the first volume. Cuvier and Dupetit Thouars say of this (Biographie Universelle): ‘We believe that the best monument that could be erected to the memory of Ray would be the republication of this part of his work in a separate form.’ The two volumes describe about 6,900 plants, as compared with 3,500 in Bauhin's ‘History’ (1650), and the author's caution is evinced by his only admitting Grew's discovery of the sexuality of plants as ‘probable.’ In the preface he for the first time mentions the assistance of Samuel Dale [q. v.], who during his later years stood to him in much the same relations as Willughby had stood formerly.
In 1686 he also published Willughby's ‘Historia Piscium,’ more than half of which was his own work, the book being issued at the joint expense of Bishop Fell and the Royal Society. The Willughby family withheld the help given in the case of the ‘Ornithology.’
In 1690 he recast the ‘Catalogus Plantarum Angliæ’ into a systematic form under the title of ‘Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britannicarum,’ the first systematic English flora, which was for more than seventy years the pocket companion of every British botanist. In 1691 he published his ‘Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation.’ ‘Miscellaneous Discourses concerning the Dissolution and Changes of the World’ followed in 1692. These two volumes (with the ‘Collection of Proverbs’) are his most popular works, and are important on account of the accurate views they propound as to the nature of fossils, and from the use made of them by Paley. Subsequently, at the suggestion of Dr. (afterwards Sir Tancred) Robinson [q. v.], Ray prepared a ‘Synopsis … Quadrupedum et Serpentini generis,’ a work in which, says Pulteney, ‘we see the first truly systematic arrangement of animals since the days of Aristotle.’ His classification was based upon the digits and the teeth; and he distinguished, though not under those names, the Solidungula, Ruminantia, Pachydermata, Proboscidea, and Primates. This work was published in 1693. He next set to work to arrange a similar synopsis of birds and fishes, based upon his editions of Willughby's works, but with many additions. Though finished early in 1694, this volume was not issued until after his death.
Ray now thought his life's work complete; but, at the request of Dr. (afterwards Sir Hans) Sloane, he revised a translation of Dr. Leonart Rauwolff's ‘Travels,’ adding a catalogue of the plants of the Levant and a collection of observations by other travellers in the east. This undertaking, completed in 1693, caused him to recast the catalogues in his own volume of travels, issued twenty years before, and to embody them in a ‘Stirpium Europæarum extra Britannias nascentium Sylloge,’ or systematic flora of Europe, which was published in 1694, and derives much additional importance from its preface, in which, for the first time, he embarks upon controversy, criticising the classifications of plants based by Rivinus and Tournefort on the flower. The controversy was continued in the second edition of the ‘Synopsis Stirpium Britannicarum’ in 1696; but, though Ray did not actually recant, he was evidently led to revise his ‘Methodus’ of 1682, and in the ‘Methodus Plantarum emendata et aucta,’ published in 1703, he not only abandoned the distinction between trees and shrubs, but in many points follows Rivinus and Tournefort as to the importance of the flower. It is this revised classification which Lindley says (Penny Cyclopædia, s.v. ‘Ray’) ‘unquestionably formed the basis of that method which, under the name of the system of Jussieu, is universally received at the present day.’ The book itself was, however, refused by the London publishers, and was printed at Leyden, the printers, the Waasbergs of Amsterdam, contrary to Ray's directions, fraudulently putting London upon the title-page.
In Gibson's edition of Camden's ‘Britannia,’ published in 1695, all the county lists of plants were drawn up by Ray, with the exception of that for Middlesex, a county he seldom visited; this portion was contributed by his friend James Petiver [q. v.]
From about 1690 Ray's attention was largely given to the study of insects. The notes which Willughby had made on this subject had been in his hands since his friend's death; but ill-health hindered his collecting and practical study. When Lady Granville at Exeter was judged insane because she collected insects, Ray was called as a witness to her sanity. At his death he left a completed classification of insects and a less complete ‘history’ of the group. These were published by Derham, and are said by Kirby to have ‘combined the system of Aristotle with that of Swammerdam, and cleared the way for Linnæus.’ He practically adopted the modern division of insects into the Metabola and Ametabola. Cuvier, speaking of his zoological work as a whole, terms it ‘yet more important’ than his botanical achievements, it being ‘the basis of all modern zoology.’