferred by Vigors (Trans. Linn. Society, xiv. p. 405) in 1823, with the addition, however, of his Raptores, and it will be unnecessary to enter into particulars concerning it, though it is as equally remarkable for the insight shown by the author into the structure of birds as for the philosophical breadth of his view, which comprehends almost every kind of character that had been at that time brought forward. It is plain that Blyth saw, and perhaps he was the first to see it, that geographical distribution was not unimportant in suggesting the affinities and differences of natural groups (pp. 258, 259); and, undeterred by the precepts and practice of the hitherto dominant English school of Ornithologists, he declared that “anatomy, when aided by every character which the manner of propagation, the progressive changes, and other physiological data supply, is the only sure basis of classification.” He was quite aware of the taxonomic value of the vocal organs of some groups of birds, presently to be especially mentioned, and he had himself ascertained the presence and absence of caeca in a not inconsiderable number of groups, drawing thence very justifiable inferences. He knew at least the earlier investigations of L'Herminier, and, though the work of Nitzsch, even if he had ever heard of it, must (through ignorance of the language in which it was written) have been to him a sealed book, he had followed out and extended the hints already given by Temminck as to the differences which various groups of birds display in their moult. With all this it is not surprising to find, though the fact has been generally overlooked, that Blyth's proposed arrangement in many points anticipated conclusions that were subsequently reached, and were then regarded as fresh discoveries. It is proper Bartlett. to add that at this time the greater part of his work was carried on in conjunction with A. Bartlett, the superintendent of the London Zoological Society's Gardens, and that, without his assistance, opportunities, slender as they were compared with those which others have enjoyed, must have been still smaller. Considering the extent of their materials, which was limited to the bodies of such animals as they could obtain from dealers and the several menageries that then existed in or near London, the progress made in what has since proved to be the right direction is very wonderful. It is obvious that both these investigators had the genius for recognizing and interpreting the value of characters; but their labours do not seem to have met with much encouragement; and a general arrangement of the class laid by Blyth before the Zoological Society at this time does not appear in its publications. The scheme could hardly fail to be a crude performance—a fact which nobody would know better than its author; but it must have presented much that was objectionable to the opinions then generally prevalent. Its line to some extent may be partly made out—very clearly, for the matter of that, so far as its details have been published in the series of papers to which reference has been given—and some traces of its features are probably preserved in his Catalogue of the specimens of birds in the museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which, after several years of severe labour, made its appearance at Calcutta in 1849; but, from the time of his arrival in India, the onerous duties imposed upon Blyth, together with the want of sufficient books of reference, seem to have hindered him from seriously continuing his former researches, which, interrupted as they were, and born out of due time, had no appreciable effect on the views of systematisers generally.
Next must be noticed a series of short treatises communicated by Johann Friedrich Brandt, between the years 1836 and 1839, to Brandt. the Academy of Sciences of St Petersburg, and published in its Mémoires. In the year last mentioned the greater part of these was separately issued under the title of Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Naturgeschichte der Vögel. Herein the author first assigned anatomical reasons for rearranging the order Anseres of Linnaeus and Natatores of Illiger, who, so long before as 1811, had proposed a new distribution of it into six families, the definitions of which, as was his wont, he had drawn from external characters only. Brandt now retained very nearly the same arrangement as his predecessor; but, notwithstanding that he could trust to the firmer foundation of internal framework, he took at least two retrograde steps. First he failed to see the great structural difference between the penguins (which Illiger had placed as a group, Impennes, of equal rank to his other families) and the auks, divers and grebes, Pygopodes—combining all of them to form a “Typus” (to use his term) Urinatores; and secondly he admitted among the Natatores, though as a distinct “Typus” Podoidae, the genera Podoa and Fulica, which are now known to belong to the Rallidae—the latter indeed (see Coot) being but very slightly removed from the moorhen (q.v.). At the same time he corrected the error made by Illiger in associating the Phalaropes with these forms, rightly declaring their relationship to Tringa (see Sandpiper), a point of order which other systematists were long in admitting. On the whole Brandt's labours were of no small service in asserting the principle that consideration must be paid to osteology; for his position was such as to gain more attention to his views than some of his less favourably placed brethren had succeeded in doing.
In the same year (1839) another slight advance was made in the classification of the true Passerines. Keyserling and Blasius briefly Keyserling and Blasius. pointed out in the Archiv für Naturgeschichte (v. pp. 332-334) that, while all the other birds provided with perfect song-muscles had the “planta” or hind part of the “tarsus” covered with two long and undivided horny plates, the larks (q.v.) had this part divided by many transverse sutures, so as to be scutellated behind as well as in front; just as is the case in many of the passerines which have not the singing-apparatus, and also in the hoopoe (q.v.). The importance of this singular but superficial departure from the normal structure has been so needlessly exaggerated as a character that at the present time its value is apt to be unduly depreciated. In so large and so homogeneous a group as that of the true Passerines, a constant character of this kind is not to be despised as a practical mode of separating the birds which possess it; and, more than this, it would appear that the discovery thus announced was the immediate means of leading to a series of investigations of a much more important and lasting nature—those of Johannes Müller to be presently mentioned.
Again we must recur to that indefatigable and most original investigator Nitzsch, who, having never intermitted his study of Nitzsch. the particular subject of his first contribution to science, long ago noticed, in 1833 brought out at Halle, where he was professor of Zoology, an essay with the title Pterylographiae Avium Pars prior. It seems that this was issued as much with the object of inviting assistance from others in view of future labours, since the materials at his disposal were comparatively scanty, as with that of making known the results to which his researches had already led him. Indeed, he only communicated copies of this essay to a few friends, and examples of it are comparatively scarce. Moreover, he stated subsequently that he thereby hoped to excite other naturalists to share with him the investigations he was making on a subject which had hitherto escaped notice or had been wholly neglected, since he considered that he had proved the disposition of the feathered tracts in the plumage of birds to be the means of furnishing characters for the discrimination of the various natural groups as significant and important as they were new and unexpected. There was no need for us here to quote this essay in its chronological place, since it dealt only with the generalities of the subject, and did not enter upon any systematic details. These the author reserved for a second treatise which he was destined never to complete. He kept on diligently collecting materials, and as he did so was constrained to modify some of the statements he had published. He consequently fell into a state of doubt, and before he could make up his mind on some questions which he deemed important he was overtaken by death. Then his papers were handed over Burmeister. to his friend and successor Professor Burmeister, now and for many years past of Buenos Aires, who, with much skill, elaborated from them the excellent work known as Nitzsch's Pterylographie, which was published at Halle in 1840, and translated into English for the Ray Society in 1867. There can be no doubt that Professor Burmeister discharged his editorial duty with the most conscientious scrupulosity; but, from what has been just said, it is certain that there were important points on which Nitzsch was as yet undecided—some of them perhaps of which no trace appeared in his manuscripts, and therefore as in every case of works posthumously published, unless (as rarely happens) they have received their author's “imprimatur,” they cannot be implicitly trusted as the expression of his final views. It would consequently be unsafe to ascribe positively all that appears in this volume to the result of Nitzsch's mature consideration. Moreover, as Professor Burmeister states in his preface, Nitzsch by no means regarded the natural sequence of groups as the highest problem of the systematists, but rather their correct limitation. Again, the arrangement followed in the Pterylographie was of course based on pterylographical considerations, and we have its author's own word for it that he was persuaded that the limitation of natural groups could only be attained by the most assiduous research into the species of which they are composed from every point of view. The combination of these three facts will of itself explain some defects, or even retrogressions, observable in Nitzsch's later systematic work when compared with that which he had formerly done. On the other hand, some manifest improvements are introduced, and the abundance of details into which he enters in his Pterylographie render it far more instructive and valuable than the older performance. As an abstract of that has already been given, it may be sufficient here to point out the chief changes made in his newer arrangement. To begin with, the three great sections of aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic birds are abolished. The “Accipitres” are divided into two groups, Diurnal and Nocturnal; but the first of these divisions is separated into three sections: (1) the Vultures of the New World, (2) those of the Old World, and (3) the genus Falco of Linnaeus. The “Passerinae,” that is to say, the true Passeres, are split into eight families, not wholly with judgment but of their taxonomy more is to be said presently. Then a new order “Picariae” is instituted for the reception of the Macrochires, Cuculinae, Picinae, Psittacinae and Amphibolae of his old arrangement, to which are added three others—Caprimulginae, Todidae and Lipoglossae—the last consisting of the genera Buceros, Upupa and Alcedo. The association of Alcedo with the other two is no doubt a misplacement, but the alliance of Buceros to Upupa, already suggested by Gould and Blyth in 1838 (Mag. Nat. History, ser. 2, ii. pp. 422 and 589), though apparently unnatural, has been corroborated by many later systematisers; and taken as a whole the establishment of the Picariae was certainly a commendable proceeding. For the rest there is only one considerable change, and that forms the greatest blot on the whole scheme. Instead of recognizing, as before, a subclass in the Ratitae of Merrem, Nitzsch now reduced them to the rank of an order under the name “Platysternae,” placing them between the “Callinaceae” and “Grallae,” though admitting that in their pterylosis they differ from all other birds, in ways that he is at great pains to describe, in each of the four genera examined by him—Struthio, Rhea, Dromacus and Casuarius. It is significant that notwithstanding this he did not figure the pterylosis of any one of them, and the thought suggests itself that, though his editor assures us he had convinced himself that the group must be here shoved in (eingeschoben is the word used), the intrusion is rather due to the necessity which Nitzsch, in common with most men of his time (the Quinarians excepted), felt for deploying the whole series of birds into line, in which case the proceeding may be defensible on the score of convenience. The extraordinary merits of this book, and the admirable fidelity to his principles which Professor Burmeister showed in the difficult task of editing it, were unfortunately overlooked for many years, and perhaps are not sufficiently recognised now. Even in Germany, the author's own country, there were few to notice seriously what is certainly one of the most remarkable works ever published on the science, much less to pursue the investigations that had been so laboriously begun. Andreas Wagner, in his report on the progress of ornithology, as might be expected from such a man as he was, placed the Pterylographie at the summit of those publications the appearance of which he had to record for the years 1839 and 1840, stating that for “Systematik,” it was of the greatest importance. On the other hand Oken (Isis, 1842, pp. 391-394), though giving a summary of Nitzsch's results and classification, was more sparing of his praise, and prefaced his remarks by asserting that he could not refrain from laughter when he looked at the plates in Nitzsch's work, since they reminded him of the plucked fowls hanging in a poulterer's shop, and goes on to say that, as the author always had the luck to engage in researches of which nobody thought, so had he the luck to print them where nobody sought them. In Sweden Sundevall, without accepting Nitzsch's views, accorded them a far more appreciative greeting in his annual reports for 1840-1842 (i. pp. 152-160); but, of course, in England and France nothing was known of them beyond the scantiest notice, generally taken at second hand, in two or three publications. Thanks to Mr Sclater, the Ray Society was induced to publish, in 1867, an excellent translation by Mr Dallas of Nitzsch's Pterylography, and thereby, however tardily, justice was at length rendered by British ornithologists to one of their greatest foreign brethren. Nitzsch's work on feathers has been carried farther by many later observers, and its value is now generally accepted (see Feather).
