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F.L.S., M. En j om. Soc. Lo\;>., 


A Paper, by the same, read before the British Association 
(Section D) on August 7 . 1871 ; 

And a Second, by the same, intended as a Contribution to the 
Discussion in the ‘Entomologist's "Monthly Magazine.' 







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F.L.S., M. Entom. Soc. Lond., 


A Paper, by the same, read before the British Association 
(Section D) on August 7, 1871; 

And a Second, by the same, intended as a Contribution to the 
Discussion in the ‘Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine.’ 









The paper “A Proposal for a Modification of 
the strict Law of Priority in Zoological Nomenclature 
in certain cases,” was read at Edinburgh in Section 
D of the British Association, on August 7, 1871. 
Mr. Stainton, F.R.S., kindly took charge of the 
paper in the writer’s absence. 

The short paper “ Synonymic Lists and Certainty 
in Nomenclature ” was sent to one of the editors of 
the 4 Entomologists’ Monthly Magazine ’ in Septem¬ 
ber, 1871, and after two months’ consideration 
returned by him as rejected. 

All the parallel passages copied in the foot-notes 
were discovered by the writer after the two papers 
had left his hands. 







Confusion in Nomenclature has increased, is increasing, 
and ought to he diminished. 


L INNE invented Scientific Nomenclature; but did not invent or 
acknowledge any law of priority. On the contrary, Linne 
changed specific names with freedom, and gave, in the later editions 
of the ‘ Systema Naturae,’ new names to a great many species which 
had been named before. It is desirable at the outset to disabuse our 
minds of the notion that a law of priority comes to us invested with 
traditions to make it incontrovertible or sacred from modification. It 
has no such sanctions.* * * § The law was the invention of a time when, 

* A set of rules for entomological nomenclature was first published by 

Fabricius, in his Philosopliia Entomologica (chapter vii.). His clauses on 
the subject of uniformity in specific names are very short: the following 

apply to the present discussion. 

§ 38. “Multiplied trivial names for the same species produce confusion, 
and therefore are by all means to be avoided. The trivial names of my 
predecessors, especially Linnaeus, I have preserved as sacred.” 

§ 45. “ Trivial names are never to he changed without the most urgent 
necessity. Every change of names becomes a cause of confusion; they are 
therefore by all means to be preserved. 

“ It would he supererogatory to substitute for a vague name another vague 
name, as for the most part they are. Therefore let them never he changed , 
unless the food or habit or an essential character can be expressed.” This 
amounts to a recommendation to change the names where they can he thus 
improved; and to that extent supports the remarks of Mr. T. H. Briggs, 
8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 94. 

The Philosopliia Entomologica was published in 1778. Linnaeus, in the 
Philosopliia Botanica (1751), has no rule whatever on the subject, though he 
lays down a great many rules concerning names (chapter vii.). In 17(57 
he had written: “ For all insects trivial names taken, wdiere they can be, 
from the plants from which they draw life (and which they devour and 
decrease), are of the first rank and to be placed before all the rest” (reliquis 
omnibus anteponenda); Syst. Nat. ed. xii. p. 767, note. 

Fabricius was “in relation to names created by others not at all con¬ 
scientious” (Berlin. Ent. Zeitsch. vol. 2, app. p. xix.), and changed them with 
the greatest freedom. 


as compared with the present, the study of Natural History had few 
votaries. Such as it is with us, that law was agreed on by leaders 
in zoological science; but leaders of science were at the time quite 
disconnected from the persons fond of science who were not leaders. 
A few distinguished persons coming even to an ill-advised agreement, 
without forecasting the results of their legislation, seem to have been 
then able to bind all their fellow-students. We are safe in saying that 
in Natural History matters “ the connection between the governing 
and governed” was in 184.2 not so close as at the present time; and 
laws were then made by others for the persons who now-a-days are 
fully well able to take part in making them for themselves. 

It is probably a startling view of the case, to the minds of some 
self-complacent critics, that this law of priority was itself agreed on 
in the obscure days of natural science, when those who knew anything 
were few in number, and when their authority was in consequence 
nearly absolute. Such is undoubtedly the fact. It is interesting to 
conjecture what number of individual minds took part in fixing the 
law of priority of 1842. You will scarcely find a word of discussion 
on the subject in any journal or magazine of that period; and you 
will only waste time if you search for any indications of what was 
the general opinion of entomologists on the matter. The code of 1842 
was made without correspondence with a class of practical students, 
conversant with the requirements of a scientific nomenclature. There 
was then no such class in existence; entomologists were untrained 
and ignorant. In the words of Mr. Stainton, “ few can realise to 
themselves the extreme seclusion in which the entomologists of this 
country lived twenty or thirty years ago ; except a few of the leaders, 
literally no one knew anything; the reader of Stephens swore by 
Stephens—the reader of Curtis swore by Curtis.”* It was while ento¬ 
mological science was in this obscured condition that our law of 
priority was adopted. It would be strange indeed if (good reason 
arising) the large class of competent entomologists of the present 
day were to abstain from questioning a rule thus imposed, for the 
conditions were not those in which a wise determination could be 
looked for. 

Moreover, the originators of the law of priority could not see the 
question as we see it in all the light of another whole generation’s 
experience. Those respected gentlemen could not realise in 1842 
the condition of entomological nomenclature in 1872. They were 
perhaps not better qualified to show us the way through present 
difficulties in nomenclature than was Franklin to prescribe directions 
for the repair of the Atlantic Cable. Both Franklin and the British 
Association Committee were highly skilled and worthy of all con¬ 
fidence, but the scientific circumstances in which we find ourselves 
are new, and would have been strange to both one and the other. 
If our time produces new complications and necessities we must 
not shirk doing fresh work. Does anyone seriously maintain that we 

* 4 Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer,’ vol. v., p. 113. 


must use no means for clearing a present block in nomenclature but 
those which the last generation invented ? 

The persons who agreed on the law of priority certainly did not 
imagine that out of that law would come the complications under 
which we suffer. The law was enacted in the first consciousness of 
the inconveniences arising from the different nomenclatures in use in 
different countries, and those who enacted it intended to make the 
way plain and easy. They did not contemplate the displacement of 
names universally agreed on, but intended that of the different names 
in use, one only, and that the earliest, should be adopted. Picture, 
indeed, the lawgivers of 1842 sitting down to enact the resurrection 
practices with which 1871 has made us familiar! Moreover, the 
rule first received the resurrectionist construction within the last very 
few years ; and this interpretation was coincident with the appearance 
on the scene of that section of tha entomological world which publishes 
Synonymic Lists. So that here is a test. Is it believable that for 
many years after 1842 the law was misunderstood? Or, is it the 
fact that for all that period there was a plain law well understood as 
requiring acceptance of the earliest discoverable name, although no 
one followed its precepts ? Why, if this was all along known to be 
the law, was not the uprooting of established names begun at once ? 
How is it that we were suffered to languish on till 1871 in the 
noisome atmosphere of an inexpurgated nomenclature ? The reforms 
of nomenclature undertaken in 1847-1850 by Mr. Doubleday were 
confined to replacing a later name in use here by an earlier name in 
use elsewhere. It was not until 1861 that the resurrection men 
made their first move, and it seems pretty clear that the law of 
priority was in fact originally understood to have the common-sense 
meaning. ■ But again, was it likely that the originators of the priority 
law had in their minds the resurrection of names then wholly dead 
and buried ? Did the occasion call for such' a step ? What could 
have been the motive for then making such a rule? The guide to an 
interpretation of any new law is to look at what was the state of 
things before it, and what was the mischief which the law was to 
remove. Apply that test here; the old state of things was merely 
that different names were in use for the same species in different 
countries, and what was required was merely the removal of that 
mischief. There was no outcry for a perfect theory of nomenclature; 
and the actual need to be met was all that came within the purview 
of this law. That need was the establishment of a uniform nomen¬ 
clature in cases where the different authors were at the time not agreed. 
This was the law of priority as promulgated by English naturalists. 
If w 7 e turn to notice what has been done by foreign entomologists, 
we shall see that the corresponding legislation abroad illustrates our 
own. The law 7 of priority was decreed at Dresden in 1858, that is to say 
sixteen years after our own British Association rules were made. The 
proceedings of the Dresden Congress were subjected to abundance 
of criticism—the mark of our sixteen years’ advance of Science, in 


which the rank and file had been catching up and coming level with 
the leaders. As a consequence, the law of priority decreed by the 
Dresden Congress was tempered by the contradictory clause that 
the law is “not absolute, and the choice between two names remains 
free.” The code is found translated and commented upon in the 
Annals of two at least of the French Natural History Societies; and 
opinions of different shades are there put on record. 

But I do not impugn in any way the principle of priority when 
reasonably and properly applied. It is the application of it by 
modern (that is, very recent) authors to which all my objections are 
directed. In their hands “the law of priority” becomes a hateful 
instrument; and the title itself has accordingly attracted much of 
the odium which should strictly have been visited upon those who 
misapply the law. 

Latreille had instituted the priority rule; but it found more 
opponents than friends. Dejean, alike in his ‘ Species General ’ (1825) 
and in his * Catalogue des Coleopteres’ (1837) took for his principle 
the preservation of the name most generally employed, and argued 
stoutly against Latreille’s invention. Lacordaire in 1834 published 
an elaborate essay attacking the priority principle on all points; and 
Silbermann wrote in support of Lacordaire. Any entomologist who 
desires to argue the priority principle on its merits has only to refer 
to the writings of these authors in order to find ready to hand the 
case made out against it. If those who object altogether to the priority 
rule be in error, they err in distinguished company. Those who 
have adopted a disparaging tone towards these objectors have plainly 
done so in ignorance that the authors I have mentioned were part of 
their number. The priority principle, by reason of the opposition and 
neglect which it met with, remained a theory until 1842. But some 
law was wanted to set the nations at one in their nomenclature; and 
the law of priority appears (notwithstanding the obscured condition of 
entomological science at the time when it was adopted) to have been 
a just law enough, and serviceable for that purpose. The application 
of the law was, it seems, intended to be this. Different names for 
the same insect being in use, one of them only was to be chosen, and 
that one the name first given. The law has, however, been applied 
to introduce the first name ever given to the insect at all, even to the 
displacement of all names in use. Then, owing to the insufficient 
and untrustworthy character of the old descriptions, authors have, in 
hunting for the earliest names, come upon a vast number not really 
recognisable. The consequence is that some authors accept these, 
and others reject them, while they accept other names which the first 
authors in their turn reject; and confusion reigns supreme. Again, 
the application of the law has been hampered by a variety of checks 
and restrictions, the scope and extent of which afford more ground for 
disagreement. These things have made nomenclature seem a difficult 
matter; and this last result has, more than anything, tended to put en¬ 
tomologists in a worse and worse plight. Nomenclature being thought 


to be so difficult, its mastery has been the object of comparatively a 
very few. Nomenclature is now, in fact, almost a craft of itself; for 
the devotion which its professors have shown to it has resulted in 
many nice refinements not attractive to Natural History students. 
Hence those authors have appeared too learned for entomologists at 
large; and no one has arisen to cope with them or curb their 
extravagances. Their work proceeds until (as it has been truthfully 
expressed) the entire object of names is frustrated. 

But it seems, indeed, that they are now put on their defence. 
The changes of names familiarly and universally known have recently 
aroused much feeling ; and the entomological world is, I believe, ready 
and eager to press for a reconsideration of the law by which such 
intolerable inconveniences are justified. It is only to assist in the 
expression of this feeling, and as a step towards this reconsideration, 
that I have ventured to join battle with the list-makers. From those 
who express strong disapproval and are unsparing in continuous 
protests, it is fair to ask what they themselves propose. So far as I 
personally am concerned, I kuow clearly what I propose ; and in the 
course of these remarks a simple suggestion will be put forward. 
I have no right to speak for others, and do not assume to do so. The 
remedy I look for and the reasons for it I leave to unfold themselves 
in due course. 

The existence of different names for the same insect is chiefly 
occasioned by a cause which entomologists have no occasion to regret, 
viz., that different workers have independently investigated the same 
ground. It is very much for the advantage of Science when such 
independent investigations take place, and 1 have never been able to 
agree with those entomologists who launch dreadful diatribes against 
the new describers of an old insect. Nature is more important than 
her describers; and so long as the student brings us to an acquaint¬ 
ance with facts, he may be held excused if he omit from his record 
of them the stock recliauffee of authorities from a library. True it is 
a very great advantage for entomologists of different countries mutually 
to understand each other, and the writer who makes inter-com¬ 
munication easy deserves well of his fellows: but so also does the 
independent investigator; and I could not let fall any censure on an 
entomologist who erroneously describes as new an insect which he has 
lighted upon for the first time in his own discoveries. That this act 
should be represented as a “crime against Science,”* or call forth 
liigh-falutin declamation of any kind, can only take place where the 
critic has forgotten scientific language in contracting the cantilena 
of small scientific authors. 

What we have to deal with is simply the fact of the accumulation 
of many names for one insect. Our task is to choose one name from 
among them ; managing, as far as possible, to cause no inconvenience 

* See 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 41. Contrast Mr. Dunning’s opinion in 8 Ent. 
Mo. Mag. 215, where the “sanctity” of the first nomenclator is rudely 



or confusion. This we may certainly do by any rule or by no rule at 
all. We are not bound to choose the first name or the last, the 
longest or the shortest; but it isexpedient that there should exist 
some rule so that we may all arrive at the same choice. 

Now, we of this generation find a rule all cut and dried for us; and 
we agree no doubt that this rule is reasonable and efficacious. More¬ 
over, it is the only rule which has been acted on for securing 
uniformity; and, independently of its merits, the principle has now 
received very extensive acceptance. Therefore, we are not put to 
invent a rule for ourselves, as we are fortunate enough to inherit a 
good one. But we of this generation make a discovery. ; We find 
that this rule is being applied in a manner to re-introduce the con¬ 
fusion which it was invented to dissipate. We find that names in 
use nowhere and entirely forgotten are brought up to supersede 
names universally agreed on; and we find that upon the new names 
themselves there is no sign or semblance of agreement between those 
who support their introduction. This is a new matter entirely. Our 
cut-and-dried rule will not serve us here; and it seems that we are 
called upon to invent something to meet the difficulty. This we 
are fully entitled, and indeed, if we are worth our salt, are bound in 
our turn to do. 

Let us shortly examine some of these difficulties, and the causes 
which have occasioned them. We shall soon be able to judge 
whether our old rule will be sufficient in time to overcome them ; or 
whether it is not necessary for us to come forward and devise for 
ourselves some new expedient. For this purpose I propose to take 
note of the opinions of those who hold that the old rule will be sufficient 
to help us. 

In the first place it is necessary to remark that every resurrectionist 
author has his own particular views. There is no such thing as a 
complete agreement among them all, or even between any two of 
them. The partisans of absolute priority differ radically among 
themselves on both the two questions ,—when our nomenclature is to 
be taken as beginning, and what degree of identification is to be 
required before a given name is accepted; or, in other words, they 
differ in toto as to the application of their principle. They likewise 
differ on the questions how to arrive at a name: when a species is 
described by the discoverer more than once ; and in the case of 
names nonsensical or not properly constructed. I will touch very 
lightly on these several matters. 

First of all, then, the old-priority partisans differ completely as to 
when our nomenclature begins. The priority principle, they say, 
requires the acceptance of the earliest name ; and it is, therefore, of 
the first importance to discover how far back your investigations are 
to go. A short examination into the position of affairs will be quite 
enough to satisfy entomologists that there is no reasonable hope of an 
agreement being arrived at on this head. 

There are, at present, at least four different dates, each of which is 


set up by different living entomologists as the date when scientific 
nomenclature began:— 

1735. Mr. Crotch (for genera). 

1751. Dr. Tliorell. 

1758. Staudinger and Wocke; Gemminger and Von Harold. 

1767. Mr. Kirby (Catalogue); British Association. 

In addition, Mr. W. F. Kirby has shown that specific names were 
first given in 1746 ; so that this new date must be added to the list of 
those claimed as the commencement of our nomenclature.* Some of 
the names of 1746, rejected by Linnaeus himself, were, it seems, sub- 
, sequently adopted by Esper, Retzius, and others ;f so that there is 
abundant reason for contending that those Fauna Suecica names 
should be upheld. The other dates, 1751, 1758, and 1767, are each 
and all found supported J by arguments, into whose merits, as they are 
foreign to my subject, I do not now travel. 

The importance of this question can hardly be over-rated. A 
great many species bore in 1767 different names from those which 

* See 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 42. + See 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 142. 

J I quote the following authorities for these dates:— 

“As our subject-matter is strictly confined to the binomial system of 
nomenclature, or that which indicates species by means of two Latin words,— 
the one generic, the other specific,—and as this invaluable method originated 
solely with Linnaeus, it is clear that, as far as species are concerned, we ought 
not to attempt to carry back the principle of priority beyond the date of the 
twelfth edition of the Systema Naturae. Previous to that period naturalists 
were wont to indicate species not by a name comprised in one word, but by a 
definition which occupied a sentence,” &c.—Rules for Zoological Nomenclature, 
authorised by Section D. of the British Association, 1842, p. 9. This passage 
is, of course, founded on a mis-statement. The extraordinary want of 
information here displayed bears testimony to the pertinence of some of the 
writer’s remarks on p. 2 supra. 

“ Species ought to be designated by a double Latin name, of which Linne 
has given the first example in the tenth edition, of his Systema Naturae. We 
have up to the present time thought that all denominations anterior to the 
twelfth edition of Linne ought to be regarded as not met with, and that the 
names given in this edition (whether they be those of Linne himself, or come 
from another author, or j)e the result of a change of name made by Linne) 
ought to be upheld. This way of acting is illogical, and endangers the fixity 
of names in Natural History. It is illogical because it does not commence at 
the commencement, it is dangerous because it starts with an exception and 
with a denial of justice. If we allow to Linne the right of changing names 
and replacing them by others, we accept a precedent which can be imitated by 
other writers in Natural History.”—Dr. Staudinger, pref. to Cat. 1871, 
pp. x., xi. 

“ We leave unnoticed all works published previously to the year 1751, when 
Linne’s Philosophia Botanica appeared, in which his new system of 
nomenclature was first fully and distinctly propounded. ... It appears from 
this that we ought not, as in some quarters has been proposed, to fix upon 
either the tenth, or still less the twelfth edition of Linne’s Systema Naturae 
as the starting-point from which priority in specific names is to be reckoned/’ 
—Dr. Thorell, On European Spiders, pp. 7, 8. 

As to the date 1735 : Mr. Gf. R. Crotch, Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. 1870, p. 41; 
Cistula Entomologica (pars, iv.), p. 60. 


they bore in 1758; both again being different from those they 
bore in 1751 or 1746. Those authors who decline (following the 
British Association) to go behind the twelfth edition of ‘ Systema 
Naturae,’ will always give the insects under the names they bore 
in 1767, and ignore all previous ones. Those who go back to 
the tenth edition (as does Dr. Staudinger) supersede the 1767 
names in all the cases where those differ from the ones of 1758. 
The authors who follow Dr. Thorell, or act upon Mr. Kirby’s disco¬ 
very, will, in like manner, supersede as synonyms the later names of 
the species which they find described in 1751 or 1746 respectively. 
Until, therefore, the question, when our nomenclature is to begin, is 
determined, we have not a source of potential difference, but a cause 
ensuring confusion. The two most recent synonymic works accept 
different starting-points. Mr. Kirby’s Catalogue of Diurnal Lepidop- 
tera treats 1767 as the starting point; Dr. Staudinger’s Catalogue of 
European Lepidoptera begins with 1758. This partly (but only 
partly) accounts for the widely different conclusions at which the two 
accomplished authors have arrived. I shall have presently to notice 
the very remarkable proofs that the disagreement between these 
authors would be actually as wide, or wider, if they accepted the same 

The tendency of recent opinion seems to be to shift the com¬ 
mencement as far back as possible. This at least is exhibited 
in an uncomfortable degree by Mr. Kirby’s different utterances. 
First, in summarising his views on this head (in Journ. Linn. Soc. 
Zool. vol. x. p. 502), he says:—“ It seems clear that we must either 
take the earliest or the latest works of Linnaeus to begin with. To 
admit the claims of any author, 2 jr evious to the year 1767, w r ould 
simply be to introduce an element of additional and very serious 

confusion.The danger of making any exceptions to the rigid 

limit of 1767 in adopting specific names is so great, that it appears 
most desirable to refuse the claims of all previous authors.” And in 
Trans. Ent. Soc. 1870 (p. 133), read in March of that year, Mr. Kirby 
terms the twelfth edition of the ‘Systema Naturae’ (1767) “the 
lawful commencement of our nomenclature.” Next, in the preface to 
his Catalogue of Diurn. Lep. (p. iv.), dated March, 1871, Mr. Kirby 
merely remarks, that though “some difference of opinion exists” 
as to whether our specific nomenclature should commence in 1758 or 
1767, he has adopted the latter date. But after this point Mr. Kirby 
began to parley with, and finally went over to, the foe. In June, 
1871, he writes, that 1758 “ will probably be fixed as the commence¬ 
ment of our scientific nomenclature,-” and* in August, 1871, he 
declares “ the date of 1767 cannot be defended ,” and proceeds to give 
his reason for the view ! Now I do not desire to press Mr. Kirby 
unduly with this alteration of his opinion, although it is very hard 
upon us to be obliged to master these vexatious changes (published in 
several successive papers), only to be informed afterwards by our 

* 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 142. 


instructor that we have been taught the wrong thing. But see 
where this change of opinion leaves us. Mr. Kirby has printed his 
Catalogue of Rhopaloccra, and the names are arrived at by fixing the 
date 1767 for the commencement of our nomenclature. Yet, before 
the work reaches the hands of his subscribers , Mr. Kirby has sent to an 
entomological journal a confession that his leading principle has been 
wrongly applied ! This, even to me, administered a nasty shock ; 
and it may, perhaps, suggest reflections to those who have indulged 
themselves with the hallucination that list-making brings finality. 

Mr. Kirby in August, 1871, gave up the stand-point, which up to 
March, 1871, he had defended against all comers. What period of 
time will elapse before Mr. Kirby notifies that the date 1758 
“cannot be defended”? When in a few months more or less the 
hour for that disclosure has sounded, there is the next cry all ready 
for Mr. Kirby and the true believers. As “ we must take the earliest 
or the latest works of Linnaeus to begin with,” and as Mr. Kirby 
has convinced himself the beginning is with the Fauna Suecica, the 
word will next be passed to stand by 1746 ! That step is already 
prepared. Mr. Kirby seems now to have taken up ground which he 
declares all the time to be untenable; for the date 1758 is not that 
of the “ earliest” or the “latest” of Linne’s works. 

Next, the numerous authors differ as to what degree of identification 
is to be required before a given name is accepted ; and here we have 
the most fruitful source of disagreement. 

The divergences of opinion on what is an adequate and proper 
definition of a genus, and on the method of applying the priority law 
to the care of genera are more wide, if anything, than the same 
differences with reference to species; and the questions raised in 
respect of generic names are also more novel. As the controversy 
concerning generic names is a question by itself, I conceive that I do 
right to pass it by here. Everyone who has paid attention to recent 
expressions of opinion will feel satisfied that there is a sufficiently 
strong feeling against the suggested innovations in generic nomen¬ 
clature to prevent them from being accepted for a long time to come; 
and it seems likely that they will hardly be seriously entertained 
unless introduced in some less fugitive manuer than any hitherto 
adopted. I will refer to the comprehensive criticism of Mr. Kilby’s 
revision of generic nomenclature, by Mr. A. R. Wallace, in the 
Presidential Address to the Entomological Society of London (Trans. 
Ent. Soc. 1871, Part 5), and to the even more damaging papers of 
Mr. Crotch (Trans. Ent. Soc. 1870, pp. 41, 213; ‘ Cistula Entomo¬ 
logical pars 4, p. 59) and Mr. Kirby (Proc. Ent. Soc. 1868, p. xliii.), 
which will furnish those desirous of studying this part of the subject 
with all the material they can possibly need for satisfying themselves 
of the outrageous character of the “ reforms ” to which we are asked 
to accede. 

I must confine my notice of the generic question to this statement. 
Mr. Crotch has in Cist. Ent. pars 4, p. 59, &c., shown us that 


Mr. Kirby is wrong in the names of twenty-seven genera defined 
before 1817. Mr. Crotch has, as yet, gone no further than 1816 in 
his published reforms of the genera of Lepidoptera. The spectacle 
of one “absolute priority” champion making waste paper of the 
freshly issued octavos of his fellow “ reformer” is peculiarly gratifying 
to a mere outsider; and we must all wish speed to Mr. Crotch in his 
good work of demonstrating how many different ways at once those of 
his party want to lead us. 

The question what is sufficient identification of a name with a 
species has often before set entomologists by the ears ; and there are 
various expressions of opinion to be found concerning some aspects of 
the question, which we must presently consider. 

It is not necessary to draw a new picture of the confusion 
in specific nomenclature. “ The longer and more thoroughly,” 
writes^ Baron von Harold, “that I occupy myself with the subject, 
the more the conviction forces itself upon me that a good part of our 
nomenclature, in so far as it has reference to the literature of the end 
of the last and beginning of the present century, is nothing more than 
a protracted and fixed chaos of arbitrariness, inconsequences, and 
blunders, to the sifting and correct dealing with which hardly a 
beginning has been made. . . .We see almost daily every monograph, 
and every working entomologist who has looked a little into the 
older literature, introduce obsolete and disappeared but correct 
names in the place of those hitherto in use. ... It is clear that from 
this constant struggle after truth, which may be considered as an 
emanation of the correctly-founded principle of priority, the stability 
of the present nomenclature is injured.” Our nomenclature of the 
end of the last and beginning of the present century is “ nothing 
more than chaos.” Both sides, then, are agreed upon that, and 
I need not waste words in proving it. It is, as I for one have 
always urged, the plain truth, that if we surrender the nomenclatnre 
now in use we plunge at once into disagreement and confusion. 
“Chaos” is the term chosen by the list-makers to describe this. 
Baron von Harold, Dr. Staudinger, and Mr. W. F. Kirby, all hit 
upon the word; and I can do no less than accept it. Now these 
gentlemen base upon this fact the conclusion that the said disagree¬ 
ment must be scrutinised and methodically cleared up. Those on the 
other side draw the conclusion that the said disagreement is best let 
alone, and allege that it becomes hurtful to science only when 
meddled with and brought to notice. 

It is urged by the authors I have named that the acknowledged 
disagreements can be reconciled by the application of rules. If, they 
say, we forego our present stability (which is an abiding in error), we 
shall, in course of time, possess a better and true stability, which will 
be accuracy itself. It appears to me that one very patent considera¬ 
tion entirel 3 r disposes of this reasoning. The rules applied by different 
authors are discordant; they are applied by them in contradictory 

* ‘ Coleopterologisclie Hefte,’ vi. p. 37. 


icays; and tlie result is not the reconciliation of existing disagree¬ 
ments, but the exaggeration of those, and the creation of new 
differences as well. This answer is so complete that, in my judg¬ 
ment, the case of our opponents is annihilated by it. But, inasmuch 
as I place such entire confidence in this answer, it will be worth 
while to explain myself before proceeding. 

If I take as text two assertions of the opposite case, my commentary 
will be easily understood. After the passage above cited, Baron von 
Harold continues :—“ It is clear that these changes must eventually 
lead to final stability.” Dr. Staudinger varies this :—“ The changes 
are the only means which can furnish us with fixity.” Now, I am not 
going to be clever or captious; but I note that Baron von Harold does 
not allege that stability is attainable by no other method. Dr. Stau¬ 
dinger, on the other hand, confines himself to alleging that no other 
method can furnish it, and leaves to mere implication that his 
method will do so. My answer consists in the assertion of the 
matters which these learned authors respectively omit; and I draw 
attention, in passing, to both of them. I contend that the method 
advocated by these authors will fail to give us stability ; and I allege, 
besides, that another method will succeed. All that it is necessary to 
do, in order to upset the reasoning put forward, is, however, to 
establish the former position. 

