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to lower the estimation in which it is held. They are unwilling, that the College should diminish the magnitude and value of its gifts, for the sake of dispensing them to a greater number of persons. The experience of one or two years will probably show how groundless was the expectation, on which the authors of this system have acted, that a large body of students would be attracted to Cambridge by such a free and conciliatory proposal. Then, if not before, we hope they will be willing to retrace their steps, and to stake the reputation of Harvard College, not on the numbers enrolled in its Catalogue, but on the extent, accuracy, and thoroughness of the education obtained within its walls.
ART. III. – A Report on the Insects of Massachusetts Inju
rious to Vegetation. By THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS, M. D. Published agreeably to an Order of the Legislature, by the Commissioners on the Zoölogical and Botanical Survey of the State. Cambridge: Folsom, Wells, & Thurston. 1841. 8vo.
Few things in the history of Massachusetts have manifested a more enlightened self-interest, than the appropriations for scientific purposes, to which we are indebted for ihis Report. Public measures of this description are easily misrepresented; and those demagogues, who are the pest and shame of every free community, are always on the watch for subjects which can be thus perverted, since in this way they can turn aside the public mind from too close investigation of their own character and proceedings, and at the same time gain credit for a regard to the interests of the people, while they care for nothing but their own. It is easy to show, that the State is to gain nothing in dollars and cents by such a Report as this, and therefore to represent the pittance by which the State secured the services of this eminent naturalist, as a magnificent and wasteful appropriation, though, in comparison with what would anywhere else be paid for such labors, it was in fact exceedingly small. When an outcry on the subject of economy can be so easily raised, and when jealousy in regard to public expenditure is so easily excited, we think it very honorable to the Massachusetts legislature that they should
VOL. LIV.- NO. 114. 10
have treated this danger with contempt, and taken large views of what concerned the interest of their constituents. We venture to say, that this work before us will survive a thousand state papers which came into existence at the same time, and which are already, like the falling leaves, on the way to their original dust.
Several of the legislatures of the different States, taking the same judicious view of their duty, have made appropriations for geological surveys of their territory, and in that way have brought to light rich and unsuspected treasures, which were hidden beneath their soil, and which might otherwise have lain there for ages longer, useless and unknown to mankind. In these cases there was an obvious inducement to undertake and persevere in such enterprises, since it was certain that mines, quarries, or at least materials for improving the soil, must be discovered ; and each one who builds a house or cultivates a field may hope for direct advantage from the investigation. But when a zoölogical survey is proposed, there is no such immediate inducement to undertake it, and the advantages in prospect are of a kind which it requires some thought and forecast to understand. Still, we do not hesitate to say, that, deservedly honored as Professor Hitchcock's Reports have been, none of them were of greater importance than the one before us. If the same facts respecting insects had been presented to the public a quarter of a century ago, some of her most valuable forest trees might have been saved to New England, vast amounts of the productions of the earth would have been rescued from destruction, and many enterprising men who have made efforts to inprove horticulture and its kindred arts, would have been prevented from giving them over in despair. It may be said, that this Report, in many cases, only states the evil, without proposing a remedy. This is true ; but it must be remembered, that no remedy can be devised till the nature of the evil is understood. It is the province of science to detect such facts, and give them to the world; and then, knowing precisely what needs to be done, the active sagacity of practical men will not be slow to find the sort of antidote wanted. Many a sturdy cultivator, harassed and perplexed by the insidious forays of these unseen marauders, has prayed, like Ajax, that he may have the privilege of fighting them in the light and the day ; and now, when, through the instrumentality of Dr. Harris, his desire is granted, we may be sure that, even if baffled and defeated for a time, he will at last exterminate the foe. If then no money is to be made in consequence of this Report, there is no doubt that large amounts of agricultural wealth will hereafter be saved from destruction; and, if any one insists on more direct benefit than this, his expectations are of that kind which it is as hard to gratify as it is easy to form.
It is really curious to see how the animals around us are formidable, not in proportion to their size and presence, but rather to their littleness and obscurity. Since the days of the dwellers in Samaria, we hear of no race of men who are much troubled with lions. That large and powerful beast is easily disposed of. If it resists, it is destroyed; and if it submits, it is led about in a cage to expire at last "a driveller and a show.” But the smaller fry of creation laugh at the idea of such bondage. The mosquito, for example, can no man tame. He sounds his horn through our chambers in wild independence. The blow which we aim at him falls heavily upon our own heads. At the very moment when we are calling ourselves lords of the creation, his venomous bite destroys all our composure of mind, and makes us feel that the little are mightier than the great. The amount of injury inflicted on man by the larger animals, is nothing compared to that which we suffer from these creatures, of no mark nor livelihood, whose insignificance is their shield and safeguard. Dr. Harris has described their persons, traced out their operations, and put the public on their guard against them ; if, after this, we choose to lie still and be eaten by them, the blame and responsibility is our own. As it is not the part of the naturalist to find the remedy, Dr. Harris makes no mention of that, which we have, elsewhere in this journal, declared will be the only effectual one. We mean, adopting retaliatory measures, and giving them to understand that if they eat us, we shall eat them. This is certainly the alternative to which we at last must come ; but at present the public mind is not quite prepared for it, and we have no resource but to keep on in our Florida war against them, in which we can hope neither for vengeance nor victory, and which promises to end only with the history of inan.
