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INSECTORUM HISTORIAM ELABORARE.
PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY, BY RICHARD TAYLOR AND CO.,
AND SOLD BY THOMAS UNDERWOOD, 32, FLEET-STREET, AND
HOWEVER simple the Linnæan mode of classifying and studying Natural History may be in itself, the most elaborate and the most accurate systematic arrangements of its various kingdoms must necessarily be more or less incomplete, in proportion as the various individuals, which they include, are more or less discovered and described. To ascertain the whole must necessarily be far beyond the powers, not only of one, but of many men ; and with respect to the department of Entomology, the number, the minuteness, the concealed habits of the Insect Tribes, together with their necessary dispersion over the face of the earth, offer obstacles to the industry of the student almost insurmountable. With respect to British Insects, the members of the Society whose Transactions are now offered to the public, have associated themselves for the purpose of uniting their efforts in forming collections, and as far as possible in bringing the result of their labours before their fellow stu
dents. The scope of the present introductory remarks being, however, a brief sketch of the history and design of the Entomological Society of London, together with a few notices respecting other societies, whose object was nearly similar, and which have existed previously to its formation; further observations respecting the science of Entomology will not be offered.
Before entering into any further account of the present Society, it may be advisable to offer such particulars respecting the others as have fallen under notice. The following is an extract from the preface to Harris's Aurelian, folio, 1766, first paragraph, and the work is dedicated "To the President and the rest of the Gentlemen, the worthy Members of the Aurelian Society."
"It is now above twenty years since I first began to collect and pursue the study of Insects; the first hint I received was from Mr. Moses Harris, an uncle of mine, who was then a member of the OLD Society of Aurelians, which was held at the Swan Tavern, in 'Change Alley: I was then too young to be admitted a member, though the strong inclination I had to be searching into this part of Natural History made me very desirous: I was then but twelve years old; so obliged to defer it till age
should ripen and furnish me with sufficient sagacity, whereby I might become fitting for the company of that ingenious and curious body of people. I was, however, deprived of that pleasure; for not long after the great fire happened in Cornhill *, in which the Swan Tavern was burnt down, together with the Society's valuable collection of Insects, Books, &c., and all their Regalia. The Society was then sitting; yet so sudden and rapid was the impetuous course of the fire, that the flames beat against the windows before they could well get out of the room, many of them leaving their hats and canes. Their loss so much disheartened them, that although they several times met for that purpose, they never could collect so many together, as would be sufficient to form a Society; so that for fourteen years, and upward, there was no meeting of that sort, till Phoenix-like our present Society arose out of the ashes of the old."
Under what precise regulations these Societies existed, has not fallen under notice. But in 1780 a small one was instituted in London, a copy of whose By-Laws now lies before me. It would appear to have denominated itself
The fire happened the 25th of March, 1748.