The treatise of Kessler on the osteology of birds' feet, published in the Bulletin of the Moscow Society of Naturalists for 1841, next Kessler. claims a few words, though its scope is rather to show differences than affinities; but treatment of that kind is undoubtedly useful at times in indicating that alliances generally admitted are unnatural; and this is the case here, for, following Calvier's method, the author's researches prove the artificial character of some of its associations. While furnishing—almost unconsciously, however—additional evidence for overthrowing that classification, there is, nevertheless, no attempt made to construct a better one; and the elaborate tables of dimensions, both absolute and proportional, suggestive as is the whole tendency of the author's observations, seem not to lead to any very practical result, though the systematist's need to look beneath the integument, even in parts that are so comparatively little hidden as birds' feet, is once more made beyond all question apparent.
It has already been mentioned that Macgillivray contributed to Audubon's Ornithological Biography a series of descriptions of Macgillivray and Audubon. some parts of the anatomy of American birds, from subjects supplied to him by that enthusiastic naturalist, whose zeal and prescience, it may be called, in this respect merits all praise. Thus he (prompted very likely by Macgillivray) wrote: “I believe the time to be approaching when much of the results obtained from the inspection of the exterior alone will be laid aside; when museums filled with stuffed skins will be considered insufficient to afford a knowledge of birds; and when the student will go forth, not only to observe the habits and haunts of animals, but to preserve specimens of them to be carefully dissected” (Ornith. Biography, iv., Introduction, p. xxiv). As has been stated, the first of this series of anatomical descriptions appeared in the fourth volume of his work, published in 1838, but they were continued until its completion with the fifth volume in the following year, and the whole was incorporated into what may be termed its second edition, The Birds of America, which appeared between 1840 and 1844. Among the many species whose anatomy Macgillivray thus partly described from autopsy were at least half a dozen of those now referred to the family Tyrannidae (see King Bird), but then included, with many others, according to the irrational, vague and rudimentary notions of classification of the time, in what was termed the family “Muscicapinae.” In all these species he found the vocal organs to differ essentially in structure from those of other birds of the Old World, which we now call Passerine, or, to be still more precise, Oscinian. But by him these last were most arbitrarily severed, dissociated from their allies, and wrongly combined with other forms by no means nearly related to them (Brit. Birds, i. pp. 17, 18) which he also examined; and he practically, though not literally, asserted the truth, when he said that the general structure, but especially the muscular appendages, of the lower larynx was “similarly formed in all other birds of this family” described in Audubon's work. Macgillivray did not, however, assign to this essential difference any systematic value. Indeed he was so much prepossessed in favour of a classification based on the structure of the digestive organs that he could not bring himself to consider vocal muscles to be of much taxonomic use, and it was reserved Johannes Müller. to Johannes Müller to point out that the contrary was the fact. This the great German comparative anatomist did in two communications to the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, one on the 26th June 1845 and the other on the 14th May 1846, which, having been first briefly published in the Academy's Monatsbericht, were afterwards printed in full, and illustrated by numerous figures, in its Abhandlungen, though in this latter and complete form they did not appear in public until 1847. This very remarkable treatise forms the groundwork of almost all later or recent researches in the comparative anatomy and consequent arrangement of the Passeres, and, though it is certainly not free from inperfections, many of them, it must be said, arise from want of material, notwithstanding that its author had command of a much more abundant supply than was at the disposal of Nitzsch. Carrying on the work from the anatomical point at which he had left it, correcting his errors, and utilizing to the fullest extent the observations of Keyserling and Blasius, to which reference has already been made, Müller, though hampered by mistaken notions of which he seems to have been unable to rid himself, propounded a scheme for the classification of this group, the general truth of which has been admitted by all his successors, based, as the title of his treatise expressed, on the hitherto unknown different types of the vocal organs in the Passerines. He freely recognized the prior discoveries of, as he thought, Audubon, though really, as has since been ascertained, of Macgillivray; but Müller was able to perceive their systematic value, which Macgillivray did not, and taught others to know it. At the same time Müller showed himself, his power of discrimination notwithstanding, to fall behind Nitzsch in one very crucial point, for he refused to the latter's Picariae the rank that had been claimed for them, and imagined that the groups associated under that name formed but a third “tribe”—Picarii—of a great order Insessores, the others being (1) the Oscines or Polymyodi—the singing birds by emphasis, whose inferior larynx was endowed with the full number of five pairs of song-muscles, and (2) the Tracheophones, composed of some South-American families. Looking on Müller's labours as we now can, we see that such errors as he committed are chiefly due to his want of special knowledge of ornithology, combined with the absence in several instances of sufficient materials for investigation. Nothing whatever is to be said against the composition of his first and second “tribes”; but the third is an assemblage still more heterogeneous than that which Nitzsch brought together under a name so like that of Müller—for the fact must never be allowed to go out of sight that the extent of the Picarii of the latter is not at all that of the Picariae of the former. For instance, Müller places in his third “tribe” the group which he called Ampelidae, meaning thereby the peculiar forms of South America that are now considered to be more properly named Cotingidae, and herein he was clearly right, while Nitzsch, who (misled by their supposed affinity to the genus Ampelis—peculiar to the Northern Hemisphere, and a purely Passerine form) had kept them among his Passcrinae, was as clearly wrong. But again Müller made his third “tribe” Picarii also to contain the Tyrannidae, of which mention has just been made, though it is so obvious as now to be generally admitted that they have no very intimate relationship to the other families with which they are there associated. There is no need here to criticise more minutely this projected arrangement, and it must be said that, notwithstanding his researches, he seems to have had some misgivings that, after all, the separation of the Insessores into those “tribes” might not be justifiable. At any rate he wavered in his estimate of their taxonomic value, for he gave an alternative proposal, arranging all the genera in a single series, a proceeding in those days thought not only defensible and possible, but desirable or even requisite, though now utterly abandoned. Just as Nitzsch had laboured under the disadvantage of never having any example of the abnormal Passeres of the New World to dissect, and, therefore, was wholly ignorant of their abnormality, so Müller never succeeded in getting hold of an example of the genus Pitta for the same purpose, and yet, acting on the clue furnished by Keyserling and Blasius, he did not hesitate to predict that it would be found to fill one of the gaps he had to leave, and this to some extent it has been since proved to do.
It must not be supposed that the vocal muscles were first discovered by Müller; on the contrary, they had been described Yarrell. long before, and by many writers on the anatomy of birds. To say nothing of foreigners, or the authors of general works on the subject, an excellent account of them had been given to the Linnean Society by W. Yarrell in 1829, and published with elaborate figures in its Transactions (xvi. 305-321, pls. 17, 18), an abstract of which was subsequently given in the article “Raven” in his History of British Birds, and Macgillivray also described and figured them with the greatest accuracy ten years later in his work with the same title (ii. 21-37, pls. x.-xii.), while Blyth and Nitzsch had (as already mentioned) seen some of their value in classification. But Müller has the merit of clearly outstriding his predecessors, and with his accustomed perspicuity made the way even plainer for his successors to see than he himself was able to see it. What remains to add is that the extraordinary celebrity of its author actually procured for the first portion of his researches notice in England (Ann. Nat. History, xvii. 499), though it must be confessed not then to any practical purpose; but more than thirty years after there appeared an English translation of his treatise by F. Jeffrey Bell, with an appendix by Garrod containing a summary of the latter's own continuation of the same line of research.
It is now necessary to revert to the year 1842, in which Dr Cornay of Rochefort communicated to the French Academy of Sciences a Cornay. memoir on a new classification of birds, of which, however, nothing but a notice has been preserved (Comptes rendus, xiv. p. 164). Two years later this was followed by a second contribution from him on the same subject, and of this only an extract appeared in the official organ of the Academy (ut supra, xvi. pp. 94, 95), though an abstract was inserted in one scientific journal (L'Institut, xii. p. 21), and its first portion in another (Journal des Découvertes, i. p. 250). The Revue Zoologique for 1847 (pp. 360-369) contained the whole, and enabled naturalists to consider the merits of the author's project, which was to found a new classification of birds on the form of the anterior palatal bones, which he declared to be subjected more evidently than any other to certain fixed laws. These laws, as formulated by him, are that (1) there is a coincidence of form of the anterior palatal and of the cranium in birds of the same order; (2) there is a likeness between the anterior palatal bones in birds of the same order; (3) there are relations of likeness between the anterior palatal bones in groups of birds which are near to one another. These laws, he added, exist in regard to all parts that offer characters fit for the methodical arrangement of birds, but it is in regard to the anterior palatal bone that they unquestionably offer the most evidence. In the evolution of these laws Dr Cornay had most laudably studied, as his observations prove, a vast number of different types, and the upshot of his whole labours, though not very clearly stated, was such as to wholly subvert the classification at that time generally adopted by French ornithologists. He of course knew the investigations of L'Herminier and De Blainville on sternal formation, and he also seems to have been aware of some pterylological differences exhibited by birds whether those of Nitzsch or those of Jacquemin is not stated. True it is the latter were never published in full, but it is quite conceivable that Dr Cornay may have known their drift. Be that as it may, he declares that characters drawn from the sternum or the pelvis—hitherto deemed to be, next to the bones of the head, the most important portions of the bird's framework—are scarcely worth more, from a classificatory point of view, than characters drawn from the bill or the legs; while pterylological considerations, together with many others to which some systematists had attached more or less importance, can only assist, and apparently must never be taken to control, the force of evidence furnished by this bone of all bones—the anterior palatal.
That Dr Cornay was on the brink of making a discovery of considerable merit will by and by appear, but, with every disposition to regard his investigations favourably, it cannot be said that he accomplished it. Whatever proofs Dr Cornay may have had to satisfy himself of his being on the right track, these proofs were not adduced in sufficient number nor arranged with sufficient skill to persuade a somewhat stiff-necked generation of the truth of his views—for it was a generation whose leaders, in France at any rate, looked with suspicion upon any one who professed to go beyond the bounds which the genius of Cuvier had been unable to overpass, and regarded the notion of upsetting any of the positions maintained by him as verging almost upon profanity. Moreover, Dr Cornay's scheme was not given to the world with any of those adjuncts that not merely please the eye but are in many cases necessary, for, though on a subject which required for its proper comprehension a series of plates, it made even its final appearance unadorned by a single explanatory figure, and in a journal, respectable and well known indeed, but one not of the highest scientific rank.
