Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/22

This page has been validated.

new to me, yet I have never known the desire above alluded to. This feeling I still cherish; and in spite of the many injunctions which I have received from naturalists far more eminent than I can ever expect to be, I have kept, and still keep, unknown to others, the species, which, not finding portrayed in any published work, I look upon as new, having only given in my Illustrations a number of them proportionate to the drawings of already known species that have been engraved. Attached to the descriptions of these, you will find the place and date of their discovery. I do not, however, intend to claim any merit for these discoveries, and should have liked as well that the objects of them had been previously known, as this would have saved some unbelievers the trouble of searching for them in books, and the disappointment of finding them actually new. I assure you, good reader, that, even at this moment, I should have less pleasure in presenting to the scientific world a new bird, the knowledge of whose habits I do not possess, than in describing the peculiarities of one long since discovered.

There are persons whose desire of obtaining celebrity induces them to suppress the knowledge of the assistance which they have received in the composition of their works. In many cases, in fact, the real author of the drawings or the descriptions in books on Natural History is not so much as mentioned, while the pretended author assumes to himself all the merit which the world is willing to allow him. This want of candour I never could endure. On the contrary, I feel pleasure in here acknowledging the assistance which I have received from a friend, Mr William Macgillivray, who being possessed of a liberal education and a strong taste for the study of the Natural Sciences, has aided me, not in drawing the figures of