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Full text of "Life of Alfred Newton"

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LIFE OF ALFRED NEWTON, M.A., F.R.S. 

PROFESSOR OF ZOOLOGY AND COMPARATIVE ANATOMY 
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, 1866-I907 





If O ! 

^ LIFE OF ,hw? 

ALFRED NEWTON ^ 



* • 

PROFESSOR OF COMPARATIVE ANATOMY 
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY. 1866-1907 



BY A. F. R. WOLLASTON 



WITH A PREFACE BY SIR ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, O.M. 



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WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



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NEW YORK 
E. P. BUTTON AND COMPANY 

1921 



NOTE 

When in the spring of 1909 his literary executors paid 
me the compliment of asking me to write a "Life" 
of Professor Newton, I accepted the invitation with 
enthusiasm tempered by diffidence, little guessing the 
delays to which it would be subjected, and little know- 
ing the difficulties of the task. It became very soon 
apparent that the interests of so sedentary a life as that 
of Newton must be looked for principally in his letters. 
This led to the startling discovery that he had kept 
almost every letter he received during a period of more 
than fifty years, and to the further fact that a great 
many of his correspondents had preserved almost every 
letter that he had written to them. Searching through 
these thousands of letters was a work of several months ; 
and after that I was unavoidably occupied in New 
Guinea for a term of years. During these absences from 
England — and later during the war — I made attempts 
to induce others to complete the " Life," but without 
success. 

So it was not until 1920 that I was able to return 
to it. In the meantime the business of producing 
books, like all other things, has suffered a change, and 
the ample biographies of the spacious days before 1914 
are no longer possible. Thus it happens that this 
volume has been reduced by nearly a half of its bulk, 
greatly to the advantage of the casual reader, if such 



vi NOTE 

there be, but, I fear, at the cost of some disappoint- 
ment to others who had hoped to see their interesting 
correspondence with Newton included in the book. In 
cutting down I have tried to act on the principle of 
preserving his best and most characteristic letters on 
whatever subject, rather than of including technically 
important matters, which are elsewhere accessible to 
naturalists. 

The help that I have received from Newton's friends 
and from members of his family has, I hope, been in 
every case gratefully acknowledged. There are two — 
Mr. James E. Harvie-Brown and Lord Walsingham — 
whose names must be recorded here : both of them 
have followed their old friend, but not before they had 
given me incalculable help in my attempt to preserve 
his memory. 

A. F. R. W. 

April, 1921. 



PREFACE 

The subject of this volume, a man of strongly-marked 
personality, was for more than half a century a leader 
among the naturalists of this country, a distinguished 
Professor in the University of Cambridge, a prolific 
and accomplished writer, and a charming companion, 
whose geniality, humour, and innocent little whimsi- 
calities, drew around him a wide circle of friends. All 
who knew Alfred Newton will be glad that Mr. 
WoUaston, one of his pupils, should have put together 
this appreciative memoir. In so doing he has been 
fortunate in having had access to so large a number 
of the Professor's letters and journals as to give the 
chapters not a little of the character of an auto- 
biography. 

We see the future man of science entering Magdalene 
College, Cambridge, in 1848, as an undergraduate of 
nineteen. Six years later his youthful reputation 
gained for him, as the son of a Norfolk squire, election 
to the Norfolk Travelling Scholarship, with the aid 
of which he was enabled to make ornithological re- 
searches in Lapland and Iceland, and to visit the 
United States and the West Indies. These early 
journeys confirmed his bent towards the study of 
birds, and laid the foundation of his fame as one 
of the most eminent ornithologists of his day. He 
used to regret in later life that he had not travelled 



viii PREFACE 

more. He was indeed a born naturalist, and but for 
the lameness, which came from an accident in early 
boyhood, he would doubtless have become a dauntless 
pioneer in zoological regions as yet unexplored. Few 
bird-lovers could equal him in the quickness and sure- 
ness of eye which, even at a considerable distance, 
enabled him to distinguish a bird on the wing. The 
lameness, much increased by an accident in later years, 
greatly restricted the exploratory work which he might 
have achieved. It was most heroically borne by him, 
and was combated with two walking-sticks. He was 
too independent, however, to accept assistance if he 
could possibly do without it. In the yachting cruises 
which for some years I enjoyed in his company along 
the western coasts of Scotland, Ireland, and the Faroe 
Isles, he generally would land at every place of interest, 
even when a strong swell made it difficult to get into 
the boat. One could not but admire the tact with 
which he avoided the proffered hands of the crew, 
and his dexterity in the manipulation of his two sticks. 
His perfect coolness was remarkable on such occasions. 
He used to tell how once at Spitzbergen the dinghy 
slipped away before he had hold of the ship's ladder 
and he plumped into the water, but kept his pipe in 
his mouth, and so, as he said, lost nothing ! 

It was about 1863 that he made Cambridge his 
permanent home. In 1866 he was elected Professor 
of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in the Uni- 
versity. He then began at once with much ardour 
to improve the Zoological Museum, which in his hands 
became in the course of years one of the most important 
in the country. His kindly nature led him to take 
much interest in the undergraduates who showed a 
love of natural history. His " Sunday evenings " at 
Magdalene, when he received his students, academical 



PREFACE ix 

friends, and any notable men of science who might 
be visiting Cambridge, were highly popular. Mr. 
Wollaston testifies to their value from the under- 
graduate point of view. 

Professor Newton was an indefatigable worker, 
never without some piece of scientific literature on 
hand, and often more than one. He was a keen critic 
of others, and not less of himself. He would write 
and re-write his compositions several times before they 
came up to his standard of arrangement and style. 
Above all he strove to secure accuracy in his own 
statements, and in his references and quotations. The 
pains taken by him with this object sometimes led to 
serious delays in the completion of his manuscript, 
which brought strong protests from the publishers, 
who had no sympathy with what they regarded as 
meticulous labour. If their complaints did not alter 
his habit, they at least filled him with indignation 
against the whole publishing tribe. 

Newton was a strong Conservative, instinctively 
opposed to the abrogation of any ancient usage. This 
resolute stand on the antiquas vias led him occasionally 
into whimsical positions, some of which are alluded to 
in the following chapters. Yet it is nevertheless true 
that he was one of the earliest naturalists in this 
country to accept Darwin's explanation of the origin of 
species. Not only did he receive with joy and admira- 
tion this momentous revolution in scientific thought, 
he actually made some efi'ort to induce his brother 
naturalists to do likewise, but without success. 

The reader of the volume may, in some measure, 
appreciate the personal charm which endeared the 
Professor to those around him. His perennial bonhomie, 
his youthful enthusiasms maintained up to the last, his 
inexhaustible fund of anecdote and reminiscence, his 



X PREFACE 

unfailing good humour, his love of work, and his gener- 
ous co-operation in the doings of every fellow-worker 
who needed his help, together with the amusing pre- 
dicaments in which his conversation sometimes placed 
him, combined to make a rare and delightful person- 
ality, and underneath it all lay the solid and lasting 
service rendered by him to the branch of science to 
which he devoted his life. 

ARCHIBALD GEIKIE. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

PAGE 

William Newton — His sons — Birth of Alfred at Geneva — Elveden 
Hall— Sport at Elveden — Accident in childhood — Affection for 
his brother Edward — Early interest in Natural History — School 
— First visit to Cambridge — Letters from school — Dogs and 
pets — Enters at Cambridge 1 

CHAPTER II 

EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

Magdalene — Takes degree — Norfolk Travelling Fellowship — Other 
naturalists — John Wolley — Wolley's experiences in Lapland — 
Sales of eggs — Newton goes to Lapland — Interest in northern 
faunas — Musk Ox — Breeding-place of Knot — Alfred Newton 
Glacier — Visit to W. Indies — Notes on Humming-birds — Visit 
to U.S.A.— J. H. Gurney 11 

CHAPTER III 

VISIT TO ICELAND 

Visit to Iceland — Lands in Faroe — The Meal Sack — Hospitality at 
Reykjavik — Learning Icelandic — Journey through Iceland — 
Streams of lava — Reykjanes — Submarine eruption — Habits of 
Great Auk — Failure of expedition 27 

CHAPTER IV 

THE GREAT AUK 

Extinction of Great Auk — History of the bird — Buying a Great 
Auk's egg — Its obscure history — Discovery of ten Great Auks' 
eggs — Gare-fowl book — Visit to Great Auk's breeding-places — 
Dodo and other extinct birds — Great Bustard — Acclimatisation 
and extermination 40 



xii TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER V 

THE IBIS 

PAGE 

Origin of B.O.U.— Founders— Journal— Motto— Editorship of Ibis— 
Canon Tristram — Wolley's collections — " Ootheca Wolleyana " 
— IMemoir of John Wolley 61 

CHAPTER VI 

VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

Shooting in Denmark— Visit to Germany — Decides not to take 
holy orders — Prince Dhuleep Singh and Elveden — Visit to 
Spitzbergen — Voyage from Leith — Birds in Ice Sound — Snow 
Buntings — Eiders — Reindeer — Nordenskjold — Seals — Upset 
from boat — Fogs and calms— Bear Island and Hammerfest . 73 

CHAPTER VII 

DR. Shipley's reminiscences 

{Written by the Master of ChHsVs) 

Cambridge in the 'forties — Eailway station — Magdalene in 1849 
— Professor Adami — Francis Balfour — Adam Sedgwick — 
William Bateson — Newton's lectures — Hospitality— Character 93 

CHAPTER VIII 

EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

Early days of Darwinism — Newton's acceptance of theory — British 
Association at Oxford in 1860 — Huxley and the Bishop of 
Oxford— Dr. Temple — Tristram's defection — Manchester meet- 
ing — Letter from Darwin — Zoological Record — Mendelism — 
Programme for Section D— Sclater and Louis Napoleon— Red 
Lions— Professorship of Zoology— Charles Kingsley . . .110 

CHAPTER IX 

PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

Zoological aspect of Game Laws — Destruction of Sea-fowl — Close- 
time Committee — Bird Protection Bills and Acts — Letters to 
Lord Walsingham — Skuas — Protection of eggs— Protection of 
areas— Society for the Protection of Birds -Egg-collecting . 136 



TABLE OF CONTENTS xiii 

CHAPTER X 

MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

PAGE 

Migration of birds — Letter of Scandinavian Poet — Newton's reply 
— Theories of migration — Torpidity and other superstitions — 
Gatke — Mr. Eagle-Clarke's observations at lighthouses — 
Destruction of life — History of migration — Aristotle and 
Pliny — Geographical distribution — Ptarmigan — Origin of life — 
Holarctic Region — A. R, Wallace — Address at Manchester . 160 

CHAPTER XI 

GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

Gilbert White — Reviews of " Selbome " — Coleridge's Marginalia — 
Gilbert White's wig — *' Selbome " a classic — Mr. Holt- White's 
" Life "— " Molly " letters— Mulso's letters— Thomas Bewick— 
—Willughby— Ray— Gould— F. Buckland— T. Edwards— R. 
Jefferies — H. Seebohm 186 

CHAPTER XII 

METHODS OF WORK 

Accuracy — Care in identification — The Scaup Duck — Bustard — 
Great Black Woodpecker — Vipers swallowing young — Slow- 
ness in work — Yarrell's " British Birds " — Classification— 
Linnsean system — Nomenclature — Subspecies and trinomials . 207 

CHAPTER XIII 

LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

Correspondence with Professor Skeat — De Avosetta — Capercaillie — 

Mistletoe Thrush — Decoy— Okapi — No Snakes in Iceland . 220 

CHAPTER XIV 

WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

Letter-writing — B. M. Cats. — Dedications — Zoological anecdote — 
Professor Babington and suet puddings — " Dictionary of Birds " 
— Publishers — Revisions — Style — Reviewers — The Cuckow — 
Philosophy — Politics and College politics — Mr. A. C. Benson's 
reminiscences — Bores —Interest in young naturalists . , 234 



xiv TABLE OF CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XV 

WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

PAGE 

Lectures — Zoological training — Invertebrata — Jack Perkins and the 
Duke of Cambridge — Museum — Bos primigenius — Letters 
from Charles Kingsley — Special Board — Greek play — "Birds" 
of Aristophanes — Hospitality in College — The Old Lodge — 
Sunday evenings — Dr. Guillemard's recollections . . . 250 

CHAPTER XVI 

LATER YEARS 

Cornish Choughs — Heligoland and accident — Sir Archibald Geikic's 
account of cruises — St. Kilda and Orkneys — The song of the 
Shearwater — Death of Sir Edward Newton — The Professor in 
old age — Portraits — Honours— Last days — Death . . 275 

CHAPTER XVII 
Miscellaneous Letters 293 

APPENDIX 
List of Published Papers 316 

Index 325 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Professor Alfred Newton Frontispiece 

Sir Edward Newton, K.C.M.G Facing page 62 

Third Baron Lilford „ „ 120 

Canon H. B. Tristram, F.R.S „ „ 120 

The Professor. From a sketch by C. M. Newton . „ „ 258 



LIFE OF ALFRED NEWTON 

CHAPTER I 

CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

If the boundary of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk 
had not taken a sudden bend to the south near Thetford, 
so as almost to include the parish of Elveden, it is 
probable that the Hfe of Alfred Newton, though it would 
undoubtedly have been the life of a man of distinction, 
would not have been the life of a naturalist. Fortunately 
for lovers of Natural History in general and of Orni- 
thology in particular, his father, as well as owning Elveden 
Hall in Suffolk, possessed also a small property on the 
other side of the boundary and was a Justice of the 
Peace for the county of Norfolk, so that at a critical 
point of his career Newton was able to establish his 
claim to be the " son of a Norfolk gentleman." 

