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The progress of Zoology was less rapid during the greater part of last century, than that of Botany, not so much from any neglect of that science, as from the want of resources. Separate descriptions of animals were published, many curious observations were made upon insects, and Linnæus had presented in systematic order, and described in precise and picturesque language, the varieties of animated nature. Nevertheless, the greater part of the animals of the old and new world were imperfectly known from want of opportunities of comparing them, and of observing the differences produced by age and other circumstances on the same species. To the collections of the King's Garden, and to the works of which they facilitated the execution, are owing, in a great measure, the wider range and greater exactness of Zoology at the present day. The History of Quadrupeds by Buffon and Daubenton, that of birds by Buffon, and Montbelaird, and that of cetaceous animals and fishes, by the Count de Lacépède, made known, with accuracy, the species which Linnæus had only indicated, and many others the existence of which he had not suspected. The galleries of the Museum furnished M de la Marck with materials for his History of Invertebrated Animals, and enabled M. Latreille to perfect his great work on insects. M. Cuvier soon after accomplished in favour of Zoology, what M. de Jussieu had done for botany, by founding, upon natural relations and invariable characters, a classification now
very generally adopted. The three chairs for Zoology are still occupied by the professors first appointed to fill them. M. Geoffroy de St. Hilaire resumed his lectures on his return from Egypt, where he was employed for four years. He had previously taught the history of all the vertebrated animals for eighteen months, when the law of the 7th December, 1794, at the request of the professors, erected a separate chair for oviparous quadrupeds, reptiles, and fishes; to which M. de Lacépède, who had left the garden two years before, was called in January, 1795. Not contented with completing his course of lectures, M. de Lacépède resumed his former labours in the cabinet, and soon after, on M. Geoffroy's departure for Egypt, took charge of the birds and quadrupeds, in addition to the objects especially committed to his care. By bim the collection of birds, the most magnificent that had ever been assembled, was arranged in beautiful order for exhibition, and rendered classical for the study of ornithology. The celebrity which he had acquired by his works, and by his connexion with Buffon, attracted crowds of young men to his lectures, whom he induced to attach themselves to a branch of Natural History which had been little cultivated in France. During ten years his whole time was employed in facilitating the study of a science which owe much of its progress to himself; and when called to a post under government, which left him no leisure for these pursuits, he ensured the solid instructions of his pupils by choosing for his assistant M. Dumeril, author of the Analytic Zoology, and the co-operator of M. Cuvier in the first volumes of his Comparative Anatomy.
The Chevalier de la Marck, so highly distinguished by his works on invertebrated animals, has for twenty-five years taught the History of
Mollusca, Crustacea, Insecta, and Zoophytes. He has also classed the shells and polypi after a more scientific and exact method, and has characterized all the genera, and determined a great number of living and fossil species. His loss of sight not permitting him to continue his demonstrations, his place is filled
by M. Latreille, whose numerous writings, and especially his great work on the classification and generic characters of crustaceous animals and insects, rank him among the first entomologists of Europe.
The course of geology in the Museum is now distinct from that of mineralogy. The chair was first filled by M. Faujas St. Fond. Without the precise characters afforded by mineralogy, the geologist cannot ascertain the genera and species in their pure state, nor discern the elements of an aggregate body, and the alteration of the primitive forms by the mixture of different substances; but the history of the great masses which cover the globe, the relative situation and different formation of rocks, of subterranean fires, and volcanic productions, of thermal waters, of fossil bones and shells found at different depths, forms a peculiar science, founded on innumerable observations, and exempt from the systematic absurdities that have disgraced the theory of the earth. If the science, notwithstanding the facts with which M. Faujas had enriched it, was not sufficiently advanced for the establishment of positive laws, hé at least had the merit of rendering it popular, and of contributing to its
progress since the commencement of the century. He died at his estate of St. Fond, near Montelimar, on the 18th of July 1819, at the age of seventy-eight.
M. Cordier, an Inspector of the mines, and the pupil and travelling companion of Dolomieu was named by the professors of the Museum, and by the academy of sciences, to succeed M. Faujas, in September 1819. In his lectures he contents himself by exposing the actual state of the globe, by a connected view of facts ascertained by observation; and he insists particularly on the mineral riches of France, and the means of rendering them subservient to the progress of the arts and to the wants of society.
