Ornithological Biography/Volume 2/Introduction

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Ornithological Biography, Volume 2
by John James Audubon
1744676Ornithological Biography, Volume 2 — IntroductionJohn James Audubon


When, for the first time, I left my father, and all the dear friends of my youth, to cross the great ocean that separates my native shores from those of the eastern world, my heart sunk within me. While the breezes wafted along the great ship that from La Belle France conveyed me towards the land of my birth, the lingering hours were spent in deep sorrow or melancholy musing. Even the mighty mass of waters that heaved around me excited little interest: my affections were with those I had left behind, and the world seemed to me a great wilderness. At length I reached the country in which my eyes first opened to the light; I gazed with rapture upon its noble forests, and no sooner had I landed, than I set myself to mark every object that presented itself, and became imbued with an anxious desire to discover the purpose and import of that nature which lay spread around me in luxuriant profusion. But ever and anon the remembrance of the kind parent, from whom I had been parted by uncontrollable circumstances, filled my mind, and as I continued my researches, and penetrated deeper into the forest, I daily became more anxious to return to him, and to lay at his feet the simple results of my multiplied exertions.

Reader, since I left you, I have felt towards you as towards that parent. When I parted from him he evinced his sorrow; when I returned he met me with an affectionate smile. If my recollection of your kind indulgence has not deceived me, I carried with me to the western world your wish that I should return to you; and the desire of gratifying that wish, ever present with me as I wandered amidst the deep forests, or scaled the rugged rocks, in regions which I visited expressly for the purpose of studying nature and pleasing you, has again brought me into your presence:—I have returned to present you with all that seems most interesting in my collections. Should you accept the offering, and again smile benignantly upon me, I shall be content and happy.

Soon after the engraving of my work commenced, I bade adieu to my valued friends in Edinburgh, whose many kindnesses were deeply impressed on my heart. The fair city gradually faded from my sight, and, as I crossed the dreary heaths of the Lammermoor, the mental prospect became clouded; but my spirits revived as I entered the grounds of Mr Selby of Twizel House, for in him I knew I possessed a friend. The few days spent under his most hospitable roof, and the many pleasures I enjoyed there, I shall ever remember with gratitude.

I was then on my way to London, which I had never yet visited. The number of letters given me to facilitate my entry into the metropolis of England, and to aid me in procuring subscribers to my work, accumulated during my progress. At Newcastle-upon-Tyne I made my next halt. There the venerable Bewick, the Adamsons, the Turners, the Donkins, the Buddles, the Charnleys and others, received me with great kindness, and helped to increase my list of subscribers. The noble family of the Ravensworths I also added to my friends, and from them I have since received important benefits, particularly from the Honourable Thomas Liddell, whose partiality for my pursuits induced him to evince a warm interest in my favour, which I shall ever acknowledge with feelings of affection and esteem.

It was there, reader, that, as my predecessor Wilson had done in America, I for the first time in England exhibited some engravings of my work, together with the contents of my port-folios. I cannot say that the employment was a pleasant one to me, nor do I believe it was so to him; but by means of it he at the time acquired that fame, of which I also was desirous of obtaining a portion; and, knowing that should I be successful, it would greatly increase the happiness of my wife and children, I waged war against my feelings, and welcomed all, who, from love of science, from taste, or from generosity, manifested an interest in the "American Woodsman."

See him, reader, in a room crowded by visitors, holding at arm's length each of his large drawings, listening to the varied observations of the lookers on, and feel, as he now and then did, the pleasure which he experienced when some one placed his sign manual on the list. This occupation was continued all the way until I reached the skirts of London; but the next place to which I went was the city of York, where I formed acquaintance with a congenial spirit, Mr Phillips, who is now well known to you as an eminent Professor of Geology. There also I admired the magnificent Minster, within whose sacred walls I in silence offered up my humble prayer to heaven.

At Leeds, the Gotts, the Bankses, the Walkers, the Marshalls, the Davys, were all extremely kind to me, and I found a fine museum belonging to the most interesting and amiable family of the Calverts, in whose society my evenings were chiefly spent.