It might show devotion to science to abandon the certainty we have 
for ultimate certainty of another sort, even at the expense of an inter¬ 
vening period of confusion. I do not share that view; but it is 
intelligible. We must know, however, that we can get the ultimate 
certainty; or at the least be satisfied that there is a reasonable 
chance of it. Now, is stability in nomenclature attainable by the 
application of Baron von Harold’s principles? Is it attainable by 
the application of Dr. Staudinger’s? Stability means agreement 
everywhere; the possession of a nomenclature which all shall stand 
by. Now, as Baron von Harold knows perfectly well, all even of the 
authors do not agree on his principles; and therefore all even of the 
authors will not accept his results. He is aware of this; for he 
explains his own principles, “ less,” he says, “ to increase by fresh 
discussions the already existing controversies , than to make known 
the principles on which we think it necessary to proceed.”* As for 
Dr. Staudinger, he is deeply impressed with the effect of existing 
dissensions upon certainty in nomenclature. “ The diversity in the 
laws that ought to govern nomenclature” is to produce the veritable 
chaos “ unless we attain to the establishment of fixed laws.” Here 
again, then, there is nothing left for me to prove; for both sides are 
again agreed; and I adopt the same line as these authors. Baron 
von Harold can only give stability to those who accept his principles : 
and he is aware that those persons are not the whole but a section of 
the Coleopterists. Dr. Staudinger occupies a like position, and shows 
us that he knows it; and the case is the same with all list-makers. 

* Catalogus Coleopt., Einleitung, p. x. 


For instance, Mr. W. F. Kirby (though he has prefaced his Catalogue 
by a very scanty statement of his principles) cannot any more than 
Dr. Staudinger give stability to those who side against him. He 
gives stability to those who believe his identifications and grant his 
postulates, shutting their eyes and ears against all others : this is the 
utmost which any list-maker gives in our state of utter dis¬ 
agreement. I am unable to see how stability of this kind differs from 
the stability which the older entomologists enjoyed when they looked 
only to their single author. We are getting to be in a position like 
theirs; but we shall in truth be worse off. Upon exactly the same 
data, four list-makers may choose four different names and take their 
final stand upon them, each triumphantly proving himself to be right. 
As he has arrived at his names by great labour, and on favourite 
principles created by himself, no one of these list-makers will ever be 
found abandoning his work, or espousing the principles of some one 
else. The only hope seems to be for entomologists at large to inter¬ 
vene before this battle is set in array. I ought perhaps to notice 
some declarations (I do not like to term them “opinions”) that the 
more lists we have the nearer we come to achieving certainty. The 
proposition is, in my judgment, ridiculous. People going in opposite 
directions will finish by reaching different places. If anybody is unable 
to see this without argument, I am not ambitious of convincing him. 

The result, I am bold to predict, will be a repetition of the state 
of things before list-making began. The original complaint was 
that people, from a belief in their established author, held to his 
name right or wrong. They will soon be driven to take this course 
again. It was easy, however, to ascertain the first in date of all the 
names in use, and, choosing it, to abandon all the others. In future, 
each name being proved by its sponsor to be incontestably right, mere 
predilection must decide everything. A polyglot author, or one who 
writes in the language most general, will stand the best chance of 
obtaining followers; and this man may be the most unreasonable of 
the whole number. Or, we shall see entomologists of the different 
countries supporting their own respective list-makers; and at this 
highly edifying result I cease my prophesies.* 

But suppose that it were not (as I submit that it is) certain that 
nomenclature will get more instead of less confused, if the resurrection 
practices be continued. Suppose that authors who have invented one 
set of principles in the end convert the authors who have invented 
opposite ones (a violently improbable assumption). What has yet to 
be gone through before stability will be announced ? Why, the mock 

* When this takes place, there will be a call for one gigantic List. We 
shall require a concordance giving each species under the names it is called by- 
in all countries, i. e. the oldest species under some six names apiece. Each 
of these will he the true name of the species, and none will be synonyms; for 
each will have been proved to be right. I grant that by this means clear¬ 
headed men (with a powerful memory) may avoid real confusion in the end. 
Only this seems to be not what entomologists at present look for, and can 
I think scarcely be termed the enjoyment of uniformity in nomenclature. 


stability which any one list-maker can provide for his own followers 
is to be had only after a fierce ordeal, as we are openly told. We must 
go back into “ chaos ” before one list-maker, using his own rules in 
his own way, attains a certainty which satisfies himself. “ Scarcely a 
beginning” of the attack on this “chaos” has yet been made. When 
can we expect the end ? But, supposing an agreement on principles, 
what time must elapse before all agree in the application of them ? 
We shall find that, wide as are the differences in the principles, 
the latter are yet a smaller source of disagreement than are 
divergences in the judgment of individual authors—which do not 
depend on principles at all. Agreement on principles being conceded, 
the application of them by all authors so as to secure a uniform 
nomenclature is, I believe, still completely out of the question. 

The divergences in judgment (to which I now refer) arise in the 
attempts to identify a species with an old figure or an old description. 
Thus it commonly happens that one author will fail to detect a 
resemblance where his brother sees a likeness quite sufficient. More 
frequent instances are supplied by the attempts to identify a figure or 
description of some species which has others closely allied to it. Here 
an author who finds the description (which he sees is certainly 
intended for one of three or four allied species) is prevailed on to 
choose the name for no. 1, which he then persuades himself it suits. 
The next who finds it persuades himself that he recognises no. 2; 
and there is no end to the possible differences in judgment until all 
species with the remotest similarity have received the same name in 
turn. It is with some list-makers a mission to use up the old names; 
and when the case arises that a name is passed by without being 
introduced for any species, it may be concluded that the authors have 
found none in nature which suits it ever so remotely. 

The worthlessness of such attempts at identification is patent; but 
I will briefly mention some of the reasons which prove this. Many 
old authors were very ignorant; indeed all of them were deficient in 
comparison with a first-rate entomologist of the present time ; for in 
Entomology there has been a real and very rapid advance. The old 
authors showed their ignorance in two principal directions. They 
described varieties of all shades as separate species: they, on the 
other hand, often described several nearly allied species as only one. 
The consequence of the first error is, that the description (even if 
adequate) applies only to a special form and is truly recognisable only 
by an author who happens to try it for that form. The consequence 
of the second error is, that the description is a description of an 
imaginary insect not existing in nature at all, but possessing in itself 
the characters of several; and therefore there is no wonder that in 
such a case authors differ ad infinitum upon the species indicated. 
The work of the old describers is furthermore reduced in value by the 
restricted knowledge of species which all (including the best) of them 
enjoyed. In consequence, a given description, which in 1767 (for 
instance) may have fully identified one insect, does not now identify 



it at all; because entomologists of the present day are acquainted 
with a batch of allied species all of which suit the description. This 
last deficiency is made apparent by our advance in knowledge; and I 
of course do not make on that account any reflection upon the old 
authors. But, moreover, they sometimes described from worn and 
bad examples, without indicating that they did so; and therefore, 
while their descriptions apply only to bad specimens (and are not 
recognisable for good ones) authors land themselves in irreconcileable 
differences through their persistent attempts to identify them. Lastly, 
it is the opinion of many that some old authors not seldom described 
species which they never saw; copying from and garbling the de¬ 
scriptions of others. As descriptions of this class might be purposely 
altered in order to render them unlike the pirated originals, here 
again we need feel no wonder that authors find themselves disagreed 
in their attempts at identification. 

We need not feel surprise at these results. But I must and 
always shall feel surprise that the authors go into those questions as 
they do. Worthless in great part the old descriptions now are from one 
cause or another; and whether they are recognisable or unrecognisable 
concerns not a living soul. But if they were the perfection of 
scientific labour, and contained truths of world-wide importance, the 
old books could hardly be more rigorously studied. The “chaos” 
referred to by authors is a “ chaos” created by and only now existing 
in these worthless descriptions ; aud there is not a shadow of obligation 
to touch that chaos at all in nineteen out of every twenty cases where 
it is touched. Those who bring us back to that “chaos” and disturb 
our nomenclature with the results of their speculations on it, are 
themselves responsible for the condition of things which (so far as it 
exists) is of their own wilful introduction. We have long been quit 
of these ancient unrecognisable descriptions. We do not use them nor 
want to use them, because we have new and good ones. We have in 
universal employment names fully identified; and about which we are 
in no doubt or confusion of any kind. Yet on the strength of their 
speculations upon these descriptions, whose infirmities 1 have 
stated, a number of authors are now endeavouring to overturn the 
accepted names. Their justification is the “priority” rule providing 
that the first name given to an insect shall be adopted in place of all 
later ones. By the help of this rule and a collection of principles 
peculiar to himself, each of these authors—unsolicited, irresponsible, 
and completely uncontrolled—is now at work introducing the names 
attached to the descriptions which I have characterised. His pretext 
is that a law has been passed requiring the first name to be found and 
adopted. No such law, as I believe, ever has been passed. But, if 
it has, then the power which passed it has the fullest control over it 
still; and since its provisions have been made use of to work harm, 
they must now be modified in order to make that use of them 

The modification necessary is merely such as shall prevent the dis- 


placement of names agreed on; and there never was a simpler 
amendment. The law of priority, therefore, will (if we agree so to 
alter it) be that “ The first name given to a species shall be accepted 
to the exclusion of all subsequent synonyms; so, nevertheless, that no 
name in use be displaced for a name not in use." In the paper 
printed at the close of this discussion, the general considerations 
pointing to the necessity of this course are dealt with. I mention the 
exact proposal in this place, because, having just considered some of 
the causes of our present situation, entomologists will be enabled, 
having the proposal before them, mentally to test its efficacy. The 
old “chaos” names are out of use. The proposed restriction, there¬ 
fore, will absolutely bar their introduction; and as “ scarcely a 
beginning has been made” towards touching the “chaos,” we are in 
time to prevent the most serious results of intermeddling. Rarely, 
I think, has there been so simple an escape from so great a mis¬ 
fortune ; and I cannot but feel great confidence that entomologists 
will agree to use it. 

The differences concerning old names arise chiefly in the case of 
nearly allied species, where a name doubtfully identified has been 
traditionally attributed to some one of them. Now, it is a rule that 
no species shall bear the same name as another in its near neighbour¬ 
hood. Therefore to identify the name afresh with one such species is (as 
a consequence) to deprive another such species of its name. Bearing 
this well in mind we are now on the track for discovering the whole 
cause of synonymic confusion. Species A being declared to be the one 
intended by the name Clyte, species B, which has hitherto enjoyed 
the name, must surrender it. Then down come the list-makers upon 
species B. One declares it is Umbra, a second Symposiarchus, a third 
Servus, a fourth Scurra; and each proves to you that he alone is 
right. Now Umbra, Symposiarchus, Servus and Scurra have all 
severally been identified with and are used for different species, none 
of which is the old Clyte. Here is a glorious field for reform ! First, 
the four authors supersede respectively these four names. “ Nom. 
praeocc.” writes the first list-maker against the name Umbra. “ Sed 
Symposiarchus, L., alia erat sp.,” writes the second; if he have serious 
qualms about the identification throwing in “certo” to keep his 
courage up. The two others in like manner supersede Servus and 
Scurra. Thus the rings are getting wider, though the pebble which 
disturbed the water was such a very tiny one. Four species have now 
lost the old accepted names; and the rival list-makers are all at work 
scrutinising the miserable old descriptions to find four fresh ones. An 
observation will at this point burst from an inattentive reader. “ Yes, 
but all the four old names are not superseded. No single author (in the 
case you are putting) wishes to supersede more than one." My critic, 
does that fact make the confusion less or greater? If the four names 
were conceded on all hands to be erroneous, we should start fair; but 
each one of the four has now its opponents, but also its supporters. 
Say, three list-makers retain it; one rejects it. With a great many 


the last turkey will be the largest, and the newest extravagance be 
deemed the highest fashion.* But as three list-makers stand by the 
old name, the chances are that entomologists are divided about equally. 
Each of the four is choosing a new name for one species. It is 
therefore very likely that all—morally certain that some—of the four 
list-makers will fix for their new names on names likewise now in use 
for neighbouring species. These in their turn are cast adrift without 
a name; and the corresponding process is again repeated: this not 
only may, but does, go on now as the common practice. 

These differences having spread over some little time, a list- 
maker next arises who has been no party to anything anyone 
else has ever said or done. He has got nothing to hamper 
him. His broom is new, and a clean sweep of our nomenclature 
he means to make. Is it to be expected that (the case admitting 
of so rank a crop of differences) he will not on some one, two or three 
points at least break out in an entirely fresh place ? Where each 
man’s eyes, intelligence, and perception make his law, what reason 
is there for expecting that the power of originating differences has 
been exhausted even in two or three generations ? I will not weary 
the reader by continuing my diagnosis of these differences. I have 
put him in a position to realise them for himself as they are at 
present, and as they will be. Picture these processes repeated in 
perpetuum; imagine all the circumstance attending the appearance of 
each big compilation ; and these appearing one after the other with all 
the frequency with which recent industry has produced them. Picture 
the same processes complicated by all the petty refinements which 
cheap-learning now delights itself with, and with who shall say how 
many similar ones to be invented in years to come! And when you 
have pictured this, go to Dr. Staudinger, Gemminger and Yon 
Harold, Mr. Kirby, Mr. Crotch, and any other comforters you can 
think of, and solace yourself with their assurances that all this is 
done for the pure love of science, and that scientific studies were 
never before so certain of producing uniformity. 

Some short notice of the classes of names contested, so far as they 
have not been hitherto dealt with, will not be out of place. These 
appear to divide themselves as follows:— 

(1) A catalogue name; 4. e. a name published, when first bestowed, 
without either a figure or a description of the insect, and without any 
reference to another work where that appears. 

(2) A name accompanied, when first bestowed, by an insufficient 
description or figure, and recognisable only by reference to the 
author’s type specimen. 

* I heard it recently insisted that all changes appearing in a List are 
thenceforth “made” and not “proposed.” I forget whether anyone took 
the trouble to ask whether all the discordant changes of the same name 
are equally “ made”) or which one is more “ made” than the others. 


(3) A name identified only by an accompanying figure, description, 
or reference to another work, where those means leave the identifica¬ 
tion in doubt. 

(4) A name which, when first bestowed, was identical with that of 
another species in the same genus. 

Catalogue names, always, it would seem, in fact accepted till very 
recent times, have come to be pretty generally scouted since the 
resurrection practices have reached such a head. Names of the 
second and third classes—that is, all names doubtfully identified— 
furnish, of course, the greatest number of disagreements. Every 
author has been his own judge, and the confusion has been complete. 
Recourse to type specimens (which appears inconsistent and illogical 
on the part of those who reject catalogue names) is a fertile cause of 

The rejection of catalogue names is (whether justified or not) an 
infraction of the rule of priority. I, of course, bow to this rule 
loyally, though detesting the phrase “ priority,” as the stalking-horse 
trotted out to justify wholesale changes. But our opponents are, in 
this, not supporters of priority. What they all uphold is, indeed, a 
rule of priority hampered by artificial checks, which checks make 
necessary many more changes in names, and certainly find the list- 
makers in work. 

Why is not a catalogue name in use as good as any other ? Any 
name universally acknowledged should, as I contend, need nothing 
to be urged on its behalf. But why should not a catalogue name be 
as good as any other, even when not universally employed ? There 
never was till recently (if there now be) a general observance of any 
prescribed method of naming; all that men cared for was to have the 
species named in fact.* It appears a hardship to disqualify names 
bestowed before the present rules of nomenclature existed, in cases 
where (notwithstanding the vice in their origin) they have been 
identified and accepted. For my part, I fail to see the need or 
desirability of rejecting a catalogue name. It appears to me that the 
use of the name to indicate one certain insect is at least as good an 
identification for our purposes as a figure or description, whose 
accuracy is open to the criticism of every fresh commentator. I agree 
fully that where the same catalogue name is used for two different 
species, it cannot stand for either. In that case there is no identifi¬ 
cation, and the name is a name unattached. But all the catalogue 
names which are in use for one insect only are fully identified; of 
this the fact that they are so in use is of course conclusive. The 
question naturally arises here, What is the object of scientific names ? 
Is it to enable entomologists to indicate the insect by a word or badge 
everywhere understood? Or is it to glorify the first describer? if 
it be the latter cadit quastio, the name given by him must be 

See Silbermann ; 1 Silb. Rev. 132. 


preserved, and all others rejected. Most of us, however, believe that 
the object is only to provide a badge by which the insect is at once 
indicated to entomologists. Now, this is as effectually done by a 
name bestowed in one way as by a name bestowed in another, so long 
as the name indicates the species to entomologists, i. e. so long as the 
name is in use for the insect, and not in use for any other closely 
allied. Why, then, shall not catalogue names in use be upheld, if they 
be the prior names ? I refer, I repeat, only to catalogue names in 
use, for catalogue names not identified cannot possibly stand, whether 
innovators wish it or not. I am not, however, in any way concerned 
to argue this question, both because it is not necessary, and because 
the question has been well argued in print before. On the admissi¬ 
bility of catalogue names entomologists are thoroughly divided; and 
those who read M. Amyot’s argument in favour of these names in 
Ann. Soc. Ent. Fr.,* will satisfy themselves that the practice of 
ignoring them is not and will not be acceded to.. Works as recent as 
M. Guenee’s Noctuelites and Phalenites, and Mr. Doubleday’s 
Lists, accept them unconditionally; Dr. Staudinger and Mr. Kirby 
reject them all. 

The idea of overturning a name universally agreed upon, only 
because when first bestowed it was not accompanied by a description, 
is very modern, if it did not originate, indeed, with the chief delinquent 
among contemporary Lepidopterists. The indictment against this 
novel practice is short and very intelligible : it unsettles nomenclature 
for the sake of a theory, and wantonly supersedes names which, 
besides being the approved names, are ex concessis also the earliest. 
No one of the innovations is more galling than this. It is impossible 
not to feel annoyance at the displacement of names given by the 
accomplished authors of the Vienna Catalogue, and adopted every¬ 
where and always. The very large number of cases where our 
nomenclature has been, or is to be, unsettled, out of tenderness for 
this crotchet, makes it additionally important that its absurdity 
should be exposed; and, if I take only one instance of its working, I 
hope to show its authors in a foolish light. 

The first species in the genus Leucania of Staudinger’s Catalogue 
is “ Impudens, Hb.: ” this is the insect known to all the world as 
Pudorina, W.-V. The name Pudorina has been adopted by all the 
authors who have ever noticed the insect; amongst them, being 
Hiibner himself, Treitschke, Duponchel, Herrich-Schseffer, Guenee, 
Freyer, Stephens, and Curtis. 

Now Dr. Staudinger has altered the name of this species to 
Impudens, Hb.; and the reason is that Pudorina was a catalogue 
name when first bestowed! He takes no account at all of the 
universal acceptance of the name Pudorina in all countries and by 
all persons (in books, catalogues, and collections) down to January, 
1871. He says in effect: “The name when given was not accom¬ 
panied by a description or figure; therefore the insect was never 

* Third ser. tom. vii. 1859, p. 590. 


named at all.” And, having brought himself safely to this conclusion, 
he begins a rummage amongst his books to find us some name for 
the insect. 

Now, unfortunately for Dr. Staudinger’s success, all the books, old 
and new without any exception, call the insect Pudorina; the radical 
defect in its title not having prevented any one of the celebrated 
authors above named from accepting the name without reserve. 
A colourable way to dispose of the name was, however, discovered, 
although I will not pronounce upon its merits. Hiibner figured a 
moth not of the same colour or size with Pudorina, and of a different 
cut generally; and to this (conceiving it to be a new species) he gave 
the name Impudens. He also accurately figured the male and female 
of Pudorina under the original name, and that he did so is not 
disputed by Dr. Staudinger. The name Impudens has simply not 
been recognised. Curtis, indeed, gives it as the (synonym) female 
name of Pudorina; and Guenee thinks it must be a variety of that 
species, though he, nevertheless, ranks “ Impudens, Hb.,” as a sepa¬ 
rate species, saying he has not seen it in nature. No other author 
appears to have noticed the name at all. Here, then, was Dr. Stau¬ 
dinger’s opportunity; and, accordingly, he gives Impudens, Hb., as 
being “ certo ” our Pudorina. The name which all the world has 
always used for the insect, and which was the first given to it, is thus 
superseded, because (at best, and accepting the dubious* identity of 
the figure with the species) Hiibner, by an error, figured a variety of 
Pudorina as a distinct species, he himself preserving the name 
Pudorina for the typical form ! Dr. Staudinger has probably made 
no mistakes; and, therefore, this course can, by his principles, be 
justified. There is certainly nothing unusual about the instance, and 
it is desirable that entomologists should know some of the results they 
must expect if they trust him. 

* Tlie way in which our modern list-makers identify by scores the figures 
and descriptions which have been an enigma to preceding generations can 
only be described as wonderful. Speaking for myself, I do not believe in the 
accuracy of one-tenth of the neAV identifications; and I venture to doubt 
whether Mr. Kirby or Dr. Staudinger could produce a dozen Lepidopterists 
who are much more credulous. 

The addition of “certo” after such and such a reference makes me very 
suspicious. All references ought to be verified “ certo” or not be acted on at 
all. The word must signify either that the other cases are verified something 
short of “ certo,” or that this word is thrown in w r here there is a case of extra 
suspicion to quell our doubts,—and possibly the author’s. 

The indentification, from a mere figure, of an insect, which the naming 
author himself (knowing the type) considered to be something different, must 
generally be suspicious. Hiibner, in the case discussed, was acquainted with 
both sexes of Pudorina, but considered his Impudens to be not that species at 
all. It requires a good share of self-confidence to assume to set right an 
entomologist having the knowledge of species which Hiibner possessed, when 
the corrector is at so great a disadvantage. A figure of an aberrant form of 
the family Leucanidce (of all insects in the Order) is not an object of which 
anything can be predicated “ certo” in opposition to its author’s judgment. 


Dr. Boisduval, for example, would deal quite differently with this 
case. He writes:—“ It is often impossible to arrive at a knowdedge 
which author has first named an insect. Whenever there has been 
any doubt, I have given the preference to the name most diffused in 
collections. Where a species not yet described was known to 
entomologists under a certain name, I have never allowed myself to 
change it.” Dr. Boisduval would give preference to the name most 
diffused. Here there was actually but one name in all the collections 
in the world! Dr. Boisduval will not even change a name which has 
been attached to an insect in collections; here the name was attached 
not only in collections, but by every describing author who has 
noticed the species. It may, therefore, be concluded that Dr. Bois¬ 
duval (besides a large number of other entomologists) will not allow 
the rejection of accepted catalogue names. Of him and them I enrol 
myself as a humble follower. Dr. Staudinger, with ostentatious 
pedantry, alters, on grounds like this, the names universally accepted 
by entomologists. Dr. Boisduval, when in doubt, gives the preference 
to the most diffused name. On which side does common sense lie? 
And does not an author strangely mistake the current of modern 
opinion, who, at this day, flouts a common agreement to show the 
great lengths to which a principle will carry him?* 

One other consideration remains. It was remarked so long ago as 
1837, that all names had even then become in a manner “ catalogue” 
names, inasmuch as they all depended more or less on tradition to 
identify them. Dejean (who upheld all museum names as well as all 
catalogue names) draws attention to this with much pertinence; and 
there is no doubt that his argument is stronger to-day than it was 
when first written. His words must be copied at length:— 

“ These authors think, then, that it is enough to give a Latin 
phrase and some lines of French to make us well recognise an 
insect; now the longest and most minute descriptions, the best 

* I draw attention to the fact that this introduction of the name Impudens 
to supplant Pudorina is erroneous also in the opinion of others, e. g. Dr. 

“ Quum autem in uno eodemque opere varietates ejusdem speciei ut 
diversse species descriptse et nominatse sunt, difficile interdum videri potest 
judicare, ex nomnibus datis quod retinendum sit et speciei imponendum. 
Definiendum est, quae sit forma principalis sive primitiva, cujus nomen sibi 
adsciscat species necesse est, et cujus varietates igitur reliquae sunt habendoe. 
Forma vero principalis ea existimanda est, quae frequentissime invenitur in 
patria ejus, qui primus nomina, de quibus agitur, dedit. Si id dijudicari non 
potest, vel si apparet, scriptorem ilium veram formam non cognovisse: turn 
primum ad alias rationes est confugiendum et ex nominibus, quae dederit, id 
eligendum, quod exempli gratia magis quam reliqua in hac specie tritum atque 
usitatum sit, vel quod magis aptum et idoneum videatur—et id genus alia.”— 
On European Spiders, p. 16, note ; quoting the author’s ‘ Eecensio Critica 

Thus Dr. Thorell would, in the first place, adopt the name given hy a writer 
to the typical form; he would, in the second place (if ignorant of that), take 
the name which has become most familiar. The name Pudorina is the one 
which answers to both of these descriptions. 


figures, hardly suffice, and Entomology has come to such a point, 
that we are often very much embarrased exactly to determine an 
insect, even when comparing it with the individuals which have 
served for making the description. Knowledge of species becomes 
from day to day more a science of tradition, and I think that there is 
very little difference between collection and catalogue names, and 
those which are published every day with such activity.”* 

I apprehend that the fact is as stated by Dejean; and that unless 
tradition set us right we should now, among the infinity of descriptions 
and figures, be often in doubt among twenty or thirty different species 
when trying to name a single one. Supply a sharp but ignorant 
Lepidopterist with a collection of 1000 species from different parts of the 
world. Supply him at the same time with descriptions of every 
known species. Leave him by himself with the insects and the 
books; and tell him to name all the former. He will land himself 
in hopeless doubt as to more than half of the number. Dejean is 
right; that man is in bewilderment for want of the assistance which 
others get from tradition. 

Therefore, authors who profess that they will accept no name 
which is not identified without tradition only mislead their readers. 
They do accept such names; and w 7 hen they reject a catalogue name 
on the ground that they refuse assistance from tradition, they act 
inconsistently. This point has been taken up by Dr. Staudinger. 
He saysf that where there is an “ impossibility of recognising” what 
species the author intended to indicate, the name becomes a catalogue 
name. No doubt it does ; I hope we all agree that it is pharisaical 
and absurd to allow a perfectly useless phrase of Latin to effect the 
salvation of any name. You grant the name must be dropped, if it 
have not the Latin phrase; you grant the Latin phrase is useless; 
but you uphold the name because it has the Latin phrase! Now, 
what bearing has this conclusion on the question of upholding cata¬ 
logue names? To me it appears very cogent. If you do already, 
because they have a useless scrap of Latin, uphold names which are 
not recognisable; is it not clear that you must also uphold names 
equally well identified which have not the useless scrap ? To be con¬ 
sistent you must do this; and I honour the writer (if there be one) 
who acts on the plain doctrine that a name with an unrecognisable 
description is a name without any description. You will never 
succeed in uprooting all names with an unrecognisable description; 
that is merely hopeless. If you wish to achieve consistency you 

* Cat. des Coleop. (1837), p. xi. See the above observations, mentioned 
with approval by Silbermann (4 Silb. Rev. 241). 

+ Cat. 1871, pref. xx—xxi. This had also been pointed out by the authors 
of the Dresden Code. (2 Berlin. Entom. Zeitsch. app. p. xvi.). See also Ann. 
Soc. Ent. France, ser. 3, vol. vii., 1859, pp. 590-592, where M. Amyot (who 
consistently upholds collection and catalogue names) assails the Dresden 
reasoning from the strict priority point of view. M. Reiche fid. p. 610) 
relapses into inconsistency; disagreeing with M. Amyot on catalogue names, 
and disagreeing with the Dresden rules on insufficiently identified names. 



must do it in the other way, and uphold all the names which 
are in as bad a plight. Your policy must be “ levelling up; ” that 
is to say, to preserve at once the old names and your reputation 
for consistency, you must accept the catalogue names identified by 

I have endeavoured to show that the old descriptions cannot he 
depended upon for identifying species. But it is quite clear that the 
specimen described ought to settle the point; and if “ the laws ” of 
nomenclature permit recourse to types, remarks upon the fallacious 
character of old descriptions lose much of their weight. 

