« PreviousContinue »
NO. (MSS. given by Rev. Wm. C. Lukis, all Autograph). 11652 Burials in Bradford, Wilts, 1579–91. 11653 Marriages in ditto, 1580—1644. 11654 Baptisms and Burials at Steeple Ashton, 1559—80.
Ditto at Great Chaldfield, 1549–1685.
Ditto at Keevil, 1559—1664. 11655 Ditto at Bradford, 1579—1623. 11656 Ditto ditto 1623–1681. 11657 Semington Baptisms, 1586–1705.
Ditto Burials, 1588—1729.
(Rev. J. Offer's MSS., all in his Autograph). 11662 Rev. J. Offer's Records for Heytesbury, &c.
These are the 2 vols. which are by mistake said to be
missing 10513. 11663 Ditto Notes from Visitations, Pole's Devon, &c. 11664 Ditto Pedigrees of Wilts Barons; ending with Church
Notes in Great Wishford. 11665 Ditto Extracts from the Deeds of Master Darell of Littlecote.
Ditto from Visitations; Chartulary of Bradenstoke Abbey;
Queen's Coll. (Oxon) MSS.; Hussey Pedigree; Dodsworth; Vincent's Inq. p. M.; Wards and Marriages; Pedes Finium, &c.; vol. 1, with the motto, “Sic vos
non vobis.” 11666 Ditto Extracts from MSS. in British Museum.
Ditto from MSS. Phillipps, (see No. 95), vol. 2., dated
London, Aug. 1822. 11667 Ditto from the Chapter House, Westminster; Cole's Es
cheats; Augmentation Office; Visitation of Wilts;
&c.; vol 3.. 11668 Ditto from Augmentation Office, Chantry Rolls, &c. 11669 Ditto from the Register of Deeds of the Hungerford Family;
12mo. 11769 Star Chamber Proceedings against Henry Sherfield for
breaking the window in St. Edmund's Salisbury, 1632. 11820 Charters, &c. of Castlecombe. 11842 Wilts Visitations, 1623. 11958 Ditto Collections; viz., Memoranda, Originalia, Pleadings
in Duchy of Lanc.; Lans. MSS.; Quo warranto; Patent Rolls; Inq. p. M.
J. E. J.
On the Ornithalagy of Wilts.
No. 2. — ON THE CLASSIFICATION OF BIRDS. Having in a former paper briefly introduced the subject of the Ornithology of Wilts, I propose in a series of papers, to lay before the readers of this Magazine, a succinct account of the various species of birds which occur amongst us: but before I proceed to do so, it will be necessary, for the better understanding of those who have devoted little attention to the subject, and also for the assistance of those who are beginning to investigate it, and would know something more of the habits of the feathered race around them, to devote a few papers to the general subject of the classification, the structure, and the faculties of birds, without which previous knowledge I fear it would be impossible to convey to any one more than a confused idea of the admirable, and indeed perfect organization, of this most interesting class of creatures. With this view, and to start from the very beginning, or, as in speaking of birds I may say, "ab ovo,” I devote this paper to the somewhat dry but important subject of classification, giving a general outline of the rules by which birds are classed, and the divisions and subdivisions now usually accepted.
The student in Ornithology desirous to attain to a comprehensive knowledge of birds, must not expect to gain even a superficial acquaintance with them, or to grasp in his mind any definite and precise idea of the positions they severally occupy, without a certain amount of labour. The school boy in his research after knowledge must toil through many a weary and irksome task; the linguist in acquiring a new language, must pause over dry rules of grammar; the eminent statesman, the victorious general, the brilliant orator, gained not their proud positions, without industry and diligence: and so to compare smaller things with great, before we proceed to investigate the several properties, peculiarities, and habits of individual birds, it will be necessary first to understand thoroughly the relative positions they occupy: and in order to do this we must devote a little attention, which will be amply repaid by the result. In Ornithology, as in other sciences, we must not attempt to run, before we can walk: we must not rush headlong “in medias res:” step by step we must be contented to advance: but our way will not be weary, if we give attention to surmount the little obstacles which at first sight seem to oppose us: our journey will not be irksome, if we pause to smooth away the little inequalities of the path; and the more we advance, the easier becomes the way, the smoother the road, till at length we find ourselves unincumbered by hinderances, and surrounded by all the sweets and pleasures of this most fascinating study.
