A vicious attack on Dickerson for impeding the preparation and dispatch of the US Exploring Expedition [Wilkes], even though it had been approved by Congress, partly through Reynolds’ efforts.
p. 40-41, attacks the failure to consult the eminent naturalists of Britain, France and Germany, especially those who had accompanied former expeditions, and received their advice on what books and instruments would be needed: I am not a little puzzled with this heterogeneous mélange of scientific works which have been brought hither. So far as respects the few which relate to natural history, the recent French voyages excepted, I scarcely know how an equal number of more useless volumes could have been selected. I should be glad to see you or the agent point out more than ten works, throwing aside the voyages, that any competent naturalist would have ordered. I can only name seven: Richardson’s Fauna, Bennsters Entomology, Cuvier’s Fishes, Landor’s Encyclopedia of Plants, Genera of Recent and Fossil Shells, Yarrel’s British Fishes, and Turner’s Fuci. Magazines of Natural History, like the Geological and Linnean Transactions, are not needed; though containing many important papers, the proper place for such ponderous tomes is the shelves of a library. The naturalist will require working books, manuals, and models; and these, sir, have not been provided.
The list of voyages, I am happy to find, is far more complete, though three which may be termed scientific par excellence are not included in it: viz., Pallas, Saussure, and the complete works of Humboldt. In a word, the catalogue is in itself sufficient evidence that no naturalist had any share in its adoption. Indeed, I am only in doubt whether the assortment was made by the agent, or whether he merely gave a carte blanche to a bookseller, and requested him to furnish as many cubic feet of works on natural history as he thought might be necessary for ‘any scientific expedition’.
See also p. 36 etc., and Congressional reports on the proposed expedition in 1836 and 37.