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strenuously object to their erection into genera and species, except upon the most undoubted authority, and to their being thus unceremoniously embodied in the natural bistory of a country. Too much doubt must hang over the conclusions at which most naturalists arrive, on such points, to admit of so decided a step as this. Dr Harlan has thought otherwise. He has seen fit, upon the authority of a mutilated skull, found on the shore of the river Delaware, to erect a new genus, osteopera; and upon no better foundation, than a single molar tooth, exhumed in the western part of our country, has built a new extinct species of Tapir, which he has had the satisfaction of christening with his own hand. Farther than this; Dr Wistar, in å paper read to the American Philosophical Society, described certain fossil bones, presented by Mr Jefferson, which he believed to belong to species of the genera Cervus and Bos, but modestly forbears to systematise them. Our author has done this office for these neglected reliquiæ, and they accordingly figure among the mammalia of the United States, as the Cervus Americanus, Bos bombifrons, and Bos latifrons, all . nobis,' which last term, as some of our readers may need to be informed, signifies that the genus, or species, after which it is inserted, has been constituted and named by the naturalist in whose work it appears.
The consideration of this subject suggests another, which is of importance to the accuracy and soundness of American natural history. We mean the growing propensity of naturalists to construct new genera and species. This disposition is unpbilosophical and productive of confusion. It is a departure from the true spirit of scientific investigation. It is not so easy a matter for men, of even good attainments in natural history, to determine whether a species has been before described and named, or not. So imperfect are the short descriptions which are often given, so loose and vague is the language of too many naturalists, so extremely difficult indeed is the task of clear description, and so few are there who perform it well, that the identification of a specimen with any known species or genus, is frequently a difficult task, and we should be very cautious in concluding because we cannot identify it, that it is therefore something new. The creation of a new genus in natural bistory is a weighty matter; it should not be lightly done, it should not be soon done; the subject should be left for repeated consideration and consultalion, and should not be ventured, except with the concurrence of more than one skilful naturalist, unless it be by some one whose attainments in science give his opinion weight and authority.
Much less importance is to be attached to the introduction of a new species, and still this requires far more hesitation, than most naturalists seem to feel. At any rate, it is not a matter which demands extraordinary baste. No particular evil results, if the animal in question goes without a legitimate name for a few short months. It is certainly a less evil, than that it should be taken for a new species, when it is in reality an old one, and be thus made to undergo the process of nomenclature a second time. Every new name, it must be recollected, contributes to swell the list of synonyms, already the burden of natural bistory. But it is the foible of scientific men, at the present day, that they are more anxious to make and promulgate discoveries, than to search out the truth. Some naturalists pride themselves vastly more upon having been the authors of new genera and species, than upon describing with accuracy those already known, ascertaining more exact marks of discrimination between them, or illustrating their character and habits; and yet he performs a far less useful service to science. We repeat, that the task of determining the character of an animal is by no means an easy one, and can be performed by few men with certainty.
Naturalists, of no mean celebrity, do indeed differ essentially in the conclusions at which they arrive, with regard to the same animal, even when possessed of equal means of judging, and equal qualifications. The simple inspection of any work of natural history is sufficient to show us, what confusion and uncertainty are introduced, by this proneness to roaking discoveries, and this overweening love of the fascinating propoun nobis. The existence of this difficulty, and the obscurity consequent upon it, are admitted by the most eminent naturalists. It is remarked by Cuvier, that in the course of his investigations, he has sometimes found a single species, representing, by means of synonyms, several animals, so different frequently, that they did not even belong to the same genus; and sometimes, on the other hand, the same animal, reappearing in several subgenera and genera, and even in different orders, as a distinct one. . We have here an animal,' says Dr Harlan, speaking of the Rocky Mountain sheep, described for the first time in 1816, which has already been classed under four distinct genera, with nearly as many specific appellations. To mend the matter, Dr Harlan places it under a fifth genus.
For the pronghorned antelope, an animal of recent discovery, we have no less than half a dozen different names.
We cannot close this article, without expressing regret and strong disapprobation, at the manner in which are written two long notes in Dr Harlan's book, (pp. 140, 143,) concerning certain differences into which he has unluckily fallen with other naturalists, in describing and naming some species of the genus Arvicola. The contest maintained in these notes is quite below the dignity of science. With whom the fault rests, it is not for us to inquire, but we feel justified in saying, that, when personal jealousy is allowed to have an influence in constructing new.genera and species, and when nobis is arrayed against nobis with an air of triumph, no good hope remains for the accuracy of investigations thus pursued, nor for the aid they will lend to the progress of genuine science.