WiUiam Newton, at one time M.P. for Ipswich, was 
the son of a planter, Samuel Newton of St. Kitts, in the 
West Indies, in the golden days of sugar, who lived in the 
island of St. Croix until he bought the Elveden estate in 
1810 from the fourth Earl of Albemarle. He married 
(1811) Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Slater Milnes, M.P. 
for York, and aunt of Richard Monckton Milnes, first 
Baron Houghton, by whom he had six sons and four 
daughters. The eldest son, William Samuel, was one of 
the survivors of the Coldstream Guards at Inkerman, 
and retired with the rank of General. The second son, 
Robert Milnes, became Recorder of Cambridge and a 
Metropolitan Pohce Magistrate. Horace Parker was 

B 



2 CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

first of his year at the R.M.A., Woolwich ; he served with 
the Royal Artillery in the CVimea and retired with the 
rank of Major-General. The youngest son, Edward, 
K.C.M.G. (1832-97), was at one time Colonial Secretary 
of Mauritius and subsequently Colonial Secretary and 
Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica. 

Alfred was the fifth son of William Newton of 
Elveden. In 1828 Mr. Newton with his wife, seven 
children and a suitable retinue of nurses and couriers, 
drove in the leisurely fashion of those days from Elveden 
to Pisa in the family chariot. On their way back through 
Switzerland in the following year the family halted for 
a time at Geneva, where Alfred was born on June 11, 
1829, at a house, " Les DeHces," * which was at that 
time far beyond the limits of the town, but has now 
become surrounded by the growing suburbs of Geneva. 
In the next year they returned to Elveden, which 
continued to be the family home until after the death of 
Mr. Newton more than thirty years later. 

The Elveden Hall of those days was like many other 
East Anglian country houses, a plain Georgian mansion 
of brick, built about 1770 by Admiral Augustus Keppel, 
first and last Viscount Keppel of Elveden, upon whose 
death, in 1786, it passed to his nephew, the Earl of 
Albemarle. It is probable that there had never been an 
earher house at Elveden, although the district had been 
renowned for centuries as one of the finest sporting 
countries in England. King James I. after visiting 
Newmarket in 1605, proceeded to Thetford, where he 
stayed for some time and was greatly struck by the 

* Ib Morley's " Voltaire " (chap, iv.) it is stated that Voltaire " made him- 
self a hermitage for the summer, called the Delices, a short distance from 
the spot where the Arve falls into the Rhone." This is without doubt the 
house in which Alfred Newton was bom. One of his nephews writes : 
" The explanation why none of us should ever have heard about this before 
is that our elders considered Voltaire a horrible person whose name should 
never be mentioned by respectable people." 



SHOOTING AT ELVEDEN 3 

quantities of game he saw there. He was with difficulty 
dissuaded from enforcing a dormant proclamation, 
which would have had the result of making the whole 
country a royal game preserve, but contented himself 
by claiming all the sporting rights over the country 
within twelve miles of Thetford and appointing a royal 
gamekeeper at a salary of two shilHngs a day. The 
same course was followed by his sport-loving successors, 
Charles I. and Charles II. 

In the early days of the nineteenth century, before 
the breech-loading gun had been invented, and when 
pheasant-rearing was yet in its infancy, the bags obtained 
at Elveden were not to be compared with the " records " 
of later years, but the sport there must have been as 
good as at any place in the kingdom. 

A bag which I believe had never been exceeded was 
made at Elveden in my father's time, 331 or 332 pheasants 
in one day, of which over 300 were cock birds, and not 
one of them reared by hand. This was in the " twenties," 
before I was born. 

It seems, too, that in those times game was less care- 
fully preserved and the boundaries of neighbouring 
estates were not so strictly marked as is the case now- 
adays. 

I have heard my father say that when he first went 
to Elveden, it was a common thing for a " gentleman " 
going from one country house to another to " shoot his 
way over," sending his servant and luggage by road, and 
that in particular in the autumn race meetings at 
Newmarket guests invited thence to stay at Euston 
made a habit of doing this, and he once found some 
distinguished persons pursuing a covey of Partridges on 
the Great Heath at Elveden. If anybody but a " gentle- 
man " had tried this on he would have found the custom 
very different. It was also customary for officers in the 



4 CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

army, when changing quarters, to rove as they passed in 
search of game, and nobody said anything to them. 
You will find this mentioned in Col. Hawker's diary, but 
he, not being a gentleman, tried the same thing on when 
he was in quarters and there he found himself wrong. 

Although, judged by modern standards, the quantity 
of pheasants and partridges was not very great, there 
was ample compensation, to a naturahst, in the existence 
of several rare birds which still survived in the Elveden 
district. It is true that the Great Bustard was on the 
verge of extinction — the last of the native stock was 
killed in 1838 — but Montagu's Harriers were fairly 
common in the fens near Feltwell, Buzzards still nested 
in some of the big woods, and Ravens bred every year at 
Elveden, where they survived until 1870. The vast 
warrens of the " Breck," the woods and water-meadows 
of the valley of the Little Ouse, and the neighbouring 
Fenland between them made an ideal training ground 
for a naturalist. 

The only detail that is known of Alfred Newton's 
childhood is an incident which affected profoundly the 
whole of his after hfe. When he was not more than five 
or six years old, he was playing some riotous game with 
one of his brothers in the librarv at Elveden and he fell 
and hurt one of his knees. Little importance was 
attached to it at first, but serious injury had been done 
and his right leg never grew equally with the other, 
causing him to be permanently lame. It may be that 
this accident prevented him from following his brothers' 
example and becoming a soldier, a career in which it may 
safely be said that he would have won certain distinction. 
But one very definite result which followed from his 
lameness was the encouragement it gave him in his 
earliest years to acquire habits of observation and 
contemplation. As time went on and he was debarred 



GUESTS AT ELVEDEN 5 

to a great extent from the more active pursuits of his 
elder brothers, he came to rely more for companionship 
upon his younger brother, Edward. The affection — it 
might almost be called devotion — that Alfred and Edward 
had for each other was much more than is commonly 
seen between brothers, and it lasted unchanged until the 
death of the younger brother ten years before that of the 
elder. Edward's tastes were in many ways the same as 
those of Alfred, but though he was strong and active, he 
would do nothing that Alfred could not do, and it is said 
that as a child he wished that he might be lame too, so 
that they might, so to speak, " start fair." The two 
boys did everything together and were almost insepa- 
able ; the collection of birds and eggs was " ours," their 
dogs were the joint property of both, and their records 
of observations were kept in notebooks labelled " A. and 
E. N." 

But it must not be supposed that he was debarred by 
his lameness from out-of-door amusements : he rode, 
and as a shot he was not much inferior to his brother 
Edward, who became afterwards one of the finest shots 
in England. Mr. Newton used to entertain many of his 
neighbours during the shooting season — the Newcomes 
from Feltwell, Lord March, George Hanbury, the 
Waddingtons from Cavenham, were frequent guests at 
Elveden. Another visitor was a " Mr. Bainbridge, a 
friend of my father's, who used to come and stay and 
on one occasion brought a bear pie ; we were very much 
annoyed because he did not bring the skull." In the 
summer the brothers were very much occupied with 
bird's-nesting, and they began to form their collection of 
eggs about 1840. About the same time, too, they began 
to keep the careful records of the migration of birds, 
which were continued, with only a few intervals, for 
twenty years. One of their " dodges " was to fill a 



6 CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

pocket with gun-wads and as they walked about the 
woods and warrens at Elveden to transfer to another 
pocket one wad for each species of bird seen. In the 
evening they recorded their observations in an elaborate 
register,* and in this way they began to have some 
knowledge of the internal and local movements of birds 
as well as of the more conspicuous migrations of spring 
and autumn. From the keeping of birds in cages, which 
was naturally a feature of this period in their careers, 
they advanced to the more difficult business of keeping 
wild-fowl. The meres of Wretham and Stanford supphed 
them with several species of wild duck, with which they 
made experiments in hybridisation. More fortunate 
than the ducks, which often came to untimely ends, was 
a swan : "for the last six years I have had a Hooper, a 
most engaging bird — at times almost too famiUar, for he 
invades the house, where his company is not always 
most agreeable." 

In 1844 Alfred went to Mr. Walker's school at 
Stetchworth, near Newmarket, and from this time dates 
his life-long correspondence with Edward. AVhen they 
were in England the two brothers wrote to each other 
every day, and by every mail when they were abroad ; 
and each one kept carefully all the letters of the other. 
In early days they addressed each other by their 
pet-names, " Taff " and " Tedge," but these were 
considered childish by their elders, and a more formal 
epistle was marked " for the family,'* while their own 
particular business was " not to be shown." School at 
Mr. Walker's was not very arduous, and holidays, which 
depended on the getting of so many marks, seem to have 
been frequent. Alfred often drove over to Elveden, a 
distance of about nineteen miles, for Sunday, and one 

* A specimen page of this register was published in the Transactions of 
the Norfolk and Noninch Nal. Hist. Soc., 1871, vol. i. 



FIRST VISIT TO CAMBRIDGE 7 

day in February, 1845, he went with his father to 
Cambridge. He wrote from Stetch worth on March 1 : — 

My dearest Tedge, 

I must give you a long letter concerning my 
doings at Cambridge. I spent my whole time, 3| hours, 
in the Museum of the Phil. Soc* I took one of my old 
notebooks and a pencil and sketched the most striking 
of the birds, writing down by the side the colours, etc. 
The most beautiful British bird was the Indian Bee-eater, 
of which I send you a coloured drawing. I also send you 
a drawing of the Great Bustard, of which they have 4 
specimens, 2 m. and 2 f . ; it is the most magnificent bird 
I ever saw except the Capercaillie, the colours of which 
were too difficult for me to draw. They have three 
specimens of the Otis tetrax, a very pretty bird. There is 
a magnificent Golden Eagle. I am now quite certain 
that our bird is the Linota montium and not Linota 
cannabina. Our Redpoll is also a (young) male bird and, 
of course, it retains its immature plumage. The birds 
are, with the exception of a few old specimens, very well 
stuffed. A word now about the eggs, which are not 
much, the Falco feregrinus and Otis tarda being the Hons ; 
I was much disappointed with that part of the Museum. 
I was surprised at not seeing a specimen of the Regulus 
ignicapellus there, as Mr. Jenyns is the premier with 
regard to the Nat. Hist, department. They have a few 
works on Nat. Hist., most presented by their authors. 
Audubon's " American Ornithology " is a daub. The 
" Nat. Hist, of the Voyage of H.M.S. Adventurer and 
Beagle," is a beautiful book. There is also a book by 
the author of " Taxidermy," on Freshwater Fishes, 
coloured by hand. I was rather disappointed in seeing 
the Kittiwake there, for unless it is an adult male in 
breeding plumage (which is snow-white) I don't think 
it is a very handsome bird. It is now quite dark, so 
good-bye, dearest Tedge. 

I am your most affectionate brother, 

Taff. 

* House in All Saints Passage, now the Hawks Club. 



8 CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

The notebook still exists and the drawings that he 
made that day are remarkable for their accuracy and for 
the skill with which he emphasised the most characteristic 
features of the birds drawn. He was always very fond 
of drawing, and although he never possessed very great 
skill as an artist, his drawings, whether of birds, beasts 
or landscapes, were invariably accurate. Many of his 
letters are full of drawings and later, when he was abroad, 
he illustrated the incidents of his travels with very 
humorous sketches. The following letter was illustrated 
with an excellent drawing of a Brambling : — 

Stetchworth, 

Friday, March 7, 1845. 

My dearest Tedge, 

I dare say you will like to hear how my 
Brambling * is. He is perfectly well and is, (considering 
that he was only caught yesterday) very tame, much 
more so than Skelly [a Starling] is now. He goes on 
picking about while I am standing at the cage. I have 
given you a Httle sketch of Brammy's head, but / can't 
describe his markings they are so beautiful. There were 
5 caught (in a clap net), 2 m. 3 f. ; the 3 unfortunate 
females were sent to Ditton with about 100 other birds 
for a shooting match and were shot. The other male 
bird fluttered itself to death in the store cage and was 
roasted and eat before I knew of it. They are called here 
north-cocks. The man who caught them is going out 
again to-morrow and so I trust I shall be able to get some 
more. He caught some redpolls and reed sparrows, etc., 
so I can probably get some. His prices are very reason- 
able, Id. or M. for each bird. The reason I gave 6d. for 
mine is that the man's httle girl had picked it out of the 
others for its beauty and had taken a great fancy for it. 
I have not got a very secure cage for him, but I keep 

* Fringilla montifringilla — Beak yellow, tip black ; nape snow white, 
ear coverts black with green reflexions ; throat pale crimson-tawney, a 
round white spot in the middle of the neck ; the rest of the head mottled 
black and white. 



DOGS AND PETS 9 

him covered up and he does not try to get out ; I am 
trying to borrow a cage. Many thanks for your letter. 
When do you expect to get a siskin ? Thank Car for her 
line, I must write to her in a day or two. I shall get the 
hohday to-morrow as I have now got down 76 marks. 
Love to all with Willy.* 

I am yr. af!ecte. brother, 

Taff. 

In many of his letters and, very likely, in his personal 
behaviour to his brother, Alfred adopted very much the 
attitude of the elder brother when they were boys ; he 
was constantly correcting small mistakes in Edward's 
letters and condemning any tendency he might have 
towards making exaggerated statements. It was a 
useful training for the younger boy, who learnt early to 
make careful observations and became an excellent field- 
naturalist, " better than the best gamekeeper and as 
good as a warrener," as Alfred said of him in later 
days. 

As well as ponies and ducks and other animals they 
kept dogs, " Crab " and " Wasp," and often a family of 
puppies. Alfred used to say that he was always very 
" doggy," but in after years, when he no longer lived in 
the country, he thought it was not kind to keep one in a 
town. When " Crab " died, he wrote to his brother 
from Stetch worth, on May 3, 1845 : — 

Poor Crab, I can do nothing but lament over his 
death, in fact I can hardly beheve it. Pray save some of 
his hair, and have him buried honourably in the garden 
as near the poor old pony as possible. I am now so 
excessively sorry that I did not sketch his head when I 
was last at home. I will certainly do the others directly 
I go back. There is certainly a fatality attending the 
Wasps. How many puppies are left ? 

* Their nurse, Williamson. 