On my second visit to Manchester I obtained upwards of twenty subscribers in one week, and became acquainted with persons whose friendship has never failed. Of them I may particularly mention the Dyers, the Kennedys, the Darbishires, and the Sowlers.

Having once more reached the hospitable home of the Rathbones at Liverpool, I felt my heart expand within me, and I poured forth my thanks to my Maker for the many favours which I had in so short a period received. I read to my friends the names of more than seventy subscribers to my "Birds of America."

My journey was continued through Chester, Birmingham, and Oxford, and I passed in view of the regal and magnificent Castle of Windsor. The impression made on my mind the day I reached the very heart of London I am unable to describe. Suffice it, kind reader, to tell you that many were the alternations of hope and fear as I traversed the vast metropolis. I cannot give you an adequate idea of my horror or of my admiration, when on the one side I saw pallid poverty groping in filth and rags, and turning away almost in despair, beheld the huge masses of the noblest monument ever raised to St Paul, which reminded me of the power and grandeur of man;—and along with the thronging crowds I moved, like them intent on making my way through the world.

Eighty-two letters of introduction were contained in my budget. Besides these I was the bearer of general letters from Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Congress, General Andrew Jackson, and other individuals in America, to all our diplomatists and consuls in Europe and elsewhere. Thus, reader, you will perceive that I had some foundation for the hope that I should acquire friends in the great city.

In May 1827, I reached that emporium of the productions of all climes and nations. After gazing a day on all that I saw of wonderful and interesting, I devoted the rest to visiting. Guided by a map, I proceeded along the crowded streets, and endeavoured to find my way through the vast labyrinth. From one great man's door to another I went; but judge of my surprise, reader, when, after wandering the greater part of three successive days, early and late, and at all hours, I had not found a single individual at home!

Wearied and disappointed, I thought my only chance of getting my letters delivered was to consign them to the post, and accordingly I handed them all over to its care, excepting one, which was addressed to "J. G. Children, Esq. British Museum." Thither I now betook myself, and was delighted to meet with that kind and generous person, whose friendship I have enjoyed ever since. He it was who pointed out to me the great error I had committed in having put my letters into the postoffice, and the evil arising from this step is perhaps still hanging over me, for it has probably deprived me of the acquaintance of half of the persons to whom they were addressed. In the course of a week, about half a dozen of the gentlemen who had read my letters, left their cards at my rooms. By degrees I became acquainted with a few of them, and my good friend of the Museum introduced me to others. I renewed my acquaintance with the benevolent Lord Stanley, and became known to other noblemen, liberal like himself. Soon after I was elected a Member of the Linnæan and Zoological Societies.

About this time, the Prince of Musignano, so well known for his successful cultivation of Natural History, arrived in London. He found me out through the medium of the learned geologist Featherstonhaugh, and one evening I had the pleasure of receiving a visit from him, accompanied by that gentleman, Mr Vigors, and some other persons. I felt happy in having once more by my side my first ornithological adviser, and that amiable and highly talented friend, with the accomplished geologist, remained with me until a late hour. Their departure affected me with grief, and since that period I have not seen the Prince. For several months I occupied myself with painting in oil, and attending to the progress of my plates. I now became acquainted with that eminent and amiable painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence, through a kindred spirit, Thomas Sully of Philadelphia; from both of whom, at different periods, I have received advice with reference to their enchanting art. One morning I had the good fortune to receive a visit from Mr Swainson, whose skill as a naturalist every one knows, and who has ever since been my substantial friend. M. Temminck also called, as did other scientific individuals, among whom was my ever-valued friend Robert Bakewell, whose investigations have tended so much to advance the progress of geology; and as my acquaintance increased I gradually acquired happiness. Having visited those renowned seats of learning, Cambridge and Oxford, I became acquainted at the former with the Vice-Chancellor Mr Davie, Professors Sedgwick, Whewell, and Henslow, the Right Honourable Wentworth Fitzwilliam, John Lodge, Esq. Dr Thackery, and many other gentlemen of great learning and talent; at the latter, with Dr Buckland, Dr Kidd, and others. These Universities afforded me several subscribers.