The same year which saw the promulgation of the crude scheme just described, as well as the publication of the final researches of Cabanis. Müller, witnessed also another attempt at the classification of birds, much more limited indeed in scope, but, so far as it went, regarded by most ornithologists of the time as almost final in its operation. Under the vague title of “Ornithologische Notizen” Professor Cabanis of Berlin contributed to the Archiv für Naturgeschichte (xili. 1, pp. 186-256, 308-352) an essay in two parts, wherein, following the researches of Müller on the syrinx, in the course of which a correlation had been shown to exist between the whole or divided condition of the planta or hind part of the “tarsus,” first noticed, as has been said, by Keyserling and Blasius, and the presence or absence of the perfect song-apparatus, the younger author found an agreement which seemed almost invariable in this respect, and he also pointed out that the planta of the different groups of birds in which it is divided is divided in different modes, the mode of division being generally characteristic of the group. Such a coincidence of the internal and external features of birds was naturally deemed a discovery of the greatest value by those ornithologists who thought most highly of the latter, and it was unquestionably of no little practical utility. Further examination also revealed the fact that in certain groups the number of “primaries,” or quill-feathers growing from the manus or distal segment of the wing, formed another characteristic easy of observation. In the Oscines or Polymyodi of Müller the number was either nine or ten—and if the latter the outermost of them was generally very small. In two of the other groups of which Professor Cabanis especially treated—groups which had been hitherto more or less confounded with the Oscines—the number of primaries was invariably ten, and the outermost of them was comparatively large. This observation was also hailed as the discovery of a fact of extraordinary importance; and, from the results of these investigations, taken altogether, ornithology was declared by Sundevall, undoubtedly a man who had a right to speak with authority, to have made greater progress than had been achieved since the days of Cuvier. The final disposition of the “Sub-class Insessores”—all the perching birds, that is to say, which are neither birds of prey nor pigeons—proposed by Professor Cabanis, was into four “Orders,” as follows:—
1. Oscines, equal to Müller's group of the same name;
2. Clamatores, being a majority of that division of the Picariae of Nitzsch, so called by Andreas Wagner, in 1841, which have their feet normally constructed;
3. Strisores, a group now separated from the Clamatores of Wagner, and containing those forms which have their feet abnormally constructed; and
4. Scansores, being the Grimpeurs of Cuvier, the Zygodactyli of several other systematists.
The first of these four “Orders” had been already indefeasibly established as one perfectly natural, but respecting its details more must presently be said. The remaining three are now seen to be obviously artificial associations, and the second of them, Clamatores, in particular, containing a very heterogeneous assemblage of forms; but it must be borne in mind that the internal structure of some of them was at that time still more imperfectly known than now.
This will perhaps be the most convenient place to mention another kind of classification of birds, which, based on a principle wholly Bonaparte. different from those that have just been explained, requires a few words, though it has not been productive, nor is likely, from all that appears, to be productive of any great effect. So long ago as 1831, Prince C. L. Bonaparte, in his Saggio di una distribuzione metodica degli Animali Vertebrati, published at Rome, and in 1837 communicated to the Linnean Society of London, “A new Systematic Arrangement of Vertebrated Animals,” which was subsequently printed in that Society's Transactions (xviii. pp. 247-304), though before it appeared there was issued at Bologna, under the title of Synopsis Vertebratorum Systematis, a Latin translation of it. Herein he divided the class Aves into two subclasses, to which he applied the names of Insessores and Grallatores (hitherto used by their inventors Vigors and Illiger in a different sense), in the latter work relying chiefly for this division on characters which had not before been used by any systematists, namely that in the former group monogamy generally prevailed and the helpless nestlings were fed by their parents, while the latter group were mostly polygamous, and the chicks at birth were active and capable of feeding themselves. This method, which in process of time was dignified by the title of a Physiological Arrangement, was insisted upon with more or less pertinacity by the author throughout a long series of publications, some of them separate books, some of them contributed to the memoirs issued by many scientific bodies of various European countries, ceasing only at his death, which in July 1857 found him occupied upon a Conspectus Generum Avium, that in consequence remains unfinished. In the course of this series, however, he saw fit to alter the name of his two subclasses, since those which he at first adopted were open to a variety of meanings, and in communication to the French Academy of Sciences in 1853 (Comptes rendus, xxxvii. pp. 641-647) the denomination Insessores was changed to Altrices, and Grallatores to Praecoces—the terms now preferred by him being taken from Sundevall's treatise of 1835 already mentioned. The views of Bonaparte were, it appears, also shared by an ornithological amateur Hogg. of some distinction, John Hogg, who propounded a scheme which, as he subsequently stated (Zoologist, 1850, p. 2797), was founded strictly in accordance with them; but it would seem that, allowing his convictions to be warped by other considerations, he abandoned the original “physiological” basis of his system, so that this, when published in 1846 (Edinb. N. Philosoph. Journal, xli. pp. 50-71), was found to be established on a single character of the feet only; though he was careful to point out, immediately after formulating the definition of his subclasses Constrictipedes and Inconstrictipedes, that the former “make, in general, compact ind well-built nests, wherein they bring up their very weak, blind, and mostly naked young, which they feed with care, by bringing food to them for many days, until they are fledged and sufficiently strong to leave their nest,” observing also that they “are principally monogamous” (pp. 55, 56); while of the latter he says that they “make either a poor and rude nest, in which they lay their eggs, or else none, depositing them on the bare ground. The young are generally born with their full sight, covered with down, strong, and capable of running or swimming immediately after they leave the egg-shell.” He adds that the parents, which “are mostly polygamous,” attend their young and direct them where to find their food (p. 63). The numerous errors in these assertions hardly need pointing out. The herons, for instance, are much more “Constrictipedes” than are the larks or the kingfishers, and, so far from the majority of “Inconstrictipedes” being polygamous, there is scarcely any evidence of polygamy obtaining as a habit among birds in a state of nature except in certain of the Gallinae and a very few others. Furthermore, the young of the goat suckers are at hatching far more developed than are those of the herons or the cormorants; and, in a general way, nearly every one of the asserted peculiarities of the two subclasses breaks down under careful examination. Yet the idea of a “physiological” arrangement on the same kind of principle found another follower, or, as he thought, Newman. inventor, in Edward Newman, who in 1850 communicated to the Zoological Society of London a plan published in its Proceedings for that year (pp. 46-48), and reprinted also in his own journal The Zoologist (pp. 2780-2782), based on exactly the same considerations, dividing birds into two groups, “Hesthogenous”—a word so vicious in formation as to be incapable of amendment, but intended to signify those that were hatched with a clothing of down—and “Gymnogenous,” or those that were hatched naked. These three systems are essentially identical; but, plausible as they may be at the first aspect, they have been found to be practically useless, though such of their characters as their upholders have advanced with truth deserve attention. Physiology may one day very likely assist the systematist; but it must be real physiology and not a sham.
In 1856 Paul Gervais, who had already contributed to the Zoologie of M. de Castelnau's Expedition dans les parties centrales de l'Amérique Gervais. du Sud some important memoirs describing the anatomy of the hoactzin and certain other birds of doubtful or anomalous position, published some remarks on the characters which could be drawn from the sternum of birds (Ann. Sc. Nat. Zoologie, ser. 4, vi. pp. 5-15). The considerations are not very striking from a general point of view; but the author adds to the weight of evidence which some of his predecessors had brought to bear on certain matters, particularly in aiding to abolish the artificial groups “Déodactyls,” “Syndactyls,” and “Zygodactyls,” on which so much reliance had been placed by many of his countrymen; and it is with him a great merit that he was the first apparently to recognize publicly that characters drawn from the posterior part of the sternum, and particularly from the “échancrures,” commonly called in English “notches” or “emarginations,” are of comparatively little importance, since their number is apt to vary in forms that are most closely allied, and even in species that are usually associated in the same genus or unquestionably belong to the same family, while these “notches” sometimes become simple foramina, as in certain pigeons, or on the other hand foramina may exceptionally change to “notches,” and not infrequently disappear wholly. Among his chief systematic determinations we may mention that he refers the tinamous to the rails, because apparently of their deep “notches,” but otherwise takes a view of that group more correct according to modern notions than did most of his contemporaries. The bustards he would place with the “Limicoles,” as also Dromas and Chionis, the sheath-bill (q.v.). Phaethon, the tropic-bird (q.v.), he would place with the “Laridés” and not with the “Pelécanides,” which it only resembles in its feet having all the toes connected by a web. Finally divers, auks and penguins, according to him, form the last term in the series, and it seems fit to him that they should be regarded as forming a separate order. It is a curious fact that even at a date so late as this, and by an investigator so well informed, doubt should still have existed whether Apteryx (see Kiwi) should be referred to the group containing the cassowary and the ostrich. On the whole the remarks of this esteemed author do not go much beyond such as might occur to any one who had made a study of a good series of specimens; but many of them are published for the first time, and the author is careful to insist on the necessity of not resting solely on sternal characters, but associating with them those drawn from other parts of the body.
Three years later in the same journal (xi. 11-145, pls. 2-4) M. Blanchard published some Recherches sur les caractères Blanchard. ostéologiques des oiseaux appliquées à la classification naturelle de ces animaux, strongly urging the superiority of such characters over those drawn from the bill or feet, which, he remarks, though they may have sometimes given correct notions, have mostly led to mistakes, and, if observations of habits and food have sometimes afforded happy results, they have often been deceptive; so that, should more be wanted than to draw up a mere inventory of creation or trace the distinctive outline of each species, zoology without anatomy would remain a barren study. At the same time he states that authors who have occupied themselves with the sternum alone have often produced uncertain results, especially when they have neglected its anterior for its posterior part; for in truth every bone of the skeleton ought to be studied in all its details. Yet this distinguished zoologist selects the sternum as furnishing the key to his primary groups or “Orders” of the class, adopting, as Merrem had done long before, the same two divisions Carinatae and Ratitae, naming, however, the former Tropidosternii and the latter Homalosternii. Some unkind fate has hitherto hindered him from making known to the world the rest of his researches in regard to the other bones of the skeleton till he reached the head, and in the memoir cited he treats of the sternum of only a portion of his first “Order.” This is the more to be regretted by all ornithologists, since he intended to conclude with what to them would have been a very great boon—the showing in what way external characters coincided with those presented by osteology. It was also within the scope of his plan to have continued on a more extended scale the researches on ossification begun by L'Herminier, and thus M. Blanchard's investigations, if completed, would obviously have taken extraordinarily high rank among the highest contributions to ornithology. As it is, so much of them as we have are of considerable importance; for, in this unfortunately unfinished memoir, he describes in some detail the several differences which the sternum in a great many different groups of his Tropidosternii presents, and to some extent makes a methodical disposition of them accordingly. Thus he separates the birds of prey into three great groups—(1) the ordinary Diurnal forms, including the Falconidae and Vulturidae of the systematists of his time, but distinguishing the American Vultures from those of the Old World; (2) Gypogeranus, the secretary-bird (q.v.) and (3) the owls (q.v.). Next he places the parrots (q.v.), and then the vast assemblage of “Passereaux”—which he declares to be all of one type, even genera like Pipra (manakin, q.v.) and Pitta—and concludes with the somewhat heterogeneous conglomeration of forms, beginning with Cypselus (swift, q.v.), that so many systematists have been accustomed to call Picariae, though to them as a group he assigns no name. A continuation of the treatise was promised in a succeeding part of the Annales, but a quarter of a century has passed without its appearance.
