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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Extracts from Reviews of New Edition

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Extracts from Reviews of New Edition.

“There can be no question as to the completeness with which the author treats his familiar subject, nor as to the excellence of the illustrations prepared by the pencil of Mr. Keulemans.”—The Ibis.

“The Plates are absolutely perfect…… The birds are reproduced in colours on as large a scale as practicable, and with a truth to nature which reflects great credit on the skill of the artist, Mr. Keulemans. So far as the letterpress goes, it ought to satisfy all wants. Sir Walter Buller gives a very complete synonymy of each species from the earliest systematic writers down to the present day. There are also full descriptions of both sexes and of every condition of plumage, with explanatory notes where necessary on the nomenclature and classification, and a complete life-history of each bird from Sir Walter Buller’s personal observations, made in the field and forest, and recorded with scrupulous fidelity over a period of 20 years. The technical part (Latin and English descriptive matter) is in smaller type than the popular history, which any one may read with understanding and pleasure.”—The Times.

“When, in 1873, Dr. (now Sir Walter) Buller, brought out his first edition of the Birds of New Zealand, it took people in this country by surprise; for it seemed an extraordinary thing that a man who had lived the best part of his life at the Antipodes—far removed from the great scientific centres of thought, from the libraries and museums of Europe, and from all those opportunities of followship which are considered so necessary to scientific workers—should be able to produce a high-class book, strictly scientific and quite abreast of the time. It needs scarcely to be pointed out that any author, whatever his position, who essayed to produce such a work, without possessing the necessary qualifications—an intimate knowledge of his subjeot and a well-trained scientific mind—would have been promptly cut to pieces by the reviewers, who are rightly regarded as the guardians of science, in its more technical sense. So far from injurious comment, every science-review of acknowledged standing in London gave the book unqualified praise. Copious extracts from all these reviews were given at the end of the work, and are worth perusal. The author was elected F.R.S., the highest distinction open to a scientific man in this country, and Her Majesty conferred upon him an imporial distinction ‘in recognition of the great value of his work to science.’ But apart from the technical knowledge exhibited in this book, regarded from the scientist’s point of view, the author was exceptionally fortunate in being able to portray the life-histories of the various species in happy language, and thus to make what otherwise might have been a dry scientific dissertation, pleasant and attractive to the casual reader. The Daily Telegraph, in its leading columns, referring to this, described the author as ‘the Audubon of New Zealand,’ whilst another reviewer said of the life-histories that they were ‘quite as seductive as novel-reading’…… But undoubtedly the best proof that the book was appreciated by the general public was afforded by the rapid manner in which the edition of 500 was subscribed for, and the price to which it afterwards rose …… It will hardly be a matter of surprise, therefore, that Sir Walter Buller has taken the opportunity, after a lapse of thirteen years, of his visit to England to bring out a new and much enlarged edition. Of this, six parts have now been issued, containing 24 beautiful illustrations in colours. The next part will contain a General Introduction to the whole subject, embellished with numerous woodcuts and lithographs, and this will complete Vol. I. It is believed that the second volume, finishing the work, will be out before the end of the year. It is on a much larger scale than the former edition; and the letterpress is so amplified and added to that the book is practically a new one. Apart from the value of the work as a contribution to the scientific literature of the day, it will form a very beautiful drawing-room exhibit; and all who take an interest in New Zealand, with its curious forms of bird life and its quasi-tropical vegetation, ought certainly to possess themselves of a copy of this book before it is too late, because the number of copies available for Europe and America is strictly limited to 250, three-fifths of which have already been subscribed for.”—Anglo New-Zealander.

“The specimen Part is illustrated by the most perfect coloured figure of a beautiful bird that I ever saw in any work.”— Prof. Owen’s letter in ‘Australian Times’.

“That the author possessed the true instincts of a naturalist in his early days is shown by the excellent accounts of the habits of the birds, which proves that he must have spent a great deal of time in studying the different species in the field. There is, in fact, no more interesting portion of Sir Walter Buller’s book than his own personal observation of habits; and in future days, when the avifauna of New Zealand shall have been changed, as it will assuredly be, by the introduction of foreign species to supply the place of the indigenous birds so fast disappearing, our author’s work will possess undying attraction, as being the embodiment of the observations of men who saw these-interesting New Zealand birds in a state of nature, and much that they saw will read in ages to come like an ornithological romance…… This melancholy knowledge that so many of the indigenous birds of New Zealand are undergoing a process of ‘extermination lends an increased value to Sir Walter Buller’s book; but even this might not be forthcoming in the work of a less erudite author. Long study among the museums of Europe, and acquaintance with the literature of the subject on which he writes, have rendered Sir Walter Buller absolutely the first page break authority in the world on the New-Zealand avifauna, both as regards its scientific relations and the life-history of the species which inhabit that wonderful country. In this second edition of his great work the whole subject is treated with a fulness and accuracy certainly not excelled by any modern production; and it will ever remain not only a credit to the author but to the Colony which gave him birth. All that energy of purpose and a thorough knowledge of his subject could do to render his book perfect has been done by the author, who has been lavish to a degree in his efforts to render the illustrations the best on record, and no book of its size has probably had so much money spent upon the plates and woodcuts.”—(R. B. Sharpe) ‘The Colonies and India’.

“I write to congratulate you on the admirable way in which you are carrying out the work. I must say that I envy you the opportunity which you are so well turning to account. There is no other Ornis in the world which so much needs an historian, and no other historian can ever again enjoy your opportunities of the past. Any naturalist who attempts to follow you must write largely on hearsay, and, as I always tell my friends, your book can never be superseded. The letterpress is all that a naturalist could desire, and in the Plates (though these are not unnaturally of unequal merit) Mr. Keulemans has, I think, exceeded by many degrees anything which he has yet done; and I speak from considerable experience of his Plates, since I dabble myself in Ornithological drawing in oils, and refer constantly to his work and that of other delineators of bird-life.”—Letter from a British Ornithologist to the Author.

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