« ElőzőTovább »
sucking-fish, is known from its sticking in numbers to the keels of ships, and retarding-described somewhat too poetically in the volume before us-their course. The E. naucrates occurs also in Gmelin's edition, and the E. lineata is described in the Linnæan Transactions.
The macrourus is a genus formed by Block; and the M.' berglex of La Cépède is the M. rupestris of Block, the coryphæna rupestris of Linnæus. The trivial name is of northern origin, from its resemblance to a species of salmon, with a similar appellation.
The dolphin coryphæna is a very extensive genus, whose ranks have however been thinned by later naturalists. The C. hippurus, aurata (equiselis L.), undulata (fasciolata L.), pompilas, cærulea, Plumieri, novacula, psittacus, sima, lineata, acuta, and viridus, were known to the latest editor of the Linnæan system. The C. chrysurus and scombroides are from Commerson : the C. Sinensis from some Chinese drawings.
The hæmipteronotus is very properly made a distinct genus : it contains the coryphæna pentadactyla, under the trivial name of quinquemaculatus, and the C. hemiptera Linn. with the specific appellation of Gmelini. The form of the branchial apertures has induced our author to separate the coryphæna branchiostega under a new genus, with the very improper title of coryphænoides. The specific distinction is from Hottuyn.
M. La Cépède has separated from the cotti those fishes covered with hard scales resembling rings, and formed a new genus entitled aspidophorus. The first is Ą. armatus, the cottus calaphractus of Linnæus ; the second the A. lisiza, C. Japonicus L. The C. monopterygius L. is, we think improperly, separated from the aspidophori, under the exceptionable title of aspidophoroides Tranquebar. The cottus is a well known genus, and the C. grunniens, scorpius, quadricornis, scaber, insidiator, and gobio, are the same with the Linnæan species. The cotius Australis is from New South Wales; the C. Madegascar and Niger from Commerson.
The genus scorpæna is also not greatly changed from the Linnæan system. We find the S. horrida, Africana (Capensis L.), spinosa, Massiliensis (referred by L. to the genus cottus which it greatly resembles), rascassa (porcus L.), scrofa, didactyla, and volitans of former authors. There are also several new ones, viz. the S. aculeata, from the Museum of Natural History, the bicirrata and mahe from Commerson ; the barbata from Gronovius; Plumieri from the MSS. of that naturalist ; and Americana from Du Hamel.
A fish found on the shores of Martinico by Plumier was referred by him to the scombri; but, from the drawing preserved in the Museum, it appears to be a different fish, and is inserted in this volume under the generic name of scombromorus.
The gasterosteus contains the three Linnæan species, aculeatus, pungilius, and spinachia. The centropus rhombeus from Forskâl is one of the species of centrogaster; and under the genus centrogaster we find the two Linnæan species, fuscescens and argentatus. The three following genera, the centronotus, the lepisacanthus, and the cephalacanthus, are separated from the numerous genus of gasterosteus, from circumstances apparently too minute and refined, but perhaps, on the whole, with sufficient propriety. They are of little importance, and contain no great number of individuals, if we except the pilot-fishes.
The flying-fishes are separated from the extensive genus of trigla, and divided into two genera—the dactylopterus, or those whose wings are attached to the fingers; and the prionotus, from the spines on the back. The triglæ are still sufficiently numerous. We find the T. lyra, Asiatica, Carolina, lastoviza (Adriatica L.), hirundo, gurnardus, milvus (lucerna, L.), and minuta of former authors. The T. punctata and pini from Block, and the cavilone from Rondelet. The T. cataphracta L. is separated under another genus, by our author, on account of the bony plates with which the upper part of the body is covered, under the name of peristedion, with the trivial name of marmalat; and another species, the P. chabrontera, from Os. beck, is added.
The flying sword-fish is under the genus istiophorus, with the specific name of gladifer. It is sometimes called the seawoodcock. The gymnetrus hawken of Block also forms & separate genus, though admitted as such with some hesitation.
