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should be made to the trustees of the British Museum, to have the shells in that institution so arranged as to facilitate comparison of the actually existing shells, with fossil remains and impressions in rocks." From the manner in which this recommendation is worded in the Athenæum Report, its precise meaning is not clearly apparent. The systematic arrangement and naming of the collection of British testacea in the national collection, would be of the most essential aid to the geological inquirer, and, as this has been a consummation long and most ardently hoped for, but as yet in vain, we understand the above recommendation as a roundabout but ingeniously delicate way of attempting to get so important an object effected.
We see with pleasure in the leading article of the Athenæum, a few brief but well-timed observations on the abuse directed by the Times newspaper against the British Association as a scientific body. That the attack in question has originated in the grossest ignorance on the part of its promulgators, of the constitution and real objects of the Association, there can be little doubt; and the regret with which we must confess we have seen the course pursued by the latter journal, has arisen more from witnessing such a prostitution of the talent and extensive influence which it commands, than from the apprehension of any injurious effect being produced in the quarter against which its hostility has been pointed.
Sir James Alexander has paid us the same compliment with which, on a late and somewhat similar occasion, he favoured the editor of the Athenæum, having written us a letter expressive of his displeasure at our late review of his exploring expedition. He has the incivility to style our very handsome notice of his original discoveries, “ a disparaging critique upon those portions of his narrative which relate to Natural History.”We are sorry to find that we did not give the narrative that attentive perusal which was certainly incumbent upon us in our editorial capacity, for it appears that had we done this, we might have seen that Sir James “ repeatedly entered the waters of the Orange, and wandered along its banks, in spite of the dread Leviathan and hairy monsters.” Furthermore, Sir James tells us, “ He [the reviewer] strangely concludes that because
attendant fled from the attack of a five-feet high baboon, I must also have had a salutary dread of these animals. I never was attacked by a baboon, and never fled from one.”
1 The letter is given verbatim on the wrapper.
The positive assurance in Sir James Alexander's own hand-writing, that he never did fly from a baboon while on his African expedition of discovery, is so completely satisfactory, that it was altogether unnecessary to render it doubly so, by connecting it with the circumstance of his not having been attacked by one. In truth, we must candidly admit, that our first impression was too hastily formed, for although Sir James, upon the strength of facts of which he was immediately cognisant, states that these baboons murder travellers by biting them to death in the neck, and that they are more to be dreaded than the poisoned arrows of the Boschmen, our assumption nevertheless, that he had a salutary dread of these monsters, cannot be supported by a course of legitimate induction, although in these times of liberal criticism we think the inference to that effect will not be regarded as very far-fetched.
Sir James goes on to observe,—"Again he sneers at my assertion that when the rhinoceros is quietly pursuing his way among the mimosa-bushes, his horns strike against each other. It appeared to me they did so, —the natives confirmed this,-and will your reviewer maintain that both horns are so firmly fixed in the bone of the head that they cannot touch each other at any period of their growth, and when the skin of the rhinoceros is not stiffened with passion ?" We cannot help feeling that this is rather a delicate subject to handle, because it involves the personal observation of Sir James; from the specimens however of the two-horned rhinoceros which have come under our own notice, we should certainly have inferred that if the animal were quietly moving amongst the mimosa-bushes, a clapping noise would not be produced by the horns striking together, but the individuals examined by us unfortunately happen, in all cases, to have had the skin stiffened, and though not exactly from the same cause as that alluded to by Sir James, yet, as it appears that this condition is opposed to the above phenomenon going forward, it would not be fair, upon such data, to throw any doubt upon Sir James Alexander's statement, backed by that of the natives. We do not, however, think much importance should be attached to the latter circumstance, for had it appeared to our traveller during his African peregrinations, that the side of the moon which illumines that portion of the earth presented an aspect very much resembling green cheese, it is more than probable that the natives would have coincided in this opinion, had Sir James consulted them upon the subject. To have differed from him indeed, would have been equivalent to calling in question his powers of correct discrimination, and this would have been tantamount to calling in question the discrimination of the Geographical Society, in deputing Sir James to be their representative. VOL. III.-No. 34. n. S.
The most important part of the communication with which we have been honoured, is an intimation from Sir James (somewhat obscurely worded), that he deems it necessary to give some public proof of his courage, for which purpose he demands the name of the anonymous Reviewer. With that true nobleness, and delicacy of feeling, which ought to be an invariable attribute of knighthood, Sir James scorns to take advantage of the Editor's name being openly placed on the wrapper of the journal containing the offensive critique, and recollecting the motto, Palmam qui meruit ferat,' his indignation is solely directed towards the said anonymous personage. We must, however, tell Sir James Alexander, that in this matter we deem him to be altogether at fault. It will readily be supposed that we feel a proper sort of editorial affection for our establishment of reviewers, and at we do not hand them over to the tender mercies of knight-errants and rhinoceros-shooters, without just and reasonable cause should arise to warrant our so doing. Now, throughout the article complained of, not the most distant suspicion is mooted of any want of courage on the part of Sir James as it respects the genus Homo; the “salutary dread” attributed to him, was of a race of gigantic Quadrumana, and which he expressly tells us are infinitely more to be feared than the most savage of our own species. We therefore dispute altogether the validity of the grounds upon which Sir James would found his challenge, since it is clear that no possible object would be gained if he had the satisfaction of tickling' our reviewer with one of his hard and heavy bullets, for the imputation, as it respects the baboons, would remain precisely as it now stands.