In preparing such a work as this, there is some difficulty in determining how far it is desirable to give it a scientific
form. It is clearly intended for popular use, and, unless it be easily comprehended, it must be useless to the great body of those for whom the survey was intended. In the case of birds, where the species are comparatively few in number, popular names are sufficient, and it is easy for any one, who attends to the subject, to make himself master of them ; but insects are so overwhelming in numbers, and many of them so obscure in appearance, that a great proportion of them have not been honored with a popular name, and, where they have, it is not always sufficiently distinctive and characteristic to enable any one to identify the creature to which it belongs.
This is forcibly shown by Dr. Harris in relation to the weevil, a notorious depredator, whose name is often heard. It is applied in this country to at least six different insects, two of which are moths, two are beetles, and two are flies. It is a fact, too, that nearly four thousand species of weevil have been scientifically ascertained and described, so that, when the name is used in an agricultural work, the chance is, that neither writer nor reader knows to which of the four thousand the name belongs. No mortal could undertake to christen them with four thousand expressive English names ; and, if it were done, no human memory would hold them. But science has arranged them all under three hundred and fifty-five surnames, requiring only a few other terms, like Christian names, to indicate the various kinds. Thus, the single word Coleoptera describes the vast family of beetles, from those which blunder into our faces on a summer evening, to those which afford pleasant relief 10 pain in the shape of a blister. Orthoptera includes the crickets and grasshoppers of the field, and the easy and familiar cockroach of our houses. Hemiptera denotes a large and interesting circle, provided with a horny beak for suction, and four wings; such as locusts, tree. hoppers, plant lice, bark lice, mealy bugs, and the like, some of which afford us cochineal, lac, and manna, while of the rest some are unsavory, and all unwelcome. Neuroptera describes insects, stingless, but provided with jaws and four netted wings, from the litile death-watch, who reminds man of his mortality, to the philanthropic devil's needle, who, for his services in killing mosquitos, deserves a better name. Lepidoptera is the name of all the moths, butterflies, and sphinxes, or insects which make their debut as caterpillars, and afterwards arrive at the dignity of wings with branny scales and a spiral tongue. Hymenoptera applies to bees, wasps, and numberless others with four veined wings, and provided with jaws at one end of the person and a sting at the other. Diptera is affixed to those which have a proboscis either horny or fleshy, two wings, and knobbed threads called poisers or balancers behind them ; and this single term embraces ticks, gnats, mosquitos, horse flies, forest flies, stable and house Hies, blow fies, meat fies, and the viviparous flesh flies, flower flies, and fruit flies, not forgetting those distinguished nuisances the wheat and the Hessian flies.
Since a nomenclature of this kind has clear advantages, which can be secured by no other, there is obviously no choice in the matter ; but, lest any one should be needlessly alarmed at the scientific terms which he found it necessary to employ, Dr. Harris has given a preliminary description of insects and their classes, such as could be furnished only by one familiar as he is with the subject, and supplying all the previous information essential to be possessed. We hardly know where to find a summary so condensed, and, at the same time, so complete. It removes all difficulty at the outset; and thus, while this Report is sufficiently scientific in its execution, to meet the expectations of the learned, it answers the more important purpose of placing the means of knowledge in every man's hands. In order to do this effectually, it must have a wider circulation than its present form will allow; it ought by all means to be reprinted in a cheap edition, and spread as widely as possible. If this were done, a new vigor would be given to agricultural enterprise. The husbandman, as soon as he knows the enemies he has to contend with, considers the battle as more than half won.
Dr. Harris was induced, by the nature of his instructions, to consider the subject chiefly in reference to vegetation, and the enemies by which cultivators are harassed ; which certainly offers a field sufficiently large for any single observer, and one requiring time far more extended than that which this commission allowed. It has been said, that there are on an average six different enemies to every plant. This is probably only another way of stating that each plant has many destroyers ; but, when the number of species in the State is between four and five thousand, and all must get a living by some means or other, it is clear that no plant worth taking has much chance of escape ; and the insects very naturally