Now let us see what real assistance in the way of achieving 
certainty entomologists can obtain from inspection of type-specimens. 
It is, I fear, only too plain that recourse to them increases instead of 
diminishing the doubts. The entomologist who examines an author’s 
types may find them just as the author placed them, and bearing his 
labels. On the other hand, he may find them sorted anew and 
re-arranged, without labels or with fresh ones, mixed with other 
specimens, or removed altogether from the collection. He may find 
them damaged or cleaned. He may find the author’s labels affixed 
to species for which they were not meant. He may find the place of 
the sought-for types occupied by other specimens, which thus pass 
for the types which they have displaced. Lastly, he may find a 
combination of these adverse conditions, f 

Thus, it will be seen, an inspection of an author’s types can by no 
means be relied on for a road to certainty. But (bearing in mind 
that we are upon the work of the older entomologists) let us consider 
if these be the only causes which render types of little service for 
clearing up difficulties. We have just noticed some vicissitudes 
experienced by a collection after the author has parted from it. 
Dr. Staudinger has this statement:— 

“ It happens that authors after having created species afterwards 
mix up in their collections, together with the originals, species which 
are very near to them, and that their collections present numerous 
errors of this kind even in their life-time. ”J 

Now the collection of Mr. J. F. Stephens has not undergone any 
tampering with since that author’s decease; and it contains the type- 

* Catalogue names are very generally allowed in the case of genera. 
Mr. Kirby and Mr. Crotch agree in upholding them, as virtually does 
Dr. Thorell. Mr. A. It. Wallace, on the other hand, following the British 
Association Committee, insists that they must be dropped. As before, I 
abstain from going into this question. 

+ “ Wer will aber iiberhaupt aus einer Sammlung, die ihre Schicksale und 
Zufalle erlebt hat wie jedes Ding auf Erden, die oft von Besitzer gewandert 
ist und in ihrem wehrlosen Zustande von berufenen oder unberufenen Hiinden 
rectificirt, transferirt, restaurirt, ja ganz eigentlich metamorphosirt worden 
ist, die wohl noch den Namen des urspriinglichen Besitzers tragt, aber dem 
Geiste desselben langst entfremdet ist, wer will, sage ich, aus einem so 
verschiebbaren, veranderlichen Dinge Beweise fur Stabiles herzustellen im 
Stande sein”?^-Dr. J. It. Schiner, 2 Wien. Ent. Monatsch. p. 55. 

J Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xvi.-xvii. 


specimens of species described by him. If I quote the evidence of 
some English entomologists as to the condition of it, I shall suffi¬ 
ciently corroborate Dr. Staudinger’s opinion above quoted. Mr. J. F. 
Dawson has discussed the question rather fully. He writes :*— 

“ Suppose Stephens’s collection, instead of coming to us direct from 
the hands of its compiler and owner three years ago, had become 
antiquated like the Linnean; or suppose the question of the types to 
be discussed some sixty or seventy years hence, with no more definite 
knowledge on the subject to assist the enquirer than the Stephensian 
types and the Stephensian descriptions would supply; might it not 
be argued that the types (in the instance under discussion) must be 
ignored, as they never could have been intended to represent the 
true Loppa pulicaria, Stepli., because they are antagonistic to the 
descriptions ? ” 


“ Dr. Schaum invariably refers to the Stephensian types; my 
references are frequently given to Stephens’s works, irrespective of 
the types. Now we are well aware that these do not always cor¬ 
respond, but that, on the contrary, a considerable difference is often 
found to exist between them.” 

Among several instances, Mr. Dawson cites the following :— 

“ I refer P. decor us, Stepli. Mand., to B. decorum. It is correctly 
recorded by Stephens as British, though the representatives in his 
cabinet consist of several species besides. Our author (M. Jacquelin- 
Duval), on the contrary, refers P. decorus to B. rufipes, Dufts.; always 
after these delusive types collectively. But to be consistent again, 
he ought likewise to have referred it as a synonym in part to 
B.nitidulum — to B. affine (species or variety) — to B. stomoides 
(species or variety) and (with me) to B. decorum; because the 
supposed types in the Stephensian cabinet do in fact = 1 decorum 
(the first in the row, and therefore probably the true type), 1 stomoides, 

1 affine and 3 nitidulum! In what a jolly mess of confusion and 
repetition would a synonymy founded consistently upon the types 
involve us.” 

Mr. E. W. Janson has placed on record some similar criticisms;— 

“ It not unfrequently happens that two, or in difficult genera more, 
species are mixed up in Mr. Stephens’s cabinet under the same 
specific title.”f “ Stephens’s description of Omalium planum,” he 
also remarks, ‘‘could certainly not have been drawn up from the 
specimen of 0. concinnum which now stands as the exponent of the 
species in his cabinet.”! 

And the following passage bears testimony that specimens quite 
unfit to be used for identification may be lighted upon by those who 
do succeed in discovering the veritable type:— 

“ The exponent of D. Dresdensis in the Stephensian cabinet is a 

* Ent. Ann. 1858, pp. 5G-G0. + Id. 1859, p. 119. 

x Id. 1859, pp. 137, 138. 


mere fragment, on a very suspicious looking pin, sans head, sans legs, 
in fact sans everything.”* 

Writing of the Trichoptera, f Mr. M‘Lachlan says :— 

“ Another circumstance which adds greatly to the difficulty expe¬ 
rienced in determining many species, is the bad condition of Stephens’s 
types. These have at some time been damp and mouldy, and in 
attempting to clean them the hairy covering of the wings has in many 
instances been totally destroyed, thus rendering the specimens almost 
useless as types.” 

The vicissitudes of an old type-specimen are usually greater than 
those of a fresh one. If the above-cited observations apply sometimes 
to all collections, they do so with greatest frequency to the oldest; 
and it is the identification of the oldest names which is (so far as 
types go) most doubtful. The truth of this has been shown by the 
investigations which entomologists have made. The Linnean col¬ 
lection, for instance, which is naturally the one of greatest interest, 
has been the object of some strong remarks, which I will notice 
further on. 

Dr. J. R. Scliiner has written a rather humorous paper on type 
examples, which is cited by the Dresden Congress. After depicting 
the dismay of the discoverer of a new species when his name qualifer 
is overturned for the talifer of an old collection; he announces his 
intention to break a lance in support of qualifer. He next (slightly 
altering the metaphor) places himself in the position of a judge 
deciding on the pretensions of the “ claimant” talifer, Sempronius; 
and his narrative proceeds. The specimen’s history is sifted. It is 
stuck in Ulpian’s collection, whither (through the intervention of 
Quintilian—in a round-about way by Rome, Sparta and Athens) it 
arrived at Abdera. It is reported to have been seen there, still indeed 
with the original Sempronian label,—which, moreover, may have been 
lost somewhere through an unlucky accident. 

“ On this intelligence we shake our judicial head doubtfully, give 
a look full of significance at the jury-box, and continue our High- 
pains-and-penalties Inquisition so as further to inform ourselves more 
closely concerning the personalia of our f claimant.’ There stands 
now in the Editio princeps the Cardbus talifer, Semp. His shape 
gives more the impression of ‘oblongum’ than of ‘ orbiculare,’ his 
shins are armed with powerful spurs, his coat is of the colour of 
umber, &c., &c. We compare him with the so-called description of 
the object of our search. His coat is as black as an old raven; his 
shape as round as a funny story; and of spurs or such-like there is 

* Id. 1801, p. 69. Lepidopterists and Coleopterists seem therefore to have 
met similar experiences. With Neuropterists the case is no otherwise. Dr. 
Hagen writes (Ent. Ann. 1863, p. 9):—“ The investigation of the [Stephensian] 
species is the more difficult, as the types are not labelled according to the 
Illustrations, hut according to the Catalogue, and some of them do not agree 
with the descriptions.” 

Mr. M‘Lachlan (Ent. Ann. 1862, p. 31) makes the same complaint. 

. + Ent. Ann. 1862, p. 24. 


not the smallest trace to be descried. Our hesitation has reached the 
highest pitch. We resume the trial, and lay the case before our jury 
for decision. The verdict rings out * Guilty.’ The examinee is an 
unrighteous usurper.”* 

There is no doubt that scores of names in use have been 
superseded on evidence as untrustworthy as that adduced by 
Cardbus talifer. The divergences of opinion as to types naturally 
add to (as I have said) instead of diminishing doubts. Whereas 
when the old descriptions alone are looked at, the authors find 
in this one vast source of confusion; when reference to ancient 
types is included, an additional source arises. But here as else¬ 
where it is not alone differences in judgment which set authors 
at variance ; their principles differ as well. Some authors prefer to 
place absolute reliance on type-specimens; some refer to them with a 
mental reservation; others profess to reject them in toto. 

Of the last class are the authors of the Dresden Code.f They, 
however, allow recourse to the types of Linne and Fabricius. The 
British Association Buies, which do not in terms mention type- 
specimens, appear also to exclude recourse to them, j 

Dr. Staudinger is an instance of those entomologists who accept 
type-specimens sub modo. I shall presently examine his utterances 
on the subject of identification generally ; and it will not be convenient 
to divide the subject in two. 

Those who place absolute or nearly absolute reliance upon types 
are a numerous body. Gemminger and von Harold, Amyot, Reiche, 
Guenee, and Doubleday, are of the number; besides of course all 
others (such as Dejean) who uphold collection or catalogue names. 

I need hardly remind entomologists of the importance of these 
differences. An author who has recourse to types has a means of 
identification not open to those who decline that recourse. The 
consequence is that names which to the latter mean nothing are to 
the former fully identified. In his work therefore the former restores 
them ; in his the latter rejects them. The two works may appear 
side by side with the same insect under different names; and while 
there is no accord upon this principle it affords a cause of dis¬ 
agreement which of course bears its part in complicating our 

It is certain, however, that the practice of authors in this matter 
is less divergent than are their professions; and consequently the 
disagreement is not so great a cause of confusion in names as might 
be expected. An author who goes to types satisfies himself of the 
identity of a species which he finds in the author’s collection. The 
other author, who does not go to types, learns nevertheless the 
identification which his brother has effected. While he is labouring 
to discover the meaning of a description, the other suggests the 

* 2 Wien. Ent. Monatsch, pp. 51, 52. See Dr. Scbiner’s paper cited 
2 Berlin. Ent. Zeitscb. app. p. xvii. 

+ Berlin. Ent. Zeitsch. vol. 2, app. p. xvii. \ See p. 15. 


answer to him He sees the crabbed words in quite a new light, 
and straightway identifies the name. It is plain enough that the 
authors (if there be any) w 7 ho persuade themselves they uphold no 
name that does not speak entirely for itself, accomplish a self-deception. 
There is a near approach to unanimity that the descriptions of Linne 
and Fabricius are not recognisable without tradition.* * * § The authors 
who uphold those names rely on tradition; and in the case of 
Linnean names the foundation of tradition is his types. 

Now the Dresden Congress, which forbids recourse to types for 
identification of names, makes an exception in the case of names 
given by Linne; and a more unfortunate and inconsistent exception 
could not have been made. When the door is being shut against 
other sources of confusion, it is a most inconsequential proceeding to 
keep it open for the source of confusion which is most fertile of all. 
Of all existing types, the Linnean types supply, I suppose, the 
greatest excuse for differences of opinion. 

In my judgment it would of course be preposterous to disturb 
an accepted identification of a description because it is effected by 
reference to a Linnean type; just as it is preposterous to disturb an 
accepted identification because the name when first given had no 
description. I have already said that I can see no difference between 
the two cases. But the Dresden exception permits identification of 
the Linnean and Fabrician names by means the most unsatisfactory 
and inconclusive. Dr. Staudinger writes : f— 

“ It is unfortunately a certain fact that the acquirer of the Linnean 
collection had the deplorable idea of sometimes replacing damaged 
examples by fresh, and it is nevertheless to the damaged examples 
only that the descriptions of Linne can apply.” 

Another writer makes the case much blacker:— 

“ Before the Linnean collection was placed in its present quarters, 
it was so maltreated by additions, destructions, and misplacement of 
labels, as to render it a matter of regret that it now exists at all. 
Any evidence it now furnishes is only trustworthy when confirmed by 
the descriptions.”! 

I do not know how much of the last-quoted statement is founded 
on fact;§ nor in particular what authority there is for saying that 

* See the opinions of Sclionherr, Lacordaire, Stephens, Reiche, von Harold, 
Thorell, M‘Laclilan, Staudinger, von Kiesemvetter, &c., collected in note to 
the British Association paper, post. 

+ Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xvi.-xvii. 

+ Mr. R. M‘Lachlan, Trans. Ent. Soc. Loud. 1871, p. 443. See also 
Mr. E. W. Janson, Ent. Ann. 1859, p. 136. 

§ It is probable that much has been laid to the score of “maltreatment” 
which should he ascribed to other causes. Mr. J. F. Dawson writes (Ent. Ann. 
1858, p. 50):—“ This matter simply resolves itself into the question as to the 
amount of value we are disposed to attach to the Linnean types. There in 
the Linnean collection stands an example (mutilated indeed) of B. fumigatum 
labelled Cicindela rupestris, Linn. We may assume that it has stood there as 
a type from a period antecedent to the date at which the collection was 
brought to England; because although we can easily imagine that specimens 


the collection was maltreated by “ destructions.” But it is quite 
enough for my purpose that a writer can use these expressions con¬ 
cerning the Linnean types. The result is to shake all identifications 
of Linnean species effected by recourse to the types. There is no 
doubt that many dozens of names have been thus identified; and as 
those types afford ground for such a battle royal among the list- 
makers we shall never attain stability* * if we allow a departure from 
our present identifications, f 

Recourse to types extends the field on which an author’s opinion 
makes his law, and therefore makes more ground for the inevitable 
divergences in judgment; it also supplies an additional subject for 
the warfare of discordant principles. The latter I have already lightly 
touched upon ; the former require no long discussion. Where types 
are in bad condition, one author may well see a sufficient likeness, 
where his brother detects none whatever, though both be men equally 
well instructed; and any one is free to believe in or to discredit the 
current statements as to interference with or displacement of types. 
Again, the identity of types is a matter on which the entomologist 
with a great knowledge of species is certain to come to conclusions 
different from those of one less instructed. A very slight want of 
knowledge, indeed, will prevent a list-maker from correctly appor¬ 
tioning a dozen damaged “ types ” among the species (and genera) to 
which they of right belong; and all our list-makers do not know 
everything. I conclude therefore that it cannot be said that the 

(particularly if unlabelled) may have been misplaced through, the carelessness 
of parties examining them, yet this specimen could scarcely have been intro¬ 
duced at a more recent period, because it [the species] is so extremely rare in 
England that I know of but four British examples—those in the Stephensian 
collection. But it will be said it does not agree with the Linnean description, 
which states that the legs are black, and the description must be correct; 
I am not so sure of that. That descriptions can and do err may be shown,” 

* One main difficulty is that the collections undoubtedly contain some 
species not described by the authors; and in the case (at all events) of un¬ 
labelled specimens it is doubtful whether you have under examination an 
insect which the author has described or which he has added to his collection 
after the descriptions were published. It is unreasonable to conclude that 
Linne’s collection contained no species but those he had described; and 
therefore unreasonable to attribute to Dr. J. E. Smith every difficulty which a 
ferreting (“ fureteur” Dr. Albert Breyer) list-maker finds to baftle him. 

+ The Fabrician types are not spoken of very favourably by Mr. M‘Laclilan 
(Ent. Ann. 1803, p. 155 et seq). Thus of Neuronia signata we read:— 

“ xhe type in the Banksian collection certainly does not belong to this 
genus; it is some small species so covered with fungus that it is impossible to 
■fix the genus.” 

Again of N. semifasciata :—“ This must be an error, as Eabricius’s descrip¬ 
tion applies to reticulata” &c. And we read further with reference to British 
Museum Pliryganidce, “type in bad condition,” “in very bad condition,” 
“ type almost destroyed.” See also Dr. Scliiner’s remarks on the types of 
Linne, Eabricius, Meigen, and Zetterstedt; 2 Wien. Ent. Monatsch. 54. 


existence of types brings us to certainty upon the old names—which 
is the matter I am concerned with. 

The difficulties of the old descriptions have been already * adverted 
to, and it seems unnecessary to enlarge upon them ; we have only too 
much evidence, and no argument is needed to support it. I propose, 
indeed, to adduce very few instances. Dr. Staudinger’s Catalogue and 
Mr. Kirby’s Catalogue both include the European Rhopalocera. I 
refer to the short paper printed last in this pamphlet for the opinions 
which I formed after examination of a small part of these two works. 
If that paper be considered as coming in at this place, that will not 
greatly disturb the course of discussion, and will render more intel¬ 
ligible some of the remarks which follow. It will be seen that upon 
the identification of names these two authors differ to a degree almost 
incredible; quite incredible, I feel sure, by any person not well per¬ 
suaded that the old descriptions are unrecognisable rubbish. If Dr. 
Staudinger and Mr. Kirby were the only Lepidopterological writers 
in the world (instead of being two in a crowd), entomologists would 
now be in very great perplexity on the true names of European 
Rhopalocera. As it is, (both the two works under consideration 
unsettling an existing nomenclature) it can scarcely be said that 
three-fourths of the European Rhopalocera have at this moment any 
trustworthy names at all; and it may become necessary to name large 
numbers of this group afresh by common consent, and send the 
innovating authors to oblivion, so hideous is the disorder which, by 
reason of their “ revisions,” has taken the place of our accepted 
nomenclature. If this be not done, then we must, as it seems to me, 
adopt the course already referred to,f for in the position there 
described (so far as many of the European Rhopalocera are concerned) 


The cases in which Mr. Kirby and Dr. Staudinger now print 
different names for the same species do not by any means make up 
the total number of cases in which those two authors are opposed. 
Mr. Kirby restricts himself to 1767, and restores no names of earlier 
date; while Dr. Staudinger starts from 1758. Now Mr. Kirby, who 
does not use them, cites a prodigious number of “prior” names 
(given in his Catalogue as synonyms), which Dr. Staudinger does not 
recognise ! The results are not yet felt; because, though he finds 
and identifies the names, Mr. Kirby at present refuses to restore 
them. When he shall publish a List starting from the date 1758 
or 1746, there will be a terrible addition to the number of cases in 
which he and Dr. Staudinger are dragging us different ways. All 
these forthcoming complications we are just in time to nip in the 
bud: they arise out of the old inexact descriptions, which I have 
explained as being the prime cause of learned confusion. To learn 
beforehand that such horrors are prepared for us must surely be to 
forearm us against them. Though the task is distasteful, it appears 
desirable to illustrate these remarks by instances. 

* Ante, p. 13. + Ante, p. 12. 


We will start our examination at the genus Limenitis. The 
English species of this genus has been named “ Sibylla ” and also 
“ Camilla; ” but in all recent works (including the two lists in 
question) it preserves the former name. Linne undoubtedly named 
the two sexes of our insect differently ($ Sibylla, 2 Camilla) in Syst. 
Nat. twelfth edition (1767), Both our authors agree that the Linnean 
“Camilla” (of Syst. Nat.) is the same species as his, and our, 

“ Sibylla.” 

Dr. Staudinger acknowledges and restores names found in the 
Museum Ulricse (1764); Mr. Kirby does not. If, therefore, “ Sibylla” 
be found described in the Mus. Ulr. (1764) under the name Camilla, 
Staudinger will accept this name, but Kirby will call the butterfly 
Sibylla still. Now Kirby goes to the Mus. Ulr., and there he does 
find “ Sibylla” described under the name Camilla. It is against his 
principle to take names earlier than 1767, so he does not change the 
name, but only quotes Camilla as a (prior) synonym. Staudinger, 
meanwhile, who would adopt the name Camilla from the Mus. Ulr. 
without hesitation, fails to recognise * the species there at all! The 
consequence is that he likewise (in ignorance, or by choice) retains 
Sibylla as the first name. Now, supposing Kirby to be accurate, it is 
quite clear that Staudinger ought to have rejected the name Sibylla, 
L. S. N. (1767), for Camilla , L. M. L. U. (1764). When Mr. Kirby 
publishes a list beginning from 1758 or earlier, he will have 
“ Sibylla” under the name Camilla, and thus he and Dr. Staudinger 
will be openly at difference; they are now disagreed, though, under 
present conditions, the difference does no harm. It does not signify 
whether the former author be right, or the latter, or neither. The 
disagreement between them does the mischief; and, wide as that is 
now, it seems to be not nearly so wide as it will be when the works of 
both agree on their starting-point. 

We are, however, only at the beginning of the chapter. Staudinger 
having now to adopt Camilla for the species “ Sibylla,” a new name 
must be found for the continental species “ Camilla, W.-V.,” which 
thus loses its old designation. The next name appears, according to 
Staudinger, to be Lucilla, Esp., so that would be his name for the 
continental “Camilla.” IUvularis, Sc. (1763), does not represent 
Camilla according to Dr. Staudinger, as it is a fictitious species 
described from two others; while Mr. Kirby seems to consider that 

* Die bekanntlich oft durftigen und vagen Beschreibungen und mangel- 
haften Bilder der Patres entomologise haben Hrn. Werneburg nicht abge- 
schreckt, Bestimnmngen auch bei nur sehr geringen Anhaltspunliten zu 
versuchen; &c.—Dr. Speyer, Stett. Ent. Zeitung, 1865-1866, p. 51. 

Dr. Speyer is for drawing a line. He would have the priority rule to be 
“ restricted” thus, “ Linnean names have the preference over all others; if a 
species be included in Linne’s works under more than one name, the last 
(given in the 12th edition of ‘ Systema Naturse’) put into currency by him, 
remains.” Such a rule he says “ wiirde wohl von keiner Seite her ernstlichen 
Widerspruch erfahren.” Since this, however, Dr. Staudinger has published 
his denunciatory preface (noticed further on); and Dr. Speyer would probably 
now express himself dilferently. 



the type of Bivularis, Sc., is the “ Camilla, W.-V.,” so that at this 
second stage the species now called “ Camilla” would be Bivularis, 
Sc. (1763), Kirby; Lucilla, Esp. (1778), Staud. By this name, then, 
Dr. Staudinger would call it; but the name Lucilla was pre-occupied 
in the genus, W.-V. (1776) having thus named the Neptis Lucilla of 
continental collections. Now those who admit catalogue names do not 
allow Lucilla, W.-V. (1776), to be set aside, and therefore “Lucilla, 
Esp.” (1778), could in their view not stand. If their opinion be 
correct the continental “ Camilla” has, according to Staudinger’s 
Catalogue, no name at this moment; and—holding (as I do) that a 
catalogue name, when thoroughly identified, cannot be rejected—I 
have proposed the name Anonyma for this species.* 

I must not, however, allow myself to drop the thread of this 
absorbing narration. Staudinger being driven to give to the species 
“ Camilla” the name Lucilla, Esp. (1771), he has next to find a name 
for his “ Lucilla (W.-V.), Fabr. Mant. 1787.” The next and only 
other names for this species are, according to Staudinger, Camilla, 
Esp., and Bivularis , Scop., both already disposed of. Now “ Lucilla, 
W.-V.” (Staud. Cat.), has no other name at the present moment, and 
I have named it Innominata, f thus donning the nomenclator’s 
purple twice over in two minutes. 

Our story now brings us back to Mr. Kirby, whom we left at the 
point where Dr. Staudinger took up Lucilla, Esp., as the name for 
“ Camilla.” Kirby would not allow Staudinger to take Lucilla, Esp., 
for “ Camilla,” and for this reason:— Prorsa, L. M. L. U. (1764) is, 
according .to Kirby, the absolute first name of “ Sibylla,” coming one 
page before Camilla, L. M. L. U.: therefore “ Sibylla” becomes not 
Camilla, but Prorsa (according to him); “Camilla” also becomes 
Sibylla, because Dru Drury (1773) misdescribed a variety of “ Camilla ” 
under that name, and “Camilla” was first considered a species in 
1776 ! This is precisely the sort of result the list-makers are most 
fortunate in securing. One is shown over and over again in these 
Catalogues not only that Black is White, but, en revanche, that 
White is Black as well. Dr. Staudinger has “ verified” all cases by 
“ irrefragable proofs,” and used “ the greatest care.” Mr. Kirby, who 
gives me no such assurance, produces an infinity of early names, 
which Dr. Staudinger ignores. As I am in fairness entitled to do, I 
use one author against the other. By that means I could produce in 
a month such a Synonymic List of European Bhopalocera as the 
world has not yet dreamed of. Only let the list-makers take care that 
I do not put this threat into practice. But to proceed, for there is 
much work before us. 

Dr. Staudinger had to find a new name for “ Lucilla, W.-V. Fabr. 
Mant.,” and could only hit upon pre-occupied ones. Now, Mr. Kirby 
all this time recognises no such species as “ Lucilla, W.-V.” (1776), 
at all! That name is a mere synonym, he holds, of N. Sappho, Pall. 
(1771); but Dr. Staudinger has received “irrefragable proofs” that 

* ‘ Zoologist,’ 2nd ser., no. 80, p. 3074. + ‘ Zoologist,’ ubi supra. 


Sappho, 'Pall., is no other than the name for Kirby’s N. Aceris, Lep. 
(1774)! Running both authors to ground, we find they, nevertheless, 
both give N. Aceris as the first name ! How is this accounted for ? 
Why, the authority for N. Aceris is Lepechin’s Reise, I. p. 203. 
Staudinger’s date for this work is 1768-1770; Kirby’s is 1774, 
which edition, says Dr. Staudinger, is only a later translation ! If 
Dr. Staudinger be right, Aceris (1768-70) is prior to Sappho (1771); 
but, then, if Dr. Staudinger be wrong on this point, the name of 
Aceris (according to Staudinger’s proofs) will be Sajjpho, Pall.; while 
Mr. Kirby—believing Sappho, Pall., is “ Lucilla, W.-V.”—will stand 
by Aceris —for the present.* 

Solvuntur risu tabula. “Sibylla” is Camilla; “Camilla” is 
Lucilla ; “ Lucilla” is Sappho ; “ Sappho” is Aceris. “ Camilla” is 
Sibylla; “ Sibylla” is Prorsa; Prorsa is before the commencement 
of our nomenclature. The early nomenclature is an exhilarating 
study ! There is not one of the books above quoted which was not 
already antiquated in the time of our grandfathers. 

Any idle man may run riot through these Catalogues by merely 
showing up the deficiencies of one by the virtues of the other; and 
any ambitious man may sit down a real nomenclator after executing 
(on his own account) a mere trifle of “ conscientious ” revision. I ask 
nothing better than that anybody who takes the trouble to read thus 
far should go over the names I have mentioned in the two Catalogues. 
I have not used any work to aid me but Mr. Kirby’s ‘ European 
Butterflies,’ where I find, of course, the now superseded Lucilla, 
Prorsa, &c., given as the correct names for these species. The 
reader will not fail to satisfy himself that my claims to be a 
nomenclatorf are at the lowest very arguable, and I hope he will 

* Any Lepidopterists wlio use Mr. Kirby’s List should have recourse to the 
different parts of Proc. Ent. Soc. before they put reliance on it, for the 
accomplished author has there commenced a running fire of missiles directed 
against the acceptance of his own nomenclature. 1 In the holy warfare against 
accepted names he spares none. 

A reference to Proc. 1871, p. xliv., will establish two points: first, Mr. Kirby 
has formally recanted his adhesion to 1767, and gone back at all events to 
1764, how much farther does not there appear; second, he is very much disturbed 
in his mind about the true names of the two insects which I have since 
re-named. Rem acu tetigi. I arrived at the above conclusions without seeing 
Mr. Kirby’s latest-published opinions. Whether he has formed some later 
yet it is unsafe to conjecture ; but as those referred to were communicated as 
long ago as last December, it seems probable that he has. 