In the summer of 1828, my friend Swainson and I went to Paris, where I became acquainted with the great Cuvier, Geoffroy St Hilaire, his son Isidore, M. Dorbigny, and M. Lesson, as well as that master of flower-painters M. Redouté, and other persons eminent in science and the arts. Our time in Paris was usefully and agreeably spent. We were gratified at the liberality with which every object that we desired to examine in the great Museum of France was submitted to our inspection. Many of our evenings were spent under the hospitable roof of Baron Cuvier, where the learned of all countries usually assembled. Through the influence of my noble-spirited friend M. Redouté, I was introduced to the Duke of Orleans, now King of the French, and to several Ministers of State. The hour spent with Louis Philippe and his Son, was, by their dignified urbanity, rendered one of the most agreeable that has fallen to my lot; and in consequence of that interview I procured many patrons and friends.

Returning to England, I spent the winter there, and in April 1829, sailed for America. With what pleasure did I gaze on each setting sun, as it sunk in the far distant west! with what delight did I mark the first wandering American bird that hovered over the waters! and how joyous were my feelings when I saw a pilot on our deck! I leaped on the shore, scoured the woods of the Middle States, and reached Louisiana in the end of November. Accompanied by my wife, I left New Orleans on the 8th of January 1830, and sailing from New York on the 1st of April, we had the pleasure, after a voyage of twenty-five days, of landing in safety at Liverpool, and finding our friends and relations well. When I arrived in London, my worthy friend J. G. Children, Esq. presented me with a Diploma from the Royal Society. Such an honour conferred on an American Woodsman could not but be highly gratifying to him. I took my seat in the hall, and had the pleasure of pressing the hand of the learned President with a warm feeling of esteem. I believe I am indebted for this mark of favour more particularly to Lord Stanley and Mr Children.

And now, kind reader, having traced my steps to the period when I presented you with my first volume of Illustrations and that of my Ornithological Biographies, allow me to continue my narrative.

Previous to my departure from England, on a second visit to the United States, I had the honour and gratification of being presented to his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, who graciously favoured me with a general letter of recommendation to the authorities in the British colonies. With others of a similar nature I was also honoured by the Noble Lords Stanley, Palmerston, Howick, and Goderich.

We sailed on the 1st of August 1831, and landed at New York, where I spent a few days only, and proceeded to Philadelphia. There I found my old and firm friends Harlan, Wetherell, Pickering, Sully, Norris, Walsh, and others, a few subscribers, and some diplomas. I had now two assistants, one from London, Mr Ward, the other a highly talented Swiss, Mr George Lehman. At Washington I received from the heads of our Government letters of assistance and protection along the frontiers, which it was my intention to visit. For these acts of kindness and encouragement, without which my researches would have been more arduous and less efficient, I am much indebted, and gratefully offer my acknowledgments, to Major-General M'Comb, General Jessup, General Gratiot, the Honourable Messrs M'Lean, Livingston, and Woodbury, to Colonel John Abert, and others, whose frank and prompt attentions will never be forgotten by me. I need not say that towards our President and the enlightened members of the civil, military, and naval departments, I felt the deepest gratitude for the facilities which they thus afforded me. All received me in the kindest manner, and accorded to me whatever I desired of their hands. How often did I think of the error committed by Wilson, when, instead of going to Washington, and presenting himself to President Jefferson, he forwarded his application through an uncertain medium. He, like myself, would doubtless have been received with favour, and obtained his desire. How often have I thought of the impression his piercing eye would have made on the discriminating and learned President, to whom, in half the time necessary for reading a letter, he might have said six times as much as it contained. But, alas! Wilson, instead of presenting himself, sent a substitute, which, it seems, was not received by the President, and which, therefore, could not have answered the intended end. How pleasing was it to me to find in our Republic, young as she is, the promptitude to encourage science occasionally met with in other countries. Methinks I am now bidding adieu to the excellent men who so kindly received me, and am still feeling the pressure of their hands indicative of a cordial wish for the success of my undertaking. May He who gave me being and inspired me with a desire to study his wondrous works, grant me the means of proving to my country the devotedness with which I strive to render myself not unworthy of her!

