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Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amerique Centrale


THE ill-fated attempt of the Second Empire to estab-Imperialism in Mexico has had at least one good result in the work now before us, in which the labours of a Scientific Mission originally sent out under the shadow of the French Army are given to the world. The materials accumulated by M. Bocourt and his Fellow-Naturalists, were deposited in the National Museum of the Jardin des Plantes, and the elaboration of them entrusted to special workers in the different branches of science. In 1870 three livraisons were issued, each forming the commencement of a separate section of the work, as planned out under the direction of M. Milne-Edwards. These relate to the terrestrial and fluviatile Molluscs, by MM. Fischer and Crosse; to the Orthopterous Insects and Myriapods, by M. Henri de Saussure; and to the Reptiles and Batrachians, by MM. Auguste Duméril and Bocourt. The fall of the Empire and German occupation stopped the immediate progress of the work, but we are glad to see it has now been resumed. A second livraison of the section devoted to the Myriapods, prepared by MM. H. de Saussure and Humbert, has been lately issued, and we believe it is fully intended to bring the work to a conclusion. It will be observed that authors engaged on the various sections are all well-known authorities on the subjects of which they treat, and that the figures and illustrations are of an elaborate character. We are the more glad to call the attention of our readers to the revival of this work, because it does not appear to be very generally known to naturalists, and because it has lately been the subject of a most unjustifiable attack in an English scientific periodical.* After a general condemnation of the work we are there informed that it is “a lamentable exhibition of the very backward state of zoological science in the French capital.” As to the justice of this remark we need only appeal to the recent numbers of the “Annales des Sciences Naturelles” and the “Nouvelles Annales du Musée,” which are replete with zoological memoirs of the highest interest, and to the great work on fossil birds, by Alphonse Milne-Edwards, recently completed, which is alone sufficient to refute such a sweeping accusation. That the spirit of scientific enterprise is still alive in France is, moreover, sufficiently manifest by the grand researches of Pêre David in Chinese Tibet, and of Grandi-didier in Madagascar, while there is certainly no lack of scientific experts to bring their discoveries before the public. A more baseless and unjust attack was certainly never penned against the savants of a sister nation.

Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amerique Centrale.

Recherches Zoologiques publiées sous la direction de M. Milne-Edwards. Livraisons 4. (Paris: 1870–72.)

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Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amerique Centrale . Nature 9, 260–261 (1874).

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