+ Both these new names of mine cannot stand in the estimation of the same 
person, because the first is arrived at by upholding a catalogue name, while 
the second is arrived at by dropping it. But it seems to me that one name 
or the other is assured of immortality, and I now have much pleasure in 
asserting the accuracy of both. I will remind entomologists that, according 
to Dr. Staudinger and according to Mr. Kirby, it is compulsory to accept a 
name bestowed by a writer who finds a species without a lawful designation, 
and imposes a proper name by proper publication. Dr. Staudinger dilates on 
the point; and both he and Mr. Kirby have done the very thing. That there 
may be no doubt about proper “ publication,” I have secured the appearance 
of the new names in a scientific journal. 


improve his interleaved copy of either Catalogue by inserting at his 
leisure the following “ revised” synonymy :— 


Staud. Cat. p. 15 ; Kirby, Cat. p. 236. 

ANONYMA, Lewis, ‘ Zoologist,’ 2nd ser. 3074 (1872). 

Camilla, W.-V., p. 182 (1776), sed Camilla, L. M. L. U. p. 304 
(1764), erat Lim. Sibylla. 

Camilla recentium auctorum. 

Lucilla, Esp. 38, 2 (1778 ? post 1776), sed Lucilla, W.-V., alia 
erat sp. 

Rivularis, Sc. Ent. Carn. 165 (1763), pro parte. 

Genus NEPTIS. 

Staud. Cat. p. 16 ; Kirby, Cat. pp. 239, 240. 

INNOMINATA, Lewis, ‘ Zoologist,’ 2nd ser. 3074 (1872). 

Sappho, Pall. Reis. (1771), Kirby, Cat. 1871, p. 239 ; sed Sappho, 
Pall. Reis, erat Nept. Aceris auctorum. 

Camilla, Esper. 59, f. 1 (1780), sed Camilla, L. M. L. U. p. 304 
(1764) alia erat sp. 

Lucilla, S.-V., p. 173 (1776), n. Cat. 

Lucilla, F. Mant. 55 (1787), et recentium auctorum, sed Lucilla, 
Esp. (1778), alia erat sp. 

Thus the number-of cases in which these authors now differ upon 
the name does not at all represent the actual differences, which will 
appear when Mr. Kirby acts upon his conviction that 1767 cannot be 
defended. This farrago of disagreement at present lies concealed 
from those who do not search for it. But for the circumstance that 
Mr. Kirby had (when he wrote his Catalogue) refused to go behind 
1767, we should now be in the thick of the contentions I have just 
exposed, and hundreds of similar ones on questions of the same 
importance. If “ Camilla” be restored for.our Sibylla, we have the 
whole avalanche upon us; and the only way now to prevent 
“ Camilla” being introduced (by somebody or other)' for our Sibylla 
is to reject it as the disused name of the species. 

If I have, by wading through this synonymy, entitled myself to 
characterise my own work and that of my predecessors, I can only 
apply to it a phrase lately well known in another connection. In my 
judgment it is, from first to last, pernicious nonsense; securing for its 
compilers (whether or not that be contemplated) plenty of work and 
some measure of consequence, without a corresponding liability to 
criticism,—and insuring, without one jot of compensating benefit, 
confusion and disgust to other entomologists. It does not concern 
anyone which of these two writers is correct in individual cases; 
most likely each has excellent reasons for every speculative conclu¬ 
sion. Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi. While two authors are 
“ building up a reputation,” and being patted on the back by half the 
emulous small fry of science, they are providing for entomologists a 


never-ending worry on all manner of infinitesimal points, which 
ought never to have been raised. 

This view might have received illustration by reference to page 
after page of the two offending Catalogues. To expose every 
absurdity to which the restless industry of the list-makers has 
brought us, would involve an expenditure of time on the same work 
which I decry as worthless. Of such an inconsistency I have not 
been yet guilty; but I feel very much tempted to publish a really 
good Synonymic List, founded on the Catalogues of Dr. 0. Stau- 
dinger and Mr. W. F. Kirby. If I do it—or if any earnest 
entomologist set some quick-witted stripling to do it for him—the 
list-makers’ glory will have gone for good; and this single consider¬ 
ation nearly induces me to advertise my List forthwith. In my 
judgment “ corrections of nomenclature,” such as I am about once 
more to notice, bear to Entomology the same relation that dabbling 
in a puddle hears to an Atlantic voyage. I sincerely apologise for 
having any share in such work, but it is done with a good object. I 
cannot expect many entomologists to follow me into instances; and 
I can only confess I would not follow them if they were writing 
for me. 

Colias Edusa is one of the best-known names in entomological 
nomenclature, and it has represented our Clouded Yellow butterfly 
ever since 1787. There is no doubt whatever that this name was 
given to our butterfly, and on that all persons are agreed. In 1785 a 
gentleman, presumably fond of children, named Fourcroy, published 
a pamphlet in order to amuse their minds, and chose for his subject 
the insects caught near Paris.* The Clouded Yellow butterfly is 
found there; and Mr. Fourcroy in 1785 thought croceus an expres¬ 
sive name, and taught it to his boys. Now, either Mr. Fourcroy had 
a very small sale, or his boys never thought enough of his teaching 
to make themselves into entomologists. It happened, therefore, that 
after the boys grew up they forgot all about croceus, and everyone 
has gone on very nicely in the same ignorance for eighty-six years. 
We are, I think, justified in assuming that none of Mr. Fourcroy’s 
original subscribers are now active entomologists, and also that his 
book is not now consulted even by the little boys of Paris. No other 
book in the world contains the name. Fabricius gave the name 
Edusa two years only after Mr. Fourcroy wrote. As Fabricius was 
known and Mr. Fourcroy was not, Edusa was the name used; and 
no one of this generation, or the last either, has employed any other 
for the insect. 

In 1871 Mr. W. F. Kirby publishes a big Catalogue, and he tells 
us to abandon the name Edusa of Fabricius and take up Mr. Four- 

* “ Fourcroy’s book, in which the author does not even adopt the Linnean 
genera, is a very poor pamphlet, written without pretension, and exclusively 
intended for tyros and boys. Such a book has no scientific claim whatever; 
no greater claim than a mere catalogue, for it does not describe insects, but 
merely gives a notice of them in three or four words.”—Dr. H. Schaum, Ent. 
Ann. 1860, p. 121. 


croy’s croceus! In 1871 Dr. Staudinger publishes his Catalogue, 
and does not recognise Mr. Fourcroy’s name, nor Mr. Fourcroy 
either,—not even quoting him in his list of authors. So far so 
good; we are all content for this time to hang to Dr. Staudinger, 
and leave Mr. Fourcroy’s new pupil to amuse himself with the pretty 
croceus (which we let him have all to himself). But it is a most 
unfortunate thing that the latter will not rest satisfied. 

Another butterfly is known to all the world as Colias Hyale. The 
name was given to some species or other (of our Colias) in 1761, and 
by universal agreement has been identified with our Pale Clouded 
Yellow. No one of this generation, or the last either, has called the 
butterfly by any other name; and, in 1870, if this was not the name 
of the Pale Clouded Yellow, then that butterfly had no name at all,— 
a pretty good reason, some people would think, for letting well alone. 
Mr. Kirby was a good deal exercised early in 1870 about the unfor¬ 
tunate condition of this butterfly; but in 1871 his Catalogue 
(doubtfully) still gives Hyale as the name for it. In 1871 Dr. 
Staudinger’s Catalogue (not doubtfully) also gives Hyale as the name 
for it. Dr. Staudinger had also got a curious butterfly (which he was 
disposed to consider a hybrid) caught on the Prussian steppes, and 
this insect he writes down as a variety of Hyale, but with eight Latin 
words, or bits of words, as follows:—“al. ant. rnarg. post, lato 
nigro, 3 satur. flavus ; ” and, considering this to be a distinct form, 
he gives to it a sort of nick-name, Sareptensis . 

Mr. Kirby has now' 1 '' persuaded himself that Hyale is our new 
friend croceus or, in other words, our old friend the Clouded Yellow; 
therefore the butterfly we call Hyale must have a new name. No 
one has ever professed to name it anew; and it is the fact that 
it has never had applied to it an} r name but another Linnean one, 
Palamo, given in error. Thus our butterfly, the Hyale of ninety 
years, or nearly so, has still to be named in December, 1871 ! Dr. 
Staudinger’s funny insect out of Russia, which he nick-names Sarep¬ 
tensis, now becomes (according to Mr. Kirby) the type of our Hyale,\ 
because, says Mr. Kirby, that is the only other name for it; and, 
though it is a truly absurd one, “ we cannot avoid adopting it.” 
Can’t we, indeed ? I much doubt whether six men in Europe are so 
cracked as to follow this lead. We don’t take an accidental variety 
(aberratio, Staudinger) for our type just yet, whatever list-makers may 
bring us to in time. 

Now the ruthless author, in making this new one, most unhappily 
disposes of his other great discovery. Linne, he now says, knew our 
Clouded Yellow butterfly, and named it Hyale in 1761 ; so that we 
don’t lose the name, but transfer it to another insect. But the new¬ 
found croceus goes back into oblivion after its brief months of garish 
daylight. Poor Mr. Fourcroy ! 

Now I, for one, cannot lecture over follies like these. Edusa and 

* Proc. Eut. Soc. Loncl. 1871, pp. xlv., xlvi. 

+ For the normal butterfly I propose the name of Kirbyi, var. 


Hyale are the respective names of our two Colias, and such they will 
remain, long, long (I daresay) after Mr. Kirby has forgotten that he 
ever heard of croceus , or made that funny Sareptensis a species. 

Let me now advert to the work of Dr. Staudinger. The English 
way is rather to provide for cases as they arise, than to restrict our 
choice of expedients by laying down principles at the commencement. 
The latter is, however, the German method. The inconveniences of 
it are that it allows an author no new means of escape from new and 
unforeseen difficulties; and he has no course but to stand by and 
persist in his principles, whatever absurdity they may lead him on to. 
The author becomes, in consequence, the slave of his principles. He 
must not, it seems, acknowdedge that any person not proclaimed a 
numskull can withold his testimony to their merits. At all events, 
Dr. Staudinger’s principles domineer over Dr. Staudinger. This is 
what his principles have driven him to write of those who do not agree 
with them: — 

“ To refuse to restore the old name on the pretext that that name 
is entirelv unknown, and that its introduction is inconvenient, would 
be the mark of an obtuse and , I might say, almost egotistical intelli¬ 

This is a very pretty anathema.f Any person who holds contrary 
opinions is ipso facto a conceited noodle; and the learned writer has, 
no doubt, prepared himself to meet assailants as troublesome as that 
class of controversialists usually supplies. At all events, let us see 
what we can make of the opinions put forward by Modest Intel¬ 

Dr. Staudinger’s preface sets forth all his principles and explains 
their operation. He devotes a paragraph j to explanations of his 
leading canon :—“ Every species ought absolutely to keep the name 
under which it was first described in a proper manner, upon condition 
that this name is in conformity with the rules established by the 
nomenclature of Linne.” What follows admits many of the most 
essential facts on which the communis error argument is based. The 
passage might well have been written by Lacordaire himself, so com¬ 
pletely does it serve the turn of those who resist the resurrectionists. 

“ There is a question of priority to establish first of all, but there 

* Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xvi., xvii. Churchill has a couplet in point; hut I 

“ All don’t agree upon the rule 
That folly’s proved when he calls fool.” 

Dejean, Lacordaire, Silbermann, Delaharpe, Schaum, Newman, Breyer, 
Wallace ! All self-assertive dullards and stupid coxcombs ? It is a sad 

+ But it is more than matched by his previous declaration. “ There will 
always be, as there have always been, authors who adopt other rules contrary 
to all reason.” (Id. pp. x., xi.) 

j On pp. xvi., xvii. 


is often very great difficulty in establishing clearly the species which 
the author has wished to indicate by the name given to the description 
or figure. There are names given by the old authors which belong to 
such and such species only by a sort of tradition. This tradition 
cannot, however, be accepted if the description or the figure is con¬ 
tradictory to the form of the species. It is not even possible always 
to remove analogous doubts by inspection of the original example in 
the preserved collections of the authors. It is unhappily a certain fact 
that the acquirer of the Linnean collection conceived the deplorable 
idea of sometimes replacing damaged examples by fresh, and it is 
nevertheless to the damaged examples alone that the descriptions of 
Linne can apply. It happens, on the other hand, that authors, after 
having created species afterwards mix up in their collections, together 
with the originals, species which are very near to them, and that their 
collections present numerous errors of this kind, even in their life¬ 
time. It is therefore to be understood that it will always be difficult 
to fix the names of certain species in an absolute manner; and it has 
followed from this that distinguished modern authors have finished by 
interpreting certain descriptions in a manner altogether different from 
that of entomological tradition. It is this point which appears to me 
the most troublesome in connection with the absolute fixation of the 
names. For my part I have always verified these old names and 
their interpretation with the greatest care, and I have only accepted 
them on proofs which have appeared to me irrefragable; but I am 
far from pretending to have disposed of these questions in an absolute 

He goes on to state other difficulties in the way of securing 
certainty by means of his rules. Thus, the dates of many works 
are not known ; and the dates of others are wrongly given. Then, 
the date of actual publication has to be ascertained in cases where a 
paper was read before a learned body; and so on. 

Dr. Staudinger says nothing in support of his application of the 
priority principle; he does not even refer to any work whose opinions 
concerning it he endorses. Why not? Will anyone say that is 
because there is an agreement in the principle; and it is everywhere 
understood ? What do I read in one of the chief guides (perhaps the 
chief guide) to entomological nomenclature ? “ The principle of 

preserving the oldest of the names given to the same insect is not 
absolute; the choice between them, following the greater or less 
degree of convenience , remains free.” Dr. Staudinger and Dresden 
are not strangers; and this is the 15th rule of the famous Dresden 
Congress of 185S. Perhaps, no man being a prophet in his own 
country, Dr. Staudinger returns the compliment and takes no account 
of the Dresden Congress; but I need scarcely say more to show that 
the absolute application of the law of priority is not generally agreed 
on in Europe. I will refer, however, to the rules formulated by a 
French entomologist, M. Arnyot,* among them being that “ usage 
* In Ann. Soc. Ent. Fr., 3rd ser., vol. vii. p. 606. 


may consecrate injustices in the priority of names” as well as faults 
in their composition. That the application of the law is disputed 
hy English entomologists is not in danger of being overlooked. 
Dr. Staudinger* makes profession of “justifying himself” by ex¬ 
pounding his principles. He even says that he knows beforehand 
that he will be accused of uselessly applying them; and yet of his 
application of the main principle (without agreement on which his 
catalogue is mere waste paper) he writes only what I have quoted. 
It must be confessed that this is a bad beginning. 

The passage above copied is a confession that the resurrection 
practices do not give us certainty; in other words, do not give 
us the one thing which they are supposed to give us. I adopt what 
Dr. Staudinger has written,! and call him as a skilled witness on my 
behalf. The wonderful thing is that (with all this confession) 
Dr. Staudinger yet hardens his heart against those who* would 
willingly receive him into their friendly embraces. For, strange as 
it must appear, the very next sentence which follows is the one 
already quoted, denouncing the refusal to take a name so curiously 
hit upon as the mark of an egotistical person ! I am denounced as 
“obtuse” and “egotistical” because I have thought out for myself 
the very results which Dr. Staudinger admits occur; and because 
I act upon the conclusion! Those who take Dr. Staudinger’s data 
as a way to arrive at bis conclusions are more truly the “ obtuse.” 
They lack the refined perception which would show them that data 
have nothing to do with great principles. Only I admire the audacity 
of our author. Dr. Staudinger first lays down a conclusion in the 
teeth of all his reasons ; and then derides those who do not see the 
affair with his eyes. This is not egotism. I am glad that I am 
egotistic; for never before was it made plain to me what I escaped 
being when nature forebore to make me modest. 

Pray let us apply our minds to this subject, meaning to master it 
for ourselves, and with our own wits. Suppose that Dr. Staudinger 
in the course of his labours discovers a score of old names all agreed 
upon by everybody as indicating a certain score of well-known species. 
He sets about to test the accuracy of that agreement by his method. 

* Pref. pp. x., xi. 

+ I am equally pleased to acknowledge the corroboration which my argu¬ 
ments receive at this stage from Baron von Harold. These two authors (as 
shown on p. 11) really find a great part of my arguments for me. Baron von 
Harold (Col. Hefte, vi. p. 50) writes:— 

“ A description absolutely sufficient, availing for all time, I hold generally, 
in the greatest number of cases, to be an impossibility; for one can never 
know beforehand what character or what individual distinction we shall 
possibly in the future depend on for distinguishing, out of some closely- 
related species, one which first makes its appearance later, or which we do 
not know in nature, but only from another’s description. Anyone who has 
occupied himself with drawing up analytical tables knows right well that with 
the assorting of species it often depends on this or that character, which in 
the best descriptions frequently remains unnoticed, so that such a species 
cannot be classified at all.” 



What is his method ? I have above set out Dr. Staudinger’s whole 
explanation; and the reader is in full possession of it. He “ verifies 
the old names with the greatest care,” and “ accepts them only on 
proofs which appear to him irrefragable,” but he is “ far from pre¬ 
tending to have disposed of these questions in an absolute manner ” ! 
What does this mean? Was there ever a more fugitive explanation ? 
We are to understand, it seems, that Dr. Staudinger has exercised a 
discretion, sometimes strictly applying his principles and sometimes 
not; or that he has given the balance an inclination, and not been too 
rigorously just! Is not this mere trifling with the settlement of an 
important question ? What does an author mean by telling us that 
he has not applied his rules in an absolute manner ? Is it a proviso 
intended to cover errors hereafter to be detected? Next, what are 
his “ irrefragable proofs ” ? We are left utterly in the dark. He 
seems to say tradition will do, unless the description or figure contradict 
it. Has tradition then been adopted by Dr. Staudinger sometimes as 
“ irrefragable proof ” ? He' says it is not possible always to re¬ 
move doubts by inspection of the examples preserved. Has then 
Dr. Staudinger removed his doubts by this means sometimes? How 
has the careful verification been conducted? In short, what have 
been the means of identification ? It is impossible to say how these 
questions would be answered. Of the twenty names with which we 
started, half may be rejected and half preserved—for all we know, on 
opposite grounds. Dr. Staudinger mystifies instead of clearing up 
the subject; and provides no explanation of the modus operandi at 
all. It is of importance to know these things, and I do not make the 
demand for the sake of cavilling. The facts one way or another 
whether an author has accepted mere tradition, or has been guided 
by type specimens, may for a large number of his readers decide for 
good or bad the value of his w^ork. The greatest point of all is to 
know what names are decided on by one means and what by another; 
without this knowledge we are blindfold, and the author leads us 
where he wills. 

We are thus without a plain statement of the method adopted. 
Two or three methods are suggested which may or may not have 
been used to aid in revolutionising our nomenclature; but we are 
not told whether they were used. The work, therefore, is proof 
against definite criticism ; for it is impossible to contend on fair 
terms with an author so reticent. General expressions of “ the 
greatest care” having been taken and “irrefragable proofs” re¬ 
quired should put us on our guard against him. Dolosus versatur in 
generalibus , and you cannot fix him. Yet with only this worse than 
useless explanation of it, it is remarkable with what cool superiority 
Dr. Staudinger mentions his work. He says :*— 

“It is necessary that all should accept these changes on condition 
that the names displaced are the result of errors demonstrated and 
that the new names are legitimate. The changes are the only means 

* On pp. x., xi. 


of giving us fixity in the names. We have only applied known laws in 
a rigorous manner and consistently; and we are sure beforehand of 
being exposed to many criticisms. It was the proper course in these 
cases of two evils to choose the least; and inattackable names have 
appeared to us preferable in the interests of the natural sciences, 
whether or not those names clash or not with habits, and the rules of 

Yes; but, putting aside for the present the interests of natural 
science (taken into consideration elsewhere), let us keep to Dr. 
Staudinger himself, and see whether he has put himself in a position 
to use this language. It seems to me that he has not; and that such 
gratulations as these are in his mouth out of place. Dr. Staudinger 
rests his claim to be considered a benefactor to science upon the fixity 
which nomenclature derives from his strict application of known rules. 
But, when he comes to the point, he not only draws off from the 
strict application, but actually leaves us in the dark upon the rules 
themselves. Dr. Staudinger has used his rules (whatever they may 
be) to unsettle the names we are agreed upon; but when he wishes 
to use them in order to give us names which shall be the right ones, 
his rules appear to fail him. Then what does he do upon this ? To 
my mind his work nearly resembles the capricious production of some 
absolute authority. He does not stay his hand upon discovering 
that he cannot apply his rules. Superseding the names we use, he 
brings forward other names—arrived at he does not say how; which 
he does not say are by rule the right names; but as to which he 
does say that they are not arrived at in the only way he has any 
right to arrive at them. And all this is under the pretence of giving 
us finality! Dr. Staudinger surely cannot believe that he fulfils his 
own conditions. No one would be found so silly as to say that a 
batch of names arrived at by “ not determining questions in an 
absolute manner” secures finality. Then have Dr. Staudingers 
labours brought finality? To those who are personal believers in 
Dr. Staudinger, it is probably enough that the trusted author has 
“verified” and required “irrefragable proofs.” That cannot be 
enough for entomologists at large. Many of them, I think, would 
consider they were stultifying themselves to adopt (in the confidence 
that they are final) names determined on not by rules, not by agree¬ 
ment,—but by suspending rules and in the teeth of adverse agreement. 
I am content to let the names “ restored” in Dr. Staudinger’s Cata- 
, logue be judged by the author’s own declarations. It is necessary, 
writes Dr. Staudinger, to accept the changes “ on condition that the 
new names are legitimate. The changes are the only means of giving 
us fixity in the names.” Well, the new names of Dr. Staudinger 
are not legitimate, and do not assume to provide fixity. Let us wait 
at all events until Dr. Staudinger does absolutely judge the questions. 
To adopt these new names now is only to learn what in a few years 
we shall receive orders to forget again. So plain a declaration that 
the accuracy of these names is an open question will certainly be 


followed by an attempt to close it, made either by Dr. Staudinger or 
some one else. The questions (we are fairly told) have not yet come to 
be decided; we are now virtually asked to adopt the names ad 

In the last preceding remarks, I have been crediting to Dr. 
Staudinger that his method of dealing is at present universally 
approved. It is, however, on the contrary, peculiar to one section of 
entomologists. Let us, for instance, note the differences between his 
plan and that of Gemminger and von Harold. Dr. Staudinger 
professes to require “ irrefragable proofs ” of the identity of a name with 
a species. The list-makers just mentioned regard the difference 
between a sufficient and an insufficient description as “ incapable of 
being carried out.” They accept not only traditions and type-specimens 
(about which Dr. Staudinger’s utterances are so strange), but they go 
further and accept as conclusive a tradition concerning a type-speci¬ 
men ! Lastly, they avow their determination to uphold the Fabrician 
names at any cost, where any “plausible ” identification of them has 
been suggested. It may be thought that by comparison with Gem¬ 
minger and von Harold, Dr. Staudinger does his spiriting gently. 
In my view, however, the unsettling of an accepted nomenclature on 
principles not communicated, and applied capriciously, demands our 
most vigorous opposition; whilst authors who plainly declare that 
they will save the early names from oblivion are (without intending 
disrespect) w 7 ell-meaning enthusiasts, and not the objects of serious 

The following passage gives in a compendious form the opinions of 
Gemminger and von Harold :— 

“ There arise by various real or only assumed gradations, into which 
these specific names are divided as sufficiently or insufficiently 
described (as varieties or collective conceptions), very complicated 
combinations, which have led to the most various interpretations. 

.In by far the great majority of cases it is the 

pretence of the insufficiency of the older descriptions or the un¬ 
certainty in the meaning that seeks to do away with the oldest 
names and to introduce newer ones in their place. Since, for us, 
a decision between sufficient and insufficient description, as already 
stated, seemed practically incapable of being carried out, we have, in 
all cases v 7 hen the identity of such an alleged badly described species 
with a newer better described one was shown, preferred the older 
name and introduced the younger one in its synonymy.” 

Then, after speaking of recourse to type-specimens:— 

“ How t little decisive this last circumstance in itself is, is proved 
by the examination (almost always necessary in case of monographs) 
of the typical examples, even if they were described by the most 

approved authors of modern times.Such an identity as 

that above mentioned is not always placed beyond doubt, but in very 
many cases it rests on an assumption based entirely upon grounds 
of plausibility. In this position we find ourselves, especially, for 


example, with regard to many names of Linne, Fabricius, and 
Scopoli, whose types have been lost or so ill-treated by time that they 
give no information. Here we have, if at all possible, uncondi¬ 
tionally accepted explanations once proposed, especially if they have 
already been naturalised. Thus with us Aphodius conflagrcitus, Oliv., is 
brought forward as A. scybalarius, Fabr., although this view, defended 
by Erichson, rests only on probability, and the last-named species may 
well be A. rufescens. Here the object was not to allow the Fabrician 
name to be lost; * any plausible explanation of it commended itself 
to our acceptance, and if such an explanation was once given the 
question as to the genuine A. scybalarius appeared to us only more 
irrelevant in the interests of stability.”! 

There is great naivete throughout this passage. Messrs. Gem- 
minger and von Harold’s position may be expressed as follows:— 
“ The old descriptions are such that to talk of some species as 
sufficiently and others insufficiently described is to draw an unreal 
distinction. The same descriptions have led to the most various 
interpretations. The identity of many of the names of our oldest 
authors is accepted on nothing more than plausible grounds; and to 
prove the identity is not possible. Therefore we accept plausible 
grounds, and also accept unconditionally grounds that have appeared 
plausible to any predecessor. If this be not our stand-point, it will 
be impossible to use the old names ; and use them we must and will.” 
This is both the spirit and substance of the passage I have quoted; 
and supplies the key to Messrs. Gemminger and von Harold’s 
synonymic w'ork. 

The authors thus proceed on one principle; and to it they make 
everything subservient. The oldest names they say mast be utilised; 
and if the only way to do that be to accept guess-work in lieu of 
proof, then guess-work they accept. If this be not enough, then 
hearsay must come in ; and if no hearsay satisfies them, then recourse 
must be had to the guesses or hearsay which have satisfied some 
previous writer. The authors exhibit such a single devotion, that it 
would be evident this principle is a child of their own, even though it 
were not the fact that they are the only declared supporters of it. 

The consequence of an author making all his work subservient to 
one absolute principle of course is that, unless that principle be 
accepted, the whole work is useless. Now suppose that it appears 
not at all necessary to discover or accept the dubious names of the 

* To obtain an idea of the position in which this principle would land the 
Lepidopterists, consult M. Guenee (Noct. vol. 1, p. lix.):— 

“ The greater part of the Fabrician species do not possess the character of 
their section, and the Noctuce which he has described are in truth heaped up 

without any order and without any correlation between them. We 

are obliged, in fact, to neglect a crowd of species tvhich Fabricius created and 
named in visiting the different European cabinets, because, after all the 
attention possible, we finish almost always with an uncertainty or with finding 
over again a Noctua already given under other names.” 

