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the past. It can only be when time shall have added his mysterious charm to our artist's productions, when they shall have become familiar to the popular eye as are the constantly repeated works of the old masters, when the general taste shall bave reached a far higher standard than at present, that the verdict of posterity will be announced. If our republic should be destined like Rome to triumph in every thing but in sculpture and painting, she has at least begun with better auspices. The courtly grace and bearing of our ancestors before the Revolution survive in the forms that hill the ample canvass of Copley ; the fathers of our republic and the first race of her citizens are recalled in the brilliant life that flowed from the pencil of Stuart; the rebellious Colony sent one of her rude children to rule over the Academicians of her royal mistress; and, if the century which has given their names to immortality shall complete its tribute with only one other name, — but that the brightest and noblest of all, - its offering to the arts has been worthy of wbat may be hereafter called the heroic age of the country.
Art. IV.-1. History of British Birds, by William Mac
GILLIVRAY. Vol. I. London : Scott, Webster, and
Geary. 1837. 8vo. pp. 631. 2. Ornithological Biography, by John JAMES AUDUBON. .
Vol. V. Adam and Charles Black. Edinburgh. 1839. 8vo.
The author of the former of these volumes is a Scotch naturalist, who aided Mr. Audubon, in the preparation of his last volume, with many of the anatomical descriptions. From the same authority, our great ornithologist evidently learned to pay attention to the digestive and respiratory organs of birds, as well as to the obvious marks of distinction, which are open to every eye. In his own work, Mr. Macgillivray gives an outline and example of the manner in which he himself proceeds. All who have attended to the subject, have been vexed, if not bewildered, by the various forms of nomen. clature and classification. The general similarity of the difNO. 107.
ferent species has rendered it difficult to arrange them into well-defined portions, so that, while one system gives thirtyeight companies, there are but four in another. New facts and observations are perpetually running across these lines of separation; and, while they show that the system needs reform, they make it equally clear that there is little hope of making it so correct, that it shall not require continual changes 10 keep up with new observers. Every one, who is at all interested in the subject, knows how much the doctors of the science disagree as to the order 10 which certain birds belong ; and this too, when the marks, which assign their place, are as obvious as a nose on a face, or a weathercock on a steeple.
The classification of Linnæus had reference to the form of the feet and the bill, principally the latter. According to the varieties of shape in this organ, he arranged birds into six orders. But, in many cases, the genera run into each other, and to some in each the distinguishing marks of the order do not apply. Vieillot, therefore, finding this classification not sufficiently exact, constructed another system, in which he was governed by the form of the feet. It is composed of five orders, with fifty-eight families ; but is open to the same objection which he made to the arrangement of Linnæus ; it being often exceedingly difficult to determine to what order or family a new found, and sometimes even a common bird belongs. Various other systems, which it is not necessary to mention, have been proposed, each liable in a measure to the same objection. One of the most curious of these attempts is the Quinary system of Mr. McLeay. According to him, all the animals in any particular group have particular characters, the union of which he calls a type ; in proportion as the species in the group are more or less like this type, he calls them more or less typical. The centrum or perfection of a group is, in fact, that part of the circumference of the circle of affinity which is farthest from the neighbouring group. One portion of a group is said to be always normal, that is, according to rule, or corresponding with the type ; another portion is always aberrant, that is, wandering from the rule, or not exactly corresponding with the type. The birds are arranged in a circular series, always consisting of five members, which gives it the name of the Quinary system. In groups which form the passage between neighbouring groups of higher denomination than themselves, the pleasing name of osculant is applied. Laying aside the osculant groups, every natural group is divisible into five, which also admits of a binary distinction, that is, into two and three. All the objects of creation may thus be brought together into circular groups of fives. When the number five cannot be mustered in any particular group, the reason assigned is, that the deficient member has perished from the face of the earth, or that it remains to be discovered. If this does not give our readers a clear view of the Quinary system, we know not what will. They may possibly be reminded of the remark of Dr. Johnson, on a new invention, in which a man might move hiinself on a public road. He said, that in ordinary cases one bad only himself to carry ; but here he had to carry himself and the machine too.