The mullus is an extensive genus, and one of the few articles of food in which modern luxury agrees with the ancient,
The species are numerous, and many of them new. The mullus ruber (barbatus L.), surmuletus, auriflamma, Japonicus, vittatus, and maculatus (surmuletus var. B. L.), were known to former authors. From the manuscripts of Commerson our author has added M. bifasciatus, cyclostomus, trifasciatus, ma. cronemus, barberinus, rubescens, cryserydros, and flavo lineatus. The absence of the whiskers fully justifies M. La Cépède in separating the mullus imberbis. He has formed a new genus for it, under the name of apogon: it contains only one species, The lonchurus is a new genus also from Block; viz. the longtailed, from the length of the filament, which terminates each thoracic fin. Another new genus is proposed for a beautiful fish known only from Chinese drawings; and it is entitled macro, podus viridi-auratus,
Though our article might be extended farther, and comprehend the remainder of the volume, yet we shall now stop,
The seventeen genera which follow form one vast family of more than 200 species, which differ by almost imperceptible gradations, so as to mock the attempts of the ablest systematice It will be therefore necessary to survey them at one view, which we can do with advantage when the whole is before us. The best naturalists have hitherto failed in this part; and even Block's system is imperfect; for he has not comprised all the species known at this time ; and many others are added by our author. Of the seventeen genera which constitute this groupe only five are noticed in the present volume; and the fourth, as we have said, is not yet published.
VII.--Néologie, ou Vocabulaire de Mots Nouveaux, &c. Paris. Neology, or a Vocabulary of new Words-Words to be renewed or
to be taken in new Acceptations. By L. S. Mercier, Member of the National Institute of France. 2 Vols. 8vo. Im. ported by De Boffe. 1801.
To these volumes is prefixed a smirking portrait, which Lavater might safely pronounce to indicate decided fatuity and petulance in the author; while the puffing inscription at the bottom is in strict harmony with it. Yet Mercier has published works which have attracted some notice, from a kind of scatter-brained genius and eccentricity, sometimes wise and sometimes foolish. How he came to be born at Paris we cannot conceive, as he is certainly by birth a Gascon, of a pert dull liveliness, and perpetual fanfaronade. This book is another Night-cap, full of his own head and of himself ;-mais sa tête est trop proche de son bonnet.
There is nothing illaudable in the attempt to introduce new words into the French language, or to renew strong and emphatic expressions which have become antiquated; for the tame academy in the time of Lewis XIV., by a pretended purification, only shackled the language, and, by their preposterous bandages, rendered it almost lifeless. Hence there was neither force nor soul left sufficient to constitute an epic poem, or any grand production in blank verse. But, in any attempt of this kind, more taste and judgement, and particularly more good sense, were requisite, than have fallen to the lot of Mercier, whose ideas are uncommonly wild and gigantic. The latter quality . of good sense, though abundantly displayed in their scientific
productions, yet seems particularly scarce in France, in many things that relate to politics, and what are called works of genius. The vanity and fatuity of many late French novels, memoirs, &c. which have deeply impressed us not only with the absence of good sense, but even with the negation of common sense, the chief objects aimed at, appear to us to be what are called esprit, and a kind of elocution which we believe was first introduced by Rousseaų, and was rendered fashionable by the
women whose feelings he was artful enough to court, but of which whole pages may be read without learning any thing. We heartily wish that an academy of good sense were instituted in France, which is more necessary than any other institution whatever. We daily see issued from the press works of history, and other branches of science, without any references to the authorities ; so that the whole becomes a romance, and the reputation expires with the author. Thus Raynal's History of the East and West Indies was at first received as a grand and important production, but has since sunk into disesteem, because, upon recurring to the proper authorities which must have been used, it is found to swarm with a thousand errors. This fate might have been avoided, if he had marked his authorities at the bottom of his page, as usual in the classical productions of other countries—a practice which, by its very nature, would have taught him solidity and veracity, and have secured to his book a lasting foundation. In like manner even the eloquence of Buffon begins to yield and fade away, because every page has its errors, because he is full of ridiculous prejudices and absurd theories, and because an author, who gravely asserts that black cattle shed their horns every three years, must have been a total stranger to that practical knowledge which is the chief requisite in treating natural history.