As it is necessary in general to adopt instruction to the greater number of pupils, the professors cannot in their courses enter into minute details, nor expose discoveries and principles which would be understood only by men versed in science; for these objects the annals of the Museum already noticed form an appropriate medium of communication. In this work, M. Haüy has fixed the characters of different minerals recently added to his Cabinet, and shown the simplicity of the laws of chrystallography, and the advantage of analytic formulas; MM. Fourcroy, Vaquelin, and Laugier, have communicated the most important results of their experiments in the chemical laboratory; M. Desfontaines bas described new genera of Plants, that have bloomed in the garden or been found in the herbarium; M. de Jussieu has defined the characters of the principal natural families, with such additions and corrections as the progress of the science bas rendered necessary; M. Thouin has explained in detail the management of the seed beds and plantations, and the processes of
grafting; MM. Geoffroy and Lacépède have published new genera of quadrupeds, reptiles, and fishes; M. de la Marck has described the fossils of the environs of Paris; M. Cuvier has made known the anatomy of Mollusca, and the skeletons of extinct animals, whose bones he had collected; and the professors in general bave contributed extracts from their correspondence with other establishments, or with travellers and foreign naturalists.
Two thousand pupils yearly attend the lectures of the Museum, of whom a few only become distinguished naturalists; but all acquire a share of useful knowledge and a talent for observation. It has been said by Bacon, that ignorance in philosophy is preferable to superficial knowledge; and it cannot be denied that shallow notions of history and philosophy are often employed to sap the foundations of morality and politics. But it is otherwise with the knowledge of nature; in this unbounded science every acquisition is useful, from the simplest perception to the deepest researches, and from the minutest details to the most general views; the study of it accords with every age, with every disposition of mind, and every profession in life; it yields assistance to agriculture, medicine, and the arts, and powerfully contributes to the wealth of nations. As its object is to ascertain and connect facts, and not to investigate causes, it is free from the uncertainty of hypothesis: and if observation is sometimes incomplete, nature is always at hand to dissipate doubt, and to rectify error. But to obtain the results that may be hoped from it, and spare
the student the laborious researches of his predecessors, there must exist a repository of knowledge, from which he may borrow to enrich it in lis tarn. This repository is the Museum founded by monarchs, adorned by men of genius, and governed by enlightened administrators, it has hitherto resisted every shock, escaped amid every scene of devastation, and excited the admiration of rival nations. The warrant of its duration is its utility, and the protection of a sovereign, whose glory can only increase as the progress of knowledge shall render more evident the wisdom of his institutions.
The expenses of the garden in 1789, were 104,269 francs, and those of the menagerie at Versailles, 100,000 francs; making a sum of 204,269 francs; at present the current expenses of the establishment are 300,000 francs. But in 1789, the Garden contained only 43 acres; it now consists of 79. The galleries of Natural History have been raised one story, and nearly doubled in length, and a library of more than 12,000 volumes has been added to the collection. The buildings at present are to those of the former period in proportion of seven to one, and the extent of the agricultural, horticultural, and botanical culture, is as nine to one. The collection of living plants has been doubled; that in the herbarium is six times as great. The collection of birds and quadrupeds is twenty times more numerous; that of fishes, formerly insignificant, is now the most extensive in the world; that of insects, which consists of 40,000 individuals of 22,000 different species, contained only 1500 specimens; the menagerie of Versailles offered but a small number of animals, and
was of little use to zoology; that of the Museum has presented successively more than 500 species, and has given rise to many important observations. The present establishment employs one hundred and sixty-one persons, of whom ninety-nine are paid by the month, and sixty-two by the year. So that, from their comparative extent, value, and importance, the expenses of the present Royal Museum should be four times as great as those of the King's Garden and menagerie, instead of exceeding them by only one third. This surprising economy is due to its organization; and to a careful, provident, and accountable administration, at. tentive to every detail, and immediately inspecting the execution of every undertaking
We have already occupied so much space by the preceding historical abstract, and general observations and reflections connected with it, that we find ourselves unable to enter into any thing like a detailed description of the contents of this celebrated collection, in its present completed state. Passing over the botanical department, as well as the geological and mineral treasures, we shall therefore merely intimate a few of the more important features of the Cabinet of Zoology.
