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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/23

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my Illustrations, nor in writing the book now in your hand, although fully competent for both tasks, but in completing the scientific details, and smoothing down the asperities of my Ornithological Biographies.

I do not present to you the objects of which my work consists in the order adopted by systematic writers. Indeed, I can scarcely believe that yourself, good-natured reader, could wish that I should do so; for although you and I, and all the world besides, are well aware that a grand connected chain does exist in the Creator's sublime system, the subjects of it have been left at liberty to disperse in quest of the food best adapted for them, or the comforts that have been so abundantly scattered for each of them over the globe, and are not in the habit of following each other, as if marching in regular procession to a funeral or a merry-making. He who would write a general ornithology of the world, and is possessed of knowledge adequate to such a task, is the only one by whom the ordination of birds could be made truly useful. When this work is completed, and when the results of my observations have been duly weighed and arranged, I shall reduce the whole to an order corresponding with the improvements recently made in ornithological science, and present to you a Synopsis of the Birds of the United States, including the ordinal, generic and specific characters, with the distinctive habits of each species, and references to the descriptions of other writers.

I shall therefore simply offer you the results of my own observation with respect to each of the species, in the order in which I have published the representations of them. Nor do I intend to annoy you with long descriptions, including the number and shape of the feathers, particularly in cases where the