10 CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL 

I think you have made some mistake as to the arrival 
of the Hirundinidcp at Elden.* You have written to me 
that both Swallow and House Martin arrived at Elden 
on April 4. 

May I be allowed to say you have never before 
mentioned on what day the Crow nidificated, and there- 
fore I don't see how you can have written it to me 
500,000,000,003 times. You never have said whether you 
have a hooded crow's claw for me, if not, do you know of 
any old one, as I have not got one ? The Redbacked 
Shrike arrived this morning. 

I have been to the Dyke. I found a redbreast's nest 
with 5 eggs, I took one. Malcolm found a pheasant's, 
which of course we cribbed. This is "en particulier." 
I went to try to get a Longtailed tit's egg for Reynolds 

but alas ! ! ! I bought a female wryneck ahve to-day 

for 6d. She is very tame, sits on my finger and runs ants 
thro' with her long tongue. She has been caught only 
two days. The boy won't tell me how he caught her I 
really can't write any more. I will write to my sisters 
to-morrow. 

Believe me, 

Dearest Edward, 

Yr. most afiecte. brother, 
Alfred. 

The letter is illustrated with an admirable sketch of 
the wryneck sitting on his finger and eating ants. 

In 1846 he went for a few months to a tutor, the 
Rev. Joseph Horner, vicar of Everton, near Biggleswade 
in Bedfordshire, and in October, 1848, ^.e entered as a 
pensioner at Magdalene College, Cambridge. 

* Elveden used to be pronounced Elden. 



CHAPTER II 

EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

Magdalene in the " forties " was a small college, and 
very little is known of Newton's undergraduate days. 
He twice won the College prize for an Enghsh essay,* and 
it is said that on one occasion he coxed a winning four. 
The only other event that is known of this period is that 
he assisted his friend Charles Pierrepont Cleaver and two 
or three other undergraduates in executing a painted 
window for the College Chapel. In his second year he 
was elected a member of the Pitt Club, which he con- 
tinued to use as a convenient place for writing letters 
during more than half a century. Although he was a 
very fair classical scholar when he went up to Cambridge, 
the Classical Tripos, which in those days was only open 
to men who had already taken honours in Mathematics, 
did not appeal to him. The Natural Sciences Tripos 
was then in its infancy (the first examination was held in 
1851), but he was not attracted by Chemistry and 
Physics, which were the most important subjects in the 
school at that time. He made the acquaintance of 
Henslow, the famous Professor of Botany, and long 
enjoyed his friendship ; his tastes, however, already 
inchned him strongly towards the other branch of 
Biology, and he regretted afterwards that he had never 
become even a passable botanist. He graduated on 
March 10, 1852, but as that day fell after Ash Wednesday 
he was in the phraseology of the day a Baccalaureus 

* His nephews and nieces founded an " Alfred Newton English Essay 
Prize " at Magdalene in order to perpetuate his memory there. 

11 



12 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

Artium ad Baftistam, and consequently, by the regula- 
tions then in force, was reckoned as a bachelor of 1853. 

" In 1697 the Rev. Drue Drury bequeathed to Magda- 
lene College the perpetual advowson of the vicarage of 
Steeple Ashton, Wilts, and the impropriate parsonage of 
the said place, to found a Travelling Fellowship for a 
* gentleman's son of Norfolk.' In 1847 the value of 
the Fellowship was £366 gross, £268 net." * 

Owing to the fortunate circumstance mentioned 
above of Mr. Newton holding the commission of the peace 
for Norfolk, although a resident in Suffolk, and thanks to 
the good offices of the then Master, George Neville- 
Grenville (appointed Dean of Windsor in the same year), 
Alfred Newton was elected in the spring of 1853 to the 
Drury Travelling Fellowship, which happened to be 
vacant. Unfortunately the church at Steeple Ashton 
was sadly in need of repair at that time ; funds were 
diverted to pay the cost of restoring the chancel, and the 
slender emoluments of the Travelling Fellow compelled 
him to stop at home. He stayed in residence at Cam- 
bridge until the autumn of 1854, when he went to Elveden, 
which was his home until the place was sold in 1863 after 
the death of his father. 

For some years now he had been corresponding on 
Natural History subjects, chiefly ornithological, with 
naturalists all over the country ; among these may be 
mentioned Yarrell, Gould, J. H. Gurney, and Sir William 
Jardine, to whom he had become known through his 
contributions to the pages of the Zoologist. But his most 
important correspondence was with John Wolley. The 
two men had been corresponding for some three years, 
and in October, 1851, Wolley first called on Newton in his 
rooms at Cambridge, after which their acquaintance 
ripened into a firm friendship. Wolley's work was 

* From " Magdalene College," by E. K. Pamell. (F. E. Robinson & Co.) 



JOHN WOLLEY 13 

destined to have so profound an influence on that of 
Newton, that a short account of his Kfe may fittingly be 
given here. He was the eldest son of the Rev. John 
WoUey, afterwards vicar of Beeston, Notts, and was 
born in 1824. From Eton, where he spent six years, he 
went to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1842. He 
graduated in 1846 and in 1847 he went to Edinburgh, 
where he studied medicine for three years. His vaca- 
tions were devoted to the pursuit of Natural History, 
and on his egg-collecting expeditions he gained a remark- 
able familiarity with the most remote districts of the 
British Islands. 

John WoUey's more important travels and ornitho- 
logical discoveries may be told in Newton's words : — • * 

He left England for the North in April, 1853. He had 
become persuaded from careful consideration of many 
facts that the country between the head of the Gulf of 
Bothnia and the Arctic Ocean must be the breeding 
place of many birds whose homes were unknown. He 
was delayed both at Gottenburg and Stockholm by the 
difficulty of getting local information, and was finally 
compelled to start knowing very little of what was 
required. He went up with the Spring, instead of being 
beforehand with it, and his progress was slow. 

When he got to Muonioniska he found himself too 
late for the eggs of the Birds of Prey, and I now have the 
hatched-out shell of a Rough-legged Buzzard's egg, 
which was the only bit of such a common species as that 
which he procured. In those days no one in England 
had an authenticated egg of that bird. It was the same 
with Cranes and many others. Siberian Jays (the eggs 
then quite unknown) had hatched out long since. He 
got a single nest of Temminck's Stint and some 4 or 5 
Jack-Snipes' (both unknown in England), about as many 
nests of Broad-billed Sandpiper, but that had before 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, April 7, 1874. 



14 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

been found. In Ducks he did better, but altogether his 
results were meagre. However, he was anything but 
discouraged. He resolved to winter in the country and 
visit every house within a large district to make inquiries 
and invite people to supply his wants. This he did most 
effectually, and the following year he had Gyrfalcons', 
any number of Buzzards', Shore Larks', and many other 
valuable eggs of his own taking. Still Pine Grosbeak, 
Siberian Jay, and above all Waxwing, all escaped him. 
He came home for 6 weeks in August, 1854, and then 
returned for another winter, working as before. In 1855 
he pushed on to the Varanger, and then Hudleston and 
I joined him. With him as our pioneer we did very 
fairly, and returning home by Muonioniska we found 
Siberian Jay and Pine Grosbeak had been obtained. 

The winter of 1855-6 he was at home ; in spring of /56 
he went to CEland and Gottland,* which proved a failure, 
and then pushed on to Muonioniska, where the great 
discovery of Waxwing had just been effected. There he 
wintered, again in spring made a fresh incursion to the 
Varanger — or very near it — ^got Buffon's Skua, and 
finally Smew. Then he returned home, keeping up an 
active correspondence with people in Lapland. In 1858 
he went to Iceland. Then his health gave way and in 
1859 he died. Still his seed bore fruit, and Sno^vy Owls' 
eggs came to me in 1860 or /61 — I forget which. 

I beheve that not one half of his successes would have 
been attained but for his persistently w^intering in Lapland 
and getting to know all the people of the country. At 
the same time I am not going to say that for you it would 
be necessary to winter in the Petchora. You have fewer 
objects to attain and this extreme measure may not be 
necessary. Grey Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, 
and Bewick's Swan and Steller's Duck alone demand 
your chief attention. He had not only all these to 
inquire about, but twice as many besides. 

* " Led astray by a statement of Westerland that he had found Lams 
mtnutus breeding in QJland, he wasted a season there ; otherwise he would 
most likely have been on the scene when the Waxwing discovery was made. 
A. N." 



BIRD'S-NESTING IN LAPLAND 15 

Wolley's letters from Scandinavia attracted Newton 
strongly, and the fauna of northern countries always 
interested him, perhaps, more than that of any other 
region. WoUey was an extremely accurate and careful 
observer, who accepted nothing on hearsay evidence, 
with the result that' his collections gained greatly in 
value from the complete authenticity of every specimen. 
The following extract from one of his letters * shows 
something of his energetic and painstaking nature and at 
the same time gives a description of bird-hunting in 
Lapland, which is as true to-day as it was in his time. 

To find the marsh birds' nests it is useless to be 
alone ; the population here is very scanty, and just the 
fortnight that the birds have eggs every man, woman and 
child is busy with his own affairs, and laying in everything 
he will want for a long winter, so that it was very difficult 
to get any one. I had to pay high wages to the people 
who went with me to the marshes, and besides to give 
them two or three bits of silver for every egg they found. 
I worked night and day, often up to my middle in mud 
and water, under a scorching sun or in drenching rain, 
amidst clouds of gnats of a most greedy and venomous 
kind, which made the night more unpleasant than the 
day. To manage ten or twelve persons, beaters, etc., is 
no easy thing when you are well used to them and they 
to their business, but when all your men are quite unused 
to the kind of thing, when your Swedish companion can- 
not understand your expressions, such as " take a beat," 
" quarter the ground," " keep the line," when he has to 
repeat these to a Finnish interpreter and he again to 
explain them to the natives, and when after all you have 
to make these natives follow the explanations, it is 
both difficult and fatiguing and involves great loss of 
time. 

Then the places frequented by the birds one want are 
few and far between. The people do not know the kinds, 

* Dated, July, 185a 



16 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

and one had no clue at first to the local names. At one 
time I am told of a place, 7 or 8 miles off, where there are 
many wading birds ; going there with full forces I find 
there are certainly many Curlews. Another time I hear 
of a famous lake, 20 miles off, renowned over the country 
for birds ; every bird I ask for is to be found there ; 
coming to it I find scarcely anything : it is an autumnal 
rendezvous for Ducks and Geese. 

Mosquitoes, fleas, bugs, midges, dirty houses, no bed- 
clothes, no bread, sour milk, reindeer flesh raw and as 
hard as a board, are not luxuries. If you want to wash 
they bring you the same little sour bowl out of which you 
drink. All these little things make a bird-nesting ex- 
pedition here very different from one when one leaves a 
comfortable English house in the morning to return to it 
in the evening. I find mysefl lose strength and spirits, 
so that it requires some resolution to continue my 
exertions. Now, however, I am in excellent winter 
quarters, a clean house, capital cook, and every necessary, 
and if I were to remain here next summer I should do 
much more in the bird-nesting way, from the benefit of 
experience both as to names, localities, and habits, 
besides as to the best mode of keeping oneself in health 
and spirits in the wilderness. But I think of going to 
Spitzbergen. I am informed that a vessel goes from 
Hammerfest occasionally to hunt reindeer and kill 
walruses there. In the winter I propose to drive my 
yulka with my swift-footed rein over to Alten and make 
inquiries, and if I find it feasible, I shall certainly try 
what I can do in Spitzbergen. 

It was the custom in those days for ornithologists to 
attempt to defray part of the cost of their travels by 
selling some of their duplicate specimens of skins and 
eggs. Newton undertook to dispose of Wolley's speci- 
mens, and the annual sales at Stevens' Auction Rooms of 
the rarities from Lapland were events which attracted a 
crowd of naturalists from all over the country. There 



SALES OF EGGS 17 

was very keen competition among collectors to secure 
specimens of the newly-discovered species, and high, 
prices were obtained for the eggs of the Waxwing, Pine 
Grosbeak, Siberian Jay, etc. : thus £5 IO5. was paid for 
the first egg of the Waxwing, £4 5s. for an egg of the Pine 
Grosbeak, and 255. for a single egg of the Siberian Jay. 
Greatly exaggerated rumours went about concerning the 
profits made by these sales. The total amount reaHsed 
by WoUey's seven sales from 1853 to 1859 did not exceed 
£940, and it is safe to say that the cost of obtaining the 
specimens greatly exceeded that sum. In 1860, after 
Wolley's death, Newton held another sale of a large 
number of his dupHcate specimens ; the sum amounted 
to about £200, which he devoted to the pubhcation of the 
first part of the catalogue of Wolley's collection, the 
" Ootheca WoUeyana." 

It was in 1855 that Newton made his only journey to 
Lapland. With his friend W. Hudleston Simpson * he 
crossed the North Sea from Hull to Christiania at the 
end of May. It blew half a gale and the ship, " being 
much impeded by a railway carriage in the fore part of 
the deck," made only four and a half knots an hour, but 
Newton alone of all the passengers suffered not at all. 
From Christiania the railway extended at that time only 
as far as Eidswold, and thence they drove to Trondhjem 
in carrioles, being accompanied a part of the way by one 
of the earliest mountaineers in Norway, Blackwell,f with 
the Chamonix guide, Gideon Balmat. By covering the 
last hundred miles into Trondhjem in twenty-eight hours 
they arrived just in time to take passage in the weekly 
mail steamer to Hammerfest. As they went northward 
up the coast all the days and most of the nights were 

* Afterwards W. H. Hudleston, F.R.S. ; died 1909. 
t Eardley J. Blackweil : made one of the earliest ascents of the 
Wetterhom in 1854. 