Mr. Macgillivray proposes to reject these distinctions founded upon external appearance, and to resort to dissection for surer and more definite marks by which to classify the birds. After examining a great number of birds in nearly all the families, he has adopted the intestinal canal as the central point of reference. Instead of merely describing the bill and feet, he attends to the mandibles, the mouth, the tongue, the throat, the esophagus, the crop, the stomach, the intestine, and the cæcal canal, the modifications of which, he thinks, throw more light on the affinities of the larger groups than those of any other organ. But, asier the fate of the various systems of Linnæus, Latham, Blumenbach, Illiger, Vieillot, Temminck, and Cuvier, which have passed away in succession without obtaining very general acceptance, Mr. Macgillivray does not feel much confidence to propose another, but states bis opinion, that the internal construction of the bird has been too much neglected, and that, if we must choose between the external and internal markings, the latter are most to be relied on of the two. Mr. Macgillivray seems aware, that his system will not find favor with those who have depended on external appearance only. He quotes with some displeasure the remarks of Mr. Swainson, who says, that the study of the outward is more important than that of the inward organization, since only professed anatomists could ascertain the latter, and in cases of rare birds, which could not be procured for dissection, we should be wholly unable to determine where to arrange them. The question seems to be similar to that between the eyes and the nose, as to the degree in which each was important to the spectacles. It is pretty clear, that one cannot well ascertain what the food of a bird is without examining its crop and digestive organs; and the food indicates its favorite haunts, where its modes of flying and walking, its notes and migrations, can be observed, with all the other particulars which it is important for the ornithologist to know.
Mr. Macgillivray divides the birds of Europe into four groups, determined by their mode of life. The first he calls Volatoriæ, or Aërial birds, because they are specially addicted to the air, in moving from one place to another. This is divided into four orders ; the raptores or plunderers, the excursores or snatchers, the volitatores or skimmers, and the immersores or dippers. The second section consists of the Ambulatoriæ or Land birds, divided into seven orders ; the rasores or scrapers, the gemitores or cooers, the deglubitores or huskers, the vagatores or wanderers, the cantatores or songsters, the scansores or climbers, and the reptatores or creepers. The third section consists of the Grallatoriæ, or Wading birds, divided into four orders ; the palpatores or gropers, the cursitores or runners, the exploratores or probers, and the expectatores or watchers. The fourth section consists of the Natatoriæ or Swimming birds, divided into the cribratores or sisters, the urinatores or divers, the mersatores or plungers, and the spoliatores or robbers. Each of the orders contains several families, under which the genera are arranged. This classification, he says, is made for his own use, and he does not profess to expect its general adoption.
Mr. Audubon, in his last two volumes, has given in his adhesion to the opinions of his friend Macgillivray, so far as respects the anatomy and internal organization of birds, and has inserted many drawings of their organs of respiration and digestion, fully believing that the time will come when these markings will be first consulted. In this he is probably right; and such illustrations and descriptions will add to the permanent value of his work; but they take something from its unity, as a whole, and lessen its attraction for the general reader ; besides that the additional labor, which they require, has induced him to give up those episodes, descriptive of scenery, life, and manners, which barmonized well with the subject, and formed one of the chief attractions of the “ Biography.” In these sketches he was eminently fitted to excel ; his most adventurous and wandering lise has furnished him with materials in profusion, and his calm and philosophic. good-nature, always looking to the bright side, has enabled him to describe them with truth and aniination. Having a deep sympathy with the pathetic, and a quick perception of humor, he has found something everywhere suited io his various readers, and, what is of more importance, throwing light upon the regions he has passed through ; so that, however important his anatomy may be, we cannot but regret the absence of these pictures of life and nature, unless ihe results of his travels and observation should be given to the public in some other form.
It is about sixteen years since the first number of his " Illustrations” appeared, and we are rejoiced to congratulate him on the heart and hope with which he has carried on his undertaking from small and discouraging beginnings to a successful and triumphant close. To publish a work so magnificent seemed an undertaking bold even to rashness; and the greater part of his friends advised him to abandon the plan and leave the field to other observers. But he had that confidence in himself, which was not in the least presumptuous, but founded on a just estimate of his own resources; and, after he had listened with deference to the counsels of others, he came to conclusions different from theirs. They seemed to have reason on their side ; for when he delivered the first drawings to the engraver, he had not a single subscriber, and was incurring great expense, without any certainty of repayment, either in money or in fame. But it is well for himself and the world that he persevered. After four years of labor and anxiety he completed his first volume of the Birds of America”; but even then, though his fame was established, his success was by no means sure ; for we find that at least one hundred and twenty of the subscribers on whom he depended, have failed him at various times since the publication began ; - an immense proportion, since it appears by the list, at the end of the fifth volume, that only one hundred and sixty-one have been faithful to the last.
We parted from the illustrious ornithologist at the close of the second volume, in which the results of his voyage to Labrador were set down.* In the third volume he deviated,
* See North American Review, Vol. XLI. p. 194.