Thomas Say, Early American Naturalist

Thomas Say, Early American Naturalist

Thomas Say, Early American Naturalist

Thomas Say, Early American Naturalist

Excerpt

No apology is needed for writing a book on the life of Thomas Say, Father of American Zoology. Nor do we mean to reflect upon his previous biographers when we say that their accounts are brief and inadequate, consisting as most of them do of but a few pages. As brief summaries of his life, some of them are good, but nevertheless they are incomplete and do not do full justice to either Say's life or his industry.

Here, we are more concerned with Say's life than with his scientific attainments, although to a certain extent the two are inseparable. However, as Say's writings have been collected these many years and are easily available to interested persons, it would be useless to reprint any or all of them here. And it would not only be useless, but uninteresting too, which is worse, to go into entomological questions and differences of opinion long since settled.

As this introduction seems to be developing into a statement of what the book is not, we may as well go a step further and say also that it is not a psychological study of Thomas Say and that we have no particular conception of Say that we are trying to present.

We have simply collected all the facts we could find, after a prolonged search, and are presenting them in an orderly fashion in the hope that Say's character will emerge of itself. We know this is not the popular way of writing a biography, and our readers, if we have any, will find in these pages neither a scoundrel nor a saint. As each generation writes its own biographies of past heroes and great men, and as styles of such writings change, we hope by sticking closely to the facts and by being careful in the use of adjectives and our own interpretations to outwit the passage of time to a certain extent and to have our book outlast a few generations, serving as a source for particular interpretations if such are needed.

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