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The clearness, simpicity, and charm of the great French naturalist's style are nowhere better illustrated than in this work, which in its variety of subject-matter and apt use of entertaining anecdote rivals "The Story-Book of Science," already a favorite with his readers. Such instances of antiquated usage or superseded methods as occur in these chapters of popular science easily win our indulgence because of the literary charm and warm human quality investing all that the author has to say. -- Translator (Introductory Note).