To return: our author begins with a preface of seventy-six pages, for he has an eternal flux of the mouth, and of course sometimes blunders upon good things, which are fortunately remembered, while the rest are forgotten. He informs us, p. xli. that the French language has neither turns, constructions, nor periods, because the words cannot be arranged as one pleases! At this rate there are neither turns, constructions, nor periods in any language, as they wholly depend upon the idiom, We must whisper to Mercier, that he is grossly ignorant ; and, such is the fate of France, that the literary character seems, with a few exceptions, to be confined to eloquence without knowledge, and to knowledge without eloquence! The ancient philosophers were men of profound learning, who often dedicated their lives to acquire solid and practical knowledge of certain topics; while the modern, and the French in particular, with Rousseau at their head, are disgraced by the grossest ignorance which they attempt to disguise by the varnish of eloquence. In the same page our author promises an universal dictionary of the French language, for which he is just as qualified as the learned pig. We should be glad to see a new French and English dictionary; for the best we have wants about four thousand words. Our author proceeds to tell us, that he published, a long time ago, a novel called L'Homme Sauvaga, 'which bears the character of a writer created to impose silence on the whole crowd of foolish critics with whom France
Bonaparte, and the outed be usher in we Wicated to go worshippichly approf the te
Mercier's Neology. abounds.' We wish that Bonaparte would erect two temples at Paris—one dedicated to good sense, and the other to modesty; but we are afraid that the worshippers would be few. The author's detestation of atheism we highly approve, though we look upon Mercier as rather a distorted pillar of the temple of religion.
'I have, besides, a singular quality in my eye, which is inborn. When I hear a man speak in public, unfold his learning, raise trophies upon what he has said, speak of his own genius, and his own taste, I see around his chair a multitude of little infantine faces which laugh maliciously, point to the quack, jeer at his words, and exhibit every mark of compassion. These are certainly the generation about to be born which I thus perceive.'
All this so completely applies to our author, that we think we see him in his arm-chair, speaking, as he does in the present work, of his own wonderful productions, while the little faces of posterity are convulsed with laughter.
The preface ends, and the work begins, with an attack upon sír Isaac Newton, against whom our author has repeatedly declared his enmity. To speak in the veterinary language, we suppose that he has taken a scare at Newton, whose writings must infinitely surpass his comprehension. It is besides natural that a wrong-headed and eccentric writer should have a mortal hatred to solid judgement and laborious investigation.
The work itself consists of an alphabetical arrangement of words, accompanied with remarks--sometimes just, but more frequently ignorant and petulant. As they often turn upon mere shades of a foreign language, it cannot be supposed to interest the English reader. A very few specimens must suffice.
ALARMIST. The astronomer Lalande was a great alarmist about thirty years ago, on account of a memoir read to the Academy of Sciences, in which he admitted the possibility of a comet striking the earth. Versailles was frightened, and threatened the alarmist with the Bastile if he had any relapse.
AMPHORES. Set on my table these two amphores of crystal, and pour in the 'red wine: nothing is more pleasant to the eye. I wish to banish the ignoble word bottle.'
The author had far better adopted the English word decanter. But his deplorable ignorance shines even here-for two amphore would crush his table to pieces, and probably break the shins of the etymologist. A similar learning appears, vol. i. p. 90, where he gravely informs us that the emperor Maximilian I. who aspired to be pope, was one of the successors of Charles V. Is it necessary to tell M. Mercier that Maximilian was the grandfather of Charles V.? A more consummate ignorance of the commonest points of modern history never was displayed; and we could easily mention the names