•)■ Catalogus Coleopt., Einleitung, pp. x., xi. 


oldest authors. Suppose that entomologists decline to be thrown 
adrift among the “various interpretations” and “complicated com¬ 
binations” for the sake of a mere doubt. Suppose (above all) that we 
will have nothing to do with “grounds of plausibility”; and decline 
altogether to give up the names we have, for any piece of guess-work 
new or old. What becomes then of the whole fabric of Messrs. 
Gemminger and von Harold’s dissertation ? Is it not the case that 
their argument does proceed on a supposition entirely baseless? 
Entomologists have never at any time decided that it is necessary to 
find species for all the earliest names. They have never at any time 
agreed to accept guesses or hearsay with that object; much less to 
accept (as a new light) the guesses or hearsay which have satisfied a 
preceding author, but which, ex hypothesi, they themselves have 
previously ignored. I will copy here the words of another Coleopterist, 
whose opinion Messrs. Gemminger and von Harold respect.* 
Dr. Schaum, in a paper on the nomenclature of British Carabidce, f 

“ I am much opposed to the adoption of these obsolete names, 
substituted for the well-known and generally adopted appellations in 
right of priority. Such a right can be admitted only when it can be 
proved to evidence , that the species in question were indeed those 

described by the old authors.If we cultivate Entomology 

for the sake of knowledge, and not for the sake of nomenclature, I can 
see no benefit arising from an inquiry into the data of the synonyms 
compiled (and very often erroneously compiled) by Schonherr, but, on 
the contrary, a waste of time, which can be better employed in exact 
observations. What we want for the sake of knowledge is stability 
and uniformity of nomenclature, not an upsetting of it by the sub¬ 
stitution of old forgotten and very doubtful names published in works 

without or with very little scientific merit.We are at 

least bound when we overthrow a universally adopted name to furnish 
evident proofs from the descriptions of the authors, that they had 
really the species in question and only that before them; we must 
not dare to rely on tradition alone, which is always subject to doubt 
and critisism.” 

This extract is worth a whole battery of new arguments. Coleop- 
terists, then, do not accept the principle of finding species for the 
old names at any cost. There are some who spurn the “ grounds of 
plausibility,” and they refuse to “ upset nomenclature by the substi¬ 
tution of old, forgotten, and very doubtful names,” for anything short 
of evidence. This position needs no more proof; but it is useful to 
quote the opinion of an English Coleopterist. Mr. E. W. Janson J had 
already written:— 

“ It is not to be supposed that the entomologists of the continent 
will consent to the banishment of names familar to them as household 

* Notwithstanding the soreness which the latter still displays* See Col. 
Hefte, vi. p. 50. 

+ Ent. Ann. 1800, pp. 121, 122 

l Ent. Ann. 1859, p. HO. 


words, and embalmed in the laborious and conscientious works of 
Gyllenhal, Erichson, and a host of worthies too numerous to mention, 
unless full and unquestionable evidence is adduced of our right to sub¬ 
stitute for them names equally cherished by us,—precious legacies 
bequeathed to us in the writings of Kirby, Spence,” &c. 

It is since the publication of those opinions that Gemminger and 
von Harold have promulgated their principle. It is unnecessary 
to set out here a catalogue of the evils attending on attempts to 
restore the old names by the method of these authors; because I have 
been repeating them, and shall repeat them, in one form and another 
in arguments extending over many pages. In substance the matters 
alleged are :—that avowedly those names are not certain ; that they 
cannot be made certain, do all we can ; that they are strange to all 
now living, and that there is no sort of need to restore them; that 
we shall never be all agreed on them while the world lasts ; that to 
restore them magnifies confusion where that exists already, and 
introduces it where now there is none ; that the discussion of them 
occupies our minds with other men’s blunders, instead of with the 
works of nature; and that such studies are no true part of Entomo¬ 
logy at all. Such I conceive to be, shortly and simply stated, the 
objections to the resurrection practices. Of these practices Baron von 
Harold is perhaps the foremost and most doughty champion. I pre¬ 
sent him with the case which we make out against him. I concede that 
Baron von Harold is a good fighter. In his paper on nomenclature 
(in 1 Coleopterologische Hefte ’), this author shows here and there that 
he knows how to harry his opponents,—sometimes certainly at the 
sacrifice of strict justice. But I am happy to know he has said 
nothing at all that reaches a feather’s weight concerning the subject 
of this controversy. This is something above and beyond all his 
disquisitions upon modus operandi. No amount of inconsistencies 
(such as Baron von Harold has made a point of parading), if committed 
by those who share my opinion, could diminish by a single iota the 
one solid overwhelming argument, that the resurrection practices 
cause confusion, and do not dissipate it. No amount of reasoning 
that the principle is good or just will ever wipe out the proved fact 
that its operation is disastrous; no amount of scientific authority, in 
those who spend their time on this work, will prevent the reflection 
that the work is not trusted to when done. The first thing after a 
Catalogue has appeared is for its author’s friends to pick a hundred 
holes in its nomenclature; and each instalment of finality is thus 
made the direct means of showing that the work produces no such 
thing. The reason is that the names are restored from guesses and 
from hearsay. Certainty is a thing which it is not possible to refute; 
and guesses and hearsay will be open to refutation as long as the 
world endures. 

The changes which Gemminger and von Harold introduce are, 
these authors tell us, brought about by leaving proof for guess-work, 
and guess-work for hearsay, or, in default, for the guess-work or 


hearsay of others. The result which they aim at is to secure for 
as many species as possible a name taken from the earliest author, 
although (they say) that name may be in reality the name of a 
different insect, and always (on account of its want of identification) 
open to “ different interpretations.” It is by these means, then, that 
they intend to bring order out of the “ chaos of arbitrariness, confu¬ 
sion, and blunders.” Is my language disrespectful when I repeat that 
these authors are well-meaning enthusiasts ? If so, I confine myself 
to quoting Mr. H. T. Stainton. “ Unfortunately the striving for 
infinite perfection is so intense amongst many of our German 
contemporaries, that they discard useful stepping-stones in the vain 
attemjit to arrive at some firmer and more solid foundation which 
shall endure for ever.”* In the judgment of many, Messrs. Gem- 
minger and von Harold’s work (as described by themselves) will 
have only these results:—“blunders” crystallised and made per¬ 
petual, and “ confusion ” worse confounded ; while “ arbitrariness ” 
is confessedly a dominant and necessary feature. 

Baron von Harold has as many protests against other people as 
though his own conclusions would bear reasoning upon, his disserta¬ 
tion being (as usual) made the excuse for little cuts at the unbelieving 
crowd. Thus:— 

“ From the outset I must protest against the objection that the 
interests of the stability of our nomenclature demand the cessation of 
all disagreeable corrections. . . . The conservative retention of what 
is erroneous and incorrect in the domain of Entomology is as rotten 
as in that of politics or of the other sciences.”! 

Now Baron von Harold does no more than publish this protest. 
I, for one, make “ the objection that the interests of the stability of 
our nomenclature demand the cessation” of these corrections. I also 
note the incidental admission that Baron von Harold has knowledge 
of the objection, while he says nothing to combat it, and confines his 
notice of it to a protest. This is not the day when an author’s 
protest will suffice for us in place of his reasons. Entomologists 
who decline to surrender certainty in exchange for the old names 
fished out by Baron von Harold are next charged with “ the 
conservative retention of what is erroneous and incorrect.” This, I 
must say, is a feeble accusation. Granted, for the sake of argument, 
that we do retain what is incorrect; still the charge (to be worth any¬ 
thing) must mean that we retain this, when it is in our power to have 
accuracy instead. Is that in our power ? What is it, pray, that is to 
be given to us when we have made this surrender ? Only the oldest 
names arrived at by the process we have had explained to us ? Does 
Baron von Harold presume to call the use of such names accuracy ? 
While there remain any old names not identified, all names later in 
date have (in his view) an insecure title. The name is only certain 
when it is so old that there are no unidentified names behind it! 
Therefore the use of an old name for an insect doubtfully identified 

* Ent. Ann. 1859, pref. iv. + Col. Hefte, vi. pp. 37, S8. 


with it is accuracy, and any question as to what insect the name really 
refers to is “ irrelevant in the interests of stability”! This is a plain 
statement of this author’s opinion, and not in any respect a travestie. 
We hold, then, “ the incorrect,” if Baron von Harold pleases to think 
so. But to imply that in refusing to abide by his speculative guesses 
we also reject the accurate , is a ludicrous charge; and as such I leave 
it. Baron von Harold also writes : *— 

“ In by far the great majority of cases it is the pretence (Vonvand) 
of the insufficiency of the older descriptions or the uncertainty 
in their meaning that seeks to do away with the oldest names, and to 
introduce newer ones in their place.” 

The allegation that the old descriptions are insufficient is a “ pre¬ 
tence”? The uncertainty in their meaning is a “ pretence ” ? Do 
the same insufficiency and uncertainty, which to Baron von Harold 
are a scientific fact, grow then into a pretence when made use of in 
argument by his opponents ? This insufficiency and this uncertainty 
are made to justify Baron von Harold in his recourse to guesses and 
hearsay. This it is which is made the very foundation of his 
remarks about “ plausibility” and “ naturalisation.” Those who share 
his opinion on the facts—and only differ from him concerning the 
proposals, which he bases upon them—are making use of a pretence ; 
therefore it is superfluous to ask what Baron von Harold makes use 
of. Men impressed with the sovereign importance of some one prin¬ 
ciple are often, I suppose, unjust to opponents. 

I have now almost done with Baron von Harold. Since a decision 
between sufficient and insufficient descriptions is not possible, he has, 
“ in all cases when the identity of such an alleged badly-described 
species with a newer better-described one ivas shown, preferred the 
older name, and introduced the younger one in its synonymy.” Now, 
here I am thrown back on the same ground where Dr. Staudinger 
placed me. The clause, “when the identity was shown,” begs the 
question, and concludes all criticism. By what means, may I ask, are 
we to understand that identity is shown ? It is not, I trust, wasting 
time to insist once more that writing of this kind will not do. In that 
one clause there lies matter enough for pages upon pages of argument 
and explanation ; and when the object is nothing less than to revolu¬ 
tionise our nomenclature, that argument and explanation must be 
forthcoming. Anyone professing to be a man of science must, if he 
want his work to be permanent, supply us with the fullest means of 
testing his conclusions. When, on the other hand, the acceptance of 
them is left to depend on personal confidence in the author, that man 
is doing nothing towards the true settlement of any question which 
he touches. 

An endeavour has been made in one (not important) quarter to fix 
upon me the stigma of proposing to glorify popular mistakes. It is 
necessary to explain that communis error means a “ universal” (not a 
“vulgar”) error. But Baron von Harold justifies the proposal to 

* Catal. Coleopt., ubi supra. 



perpetuate error, in cases where that may be neither universal nor 
general. He will “especially” not disturb any “naturalised” expla¬ 
nation of a description. When any plausible explanation has once 
been given, he will adopt that, although at the time of adopting it he 
be satisfied that the identification is arbitrary or a guess, and that 
other given identifications are equally plausible. He winds up by 
declaring that the question, whether the species bearing the name be 
or be not really the species intended, is irrelevant , and he declines to 
entertain it! This is, at least, explicit. Fortunately, we have already 
seen that Baron von Harold has opponents. 

There is one suggestion for the termination of differences which 
deserves notice. Dr. Thorell* says :— 

“ The species of the older writers are, as is well known, often 
difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine with certainty. With 
respect to them I have, in applicable cases, laid it down as a rule to 
preserve the determinations accepted by modern arachnologists who 
have lived in the country where the species described by the author in 
question have been collected. It is evident that a French naturalist 
has the best opportunities for studying the French spiders, &c.... as, 
also, we Swedes ought to be best acquainted with the Swedish forms 
described by Clerck, Linne, and De Geer. Tradition has here a 
significancy that must not be undervalued. It is only in cases in 
which I have supposed myself able to show that an evident mistake 
has been made, that I have deviated from this rule.” 

It strikes one that Dr. Tliorell has rather obscured the sense of this 
passage by bringing in a reference to “ tradition,” besides raising the 
spirit of opposition in those who will not have tradition at any price. 
On this head I can only repeat that the doctrine about a scrap of 
Latin effecting the salvation of the name accompanying, is a mere 
salve to conscience, and that tradition must either be good for every¬ 
thing or good for naught. Those who adopt a score of names, 
identifying them solely by the light of “ tradition,” and who refuse by 
the same light to identify a score of others, are only inconsistent, and 
not methodical, as they probably suppose. 

Dr. Thorell has made it a rule to accept the interpretations of local 
entomologists, in cases where the old authors named are not clear. It 
is impossible not to recognise in this a very intelligent proposal; and 
I wish that I could feel any assurance that the rule is workable,—or 
was persuaded, indeed, that the reasons given justify it. It is, in 
strictness, enough to mention the “rule” as one more element of dis¬ 
agreement ; for here we again come upon a principle peculiar to one 
author, and not assented to by others. But, in truth, I think 
Dr. Thorell’s careful writing deserves that all who find themselves 
with the opportunity should explain their opinions upon it. 

The objection to this “rule” consists, to my mind, in the word, 
Why ? Why are the Swedish entomologists best able to determine 
on the Swedish insects described by Linne ? Only because (I assume) 

* ‘ European Spiders,’ p. 15. 


they know what insects are or are not likely to be intended. But, 
how is that the case more with them than with others ? The author’s 
reasoning properly carries us thus far, that putting out of mind 
all species not indigenous to the country, the number from which the 
identification has to be made is reduced. No insects shall be held to 
be intended, by ‘Fauna Suecica’ descriptions, but such as are now 
found in Sweden.* But the knowledge, whether or not a given 
insect is found in Sweden, is not confined to Swedes. The basis once 
agreed on, an English or German entomologist is, it seems to me, as 
likely to make the right decision as a Swede; and the mere fact that 
he, like the insect, is an aboriginal, is removed from the question. 
That the “rule” is not workable for others, would, I suppose, be 
conceded. The list-makers of Germany, for instance, would have 
stayed their hands long ago, if they had ever intended to be checked 
by reflections that other people had done their work better. Would 
the least opinionated “ reformer” keep back his new identification of 
a Linnean name because the Swedish entomologists differed from 
him ? 

But, after all, Dr. Thorell’s rule does not go all the way. He does 
not suggest that an author’s fellow-countrymen are his best interpre¬ 
ters. He only contends that Swedes ought to know best what Swedish 
insect was intended by the old Swedish authors. Now, in how many 
cases do we know that Linne, for instance, was describing a Swedish 
insect? Putting aside all the species comprised in ‘ Fauna Suecica,’ 
are we not even entitled to assume that the others described in 
‘ Systerna Naturae ’ w r ere at the time not Swedish, to the author’s 
knowledge? It seems, at the first blush, that this conclusion must 
be drawn. Then where does Dr. Thorell’s rule come in? It is clear 
that on this ground we cannot use that rule for ‘ Systema Naturae ’ 
descriptions, and its operations would, therefore, be very limited, so 
far as Linne is concerned; while for interpretation of the European 
Faunas of Esper, Borkhausen, and others, it is of no use at all. 

If this rule be meant to inculcate that a Swede can always find a 
species for every ‘ Fauna Suecica’ name,—and it goes, at all events, 
some length in that direction,—it ought to meet with uncompromising 
opposition. A more certain road than this to the resurrection of 
unrecognisable names there could not be. Moreover, the attitude of 
the different obscure authors’ fellow-countrymen would soon grow to 
be highly defiant, and they w r ould brook no contradiction of their 
identifications, however wild. I look with much dread to any extension 
of this patriotic element in science. As it is, nobody dares criticise 
York Minster to anyone born within the county; and when “Linne 
lived in Sweden, and so do I,” counts for an entomological argument, 
we shall arrive at a pretty pass. I by no means wish to imply that 
Dr. Thorell, or any Swede, would be capable of adopting that tone. 

I have mentionedf another cause of difference among authors, viz., 
the frequent occurrence in the old books of “ a name which, when 
* See Baron von Harold, Col. Hefte, vi. p. 50. + Ante, p. 17. 


first bestowed was identical with that of another species in the same 

The old genera were very different things from the genera of this 
age. All the Butterflies, for instance, were till 1801 included in the 
genus Papilio (the divisions with which Scopoli amused himself not 
being acknowledged). Now before the year 1801 it was very much 
the fashion to take specific names from the roll of demi-gods, or 
persons who flourished in the heroic age.* This list being 
limited, and the authors having their predilections, it happened 
that the names of some popular personages were borrowed more 
than once. Ulysses with round wings and Ulysses a swallow-tail, 
when both had the generic name Papilio, were not by name iden¬ 
tified sufficiently; nay, they were actually confounded. Hence 
the rule that no insect shall bear the same name as another in the 
same genus; and it is a regulation that such a name if given must 
be changed for the next name, or for a new one. However, the old 
entomologists (though often fanciful on paper) were in practice no 
great sticklers, and two or more species in the large genera not rarely 
received and bore the same name. Now arise the “ reformers,” and 
as their laws are all retrospective as well as prospective, some assume 
the right to alter every specific name which when bestowed was 
identical with another in the genus. From the previous sketch,! the 
consequences to our nomenclature of such an interference can be 
imagined. To the honour of Dr. Staudinger be it said that he curbs 
himself here to an extent which is really remarkable. The large 
genera of Linne (in the Lepidoptera at least) are all now minutely 
subdivided; and a species may now find itself far removed from its 
namesake. Dr. Staudinger will not f alter the later name where the 
insect has not received any new name during the time when the two 
species were included in the same genus. Thus were Ulysses to have 
continued the only name both for the swallow-tail and the other 

* Not, as is now the practice, from the Post-Office Directory. See the 
‘Zoologist’ for January, 1872, p. 2897, for some remarks on the fifteen 
Boisduvalii, and fourteen Hewitsonii (!!) of our present nomenclature. 
Upwards of one-fifth of the British Tortrices are named after some man. 
Some names of this kind were, however, given by Linne and Fabricius; and 
the sort of “immortality” thus conferred is shown to be not very extensive. 
Thus the authors of the ‘Accentuated List,’ in their shots at the meaning of 
names, have been regularly puzzled by Grotiana and Dipoltana. The former 
they go so far as to say is “probably in honour of an entomologist of the name 
of Grote; ” but, not choosing to risk so much as a guess at the root of 
Dipoltana, they suggest that that name “is probably in honour of some 
naturalist ”! 

If I ever have the luck to catch a new anything, I shall certainly name it 
after the dealer who made my collecting-box; and, as I have in use a number 
of different ones, it will be exciting when the time comes to decide whose 
“ best cork-line ditto ” shall receive the captive. Something, however, depends 
on the thing’s genus; Cookiensis may best suit one generic name, Gardnerosa 

+ Ante, pp. 13-15. 

\ Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xviii.-xxi. 


until the two found themselves in separate genera, Dr. Staudinger 
lets Ulysses stand for both. But the rule works untold mischief even 
when thus restricted. 

The old genus Phalcena or Geometra was not touched till Dr. Leach 
began to subdivide it; and his first genus was instituted only in 1814. 
Let us w r atch the operation of this rule in the case of one Geometra, 
viz. Asthena sylvata. 

Donovan, in 1810, figured our sylvata under the name testaceata; 
and Dr. Staudinger found that out in 1871. The trifling circum¬ 
stance that the moth had been called sylvata for about a century 
before (1776 to 1871) and that Donovan’s name has not been copied 
by any single author in the world, does not touch Dr. Staudinger, of 
course. The tempting feat is to force Donovan’s name on a reluctant 
public, and by the help of this rule Dr. Staudinger does the trick. 

The name sylvata, W.-Y. (1776) is first disposed of in the usual 
funny w 7 ay : “ n. Cat.” writes Dr. Staudinger against the universally 
employed sylvata, and thus makes a promising start. Hiibner, how¬ 
ever, in or about 1800 likewise gave the insect as sylvata, so, unless 
that name also be superseded, Donovan’s name cannot come in. Now 
the list-maker invokes his rule; and his rule serves him nobly. 
Sylvata, Hiibner (1800) is shunted because Scopoli (in 1763—which 
is before our nomenclature begins, according to some*) thus named 
another Geometra, viz. Abraxas ulmata of our collections. Here is 
another case for “reformers” to rejoice over. Neither sylvata, Scop., 
nor testaceata, Don., has been used by any single writer since the day 
when it was published. Both sylvata, W.-Y., and ulmata, Fabr., are 
in universal employ and have been for about a century. 

Mr. Kirby would preserve both these names; at least it appears 
that he does not recognise Dr. Staudinger’s rule. Mr. Kirby gives no 
statement of his rules, and I have not yet been at the pains to go 
all through his Catalogue in order to tabulate them for myself. But 
I will take an instance which shows (if it show nothing else) that 
Mr. Kirby is once more at difference with Dr. Staudinger. Charaxes 
Jasius, a species once reputed to be caught in Ireland, was named by 
Linne in 1767. So also was Papilio Jason; but the latter name was 
first published in 1764. Linnef gives the former insect under the 
name Jason, but corrects that into Jasius in his Addenda to the same 
volume. Mr. Kirby, for some reason,—which it is useless to inquire, 
because Mr. Kirby does not state it,—ignores this correction and gives 
the butterfly under the name Jason. 

Therefore (according to Kirby) we had in 1767 two species Jason, 

* The British Association are no longer of this number, because, by a set 
of revised rules,—which have been kept dark, and are neither known nor 
followed,—they ridiculously make an exception from the date of 1767 of the 
works of Artedi and Scopoli, published earlier! This extraordinary provision 
hears out what has been said {ante, p. 8) that “the tendency seems to he to 
shift the commencement as far back as possible; ” hut it certainly answers to 
Mr. Wallace’s description of it, viz., an “illogical compromise.” 

+ In Syst. Nat., 12th edition, p. 749. 


both in the genus Papilio, at the same time. They are now in 
separate genera; Jason (1764) remains in Papilio; Jason (1767) 
belongs to Nymphalis of Kirby’s Catalogue or Charaxes of other 
people. If, before this separation took place, the later ( Charaxes ) 
Jason had received another name, that later name must come in— 
according to Staudinger’s rule. 

Hiibner did name this Jason afresh in 1794; for in that year he 
figured the butterfly as Papilio Rhea. The genus Papilio was not 
subdivided till seven years later. Therefore the rule applies; and 
Nymphalis Jason (Kirby) ought to be Nymphalis Rhea. Mr. Kirby 
leaves both insects under the name Jason: I conclude therefore that 
Dr. Staudinger’s rule is not his. 

Now let us look at Dr. Staudinger, who says he does adhere to 
this rule. Why, there at p. 15 reposes Charaxes Jasius as serene as 
if no Dr. Staudinger existed in all the world! This is another case, 
then, where the two writers disagree on identifications. Kirby has 
recognised the Jason L.M.L.U. (1764): Staudinger has not. Kirby 
has once more shown that Staudinger, by Staudinger’s rules, ought 
to do what Staudinger thinks he ought not. Staudinger has once 
more retorted that Kirby is all under a mistake; insisting that 
Kirby’s Jason out of M. L. U. is not recognisable and has not any 
“ proofs.” It is the bare truth that a single minute’s dip into these 
pretentious Catalogues brings you to contradiction after contradiction 
of this kind, which no one can determine; and the slightest comparison 
of the two works forces one into noticing them. But at all events it 
appears that Mr. Kirby could not supersede sylvata for testaceata of 
Donovan; and though that is a small mercy, I for one am heartily 
thankful for it. 

I hope it is not necessary to take any "more instances. The “rule” 
is of great importance, and its effect on the stability of nomenclature 
is disastrous, because, like the other changes, it sets the ball rolling 
which on its w 7 ay knocks over no one can say how many accepted 
names. The rule appears to me artificial and quite unnecessary; and 
I regard its application as the very cream of pedantry. I hope 
Mr. Kirby does ignore it; but (as he does not state the rules which 
he observes) it is impossible to say whether he takes a given course 
in obedience to rule, or through mistake. His work, therefore, eludes 
my criticism; but I will trust that he has in the case mentioned 
preserved both names designedly, and because he discards the 
“ rule.” 

Two other causes of difference were mentioned :* the naming of a 
species twice over by its author in the same work; and the occurrence 
of names nonsensical or not properly constructed. Both these are 
minor matters, but both afford plenty of ground for disagreement, if 
not for inconsistency. 

The commonest case of double naming (by the same author) is 
supplied by a salient difference in the sexes of an insect. The 

* Ante, p. 6. 


Dresden Congress, and a number of writers,—including Professor 
Westwood, Dr. Staudinger, and Mr. Kirby,—have expressed them¬ 
selves in favour of upholding the name given to the male. 
Dr. Knaggs has made profession of preferring that given to the 
female. Mr. Kirby, however, since publishing his opinion, has 
altered it on this point also, and now stands by the name which is 
“prior.” Dr. Staudinger is also inconsistent; and I cannot say to 
which side the balance of authority now inclines. I have remarked 
slightly on Dr. Knaggs’ application of his principle,* * * § mentioning 
some cases in which he is not consistent. Dr. Staudinger 
writes: f— 

“ If a species have been named differently under the male and 
female forms, the species ought to keep the name of the male.” 

We will go straight to page 56 of his Catalogue, and take the case 
of Nemeophila russula, Linn. Remark what concessions to communis 
error learned writers are sometimes forced to make. Linne named 
the male sannio, and the female russula, both in the same work, 
‘ Systema Naturae,’ tenth edition. The male name sannio is, more¬ 
over, before russula in the order. Strange to say, Dr. Staudinger 
calls the insect russula, his practice being thus in defiance of his 
principle, and of priority itself. Mr. Kirby would not do this 
for he gives the Meadow Brown butterfly under its female name, 
Jurtina, because that name comes one place before Janira in 
the order. As I have said, Mr. Kirby had previously declared for the 
male name ] against the prior name. At the time his Catalogue was 
printed he declared for the prior name; and what name he now 
declares for I do not venture to surmise. 

It is quite unnecessary to notice these differences at length. 
There is no sort of agreement among authors, the majority, no doubt, 
not having any rule at all. The Order Hyrnenoptera is probably 
the one in which specific sexual differences have led the writers most 
astray; and as to them I may quote from the review of Mr. F. 
Smith’s recent Catalogued 

“ Mr. Smith sometimes adopts the trivial name of the male, some¬ 
times that of the female. ... Out of ten cases it will be seen that 
Mr. Smith adopts the $ name in five, and the 2 in five; and I 
believe a like impartiality will be found to have been exercised, if all 
the instances of the kind which occur in the Catalogues were 
tabulated. Priority of place in the volume manifestly has not had 
any weight; and what the principle of selection is I cannot 

* Trans. Ent. Soc. 1871, p. 345; see also Mr. T. H. Briggs, 8 Ent. Mo. 
Mag. 94. 

+ Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xx., xxi. 

{ Proc. Ent. Soc. 1868, p. xliii. 

§ 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 223. 

|| Mr. Dunning adds:—“ though I have no doubt that a good reason exists 
for each particular selection.” The reason, I venture to hope, is the all- 


An author who has most consistently named the same insect more 
than once is Linne ; and it is amusing to observe the muddle which 
resurrectionists have got themselves into about his names. The first 
name, we are told, is identified for ever with the insect, and 
the insect with the first name. If this be the “ law,” why on earth 
should it not be applied to the Linnean names ? Before absolute 
priority men were born to us, entomologists had agreed to use the 
later names of Linne; and, when the new doctrine arose, it met with 
a great difficulty. It appeared so monstrous to reintroduce names 
abolished by common consent (where the common consent could be 
shown so clearly), that the resurrectionists paled before the attempt, 
and ingeniously “ drew a line” at 1767. That is to say, the holders of 
the doctrine of strict priority found at the very outset what, in their 
creed, was a universal error. That error was too big for them ; so they 
“ drew a line,” and retired behind it with what dignity they could 
muster. In that instant they acknowledged that communis error facit 
jus. To draw any such line is, in my judgment, not only to “yield 
the main point in dispute,”* * but to surrender the principle contended 
for. Dr. Staudinger, moreover, thinks the same. “If,” he says, “ we 
allow to Linne the right of changing names and replacing them by 
others, we accept a precedent which may be imitated by other writers 
in Natural History.”! Considering that, with scarcely an exception, 
the earlier Linnean names were changed by Linne,]; and that the 
later names are everywhere in use, we have (now that the list-makers 
are awakened to the desirability of restoring the first) a pretty number 
of “ rectifications ” to look forward to. When they come, we shall be 
bound to accept them; if we do not determine to make a stand at 
once and reject those now proposed to us. 

