THE non-completion of the “Zoology of the Voyage of the Erebus and Terror” has long been a public scandal. The celebrated voyage of these ships, commonly known as the “Antarctic Expedition,” took place in 1839, and the four following years. Dr. Hooker, under the title of “Assistant Surgeon” to the Erebus, was the Naturalist of the Expedition, and assisted by Messrs. M'Cormack and Robertson, the medical officers of the vessels, made an extensive collection of specimens in every department of zoology and botany. The botanical specimens were sent to Kew; the zoological to the British Museum. Dr. Hooker undertook the working out and publication of the former, and Dr. Gray of the latter. At the recommendation of the Admiralty the Government granted the sum of 2,000l. for the illustration of the work, half of which was assigned to the botanical and half to the zoological portion. Dr. Hooker's labours resulted in the two large quarto volumes which form the well-known “Botany of the Antarctic Expedition,” and remain to the present day the standard authority upon the plants of the southern hemisphere. Very different were the results achieved by the thousand pounds bestowed upon the zoological portion of the work. After the publication of eighteen numbers, the various sections assigned to the different naturalists were left, one and all, incomplete, and have thus remained until the present day. Whether this untoward result was occasioned by the fault of the editor or of the publisher, or by misunderstandings between the two, has never been divulged to the public, nor does it now much concern us to inquire. Whichever may have been the case, the result was equally discreditable to the parties concerned. It is with pleasure, however, we see that the scandal exists no longer. An enterprising publisher has bought up the “remainder ” of the plates of the unfinished work, and made arrangements for its completion. Whether it was justifiable on the part of the vendor to sell what had been produced by public money may be open to some doubt, but the purchaser, Mr. Janssen, is at all events entitled to the credit of having done all he could to bring this long neglected work to a satisfactory conclusion. The six numbers of the “Zoology of the Erebus and Terror” now before us, conclude the different sections, and enable the subscribers after twenty years of patient expectation to send their copies to the binders. On turning over the pages of the lately issued numbers, we find many admirably executed plates among them, and much valuable contribution to Zoological science. Dr. Günther's synopsis of the Australian Lizards is of special interest, and will, we are sure, prove most acceptable to the working naturalists of the Australian Colonies. As regards some of the illustrations of the birds, we may remark that the colouring is not very well executed—notice especially the figures of the King and Emperor Penguins. This is the more the pity, as the figures themselves are the productions of Mr. Wol'fs artistic pencil.
The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. “Erebus” and “Terror”, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839 to 1843.
By authority of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Edited by, &c.
No. XIX.—Insects (conclusion).
By, &c. 1874.
No. XXII.—Birds (conclusion).
By, &c. 1875.
No. XXIII.—Mammalia (conclusion).
By, &c. 1875.
No. XXIV.—Reptiles (conclusion).
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The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. “Erebus” and “Terror”, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839 to 1843 Insects Crustacea Mollusca Birds Mammalia Reptiles . Nature 12, 289–290 (1875). https://doi.org/10.1038/012289a0