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A COMPLETE VADE-MECUM OF MODERN DISCOVERY IN THE
SCIENCE WHICH IT ILLUSTRATES.
WITH A LIFE OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH,
BY GEORGE MOIR BUSSEY.
“ Some one told Dr. Johnson that Goldsmith was engaged in writing a work on Natural History. 'Is he
AUTHOR AND EDITOR OF VARIOUS WORKS ON EDUCATION.
LOFTS, 368, STRAND, LONDON.
The present edition of this standard and excellent production is called into existence by the extensive demand for works op NATURAL History, a stimulus having been given to the cultį, ration of this science, quite unprecedented. No apology is necessary for incorporating it with the cheap and useful literature, comprising the series entitled “THE STANDARD İLỊĮSTRATED LIBRARY,” which has met with such extensive and deserved encouragement; and the language of Goldsmith, in his Preface to the original edition, in attacking the dry and tedious labours of scientific system-makers in Natural History, will supersede the necessity of any exposition of the design and object of the work. “It is written,” says the author, “with only such an attention to system as serves to remove the reader's embarrassment, and allure him to proceed. It can make no pretensions in directing him to the name of every object he meets with ; that belongs to works of a different kind, and written with
very different aims. It will fully answer the design, if the reader, being already possessed of the name of any animal, shall find here a short, though satisfactory, history of its habitudes, its subsistence, its manners, its friendships, and hostilities. The aim has been, to carry on just as much method as was sufficient to shorten the descriptions by generalizing them, and never to follow order where the art of writing, which is but another name for good sense, informed me that it would only contribute to the reader's embarrassment."
It has been the careful object of the Editor to expunge the errors, and condense the text of the original, without marring the fascination of the narrative—and (which is the characteristic of this edition) to combine with it, in the shape of illustrative Notes, all the information which has been elicited by the advance of the science since Goldsmith wrote. These Notes, it will be found, equal, or exceed, the original.
This has been characterised as the age of cheap literature : this is unquestioned. It would be better for the prospects of society, if the utility of the works passed into extensive circulation bore any proportion to their demand. The advantages resulting from the study of Natural History need not be substantiated at this hour of the day; and it may be questioned whether an illustrated work exists containing such a mass of popular and useful knowledge, at such a price, as that now put forth.