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INTRODUCTION.

The following Contributions to Land and Water are, I think, too interesting and valuable to the lovers of natural history to be allowed to remain in the columns of a newspaper.* There are too few of them to make a volume, and so are published in this form.t I would have added to them but for the difficulty in finding subjects, or leisure to develop them, that have not been treated before, or treated in such a way as to require to be corrected, and placed on another and more permanent foundation than heretofore. Intelligent and ingenious people generally prefer to see an idea started and elucidated, with all the circumstances attending it—as some enjoy the breaking away of a fox, and being well up with the hounds, and in at the death-rather than have the dry result of an inquiry stated to them; for then they become, as it were, investigators along with him who makes it, while the particulars give them detailed and positive evidence of the conclusions arrived at. For my part, I consider the testimony to prove the leading fact set forth in these Contributions so complete, that nothing could be added to it; although it would be very interesting to have a careful examination of the anatomy of the Snake, to ascertain the physical peculiarities connected with the phenomenon described.

What I have said on the subject of snakes swallowing their young applies to everything connected with natural history, viz: that it “should be settled by evidence, as a fact is proved in a court of justice; difficulties, suppositions or theories not being allowed to form part of the testimony” (p. 28). In other words, the writer should be placed in the witness-box, and severely cross-questioned as to his facts, systems and theories; or place himself there, and be his own examiner. In these days, on the subject of natural history among others, we stand greatly

* Such of these Contributions as were printed in Land and Water have a note giving the date of pube lication ; the others, with only one date attached, were returned by request.

+ It was originally intended to print these in the form of a pamphlet.

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