We now proceeded swiftly down the broad Chesapeak Bay, reached Norfolk, and removing into another steamer bound to the capital of Virginia, soon arrived at Richmond. Having made acquaintance, many years before, in Kentucky, with the governor of that State, the Honourable John Floyd, I went directly to him, was received in the kindest manner, and furnished with letters of introduction; after which we proceeded southward until we arrived at Charleston in South Carolina. It was there that I formed an acquaintance, now matured into a highly valued friendship, with the Rev. John Bachman, a proficient in general science, and in particular in zoology and botany, and one whose name you will often meet with in the course of my biographies. But I cannot refrain from describing to you my first interview with this generous friend, and mentioning a few of the many pleasures I enjoyed under his hospitable roof, and in the company of his most interesting family and connections.

It was late in the afternoon when we took our lodgings in Charleston. Being fatigued, and having written the substance of my journey to my family, and delivered a letter to the Rev. Mr Gilman, I retired to rest. At the first glimpse of day the following morning, my assistants and myself were already several miles from the city, commencing our search in the fields and woods, and having procured abundance of subjects both for the pencil and the scalpel, we returned home, covered with mud, and so accoutred as to draw towards us the attention of every person in the streets. As we approached the boarding house, I observed a gentleman on horseback close to our door. He looked at me, came up, inquired if my name was Audubon, and on being answered in the affirmative, instantly leaped from his saddle, shook me most cordially by the hand—there is much to be expressed and understood by a shake of the hand—and questioned me in so kind a manner, that I for a while felt doubtful how to reply. At his urgent desire, I removed to his house, as did my assistants. Suitable apartments were assigned to us, and once introduced to the lovely and interesting group that composed his family, I seldom passed a day without enjoying their society. Servants, carriages, horses, and dogs, were all at our command, and friends accompanied us to the woods and plantations, and formed parties for water excursions. Before I left Charleston, I was truly sensible of the noble and generous spirit of the hospitable Carolinians.

Having sailed for the Floridas, we, after some delay, occasioned by adverse winds, put into a harbour near St Simon's Island, where I was so fortunate as to meet with Thomas Butler King, Esq. who, after replenishing our provision-stores, subscribed to the "Birds of America." At length we were safely landed at St Augustine, and commenced our investigation. Of my sojourn in Florida, during the winter of 1831-32, you will find some account in this volume. Returning to Charleston, we passed through Savannah, respecting my short stay in which city you will also find some particulars in the sequel. At Charleston we lived with my friend Bachman, and continued our occupations. In the beginning of April, through the influence of letters from the Honourable Lewis M'Lean, of the Treasury Department, and the prompt assistance of Colonel J. Pringle, we went on board the revenue cutter the "Marion," commanded by Robert Day, Esq., to whose friendly attention I am greatly indebted for the success which I met with in my pursuits, during his cruize along the dangerous coast of East Florida, and amongst the islets that every where rise from the surface of the ocean, like gigantic water-lilies. At Indian Key, the Deputy-Collector, Mr Thruston, afforded me important aid; and at Key West I enjoyed the hospitality of Major Glassel, his officers, and their families, as well as of my friend Dr Benjamin Strobel, and other inhabitants of that singular island, to all of whom I now sincerely offer my best thanks for the pleasure which their society afforded me, and the acquisitions which their ever ready assistance enabled me to make.

Having examined every part of the coast which it was the duty of the commander of the Marion to approach, we returned to Charleston with our numerous prizes, and shortly afterwards I bent my course eastward, anxious to keep pace with the birds during their migrations. With the assistance of my friend Bachman, I now procured for my assistant Mr Ward, a situation of ease and competence, in the Museum of the Natural History Society of Charleston, and Mr Lehman returned to his home. At Philadelphia I was joined by my family, and once more together we proceeded towards Boston. That dreadful scourge the cholera was devastating the land, and spreading terror around its course. We left Philadelphia under its chastising hand, and arrived at New York, where it was raging, while a heavy storm that suddenly burst over our heads threw an additional gloom over the devoted city, already bereft of a great part of her industrious inhabitants. After spending a day with our good friends and relatives, we continued our journey, and arrived at Boston.