If Sir James be in real earnest about setting himself right with the public upon this point, the obvious course under the circumstances is for him to despatch his attendant, Robert, with proper assistance, to the Orange River, for the purpose of capturing and bringing alive to this country, one of the 'hairy monsters.' Sir James may then, in single combat, have an opportunity of publicly displaying his prowess, and in the event of his success, we should recommend him to add the skin of his vanquished opponent to the collection of Quadrumana in the national Museum, or that of the Zoological Society.
We have every reason for believing that in the event of the Geographical Society again availing themselves of Sir James Alexander's services to superintend another African expedition of discovery, that he will receive special instructions to make mention in his narrative of nothing that he may hear, and only half of what he may see ; and we can assure him that a volume coming before us, written under these circumstances, would not give rise to a disparaging critique in the Magazine of Natural History.
SHORT COMMUNICATIONS. Extract of a Letter from George Baker, Esq. referring to the death of Dr. William Smith.—“My sister and I had long looked forward with pleasure to attending the meeting of the British Association at Birmingham ;-we had antici pated finding many of our distant friends there,—and what added still more to our promised enjoyment, Dr. Smith wrote to say he would come and geologize in our neighbourhood with us for a few days, on his way to Birmingham.
“He came to us from London on the Tuesday before the meeting He seemed slightly indisposed with a cold, but we drove about thirty miles the next day in a direction suggested by himself, to examine a point of doubtful stratification. On Thursday he walked with us nearly two miles, to see some fossil bones. On Friday a bilious diarrhæa came on, and much against his inclination I consulted my friend Dr. Robertson, who hoped he would be sufficiently well to accompany us to Birmingham on Monday. He went a short drive with us that evening, and even on Monday morning, the attack having subsided, we thought he would be able to go with us by the rail-road; but when he came down stairs (for he had not been confined to his bed) he was evidently too weak to bear the journey, and we began to be alarmed. I went immediately to Birmingham for his nephew, Professor Phillips, and returned with him early the next morning, when the Doc. tor appeared so comfortable, and gave us such a circumstantial and connected account of his movements, and the geological observations he had made during his visits since the Oxford agricultural meeting, that Professor Phillips thought we were needlessly alarmed, and that he might venture to return to Birmingham in the afternoon. But when we went up again after breakfast, an evident and rapid change had taken place; he was in a state of drowsy torpor, from which (although, if roused, he answered questions rationally to the last) he never rallied. The powers of nature were exhausted, and he kept gradually (or rather rapidly) sinking till the following night (Wednesday), when he breathed his last without a sigh or a groan. From the first moment of his attack he suffered no pain, and his constant reply to every inquiry if he felt any pain, was “None at all." The comparative suddenness of his death was a great shock to us, and it seems even now like a dream. May we realise it by attending to its awful warning, “be ye also ready.”
“He often expressed a wish that as his geological research,
es began, so they might end with, and his bones rest on, the oolite, and it is rather remarkable that this wish is realised in our church-yard (St. Peter's), where the Professor and I followed his remains on the Monday after his decease”.(Addressed to the Editor, and dated Northampton, Sept. 23, 1839).
Great Migration of Dragon-flies observed in Germany.On the 30th and 31st of last May immense cloud-like swarms of dragon-flies passed in rapid succession over the town of Weimar and its neighbourhood. The general direction of the migration was from South by West to North by East. The migration had been likewise observed in all the villages situated a few miles to the east or west. The insects arrived in a vigorous state, some of the flocks flying as high as 150 feet above the level of the river Ilm, and striking against the windows of a house situated on an eminence; others passing through the streets. The specimens caught there were those of Libellula depressa, at least, all that I have seen were of that species.
Being anxious to ascertain the range of this migration, I tried to collect every possible information from various papers, but all I could learn from that source was, that cloudlike swarms of dragon-flies had been seen at Gottingen on the 1st of June, at Eisenach on the 30th and 31st of May (flying from East to West), and at Calais on the 14th of June, on their way towards the Netherlands. Those seen at Eisenach were likewise Libellula depressa; those observed at Calais appeared to belong to a different species, as they were described as being thick, and about 3 inches long.
Being rather disappointed in my expectation of finding news from many quarters respecting the same phenomenon, I endeavoured to procure more information by means of a public advertisement; whereby I learned that the swarms of dragon-flies had been seen about the same time as they were here, in the neighbourhoods of Leipzig, Alsleben, Aschersleben, and Halle. The information which Dr. Buhle, the inspector of the Zoological Museum of Halle, had the kindness to impart, was particularly valuable. The specimens caught at that place belong to Libellula quadrimaculata. The first swarms arrived there in the afternoon of the 30th of May, a short time before a thunder-storm.' They flew very rapidly from South to North. On the 31st of May similar focks followed their predecessors in the same direction ; most of them
I see from my meteorological journal that we had a thunder-storm here both on the 30th and the 31st of May, and two on the 1st of June.