C 



18 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

spent on deck in noting birds new to them and in admira- 
tion of the fantastic beauty of the Lofotens. At Ham- 
merfest they were delayed by gales and snowstorms for 
twelve days, which they spent in the very uncomfortable 
inn of that unattractive town. On June 16 they passed 
the North Cape, and two days later, after visiting Homo, 
which was then hostile territory (being in the Province 
of Archangel), they landed at Vadso. On the 19th 
they were joined by WoUey, who had just returned from 
his expedition to Lake Enare and the Patsjoki, w^here he 
had discovered the nest of the Hooper.* He brought 
with him a couple of young Sea-Eagles alive and a train 
of Jays and Grouse, as well as a mass of bones, skins, 
feathers, down, and so forth. Beside the precious 
Swan's eggs, he had brought very many more, and the 
children of Vadso were waiting for him with all the eggs 
they had collected for him during the season, so the three 
men set up blowing eggs until five o'clock in the morning, 
and it is not surprising to learn that the baker's house 
(where they stayed) seemed to have been turned into a 
poulterer's shop. In a day or two lodgings were found 
for Wolley's live birds, and the party then set off in boats 
up the Varanger Fjord, where they remained for a 
month. They did not attain the principal object of 
their search, the breeding place of BufEon's Skua, but 
they succeeded in finding the nests of many rare and 
interesting birds. Newton and Simpson were the first 
Englishmen to find and identify the eggs of the Red- 
throated Pipit [AnthiLS cervinus), and they obtained many 
others that were new to them, such as Red-necked 
Phalarope, Temminck's Stint, Bluethroat, Velvet Scoter, 
Turnstone, Shore Lark, and others. They made an 
expedition to the Tana River, where Simpson caught 

* J.W.'s very graphic account of this discovery may be read in " Ootheca 
WoUeyana," vol. ii. p. 495. 



JOURNEY THROUGH LAPLAND 19 

salmon, whilst Newton accused himself of being the only 
Englishman who ever visited that famous river without 
the desire to cast a fly. 

After investigating the remarkable raised beaches of 
the Varanger Fjord, they returned to Hammerfest and 
thence went by steamer up the Lyngen Fjord to Skibotn. 
That region had been very seldom visited by Englishmen 
in those days, and their journey across the peninsula to 
the Gulf of Bothnia was considered a very creditable 
feat.* After crossing the watershed they found boats 
awaiting them at Kilpis-jarvi, and in these they descended 
the Muonio River to Wolley's headquarters at Muonio- 
vara. Nearly a month was spent in collecting and pack- 
ing the eggs which Wolley's collectors had obtained for 
him. Newton traversed the famous swamp — ^no light 
undertaking for a lame man — ^to see the spot where the 
first Crane's nest had been discovered two years before 
and Simpson had good sport with the wild- fowl with 
which the Muonio abounds. In September they con- 
tinued their journey in boats down the river to Hapa- 
randa, whence they returned by way of Stockholm to 
England. 

Though he was able only once to visit Lapland, 
Newton always spoke of it as a sort of ornithological 
paradise, and years afterwards, as the present writer can 
gratefully testify, he was ready to help and advise 
younger naturahsts who proposed to follow in his steps. 

When Mr. Harvie-Brown returned from a Norwegian 
trip in 1871, he advised him to go farther east into a 
country which at that time was almost unknown territory 
to naturalists. 

I met Mr. Alston in London and was very glad to find 

* An excellent account of this part of their joumey was written by 
Simpson for Fraser's Magazine, April, 1856. 



20 EARLY INTEREST IN NATJRAL HISTORY 

you and he had enjoyed your trip to Norway so much. 
I hope you will go again to the North, but pray take my 
word for it that if you only reach a good high altitude, 
the further eastward you go tJie more you will get. I beUeve 
the land of promise for an oologist is in N. Finland 
between the Kemi River and the White Sea. Anything 
I can do to further your explorations in that direction 
you can entirely command. 

East Finmark is nearly as well known as the Scottish 
Highlands, you might get something new there just as 
you might in the Highlands, but the chances are greatly 
against it. Northern Finland is quite an untouched 
country. 

The Snow Bunting ought to be found without diffi- 
culty in Scotland. I never had any trouble in marking 
a bird to her nest.* 

Three years later Harvie-Brown had an opportunity 
of taking Newton's advice, and planned to go farther 
east still to the Petchora. 

I am delighted to find that the Petchora scheme is 
coming off and I envy you not a little. The only species 
I can add to your prospective bill of fare is Bewick's 
Swan. That and the Curlew Sandpiper seem to me the 
most urgent of the desideratissima with which you are 
likely to fall in, and I would beseech you to spare no 
trouble about them, and not to be discouraged if you do 
not get eggs this year, provided you can only ascertain 
that these species breed there. Remember how WoUey 
worked for years in faith and was rewarded at last. You 
will, I am afraid, find it a very hard expedition, and I 
hope you will not knock up under the miseries of hunger 
and cold. The Samoieds are now I dare say peaceable 
enough, but in the days when WoUey was thinking of 
going to the Petchora they were reported by the Russians 
to be very savage. I don't know that anything on the 
fauna of the country has ever been pubhshed, certainly 

♦ Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, October 28, 1871. ./ 



MUSK OX 21 

there is no zoology that I could ever find in Keyserling's 
" Reise nach Petchora Land," so that all ought to be 
interesting and I trust you will make copious notes for 
at least a paper in the Ihis, if not for a book. 

It would be well to study carefully the diagnostic 
characters of Bewick's Swan before you go, so that you 
may know it from the Hooper through your glass, if 
you cannot get near enough to shoot it. Curlew Sand- 
piper with its white rump and red head and neck is 
unmistakable, but a breeding plumage skin to show the 
natives would not be a bad thing to take with you.* 

Persons voyaging to Polar Seas were always appealed 
to by him to bring back specimens for the Museum, and 
among them was his friend Colonel (then Major) H. W. 
Feilden, who served on board H.M.S. Alert in Nares' 
Expedition of 1875-6. 

When the proceeds of the German Arctic Expedition 
were sold at Bremen some time ago we bought a skeleton 
of a Musk Ox (bull) supposed to be perfect ; the money 
was paid and some time elapsed before it was overhauled 
— ^then we found that the bones of the left metacarpus were 
wanting ! Can you then among other things secure us 
an Extra left fore leg of a Musk Bull, if you fall in with 
any ? N.B. — Anything, I am sure, pertaining to Ovibos — 
even the dung in a bottle — would be most valuable, as 
the poor beast is not long for this world. I do wonder 
if this next month will see you cut the Knotty tangle, f 

The " knotty tangle " was the question of the possible 
discovery of the hitherto unknown breeding-place of the 
Knot. Newton had been chaffed by a writer in the 
Saturday Review because he had suggested that Knots 
might be found breeding on green meadows near Smith 
Sound. He begged Feilden to help him out of the scrape, 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, March 28, 1874. 
t Letter to H. W. Feilden, June 21, 1875. 



22 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

and before the expedition sailed he gave him as a parting 
present a knife with the following inscription : — 

HOC FEREO 

NE MODO ALEXANDRI 

SED ALEXANDRI PRECEPTORIS 

SECETUR 

NODUS * 

HENRICO WEMYSS FEILDEN 

POLUM PETENTI. 

A.N. 

* What the Knot is requires no explanation to an Ibis. 

As a matter of history, it may he recorded that the 
breeding-place of the Knot was discovered during the 
course of that expedition. In July an old bird accom- 
panied by three nestlings was obtained near the Alert 
on Grinnell Land, in 82° 33' N. latitude ; and in the same 
month Mr. Chichester Hart, naturahst to H.M.S. 
Discovery, obtained in 81° 44' N. latitude a brood of 
four young birds, disturbed from the nest. So the 
Knotty tangle was cut. 

By way of recognition of Newton's services to the 
Expedition, in advice to the naturalists and care of the 
specimens they obtained, a newly discovered glacier was 
named after him by Admiral Sir George Nares. The 
Alfred Newton Glacier discharges into the sea on the 
west side of Smith Sound in 78° 30' N. latitude, between 
the north entrance of Baird Inlet and Leconte Island. 

" The comphment paid me by Nares' Expedition is 
certainly a great one, though one can hardly look on 
a glacier as a very abiding monument, and it suggests 
a cold and grinding disposition which I hope is not 
mine." f 

In 1857 Newton went to the West Indies and visited 
the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas, in the former of 

t Letter to A. C. Smith, March 26, 1879. 



HUMMING-BIRDS 23 

which one of his brothers, Francis Rodes, was Hving. 
He made many interesting observations on the birds of 
the islands and afterwards, with his brother Edward, 
contributed a valuable paper on the Birds of St. Croix 
to the fii'st volume of the Ibis. He was strongly attracted 
by the beauty of the tropical fauna, which he saw then 
for the first time — 

I think it is quite worth crossing the Atlantic to see 
Humming-birds. No pen can describe and no pencil 
depict the suddenness with which the little fairy appears 
before you, the rapidity with which, on wings whirring 
like a cotton mill, he visits flower after flower, and then 
when you least expect it, away he shoots in pursuit of a 
rival. All this while (about thirty seconds) you are 
holding your breath for fear of blowing him away. 
However, his ghttering feathers are quite unseen by men 
on such occasions ; one may catch a glimpse of their 
sheen when he happens to mount aloft on a dead tama- 
rind bough and draw his primaries through his mandibles, 
but then it just depends upon whether he and you are 
relatively in the right position for the light.* 

An interesting note relating to Humming-birds is 
recorded in a letter written to his brother : — 

I think the only other ornithological occurrence of 
interest that I have met with is that the other day I saw 
a Humming-bird fairly caught in a spider's web. The 
bird came into my room and went furiously spinning 
round and round the ceiling; at length it touched a 
pretty big spider's web, and was quite powerless. The 
net was, luckily for the bird, an old, deserted one and 
very much tattered ; therefore after hanging for some 
seconds, if not minutes, a series of violent struggles 
released it. I caught the bird subsequently and found 
its feathers quite bound up with the web. It has been 
often asserted by the old writers that Humming-birds 

* Letter to T. Southwell , December 8, 1857. 



24 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

get caught in spiders' webs, and as often doubted. 
Gosse declares that he is sure that no web could ever for 
a moment stop the flight of any, even the least, species 
of Humming-bird ; now here I have proof positive to the 
contrary. It might be said that the bird was already 
fatigued by its attempts to get out of the room ; but 
then it must be remembered on the other hand that the 
web was an old one, deserted and in rags ; had it been in 
good order I much question whether the bird could have 
escaped. 

From the West Indies Newton went to New Orleans, 
and thence to Boston and New York, where a serious 
illness prevented him from carrying out an extensive 
tour in the United States and Canada. But his visit to 
America, though it was never repeated, gave him a 
cordial liking for American men and institutions, and it 
was the beginning of an acquaintance with the leading 
naturaUsts of the country, Agassiz, Baird, Coues, and 
many others, with whom he kept up a life-long corre- 
spondence. 

Another circumstance connected with this journey is 
that he had the satisfaction of " teaching young America 
how to blow eggs." Instead of the old method of 
blowing eggs with two holes, he explained to them the 
use of the drill and blowpipe, by means of which the 
contents are removed through a single hole in the side of 
the egg. His paper, entitled " Suggestions for Forming 
Collections of Birds' Eggs," was pubhshed in their 
Miscellaneous Collections by the Smithsonian Institution, 
in 1860. 

Even when he was most busily occupied, Newton 
always found time to write to an ever-increasing number 
of friends in England and elsewhere, to make arrange- 
ments for the annual meeting of ornithologists and to 
negotiate exchanges of specimens and so on. One of his 



VISIT TO AMERICA 25 

most intimate friends and frequent correspondents was 
H. B. Tristram,* who had just at this time returned from 
a very successful expedition to Algeria. 

Boston, 
September 1, 1857. 

My dear Tristram, 

I can only afford you just time enough and 
this scrap of paper to express my exultation at your safe 
return from the most unprecedented campaign that 
Algeria has ever been the theatre of. The glories of 
African generals of all nations and times sink to nothing 
when compared with yours ; Sesostris, Marius, Alexander, 
Menon, Abercromby, with all the moderns, Bugeaud, Sir 
Harry Smith, and Pelissier, are nobodies. Moses only 
spoiled the Egyptians, but to have carried off such a 
booty under the noses of French naturahsts is a much 
greater triumph, and the Algerians seem to me to have 
expiated all their past cruelties to Christian slaves by 
the way they have assisted you. In the plenitude of 
your wealth, however, I hope you will not forget one who 
on whichever side of the Atlantic and the Tropic of Cancer 
he has been, has been always wishing for your success ; 
not, though, that I can offer you anything more hke 
" reciprocity " than that which under the same name 
Brother Jonathan holds out to the Blue-nosed fishermen. 
But I am one of those who will readily hoard up quicquid 
de Lihycis verritur areis. I have seen Dr. Brewer and 
his collection, of neither is much to be said ; the Dr. is 
reserved to an astonishing degree for a Yankee, and has 
evidently never enjoyed anything like those glorious 
days of last September when you met me at Cambridge, 
the memory of those talks de omnibus avibus, etc., has 
cheered me many a time for the last eight months, when 
with the exception of two hours with Downs at Halifax 
(a real out and outer) I have not met with a soul who 
could converse on the subject. His collection is ex- 
tremely moderate considering the scope of it and what 

* Canon of Durham, D.D., F.R.S. : died 1906. 



26 EARLY INTEREST IN NATURAL HISTORY 

must have been great opportunities, the only egg I 
coveted a Hooded Merganser's, of which you have one. 

What is to be done about an Oological conference 
this year ? You will be the great difficulty, or rather 
I should say the time and place that will suit you. I 
trust sincerely your health is better. 

Yours most truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

Another of Newton's early correspondents, and later 
a life-long friend, was John Henry Gurney, of Norwich. 
From 1844, when they became acquainted by means of 
a Sea Eagle, until Gurney's death in 1890, they kept up 
a frequent correspondence, mostly about birds of prey, 
of which Mr. Gurney's famous collection is now in the 
Norwich Museum. He was also a generous contributor 
to the Museum at Cambridge. 



CHAPTER III 

VISIT TO ICELAND 

In the year following his first visit to the West Indies 
Newton went with John WoUey to Iceland. He had for 
a long time cherished the idea that the Great Auk, or 
Gare-fowl as he always preferred to call it, might still 
survive on some of the skerries off the coast of Iceland. 
WoUey, always enthusiastic, was very sanguine of success, 
and in the spring of 1858 they resolved to put their 
theory to the test. The story of their journey is told 
in two letters to Edward Newton : — 

Reykjavik, May 2, 1858. 