Important as are the characters afforded by the sternum, that bone even with the whole sternal apparatus should obviously not be Eyton. considered alone. To aid ornithologists in their studies in this respect, T. C. Eyton, who for many years had been forming a collection of birds' skeletons, began the publication of a series of plates representing them. The first part of this work, Osteologia Avium, appeared early in 1859, and a volume was completed in 1867. A Supplement was issued in 1869, and a Second Supplement, in three parts, between 1873 and 1875. The whole work contains a great number of figures of birds' skeletons and detached bones; but they are not so drawn as to be of much practical use, and the accompanying letterpress is too brief to be satisfactory.
That the eggs laid by birds should offer to some extent characters of utility to systematists is only to be expected, when it is considered that those from the same nest generally bear an extraordinary family likeness to one another, and also that in certain groups the essential peculiarities of the egg-shell are constantly and distinctively characteristic. Thus no one who has ever examined the egg of a duck or of a tinamou would ever be in danger of not referring another tinamou's egg or another duck's, that he might see, to its proper family, and so on with many others. But at the same time many of the shortcomings of oology in this respect must be set down to the defective information and observation of its votaries, among whom some have been very lax, not to say incautious, in not ascertaining on due evidence the parentage of their specimens, and the author next to be named is open to this charge. After several minor notices that appeared in journals at various times, Des Murs Des Murs. in 1860 brought out at Paris his ambitious Traité général d'oologie ornithologique au point de vue de la classification, which contains (pp. 529-538) a “Systema Oologicum” as the final result of his labours. In this scheme birds are arranged according to what the author considered to be their natural method and sequence; but the result exhibits some unions as ill-assorted as can well be met with in the whole range of tentative arrangements of the class, together with some very unjustifiable divorces. Its basis is the classification of Cuvier, the modifications of which by Des Murs will seldom commend themselves to systematists whose opinion is generally deemed worth having. Few, if any, of the faults of that classification are removed, and the improvements suggested, if not established by his successors, those especially of other countries than France, are ignored, or, as is the case with some of those of L'Herminier, are only cited to be set aside. Oologists have no reason to be thankful to Des Murs, notwithstanding his zeal in behalf of their study. It is perfectly true that in several or even in many instances he acknowledges and deplores the poverty of his information, but this does not excuse him for making assertions (and such assertions are not infrequent) based on evidence that is either wholly untrustworthy or needs further inquiry before it can be accepted (Ibis, 1860, pp. 331-335). This being the case, it would seem useless to take up further space by analysing the several proposed modifications of Cuvier's arrangement. The great merit of the work is that the author shows the necessity of taking oology into account when investigating the classification of birds; but it also proves that in so doing the paramount consideration lies in the thorough sifting of evidence as to the parentage of the eggs which are to serve as the building stones of the fabric to be erected. The attempt of Des Murs was praiseworthy, but in effect it has utterly failed, notwithstanding the encomiums passed upon it by friendly critics (Rev. de Zoologie, 1860, pp. 176-183, 313-325, 370-373).
Until about this time systematists, almost without exception, may be said to have been wandering with no definite purpose. Results of Doctrine of Evolution. At least their purpose was indefinite compared with that which they now have before them. No doubt they all agreed in saying that they were prosecuting a search for what they called the true system of nature; but that was nearly the end of their agreement, for in what that true system consisted the opinions of scarcely any two would coincide, unless to own that it was some shadowy idea beyond the present power of mortals to reach or even comprehend. The Quinarians, who boldly asserted that they had fathomed the mystery of creation, had been shown to be no wiser than other men, if indeed they had not utterly befooled themselves; for their theory at best could give no other explanation of things than that they were because they were. The conception of such a process as has now come to be called by the name of evolution was certainly not novel; but except to two men the way in which that process was or could be possible had not been revealed. Here there is no need to enter into details of the history of evolution; but there was possibly no branch of zoology in which so many of the best informed and consequently the most advanced of its workers sooner accepted the principles of evolution than ornithology, and of course the effect upon its study was very marked. New spirit was given to it. Ornithologists now felt they had something before them that was really worth investigating. Questions of affinity, and the details of geographical distribution, were endowed with a real interest, in comparison with which any interest that had hitherto been taken was a trifling pastime. Classification assumed a wholly different aspect. It had up to this time been little more than the shuffling of cards, the ingenious arrangement of counters in a pretty pattern. Henceforward it was to be the serious study of the workings of nature in producing the beings we see around us from beings more or less unlike them, that had existed in bygone ages and had been the parents of a varied and varying offspring—our fellow-creatures of to-day. Classification for the first time was something more than the expression of a fancy, not that it had not also its imaginative side. Men's minds began to figure to themselves the original type of some well-marked genus or family of birds. They could even discern dimly some generalized stock whence had descended whole groups that now differed strangely in habits and appearance—their discernment aided, may be, by some isolated form which yet retained undeniable traces of a primitive structure. More dimly still visions of what the first bird may have been like could be reasonably entertained; and, passing even to a higher antiquity, the reptilian parent whence all birds have sprung was brought within reach of man's consciousness. But, relieved as it may be by reflections of this kind—dreams some may perhaps still call them—the study of ornithology has unquestionably become harder and more serious; and a corresponding change in the style of investigation, followed in the works that remain to be considered, will be immediately perceptible.
That this was the case is undeniably shown by some remarks of Canon Tristram, who, in treating of the Alaudidae and Tristram. Saxicolinae of Algeria (whence he had recently brought a large collection of specimens of his own making), stated (Ibis, 1859, pp. 429-433) that he could “not help feeling convinced of the truth of the views set forth by Messrs Darwin and Wallace,” adding that it was “hardly possible, I should think, to illustrate this theory better than by the larks and chats of North Africa.” It is unnecessary to continue the quotation; the few words just cited are enough to assure to their author the credit of being (so far as is known) the first ornithological specialist who had the courage publicly to recognize and receive the new and at that time unpopular philosophy. Parker. But greater work was at hand. In June 1860 W. K. Parker broke, as most will allow, entirely fresh ground by communicating to the Zoological Society a memoir “On the Osteology of Balaeniceps,” subsequently published in that Society's Transactions (iv. 269-351). Of this contribution to science, as of all the rest which have since proceeded from him, may be said in the words he himself has applied (ut supra, p. 271) to the work of another labourer in a not distant field: “This is a model paper for unbiased observation, and freedom from that pleasant mode of supposing instead of ascertaining what is the true nature of an anatomical element.” Indeed, the study of this memoir, limited though it be in scope, could not fail to convince any one that it proceeded from the mind of one who taught with the authority derived directly from original knowledge, and not from association with the scribes—a conviction that has become strengthened as, in a series of successive memoirs, the stores of more than twenty years' silent observation and unremitting research were unfolded, and, more than that, the hidden forces of the science of morphology were gradually brought to bear upon almost each subject that came under discussion. These different memoirs, being technically monographs, have strictly no right to be mentioned in this place; but there is scarcely one of them, if one indeed there be, that does not deal with the generalities of the study; and the influence they have had upon contemporary investigation is so strong that it is impossible to refrain from noticing them here, though want of space forbids us from enlarging on their contents.
For some time past rumours of a discovery of the highest interest had been agitating the minds of zoologists, for in 1861 Wagner. Andreas Wagner had sent to the Academy of Sciences of Munich (Sitzungsberichte, pp. 146-154; Ann. Nat. History, series 3, ix. 261-267) ^n account of what he conceived to be a feathered reptile (assigning to it the name Griphosaurus), the remains of which had been found in the lithographic beds of Solenhofen; but he himself, through failing health, had been unable to see the fossil. In 1862 the slabs containing the remains were acquired by the British Museum, Owen. and towards the end of that year Sir R. Owen communicated a detailed description of them to the Philosophical Transactions (1863, pp. 33-47), proving their bird-like nature, and referring them to the genus Archaeopteryx of Hermann von Meyer, hitherto known only by the impression of a single feather from the same geological beds. Wagner foresaw the use that would be made of this discovery by the adherents of the new philosophy, and, in the usual language of its opponents at the time, strove to ward off the “misinterpretations” that they would put upon it. His protest, it is needless to say, was unavailing, and all who respect his memory must regret that the sunset of life failed to give him that insight into the future which is poetically ascribed to it. To Darwin and those who believed with him scarcely any discovery could have been more welcome; but that is beside our present business. It was quickly seen—even by those who held Archaeoptcryx to be a reptile—that it was a form intermediate between existing birds and existing reptiles; while those who were convinced by Sir R. Owen's researches of its ornithic affinity saw that it must belong to a type of birds wholly unknown before, and one that in any future for the arrangement of the class must have a special rank reserved for it.
It behoves us next to mention the “Outlines of a Systematic Review of the Class of Birds,” communicated by W. Lilljeborg to the Zoological Society in 1866, and published in its Proceedings for that year (pp. 5-20), since it was immediately after reprinted Lilljeborg. by the Smithsonian Institution, and with that authorization has exercised a great influence on the opinions of American ornithologists. Otherwise the scheme would hardly need notice here. This paper is indeed little more than an English translation of one published by the author in the annual volume (Årsskrift) of the Scientific Society of Upsala for 1860, and belonging to the pre-Darwinian epoch should perhaps have been more properly treated before, but that at the time of its original appearance it failed to attract attention. The chief merit of the scheme perhaps is that, contrary to nearly every precedent, it begins with the lower and rises to the higher groups of birds, which is of course the natural mode of proceeding, and one therefore to be commended. Otherwise the “principles” on which it is founded are not clear to the ordinary zoologist. One of them is said to be “irritability,” and, though this is explained to mean, not “muscular strength alone, but vivacity and activity generally,” it does not seem to form a character that can be easily appreciated either as to quantity or quality; in fact, most persons would deem it quite immeasurable, and, as such, removed from practical consideration. Moreover, Professor Lilljeborg's scheme, being actually an adaptation of that of Sundevall, of which we shall have to speak at some length almost immediately, may possibly be left for the present with these remarks.
In the spring of the year 1867 Professor T. H. Huxley, to the delight of an appreciative audience, delivered at the Royal Huxley. College of Surgeons of England a course of lectures on birds, and a few weeks after presented an abstract of his researches to the Zoological Society, in whose Proceedings for the same year it will be found printed (pp. 415-472) as a paper “On the Classification of Birds, and on the taxonomic value of the modifications of certain of the cranial bones observable in that Class.” Starting from the basis “that the phrase ‘birds are greatly modified reptiles’ would hardly be an exaggerated expression of the closeness” of the resemblance between the two classes, which he had previously brigaded under the name of Sauropsida (as he had brigaded the Pisces and Amphibia as Ichthyopsida), he drew in bold outhne both their likenesses and their differences, and then proceeded to inquire how the Aves could be most appropriately subdivided into orders, suborders and families. In this course of lectures he had already dwelt at some length on the insufficiency of the characters on which such groups as had hitherto been thought to be established were founded; but for the consideration of this part of his subject there was no room in the present paper, and the reasons why he arrived at the conclusion that new means of philosophically and successfully separating the class must be sought are herein left to be inferred. The upshot, however, admits of no uncertainty: the class Aves is held to be composed of three “Orders”—
|II.||Ratitae, Merrem; and|
The Saururae have the metacarpals well developed and not ancylosed, and the caudal vertebrae are numerous and large, so that the caudal region of the spine is longer than the body. The furcula is complete and strong, the feet very passerine in appearance. The skull and sternum were at the time unknown, and indeed the whole order, without doubt entirely extinct, rested exclusively on the celebrated fossil, then unique, Archaeopteryx.
