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Art. 1.-1. The Book of the Seasons, or the Calendar of Nature.
By William Howitt. 12mo. Fourth edition. London, 1836. 2. Gleanings in Natural History. Third and last series. To
which are added, Notices of some of the Royal Parks and Residences. By Edward Jesse, Esq., Surveyor of his Majesty's
Parks, Palaces, &c. 8vo. London, 1835. 3. The Journal of a Naturalist. Third edition. 8vo. London,
1833. THE works, whose titles we have just transcribed, are but a
few specimens of the numerous publications connected with natural history, which have been recently produced in this country. It is with no slight degree of gratification we observe, that every new volume of this class of literature which makes its appearance, is framed with a view to dispense as much as possible with the formalities of science, and to disclose what had hitherto been its mysteries, in a form at once intelligible and attractive to every order of readers. Far be it from us to deny that abstract science has its uses, and those too, of the highest value; we are well aware, that without the deductive researches which it has enabled philosophers to make, and the arrangements which it has taught them to invent, all knowledge would be little better than a chaos of facts, capable, indeed, of being sometimes practically turned to account, but destitute of those combinations which lead the mind to an acquaintance with the laws that operate in every department of the universe. At the same time, we think that, when science has succeeded in developing the character and extent of those laws, it becomes a matter of great importance to translate its lofty investigations into language calculated to familiarize them to the multitude. The complex and refined studies, in which highly accomplished intellects take the greatest delight, can never, even in the best educated nations, be pursued by any considerable portion of the community. Nevertheless, it is for the benefit of the community that those studies are legitimately intended, and unless they can be reduced by the process of simplification, to the ordinary level of the
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understanding, they must be considered as entitled to little more respect than the visions of the alchemist.
We have had frequent occasion to observe, that the mind most intimately conversant with the laws of creation is, generally speaking, not the best fitted for expounding them to the public at large. The profound adept in mathematics, astronomy, botany, or zoology, constantly tends towards abstract principles, which are not always obvious or interesting to common observers; he is dealing with the invisible world, while they can with difficulty be brought to reflect even on the world immediately around them; while he is descanting with enthusiasm on the structure of a plant, or the organization of an insect, they are probably unaware that such a plant, or such an insect, is in existence. The main difficulty to be got over as to objects of this description is, the extreme indifference with which they are almost universally treated by mankind. The sun has risen and set with unfailing regularity during a period of more than six thousand years, and yet, because it is a matter of daily occurrence, how few are they who take note of that very regularity, as one of the most convincing proofs of the master-mind that presides over our system! If the moon were to exhibit her crescent in our sky for the first time to-night, the phenomenon would fill our hemisphere with wonder. But because we have beheld the satellite pass through its various changes from time to time, we look upon it with apathy, as if the greatest of all miracles were not the admirable precision with which the moon and myriads of other orbs, wheeling through space, execute their revolutions, without the occurrence of any obstacle calling for the extraordinary interposition of the Deity.
If the two spheres which are most conspicuous in our system, be thus so generally neglected, we must not feel surprised to find men evince so much unconcernedness, and so little knowledge, as to the subordinate objects of creation. We walk into the fields of a summer evening, we notice perhaps here and there groups of sheep and cattle, the song of birds in the hedges, the fragrance of the heath, the grateful green of the grass, and the serene azure of the skies, and we return home charmed by the sensations, which even these few sources of pleasure awaken in the mind. But how infinitely more numerous and more exquisite would not those sensations have been, had we gone forth with intelligence alive to the world of organized being, which invites our attention at every step we take ! We pass by with contempt, nay with disgust, the worm which we chance to see in a furrow. But with what very different sentiments should we not have contemplated this humble creature, had we known