I left Elveden on April 20, and reached Edinburgh 
on the 21st, where I found WoUey just arrived and in 
good force. The next morning we got off about 9.30. 
A perfectly calm day, warm for the time of year, but 
misty ; the Firth of Forth like glass ; some common sea- 
birds about but not many, besides Velvet Scoters and 
Gannets. At sun-down, 8 p.m., we were north of Aber- 
deen. The next morning (being off the Pentland Firth) 
was just as still, and we made good speed ; towards 
afternoon we sighted Fair Island, lying between Orkney 
and Shetland, and soon after saw the lighthouse on N. 
Eonaldshay, the land being invisible ; later still we 
sighted Foula, which we only lost about dark. Only 
common sea-birds about. On the 24th I saw Fulmars 
from my port-hole window before I was up. A few 
Wheatears joined us and a couple of Pipits appeared. 
About 1 p.m. we made Sudero, one of the Faroeme ; 
before long we encountered two Great Skuas — the first I 

27 



28 VISIT TO ICELAND 

had ever seen — and soon after four dropped anchor at 
Thorshaven, the capital. Here we landed a good many- 
passengers, for we had so far been rather inconveniently 
crowded ; among them the Stiftsampteraand or Governor, 
whose arrival was the cause of a deal of gunning. Wolley 
and myself went ashore wth the mails, consisting of 
twenty letters (the first post received this year from 
Denmark). We walked about and viewed the town and 
suburbs. All the houses are covered with grass, but such 
as we entered seemed comfortable. They are built with- 
out the shghtest reference to the inequaHties of the 
ground, but with regular though extremely narrow 
streets. We found the people sowing their barley, turn- 
ing up the ground with an instrument, the inventor of 
which must have had a marrow-spoon in his mind which 
he enlarged to the dimensions of a cricket bat. Spade 
it can hardly be called ; yet even this elaborate imple- 
ment is not required in reality, for there being little or no 
subsoil in Faero, about an inch and a half is as much as 
seems to be dug up. All the male population seem 
dressed in uniform, a brown homespun loose jacket, some- 
times with silver buttons ; a striped woollen cap, the end 
hanging down ; knee breeches, worsted stockings and 
shoes without soles, built on the lines of a moccasin or a 
Turkish slipper. One of the Sysselmaand, Miiller by 
name, is a great " pal " of Wolley 's and he entertained 
us to supper before we left, which we did about midnight, 
the moon and the high latitude between them making it 
quite light. On shore we only saw some Hooded Crows, 
a Wheatear and Golden Plover. As we left Faero we got 
a tolerable Atlantic roll which continued increasing for 
the rest of our voyage. We now found our party reduced 
considerably, not only by the desertion we had experi- 
enced at Faero (one of whom was a most extraordinary- 
looking German Professor, whose week-old beard and 
bear-like projecting snout did him with a most grotesque 
expression endue,) but by other causes which kept a 
considerable number of Icelanders, both male and female, 
to their berths. Wolley, however, behaved remarkably 



VOYAGE TO ICELAND 29 

well and was never fairly under the weather. We had 
two Scotchmen on board ; they were from Glasgow and 
were, and are, prospecting to see if they can open any 
advantageous trade. Both of them good sort of fellows. 
WoUey would not have it, but I am sure I saw an Alca 
alle on this day ; the next day we both saw two, all 
appeared to be in good summer dress ; the first of the 
species, of course, he or I had ever seen. We now had 
rather roughish weather with rain. Lots of Fulmars 
about. In the afternoon we fancied we saw land, which 
towards evening it clearly proved to be. Just about sun- 
down, somewhere towards 9 o'clock, a Wheatear came 
on board, and evidently wished to pass the night with us, 
but I doubt if the poor beast succeeded in doing so. 
Next morning we passed the Westmann Islands about 
2 o'clock, but it was thick when I got on deck and land 
was not visible ; soon after we sighted it again and never 
again lost it. About noon we passed the celebrated Meal 
Sack, but we must have been nearly two miles from it. 
It is certainly well named, for in one direction it has 
very much the sort of look of a sack half filled, with the 
sides turned down, and I do not doubt but that in the 
season it is white enough on the top. On the landward 
side runs out a low shelf or rock, whereon the Greak Auk 
is supposed to have bred. Outside at the distance of about 
four times its diameter hes a small low skerry, which had 
a very inviting appearance, but the water is said at 
times to go right over it. 

There were a great quantity of Gannets and Fulmars 
about, also Kittiwakes and the common Alcidce. We 
looked of course for the Geier Fugle, but in vain. It 
came on to blow pretty smartly, and I think our Captains 
(for we had both an English and a Danish one on board, 
who will I take it have a real good cat and dog life of it 
during the summer) were glad when we let go our anchor 
off this place. 

We were much amused at an enthusiastic young girl 
rushing up from below as we passed a soHtary grass- 
covered house, and in spite of the traces of so much 



30 VISIT TO ICELAND 

suSering on her face, exclaiming, " Ah, there is Ness ! 
there was I born ! " 

Just before we anchored I had a good view of a 
Pomarine Skua. Eider-ducks, Ravens and Grt. B. b. 
Gulls about. When we landed we came straight up to 
the Hotel or Club as they call it, where we obtained 
lodgings and where we still are, pretty well accommo- 
dated, faring much better than I had expected, though 
we have to eat both Eider Ducks and Merganser. The 
next morning we called on the Rector of the Native 
School, from whom we then and since experienced much 
civility and cofiee. Afterwards we did ourselves the 
honour of visiting the Governor, Count Trampe, nephew 
of the man of that name who was here in Hooker's time, 
and was taken prisoner by Jorgensen. With him also 
we got on very well, and between these two we now know 
nearly every one of consideration in the place. The next 
three days it blew a great gale ; so much so that we were 
unable to get our heavy baggage from the steamer ; but 
this was nothing to the awful night we had on Friday 
when we went to eat a " bit of bread " with the Rector. 
Three or four of the biggest swells were asked to meet 
us, and a terrible quantity of claret and pimch had to 
be drunk ; however, we got home after two in the 
morning, but I can honestly say quite sober, and thanks 
to the purity of the drinks were none the worse the next 
day. We called on the apothecary, who has the reputa- 
tion of being an ornithologist, but found nothing of 
interest in the few skins he had — Iceland Falcon, Anas 
Barrovii, A. histrionica, etc. We saw a picture of the 
last Great Auk ; probably the one seen by Pliny Miles 
and Mrs. Bushby, a wretched performance ; this bird 
was said to have been taken at the Meal Sack in 1846. 

We have since seen a man who lives at Kirkjuvogr, 
the nearest village to the Meal Sack. He has made four 
trips there, the last in /56, when no Geier Fugles were 
found ; on the previous occasions, 24, 7, and 2 were 
obtained. We are to go to him in about a fortnight, 
and then to make the expedition in two boats. I do not 



DELAY AT REYKJAVIK 31 

think there is much risk, if, as we shall do, we wait for 
favourable weather. We are now in treaty with a 
Divinity Student who comes from that part of the 
country to make a special journey to the Eastern Geier 
Fugle skerry for us, as it is impossible for us to visit both 
that and the Cape Reykjanes locality within the necessary 
time. It will be an expensive business, but it is, I am 
inclined to think, the best card in the pack, and one I 
should never forgive myself for not playing, if afterwards 
it should turn out the birds were there. It is very doubt- 
ful if this rock, lying as it does 40 miles out, has been 
visited for a hundred years. 

This fellow, by name Magnussen, will not be back by 
the time the steamer sails next. He only came to us this 
evening, and we have hardly considered the terms, but I 
think we shall engage with him. He is highly recom- 
mended by the Rector, but there is some difficulty about 
his going, as he ought to pass an examination at the 
College here just about the time ; but the Rector has 
promised to see if that necessity can be avoided, so 
sensibly do they regard such matters here. Only fancy 
at Cambridge the Vice-Chancellor letting a man off his 
Little-Go because he was wanted to go and look for a 
Great Bustard's nest ! ! ! But Herr Rector Jonsen is a 
real good fellow. The Land-Physicus, Herr Hjaldalin, 
is to go with us to Kirkjuvogr, and we are to take as 
guide Geier Zoega, the man Bushby recommended. I 
very much want to go first to the Geysers, as nothing 
ornithological can yet be done (for I should think nothing 
but Iceland Falcon has eggs now, and we must give up 
hope of taking any ourselves as they do not breed within 
many days' journey of this), and we may afterwards be 
hurried for time ; but Wolley requires gentle managing, 
he is too fond of delaying things. 

May 3. 

We have just heard that the steamer is positively to 
sail to-night, so I must make haste to finish my letter, 
especially as a learned professor of the Icelandic tongue 
is expected every minute, to give us our second lesson in 



32 VISIT TO ICELAND 

his language, and Wolley is studying his task, which is a 
Saga and seems to be written intentionally for beginners, 
as it opens, " There was a man and his name was Grim." 
The pronunciation is the most difficult thing I ever heard, 
it beats Finnish into fits, and the spelling seems to be no 
guide to it. I want to know a few words as up the 
country there will be no one who can speak Danish. We 
have a disagreeable wet day, but altogether the weather 
is better than I expected it would be, though we have 
had a Greenland gale with snow, hard frosts several 
nights, and ice to bear a stone. A good-sized lake, close 
to the house and the town, has been twice frozen since 
we have been here. Round its shores I have seen Red- 
shanks, Ringed Plover and White Wagtail. Wheatears 
are seen among the buildings of the town, and close by 
among the small enclosures of stone walls are Snow Bunt- 
ings and Golden Plover. Ptarmigan are not found near ; 
there is supposed to be a man now gone in search of some 
for us, but I cannot help thinking he is staying at home. 
Every Icelandic (as distinguished from Danish) house 
has attached to it a building for drying fish, and hanging 
at the door of each is generally to be seen a bundle of 
roughly prepared skins of Gulls, mostly Kittiwakes ; but 
I found in one lot a young and old Iceland or Glaucous 
Gull, I could not make out which, as I had no means 
of ascertaining the size. I have done nothing yet about 
getting ponies, in fact there is not much use in doing so 
until one wants to go somewhere, as there would only be 
the trouble of having to look after them in the town, and 
fodder is not only dear but hardly to be got. Henderson, 
one of the Scotchmen I before mentioned, has bought 
about 18, however, which he takes back with him ; they 
are all in the most miserable condition, but with hair so 
long they look like bears. 

Kirkjuvogr, near Cape Reykjanes, 
S.W. of Iceland, 

May 28, 1858. 

Here we are at one of the nearest places to the 
Great Auk Islands, and here we have been for a week. 



BIRDS AT REYKJAVIK 33 

We left Reykjavik on the 19th, having stayed there all 
the time from our arrival, the spring being so backward 
that it was said to be impossible to get grass for the 
horses, and thereby travelling was rendered very difficult. 
Of course, it was a great bore being weatherbound in the 
metropolis as it was not lively, and a very bad place 
ornithologically speaking. Besides this we were almost 
in a chronic state of intoxication from the unnecessary 
amount of hospitality we had to endure, but as it was all 
meant as civilly as possible one had nothing to do but 
abide it, and certainly no people could have put them- 
selves in the way of doing all we wished (with this one 
exception) than everybody we met. I told you before 
of the readiness with which they allowed Mr. Eric Mag- 
nussen to start off for us to the Eastern Great A. rocks, 
and in due time the young man left us in very good 
heart, and I hope he has now arrived at the point on the 
coast opposite to it. What the result of his journey may 
be, we may not know for another six weeks. He was 
also commissioned to look after some Falcon's eggs, but 
we thought it best as he was not an ornithologist not to 
embarrass him with other subjects. Reykjavik, as I said 
before, is a very bad bird place, and very Httle, if anything, 
of any consequence breeds in the immediate neighbour- 
hood, excepting perhaps Glaucous Gull, which is said to 
be on some of the islands in the Fjord, but these we could 
not find any trustworthy person to look for, and of course 
taken by any one else, they would be of no value, for 
there are quite enough Grt. Black backs about. The 
only birds I saw of them up to the present time have 
been young ones, and the same with Iceland Gulls. 
Several people in the place make a sort of trade in selling 
skins and we bought some at moderate prices, but 
nothing of any rarity. One fellow had a small immature 
Gull killed last winter, which we got from him. I am 
not sure whether it is L. ridihundus or not, but none of 
that group have been yet found in the country. We got 
also nearly a dozen falcons' skins, nearly all Icelanders 
but one or two Greenlanders. For a real white Greenlander 



34 VISIT TO ICELAND 

they charge as much as £l, so that we did not go 
deeply into them. Harlequins and Barrow's Ducks are 
moderate, but there is no great stock of them. I also got 
a few birds skinned by a good woman who does them 
very fairly well, and very reasonably. Young Glaucous, 
Adult Black-backed Gulls, White-fronted Goose, Great 
Northern Diver, etc., besides some Ptarmigan ; these 
have not yet got much out of their winter plumage, 
though, by the way, I have not seen any fresh-killed the 
last week or ten days. Thus much of our stay at Keyk- 
javik ; we left it, as I said before, on the 19th with Geier 
Zoega (the man recommended by Bushby) as our guide, 
in company with the Land Physicus, — ^a sort of Govern- 
ment Doctor, — ^who was going his rounds to look after 
lepers. He is the man whom Ld. Dufferin calls the 
" cheeriest of Doctors," and very rightly so, as he is a 
real good fellow. We hired horses for this expedition, 
as grass is so scarce we could hardly expect to feed them 
here, and in addition to this the time of our stay here 
was, and is, so uncertain. We had some difficulty in 
accomplishing about 30 miles English the first day, 
owing to the badness of the ponies' condition and of the 
road ; the Doctor, who is a very big man, had three of 
his own for his own riding and they all had a benefit of 
it. I rode one animal all the way except the last few 
miles. WoUey had two. We had besides in company 
the Doctor's guide (who was also Ld. Dufferin's and to 
whom we brought a whip from Ld. D.) and a Veterinary 
surgeon who is sent here to cure the scab, which is kilHng 
all the sheep ; so that we had medical accommodation 
for man and beast. The Vet., by the way, got a very 
nasty fall, the ground giving under his pony, who came 
on the top of him. 

