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Book in, the day that is passing, has often been noted. Leach History evinced this tendency in more ways than one. But a favourite way of manifesting it led him many times into difficulties with his neighbours. He despised the taxidermy of Sir Hans SloanE's age, and made periodical bonfires of Sloanian specimens. These he was wont to call his 'cremations.' In his time, the Gardens of the Museum were still a favourite resort of the Bloomsburians, but the attraction of the terraces and the fragrance of the shrubberies were sadly lessened when a pungent odour of burning snakes was their accompaniment. The stronger the complaints, however, the more apparent became Dr. Leach's attachment to his favourite cremations. GroME Leach was the friend and correspondent of that eminent cultivator of the classificatory sciences, Colonel George Montagu, of Lackham. Both of them rank among the early members of the Linnaean Society, and it was under Museum. Leach's editorship that Montagu's latest contributions to the Society's Transactions were published. Montagu's 1802-is. Synopsis of British Birds marks an epoch in the annals of our local ornithology, as does his treatise entitled Testacea Britannica in those of conchology. His contributions to the National Collections were very liberal. But he did not care much for any books save those that treated of natural history. In addition to a good estate and a fine mansion, he had inherited from his brother a choice old Library at Lackham, and a large cabinet of coins. These, I believe, he turned to account as means of barter for books and specimens in his favourite department of study. His love of the beauties of nature led him to prefer au unpretending abode in Devon to his fine Wiltshire house, and it was at Knowle that he died in August, 1815. His Collections in Zoology were purchased by the Trustees, and were removed
from Knowle soon after his death. Scarcely any other Bookih, purchase of like value in theNatural-History Department was Smn made for more than twenty years afterwards. After the purchase of the Montagu Collection, the growth of that Htm",8" department depended, as it had mainly depended before it, on the acquisitions made for the Public by the several naturalists who took part in the Voyages of Discovery or whose chance collections, made in the course of ordinary duty, came to be at the disposal of the British Admiralty.
Many of those naturalists were men of marked ability. Of necessity, their explorations were attended with much curious adventure. To detail their researches and vicissitudes would form—without much credit to the writer—an interesting chapter, the materials of which are superabundant. But, at present, it must needs be matter of hope, not of performance.
The distinctive progress of the Natural-History Collections, from comparative and relative poverty, to a creditable place amongst rival collections, connects itself preeminently with the labours of Dr. John Edward Gray, who will hei'eafter be remembered as the ablest keeper and organizer those collections have hitherto had. Dr. Gray is now (1870) in the forty-sixth year of his public service at the British Museum, which he entered as an Assistant, in 1824. He is widely known by his able edition of Griffiths' Animal Kingdom, by his Illustrations of Indian Zoology, by his account of the famous Derby Menagerie at Knowsley, and by his Manual of British Shells; but his least ostensible publications rank among the most conclusive proofs both of his ability and of his zeal for the public service. Dr. Gray has always advocated the publication—to use Mr. CarLyle's words when under interrogatory by the Museum Booiiii. Commissioners of 1848—of 'all sorts of Catalogues.' It
Himok is to him that the Public owe the admirable helps to the °'THE study of natural history which have been afforded by the
Museum J J J
Under Sib iong series of inventories, guides, and nomenclators, the publication of which began, at his instance, in the year 1844, and has been unceasingly pursued. A mere list of the various printed synopses which have grown out of Dr. Gray's suggestion of 1844 would fill many such pages as that which the reader has now before him. The consequence is, that in no department of the Museum can the student, as yet, economise his time as he can economise it in the Natural-History Department. Trinted, not Manuscript, Catalogues mean time saved; disappointment avoided; study fructified. No literary labour brings so little of credit as does the work of the Catalogue-maker. None better deserves the gratitude of scholars, as well as of the general mass of visitors.
Stvti Dr. Gray became Keeper of Zoology in 1840. Four years
Natural earlier, he had given to Sir Benjamin Hawks' Committee a coLLEc-* striking account of the condition of that department, illusTltmuteuh Crating it by comparisons with the corresponding Collections in 1836. in paris, which may thus (not without unavoidable injustice) be abridged :—The species of mammalia then in the Museum were four hundred and five; the species of birds were two thousand four hundred, illustrated by four thousand six hundred and fifty-nine individual specimens. At that date, the latest accessible data assigned to the Paris Collection about five hundred species of mammals, and about two thousand three hundred species of birds, illustrated by nearly six thousand specimens. The Museum series of birds was almost equally rich in the orders, taken generally; but in gallinaceous birds it was more than proportionately rich, a large number of splendid examples having been received Book m, from India. In the birds of Africa, of Brazil, and of iteolt Northern Europe, also, the Museum was already exception- j,',TM*H •illy well-stored. t^asm
J . H. Ellis.
The special value of the Ornithological Collection undoubtedly showed that it had been more elaborately cared for than had been some other parts of natural history. But the extent and richness of the bird gallery, even at this period, is not to be ascribed merely to a desire to delight the eyes of a crowd of visitors. For scientific purposes, a collection of birds must be more largely-planned and better filled than a collection of mammals, or one of fish. In birds, the essential characters of a considerable group of individual specimens may be identical and their colours entirely different. Besides the numerous diversities attendant upon age and sex, the very date at which a bird is killed may „ „.
° J •'See Ulinuttt
produce variations which have their interest for the scientific <>/*wTM«
*, . 1836, p. 238.
The number of species of reptiles was in 1830 about six hundred, illustrated by about one thousand three hundred specimens. This number was much inferior to that of the Museum at Paris, but it exceeded by one third the number of species in the Vienna Museum, and almost by nu.,v'.m one half the then number at Berlin. (Q•~
The species of fish amounted to nearly a thousand, but this was hardly the fourth of the great collection at Paris, although it probably exceeded every other, or almost every other, Continental collection of the same date. Of shells, the Museum number of species was four thousand and twenty-five (exclusive of fossils), illustrated by about fifteen thousand individuals. This number of species was at par with that of Paris; much superior both to Berlin and to Leyden; but it was far from representing positive—as dis
Book m, tinguished from comparative—wealth. There were already,
Chap. II. . ° i-i i ii
iiuToix in 1836, more than nine thousand known species of shells. Muskom It was further shown in the evidence that, even under the arrangements of 1836, the facilities of public access equalled those given at the most liberal of the Continental Museums, and considerably exceeded those which obtained at fully four-fifths of their number.
Among the many services rendered to the Museum by Dr. Gray, one is of too important a character to be passed over, even in a notice so brief as this must needs be. The large bequest in Zoology of Major-General Hardwicke BKo.unsTor „rew ou(; 0f a stipulation made by Dr. Gray, when he
Zoology. O r J >
undertook, at General Hardwicke's request, the editorship of the Illustrations of Indian Zoology. A long labour brought to the editor no pecuniary return, but it brought an important collection to the British Public in the first instance, and eventually a large augmentation of what had been originally given.
Ghowth Op THE
In March, 1849, the course of inquiries pursued by Natirai. Lord Ellesmere's Commission led to a new review of the Cou.ec- growth of the Natural-History Collections, and more especially of the Zoology. It applied in particular to the twelve or thirteen years which had then elapsed since the prior inquiries of 1S35-1836. The statement possesses much interest, but it is occasionally deficient in that systematic and necessary distinction between species and specimens which characterised the evidence of 1S36. In brief, however, it may be said, that in the eight years extending between June, 1840, and June, 1848, twenty-nine thousand five hundred and ninety-five specimens of vertebrated animals were added to the Museum galleries and storehouses. Of these, five thousand seven hundred and ninety