Among the Merchiston papers is a thin quarto volume in Robert Napier's writing containing a digest of the principles of alchemy; it is addressed to his son, and on the first leaf there are directions that it is to remain in his charter-chest and be kept secret except from a few.
The success was instant, and, for a quarto, probably unprecedented.
Far better both as draughtsman and as authority was George Edwards, who in 1 743 began, under the same title as Albin, a series of plates with letterpress, which was continued by the name of Gleanings in Natural History, and finished in 1760, when it had reached seven parts, forming four quarto volumes, the figures of which are nearly always quoted with approval.4 The year which saw the works of Edwards completed was still further distinguished by the appearance in France, where little had been done since Belon's days,' in six quarto volumes, of the Ornithologie of MathurinJacques Brisson - a work of very great merit so far as it goes, for as a descriptive ornithologist the author stands even now unsurpassed; but it must be said that his knowledge, according to internal evidence, was confined to books and to the external parts of birds' skins.
But in 1681 Gerard Blasius had brought out at Amsterdam an Anatome Animalium, containing the results of all the dissections of animals that he could find; and the second part of this book, treating of Volatilia, makes a respectable show of more than one hundred and twenty closely-printed quarto pages, though nearly two-thirds is devoted to a treatise De Ovo et Pullo, containing among other things a reprint of Harvey's researches, and the scientific rank of the whole book may be inferred from bats being still classed with birds.
Simultaneously William Lewin began his seven quarto volumes on the Birds of Great Britain, a reissue in eight volumes following between 1795 and 1801.