The greater part of the way lay over streams of lava, 
all the productions of some one or other of the half-dozen 
or so respectable-looking volcanoes whose cones break 
the horizon to the eastward of us. These lava streams 
vary very much in their character ; some are tolerably 
smooth, or look like dried coal-tar that has run out ; 



LAVA AND MOSSES 35 

but others are peaked and jagged in the most fantastic 
way you can imagine ; anyhow, each stream seemed as 
we came to it to be worse to pass than the last. The 
road sometimes goes over the stuff, at others winding in 
and out, up and down, in fissures and faults of it, where 
generally is collected a foot or two of soft dry sand, 
which does not render it a less " hard road to travel." A 
good deal of the lava is grown over with mosses, of which 
there seems to be a great number of species ; one of the 
commonest I never saw before, it is very soft and long, 
dark green, but with a thick white down which gives it 
the appearance of wool, and this covering so much of 
the ground and rocks, when contrasted with the dark 
lava on which it grows, makes the whole scene look more 
like a good photograph with its lights and shadows well 
brought out than anything else ; certainly a photograph 
would be the only thing to give an idea of the look of 
one of these places. Occasionally a little heather or 
cranberry, and even birch (six inches high, not more) 
grows amongst this desolation, and there may be heard 
and seen the Redwing, singing " tut- tut-tut- tut " just as 
he does in Lapland, but here being nearly the only song 
bird it does not sound so monotonous. One sees, too, a 
good many Snow Buntings, and they have a pretty song. 
In fact, these with Raven, White Wagtail, Wheatear and 
Titlark are the only passerine birds in Iceland. Ravens 
are tamer even than the ones at home and far more 
impudent. 

Further on on our march we came to a waterless dis- 
trict, which did not improve the going of the horses (good 
water is scarce all over the country, even here it is much 
too salt to drink for pleasure ; perhaps it is why the 
Icelanders prefer stronger liquors), but we finally arrived 
at Keblavik, where we passed the night at a very respect- 
able place, and stopped there the next day, the Doctor 
having to visit some of his leprous patients, and we not 
being in any hurry waited for him. At dinner we had 
Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers, as we found after- 
wards by asking to see their heads. 



36 VISIT TO ICELAND 

On the 21st we set out and came on here, but by a 
long round as we wished to see a priest who Hves close to 
Skagen, and some other people who were supposed to 
know about Great Auk. They were duly examined and 
their depositions taken. On our way we saw a great 
many Turnstones, a few Dunlins and Sanderlings (of the 
latter I shot a 9> the ovary backward, and in a very 
moderate state of plumage) and some Red-necked Phala- 
ropes. We passed some ponds whereon Faber says he 
found Grey Phalarope breeding, though he did not get 
their eggs. We got two fellows to dig at a rubbish heap, 
where an old man said he remembered seeing Great Auks' 
bones, but we found nothing but fishes' remains. We 
finally arrived here late in the evening and saw a beautiful 
sight on the shore ; three Iceland Gulls, young, of course, 
sitting on the water close to the landing-place, as tame 
as possible ; as many Red-necked Phalaropes swimming 
about in a little bay of their own, hardly larger than a 
hip-bath ; Purple Sandpipers creeping about on the rocks 
like rats, and a vast number of Turnstones ; some of 
these, too, were running about among the houses on the 
short warren-like turf with Golden Plover, just as you 
see Blackbirds and Thrushes on a lawn in England. Since 
we have been here we have done but little in the bird way. 
We have not yet had a sufficiently calm day to admit of 
our going to sea, though one morning we were on the 
point of starting when our leader, who has been the 
foreman of most of the later expeditions to the rocks, 
decided, and wisely as it turned out, that it would not 
do. Our arrangements are completed ; we are to have 
two 10-oar boats for greater security, and 16 men in 
each, so that some may rest ; thus with ourselves and 
Zoega there will be 35 souls embarked on the enterprise. 
With these precautions, I think the risk is reduced to a 
minimum. The information which WoUey has acquired 
amounts to about this. In old times the true Geirfug- 
lasker was the place visited, and no one thought of going 
to the Meal Sack (Eldey) until a boat was seen to 
land there from a *' yacht " (i.e. cutter), and then an enter- 



BREEDING-PLACE OF GREAT AUK 37 

prising fellow went there and took 8 Great Auks out of a 
considerable number, the greater part of which escaped 
as the men did not know the dodge of catching them, 
which after all amounts only to going very quietly. 
Shortly after this, in the spring of 1830, a submarine 
eruption took place, and the true Geirfuglasker sank 
(whether any part of it is still above the surface is doubt- 
ful). Since then the Meal Sack has only been visited and 
with varying success ; one year (probably 1831) 24 
were taken there and their skins sold to merchants at 
Keblavik. In 1846, our present landlord and leader 
went to the Meal Sack and took two birds ; one egg — ^if 
not two — ^was seen but was accidentally broken, and we 
cannot make out that the bird has since been seen by 
any one. The rock has been since visited at least twice, 
one year in August, which was, of course, far too late to 
find the bird, and last year people went but were unable 
to land ; the leader of that expedition is extremely 
anxious to go again this year, though he declares he saw 
nothing last time. It seems pretty certain that the bird 
is very irregular in its visits, sometimes keeping away 
for several years in succession, so that there is still just a 
hope. When Faber was here some thirty years ago, he 
cruised for three days ofi the old Geirfuglasker ; they 
were unable to land, but he says he could see every bird 
on the rock and there was not a Gare-fowl among them ; 
now it is clear that long after his time there were several 
successful captures made there, and it has happened in 
the same way at the Meal Sack. It is very singular that 
we cannot make out that more than half a dozen, if so 
many, eggs have been taken here within the last thirty 
years. The merchants, though they have given large 
sums for the birds, have never cared much for the eggs, 
and it is a mystery to us where all the eggs have come 
from that are in collections, unless indeed they have 
been from the Eastern islet to which Mr. Magnussen has 
gone, and where they may have been obtained by French 
fishing vessels, of whom there are a great number on 
that coast. All accounts agree in saying that on land 



38 VISIT TO ICELAND 

the bird is blind and only gets its sight when it is in the 
water, but it has capital ears. Of course, there is some 
mistake here. In the water it swims deep with its head 
cocked up, and does not keep dipping its bill as Razor- 
bills and Guillemots do. Some old fellows say that there 
are always as many eggs found as birds, which can only 
be accounted for by the supposition that the cocks and 
hens reheve each other. It is therefore a point of con- 
siderable importance whether two eggs or one were found 
in 1846, and we have been unable to get satisfactory 
evidence respecting it. If as one man says there were 
two, there must have been other birds out fishing at the 
time the boat landed, and then there is a strong pre- 
sumption that the bird was not exterminated in that 
year. Wolley is much more sanguine about success than 
I am, and I think more than he has a right to be ; but 
at the same time I am not more desponding than I have 
always been about it. 

June 2. 

The steamer passed Reykjanes the afternoon before 
last. I am in hopes that I may get letters to-day ; but 
people have such odd notions of the necessity of doing 
anything at once in this country that I have my doubts. 
I forgot to say that on the 24th largeish flocks of Knots 
anived, which were increased on the following day. They 
were very wild and it was only after several trials that 
we shot one, which proved to be a male and well advanced 
in plumage. Yesterday they had diminished in numbers, 
and to-day I have not seen one. By far the greater part 
of the Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers too have gone ; 
so also Dunlin and Golden Plover, and I have not seen a 
Sanderling now for nearly a week. I suspect Grey 
Phalarope breeds hereabouts occasionally; a man says he 
found a " RandbrustHng " nest on an islet here once, 
and this name though properly applicable to the Knot, 
is also used for the other Redbreast, and this man spoke 
of its swimming in the water like " Odin's Hani " (Red- 
necked Phi.). We have again tried digging for Great 
Auks' bones, but without success. We are endeavouring 



GREAT AUK 39 

to get some live White-winged Gulls for the Zoological, 
but the brutes are very wary, and do not seem inclined 
to take either a baited hook or to get into a snare. 

On Sunday (the 30th) I saw a fine Buffon's Skua here, 
and yesterday evening a man sent us one from Keblavik 
that he had shot. I have tried several times in vain to 
find Snow Buntings' nests ; they are now building, but 
they do not seem to have a good heart in the matter, for 
often after picking up a nice bit of wool or a feather they 
let it drop again before long. I succeeded some days ago 
in watching a White Wagtail to its nest, but there are no 
eggs yet. The only eggs I have seen, are one nest of 
Lesser Black-backed Gull and three Golden Plovers' 
which have been brought in. The weather still looks far 
from being settled, and it seems as if we might be here 
at least another fortnight. What our future plans may 
be I cannot say at all. Of course, the great object is to 
reach Great Auk, but unless we soon get the attempt 
made it will be of no use going northward, and then we 
must devote ourselves to Grey Phalarope in this corner 
of the island. We have sent to the westward to Oddi, 
for Gooses' eggs, as Faber says Anser alhifrons is there 
only. 

I shall certainly try and get home by the middle of 
August, though I think WoUey will very likely stay 
longer. 

Elveden, August 16, 1858. 

The result, then, in short was nothing. Not one day 
of the whole two months we were at Kirkjuvogr was the 
sea ever sufficiently calm to have allowed us to land, 
even had we gone out, and we have come back knowing 
no more than when we started whether the Great Auk 
is living or dead. 



CHAPTEE IV 

THE GREAT AUK 

The journey to Iceland, though it resulted in no definite 
knowledge as to the continued existence of the Gare-fowl, 
so far from discouraging Newton proved to be the 
beginning of a prolonged investigation of the natural 
history, distribution, and remains of that most remarkable 
bird. The many days that they spent in enforced 
idleness in Iceland w^ere occupied by Newton and WoUey 
in examining a score or more of witnesses, fishermen and 
sailors, who had visited the breeding-places of the Gare- 
fowl and had been present on the occasions when the 
birds had been kiUed or captured. The result of their 
investigations was published * by Newton after Wolley's 
death. An interesting point, and one to be greatly 
deplored, which they discovered in the course of their 
inquiry, was that the extermination of the bird had been 
greatly hastened by the action of the European museums 
in offering large sums for their skins and eggs. Discussing 
the probable fate of the bird, Newton wrote j : — 

As to the extinction of the Great Auk, if it is extinct, 
I think it has been mainly accomplished by human 
means. The first decided blow, from which probably 
the race never ralhed, must have been that dehvered by 
the crew of a strange vessel who about 45 years ago, 
while lying becalmed off Cape Reykjanes, landed on 
the Geii'fuglasker and committed an enormous slaughter. 

* " Abstract of Mr. J. Wollej-'s Researches in Iceland respecting the 
Gare-fowl or Great Auk (Alca impennis, Linn.)," Ibis, October, 1861. 
t Letter to T. Southwell, Esq., August 30, 1858. Elveden. 

40 



EXTERMINATION OF GREAT AUK 41 

They loaded their boat with birds, among which Gare- 
fowls were in no inconsiderable number, leaving yet as 
many more on the island which they had killed but 
could find no room for. I saw a man who was present on 
this occasion. Some 18 years later the Geirfuglasker 
sank beneath the waves in a volcanic disturbance of the 
sea's bottom, and about that time a few birds, the 
descendants probably of those who had survived the 
great massacre, were found on an island lying nearer 
the mainland, but still only to be reached with difficulty. 
Under the influence of the " Almighty Dollar " (though 
in Iceland it is not worth 4/2) these poor birds were 
persecuted, their eggs plundered and their necks broken 
to supply the demand which Museums were then creating. 
And so the number dwindled, until in 1844, the only 
two then to be seen were taken, their egg broken (the 
shell left on the rock) and their skins shipped to Europe. 
I do not think there is any good evidence of the bird 
being seen since that time ; but I confess I do not give 
it quite up, nor shall I for the next five or six years, 
though the places suitable for its breeding station must 
be very few in number. The coast of Iceland is well 
known, and as Iceland is the most northern Hmit of the 
bird's range, it is useless trying further towards the Pole. 
The east coast of Greenland is encumbered by ice, and 
Labrador is nearly as well known as Iceland. 

Wolley died in the year following their return to 
England, and Newton never found an opportunity of 
repeating his visit to Iceland, but from that time he 
began to collect every scrap of information * relating to 
the Gare-fowl and to prepare a complete list f of all the 
existing remains of the bird — eggs, skins, and bones. On 
his journeys about England and the Continent he visited 
every public and private collection which possessed a 

* " The Gare-fowl and its Historians," Natural History Revieiv, October, 
1865. 

t " On Existing Remains of the Gare-fowl {Aha impennis),'^ The Ibis, 
AprU, 1870. 



42 THE GREAT AUK 

Gare-fowl and made careful notes of its history. In 
John WoUey's collection of eggs, which was bequeathed 
to him, were two eggs of the Gare-fowl : these formed 
the nucleus of his own famous collection of seven eggs, 
which are now in the University Museum at Cambridge. 
It is hardly necessary to say that the eggs were sold in 
those days far below the enormous prices they fetch 
nowadays, but there was a good deal more of romance 
about it then than there is now in bidding at auction for 
an egg, every point in whose history for the last fifty 
years is known. Mr. Gould bought an egg at a toyshop 
in Regent Street for ten pounds, and, thinking it to be 
a coloured model, sold it again a few days later. Mr. 
Yarrell bought an egg in Paris for two francs ! 