Boston! Ah! reader, my heart fails me when I think of the estimable friends whose society afforded me so much pleasure in that beautiful city, the Athens of our Western World. Never, I fear, shall I have it in my power to return a tithe of the hospitality which was there shewn towards us, or of the benevolence and generosity which we experienced, and which evidently came from the heart, without the slightest mixture of ostentation. Indeed, I must acknowledge that although I have been happy in forming many valuable friendships in various parts of the world, all dearly cherished by me, the outpouring of kindness which I experienced at Boston far exceeded all that I have ever met with.

Who that has visited that fair city, has not admired her site, her universities, her churches, her harbours, the pure morals of her people, the beautiful country around her, gladdened by glimpses of villas, each vying with another in neatness and elegance? Who that has made his pilgrimage to her far-famed Bunker's Hill, entered her not less celebrated Fanneuil Hall, studied the history of her infancy, her progress, her indignant patriotism, her bloody strife, and her peaceful prosperity—that has moreover experienced, as I have done, the beneficence of her warm-hearted and amiable sons—and not felt his bosom glow with admiration and love? Think of her Adamses, her Perkins, her Everetts, her Peabodys, Cushings, Quinceys, Storeys, Paines, Greens, Tudors, Davises, and Pickerings, whose public and private life presents all that we deem estimable, and let them be bright examples of what the citizens of a free land ought to be. But besides these honourable individuals whom I have taken the liberty of mentioning, many others I could speak of with delight, and one I would point out in particular, as he to whom my deepest gratitude is due, one whom I cannot omit mentioning, because, of all the good and the estimable, he it is whose remembrance is most dear to me:—that generous friend is George Parkman.

About the middle of August, we left our Boston friends, on our way eastward; and, after rambling here and there, came in sight of Moose Island, on which stands the last frontier town, boldly facing one of the entrances of the Bay of Fundy. The climate was cold, but the hearts of the inhabitants of Eastport were warm. One day sufficed to render me acquainted with all whom I was desirous of knowing. Captain Childs, the commander of the garrison, was most obliging to me, while his wife shewed the greatest kindness to mine, and the brave officers received my sons with brotherly feelings. Think, reader, of the true pleasure we enjoyed when travelling together, and everywhere greeted with so cordial a welcome, while every facility was afforded me in the prosecution of my researches. We made excursions into the country around, ransacked the woods and the shores, and on one occasion had the pleasure of meeting with a general officer in his Britannic Majesty's service, who, on my presenting to him the official documents with which I had been honoured by the Home Department, evinced the greatest desire to be of service to me. We removed for some weeks to Dennisville, a neat little village, where the acquaintance of Judge Lincoln's family rendered our stay exceedingly agreeable. We had, besides, the gratification of being joined by two gentlemen from Boston, one of whom has ever since remained a true friend to me. Time passed away, and having resolved to explore the British provinces of New Brunswick, we proceeded to St John's, where we met with much politeness, and ascending the river of that name, a most beautiful stream, reached Frederickton, where we spent a week. Here Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart, received us with all the urbanity and kindness of his amiable nature. We then ascended the river to some miles below the "Great Falls" parallel to Mar's Hill, and again entered the United States' territory near Woodstock. From this spot we proceeded to Bangor, on the Penobscot river, as you will find detailed in one of my short narratives entitled, "A Journey in New Brunswick and Maine."

Soon after our arrival in Boston, my son Victor Gifford set sail for England, to superintend the publication of my "Birds of America," and we resumed our pursuits, making frequent excursions into the surrounding country. Here I was a witness to the melancholy death of the great Spurzheim, and was myself suddenly attacked by a severe illness, which greatly alarmed my family; but, thanks to Providence, and my medical friends Parkman, Warren, and Shattuck, I was soon enabled to proceed with my labours. A sedentary life and too close application being the cause assigned for my indisposition, I resolved to set out again in quest of fresh materials for my pencil and pen. My wishes directing me to Labrador, I returned eastward with my youngest son, and had the pleasure of being joined by four young gentlemen, all fond of Natural History, and willing to encounter the difficulties and privations of the voyage,—George Shattuck, Thomas Lincoln, William Ingalls, and Joseph Cooledge.