The number of quadrupeds and other mammalia now amounts to about one thousand, five hundred individuals, belonging to more than 500 species. Amongst these may be observed, more than eighty species of bats. The most formidable species in the Vampyre (Vespertilio spectrum Lin.) wbich is very noxious in several parts of South America, by killing cattle. The polar bear lived for some time in the menagerie. He seemed to dread heat more than any other animal, and used to have eighty pails of water decanted over him daily. By the side of the northern bear is a species brought by M. Leschenault from India, which feeds on wild honey. The specimen of the sable, so celebrated for the richness of its fur, was presented by the empress of Russia to Buffon. In the fifth case, there are thirteen species of foxes. Of the genus Felis, including the lion, the tiger, the cat, &c., there are twenty-three species. Among these we may observe the caracal, the true lynx of the ancients. There are thirty-three species of didelphis, including the oppossums, kangaroos, &c.; one of these, the oppossum of the Americans, with party coloured ears, has fifty teeth, the greatest number observed in any quadruped. Among the Rodentia is the chinchilla, highly prized by ladies, for the value of its fur; and twenty-three species of squirrels. The larger animals, besides the elephant and Indian rhinoceros, are the double-horned rhinoceros of Africa, the double-horned rhinoceros of Sumatra, the hippopotamus, the Arabian horse, the baskir horse covered with long hair, the zebra, quagga, &c. In the room devoted to the order ruminantia, there are the male giraffe, (cameleopardalis,) eighteen feet high, shot in Africa by M. Levaillant, and the female of the same species, more lately sent by M. Delalande; the buffalo, (bos bubalas,) originally from India, whence it was taken to Egypt, and thence into Greece and Italy, during the middle ages; and the aurochs, (bos urus,) from the marshy forests of Lithuania and Caucasus, which have been erroneously considered as the primitive stock of our large cattle; the great elk; and the
camel and dromedary, both of which species have of late years produced young in the Rotundo of the garden. There are twenty-two species of antelope, and a large collection of deer. Among these is the hippelaphos-an animal hitherto known only from the description of Aristotle. The pasan of Buffon, (antilope oryć,) is in the ninth case.
It is supposed by Cuvier to be the unicorn of the ancients. Near it is the guevi, or pigmy antelope, a beautiful little animal, only nine inches high; and in the next case, affording a striking contrast in point of size, are the great antelope of India, and the striped antelope from the Cape, each nearly as large as a horse. There is also a large collection of goats; among which we shall only specify the Caucasan ibex, (capra ægagrus,) which lives in herds on the mountains of Persia, where it is known by the name of paseng; it is supposed to be the parent of all our varieties of the domestic goat.
There are also examples of many and various races of sheep, from different countries and climates.
On leaving the gallery of ruminating animals, we enter that of birds. The collection comprehends upwards of 6000 individuals, belongiog to more than 2300 different species. There is not so numerous a collection existing any where else; and yet it has been formed within these few years; for at the death of Buffon, there were only 800 species.
It is well known that a great number of birds, especially those remarkable for the beauty of their colours, have a totally different plumage, according to their age, and even sometimes according to the season of the year. It is owing to this that the same bird has often been described and drawn several times under different names. We frequently see ten or twelve individuals of one species presenting the same essential characters, but differing totally in the colours of their plumage. Thus it is only after many researches, and the examination of numerous suites of specimens, that the different varieties, and the passage from one to the other, can be determined. Most of these varieties of age, sex, and season, may be observed in the Parisian collection, which for the future, will fix the type for many new, or bitherto obscurely described species.
In this collection there are 120 different diurnal birds of prey. Among these we may remark the lammergeyer, or vulture of the Alps, which is the largest European bird of prey; it measures ten feet between the extended tips of the wings. Absurd stories have been told of its carrying away children, and even cattle. This is quite a mistake; for its talons are in fact very weak, and, as Temminck observes, faiblement crochus. We read sometime ago a repetition of such tales, in a tour through Switzerland, by that ingenious Frenchman, M. Simond. He probably never saw the bird in question. We beg to assure him, for the satisfaction of his family, “ qui' ils mangent sur la place, sans rein emporter dans leur serres, qui ne sont point propres à saisir;" it is a wild, solitary animal, and inhabits the steepest rocks of the Swiss Alps. In the fifth case, we see the falco destructor, or great American harpy, of a size larger than the common eagle; it is considered as having the claws and beak stronger than any other bird; but the power and velocity of its flight being greatly diminished by the shortness of its wings, its ravages, as a