The story of Newton's first purchase is graphically 
told in a letter to Canon Tristram : — 

I dread the consequences of some news I have to 
impart, especially as regards Salvin and the Godmans. 
However, it is a punishment on them for their base deser- 
tion of me, and a reward to me for my patience under 
adversity. In going about London this very wet day I 
have picked up the greatest prize an Enghsh Oologist 
can meet with. I stumbled on the scent of it in the 
subterranean regions of Bloomsbury, and after a brilliant 
burst in a hansom ran it to ground under the shadow of 
St. Mary-le-Strand, a locality already sacred to the gentle 
memories of poor old Salmon and his gi-eat egg. The 
long and short is I have to-day purchased a Great Aiik's 
egg, one whose existence was previously unknown to me. 
I felt bound to rescue this Andromeda from being 
chained in the sunshine of Gardner's window, but I 
must confess she is not remarkable for her good looks, 
though I have seen worse, and I am glad to say her 
antecedents are likely to prove extremely interesting. 

I expect to hear of Salvin and Percy Godman embrac- 
ing and then leaping ofE the top of Snoehaetten, and of 
Fred's drowning himself in the Lake of Lucerne through 



BUYING GREAT AUK'S EGG 43 

envy. Poor fellows ; but what could one do ? Is a 
Great Auk's egg to be suffered to be pilloried in Oxford 
Street exposed to the contemptuous gaze of the cads of 
Holborn ? Ho ! St. Geirfowl to the rescue ! 

Of the price no man knoweth save and myself ; 

all I can say is that sentimental oologising is expensive, 
and may that consideration comfort my absent brothers 
of the B.O.U.* 

The antecedents of that egg were, as Newton sup- 
posed, extremely interesting and not altogether reputable. 
When he first saw it, the egg bore a paper label, and the 
owner, Mr. Calvert, showed Newton a number of other 
eggs bearing similar labels, which he said he had bought 
recently at the sale of the Natural History part of the 
Museum of the United Service Institution. But the 
Great Auk's egg, though he thought it came from the 
same collection, he said he had bought from some one 
else a fortnight before. 

I told him that I had learned from Mr. Leadbeater 
that there was no such thing in the collection, but he 
replied that the sale was so badly managed that whole 
boxes, full of odds and ends, were sold without examina- 
tion, and this agreed also with Mr. Leadbeater's account. 
It ended in my coming to terms with Mr. Calvert ; I 
was to have the egg conditionally on his informing me 
whence he obtained it, and he was to keep it for me till 
my return from the Continent, whither I was intending 
to proceed that night — I paying a deposit upon it. On 
September 4 I called by appointment to redeem the 
egg, and upon my paying the price agreed upon, it was 
handed over to me by Mr. Calvert, who informed me 
that he had it from one Westall, of Porchester or Portland 
Terrace, Bayswater — he could not recollect which. I 
complained that this was not according to our agreement, 
for that he had promised to give me the person's address. 
I lost no time, however, in writing to each of the places 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, August 18, 1860. 



44 THE GREAT AUK 

he had named, but received no reply. Subsequently I 
wrote to Captain Burgess, the Secretary of the United 
Service Institution, to obtain the address of Captain 
Vidal, whose name was on the label attached to the egg, 
to whom I also applied ; but that officer having taken 
up his abode in Canada, it was not till the following 
summer that I received any reply. When it did come, 
it was dated Moon River, Canada West, June 12, 1861, 
and was to the effect that he had never given a Great 
Auk's egg to the United Service Museum. 

Later in the same year, November 7, 1861, the 
Council of the Linnsean Society accepted the bequest of 
Mr. Salmon's collection of eggs, which they had declined 
some time previously on account of certain conditions 
attached to its acceptance. 

Soon after it was found that no Great Auk's egg was 
contained in it, and in its place was a Swan's rudely 
spotted and blotched with ink. The conclusion then was 
not difficult to draw. It is obvious, however, that with 
the view of putting a purchaser on the wrong scent, a 
label had been removed from some egg out of the United 
Service Museum and affixed to the present specimen. 
Whether the substitution was efiected with the know- 
ledge or connivance of the executor, there is no evidence 
to show, nor can I say whether he may not have had a 
perfect right to part with this or any other specimen 
before handing over the collection to the Linnaean Society. 
He certainly attempted to make a bargain with the 
Society for it, and I suppose felt justffied in doing so. 
Mr. Calvert became possessed of Mr. Salmon's Egg- 
Catalogue, which he subsequently sold to Mr. Edward 
Bidwell, when it was found that the leaf containing the 
specimen of the Great Auk had been removed ! The 
mutilated volume was transferred by Mr. Bidwell to the 
Linneean Society in 1891.* 

The doubtful origin of the egg and the questionable 

* " Ootheca Wolleyana," pp. 373-374. 



TEN GREAT AUKS' EGGS 45 

honesty of one of its late owners was a subject of trouble 
to Newton, as is seen from an interesting footnote 
attached to the description of the egg in the " Ootheca 
WoUeyana," p. 376 :— 

It would be absurd of me to ignore the fact that 
persons there are, even among my friends, who have 
been inclined to think that I was guilty of some sharp 
practice in possessing myself of this egg. I trust that 
the plain statement of facts fully given above will remove 
any misconception on that score. Both before and since 
the transaction, eggs of the Gare-fowl have turned up in 
a manner the most unexpected. While I was engaged 
with Mr. Calvert, Mr. Moore, of the Liverpool Museum, 
entered the shop and told me that only a short time before 
he had discovered a beautiful egg of Aha impennis in 
the Derby Collection which he, though he had been 
Curator of it for more than ten years, had never before 
seen. In or about the very same year two were found 
by Dr. Lepierre in the Museum at Lausanne, where they 
had lain, since 1846 at least, unsuspected ; and in 1861 
I myself found in the Museum of the Royal College of 
Surgeons no fewer than ten, which must have been 
there for fifty years or more without their existence having 
been recognised. There is therefore nothing at all 
extraordinary in the supposition that one might have 
been overlooked in the Museum of the United Service 
Institution, and it was only the facts that the alleged 
donor's name was affixed to it, and that he many months 
after denied having ever made such a gift, which proved 
the story to be untrue, while subsequently the disappear- 
ance of Mr. Salmon's specimen from his cabinet indicated 
the source whence the present specimen was derived. 

Rather more than a year later Newton made the 
greatest discovery of Great Auks' eggs that ever fell to 
the lot of a naturalist. 

Only fancy a discovery I made the other day ; it 
quite took away my breath ! Going to Surgeons' Hall 



46 THE GREAT AUK 

to inspect Owen's dissection of a Great Bustard, I found 
Huxley there, who asked me what I wanted. He told 
me I should most hkely find it in such and such a place. 
Ascending to the topmost gallery of the innermost room, 
a glass case with birds' eggs met my eye. After looking 
at one or two grimy Ostrich's and deformed Turkey's 
which might have belonged to John Hunter, I saw, as I 
thought, a nice model of a Great Auk, next to it w^as a 
prickly hen's, and then, on, on, on, as far as the eye could 
reach. Great Auk's ! ! To cut it short, there were ten, 
nearly all in excellent preservation, though one or two 
are a little broken. Of course, I hardly obtained credence 
from my friends ; but next day I took Tristram and 
Sclater and Simpson, and we all four had the case opened 
and handled the eggs which are neatly sealing- waxed on 
to boards. 

As soon as my first emotions by the way were over I 
called out over the railing to Huxley and told him what 
I had discovered ; whereupon to the astonishment of 
some grave-looking medical students in spectacles, he 
answered back that I was like Saul who went out to seek 
his father's asses and found a Kingdom ; to which I could 
only respond that I hoped I should, like my illustrious 
prototype, succeed in gaining possession of my discovery. 
How they came there I don't know, but expect to make 
out ; no doubt they are Iceland. I always was sure of 
more being in England than I could trace.* 

Not one of those ten eggs did find its way into 
Newton's hands, but his collection, now belonging to the 
University of Cambridge, ultimately contained seven 
eggs of the Great Auk, the largest number in any collec- 
tion. Two had belonged to John Wolley, one was the 
specimen obtained from Mr. Calvert, and four were 
presented to Newton by Lord Lilford in 1888. These 
latter four eggs had been sold in Edinburgh only eight 
years previously for the ridiculously small price of 

* Letter to Edward Newton, Christmas Day, 1861. 



HISTORY OF GREAT AUKS' EGGS 47 

thirty-two shillings. The history and antecedents of all 
the specimens were minutely investigated, and a mass 
of correspondence, which he preserved, with people in 
many countries testifies to Newton's untiring industry in 
this respect. Many of his correspondents were inaccu- 
rate, and some even drew on their imagination to give 
him information which they thought might appear to be 
true, but he was expert in sifting the grain from the 
chaff, and never recorded any fact of the accuracy of 
which he had the smallest doubt. 

It is very curious how men readily accept as evidence 
of history, what is not evidence at all. Not many days 
since I had a remarkable instance of this. I wanted to 
find out what had become of the Gare-fowl's egg that 
Wilmot had in his collection, and at his death left to a 
friend of his, Mr. George L. Russell, himself now dead. 
I made inquiries through a friend, and in time got a 
letter telHng me all I wanted to know and a great deal 
that I did not know ; e.g. that the egg was taken by 
WoUey on an island near Archangel (! !). Fortunately 
for the cause of historical accuracy I have Wilmot's own 
testimony that he bought his specimen for £5 in 1846, 
of Leadbeater, and there can be little doubt of its being 
one of those that were got on Eldey.* 

The history of Mr. Yarrell's egg, which went to Mr. F. 
Bond and subsequently into the collection of Baron 
D'Hamonville, was investigated by Mr. Harting. Yarrell 
had bought the egg as a Duck's egg from a fisherwoman 
at Boulogne or Paris, and her story was that she had 
received it from her husband, who had been a seaman on 
board a whaler, implying that it might have been 
brought from the Arctic regions This Newton considered 
most improbable. 

* Letter to Col, H. W. FeUden, December 1, 1884. 



48 THE GEEAT AUK 

Magdalene College, Cambridge, 
March 17, 1894. 

My dear Harting, 

My letter to D'Hamonville, which he quoted in 
the Bulletin, was written to correct the statement he 
had made in the Memoir es of the French Zool. 
Soc, 1888 (p. 225), and the point of it was to show that 
Yarrell had bought his egg of Alca impennis in France, 
but whether at Boulogne or in Paris did not, for the 
purpose I had in view, signify — so I merely expressed 
my behef without turning up the evidence. It was only 
the other day when the " whaler " made a public appear- 
ance that the place where it was bought became a con- 
sideration of any importance. Then I looked into the 
matter with the result that you know. I have not much 
doubt that old Bond, to the end of his days, honestly 
beheved that the Great Auk inhabited the " Arctic 
Kegions " ; but then he never cared to inform himself 
very accurately on points of this kind, and would not 
recognise the improbability (I might say the impossibihty) 
of a " whaler " bringing home one of its eggs — or even 
a dozen of them. 

If I were to correct or refute all the incorrect stories 
about this bird, which are published from time to time, 
I should have enough to do. Even when they concern 
myself I am generally content to leave them alone, just 
as I left alone an astounding statement in the Field 
of December 17, 1887, about my discovery of the ten 
eggs in the College of Surgeons Museum, or one in the 
Standard of February 23, 1894, about the destruction of 
Scales's egg, which (except the fact that it was burnt) 
is an entire fabrication ! 

It is only on a point like this which one has been 
driving into people for more than 30 years that I feel 
called upon to interfere ; but I see that the attempt is 
useless ; though it does vex me, I confess, when those 
who ought to know, and really do know, better incon- 
siderately help to maintain the popular delusion. This 
delusion was for a long while (and possibly is now) shared 
by Mr. Champley of Scarborough, as I know that at one 



GAEE-FOWL BOOK 49 

time he was busy in inquiring of Arctic navigators and 
others who had been in the far north after Alca im'penniSy 
although the absurdity of such inquiry had been demon- 
strated for several years. 

I wish there were the slightest chance of my being 
able to finish a Great Auk book before I die — ^but it is 
impossible. Nevertheless, I go on collecting all the 
materials I can, and somebody who comes after me may 
make use of them. I think that two-thirds of such a 
book would be taken up by refuting errors ! 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

It was his purpose to write a book, to be called " The 
Story of the Gare-fowl," and after the publication of the 
" Ootheca WoUeyana " he hoped that he might have 
time to put it into order, but his Hfe was not long enough 
for that. He had collected during the course of fifty 
years notes on every known specimen of the bird and of 
its eggs, and it may be hoped that some day this labour 
will be completed. 

Every question connected with the bird was of 
absorbing interest to him, not the least being that of the 
origin of its Sightlessness. He was never fully satisfied 
that the wings of the Great Auk were the degenerate 
remains of wings, which in remote ancestors had been 
useful for flight. 

I can't satisfy myself as to the way in which the Gare- 
fowl's flightlessness was produced, and I suppose I never 
shall. I can only conjecture that he found wings fit for 
flight articles too expensive for him to indulge in. If he 
descended from a Razor-bill it is not difficult to imagine 
that he found big wings were not worth the trouble of 
growing and it was better to expend energy in simply 
accumulating bulk. But one has no more right to 
assume that he descended from a Razor-bill than that 
the Razor-bill descended from him. The most reasonable 

E 



60 THE GREAT AUK 

conjecture seems to be that they had a common 
ancestor who differed in some degree from both, but still 
one would think that common ancestor must have had 
the power of flight. Such natural enemies as that 
common ancestor (or the Razor-biU for the matter of 
that) possessed may be roughly divided into 2 categories : 
enemies in the air or on land, and enemies in the water. 
Now in the water, wings to an Alcine bird are chiefly 
useful for steering (the propelHng power being in the 
legs) and a very little bit of wing would do to steer with, 
and escape from a grampus or seal (?). In the air a wing 
must be very good to be good for anything, if not it is 
better not to fly at all (witness Wollaston's Madeiran 
Coleoftera). Natural selection would soon weed out 
animals with moderate wings and leave those that had 
the best or the worst. Od land I take it the Gare-fowl 
had practically no enemies till man came to civilise him. 
I don't say these views satisfy me, there may be 
considerations I have altogether overlooked, but I think 
they may serve as indications of something like the way 
it was done.* 

During the last years of his life he spent a few weeks 
of almost every summer on board the yacht of his 
friend, Henry Evans, of Derby. Most of their cruises 
were in Scottish waters, and it was the keenest dehght to 
him to visit the former breeding-places of the Great Auk. 