At Eastport in Maine, I chartered a beautiful and fastsailing schooner, the "Ripley," under the command of Mr Henry W. Emmery, and, through the medium of my government letters, was enabled to visit, in the United States' Revenue Cutters, portions of the Bay of Fundy, and several of the thinly inhabited islands at its entrance. At length the day of our departure for Labrador arrived. The wharf was crowded with all our friends and acquaintance, and as the "starspangled banner" swiftly glided to the mast-head of our buoyant bark, we were surprised and gratified by a salute from the fort that towers high over the bay. As we passed the Revenue Cutter at anchor, her brave commander paid us the same honour; after which he came on board, and piloted us through a very difficult outlet.

The next day, favoured by a good breeze, we proceeded at a rapid rate and passing through the interesting Gut of Cansso, launched into the broad waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence, and made sail for the Magdeleine Islands. There we spent a few days, and made several valuable observations. Proceeding from thence, we came in view of the famous "Gannet Rock," where countless numbers of Solan Geese sat on their eggs. A heavy gale coming on, away we sped with reefed sails, towards the coast of Labrador, which next morning came in view. The wind had by this time fallen to a moderate breeze, the sky was clear, and every eye was directed towards the land. As we approached it we perceived what we supposed to be hundreds of snow-white sails sporting over the waters, and which we conjectured to be the barks of fishermen; but on nearing them, we found them to be masses of drifting snow and ice, which filled every nook and cove of the rugged shores. Our captain had never been on the coast before, and our pilot proved useless; but the former being a skilful and sagacious seaman, we proceeded with confidence, and after passing a group of fishing boats, the occupiers of many of which we had known at Eastport, we were at length safely anchored in the basin named "American Harbour," where we found several vessels taking in cured fish.

But few days had elapsed, when, one morning, we saw a vessel making towards our anchorage, with the gallant flag of England waving in the breeze, and as she was moored within a cable-length of the Ripley, I soon paid my respects to her commander, Captain Bayfield of the Royal Navy. The politeness of British Naval officers is proverbial, and from the truly frank and cordial reception of this gentleman and his brave "companions in arms," I feel more than ever assured of the truth of this opinion. On board the "Gulnare," there was also an amiable and talented surgeon, who was a proficient in botany. We afterwards met with the vessel in several other harbours.

Of the country of Labrador you will find many detached sketches in this volume, so that for the present it is enough for me to say that having passed the summer there, we sailed on our return for the United States, touched at Newfoundland, explored some of its woods and rivers, and landed at Pictou in Nova Scotia, where we left the Ripley, which proceeded to Eastport with our collections. While at Pictou, we called upon Professor MacCulloch of the University, who received us in the most cordial manner, shewed us his superb collections of Northern Birds, and had the goodness to present me with specimens of skins, eggs, and nests. He did more still, for he travelled forty miles with us, to introduce us to some persons of high station in the Province, who gave us letters for Halifax. There, however, we had the misfortune of finding the individuals to whom we had introductions absent, and being ourselves pressed for time, we remained only a day or two, when we resumed our progress.

Our journey through Nova Scotia was delightful, and, like the birds that, over our heads, or amidst the boughs, were cheerfully moving towards a warmer climate, we proceeded gaily in a southern direction. At St John's in New Brunswick, I had the gratification of meeting with my kind and generous friend Edward Harris, Esq. of New York. Letters from my son in England which he handed to me, compelled me to abandon our contemplated trip, through the woods to Quebec, and I immediately proceeded to Boston. One day only was spent there, when the husband was in the arms of his wife, who with equal tenderness embraced her beloved child.