The Ratitae comprehend the struthious birds, which differ from all others now extant in the combination of several peculiarities, some of which have been mentioned in the preceding pages. The sternum has no keel, and ossifies from lateral and paired centres only; the axes of the scapula and coracoid have the same general direction; certain of the cranial bones have characters very unlike those possessed by the next order—the vomer, for example, being broad posteriorly and generally intervening between the basisphenoidal rostrum and the palatals and pterygoids; the barbs of the feathers are disconnected; there is no syrinx or inferior larynx; and the diaphragm is better developed than in other birds.
The Carinatae are divided, according to the formation of the palate, into four “Suborders,” and named (i.) Dromaeognathae, (ii.) Schizognathae, (iii.) Desmognathae, and (iv.) Aegithognathae. The Dromaeognathae resemble the Ratitae, and especially the genus Dromaeus, in their palatal structure, and are composed of the Tinamous (q.v.). The Schizognathae include a great many of the forms belonging to the Linnaean Orders Gallinae, Grallae and Anseres. In them the vomer, however variable, always tapers to a point anteriorly, while behind it includes the basisphenoidal rostrum between the palatals; but neither these nor the pterygoids are borne by its posterior divergent ends. The maxillo-palatals are usually elongated and lamellar, uniting with the palatals, and, bending backward along their inner edge, leave a cleft (whence the name given to the “Suborder”) between the vomer and themselves. In the Desmognathae, the vomer is either abortive or so small as to disappear from the skeleton. When it exists it is always slender, and tapers to a point anteriorly. The maxillo-palatals are bound together (whence the name of the “Suborder”) across the middle line, either directly or by the ossification of the nasal septum. The posterior ends of the palatals and anterior of the pterygoids articulate directly with the rostrum. The Aegithognathae, the fourth and last of the “Suborders,” is characterized by a form of palate in some respects intermediate between the two preceding. The vomer is broad, abruptly truncated in front, and deeply cleft behind, so as to embrace the rostrum of the sphenoid; the palatals have produced postero-external angles; the maxillo-palatals are slender at their origin, and extend obliquely inwards and forwards over the palatals, ending beneath the vomer in expanded extremities, not united either with one another or with the vomer, nor does the latter unite with the nasal septum, though that is frequently ossified.
The above abstract shows the general drift of this very remarkable contribution to ornithology, and it has to be added that for by far the greater number of his minor groups Huxley relied solely on the form of the palatal structure, the importance of which Dr Cornay had before urged, though to so little purpose. That the palatal structure must be taken into consideration by taxonomers as affording hints of some utility there can no longer be a doubt; but perhaps the characters drawn thence owed more of their worth to the extraordinary perspicuity with which they were presented by Huxley than to their own intrinsic value, and if the same power had been employed to elucidate in the same way other parts of the skeleton—say the bones of the sternal apparatus or even of the pelvic girdle—either set might have been made to appear quite as instructive and perhaps more so. Adventitious value would therefore seem to have been acquired by the bones of the palate through the fact that so great a master of the art of exposition selected them as fitting examples upon which to exercise his skill. At the same time it must be stated this selection was not premeditated by Huxley, but forced itself upon him as his investigations proceeded. In reply to some critical remarks (Ibis, 1868, pp. 85-96), chiefly aimed at showing the inexpediency of relying solely on one set of characters, especially when those afforded by the palatal bones were not, even within the limits of families, wholly diagnostic, the author (Ibis, 1868, pp. 357-362) announced a slight modification of his original scheme, by introducing three more groups into it, and concluded by indicating how its bearings upon the great question of “genetic classification” might be represented so far as the different groups of Carinatae are concerned:—
Huxley regarded the above scheme as nearly representing the affinities of the various Carinate groups—the great difficulty being to determine the relations to the rest of the Coccygomorphae, Psittacomorphae and Aegithognathae, which he indicated “only in the most doubtful and hypothetic fashion.” Almost simultaneously with this he expounded more particularly before the Zoological Society, in whose Proceedings (1868, pp. 294-319) his results were soon after published, the groups of which he believed the Alectoromorphae to be composed and the relations to them of some outlying forms usually regarded as Gallinaceous, the Turnicidae and Pteroclidae, as well as the singular hoactzin, for all three of which he had to institute new groups—the last forming the sole representative of his Heteromorphae. More than this, he entered upon their geographical distribution, the facts of which important subject are here, almost for the first time, since the attempt of Blyth already mentioned, brought to bear practically on classification.
Here we must mention the intimate connexion between classification and geographical distribution as revealed by the A. Milne-Edwards. palaeontological researches of Alphonse Milne-Edwards, whose magnificent Oiseaux Fossiles de la France began to appear in 1867, and was completed in 1871—the more so, since the exigencies of his undertaking compelled him to use materials that had been almost wholly neglected by other investigators. A large proportion of the fossil remains, the determination and description of which was his object, were what are very commonly called the “long bones,” that is to say, those of the limbs. The recognition of these, minute and fragmentary as many were, and the referring them to their proper place, rendered necessary an attentive study of the comparative osteology and myology of birds in general, that of the “long bones,” whose sole characters were often a few muscular ridges or depressions, being especially obligatory. Hence it became manifest that a very respectable classification can be found in which characters drawn from these bones play a rather important part. Limited by circumstances as is that followed by Milne-Edwards, the details of his arrangement do not require setting forth here. It is enough to point out that we have in his work another proof of the multiplicity of the factors which must be taken into consideration by the systematists, and another proof of the fallacy of trusting to one set of characters alone. But this is not the only way in which the author has rendered service to the advanced student of ornithology. The unlookedfor discovery in France of remains which he has referred to, forms now existing it is true, but existing only in countries far removed from Europe, forms such as Collocalia, Leptosomus, Psittacus, Serpentarius and Trogon, is perhaps even more suggestive than the finding that France was once inhabited by forms that are wholly extinct, of which in the older formations there is abundance. Unfortunately none of these, however, can be compared for singularity with Archaeopteryx or with some American fossil forms next to be noticed, for their particular bearing on our knowledge of ornithology will be most conveniently treated here.
In November 1870 O. C. Marsh, by finding the imperfect fossilized tibia of a bird in the middle cretaceous shale of Kansas, Marsh. began a series of wonderful discoveries of great importance to ornithology. Subsequent visits to the same part of North America, often performed under circumstances of discomfort and occasionally of danger, brought to this intrepid and energetic explorer the reward he had so fully earned. Brief notices of his spoils appeared from time to time in various volumes of the American Journal of Science and Arts (Silliman's), but it is unnecessary here to refer to more than a few of them. In that Journal for May 1872 (ser. 3, iii. p. 360) the remains of a large swimming bird (nearly 6 ft. in length, as afterwards appeared) having some affinity, it was thought, to the Colymbidae were described under the name of Hesperornis regalis, and a few months later (iv. p. 344) a second fossil bird from the same locality was indicated as Ichthyornis dispar—from the fish-like, biconcave form of its vertebrae. Further examination of the enormous collections gathered by the author, and preserved in the Museum of Yale University at New Haven, Connecticut, showed him that this last bird, and another to which he gave the name of Apatornis, had possessed well developed teeth implanted in sockets in both jaws, and induced him to establish (v. pp. 161, 162) for their reception a “subclass” Odontornithes and an order Ichthyornithes. Two years more and the originally found Hesperornis was discovered also to have teeth, but these were inserted in a groove. It was accordingly regarded as the type of a distinct order Odontolcae (x. pp. 403-408), to which were assigned as other characters vertebrae of a saddle-shape and not biconcave, a keelless sternum, and wings consisting only of the humerus. In 1880 Marsh brought out Odontornithes, a monograph of the extinct toothed birds of North America. Herein remains, attributed to no fewer than a score of species, which were referred to eight different genera, are fully described and sufficiently illustrated, and, instead of the ordinal name Ichthyornithes previously used, that of Odontotormae was proposed. In the author's concluding summary he remarks on the fact that, while the Odontolcae, as exhibited in Hesperornis, had teeth inserted in a continuous groove—a low and generalized character as shown by reptiles, they had, however, the strongly differentiated saddle-shaped vertebrae such as all modern birds possess. On the other hand the Odontotormae, as exemplified in Ichthyornis, having the primitive biconcave vertebrae, yet possessed the highly specialized feature of teeth in distinct sockets. Hesperornis too, with its keelless sternum, had aborted wings but strong legs and feet adapted for swimming, while Ichthyornis had a keeled sternum and powerful wings, but diminutive legs and feet. These and other characters separate the two forms so widely as quite to justify the establishment of as many orders for their reception. Marsh states that he had fully satisfied himself that Archaeopteryx belonged to the Odontornithes, which he thought it advisable for the present to regard as a subclass, separated into three orders—Odontolcae, Odontotormae and Saururae—all well marked, but evidently not of equal rank, the last being clearly much more widely distinguished from the first two than they are from one another. But that these three oldest-known forms of birds should differ so greatly from each other unmistakably points to a great antiquity for the class.
The former efforts at classification made by Sundevall have already several times been mentioned, and a return to their Sundevall. consideration was promised. In 1872 and 1873 he brought out at Stockholm a Methodi naturalis avium disponendarum tentamen, two portions of which (those relating to the diurnal birds-of-prey and the Cichlomorphae, or forms related to the thrushes) he found himself under the necessity of revising and modifying in the course of 1874, in as many communications to the Swedish Academy of Sciences (K. V.-Ak. Forhandlingar, 1874, No. 2, pp. 21-30; No. 3, pp. 27-30). This Tentamen, containing his complete method of classifying birds in general, naturally received much attention, the more so perhaps, since, with its appendices, it was nearly the last labour of its respected author, whose industrious life came to an end in the course of the following year. From what has before been said of his works it may be gathered that, while professedly basing his systematic arrangement of the groups of birds on their external features, he had hitherto striven to make his schemes harmonize if possible with the dictates of internal structure as evinced by the science of anatomy, though he uniformly and persistently protested against the inside being better than the outside. In thus acting he proved himself a true follower of his great countryman Linnaeus; but, without disparagement of his efforts in this respect, it must be said that when internal and external characters appeared to be in conflict he gave, perhaps with unconscious bias, a preference to the latter, for he belonged to a school of zoologists whose natural instinct was to believe that such a conflict always existed. Hence his efforts, praiseworthy as they were from several points of view, and particularly so in regard to some details, failed to satisfy the philosophic taxonomer when generalizations and deeper principles were concerned, and in his practice in respect of certain technicalities of classification he was, in the eyes of the orthodox, a transgressor. Thus instead of contenting himself with terms that had met with pretty general approval, such as class, subclass, order, suborder, family, subfamily, and so on, he introduced into his final scheme other designations, “agmen,” “cohors,” “phalanx,” and the like, which to the ordinary student of ornithology convey an indefinite meaning, if any meaning at all. He also carried to a very extreme limit his views of nomenclature, which were certainly not in accordance with those held by most zoologists, though this is a matter so trifling as to need no details in illustration. His Tentamen was translated into English by F. Nicholson in 1889, and had a considerable influence on later writers, especially in the arrangement of the smaller groups. In the main it was an artificial system. Birds were divided into Gymnopaedes and Dasypaedes, according as the young were hatched naked or clothed. The Gymnopaedes are divided into two “orders”—Oscines and Volucres—the former intended to be identical with the group of the same name established by older authors, and, in accordance with the observations of Keyserling and Blasius already mentioned, divided into two “series”—Laminiplantares, having the hinder part of the “tarsus” covered with two horny plates, and Scutelliplantares, in which the same part is scutellated. These Laminiplantares are composed of six cohorts as follows:—
Cohors 1. Cichlomorphae.