Another class of names on which authors are divided comprises 
those which convey false information ; those which have no appro¬ 
priate Latin form; and those which display philological inaccuracy in 
their formation. 

First, as to names conveying false information. The British 
Association rules, and Dr. Staudinger’s last preface, put the two 
views in contrast; and we need not look any further. The eleventh 
rule of the British Association Committee (1842) is :—“A name may 
be changed when it implies a false proposition, which is likely to 
propagate important errors.” In the preliminary explanations the 
Committee advise the rejection of the name nigra for a species which 

sufficient one that the name preferred is that in use. If so, there could 
not be a better one. 

I would willingly supplement each attempt at criticism with professions 
that I believe in the good reasons of the author. I only do not follow 
this course, because it would make the pamphlet read like one long apology, 
and that could not fail to depress my readers. 

* Mr. W. F. Kirby, B Ent. Mo. Mag. 142. 

+ Cat. 1871, pref. pp. x., xi. See Dr. Speyer’s view, ante , p. 29 (note). 

+ Mr. Kirby, 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 42. 


is not black. They also “ feel justified in cancelling” names derived 
from an accidental monstrosity, as Picus semirostris, Linn. The 
Committee remark that the privilege of rejecting such names is “ very 
liable to abuse, and ought therefore to be applied only to extreme 
cases aud with great caution”—a proviso which deprives the rule of 
the weight it might otherwise have had. It seems that the Committee 
would have done much better to leave alone a subject on which it is 
evident they could not make up their minds. Dr. Staudinger, if he 
could have his way, would permit no change at all on such grounds. 
And so far I believe Dr. Staudinger has the great body of entomolo¬ 
gists entirely with him.* 

Names which are nonsensical, and have not a Latin look, the 
Dresden Congress and Dr. Staudinger repudiate altogether. Dr.Wocke, 
however, does not agree with them, and Gemminger and von Harold 
accept the names (inconsistently—as Staudinger points out). There 
has been an overwhelming amount of discussion on the rejection or 
acceptance of such names as (Calodera) Meek and (Thais) Cerisy; and it 
is not safe to decide on which side the balance of opinion is. Enough to 
say that some entomologists will not alter such names at all, but claim 
strict priority for all of them ; others will Latinise the original name; 
and it appears to be a very general opinion that a proper correction 
of such names is allowable and a duty. This question only concerns 
me to a very slight extent; namely, so far as the dissensions of authors 
concerning it tend to make nomenclature additionally uncertain. 
I confess that I rest no great weight upon these differences: the 
“rectifications” are in the vast majority of cases only slight, and 
nearly all the names “ rectified ” are recognisable after the process. 
Those who wish to go into the subject at length will find as much 
reasoning as they can want, if they consult the following references :— 
Dejean, Cat. 1837, p. xii.; Berlin. Ent. Zeitsch., vol. 2, app., pp. xii.- 
xiv.; Ann. Soc. Ent. Fr., vol. vii. pp. 577-582, 602-604, 608, and 
Bull, lix.-lxxiv., cxcvii.-ccv.; Gemminger and von Harold, Cat. 
Coleopt. pref. pp. xvi.-xviii.; Thorell, European Spiders, pp. 12-14; 
Staudinger, Cat. 1871, pref. pp. x.-xiii.; 4 Ent. Mo. Mag. 259, 280 ; 
5 Ent. Mo. Mag. 181,182, 186 ; 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 254, 294. I think 
any entomologist who reads all the above-cited papers will not fail to 
come to the conclusion that there is a great deal to be said on both 

A considerable number of small points of difference also arise, 
though it is not worth while to occupy time in discussing them. 
Thus, some authors will not allow two similar names in the same 

* It is amusing enough to be told that we may alter nigra into “ olivacea” 
if we choose. As every season witnesses the introduction of a “new colour” 
(with a new name to correspond), the old rufa and purpurea would soon find 
critics to say that the real shade is more exactly expressed by mauvea or 
Magentica ! The very “ olivacea ” indeed which stands for the rejected nigra 
might two years ago have been called cegri-Bismarcica ; but then what is the 
“lateinisch oder latinisirt” form of “ sang de Prusse”? 



genus. Of this number is Boisduval; Staudinger, on the other hand, 
rather likes such things, and prints aqueata and aquata both in the 
genus Cidaria. The case (such as Selene and Selenis in one genus) 
will also be found mentioned in Guenee’s Phalenites, vol. 1, p. xxxv. 
and elsewhere. Again, where a specific name has been taken for the 
generic name, as in the case of Cossus, the authors are greatly bothered 
how to work the priority rule. See, for instance, Bdv. Lep. vol. 1, 
p. vi.; British Association Rules, pp. 15-16; Staud. Cat. 1871, 
pref. xx.—xxi.; Thorell, Eur. Spiders, 11 note. 

Finally, there is one not infrequent cause of learned-looking dis¬ 
agreement, which it is necessary to notice in its turn, although no large 
amount of discussion upon it is desirable. I refer to quackery in an 
author when “revising ’’synonymy,or identifying old names. The name 
[Atropos) pulsatoria has recently been superseded (by two writers) for 
reasons of one sort and another, highly unsatisfactory in their nature, 
but not proper to be examined here. The history of the same insect 
furnishes, however, such an insight into the astonishing chicanery of 
which even an established writer can be guilty, that I feel bound to 
notice that among the causes of disagreement upon names. 

Dr. Hagen (in Ent. Ann. 1861; see pp. 21-22) gave a synopsis of 
the British Psocidce. The Linnean pulsatoria he there placed in the 
genus Atropos , which he thus defined:—“Eyes slightly prominent; 
ocelli wanting; antennae with about fifteen joints, the two basal joints 
more robust; thorax flat; wings wanting; posterior thighs much 
thickened; tarsi tri-articulate.” Dr. Hagen, therefore, had before 
1801 satisfied himself that pulsatoria had “Antennae with about 
fifteen joints” and was without wings; also that it had “posterior 
thighs much thickened.” I expressly draw attention to the fact that 
pulsatoria is the only species of the genus Atropos there given; the 
species used for a type must therefore be this and no other. 

In 1861, Dr. Hagen placed studiosa, Westw., in Clothilla, Westw. 
Of this genus Dr. Hagen gave the following (among other) cha¬ 
racters :—“Antennae consisting of about twenty-seven joints, the two 
basal joiuts more robust; in the place of the anterior wings two small 
leather-like scales, without veins, fringed on the margin; legs not 
thickened.” I expressly draw attention to the fact that studiosa is the 
only species of the genus Clothilla there given; the species used for a 
type must therefore be this and no other. 

Row th q Atropos of 1861 is the Clothilla of 1865.* The insect 
• which had a bare back, 15-jointed antennae and thickened thighs, 

has now leather-like winglets, 27-jointed antennae and “legs not 
thickened”! In addition, the genus Clothilla, Westw., defined in 
1861 as having “legs not thickened,” has in 1865 (when it has to 
receive the Linnean pulsatoria) “ femora dilated ” ! But this is not all 
by any means. According to Dr. Hagen’s (and Mr. R. M‘Lachlan’s) 
identification, pulsatoria is a Clothilla, and is moreover synonymous 
with Westwood’s studiosa. Therefore the same insect is described by 

* 2 Ent. Mo. Mag. 122. 


Dr. Hagen twice over on two adjoining pages with opposite structural 
characters ! That is not bad to start with. 

Now take the case of Termes fatidicum, Linn. Dr. Hagen says; *— 
“ I do not know this species. Linne says that it is twice as large as 
T. pulsaturium (Clothilla), which species is larger than A. divinatoria; 
otherwise one would consider it to be the latter species. Habitat: 
Southern Europe ; in dried plants received from Rolander.” This is 
all Dr. Hagen can gather of fatidicum —an insect which he never 
saw himself, and which no one he has ever spoken to ever saw (or 
identified), and of whose structure or peculiarities no one has ever 
given a description. Now will it be believed that Dr. Hagen—after 
the severe fall which he had already given himself—has the temerity 
to place “ A. fatidica, Linne,” in a genus with all the following 
characters :—“ Meso- and meta- thorax united ; antennae with seven¬ 
teen joints, thread fine ; without wings; femora dilated; second joint 
of the tarsi short ” (!!!) Was there ever a more ridiculous farce '? It 
may be said that Dr. Hagen has a good reputation among entomologists. 
I am not concerned with that. Until I detect more responsi¬ 
bility in an author, I hold myself entitled to ignore all the changes 
he may introduce. To give up the name pidsatoria (which all the 
world is agreed on) for the conclusions of a writer who does his 
work in such a reckless way as this, would be a sign of continued belief 
in his accuracy. I have given my reasons for holding a belief which 
is quite opposite.! 

Now a few words on the way in which this important question has 
been treated. The majority, as I believe, of leading entomologists are 
strongly adverse to the resurrection practices, but with some of them 
it is true that discussion is not in their line, and the really scientific 
have shown no disposition to waste their time over a question of names; 
so that it has fallen to the writer of these hurried sentences to deal as 

best he mav with the inventors and advocates of the resurrection 


system. In the first place, then, they take up a very uncommon con¬ 
troversial attitude for men who conceive they are furthering the 
solution of a scientific question. With the solitary exception of 
Mr. Kirby, who used several arguments really directed to the matters 
in dispute, nobody has put forward on the side of the list-makers any 

* 2 Ent. Mo. Mag. 121. 

\ Under this head it seems proper to include the case, such as lately 
occurred at the Entomological Society, of an entomologist publishing a conclu¬ 
sion which half an hour afterwards he turns his hack on. Few things are more 
ludicrous than Mr. R. M‘Lachlan’s “Identification of Myrmeleon” as printed in 
Trans. Ent. Soc. 1871, p. 441, taken in contrast with the paper as read before 
the Society. The accomplished writer’s positive language (“ I absolutely 
refuse,” &c.) is—consicleriug that the paper as read arrived at a conclusion 
exactly opposite to that of the paper as printed—almost too funny.. The “ syno¬ 
nymic labours” of an author who publishes conclusions so little digested must 
he worth a great deal less than nothing. It is, I presume, owing to some over¬ 
sight that the Proceedings of the meeting of November 20, 1871, do not 
mention the discussion of Mr. R. M‘Lachlan’s paper. It is the more unfortu¬ 
nate, because Mr. M‘Lachlan happens to be at present himself the Secretary. 



answer worthy of the name. To Mr. Kirby’s points I will reply 
respectfully as fully as I am able; and what I complain of is that 
there is not more to answer. Others, who support the resurrection 
practices, ought to have known better than to suppose that a proposi¬ 
tion supported by arguments would die a natural death if only passed 
over in silence. The grounds of argument put forward in June, 1871, 
have already formed the basis of similar opinions, powerfully expressed 
since by several well-known entomologists; and by their countenance 
my “ views ” are abundantly vindicated.* * * § But what am I to say of 
those who, professing to see through the hollowness of my arguments, 
nevertheless have from first to last denied themselves the gratification 
of exposing it? They have exercised a noble self-restraint; and 
deserve that entomologists should admire their magnanimity. Thus, 
Mr. E. C. Rye,—after a foot-note of two linesf designed apparently 
to dispose of the whole question,—in Ent. Ann. 1872 (p. 24), prefaces 
his sixteen pages of copied synonymy by mentioning “ the question of 
‘resurrection’ upon which so much energy has been expended by 
certain of his fellow-students during the past year”—and there he 
stays his hand. Mr. Rye has always taken much interest in questions 
of nomenclature, and no doubt has views of his own upon them ; J 
and it would have been very satisfactory to know how Mr. Rye dis¬ 
poses of his fellow-students’ arguments. He evidently either took 
alarm at their “energy”; or was hurt because they had usurped the 
same virtue which distinguishes the priority champions. § 

But Mr. Rye’s “ erudite countryman,” Mr. G. R. Crotch (after actually 
contributing to the printed controversy upon a minor point) in January, 
1872, prints the bouncing assertion that “the laws of priority are of 
course assented to tacitly by all ”! [| Perhaps Mr. Crotch has since 
advanced his erudition by adding to it an acquaintance with other 
men’s ideas; and he may have learnt that the “ laws of priority” have 

* Mr. T. H. Briggs in 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 93; Mr. A. R. Wallace, Pres. Ent. 
Soc., in Proc. 1871, pp. lviii.-lxviii.; Mr. E. Newman, Zoologist for January, 
1872, pp. 2893-2890; Dr. Albert Breyer, Ann. Soc. Ent. Belg. vol. 14, 
pp. cxxxi., cxxxii. 

+ In 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 42. 

I Mr. Rye’s articles in the Entomologist’s Annual, for instance, are stuffed 
full of nomenclature, which gives to his portion of the work an interest all its 
own. His notice of Mr. Crotch’s 1863 Catalogue, wherein “it is the exception 
and not the rule for any species to remain unaltered, either in position, value, 
name, or parentage,” is very entertaining reading now: see Ent. Ann. 1864, 
pp. 73—78. 

§ It happens to he already on record that “ Dr. Staudinger is a young 
Lepidopterist of extraordinary energy” (Ent. Ann. 1857, p. 126). Mr. Crotch 
likewise appears to have shown it. Mr. Rye, in 1864, called him an “ energetic 
worker,” and in 1866 “the energy of Mr. G% R. Crotch” was again the subject 
of comment. (See Ent. Ann. 1864, p. 73; Id. 1866, p. 47.) Mr. Rye should 
make allowances for this, and consider the great temptation, in opposing such 
redoubtable gentlemen, to give them a taste of their own quality. 

|| Cistula Entomologica (pars iv.), p. 59. 


not been “ assented to by all,” either tacitly or loquaciously, at any 
single moment since first they were formulated.* 

Mr. Edward Saundersf communicates his hope “ that few will be 
willing to adopt ” the communis error principle; and there he leaves 
the subject. Now such expressions as the above do no cause any 
harm. They all leave the subject exactly where they find it; 
but the issuing of hostile manifestoes is puerile, in a case where 
arguments are offered on the other side. An entomologist, who feels 
so much interest in a controversy that he cannot resist the temptation 
to publish his bare opinion, ought to be ready with his reasons when 
that opinion is challenged. Holding off from an argument raises a 
vigorous suspicion that the recalcitrant is not blessed with much 
confidence in the stability of his judgment. It is not rare to find a 
man already half convinced, who is ready to explode with assurances 
that his opinion is unchangeable. Those who affirm and re-affirm the 
divine right of the first describer are no doubt in this situation; but 
their manifestoes are not any more valuable as aids to an important 
controversy, and the time when they should cease to be issued has, 
perhaps, arrived. Entomologists have expressed themselves at length, 
and exposed their arguments to full criticism : it is rather a curious 
way of meeting them to make remarks about their “ energy,” or to 
“trust” they will not receive support. 

Mr. Kirby (whose papers appeared in July and November, 1871 f) 
deals first with the question when our nomenclature begins. He 
repeats his declaration that “ we must take the earliest or the latest 
works of Linnaeus to begin with,” adding that by the earliest work he 
means the first edition of the ‘Fauna Suecica ’ (1746). Why Mr. 
Kirby thus prepared the ground for a voluntary immolation of 
himself, I cannot imagine, for it is hardly possible that he failed to 
see the effect of his sentences. If, says Mr. Kirby, we leave the 
twelfth edition of ‘ Systema Naturae ’ (1767), we must go back at once 
to ‘Fauna Suecica’ (1746). That is all intelligible enough. Mr. 
Kirby then very cogently states the disadvantage of going back to 
the names of 1746 : “ With scarcely an exception these names were 
changed by Linnaeus himself.” The conclusion therefore seemed to 
be pretty obvious, but it turns out that it was nothing of the kind. 
“We must not leave 1767, unless we go to 1746,” says Mr. Kirby, 
“ but 1746 will land us in chaos.”§ Therefore, let us not leave 1767 ? 

* As Mr. Crotch has failed to discover any passages expressing dissent 
from the laws of priority, I have no objection to start him with the following, 
as a commencement merely:—Dejean, Spec. Gen. avert., p. x.; Lacordaire, 
4 Silb. Rev. 223-239; Silbermann, 4 Silb. Rev. 239-242; Dejean, Cat. 1837, 
avert, pp. x.-xii.; Delaharpe, Faune Suisse, Phalen. p. 8. In addition (that 
he may satisfy himself about the assent ) I refer him to some rules of a Dresden 
Congress (1858) and some other rules of a British Association Committee; 
also to all the Lists and Catalogues he can get a sight of. 

+ 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 161. J Id., 41, 142. 

§ 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 142. “ We should really find ourselves in chaos.” I do 

not know the meaning of this expression here. The phrase appears entirely 
misapplied. Mr. Kirby would seem to mean no more than this,—that we 


Not at all: therefore let us eat our own words, and stay at 1758 ! If 
Mr. Kirby chooses to hold two inconsistent and irreconcilable opinions, 
it is certainly as well that he should publish both (as in the present 
case) at the same time and on the same page. But I have already 
adverted to this point* * and will not discuss it any further. Mr. Kirby 
ingeniously supposes that the difficulty is “ caused by the doubt 
about the dates 1758 or 1767 being the starting-point,” remarking 
that it is limited and can be got over. But, as I have endeavoured 
to show, the question is not thus limited; and the difficulties are 
increased and not diminished by the remarkable and embarrassing 
pliability of an entomologist who has made these questions his special 

Mr. Kirby says: “ I cannot admit that synonymy is of less use 
now than formerly.” This was in answer to the following expressions 
of my own: “ The function of synonymy now is not to supply a con¬ 
cordance for entomologists, by which those using different works may 
mutually understand each other. That w r as a benevolent office for 
which the originators of synonymic lists deserve our thanks. All that 
is left for the lists now to do is the miserably different work of 
displacing names on wdiich all are agreed, or proving the whole world 
is wrong and only the list-maker right.” No-one has disputed this 
statement, and I adhere to it; I think, moreover, that I can show 
not only in what way synonymy is of less use than formerly, but also 
that other entomologists entirely share my opinion. The authors of 
the British Association Rules of 1842 published a preface in which 
they described the then position of zoological nomenclature. It argues 
forcibly the need which there was for uniformity:— 

“ If an English zoologist visits the museums and converses with the 
professors of France, he finds that their scientific language is almost 
as foreign to him as their vernacular. Almost every specimen which he 
examines is labelled by a title which is unknown to him, and he feels 
that nothing short of a continued residence in that country can make 
him conversant with her science. If he proceeds thence to Germany 
and Russia he is again at a loss ; bewildered everywhere amidst the 
confusion of nomenclature, he returns in surprise to his own country 
and to the museums and books to which he is accustomed.” 

Thus wrote Mr. Strickland in 1842, when under the smart of this 
unendurable state of things, steps were determined on for securing 
uniformity. Does Mr. Kirby wish us to believe that this confusion 
exists now ? Surely it is well known that the state of things which 
made synonymic lists necessary on this ground has passed away. 
My contention was and is expressed in the following sentences; 

should he restoring names of Linne, which Linne himself afterwards changed. 
I do not see the connection between this operation and chaos. It seems a 
thing simple enough, not at all different from restoring Linnean names 
changed afterwards by other authors. 

* Ante, pp. 8-9. 


“ Synonymy does not any longer answer its former function. All 
entomologists use one name in the vast majority of cases. There is 
no real confusion even if different names are used ; as, in the very few 
cases of doubt, entomologists know and use both the names (e. g. 
Davus and its synonyms), and no list-writer would be much of a guide 
in such contested cases as those,” and this Mr. Kirby does not 
contradict. Again, if synonymy is no less useful than formerly, how 
comes it that Mr. Doubleday’s List has from its last edition omitted 
large numbers of synonyms ? Anyone who compares the edition of 
1847-50 with that of 1866 will find that almost the whole of the 
earliest synonyms have disappeared from the latter entirely (!) The 
synonyms are omitted, because they have become (what Mr. Alexander 
Agassiz calls them) useless lumber. No one any longer wants to 
know the erroneous name by which a species was called in Germany 
fifty years ago, and Mr. Doubleday sensibly omits it. There could 
be no better test; Mr. Doubleday does not go on publishing what is 
useless, knowing perfectly well that the correct names are known and 
used, and the incorrect names are already forgotten.* Mr. Kirby, how¬ 
ever, urges that “ no one can have access to all the books in any 
branch of Entomology, and if he have a limited library, and identify 
an insect by a name which has been overlooked by later authors, it is 
useless to him.” The statement here implied is a statement of what 
used to occur, not of what does occur. Mr. Kirby studies the 
Lepidoptera, and the “ branch of Entomology ” he more particularly 
intends is no doubt that one in which he has himself earned distinc¬ 
tion, and in reference to which his remarks will carry most weight. 
Now, I must assert that in that Order the case Mr. Kirby puts does 
not hold. If any Lepidopterists now used Stephens’ ‘ Illustrations ’ 
(for instance) for their text-book, the case would hold ; but they do not 
use that, nor rely on any single book written before nomenclature 
became uniform. There are no Lepidopterists, except the students 
of local faunas, unacquainted with Guenee’s Noctuelites, Deltoides, 
and Phalenites, and those works furnish an almost unexceptionable 
index to modern Lepidopterological nomenclature. The students of 
local faunas, on the other hand, now have their nomenclature triple- 
refined for them ; and the case (for instance) of two English Lepidop¬ 
terists being at cross purposes, because one uses names which are 
strange to the other, simply does not happen. The Micro-Lepidop- 
terists (or at least the Tineinists) have their synonymy worked up, I 
suppose, to the finest point of accuracy. The picture, then, drawn 

* Another less satisfactory discovery will also be made on comparing these 
editions. Some old names printed (as synonyms only) with a mark of doubt 
in 1847-50 are now printed as the true names, and without a mark of doubt. 
The pressure of the recent tendency towards resurrection is no doubt the 
cause of such changes. A last century’s description was not in 1800 any 
clearer than in 1847 ; and what was doubtful at the earlier date was so also at 
the later one. We need a dash of the uncompromising spirit which arrives 
at conclusions for itself and holds to them afterwards. 


by Mr. Kirby of the isolated student sturdily grubbing on and naming 
his species from an out of date text-book, while he waits in despair 
for the next Catalogue, represents nothing now met with in real life. 
Neither does this, as I am informed, occur in the other Orders, the 
Catalogues and other works recently published having already supplied 
a concordance between the books which are in use. 

Mr. Kirby’s real point, however, I take to be that “ One great 
object of synonymy is to attempt to utilise the whole of the accumu¬ 
lated literature of Entomology.” Whether this be its “ object,” I 
much doubt; but I cordially agree with Mr. Kirby, that if synonymy 
effect this, it does some good service. Only that point is far distant 
from the question under discussion, viz., whether or not, when 
discovered, the first name shall always be restored. By all means, 
so far as my argument is concerned, utilise the accumulated literature 
of Entomology. But when your speculations on the early descriptions 
are concluded, and you have “ utilised ” to your heart’s content every 
line of print you have come upon, do not on that account revolutionise 
our nomenclature. The things have no necessary connection. By 
all means print a Catalogue giving, if you please, every name by 
which our Pieris rapes was, might, could, would, or should have been 
called; but, when you have done that, please nevertheless to call it 
Pieris rapes still. By this means no difficulty whatever will be 
experienced in “utilising” many times over great portions of the 
early literature of Entomology, as the same name and description will 
sometimes fit several dozen species. At the same time we shall all 
be enjoying certainty in nomenclature; so that the busy labourer at 
synonymy will do his work without disgusting anyone, and all for the 
pure love of it. This in fact is the very work which Mr. A. R. 
Wallace proposes our list-maker should confine himself to. “ It is 
even questionable ” he says* “ whether the author of a Catalogue is 
not going beyond his province in making any corrections or alterations 
of the names in use, for any reason whatever. It may be said that he 
should simply record the facts, adopt the nomenclature in use, when¬ 
ever there is uniformity among living authors, and point out if he likes 
in foot-notes his belief that such a name should be altered for certain 
reasons.” This view expressed by an entomologist of such mark as 
Mr. Wallace I entirely adopt; it is indeed the thing which I 
contend for. Mr. Kirby has himself given an example of this very 
work. In his recent Catalogue, names of earlier date than 1767 are 
utilised in this way; that is, they are duly referred to as synonyms, 
but are not made to supersede names in use. 

Mr. Kirby argues, “ If the law of priority were rescinded, no one 
would any longer take the trouble to identify a species he intended 
to describe as new, and we should soon have twenty new names for 
every old name which would otherwise have been restored.” This 
passage has been attended to by Mr. Briggs, whof satisfactorily 

* Address, Proc. Ent. Soc. 1871, p. lxiv. 

+ 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 95. 


disposes of it. “ No one,” says Mr. Briggs, “ ever proposed that the 
law should be rescinded.” Mr. Kirby appears to think that twenty 
new names would arise if we pass a law that an agreement on one 
name shall prevent the introduction of any others, which I fail to 

Lastly, Mr. Kirby says, “ The controversy hinges mainly on the 
question whether the knot of synonymy should be cut or untied.” 
If this to my mind were the question, I should support the project of 
cutting the knot. To untie knots when you accomplish all you want 
by cutting them, seems (if I may repeat myself) fatigue duty of an 
exceptionally useless kind. But the controversy appears to me to 
hinge on no such question. In the cases to which alone my remarks 
have been directed, there is no knot of synonymy at all; and the 
endeavour of those who share my opinion has been to prevent the 
list-makers from tying one. Confusion is, I presume, “ the knot of 
synonymy.” We are asked to look on now at the tying of that knot, 
because it may be that hereafter somebody will be so clever as to get 
it undone! 

I have, in mentioning these points of Mr. Kirby, noticed all the 
adverse arguments which my first paper elicited. Mr. R. M‘Lachlan 
printed a communication entitled “ Some considerations as to Mr. 
Lewis’s views concerning Entomological Nomenclature,” but it does 
not contain arguments. Any gentleman may (if he think fit), without 
any remonstrance from me, oppose my opinions in a contribution not 
containing arguments ; but I must not be expected to return answer 
to his manifesto. * 

* Mr. M‘Lachlan does, however, make one or two statements which I will 
merely reproduce. They show the degree of intelligence with which this 
important subject is canvassed in some quarters. In the communication 
mentioned, Mr. M'Lachlan says:—“ Mr. Lewis must take to his studies the 
predispositions of the amateur, rather than the calm investigation of the 
naturalist; he must be of those who, having mechanically spaced out, labelled, 
and arranged their cabinets and collections, feel wrath at any audacious 
individual who may suggest to them that neither nomenclature nor sequence 
is correct.” “ It is expedient there should be no more crime, no more deceit 
in the world, and, as a consequence, no more prisons, police, and lawyers. But 
the evils exist, and the other necessary evils are required to keep them in 
check.” All this appears slightly personal, but is not otherwise very remark¬ 

Mr. M‘Lachlan also has the following:—“Having commenced my entomo¬ 
logical studies as a lepidopterist, though possibly only as an amateur, it 
needs no great amount of discernment to make obvious to me the fact that 
British Macro-lepidopterists stand urgently in need of a thoroughly scientific 
monograph. Mr. Lewis’s criticisms, in his paper in our last number, and at 
the Entomological Society, show that he should possess the acquirements 
necessary for its production. Let us hope our lepidopterists are tired of the 
degrading publications that have been recently submitted to them; works in 
which descriptions and advertisements are unblushingly and inextricably 
blended. If, then, he will prepare such a work (and include synonymy) he 
will obtain the gratitude of his fellow-labourers; or, at any rate, by being able 
to arrange his collections after his oivn method he will be spared the annoy¬ 
ance originating from the change effected by, and the want of unanimity 



The proposal to accept no name which is not in use only goes the 
length of superseding priority in the cases where (as Mr. Dunning 
has said) the rule, being strained beyond the reason for the rule , 
becomes a nuisance and produces intolerable evil.* Entomologists 
want certainty in nomenclature, and they want it now. They are 
not so feeble as to fold their hands in resignation and say they do not 
“hope to see it in their They do hope to see it, and indeed 

to take steps to secure it. There is no descriptive work yet in 
existence which uses the new names. They are therefore now only 
known to the curious; and, so far from its being an inconvenience not 
to know them, the whole body of entomologists use the old ones and 
the old ones only. Dr. Staudinger’s Catalogue and Mr. Kirby’s 
Catalogue are dead letters now; it ought to be the business of the 
entomologists, who do not live for nomenclature alone, to see that (so 
far as the new names are concerned) they remain so. The other 
innumerable discordant reforms, “suggested,” “brought forward,” 
“proposed” or “made” in Trans, and Proc. Ent. Soc. and in the 
Cistula Entomologica and elsewhere, are happily not dangerous; no 
one knows anything of them. 