I had left Eastport with four young gentlemen under my care, some of whom were strangers to me, and I felt the responsibility of my charge, being now and then filled with terror lest any accident should befal them, for they were as adventurous as they were young and active. But thanks to the Almighty, who granted us his protection, I had the satisfaction of restoring them in safety to their friends. And so excellent was the disposition of my young companions, that not a single instance of misunderstanding occurred on the journey to cloud our enjoyment, but the most perfect cordiality was manifested by each towards all the rest. It was a happy moment to me when I delivered them to their parents.

From Boston we proceeded to New York, where I obtained a goodly number of subscribers, and experienced much kindness. My work demanded that I should spend the winter in the south, and therefore I determined to set out immediately, I have frequently thought that my success in this vast undertaking was in part owing to my prompt decision in every thing relating to it. This decision I owe partly to my father, and partly to Benjamin Franklin. We arrived at Charleston in October 1833. At Columbia I formed an acquaintance with Thomas Cooper, the learned President of the College there. Circumstances rendered impracticable my projected trip to the Floridas, and along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, for which reason, after spending the winter in keen research, aided by my friend Bachman, I retraced my steps in March, in company with my wife and son, to New York. At Baltimore, where we spent a week, my friends Messrs Morris, Gilmore, Skinner, and Drs Potter, Edmonston, Geddings, and Ducatell, greatly aided me in augmenting my list of subscribers, as did also my friend Colonel Theodore Anderson. My best acknowledgments are offered to these gentlemen for their polite and kind attentions.

Taking a hurried leave of my friends Messrs Prime, King, Stuveysant, Harris, Lang, Ray, Van Ransselaer, Low, Joseph, Kruger, Buckner, Carman, Peal, Cooper, and the Reverend W. A. Duer, President of the College, we embarked on board the packet ship the North America, commanded by that excellent man and experienced seaman Captain Charles Dixey, with an accession of sixty-two subscribers, and the collections made during nearly three years of travel and research.

In the course of that period, I believe, I have acquired much information relative to the Ornithology of the United States. and in consequence of observations from naturalists on both continents, I embraced every opportunity of forming a complete collection of the various birds portrayed in my work. Until this journey I had attached no value to a skin after the life which gave it lustre had departed: indeed, the sight of one gave me more pain than pleasure. Portions of my collections of skins I sent to my friends in Europe at different times, and in this manner I parted with those of some newly discovered species before I had named them, so careless have I hitherto been respecting "priority." While forming my collection, I have often been pleased to find that many species, which, twenty-five years ago, were scarce and rarely to be met with, are now comparatively abundant;—a circumstance which I attribute to the increase of cultivated land in the United States. I need scarcely add, that the specimens here alluded to have been minutely examined, for the purpose of rendering the specific descriptions as accurate as possible. And here I gladly embrace the opportunity offered of presenting my best thanks to Professor Jameson, for the kindness and liberality with which he has allowed me the free use of the splendid collection of birds in the museum of the University of Edinburgh. Of this privilege I have availed myself in comparing specimens in my own collection with others obtained both in the United States and in other parts of the world.

Ever anxious to please you, and lay before you the best efforts of my pencil, I carefully examined all my unpublished drawings before I departed from England, and since then I have made fresh representations of more than a hundred objects, which had been painted twenty years or more previously. On my latter rambles I have not only procured species not known before, but have also succeeded in obtaining some of those of which Bonaparte and Wilson had only met with single specimens. While in the Floridas and Carolinas, my opportunities of determining the numerous species of Herons, Ibises, Pigeons, &c. were ample, for I lived among them, and carefully studied their habits. One motive for my journey to Labrador was to ascertain the summer plumage and mode of breeding of the Water Birds, which in spring retire thither for the purpose of rearing their young in security, far remote from the haunts of man. Besides accomplishing this object, I also met there with a few species hitherto undescribed.

It has been said by some, that my work on the Birds of America would not terminate until I had added to those of the United States, the numerous species of the southern portion of our continent. Allow me, reader, to refer you in refutation of this assertion to my prospectus, in which it is stated that my work will be completed in four volumes. In whatever other enterprise I may engage, rely upon it I will adhere to my original design in this; and the only change will be, that the period of publication will be shortened, and that there will be added landscapes and views, which were not promised in the prospectus.