Cohors 2. Conirostres.
Cohors 3. Coliomorphae.
Cohors 4. Certhiomorphae.—3 families: tree-creepers, nut-hatches.
Cohors 5. Cinnyrimorphae.—5 families: sun-birds, honey-suckers.
Cohors 6. Chelidonomorphae.—1 family: swallows.
The Scutelliplantares include a much smaller number of forms, and, with the exception of the first “cohort” and a few groups of the fourth and fifth, all are peculiar to America.
Cohors 1. Holaspideae.
Cohors 2. Endaspideae.
Cohors 3. Exaspideae.
Cohors 4. Pycnaspideae.
Cohors 5. Taxaspideae.
We then arrive at the second order Volucres, which is divided into two “series.” Of these the first is made to contain, under the name Zygodactyli,
Cohors 1. Psittaci.
Cohors 2. Pici.
Cohors 3. Coccyges.
Cohors 4. Coenomorphae.
Cohors 5. Ampligulares.
Cohors 6. Longilingues or Mellisugae.
Cohors 7. Syndactylae.
Cohors 8. Peristeroideae.
The Dasypaedes of Sundevall are separated into six “orders”; but these will occupy us but a short while. The first of them, Accipitres, comprehending all the birds-of-prey, were separated into 4 “cohorts” in his original work, but these were reduced in his appendix to two—Nyctharpages or owls with 4 families divided into 2 series, and Hemeroharpages containing all the rest, and comprising 10 families (the last of which is the seriema, Dicholophus) divided into 2 groups as Rapaces and Saprophagi—the latter including the vultures. Next stands the order Gallinae with 4 “cohorts”; (1) Tetraonomorphae, comprising 2 families, the sand-grouse (Pterocles) and the grouse proper, among which the Central American Oreophasis finds itself; (2) Phasianomorphae, with 4 families, pheasants peacocks, turkeys, guinea fowls, partridges, quails, and hemipodes (Turnix); (3) Macronyches, the megapodes, with 2 families; (4) the Duodecimpennatae, the curassows and guans, also with 2 families; (5) the Struthioniformes, composed of the tinamous; and (6) the Subgrallatores with 2 families, one consisting of the curious South American genera Thinocorus and Attagis and the other of the sheathbill (Chionis). The fifth order (the third of the Dasypaedes) is formed by the Grallatores, divided into 2 “series”—(1) Altinares, consisting of 2 “cohorts,” Herodii with 1 family, the herons, and Pelargi with 4 families, spoonbills, ibises, storks, and the umbre (Scopus), with Balaeniceps; (2) Humilinares, also consisting of 2 “cohorts,” Limicolae with 2 families, sandpipers and snipes, stilts and avocets, and Cursores with 8 families, including plovers, bustards, cranes, rails, and all the other “waders.” The sixth order, Natatores, consists of all the birds that habitually swim and a few that do not, containing 6 “cohorts”: Longipennes and Pygopodes with 3 families each; Totipalmatae with 1 family; Tubinares with 3 families; Impennes with 1 family, penguins; and Lamellirostres with 2 families, flamingoes and ducks. The seventh order, Proceres, is divided into 2 “cohorts”—Veri with 2 families, ostriches and emeus; and Subnobiles, consisting of the genus Apteryx. The eighth order is formed by the Saururae.
Later systems of classification owe much to anatomy, and the pioneers in the modern advances in this respect were A. H. Later Systems. Garrod and W. A. Forbes, two brilliant and short-lived young men who occupied successively the post of prosector to the Zoological Society of London, and who made a rich use of the material provided by the collection of that society. Garrod was the more skilled and ingenious anatomist, Forbes had a greater acquaintance with the ornithology of museums and collectors. Garrod founded his system (1874) on muscular anatomy, making the two major divisions of Aves (his Homalogonatae and Anomalogonatae, depend in the first instance on the presence or absence of a peculiar muscular slip in the leg, known as the ambiens, although indeed he expressly stated that this was not on account of the intrinsic importance of the muscle in question, but because of its invariable association with other peculiarities. The system of Forbes was reconstructed after his death from notebook jottings, and neither Garrod nor Forbes have left any permanent mark on the classification of birds, although the material they furnished and the lines they indicated have proved valuable in later hands. In 1880 Dr P. L. Sclater published in the Ibis a classification which was mainly a revision of the system of Huxley, modified by the investigations of Garrod and Forbes and by his own large acquaintance with museum specimens.
In the article “Ornithology” in the ninth edition of this encyclopedia, A. Newton accepted the three subclasses of Huxley, Saururae, Ratitae and Carinitae, and made a series of cautious but critical observations on the minor divisions of the Carinates. In 1882 A. Reichenow in Die Vögel der zoologischen Gärten published a classification of birds with a phylogenetic tree. In this he departed considerably from the lines that had been made familiar by English workers, and made great use of natural characteristics. The next attempt of importance appeared in the American Standard Natural History, published in Boston in 1885. The volume on birds was written by Dr L. Stejneger and was founded on Elliot Coues's Key to North American Birds. Apart from its intrinsic merits as a learned and valuable addition to classification, this work is interesting in the history of ornithology because of the wholesale changes of nomenclature it introduced as the result of much diligence and zeal in the application of the strict rule of priority to the names of birds.
In 1888 there was published the huge monograph by Max Fürbringer entitled Untersuchungen zur Morphologie und Systematik der Vögel. In addition to an enormous body of new information chiefly on the shoulder girdle, the alar muscles and the nerve plexuses of birds, this work contained a critical and descriptive summary of practically the whole pre-existing literature on the structure of birds, and it is hardly necessary for the student of ornithology to refer to earlier literature at first hand. Fürbringer supposes that birds must have begun with toothed forms of small or moderate size, with long tails and four lizard-like feet and bodies clothed with a primitive kind of down. To these succeeded forms where the down had developed into body feathers for warmth, not flight, whilst the fore-limbs had become organs of prehension, the hind-limbs of progression. In such bipedal creatures the legs and pelvis became transformed to a condition similar to that of Dinosaurian reptiles. Many of them were climbing animals, and from these true birds with the power of flight were developed. In the course of this evolution there were many cases of arrest or degradation, and one of the most novel of the ideas of Fürbringer, and one now accepted by not a few anatomists, was that the ratites or ostrich-like birds were not a natural group but a set of stages of arrested development or of partial degradation. It is impossible to reproduce here Fürbringer's elaborate details and phylogenetic trees with their various horizontal sections, but the following tables give the main outlines:—
I. Subclassis Saururae
II. Subclassis Ornithurae
|Anseres or Lamellirostres||Anatidae.|
|Pelargo-Herodii||Plataleidae or Hemiglottides.|
|Ciconiidae or Pelargi.|
|Ardeidae or Herodii.|
|Procellariiformes||Procellariae or Tubinares||Procellariidae.|
|Aptenodytiformes||Aptenodytes or Impennes||Aptenodytidae.|
| Intermediate suborder:—
| Intermediate suborder:—
|Gallidae or Alectoropodes.|
|Passeridae or Passeres.|
Whilst Fürbringer was engaged on his gigantic task, Dr Hans Gadow was preparing the ornithological volume of Bronn's Thier-Reich. The two authors were in constant communication, and the classifications they adopted had much in common. It is unnecessary here to discuss the views of Gadow, as that author himself has contributed the article Bird to this edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has there set forth his revised scheme. (A. N.; P. C. M.)
- Ornithologia, from the Greek ὀρνιθ-, crude form of ὄρνις, a bird, and -λογία, allied to λόγος, commonly Englished a discourse. The earliest known use of the word Ornithology seems to be in the third edition of Blount's Glossographia (1670), where it is noted as being “the title of a late Book.”
- This is Sundevall's estimate; Drs Aubert and Wimmer in their excellent edition of the Ἱστορίαι περὶ ζῴων (Leipzig, 1868) limit the number to 126.
- Absurd as much that we find both in Albertus Magnus and the Ortus seems to modern eyes, if we go a step lower in the scale and consult the “Bestiaries” or treatises on animals which were common from the 12th to the 14th century we shall meet with many more absurdities. See for instance that by Philippe de Thaun (Philippus Taonensis), dedicated to Adelaide or Alice, queen of Henry I. of England, and probably written soon after 1121, as printed by the late Mr Thomas Wright, in his Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle Ages (London, 1841).
- This was reprinted at Cambridge in 1823 by Dr George Thackeray.
- The Seventh of Wotton's De differentiis animalium Libri Decem, published at Paris in 1552, treats of birds; but his work is merely a compilation from Aristotle and Pliny, with references to other classical writers who have mere or less incidentally mentioned birds and other animals. The author in his preface states—“Veterum scriptorum sententias in unum quasi cumulem coaceruaui, de meo nihil addidi.” Nevertheless he makes some attempt at a systematic arrangement of birds, which, according to his lights, is far from despicable.
- For instance, under the title of “Accipiter” we have to look, not only for the sparrow-hawk and gos-hawk, but for many other birds of the family (as we now call it) removed comparatively far from those species by modern ornithologists.
- The Historia Naturalis of Johannes Johnstonus, said to be of Scottish descent but by birth a Pole, ran through several editions during the 17th century, but is little more than an epitome of the work of Aldrovandus.
- The Hierozoicon of Bochart—a treatise on the animals named in Holy Writ—was published in 1619.
- For Lichtenstein's determination of the birds described by Marcgrave and Piso see the Abhandlungen of the Berlin Academy for 1817 (pp. 155 seq.).
- The earliest list of British birds seems to be that in the Pinax Rerum Naturalium of Christopher Merrett, published in 1667. In the following year appeared the Onomasticon Zooicon of Walter Charleton, which contains some information on ornithology. An enlarged edition of the latter, under the title of Exercitationes, &c., was published in 1677; but neither of these writers is of much authority. In 1684 Sibbald in his Scotia illustrata published the earliest Fauna of Scotland.