Art. VII.—Report of the Committee of Foreign Relations,
of the House of Representatives of the United States, to which were referred the Memorials of certain Merchants, praying Relief for Losses sustained by French Spolia
tions. 1824. The claim of the citizens of the United States for French spoliations, is one of immense amount. Studious to avoid exaggeration, and to reduce our statements even within the severest truth, we rated, in an article in our last number, the whole amount of American claims for foreign spoliations of all kinds, at twenty millions of dollars. Our readers will probably think we greatly erred on the side of moderation, when it is recollected, that Messrs Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, in 1799, stated the claim for French spoliations alone at fifteen millions, and that it has been sometimes computed, that, under the French imperial decrees, over fifty millions of American property were confiscated. If these estimates be thought extravagant, our own will be allowed to be exceedingly modest.
In our last number, we gave a very brief sketch of one portion of the French claims. Those claims may very suitably be divided into two general classes, those arising out of spoliations and other sources, prior to the Louisiana Convention in 1803; and those subsequent to that period, growing out of the outrages exercised upon our commerce, under the renowned imperial decrees. The state and prospects of these two sorts of claims are entirely dissimilar, and they will therefore require to be separately treated.
The few remarks which we made, in the article above mentioned, were confined to the claims of the first class, being such whose obligation is alleged by the claimants, to have devolved upon their own country, in consequence of a voluntary renunciation of them by the government of the United States, on behalf of its citizens, in consideration of certain renunciations made by the government of France, of political claims upon the United States. Having in our foriner remarks, for the sake of brevity, treated this claim as one, without distinctly severing from each other those portions that were, and those that were not, provided for by the Louisiana Convention, we shall now, for the sake of clearness, consider each class separately ; a course of proceeding dictated by the very different ground, on which the two classes have been made to stand, by the measures pursued for their recovery.
We shall now consider the claims, which were excluded from the Louisiana Convention; and briefly relate the history of the manner, in which they arose, were prosecuted, and renounced. By the treaty of commerce and amity, concluded between the United States and France, in 1778, the principle of free ships free goods was solemnly recognised in the lwentythird article, and an undisturbed liberty of trading to the enemies of either party, was respectively stipulated to each other by the United States and France. In violation of this article of the treaty, then in force, on the ninth of May 1793, the French National Convention passed VOL. XXII.-N0. 50.
a decree,* declaring enemy's goods on board neutral vessels lawful prize, and directing the public and private armed vessels of France, to bring into port neutral vessels laden with provisions, and bound to an enemy's port.
On the appearance of this decree, Mr G. Morris, then our minister at Paris, remonstrated against it, and so far prevailed, that the National Convention, on the twentythird of the same month, declared, that the vessels of the United States are not comprised in the regulations of the decree of the ninth of May.' In communicating this gratifying declaration to Mr Morris, the French minister for foreign affairs, le Brun, observed, "You will there find a new confirmation of the principles, from which the French people will never depart, with regard to their good friends and allies, the United States of America. This letter of le Brun's was dated May 26th; and on the 28th of May, the declaration communicated in it was revoked by the National Convention! Such was the levity of that atrocious assemblage. The truth was, the owners of a French privateer, having captured a very valuable American ship, ihe Laurens, bribed the leaders of the Convention to rescind, on the twentyeigbth, the declaration which they had made on the twentythird, and which the minister of foreign affairs had communicated to Mr Morris, on the 26th of May. So little disguise was necessary in these affairs, that the owners of the privateer boasted beforehand, that the declaration of May 23d would be rescinded.
Mr Morris again remonstrated and with success. On the first of July the Convention revoked their last order, and again liberated the commerce of the United States, from the operation of the original decree of May 9ih; and this revocation was declared to be made, in conformity with the provisions of the treaty of 1778. M. Desforgues, who had succeeded le Brun, as minister for foreign affairs, in communicating this revocation to Mr Morris, observes, 'I am very happy in being able to give you this new proof of the paternal sentiments of the French people for their allies, and of their determination to maintain, to the utmost of their power, the treaties subsisting between the two republics.' In twentyseven days this last decree was repealed. We would here
* See the decree at large, in Wait's State Papers, III, 42.