From my original intention of publishing all the Land Birds first, I have been induced to deviate, in consequence of letters from my patrons, requesting that, after the conclusion of the second volume, the Water Birds should immediately appear. Indeed the various opinions which my subscribers occasionally express, are not a little perplexing to the "American Woodsman," ever desirous to please all, and to adhere to the method proposed at the commencement of the work. In the fourth and last volume, after the Water Birds, will be represented all that remain unpublished, or that may in the mean time be discovered, of the Land Birds. As I cannot, in the fourth volume, proportion the plates in the same manner as in the other three, the number of large drawings will be much greater in it: but the numbers will still consist of five plates, and I trust my patrons will find the same careful delineation as before, with more perfect engraving and colouring. These last numbers will of course be much more expensive to me than those in which three of the plates were small. The fourth volume will conclude with representations of the eggs of the different species.

You have perhaps observed, or if not, I may be allowed to tell you, that in the first volume of my Illustrations, in which there are 100 plates, 240 figures of birds are given; and that in the second, consisting of the same number of plates, there are 244 figures. The number of species not described by Wilson, are, in the first volume twenty-one, and in the second twenty-four.

Having had but one object in view since I became acquainted with my zealous ornithological friend, the Prince of Musignano, I have spared no time, no labour, no expense, in endeavouring to render my work as perfect as it was possible for me and my family to make it. We have all laboured at it, and every other occupation has been laid aside, that we might present in the best form the Birds of America, to the generous individuals who have placed their names on my subscription list. I shall rejoice if I have in any degree advanced the knowledge of so delightful a study as that which has occupied the greater part of my life.

I have spoken to you, kind reader, more than once of my family. Allow me to introduce them:—my eldest son Victor Gifford, the younger John Woodhouse.—Of their natural or acquired talents it does not become me to speak; but should you some day see the "Quadrupeds of America" published by their united efforts, do not forget that a pupil of David first gave them lessons in drawing, and that a member of the Bakewell family formed their youthful minds.

To England I am as much as ever indebted for support in my hazardous and most expensive undertaking, and more than ever grateful for that assistance without which my present publication might, like an uncherished plant, have died. While I reflect on the unexpected honours bestowed on a stranger through the generous indulgence of her valuable scientific associations, I cannot refrain from expressing my gratitude for the facilities which I have enjoyed under the influence which these societies are spreading over her hospitable lands, as well as in other countries. I feel equally proud and thankful when I have to say that my own dear country is affording me a support equal to that supplied by Europe.

Permit me now to say a few words respecting the persons engaged about my work. I have much pleasure in telling my patrons in Europe and America, that my engraver Mr Havell has improved greatly in the execution of the plates, and that the numbers of the "Birds of America" have appeared with a regularity seldom observed in so large a publication. For this, praise is due not only to Mr Havell, but also to his assistants Mr Blake, Mr Stewart, and Mr Edington.

I have in this, as in my preceding volume, followed the nomenclature of my much valued friend Charles Lucian Bonaparte, and this I intend to do in those which are to come, excepting always those alterations which I may deem absolutely necessary. It is my intention, at the close, to present a general table, exhibiting the geographical distribution of the different species. The order in which the plates have been published, precluding the possibility of arranging the species in a systematic manner, it has not been deemed expedient to enter into the critical remarks as to affinity and grouping, which might otherwise have been made; but at another period I may offer you my ideas on this interesting subject.

And now, reader, allow me to address my excellent friend the Critic. Would that it were in my power to express the feelings that ever since he glanced his eye over my productions, whether brought forth by the pencil or the pen, have filled my heart with the deepest gratitude;—that I could disclose to him how exhilarating have been his smiles, and how useful have been his hints in the prosecution of my enterprise! If he has found reason to bestow his commendations upon my first volume, I trust he will not find the present more defective. Indeed, I can assure him that the labour bestowed upon it by me has been much greater, and that I have exerted every effort to deserve his approbation.

1st December 1834.