Now one of the very first requirements in every branch of Natural History, is method; one of the most indispensible is order: without this it will be impossible to progress, and Ornithology, like a skein of silk, which if handled with due order is easily unwound, deprived of method, soon becomes a tangled mass of knots, which defy the skill of the extricator to unravel them. The very first lessoni then that we must learn, and one which we must never forget, if we would know anything of Ornithology, is a little insight into the classification of birds, whereby what before seemed hopeless confusion, becomes by the touch of this magic wand, the very perfection of order. There seems at first sight to be a wide difference between the gigantic ostrich and the diminutive creeper, between the glorious eagle and the insignificant sparrow, between the noble bustard and the tiny wren; but by methodical arrangement, we see how, link succeeding link, and species being connected by the strongest affinity with species, these are all integral parts of the same great chain; united by many intermediate bands, but still component parts of the same great whole: nay, not only so, but by the help of classification, we can not only assign to each bird, quadruped, insect, fish, or reptile their own appropriate place, but beginning with the noblest of God's creatures, with man, we can pass gradually through all the animal kingdom, stopping to admire with what excellent method, and by what almost insensible degrees, the race of quadrupeds merges into that of birds; how the race of birds is intimately connected with fishes; fishes with reptiles; reptiles with insects; insects with animals of inferior order, and these again with the vegetable, and (as some affirm, even the mineral kingdom. These are surely wondrous facts and of exceeding interest: to follow up and pursue this chain requires time indeed, and skill, and opportunities, such as few can command: but to gain an insight into this beautiful order and arrangement is within the reach of all, and the more we investigate it, the more we shall learn how true it is of the Almighty Creator, that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
Before I proceed to examine in detail the modern method of classifying birds, as generally adopted at the present day, it will be well briefly to observe the several stages by which it has arrived at its present excellence. Among ancient writers on Natural History, there are but two, viz. Aristotle and Pliny, who have professed to give any general description of birds; and interesting, and in some cases instructive, as their treatises in many respects certainly are, they are mixed up with such a mass of absurdity and fable as very much to mar their intrinsic value. In that early stage of Ornithological knowledge, of course anything approximating to systematic arrangement was not to be expected. But to come down to more modern times, the first approach to order is traced to Belon and the French naturalists, who in the middle of the sixteenth century began to classify after a certain system. As the ground work of their scheme was however derived from the habitat and food of birds, it was necessarily in many respects very incorrect. In the next century, Gesner at Zurich, and Aldrovandus at Bologna, struck out a plan in the right direction, by dividing the whole class into land and water birds; but then, as if satisfied with this good beginning, they deduced their subordinate divisions from the nature of the aliment. It was reserved for our own countryman, Willoughby, at the latter end of the seventeenth century, to lay the foundation of a more accurate arrangement; for, accepting the grand divisions already laid down, of terrestrial and aquatic, he made his subdivisions from enquiries into the general form and structure, and especially from the distinctive characters of the beak and feet: still he seems to have been unable to shake off completely the prejudices of his time, for he allows varieties in size, the different kinds of food, and such trivial things to bias him in his arrangement. Ray and Pennant followed up the course so well begun by Willoughby, and the close of the last century saw this systematic arrangement from the anatomical structure of birds, very generally established. Since that time all the numerous systems of classification have proceeded from the same principle of structure; various indeed have they been, adopted by Ornithologists of this and other countries; some fanciful, as the “Quinary System,” or “series of circles,” established by Vigors: others complicated and puzzling from their needless minuteness: others positively erroneous, as from a farther acquaintance with birds is shown: but the method which I here set forth, adopted by modern Ornithologists, and more particularly by those of this country, has this great advantage over all that have preceeded it, in addition to its superior accuracy, that it is simple and plain, as well as comprehensive; neither from over minuteness burdening the memory unnecessarily, nor from an opposite extreme of indefiniteness leaving any deficiency or doubt. This moreover is the system adopted by Yarrell, Hewitson, and the principal British Ornithologists of the present day.*
To proceed then with the classification of birds, I must repeat what I touched on in my former paper, that birds are commonly placed in two grand divisions, viz: “LAND BIRDS,” or those whose habitat is the land: and “WATER BIRDS," or those which principally
* I should add that though I now confine my observations to birds of this country, yet the same arrangement applies equally to birds generally throughout the globe.