- To this was added a supplement by Petiver on the Birds of Madras, taken from pictures and information sent him by one Edward Buckley of Fort St George, being the first attempt to catalogue the birds of any part of the British possessions in India.
- After Klein's death his Prodromus, written in Latin, had the unwonted fortune of two distinct translations into German, published in the same year 1760, the one at Leipzig and Lübeck by Behn, the other at Danzig by Reyger—each of whom added more or less to the original.
- Several birds from Jamaica were figured in Sloane's Voyage, &c. (1705-1725), and a good many exotic species in the Thesaurus, &c.. of Seba (1734-1765), but from their faulty execution these plates had little effect upon Ornithology.
- The works of Catesby and Edwards were afterwards reproduced at Nuremberg and Amsterdam by Seligmann, with the letterpress in German, French and Dutch.
- Birds were treated of in a worthless fashion by one D. B. in a Dictionnaire raisonné et universal des animaux, published at Paris in 1759.
- They were drawn and engraved by Martinet, who himself began in 1787 a Histoire des oiseaux with small coloured plates which have some merit, but the text is worthless.
- Between 1767 and 1776 there appeared at Florence a Storia Naturale degli Uccelli, in five folio volumes, containing a number of ill-drawn and ill-coloured figures from the collection of Giovanni Gerini, an ardent collector who died in 1751, and therefore must be acquitted of any share in the work, which, though sometimes attributed to him, is that of certain learned men who did not happen to be ornithologists (cf. Savi, Ornitologia Toscana, i. Introduzione, p. v.).
- He retired on the completion of the sixth volume, and thereupon Buffon associated Bexon with himself.
- See St George Mivart's address to the Section of Biology, Rep. Brit. Association (Sheffield Meeting, 1879), p. 356.
- In 1792 Shaw began the Museum Leverianum in illustration of this collection, which was finally dispersed by sale, and what is known to remain of it found its way to Vienna. Of the specimens in the British Museum described by Latham it is to be feared that scarcely an exist. They were probably very imperfectly prepared.
- A German translation by Bechstein subsequently appeared.
- He also prepared for publication a second edition of his Index Ornithologicus, but this was never printed, and the manuscript came into A. Newton's possession.
- The Naturalist's Miscellany or Vivarium Naturale, in English and Latin, of Shaw and Nodder, the former being the author, the latter the draughtsman and engraver, was begun in 1789 and carried on till Shaw's death, forming twenty-four volumes. It contains figures of more than 280 birds, but very poorly executed. In 1814 a sequel, The Zoological Miscellany, was begun by Leach, Nodder continuing to do the plates. This was completed in 1817, and forms three volumes with 149 plates, 27 of which represent birds.
- Of this work only fifty copies were printed, and it is one of the rarest known to the ornithologist. Only two copies are believed to exist in England, one in the British Museum, the other in private hands. It was reprinted in 1874 by Mr Tegetmeier.
- This was reprinted in 1882 by the Willughby Society.
- Daudin's unfinished Traité élémentaire et complet d'ornithologie appeared at Paris in 1800, and therefore is the last of these general works published in the 18th century.
- A succinct notice of the older works on ornithotomy is given by Professor Selenka in the introduction to that portion of Dr Bronn's Klassen und Ordnungen des Thierreichs relating to birds (pp. 1-9) published in 1869; and Professor Carus's Geschichte der Zoologie, published in 1872, may also be usefully consulted for further information on this and other heads.
- The treatises of the two Bartholinis and Borrichius published at Copenhagen deserve mention if only to record the activity of Danish anatomists in those days.
- It had no effect on Lacépède, who in the following year added a Tableau méthodique containing a classification of birds to his Discours d'overture (Mém. de l'lnstitut, iii. pp. 454-468, 503-519).
- So little regard did he pay to the osteology of birds that, according to de Blainville (Jour. de Physique, xcii. p. 187, note), the skeleton of a fowl to which was attached the head of a hornbill was for a long time exhibited in the Museum of Comparative Anatomy at Paris! Yet, in order to determine the difference of structure in their organs of voice, Cuvier, as he says in his Leçons (iv. 464), dissected more than one hundred and fifty species of birds. Unfortunately for him, as will appear in the sequel, it seems not to have occurred to him to use any of the results he obtained as the basis of a classification.
- It is unnecessary to enumerate the various editions of the Règne Animal. Of the English translations, that edited by Griffiths and Pidgeon is the most complete. The ornithological portion of it contained in these volumes received many additions from John Edward Gray, and appeared in 1829.
- Though much later in date, the Iter per Poseganam Sclavoniae of Piller and Mittercacher, published at Buda in 1783, may perhaps be here most conveniently mentioned.
- The results of Forskål's travels in the Levant, published after his death by Niebuhr, require mention, but the ornithology they contain is but scant.
- It has been charitably suggested that, his collection and notes having suffered shipwreck, he was induced to supply the latter from his memory and the former by the nearest approach to his lost specimens that he could obtain. This explanation, poor as it is, fails, however, in regard to some species.
- His earlier work under the title of Petinotheologie can hardly be deemed scientific.
- This extremely rare book has been reprinted by the Willughby Society.
- Both of these treatises have also been reprinted by the Willughby Society
- In this year there were two issues of this book; one, nominally a second edition, only differs from the first in having a new title-page. No real second edition ever appeared, but in anticipation of it Sir Thomas Browne prepared in or about 1671 (?) his “Account of Birds found in Norfolk,” of which the draft, now in the British Museum, was printed in his collected works by Wilkin in 1835. If a fair copy was ever made its resting-place is unknown.
- It has been republished by the Willughby Society.
- There were two issues—virtually two editions—of this with the same date on the title-page, though one of them is said not to have been published till the following year. Among several other indicia this may be recognized by the woodcut of the “sea eagle” at page 11, bearing at its base the inscription “Wycliffe, 1791,” and by the additional misprint on page 145 of Sahaeniclus for Schaeniclus.
- This is especially observable in the figures of the birds of prey.
- There is also an issue of this, as of the same author's other works, on large quarto paper.
- Temminck subsequently reproduced, with many additions, the text of this volume in his Histoire naturelle des pigeons et des gallinacées, published at Amsterdam in 1813-1815, in 3 vols. 8vo. Between 1838 and 1848 M. Florent-Provost brought out at Paris a further set of illustrations of pigeons by Mme Knip.
- On the completion of these two works, for they must be regarded as distinct, an octavo edition in seven volumes under the title of The Birds of America was published in 1840-1844. In this the large plates were reduced by means of the camera lucida, the text was revised, and the whole systematically arranged. Other reprints have since been issued, but they are vastly inferior both in execution and value. A sequel to the octavo Birds of America, corresponding with it in form, was brought out in 1853-1855 by Cassin as Illustrations of the Birds of California, Texas, Oregon, British and Russian America.
- On the title-page credit is given to the latter alone, but only two-thirds of the plates (from pl. 25 to the end) bear his name.
- In 1828 he had brought out, under the title of Manuel d'ornithologie, two handy duodecimos which are very good of their kind.
- Technically speaking they are in quarto, but their size is so small that they may be well spoken of here. In 1879 Dr A. B. Meyer brought out an Index to them.
- Illiger may be considered the founder of the school of nomenclatural purists. He would not tolerate any of the “barbarous” generic terms adopted by other writers, though some had been in use for many years.
- The method was communicated to the Turin Academy, on 10th January 1814, and was ordered to be printed (Mém. Ac. Sc. Turin, 1813-1814, p. xxviii.); but, through the derangements of that stormy period, the order was never carried out (Mem. Accad. Sc. Torino, xxiii. p. xcvii.). The minute-book of the Linnean Society of London shows that his Prolusio was read at meetings of that Society between the 15th of November 1814 and the 21st of February 1815. Why it was not at once accepted is not told, but the entry respecting it, which must be of much later date, in the “Register of Papers” is “Published already.” It is due to Vieillot to mention these facts, as he has been accused of publishing his method in haste to anticipate some of Cuvier's views, but he might well complain of the delay in London. Some reparation has been made to his memory by the reprinting of his Analyse by the Willughby Society.
- He recognized sixteen Orders of Birds, while Vieillot had been content with five, and Illiger with seven.
- To this very indispensable work a good index was supplied in 1865 by Dr Finsch.
- We prefer giving them here in Swainson's version, because he seems to have set them forth more clearly and concisely than Macleay ever did, and, moreover, Swainson's application of them to ornithology—a branch of science that lay outside of Macleay's proper studies—appears to be more suitable to the present occasion.
- A very useful list of more general scope is given as the Appendix to an address by Mr Sclater to the British Association in 1875 (Report, pt. ii. pp. 114-133).
- This is a posthumous publication, nominally forming an extra number of the Journal of the Asiatic Society; but, since it was separately issued, it is entitled to notice here.
- Journal für Ornithologie (1869), pp. 107, 341, 381. One may almost say an English translation also, for Major Feilden's contribution to the Zoologist for 1872 on the same subject gives the most essential part of Herr Müller's information.
- This is, of course, no complete list of German ornithologists. Some of the most eminent of them have written scarcely a line on the birds of their own country, as Cabanis (editor since 1853 of the Journal für Ornithologie), Finsch, Hartlaub, Prince Max of Wied, A. B. Meyer, Nathusius, Nehrkorn, Reichenbach, Reichenow and Schalow among others.
- A useful ornithological bibliography of the Austrian-Hungarian dominions was printed in the Verhandlungen of the Zoological and Botanical Society of Vienna for 1878, by Victor Ritter von Tschusi zu Schmidhofen. A similar bibliography of Russian ornithology by Alexander Brandt was printed at St Petersburg in 1877 or 1878.
- A useful compendium of Greek and Turkish ornithology by Drs Krüper and Hartlaub is contained in Mommsen's Griechische Jahrzeiten for 1875 (Heft III.). For other countries in the Levant there are Canon Tristram's Fauna and Flora of Palestine (4to, 1884) and Captain Shelley's Handbook to the Birds of Egypt (8vo, 1872).
- In the final chapter of this work the author gives a list of Portuguese birds, including besides those observed by him those recorded by Professor Barboza du Bocage in the Gazeta medica de Lisboa (1861), pp. 17-21.
- Copies are said to exist bearing the date 1814.
- In the Philosophie anatomique (i. pp. 69-101, and especially pp. 135, 136), which appeared in 1818, Geoffroy St-Hilaire explained the views he had adopted at greater length.
- The names of the genera are, he tells us, for the most part those of Linnaeus, as being the best-known, though not the best. To some of the Linnaean genera he dare not, however, assign a place, for instance, Buceros, Haematopus, Merops, Glareola (Brisson's genus, by the by) and Palamedea.
- From carina, a keel.
- From rates, a raft or flat-bottomed barge.