If we are to have a conflict of opinion on this question, it is 
consoling to remember that the winning is all on one side. We may 
be well content to let one reformer pay another in his own coin, and 
to see each go on proving ad infinitum that every name but his 
particular one is wrong. We may let them fight it out, assured (as 
we are) that the more lists and catalogues, reforms, and emendations 

in, the works of others.” I have been entirely unable to fathom the meaning 
of this amazing passage; but I have no objection to examine it now. Mr. 
M‘Lachlan’s hypothesis that I should prepare a degrading work in which 
descriptions and advertisements are unblushingly blended, no doubt had its 
rise in some temporary confusion of mind, or a too original interpretation of 
the laws of composition; and I do not suppose the suggestion was intended. 
But what does the rest mean ? What connection has the law of priority with 
writing a scientific monograph ? Can no-one who has not prepared a “ work ” 
arrange (if he please) his collections after his own method ? And what has 
arranging collections to do with an argument upon priority? A censorious 
person would, I fear, say that Mr. M‘Lachlan has gone out of his way to make 
rather ill-natured remarks. 

Mr. M‘Laclilan’s paper is, however, very important if only for one statement. 
He writes, “ The application of Mr. Lewis’s legal maxim is the greatest 
affront that could possibly be offered to an exact science.” Mr. M'Lachlan 
uses the italics, which certainly give much strength to the assertion. That 
Entomology is now “ an exact science ” cannot, I am sure, be too widely or 
too quickly known. Conceive the intense emotion of a common Lepidopterist 
at learning he is the follower of an exact science! I (and perhaps some 
others) had contracted the notion that Entomology is not more an “exact” 
than an “occult” science; and that polygamy or fly-fishing have about an 
equal claim with Entomology to either one or the other designation. But 
that mistake is now set right; and it is no small matter that we have the state¬ 
ment plainly—and in italics. 

* 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 215. 

+ Id. 40. 


they issue, the more certain do our opponents make it that the end 
will be soon. If only a few more conflicting catalogues see the light, 
the common sense party is morally certain to receive such an accession 
that its numbers will include all but the list-makers themselves. 

The plan proposed will, it seems, accomplish all that is really neces¬ 
sary or desirable. We wish to prevent the resurrection of names 
absolutely buried and forgotten, and not in use anywhere. We do not 
wish to preserve the names in use with us, where a different and prior 
name is in use. This latter would not be justifiable, and has never, 
that I am aware of, been proposed. The plan does no injustice. It 
has been well insisted by, among others, Dr. Albert Breyer* that these 
changes which afflict us are effected on the authority of works without 
real scientific merit. But even if the case were far otherwise, the 
choice between the general advantage and deference to a forgotten 
author could not be doubtful. The proposal made is a proposal to 
simplify the study of entomological science. As such it stands in no 
need of indulgence, though it is certain that it might be (and I hope 
that it will be) supported by more and better arguments, f By 
adopting the course advocated we shall rid Entomology of the 
single unattractive feature with which inconsiderate persons have 
invested it, and it is impossible but that our science should be greatly 
advantaged in consequence. 

The Order Lepidoptera is the one on which the resurrection 
experiments are first made. I trust there will be no mistake in the 
reception they meet with. Lepidopterists have been the subject of 
many childish sneers on the part of those who ought to exhibit a 
different demeanour. Lepidopterists are dubbed “ collectors,” and 
their opinions are uniformly disparaged, by a great many of the lovers 
of disagreeable insects. That treatment by the select few of the class 
which includes the vast majority of their fellow-students has indeed 

* In 14 Ann. Soc. Entom. de Belgique; comptes-r’endus, pp. cxxxi., cxxxii. 

+ Concerning “an appropriate nomenclature” Mr. Alexander Agassiz 
writes (American Naturalist, August, 1871; copied 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 96):— 
“ In the hands of Linnaeus it was the expression of vast erudition. ... In 
the hands of his followers and disciples it has become too often the end 
instead of the means; and of late years the laws requisite for the establish¬ 
ment of the correct name of an animal, or of a plant, have become often as 
difficult to establish as the most intricate legal question.” I think Mr. Agassiz 
goes astray when he terms “ followers and disciples ” of Linne those persons 
with whom nomenclature “has become the end instead of the means ”; for 
I strongly suspect Linne would have declared them to he no disciples of his. 
As to nomenclature equalling in difficulty the most intricate legal questions, 
I can only say that if I had thought so, I should have left the former to be 
dealt with by those to whom the latter are more familiar. 

The article (as it appears in 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 96) is entirely on our side, 
except only the portion there printed in italics. Mr. Agassiz, among other 
things, declares it to be impossible “ to lay down general instructions intended 
to be retrospective and prospective.” I heartily agree with him, and to his 
generalisation add one sentence of my own. Never was the truth of this so 
plainly shown as in the recent attempts to make retrospective the l( law” of 


become the fashion, and every weakling sniggers and conforms to it. 
But the Lepidopterists have it now in their power to confer upon 
science an immense and permanent benefit. The battle has been 
brought here ; and the arena of conflict between pedantry and common 
sense is ground on which we are at home. To the Coleopterists we 
may with confidence appeal. Tua res agitur, paries quum proximus 
ardet. While the lists of Lepidoptera are being “revised” on dis¬ 
cordant principles, the Coleopterists cannot afford to look complacently 
on. On the day that the priority crusades are successful against the 
Lepidoptera, the fate of Coleopterological nomenclature is sealed. 
When the first instalment of a real opposition Catalogue leaves the 
press,* those who now glorify Gemnringer and von Harold will 
quickly change their note; and deplore it if they have not joined the 
Lepidopterists, and agreed to reject all totally disused names. 

What then is the practical result of the opinions I have urged ? 
Supposing (as I confidently hope will happen) that it receives a 
predominating support, how will this doctrine operate in the first 
instance ? The answer to these questions is, I venture to think, a 
very simple affair; and I will conclude this imperfect essay with an 
indication of the manner in which the priority question may be readily 
solved in accordance with the principle I have contended for. 

We are asked, How’do you show a universal accord ? We do not 
assume to show it; but throw it upon the list-maker to show that his 
new name is someivhere in use. It is ingenious to call on those who 
are in possession to prove their right; but this has been tried before, 
and the common sense of mankind has ruled against the attempt. 
Possession is everywhere nine points of the law ; and a clear title must 
be made out by those who want to dispossess us. 

The modus operandi of our restriction is therefore the simplest thing 
conceivable. The list-maker being allowed to supersede any name only 
by another name in use somewhere, all he has to do is to show that he 
fulfils this condition, i. e. point out where the new name is in use. 
A universal agreement can be easily disproved; while to prove it 
affirmatively is impossible. Therefore the way to ascertain whether 
there is or is not universal agreement is to try and find out a place 
where there is disagreement. I should think this is so plain that the 
most jaunty resurrection men will understand it without mental 

If a resurrectionist meet with difficulty in establishing that his new 
name is in use, of course that is a matter which concerns him. The 

* Coleopterists must be getting restiff as it is. Mr. Crotch, we learn, has 
recently published a list of Geodepliaga and Hydradephaga, in which all 
species are re-named whose names were inadmissible when first employed. 
The author has there amused himself by naming afresh in 1871 some half- 
dozen beetles all named in the last century and now known by the old names. 
See Ent. Ann. 1872, pp. 26-29. This is precisely what I have promised to do 
(only on a far grander scale) in my Synonymic List of European Rhopalocera 
—advertised on p. 33 ante. Mr. Crotch therefore will he just the man to 
appreciate that conscientious work when it appears. I shall be pleased to 
know how many copies he will take. 


rest of us will be only too happy when he succumbs to that difficulty; 
and I certainly would do nothing to help him to prove his case. As, 
however, this is a proposition which, arising from the necessities of 
the time, is new in shape, perhaps it will be as well to indicate the 
sort of proof to be demanded of a list-maker before we accept any 
change of name. Thus, any descriptive work published within a few 
years back (and coming from any quarter of the globe), which contains 
the insect in question under a different name from that in use with 
us, will clearly be sufficient to disprove universal agreement; and upon 
citing it the list-maker entitles himself to pursue his task and establish 
the right name by the law of priority. He must, however, supersede 
our name by no name but a name now in use; and it rests with him 
to satisfy his public. The whole onus being upon him, he must show 
to our complete satisfaction that the new name for which w r e are to 
surrender our name is a name which other entomologists are' now 
using for the same species. It is not only a fair thing, but necessary 
for the advantage of science, that where more names than one are in 
use, those who are in error should be set right. But the use by the 
whole world of one name is all that is required. Communis error 
facit jus.* 

This proposal is a proposal to return to the laudable practice of 
the entomologists who flourished before the resurrection era. The 
following passage from Dr. Boisduval’s Index Methodicus states 
in plain words what (in' the view of those who share my opinion) is 
still the reasonable and only proper method :—“ Vetustis quidem et 
exoletae jam memoriae nominibus abstinui, quibus species plane notae 
designantur; eorum vero quae, nuper creata, nuper repertas species 
designant, nullum neglexi, eo quod primum tempore erat, assumpto 
semper et usurpato.”f 

A mere descriptive work on insects, which has lien unknown for 
ten years, may well lie unknown for the rest of time, so far as its 
effect on nomenclature is concerned; and a name attached to a 

* The suggestion of a new limit, beyond which synonymic researches shall 
not go, has been made before. Thus writes Dr. Speyer (Stett. Ent. Zeit. 1865- 
1866, p. 51) 

“ Es ware sogar, wie schon Herr von Kiesenwetter bemerkt hat, fur die 
Stabilitat der Nomenclatur sehr wiinschenswerth, noch eine zweite so 
anerkannte Autoritat, wie Linne, zu besitzen, um ihr nachst diesem eine 
Ausnahmestellung einraiimen zu konnen. Bei der Wahl einer solchen, sowohl 
fur die Entomologie im Ganzen, als fur die Lepidopterologie im besondern, 
wiirden aber die Stimmen so auseinandergehn, dass es gerathener ist, ganz 
darauf zu verzicliten.” 

The proposal made above is a proposal of the very thing which Speyer 
and von Kiesenwetter so much desire for the stability of nomenclature. It 
establishes “a second acknowledged authority”—the authority of universal 
employment. My proposal being assented to, no name not in use on June 1, 
1872, can be brought up to supersede any other. Instead of the authority of 
one man, what I propose to exalt is the authority of all together—certainly 
the only authority which it will ever be possible to agree upon. The 
blessed results of such an agreement I shall, I doubt not, live to see. 

+ Index Methodicus, second edition, p. vi. 


description or figure so inadequate, that for ten years it is not iden¬ 
tified, deserves to be forgotten,—even if, through collateral proof, its 
identification has afterwards been effected. No reasonable excuse exists 
for an author whose names are not anywhere in use for ten years after 
their publication ; and if his light has been hidden under a bushel,* * * § he 
cannot claim priority for his descriptions. We cannot allow ourselves to 
pay to describers a deference which has the effect of hindering progress. 
Whether or not, within moderate limits, an original describer 
deserves that his name shall be adopted, it is plain that the progress 
of science cannot stay for a nice adjustment of his rights. Names 
are but names, and must not be allowed to occupy time and attention 
beyond the minimum quantity which will suffice to protect us 
against confusion; for we cannot, if we are in earnest, spare for 
them more than the intervals of scientific studies. The notion 
(which seems to have been once fostered by authors) that a man is 
entitled to immortality because he has first named an insect is, 
apparently, altogether exploded. I have already! taken into account 
this element of “justice to the first nomenclator,” expressing my view 
that the divine right of nomenclators is a fiction ; and there are two 
very recent opinions entirely on all fours with my own. Mr. A. R. 
Wallace, Pres. Ent. Soc. 1871, in his Address]; has the following 

“ The idea of justice to the first namer or describer of a species is 
sometimes appealed to; but the law of priority is founded on no such 
expressed idea, but rather on the universal practice of mankind, 
which always upholds stability of nomenclature and requires cogent 
reasons of convenience or beauty to sanction an alteration. . . . The 
proper rule to adopt would have been unchangeability of names in use, 
rather than priority of date, which latter rule ought only to have been 
brought in to decide on the claims of two or more names in use, not 
to revive obsolete names never in use or long ago rejected.” 

Mr. J. W. Dunning§ expresses himself to the same effect:— 

“ I have no respect for a nomenclator simply as such: the fact 
that he has been the first to name and describe an insect or a plant 
gives him, in my eyes, no title to immortality, does not even invest 
him with the faintest halo of sanctity. I use the name he has given, 
not as a recognition of any merit in him, not as an admission of any 
right in him, but solely from considerations extraneous to him. The 
rule of priority in nomenclature I hold to be a good rule within its 
proper limits; it is not an unmixed good; and priority, like any 
other hobby-horse, may be ridden too hard. When the rule is 
strained beyond the reason for the rule, it becomes a nuisance,—nay, 
more, it produces intolerable evil; but, when reasonably applied, 

* Le premier auteur reclame son droit de priorite; j’en suis fache pour lui; 
il a mis la lampe sous le boisseau, qu’il en porte la peine; je le condamne 

sans appel.—Lacordaire, 4 Silb. Rev. 234, and see G. Silbermann, Id. 240. 

+ 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. pp. 2, 3. { Proc. 1871, p. lxvi. 

§ In 8 Ent. Mo. Mag. 215. 


it produces more convenience than inconvenience. I accept it, there¬ 
fore, as a rule of convenience, and nothing more; a rule adopted 
for the benefit of science, not for the glorification of name-givers. 
And the sooner the better that we are rid of any such notion as that 
the law of priority is established in piam memoriam fundatoris, or that 
there is any ‘ divine right ’ of the nomenclator.” 

If I quote in this place two or three other brief extracts which 
support my proposal, I shall have done all that remains for me. 
Mr. T. H. Briggs, in an argumentative paper contributed to Ent. 
Mo. Mag.,* thus explains his view :— 

“ The law—as I have always hitherto understood it—is, that when 
different individuals have described the same insect at different times 
under different names, the name first given shall have priority over 
all subsequent names; but, like all laws that lay down a general pre¬ 
cept only, it must be construed in the spirit in which it was made, 
which is, as I urge, only as a means of determining a right to a name 
when there is no accord. . . . Both sides agree that the accord of 
entomologists is the ultimate desideratum, but the resurrectionists 
seem to consider that fishing out the most ancient name and repealing 
all the subsequent, is a better way of arriving at that result than by 
letting a name accepted by common consent stand, and abrogating 
the obsolete ! I hold, as I have before stated, that the law of priority 
is not that the oldest name of an insect is invariably its right one, as 
the resurrectionists now insist, but that, in cases of dispute, the prior 
name is to be preferred, and in such cases only; and that any attempt 
to subvert accord cannot be done under the law of priority, but we 
must make a new law,—the law of antiquity, say.” 

Dr. Albert Breyer, in Ann. Soc. Ent. Belg.,f gives the resur¬ 
rectionists a hard time of it. He thus delivers himself, speaking of 
the Dresden code and the lists published in pursuance of it:— 

“ From the literary point of view these works are not without merit; 
but from the point of view of Natural History they are completely 
sterile. More, undertaken to make an end of confusion, they have done 
nothing but augment it. Instead of judging,—of deciding between 
two, three or four contradictory denominations,—they have esta¬ 
blished an enquiry into all the names given since the time of Linne. 
It is only insects discovered in the last twenty years which have been 
able to escape the zeal of the Anabaptists. There is a German name 
to designate this mania,— principienreiterei ,—which I have translated 
by ‘ aller au dada sur un principe.’ ” . . . “ When the Catalogue of 
1861 brought us the first fruits of the principle of absolute priority, 
there were certain names changed, and among them the names best 
known, and on which, for years, there was agreement come to between 
the English, French and German authors. And the greatest number 
of these untimely changes came about from the discovery, or rather 

* Vol. viii. pp. 03-96. 

t Yol. xiv. pp. cxxxi., cxxxii., before cited. 


the bringing again into memory, of some works without serious 
scientific merit.” 

Mr. Edward Newman, reviewing Mr. Kirby’s Catalogue* and 
writing of the priority rule, says :— 

“A little band of so-called reformers discovered this law, and 
talked it over, and gave it another meaning. They said:—‘ This 
shows us that we ought to investigate every name, and see if we 
cannot find another and older name.’ They went at it tooth and 
nail, and changed every name that could be changed for another 
name. Thirty years have they been busied in this work, until the 
entire object of names is frustrated.” He scouts the idea that “a 
name given seventy years ago, and which has been totally neglected 
and utterly forgotten, should ever be revived and re-introduced.” 

So, the tide has turned. Common sense has asserted itself against 
pedantry; and 1872 is not the era when the latter can expect any 


Zool. Jan. 1872, pp. 2877, 2878. 



A Modification of the strict Law of Priority in 
Zoological Nomenclature in certain cases. 

In this paper I propose to consider (shortly, and in one 
aspect) the law of priority in nomenclature; and to urge 
upon your attention a certain proposal for a reform of it in 
one particular. 

I address myself to the subject without the claim to be 
heard which can he set up by many present, because there is 
only one branch of Natural History to which I have paid 
attention, Entomology. While, however, that single study 
may not entitle its adherents to raise their heads very high 
in this assembly, it is nevertheless the one department in 
which the laws and practice of nomenclature are constantly 
called into exercise. Synonymy, a thing hardly known, as 
we know it, in some of the other branches, assumes in 
Entomology a most unpleasant importance. The naming 
of species among the Insecta is now proceeding on a scale 
so wholesale as probably to be quite outside the experience 
of students of the less numerously populated classes; and 
it can scarcely be said that any other branch of natural 
science gives its students the same intimate acquaintance 
with the difficulties attending nomenclature. I claim, there¬ 
fore, for the entomologists, your attention for a short time 
to this matter. It is in their studies that questions affecting 
nomenclature, priority, synonymy and the like, make their 
importance felt. It is in support of a movement originating 
with entomologists for a reform in one particular of our 
laws governing nomenclature, that I have undertaken to read 
this paper. 



One reason obliges us to come here with this proposal. 
The movement has been begun elsewhere,* but it is felt that 
the British Association supplies a forum in which also this 
question must be mooted. In 1842, Rules for Zoological 
Nomenclature were published, with the authority of Section 
D of the British Association, sitting at Manchester; and 
those rules, though not strictly adhered to by any means 
even in this country, furnish nevertheless the standard of 
accuracy. A proposal for a modification of the law of 
priority is a proposal to modify the rule adopted by this 
section, albeit a generation ago, and I hope I may be deemed 
justified in bringing the subject now before you. 

The law of priority, as set out in Rule One of the British 
Association Rules of 1842 is, so far as is material to my 
purpose, that u The name originally given by the describer 
of a species should be permanently retained, to the exclusion 
of all subsequent synonyms.” 

This law of priority is a means to an end. The end to be 
secured is Accord, or common agreement on a name; and the 
way prescribed is to seek the earliest name, and when it is 
found to use that only. 

There is no better rule in the majority of cases. Where 
more names than one are in use, we must devise some 
method for choosing between them, and this rule is then 
often very useful. But let us put to ourselves the question, 
When we enjoy accord already , what need is there of a guide 
to enable us to attain it? We have something much better 
— the result. The scientific names we are agreed on surely 
need no other sanction. Adopted by all, they require no 
machinery of rules to make them acceptable. To cut down 
a tree is the first indispensable step towards constructing a 

* See Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. 1871, part 3, p. 311. Also ‘ Entomologist’s 
Monthly Magazine,’ vol. viii. p. 1. 

The article last mentioned contains in epitome a great portion of the above 
paper. It is amusing to recall the criticisms delivered upon it. First, a 
Dipterist told me in confidence that the whole affair was so absurd he had 
difficulty in understanding how the editors came to print it. Second, a 
Hemipterist made, as I was told, such uproarious fun out of my legal maxim 
in connexion with an “ Ortoni” and a “ Tichborni,” that when they came to 
me with the story I was sorely tempted to abandon all “ views ” on the instant. 
Third, a Neuropterist quite overbore me by proving (ten times over, without 
a check) that I was doing more harm than good; and finally was impudent 
enough to say that I had “commenced” my studies at the wrong end. 
Lastly, an erudite Coleopterist announced, without reserve, that, come what 
might, he meant to take no notice of Mr. Lewis,—a manifesto not necessarily 
unwelcome, and perhaps uttered under feelings of compassion. But, then, 
these critics were all collectors of disagreeable insects ! 


bench, but those already comfortably seated would be foolish 
to undertake such labour. Yet this is the task many persons 
now set themselves. They rout amongst old books to find 
what name is earliest for a species, though all the while men 
of science are agreed, and there is no difficulty or dispute. 

Let us suppose that there is universal agreement among 
naturalists on a certain name ; that a species has been called, 
let us say gracilis , for fifty, thirty, or twenty j^ears, in all 
countries and by all persons. In books, in many languages, 
it has been described under that name. Perhaps allied 
species have been named after it, and the names gracillimus, 
subgracilis, graciloides, and the like, have clustered round it. 
Now, if to-morrow in some obscure old work (a) a busybody 
can hit on the species gracilis described under a different 
name, and this work was a month earlier in date than the 
first of its more popular successors, the whole world must 
give up gracilis , and every book and list from that day 
contains an error. The universal agreement through a 
series of years on the name gracilis goes for nothing at all, 
and perhaps tetra has to be accepted instead. 

Now, one thing cannot be disputed. The common con¬ 
venience is utterly sacrificed (aa) when such an event as this 
takes place. None but very important considerations, 
founded on a direct benefit to science of the change of name, 
could justify such an over-riding of a universal agreement. 
Yet this effect has persistently, by rigorous “ reformers of 
nomenclature ” been ascribed to Rule One of this Asso¬ 
ciation, and no one has ever yet asserted that science is 
benefited a jot. There is no good reason for construing 
the law of priority in this sense, or for pushing its effect to 
such a length, and while a modified application can be made 

(a) Un nom aura beau etre inscrit dans cent ouvrages differents, tous 
signes des maitres de la science et classiques; si par hasard on vient a 
decouvrir, dans je ne sais quelle obscure dissertation imprimee il y a 
soixante ou quatre-vingt-ans que la meme espece y est decrite sous un 
autre nom, ce dernier doit prevaloir, et celui inscrit dans les cent 
ouvrages en question etre mis au neant. Or, faites cela et voyez ce que 
devient l’Entomologie. . . . Le trouble qui en resulterait dans la science est si 
palpable, que les partisans les plus prononces du droit de propriety reculent 
alors devant son application.— Lacordaire, Silb. Revue, vol. iv. p. 225. 

(aa) II me semble qu’il faut toujours se conformer a l’usage, et qu’il est 

nuisible de changer ce qui est generalement etabli.Je demande 

serait-il convenable de rejeter un nom generalement adopte, donne par un de 
nos grands maitres dans un ouvrage marquant qui se trouve dans toutes les 
mains, pour lui substituer un nom inconnu, donne par un auteur ignore dans 
quelque recueil periodique ou journal academique que personne ne lit, parce 
que ce nom aurait ete mis au jour quelques mois avant le premier.— Dejean, 
Spec. Gen. des Coleopteres, vol. i., p. x. 


of its provisions, beneficial in effect and working no incon¬ 
venience, it is our business to contrive that they shall 
receive such an interpretation. There are excellent reasons 
in favour of a modified application of the rule, and by 
noticing in turn some results of its strict application (in the 
sense advocated by “reformers”) I expect to show you 
that no little detriment has resulted to science from that 

It is surely the proper reading of this rule that where there 
are more names than one in use, then the earliest shall be 
preferred. The rule was devised to settle differences upon a 
name, and could never have been intended to have the 
foolish effect of reviving an obsolete name, forcing on us its 
acceptance to the displacement of one universally agreed on. 
Consider whether, if the rules had to be made now, thirty 
years later than they in fact were, a more enlightened spirit 
would not prevail. I am confident that no majority of this 
section would be found to sanction such a law as this has 
been construed to be. The law of priority, I repeat, could 
only have been intended to apply to cases where more than 
one name was in actual use, and it was necessary to deter¬ 
mine on the proper one—not to cases where all names save 
one were already obsolete. But if this was not its intention, 
then the law meant a thing very unreasonable, and it is high 
time its terms were altered and a more reasonable practice 
was introduced. 

Nothing could justify such a rule but its importance to 
the advancement of science; but what service is done to 
science by the restoration of a forgotten name ? I have 
asked in vain for an answer to this enquiry, and it is clear 
to me none can be given. So far as Natural Science can be 
said to be concerned with names at all, which in fact it is 
not, the alteration for any cause of any name is a hindrance, 
because such an event tends to introduce confusion. But 
the whole matter of what name a species has borne, and 
when and by whom that name was given, is outside the 
domain ( b ) of Science. The choice of a name for a species 
is not a question of science at all, but of convenience and 

(6) II est souvent impossible d’arriver a connaitre quel est 1’auteur qui le 

premier a nomme un insecte. Cette connaissance ne forme a mon 

avis qu'une partis secondaire de la science. —Boisduval, Lepidopt., tom. I 
page vii. 

La science n’est pas dans la nomenclature.— G. Silbermann, Silb. Revue, 
vol. i. p. 133. 


common sense (c). To settle rules for the trammelling of 
common sense is a useless task, for common sense is ever 
a rebellious subject; and the fact that Rule One, if it means 
what is generally supposed, enjoins a flat abnegation of 
common sense (d), strongly supports my belief that it was 
meant to have only the modified application I have contended 
for. When all the world is agreed on a name, no reasoning 
or rule should have the power to alter it. Accord, agreement 
once secured (e) should be fostered by every means. If all 
the world is not agreed on a name, go to your rule and thus 
arrive at an agreement. The rule is meant to supply a 
winnowing process by which all names but one shall be got 
rid of; but where the progress of time and the agreement of 
naturalists have already done the work, it is folly to ignore 
that result. The common acceptance among naturalists of 
any name, for at all events twenty years, should give that 
name an indefeasible title to adoption. The restlessness of 
the writers I am going to mention will never be allayed but 
by the imposition of a restriction of this kind. The actual 
period of limitation should be, like the rule, the result of an 
agreement among naturalists. 

In the few observations which follow, I shall be obliged 
to draw my facts and illustrations from Entomology, but, 
for the reasons mentioned, I make no apology for so doing. 

(c) A cote il y a la langue que nous creons pour les exprimer et rendre 

leur connaissance transmissible entre nous. . . Elle n’est que l’accessoire; 

elle n’est que notre ouvrage tandis que les faits sont l’ouvrage de la nature et 
imperissables comme elle. Ou pourrait etre un excellent et profond entomolo- 
giste sans connaitre un seul nom d’insecte.— Lacordaire, Silb. Revue, vol. iv. 
p. 237. 

Cette eternelle et seche terminologie, a laquelle se reduit malheureusement 
toute la science de tant d 'entomologistes qui oublient que ce n’est la que 
l’A.B.C. delalangue Entomologique.— G. Silbermann, Silb. Revue,\ ol. iv. p. 241. 

These rules of nomenclature make no part of Zoology ; they are in their 
nature purely arbitrary and dogmatical; their only legitimate object is con¬ 
venience. — W. Ogilby, Mag. N. H. vol. ii. N. S. p. 150. 

