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The thing to be done, therefore, was to organize a course of practical instruction in Elementary Biology, as a first step towards the special work of the Zoologist and Botanist. But this was forbidden, so far as I was concerned, by the limitations of space in the building in Jermyn Street, which possessed no room applicable to the purpose of a laboratory; and I was obliged to content myself, for many years, with what seemed the next best thing, namely, as full an exposition as I could give of the characters of certain plants and animals, selected as types of vegetable and animal organization, by way of introduction to systematic Zoology and Palæontology.
In 1870, my friend Professor Rolleston, of Oxford, published his "Forms of Animal Life." It appears to me that this exact and thorough book, in conjunction with the splendid appliances of the University Museum, leaves the Oxford student of the fundamental facts of Zoology little to desire. But the Linacre Professor wrote for the student of Animal life only, and, naturally, with an especial eye to the conditions which obtain in his own University; so that there was still room left for a Manual of wider scope, for the use of learners less happily situated.
In 1872 I was, for the first time, enabled to carry my own notions on this subject into practice, in the excellent rooms provided for biological instruction in the New Buildings at South Kensington. In the short course of Lectures given
to Science Teachers on this occasion, I had the great advantage of being aided by my friends Dr Foster, F.R.S., Prof. Rutherford, F. R.S., and Prof. Lankester, F. R. S., whose assistance in getting the laboratory work into practical shape was invaluable.
Since that time, the biological teaching of the Royal School of Mines having been transferred to South Kensington, I have been enabled to model my ordinary course of instruction upon substantially the same plan.
The object of the present book is to serve as a laboratory guide to those who are inclined to follow upon the same road. A number of common and readily obtainable plants and animals have been selected in such a manner as to exemplify the leading modifications of structure which are met with in the vegetable and animal worlds. A brief description of each is given; and the description is followed by such detailed instructions as, it is hoped, will enable the student to know, of his own knowledge, the chief facts mentioned in the account of the animal or plant. The terms used in Biology will thus be represented by clear and definite images of the things to which they apply; a comprehensive, and yet not vague, conception of the phenomena of Life will be obtained; and a firm foundation upon which to build up special knowledge will be laid.
The chief labour in drawing up these instructions has fallen upon Dr Martin. For the general plan used, and the
descriptions of the several plants and animals, I am responsible; but I am indebted for many valuable suggestions and criticisms from the botanical side to my friend Prof. Thiselton Dyer.
T. H. H.