- “Beschreibung des Gerippes eines Casuars nebst einigen beiläufigen Bemerkungen über die flachbrüstigen Vögel,” Abhandl. der Berlin. Akademie, Phys. Klasse (1817), pp. 179-198, tabb. i.-iii.
- Merrem, as did many others in his time, calls the coracoids “claviculae”; but it is now well understood that in birds the real claviculae form the furcula or “merry-thought.”
- Not 1812, as has sometimes been stated.
- Cf. Philos. Transactions (l869), p. 337, note.
- This view of them had been long before taken by Willughby, but abandoned by all later authors.
- This plan, having been repeated by Schöpss in 1829 (op. cit. xii. p. 73). became known to Sir R. Owen in 1835, who then drew to it the attention of Kirby (Seventh Bridgewater Treatise, ii. pp. 444, 445), and in the next year referred to it in his own article “Aves” in Todd's Cyclopaedia of Anatomy (i. p. 266), so that Englishmen need no excuse for not being aware of one of Nitzsch's labours, though his more advanced work of 1829, presently to be mentioned, was not referred to by Sir R. Owen.
- Their value was, however, understood by Gloger, who in 1834, as will presently be seen, expressed his regret at not being able to use them.
- Cuvier's first observations on the subject seem to have appeared in the Magazin encyclopédique for 1795 (ii. pp. 330, 358).
- This fact in the ostrich appears to have been known already to Geoffroy St-Hilaire from his own observation in Egypt, but does not seem to have been published by him.
- Considerable doubts were at that time entertained in Paris as to the existence of the Apteryx.
- Whether Nitzsch was cognizant of L'Herminier's views is in no way apparent. The latter's name seems not to be even mentioned by him, but Nitzsch was in Paris in the summer of 1827, and it is almost impossible that he should not have heard of L'Herminier's labours, unless the relations between the followers of Cuvier to whom Nitzsch attached himself, and those of De Blainville, whose pupil L'Herminier was, were such as to forbid any communication between the rival schools. Yet we have L'Herminier's evidence that Cuvier gave him every assistance. Nitzsch's silence, both on this occasion and afterwards, is very curious; but he cannot be accused of plagiarism, for the scheme given above is only an amplification of that foreshadowed by him (as already mentioned) in 1820—a scheme which seems to have been equally unknown to L'Herminier, perhaps through linguistic difficulty.
- He says from Oken's Naturgeschichte für Schulen, published in 1821, but the division is to be found in that author's earlier Lehrbuch der Zoologie (ii. p. 371), which appeared in 1816.
- We shall perhaps be justified in assuming that this apparent inconsistency, and others which present themselves, would be explicable if the whole memoir with the necessary illustrations had been published.
- Sir Richard Owen's celebrated article “Aves,” in Todd's Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology (i. pp. 265-358), appeared in 1836, and, as giving a general view of the structure of birds, needs no praise here; but its object was not to establish a classification, or throw light especially on systematic arrangement. So far from that being the case, its distinguished author was content to adopt, as he tells us, the arrangement proposed by Kirby in the Seventh Bridgewater Treatise (ii. pp. 445-474), being that, it is true, of an estimable zoologist, but of one who had no special knowledge of ornithology. Indeed it is, as the latter says, that of Linnaeus, improved by Cuvier, with an additional modification of Illiger's—all these three authors having totally ignored any but external characters. Yet it was regarded “as being the one which facilitates the expression of the leading anatomical differences which obtain in the class of birds, and which therefore may be considered as the most natural.”
- An abstract is contained in the Minute-book of the Scientific Meetings of the Zoological Society, 26th June and 10th July 1838. The class was to contain fifteen orders, but only three were dealt with in any detail.
- Though not relating exactly to our present theme, it would be improper to dismiss Nitzsch's name without reference to his extraordinary labours in investigating the insect and other external parasites of birds, a subject which as regards British species was subsequently elaborated by Denny in his Monographia Anaplurorum Britanniae (1842) and in his list of the specimens of British Anoplura in the collection of the British Museum.
- A short essay by Nitzsch on the general structure of the Passerines, written, it is said, in 1836, was published in 1862 (Zeitschr. Ges., Naturwissenschaft, xix. pp. 389-408). It is probably to this essay that Professor Burmeister refers in the Pterylographie (p. 102, note; Eng. trans., p. 72, note) as forming the basis of the article “Passerinae” which he contributed to Ersch and Gruber's Encyklopädie (sect. iii. bd. xiii. pp. 139-144), and published before the Pterylographie.
- By the numbers prefixed it would look as if there should be four new members of this order; but that seems to be due rather to a slip of the pen or to a printer's error.
- This association is one of the most remarkable in the whole series of Blyth's remarkable papers on classification in the volume cited above. He states that Gould suspected the alliance of these two forms “from external structure and habits alone”; otherwise one might suppose that he had obtained an intimation to that effect on one of his Continental journeys. Blyth “arrived at the same conclusion, however, by a different train of investigation,” and this is beyond doubt.
- He does not mention Apteryx, at that time so little known on the Continent.
- Some excuse is to be made for this neglect. Nitzsch had of course exhausted all the forms of birds commonly to be obtained, and specimens of the less common forms were too valuable from the curator's or collector's point of view to be subjected to a treatment that might end in their destruction. Yet it is said, on good authority, that Nitzsch had the patience so to manipulate the skins of many rare species that he was able to ascertain the characters of their pterylosis by the inspection of their inside only, without in any way damaging them for the ordinary purpose of a museum. Nor is this surprising when we consider the marvellous skill of Continental and especially German taxidermists, many of whom have elevated their profession to a height of art inconceivable to most Englishmen, who are only acquainted with the miserable mockery of Nature which is the most sublime result of all but a few “bird-stuffers.”
- Archiv für Naturgeschichte, vii. 2, pp. 60, 61.
- In 1836 Jacquemin communicated to the French Academy (Comptes rendus, ii. pp. 374, 375 and 472) some observations on the order in which feathers are disposed on the body of birds; but, however general may have been the scope of his investigations, the portion of them published refers only to the crow, and there is no mention made of Nitzsch's former work.
- The Ray Society had the good fortune to obtain the ten original copper-plates, all but one drawn by the author himself, wherewith the work was illustrated. It is only to be regretted that the Society did not also adopt the quarto size in which it appeared, for by issuing their English version in folio they needlessly put an impediment in the way of its common and convenient use.
- These are, according to modern nomenclature, Tyrannus carolinensis and (as before mentioned) T. verticalis, Myiarchus crinitus, Sayornis fuscus, Contopus virens and Empidonax acadicus.
- Not literally, because a few other forms such as the genera Polioptila and Ptilogonys, now known to have no relation to the Tyrannidae, were included, though these forms, it would seem, had never been dissected by him. On the other hand, he declares that the American redstart, Muscicapa, or, as it now stands, Setophaga ruticilla, when young, has its vocal organs like the rest—an extraordinary statement which is worthy the attention of the many able American ornithologists.
- It is not needless to point out this fine distinction, for more than one modern author would seem to have overlooked it.
- The title of the English translation is Johannes Müller on Certain Variations in the Vocal Organs of the Passeres that have hitherto escaped notice. It was published at Oxford in 1878. By some unaccountable accident, the date of the original communication to the Academy of Berlin is wrongly printed. It has been rightly given above.
- On the other hand, Müller makes several references to the labours of Professor Cabanis. The investigations of both authors must have been proceeding simultaneously, and it matters little which actually appeared first.
- This seems to have been made known by Professor Cabanis the preceding year to the Gesellschaft der Naturforschender Freunde (cf. Müller, Stimmorganen der Passerinen, p. 65). Of course the variation to which the number of primaries was subject had not escaped the observation of Nitzsch, but he had scarcely used it as a classificatory character.
- Archiv für Naturgeschichte, vii. 2, pp. 93, 94. The division seems to have been instituted by this author a couple of years earlier in the second edition of his Handbuch der Naturgeschichte (a work not seen by the present writer), but not then to have received a scientific name. It included all Picariae which had not “zygodactylous” feet, that is to say, toes placed in pairs, two before and two behind.
- Thus he cites the cases of Machetes pugnax and Scolopax rusticola among the “Limicoles,” and Larus cataractes among the “Laridés,” as differing from their nearest allies by the possession of only one “notch” on either side of the keel. Several additional instances are cited in Philos. Transactions (1869), p. 337, note.
- These terms were explained in his great work L'Organisation du règne animal, oiseaux, begun in 1855, to mean exactly the sameas those applied by Merrem to his two primary divisions.
- M. Blanchard's animadversions on the employment of external characters, and on trusting to observations on the habits of birds, called forth a rejoinder from A. R. Wallace (Ibis, 1864, pp. 36-41), who successfully showed that they are not altogether to be despised.
- In this historical sketch of the progress of ornithology it has not been thought necessary to mention other oological works, since they have not a taxonomic bearing, and the chief of them have been already named (see Birds).
- Neither Lamarck nor Robert Chambers (the now acknowledged author of Vestiges of Creation), though thorough evolutionists, rationally indicated any means whereby, to use the old phrase, “the transmutation of species” could be effected.
- It is fair to state that some of Professor Parker's conclusions respecting Balaeniceps were contested by the late Professor J. T. Reinhardt (Overs. K. D. Vid. Selsk. Forhandlinger, 1861, pp. 135-154; Ibis, 1862, pp. 158-175), and as it seems to the present writer not ineffectually. Professor Parker replied to his critic (Ibis, 1862, pp. 297-299).
- This was done shortly afterwards by Professor Haeckel, who proposed the name Saururae for the group containing it.
- On this ground it is stated that the Passeres should be placed highest in the class. But those who know the habits and demeanour of many of the Limicolae would no doubt rightly claim for them much more “vivacity and activity” than is possessed by most Passeres.
- This peculiarity had led some zoologists to consider the struthious birds more nearly allied to the Mammalia than any others.
- These names are compounded respectively of Dromaeus, the generic name applied to the emeu, σχίζα, a split or cleft, δέσμα, a bond or tying, αἴγιθος, a finch, and, in each case, γνάθος, a jaw.
- The notion of the superiority of the palatal bones to all others for purposes of classification has pleased many persons, from the fact that these bones are not infrequently retained in the dried skins of birds sent home by collectors in foreign countries, and are therefore available for study, while such bones as the sternum and pelvis are rarely preserved. The common practice of ordinary collectors, until at least very recently, has been tersely described as being to “shoot a bird, take off its skin, and throw away its characters.”
- Perhaps this may be partially explained by the fact that the Museum of the College of Surgeons, in which these investigations were chiefly carried on, like most other museums of the time, contained a much larger series of the heads of birds than of their entire skeletons, or of any other portion of the skeleton. Consequently the materials available for the comparison of different forms consisted in great part of heads only.
- It is true that from the time of Buffon, though he scorned any regular classification, geographical distribution had been occasionally held to have something to do with systematic arrangement; but the way in which the two were related was never clearly put forth, though people who could read between the lines might have guessed the secret from Darwin's Journal of Researches, as well as from his introduction to the Zoology of the “Beagle” Voyage.