Those who study nature for her own sake, who employ names as we 
employ our own names, simply as a necessary, or, if you will, a convenient 
distinction, will certainly discard these puerilities as utterly unworthy the ex¬ 
penditure of time and thought.— E. Newman , Zoologist, Second Series, 
No. 76, p. 2894. (Jan. 1872.) 

(d) Voyons jusqu’a quel point celle-ci est conforme a la raison et supporte 
l’examen. (Lacordaire, Silb. Revue, vol. iv. p. 224.) Ainsi, que de perplexites, 
que d’impossibilites, si l’on veut suivre dans toute sa rigueur ce principe, 
si’cher a beaucoup d’entomologistes!— (Id., p. 229.) 

(e) Si l’un de ces mots est regu, adopte par la majorite des entomologistes, 
le but est atteint, et a quoi bon vouloir lui substituer un autre mot, parce que 
celui-ci a quelques mois ou quelques annees d’existence de plus?— Lacor¬ 
daire, Silb. Revue, vol. iv. p. 236. 


When the number of known insects was small, a short and 
comparatively general description served to distinguish each 
species. The number of Lepidopterous insects now des¬ 
cribed and named is estimated at 30,000. The number 
described and named by Linnseus is but 780. So that now 
exact and lengthy descriptions are necessary to express the 
differences between the allied species, our knowledge of 
which has been, by later discovery, so vastly extended. In 
fact, the old descriptions are in great part worthless. It is 
not possible, in hundreds of cases (/), to say to what insect the 
description was meant to apply; and many names have been 

(/) Die unvollstandigen und wenig niitzliclien Beschreibungen alterer 
Schriftsteller. . . . Ob es nicht sclion zureichend sey mit Voriibergehung 

jener altern, bloss und allein diejenigen neueren aufzuzahlen, deren Beschrei¬ 
bungen nur irgend etwas vollstandig genannt werden konnen.— Schonherr, 
Synon. Insect, pref. iii. 

Linne et Fabricius seraient inintelligibles aujourd’kui sans la tradition.— 
Lacorclaire, Silb. Revue, vol. iv. p. 234. 

Confusion arises from several causes; primarily from the difficulty there is 
in many instances of correctly ascertaining the name given by the first 
describer, from the description being so vague and indefinite as to preclude 
the possibility of accurately determining the species intended.— J. F. Stephens, 
Gat. British Insects, p. iii. 

Wollen wir nur sogenannte genugende Beschreibungen anerkennen und die 
vermeintlich ungenugenden ausschliessen oder zurucksetzen, so bemerke ich, 
dass weitaus die grosste Zahl der Linne’schen, Scopoli’schen, Fabricius’schen, 
u. s. w. Beschreibungen zum sichern Erkennen des gemeinten Objectes 
faktisch und unbestreitbar ungeniigend sind, dass fast sammtliche alteren 
Autoren nach den heutigen Anforderungen der Wissenschaft unzureichende 
Diagnosen gegeben haben, und dass dasselbe bei alien Arten aus solchen 
Gruppen oder Gattungen der Fall ist, die seit langerer Zeit nicht mehr in 
guten Monographien revidirt worden sind. Wer frage ich, ist im Stande, 
wenn er nicht schon anderweitig instruirt ist, aus den Werken des Linne, des 
Herbst, des Fabricius auch nur einen Harpalus eine Haltica, eine Nitidula, 
etc., mit Sicherheit zu bestimmen? Fast ansnahmslos sind die Arten dieser 
Autoren nur mit Zuhulfenahme der Typen, der ferneren Angaben ihrer 
Zeitgenossen und sonstiger erfinderischer Hilfsmittel gedeutet worden, ein 
Verfakren, das auch ich von meinem Standpunkte aus volkommen billige, 
welches aber nur beweist, dass die Beschreibungen allein den Zweck der 
Kenntlichmachung der Thiere absolut verfehlen.— E. von Harold, Coleoptero- 
logische Hefte, vi. pp. 45, 40. 

Cette regie est trop absolue, car ce qui est reconnaissable pour un entomo- 
logiste ne l’est pas pour un autre, et, si elle etait prise au serieux, les especes 
de Linne devraient disparaitre de la nomenclature comme celles mernes de 
Fabricius.— L. Reiclie, Ann. Soc. Ent. France, 3rd Series, vol. vii. p. 009. 

Mr. W. F. Kirby has (in Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. 1870, p. 133) expressed a 
contrary opinion, but there is a chorus among the writers which supports the 
view put forward in the text. M. Guenee, however, entertains Mr. Kirby’s 
view : see Noctuelites, vol. i. p. liii. In support of the present writer’s opinion 
may be quoted (besides the above cited and some other writers) Dr. 
Staudinger, Cat. 1871, pref. pp. xvi, xvii; Mr. M‘Lachlan, Ent. Ann. 1805, 
p. 29; Mr. Piye, Ent. Ann. 1809, p. 53; the Dresden Congress (von 
Kiesenwetter), Berlin, Entom. Zeitsch. vol. ii. app. xvii.; and Dr. Thorell, 
European Spiders, p. 15. 


saved from oblivion, only by tbe actual type specimens being 
preserved. At the time the description was written the case 
was often different. The insect, the subject of the descrip¬ 
tion, was sufficiently “ differentiated” (as the phrase goes), 
from all species then known by the line or two of Latin 
recording its characters. But now we may be acquainted 
with as many as a dozen acknowledged species, any one of 
which may be the insect for which the old description was 

I do not clamour against the old authors for this result. 
It is a natural thing to expect, and if the science of Ento¬ 
mology was to have made no advance since the time of 
Linnseus, many lives would have been lived in vain. On the 
contrary, we are thankful to the writers who with their 
opportunities did their best for Science, and who, not leaving 
us, their descendants, to start afresh, recorded and published 
to our advantage the results of their observations. The failure 
of their descriptions is soon compensated by a number of new 
ones, the work of naturalists with more extended knowledge. 
Our characters of genera and species are found in works 
much more modern, much more free from errors, much 
more complete. There is no use in not acknowledging 
that the works of the early writers might well, for all the 
practical uses which they serve, be left on the topmost shelf, 
but to be reverently dusted now and again by the hands of 
the grateful naturalist. Thus, having honourably played 
their part, and being honourably superseded by better work, 
they would remain a testimony of great things done with 
few materials, and retain the regard of their writers’ 
posterity. But this repose the strict application of the law 
of priority forbids them. 

It is alleged, by those who ought to know, that a writer 
regards it as a feather in his cap to describe a species, that 
to take rank as a nomenclator is to don the purple, and that 
to achieve this distinction entomologists are ready to be 
dishonest; that thejr would describe old species as new, 
naming them afresh; and that Buie One of this Association 
alone prevents this practice becoming general. I am not in 
a position to dispute the whole of this statement; but if a 
writer is ready to be dishonest,—to secure an advantage to 
his reputation, which is what we are so briskly informed— 
he will not be prevented by the law of priority. What the 
aspirant to fame will do is simply this; he will bring out A 
synonymic list, containing a selection from the old names 


no one has been able to fit to any species, all fitted neatly 
to species already described and known by later names, 
which of course are thenceforth superseded. And he will 
have his reward just as he would have if he took rank as a 
nomenclator. Brown’s new list is quite as great a fact as 
Diimmer’s three new species; and Brown and Diimmer may 
fight out between themselves the battle for empirical ascen¬ 
dancy. The old inferior descriptions make the task of Mr. 
Brown a very easy one, while Diimmer’s pretended novelties 
are pretty sure to undergo, and as a fact constantly do 
undergo, a speedy detection and exposure. Of the two 
empirics I would rather he relieved from the list-maker. 

On this point it has been remarked (see p. 8 of the British 
Association Rules), that to allow the erasure of an original 
name under any circumstances “ opens a door to obscure pre¬ 
tenders for dragging themselves into notice at the expense of 
original observers.” But the door is now agape, as I insist, 
for pretenders as “ obscure” as those against whom the passage 
is directed, who drag themselves into a notice much more 
notorious. The ideal poor describe!’, who brings out an old 
species under a new name, gains thereby what he seeks, a 
little adventitious importance, and there his influence stops ; 
he has done science no harm whatever. Science is supremely 
indifferent about names, and if this section should agree to 
pronounce every Latin name backwards and scratch out all 
the vowels, the injury to Science would be nil. The mere 
wrongful supplanting of an old name by the new one of the 
obscure pretender is not a matter about which Science 
troubles itself at all. But the pretender of the other class 
which I have already mentioned, for wdiom the law of priority 
pushes wide the door, is a person whose influence is indeed 
to be dreaded, and the occupation by him of a conspicuous 
place among men of science is a misfortune, little short of a 
calamity. The person I refer to is the List-maker , or Cata- 

The usual way in which old or re-discovered names are 
brought to the notice of naturalists is by the publication of 
corrected lists of species, in which the “ prior ” names appear 
instead of the ones in use. These lists of names, publica¬ 
tions of no intrinsic merit, and supplying absolutely no test 
of their author’s worth, are, I say unhesitatingly, the publi¬ 
cations which are in Entomology regarded as of most 
importance and are now most widely studied. The author 
of one of these publications is the person I mean by a list- 


These lists, and their unnatural importance, furnish 
matter for grave consideration for those who have at heart 
the interests of science. Now, lists of names must 
observe some certain order; and the order of the names 
is also the order of the species. The list-maker, then, 
cannot publish his paltry work (h) without at the same 
time trespassing on the great department of Classification. 
It is notorious that most important changes in classifi¬ 
cation are continually introduced by synonymic Lists, 
and these list-writers are actually pitch-forked into the 
position of founders of systems of arrangement! The one 
glaring instance of this in Entomology must be known to 
many present. A French author actually preferred, though 
himself a prolific bo ok-writer, to give to the world his ideas 
on classification through the medium of a Synonymic List, 
intended for labelling collections, and published in London. 
That list, bought for labelling by a thousand collectors, 
spread far and wide the new order of arrangement of the 
Lepidoptera, and Mr. Doubleday, its author, as if by magic 
found himself the founder of a system, in defence of which 
neither he nor anyone else ever penned an article. This 
List utterly subverted all existing or previous arrangements, 
and its history furnishes an only too significant proof that 
Entomology is at the mercy of list-makers. But, generally, 
the publication of a list of names, unaccompanied by 
reasons, furnishes an easy and tempting opportunity for 
airing a crotchet. Consequently, no man’s list follows 
exactly the work of any one else; and it is scarcely straining 
language to say that there are as many systems of arrange¬ 
ment as there are lists of names ! The changes in arrange¬ 
ment thus introduced may be, and have been exposed as 
being, unfounded, mistaken, happy-go-lucky changes. But 
changes so made are, it is only too true, made effectually 
and endure. 

A list of names, I have said, finds very wide circulation 
among practical entomologists. They will always, with the 
strict law of priority raging like Sirius over their devoted 
heads, be compelled to buy this trash in order to keep pace 
with what is facetiously termed the advance of science, that 
is, to learn the new names. The advance of science, save 

(h) “ His paltry work.” See Lacordaire’s opinion of the list reformers of 
his day (Silb. Revue, vol. iv. p. 231). He styles their performances L ’erudition 
a bon marche ; our phrase is “ cheap learning.” 



the mark! Can it advance science to alter the name(i) of a 
species, or to occupy time and words in frivolous discussion 
on a name, when there is such a field (j) for observation not 
explored? The works written when our science was in its 
infancy are ransacked by these “ resurrection men,” with 
the avowed and sole object of bringing out a list of old 
names. What possible service these persons persuade them¬ 
selves that they do for us or for science I am at a loss to 
surmise, but I am not at a loss to know that they are on 
their own quest after notoriety. Here you detect the plotting 
of your real “ pretender.” Brown can make himself vastly 
more important by using in his list a new order, as well as 
new names. Besides earning the reputation of an industrious 
book-worm, he gets perhaps the renown of a spirited reformer 
of classification: so a new order he without loss of timeinvents. 
This new order once started is fated to secure a wide reception; 
entomologists buy the lists, and find they can only use the 
names by adopting the families and genera of the author, 
and so they go with him the whole way. The world has 
then been saddled with “ Brown’s arrangement,” and I wish 
the world joy of its acquisition. 

To be serious, how monstrous a thing it is that a bare 
array of names shaken into a certain order shall found a 
system of arrangement! How detrimental and degrading to 
Science that the great department Classification is directed 
by persons whose fitness to direct is so manifestly untested; 
and all this arises from a heedless interpretation of the 
law of priority'! If it is possible to restore to this branch 

(i) Je me creuse en vain la tete pour decouvrir quelle vertu particuliere 
lui donne la vetuste quand l’usage ne l’a pas consacre; je ne peux voir la 
qu’un hommage rendu a la vanite des individus, et qu’ importent les individus 
en comparaison des interets de la science ? Et a ce sujet, je concevrais l’ardeur 
avec laquelle certains entomologistes maintiennent leur droit de priorite, si la 
matiere manquait et que les insectes fussent sur le point d’etre epuises; 
mais loin de la: il y en a pour qui veut en prendre, etil y en aura encore 
pour nos neveux et nos arriere-neveux.— Lacordaire, Silb. Revue,\o\. iv. p. 236. 

(j) A pekdre mon temps a decider la question de priorite. — Lacordaire, Silb. 
Revue, vol. iv. p. 236. 

The individual who sits in his library . . . turning out 

descriptions of improbable species, at the rate of so many per hour, is apt to 
imagine that his occupation constitutes Entomology, and, as a consequence, 
he too often looks down upon the poor fly-catcher with something like 
contempt; hut, for all that, the despised collector often, of the two, does the 
more for science, by which is here meant . . . not the art of piling up a 

synonymy for the bewilderment of future generations.— Dr. H. G. Knaggs, 
Lepidopterist’s Guide, 1st edit. p. 119. The writer of this spirited sentence 
very soon afterwards himself published a List, and announced another as in 
preparation. I appeal to Philip sober from Philip “ piling up a synonymy.” 


of science a healthy condition, you will do your best to 
secure that result, and I confidently urge that nothing is 
necessary for that end but a small modification (if modifica¬ 
tion he required) of this rule. It would he infatuation to 
serve blindly under every word of a code drawn up thirty 
years since, if the long interval which has elapsed shows to 
your satisfaction a point on which its working can be 
improved. The proper course, and the scientific course, is 
to amend it in that particular. By agreeing on this amend¬ 
ment we shall be doing Science a real service. 

I propose that where there is now (Aug. 1871) a universal 
agreement on a specific name, the name shall not be displaced 
on account of any prior name being discovered. As to the 
names on which all are agreed, the worst that can be said is 
that the world is now in universal error, and communis error 
facit jus. 

We have seen that, names and name-finders having 
assumed an extravagant importance, the literature of Ento¬ 
mology has run to catalogues. Year by year, entomologists 
are harassed by the announcement of some catalogue or 
list merely published to change specific names, while, 
asl have said, they wait and wait in vain for the appearance 
of descriptive or general books written on the science. The 
result is that Classification, for instance, is utterly neglected. 
Any new views on classification are introduced by their 
originator through the transposition of two or three groups 
in the next list; and people follow the new order, or do not 
follow it, according to their belief in the writer’s leadership. 
To give a reason for a change in the position of a 
genus or family never occurs to these writers, and they 
never do give a reason. A barren list is made to serve the 
function of a treatise; and entomologists are left to guess 
the reasons for themselves. 

The result in turn of this condition of affairs might easily 
have been foretold. As the authors of these productions 
give no reason for their schemes of classification, no 
criticisms of them are delivered. No comparison of their 
merits is effected. Each scheme receives some support, and 
soon the writer of each has his band of followers. The 
entomologists have never had explained to them the reasons 
for their leader’s plan; they follow blindly, content to 
declare themselves the disciples of a writer from whom they 
learn nothing. The spectacle presented is this: half the 
students of the order of insects most studied (the Lepidoptera) 


follow one scheme of classification, half follow another. 
Neither party can tell why or wherefore ( k ); they follow 
unreasoning wherever they are led. You have here a 
kind of degraded hero-worship very pitiable to meet with in 

If the law of priority be declared to have the modified 
interpretation contended for, the raison d’etre of the lists 
will disappear. There will be no acceptance then for 
resurrection men, or their unsavoury labours, and a more 
wholesome atmosphere will be enjoyed by all. 

The overturning of names we are agreed on at the 
bidding of the unbending law is a needless annoy¬ 
ance, and the work of correction has brought in its 
train the great abuses which I have detailed. There is 
nothing in the spirit of Science to require a heedless 
subservience to this supposed divine right of a nomen- 
clator; and the present amendment is urgently called 
for, for the reasons stated. Let me not be misunderstood 
as to the application of this amendment. The law of 
priority will apply with all strictness to names hereafter 
given. Only let us refuse attention to any more resurrec¬ 
tion men. Let the art and practice of exfodiation perish; 
let us have no more obscure and doubtful names forced 
on our acceptance, to the displacement of names we are 
all agreed upon, and no more paltry contention about old 
names at all. Common sense requires this provision. 
Names and words have grown obsolete in the realm of 
Science as in other realms; it is folly to seek to restore 
them. There is no reason requiring this to be done, 
where universal agreement has accepted a different name. 

The lists and catalogues which do such infinite harm 
are only published to bring out these forgotten names, 
and will cease to be published when the forgotten names 
are refused acceptance. We shall begin to have books 
instead of catalogues, and entomologists will take to advancing 
the Science as it is at present, instead of harking back to 
investigate the period of its infancy. Relieved of the 
incubus of trifling and inferior works, the literature of 
Entomology will become worthy of the really advanced 

(k) British Entomologists are apt to take the position of groups for 
granted, and to create imaginary links of exotic species to fill up any gap, 
however wide.— Dr. R. C. R. Jordan , Ent. Mo. Mag. vol. vi. p. 152. 

The writer has already expressed his views on this unpromising state of 
affairs, in Trans. Ent. Soc. 1871, part 3, pp. 342- 343, and 340—352. 


condition of that science. The frivolous occupation of 
changing names being denied them, even the busy list- 
makers may produce something worthy of their industry. 
When names, which have taken up so much attention (l), 
occupy it no longer, the whole body of entomologists will 
find other and profitable fields for study, observation and 
research, and immediate advantage to Science must he the 
satisfactory result. 

(1). Ces questions de mots qui nuisent a l’etude exclusive des faits et des 
idees.— Guenee, Lepidopt. vol. 9, p. xxxi. 

Les empietements et transformations continuelles qui sont le plus grand 
fleau de notre epoque. ... La fixite et la consistance sans lesquelles 
notre science finira par devenir une fatigue au lieu d'un delassement.— Id. 
p. xxxvi. 

“ Synonymic Lists and Certainty in Nomenclature. 

“ The appearance of Mr. Kirby’s ‘ Synonymic Catalogue 
of Diurnal Lepidoptera,’ just as the controversy on the law 
of priority is at its height, has prompted me to make my 
further contribution to the discussion at the present time 
instead of waiting (as I had intended to do) until after more 
entomologists have given us the benefit of their opinions. It 
is not too much to say that, since the publication of this 
work, the aspect of the question for us has wholly altered. 
Arguments which have been put forward on either side 
appear now weak and beside the question in face of the 
serious conclusion to which we must find ourselves driven. 
Hence I abstain from an endeavour to answer the different 
points made by those who have taken a view opposite to 
mine. They and I have to deal now with such fresh con¬ 
siderations as will, I prophesy, make converts to the 
good cause neither few nor feeble. 

(i Mr. Kirby’s Catalogue coming on the top of Dr. Stau- 
dinger’s Catalogue is in time to teach us a most salutary and 
useful lesson. The least willing scholar must now be forced 
to learn that never by means of synonymic lists shall we attain 
to certainty in nomenclature ; and we shall be wise indeed not 
to neglect the warning. 

“Let us review the circumstances in which we find ourselves 
placed. After many years of tinkering and alteration, it was 
known that our lists of the Rhopalocera were undergoing a 
studious revision - at the hands of two thoroughly 
competent Lepidopterists. These authors were working 
independently and simultaneously; Dr. Staudinger upon 
the European Macro-Lepidoptera, Mr. Kirby on the Diurnal 
Lepidoptera of the World. Each author has, as the results 
have shown, devoted to his work the very utmost research. 
No hole or corner remains unexplored; we have achieved 
the maximum of discovery. 

“ The result to be expected from the labours of these 
gentlemen was at all events not less than this,—that we should 
ascertain with certainty what names are, according to the 


laiv which they recognize , the right names for our most 
familiar butterflies. The result is that upon this matter we 
are more hopelessly and irremediably at a loss than ever 
before in the history of Science. I do hope entomologists 
will appreciate the gravity of the situation; and that I shall 
not be deemed a trespasser if I occupy some little space in 
pointing the moral which it teaches. 

“ The work common to both authors is the revision of the 
European }Ihojp aloe era. I must content myself with ex¬ 
amining the results with reference to the 05 British 
Butterflies. This modest group is better known than any 
other equal number of insects; and if upon the names of 
these familiar objects there is a hopeless disagreement, we 
have the grounds for forming an opinion what are the 
chances of our arriving at certainty in the obscurer groups. 
The nett results of the two lists together are :— 

(1) Of the sixty-five (m) specific names in Stainton’s Manual 
seventeen are wrong and must be abandoned. 

(2) In nine cases Dr. Staudinger and Mr. Kirby disagree 
on the name. 

(3) In four cases, though agreeing that our name is 
wrong, they differ on the question which name shall 
supplant it. 

“ And these most extraordinary results are arrived at, 
notwithstanding that both authors have in almost every 
instance made identically the same references ! The 
differences are not to be explained on the supposition that 
one or the other author has been more painstaking in his 
researches. Their work shows that each has used the same 
sources of information. 

“ Now, the ‘ law’ of priority was thought by its partisans 
to be an infallible guide to certainty in nomenclature. Both 
these authors are strenuous supporters of the so-called law. 
Where are we to look to find the explanation of this 
lamentable break-down ? We find it in this,—the radical un¬ 
soundness of the principle on which their work proceeds. 
That principle requires an acceptance of the earliest dis¬ 
coverable name which can be determined to represent the 
species. But the early descriptions are so insufficient and 
defective that perpetual disagreement must take place on 
the question to what species the descriptions and names 
do refer. Indeed, if the law of priority had been 

(m) The number is sixty-six, counting P. Artaxerxes; the above analysis 
takes no notice of this name, which Dr. Staudinger sinks as a synonym. 


invented by that personage whose pleasure it is to see men 
in everlasting dispute, it could not more thoroughly have 
secured the object. When discovery has reached its acme, 
we are deeper in bewilderment than ever. We are suffering, 
in this fresh disturbance of our nomenclature, an uncertainty 
arising from the differences of opinion of two list-makers,— 
differences of opinion, for instance, on the stirring and impor¬ 
tant scientific question, whether a faulty description can or 
cannot be recognized ! Is it to be tolerated that our nomen¬ 
clature shall remain for ever unsettled out of subservience to 
a fallacious ‘law,’ vaunted as being a sure guide to certainty, 
but seen to ensure a proportion of endless disagreement ? 
It is clear that on the names on which they differ now, 
Mr. Kirby and Dr. Staudinger will differ for ever. Who 
will judge? Are we all, each for himself, to take to the 
work of exfodiation ? Which guide are we to choose, and 
why ? I shall be heartily glad to have this position made 
plain for me by some of the smart resurrection-men. 

“ I have abstracted the results only as to sixty-five well- 
known insects. Dr. Staudinger’s Catalogue enumerates 
2849 species to the end of the Geometrce alone. Does any 
one believe that if Mr. Kirby had brought out a list of 
European Heterocera , the work would not throughout have 
exhibited the same proportion of differences ? The position 
at this moment would be that we should have two spic-and- 
span new lists (hot from the press, and teeming with the 
results of most recent and exact investigation), working a 
change in one fourth of our specific names, and differing between 
each other in one-seventli. Monstrous and horrid result! 
But does anyone believe there are not cases upon cases in 
which there is room for a new list-maker to contend that 
both these authors are wrong ? Would not a Catalogue by 
M. Guenee exhibit discrepancies on every page from both 
these brand-new^ works ? Is there anyone who for a moment 
doubts it ? 

“We are now not in a state of transition from error to 
truth. We are face to face with a dead-lock. The passion 
for change has hurled us where we are ; and its operation is 
traced as plainly as the track of a torrent. Authors were never 
satisfied with the names they found in use, and did not 
confine their labours to establishing which of two living 
names was preferable. They set to work to search the old 
and inexact descriptions, till they reached some so 
unrecognizable that one or the other could not bring 



himself to accept them. Now they differ, and we are left at 
their mercy (?t). 

“ But there is still a remedy. Befuse acceptance to these 
new names, one and all. Treat them as the things which 
for the most part they are, a jumble of letters not 
accurately referable to any certain species. Let us adhere 
to the accepted names, approved by universal consent, which 
we are accustomed to use. Preserve the living names, 
ignore the dead. So only shall we achieve, in spite of the 
mischievous {nn) stalking-horse, ‘priority,’ that certainty in 
nomenclature, the chance of which through it we have 
nearly lost for ever. Besides accomplishing this we shall 
have gotten for ourselves an even more valuable result. 
We shall have administered a check to a class of publications 
which tend more than any other agency to impoverish the 
literature of science. While authors find the roll of fame is 
supplied by the wrapper of a catalogue, the best may be 
content to inscribe their names only on that worthless sheet. 
The hot quest of ephemeral notoriety once made profitless, 
we may expect that more energies will be directed to the 
production of serviceable books. Bely upon it, to encourage 
innovating synonymic lists is, in every way possible, to 
retard entomological science (o). This branch of natural 
history, from the small differences which divide its subjects 
and the inequality of nearly all descriptions accurately to 

(n) Que faire alors? On a dans ce cas, me direz-vous, le droit de choisir. 
Mais, si j’adopte le nom de Pierre, et mon voisin celui de Paul, qui nous 
mettra d’accord, et la question ne reste-t-elle pas la merae? Et que sera-ce 
pour nos descendants, s’il leur prend envie de peser les droits respectifs de 
l’efFroyable amas d’opuscules que nous sommes en train de fabriquer ?— 
Lacordaire Silb. Revue, vol. iv., p. 229. 

(nn) Funeste pour l’entomologie.— Dejean, Catal. des Coleopteres (1837) 

p. x. 

L’entomologie est maintenant un dedale, ou il est impossible de se 
reconnaitre, et la premiere cause de ce mal est ce faux principe de l’adoption 
exclusive du nom le plus anciennement publie.— Id., ubi supra. 

( o) These expressions were objected to as “ dogmatic” and “extraordinary.” 
Mr. M’Lachlan, F.L.S., does not agree with John Curtis: “Nothing is so 
likely to retard if not to overthrow Science as encumbering it with unneces¬ 
sary names.”—Brit. Ent. pi. 2G8. Nor with J. F. Stephens : “ It is detrimental 
to the progress of Science to alter a name without powerful reasons.”—Illustr. 
Haust. vol. i. p. 45. For the opinion of the last-named author on lists of 
names, refer also to Haust. vol. iii., p. 90, note. See M. Guenee’s opinion, 
Lepidopt. vol. 9, p. xxxiii. For an opinion on the effect of recent changes upon 
the advance of Science, see 5 Ent. Mo. Mag. 210, and Proc. Ent. Soc. for 
Dec. 7, 1868 ; also the ‘ Zoologist ’ for January, 1872, p. 2894. And Ann. Soc. 
Entom. de Belgique, vol. 14, pp. cxxxi., cxxxii., comptes rendus. 



express such differences, baffles (p) the 4 law ’ of priority to 
fix its nomenclature; and sooner or later that conviction 
must force itself upon all. 


“ Temple, Sept. 9, 1871.” 

(p) Je n’ai qu’une seule objection a lui faire: c’est qu’il est completement 
et radicalement inexecutable dans Vapplication. — Lacordaire, Silb. Revue, 
vol. iv. p. 225. 

e. Newman, printer, Devonshire street, bishopsgate.