May 13, 1898. 

I am off on June 17 th for another cruise in Henry 
Evans' yacht. I want to stop at the Holm of Papa 
Westray and see the slope on which the King and Queen 
of the Auks used to hold their court.f 

And a few weeks later — 

We had a most glorious day on the Holm of Papa 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, July 27, 1885. 

t The last Orcadian Great Auk was killed in 1812, and is now in the 
British Museum. 



VISIT TO ORKNEY 51 

Westray, and I wished the whole time you had been 
there. The sloping slabs would admit of a whole 
regiment of Great Auks landing and marching up in 
extended hne to a place where eggs could be laid in safety, 
and this at any stage of the tide or almost any conceivable 
weather — for the place is beautifully sheltered by the 
covering coast of Papa Westray.* 

When, later, his increasing infirmity prevented him 
from venturing into the confined space of a small yacht, 
he often suggested to others that they should explore 
coasts and islands with a view to finding what might 
appear to have been possible haunts of the extinct bird. 
In the spring of 1907 Major Barrett-Hamilton f wished 

to visit the islands, as being a possible origin of the 

Great Auk remains found in Ireland, and as a matter of 
course he applied to Professor Newton for advice. 

I am very glad you have seen and arranged with 
Ussher for a trip to those islets, also that for you it wiU 
not be so difficult a business. Now as to " minute 
instructions " for which you ask, beyond desiring you to 
run into no danger — and that is a positive order, not to 
be neglected on any account — I don't know what there 
is to be said. 

The question to ascertain is whether these rocks may 
have been (as Ussher suggests) a sufficient resort for the 
Gare-fowl, at any time of the year, but breeding season 
(the middle of May) especially, to make it worth while 
of the old kitchen midden people to have visited them and 
got thence the plunder of which Ussher has found the 
remains. Otherwise it is difficult to understand where 
their birds could have been got. From what we know 
elsewhere, Gare-f owls are stupid and easily taken on land, 
but hard to approach at sea, and granting that the men 
had bows and arrows, they would not get them very easily. 

* Letter to J. A HarTie-Brown, July 1. 1898. 

t G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, M.A., of Trin. Coll., Camb., author of 
" British Mammals." Died, South Georgia, 1914, 



52 THE GREAT AUK 

Then there is also this consideration ; do these rocks 
afiord a place for a flightless bird to run up a slope, or 
even scramble over a not too high ascent to a place where 
she might lay her egg out of the reach of the waves ? On 
Eldey the available space must have been small, and not 
over big on the sunken Gare-fowl skerry, though I have 
no means of computing what the area was in either case. 
On Holm of Papa Westray, supposing that I was right 
in determining the place, there was room for scores, not 
to say hundreds, and on Funk Island for milhons. 

If your Irish locality could accommodate a score it 
would have been quite a creditable place, but I should 
think that unless it lodged as many the people would 
hardly have found it worth visiting for plunder. About 
all these matters you must use your own intelhgence. 
You know how Razorbills and their like behave, and you 
must make allowance for a bigger sort bereft of flight.* 

The extinct and disappearing faunas, especially of 
oceanic islands, had a peculiar attraction for him, and 
among other birds in which he took the greatest interest 
was the Dodo. By the fortunate circumstance of his 
brother Edward, himself an accomplished ornithologist, 
having been appointed Assistant Colonial Secretary of 
Mauritius in 1859, he had exceptional opportunities of 
acquiring specimens of the Dodo of Mauritius and the 
SoHtaire of Rodriguez. In 1865 the British Association 
appointed him with Mr. Tristram and Dr. P. L. Sclater 
to be a " Committee for the purpose of assisting Mr. 
E. Newton in his researches for the extinct Didine birds 
of the Mascareen Islands, and to report thereon at the 
next meeting of the Association ; and that the sum of 
£50 be placed at their disposal for the purpose." The 
results of these inquiries were published in several 
papers in the Reports of the British Association and 
Proceedings of the Zoological and Royal Societies. His 

* Letter xo G. E. H. Barrett- HamUton, May 18, 1907. 



THE DODO 53 

article on the Dodo in the " Dictionary of Birds " may be 
cited as an illustration of the learning and the exhaus- 
tive criticism with which he could discuss a matter 
that strongly appealed to him. 

During the next fifteen years Newton secured 
specimens of the remains of most of the extinct birds of 
the islands, including an almost complete skeleton of the 
Dodo, which is one of the most valued possessions of the 
Cambridge University Museum. 

Many years later, when his friend Mr. Meade- Waldo 
was joining Lord Crawford on a cruise in the yacht 
Valhalla, Newton urged him to remember the Dodo and 
the other extinct birds of the Indian Ocean islands. 

. . . There is not a single living thing in any one of 
the islands you are to visit that is not of the highest 
importance — of that you may be sure — and unfortunately 
few if any of the people who have been there before have 
understood what opportunities they had, and therefore 
have failed to appreciate them. From what you write 
I should think it very likely that on your way back you 
will call at Mauritius. In that case you might be doing 
a great service if you could prevail on the authorities of 
the Museum there to entrust to you the collection of 
Dodo's and other mostly extinct birds' bones which they 
lately bought of a M. Thirion, an enthusiastic barber, 
living in Port Louis, who has been for some years past 
digging them up for his own satisfaction — ^he having had 
the luck to find a place (I have never known clearly 
whether a cave or not) which has been very prolific. He 
made a great secret of the place and I don't blame him 
for that, but he sold all his " find " to the Museum, and 
there it is with no one, so far as I know, competent to 
describe it. Among the specimens are portions of the 
Dodo's skeleton, which were hitherto unknown, and it 
is most desirable that they should be described and 
figured properly — to say nothing of the remains of other 
extinct species, Lofhopsittacus, Afhanafteryx, etc., of 



54 THE GREAT AUK 

which we have but fragments. ... It would be a great 
thing if you could persuade the people there to let you 
bring them home to have them done — and certainly 
there is no other place where they could be done properly 
except Cambridge, because we have here by far the most 
complete skeleton of the Dodo, and almost without 
exception all the remains of the other birds, which were 
described by my late brother Edward and Gadow in the 
Transactions of the Zoological Society, and it would 
be a pity if these were described anywhere else.* 

When his brother Edward was transferred to the 
post of Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica, Newton was 
enabled to make a valuable collection of the birds of that 
and other West Indian islands. It was mainly due to 
Newton also that the " Sandwich Islands Committee " 
of the British Association was formed and the fast 
vanishing fauna of that region studied. 

As an East Anghan Newton was naturally greatly 
interested in another extinct (so far as Britain is con- 
cerned) bird, the Great Bustard, or as he liked to call it, 
the Norfolk Bustard, which had vanished from this 
country during his own lifetime. Though there were 
still a few birds lingering in Norfollv in the " thirties," 
particularly in the neighbourhood of his father's estate 
of Elveden, it is doubtful if Newton ever saw a native 
Bustard alive. He made an attempt to see a bird 
between Cambridge and Ely in 1856, but was too late. 

Last week I was at Cambridge, and there heard a 
report that a Bustard had been seen in the neighbour- 
hood. I accordingly went to Burwell Fen, in company 
with my brother and a gentleman interested in Orni- 
thology, and on searching a field of coleseed we found 
several feathers which were most undoubtedly those of 
the Great Bustard. The gentleman who accompanied 
us had been there a few days before and had not only 

* Letter to E. G. B. Meade-Waldo, October 29, 1905. 



NORFOLK BUSTARD 55 

then found more feathers but had seen a good many 
foot-prints which could only have been those of that bird. 

I saw several men at work in the fen, and gathered 
from them that they had several times seen a " Wild 
Turkey " (as they called it) : according to one man's 
account, it had been there from shortly after Christmas 
until the last few days, but another man who said he 
thought he had seen it before any one else, was of opinion 
that the time it had haunted the fen was not more than 
three weeks. However, in the main points they all 
agreed, and leave one to entertain no doubt but that for 
some weeks a Great Bustard had frequented that locality. 
They were very accurate in their description of the bird ; 
one man compared the markings on the back and wings 
to a viper, saying that '' it was dappled like a snake " ; 
another said it "made a wonderful roarin' with its wings" 
when it flew over. 

I was there on Thursday, the 6th inst., and on the 
preceding Saturday it had been shot at by a gunner, 
but only with a common hand-gun, and as the bird was 
more than 100 yards off, it doubtless escaped unhurt. 
I was unable to make out satisfactorily whether it had 
been seen since that day, but I am inchned to think that 
it took the gunner's hint and departed. Since then I 
have heard nothing new, though my brother who has 
been at Cambridge until within the last day or two, has 
made unceasing inquiries. I therefore sincerely hope 
that it has altogether escaped and that it will not in 
consequence help to fill the blood-stained pages of the 
Natural History Magazines.* 

Twenty years later, in the company of Mr. J. E. 
Harting and others, he had the good fortune to see a 
Bustard alive in England. Mr. Harting writes : — 

A brief mention should be made of the pleasure we 
both experienced in seeing a real wild Bustard in a 
Norfolk fen. In Feb. 1876, Mr. H. M. Upcher, of 

* Letter to T. Southwell, March 14, 1856. 



56 THE GREAT AUK 

Sheringham, unexpectedly found one (a male bird) on 
his property in Blackdyke Fen, Hockwold, and by means 
of letters to neighbouring landowners, and the dis- 
semination of printed notices, made strenuous efforts to 
prevent its being shot. Steps to provide it with a mate 
were taken by the late Lord Lilford. In company with 
Mr. Upcher and a few privileged friends we had the 
satisfaction of watching the movements of the illustrious 
visitor and seeing the hen bird turned out in the same 
field of coleseed with it ; but the weather being very 
inclement at the time, the hen bird was accidentally 
drowned in a fen dyke, and the male after a stay of seven 
weeks disappeared. 

During more than fifty years, up to the time of his 
death, Newton collected details of the history of the 
Great Bustard, more especially with reference to its 
extinction. He amassed an immense amount of in- 
formation which was to take form, some day, in a book 
to be called " The Bustard in Britain," but he was never 
satisfied with the completeness of his material, and the 
book still awaits an editor. 

Attempts have been made, from time to time, to 
reintroduce the Great Bustard into Great Britain, but 
none of them have been successful. Amongst those who 
made the experiment was Prince Dhuleep Singh, the 
owner of Elveden Hall. 

Bloxworth, August 31, 1874. 

My dear Lilford, 

I have little doubt that if you were the owner 
of Elden you would be successful in introducing the 
Bustard, while I don't beUeve that Dhuleep Singh ever 
will be. 

As regards the migration of Bustards formerly in 
England I have always been in doubt. Neither in 
Norfolk nor Suffolk did they ever seem to have appeared 
in their usual abundance in the shooting season. I 
think I stated this in the notes with which I furnished 



THE BUSTARD 67 

Stevenson, but I have not got his 2nd volume with me 
here. Indeed, to the best of my recollection, I could 
never hear of but one well-established instance of a 
Bustard being seen between harvest time and the begin- 
ning of the New Year. This was a young bird shot by 
the late Sir Alexander Grant (an old friend of my father's) 
at Elden in September. 

What became of the birds in the meantime I have no 
idea, but early in January, quite regardless of snow or 
frost, they used to be seen on the brecks and so remained 
till the corn (rye) hid them in the summer. 

The question of polygamy is also a dark point in 
their history. 

As to the southern distribution of the species, I never 
saw an African specimen, and I have sometimes been 
incHned to doubt whether the big Bustard of Algeria, 
etc., might not be Otis arabs, which you know poor Drake 
got in Morocco (Ibis, 1867, p. 424). 

Yours in haste, 

Alfred Newton. 

When Mr. Harting was preparing his edition of 
" White's Selborne " (published in 1875), he included in 
it Gilbert White's allusions to the Bustard, hitherto un- 
published, and sent the proofs to Newton for his 
comments. 

Bloxworth, Blandford, 

August 22, 1874. 

My dear Harting, 

You will see by the " proof " which I now 
return of the notes for your edition of " White's Selborne" 
that I have read it pretty attentively, and have not 
hesitated to suggest several changes in it of more or less 
importance. 

Those of the greatest consequence are such as relate 
to Black Game and Bustard. 

It has always puzzled me to account for White's 
having said that the former had become extinct since 
his boyhood. The species has existed I imagine always 



58 THE GREAT AUK 

in the wild heathery tract which extends, with even now 
but few interruptions, from beyond the parish in which 
I write to Surrey — the tract which you will see laid down 
on any geological map as the " Bagshot Sand." Sup- 
posing that the species did for a time become extinct in 
any one portion of this district it would speedily find its 
way to its old haunts, so well suited to it, from the 
remainder. 

You may certainly have some authority for saying 
that it was " introduced " to Wolmer Forest — but with- 
out direct evidence to that effect I should rather attribute 
its reappearance (supposing White to be right in saying 
that it had disappeared) to natural causes. But even 
when White wrote Letter VI. — ^which I think we may 
put at or near 1789, the date of pubUcation — (for I 
imagine that the first few letters were an after-thought, 
and expressly written by way of introduction to the 
published work, while the later ones were no doubt real 
letters) — a Grey Hen had been seen two years before only 
— and then there is the celebrated " Hybrid Pheasant " 
sent to him by Lord Stawell from Alice Holt, subsequently 
to 1789, whose existence required that of a Black Grouse 
of one sex or the other. Thus I am inchned to doubt 
White's statement as to its extinction in 1789. 

As regards Bustards — the birds which from time to 
time appear in England are unquestionably of foreign 
extraction. Nothing in the world can be clearer than 
the extinction of the British race. Norfolk was their 
last stronghold, but in the south of England they were 
gone long before. 

These remarks are simply to explain the alterations 
I have suggested on your " proof." 

I beheve there is no good authority for the use of the 
word " nest " as a verh, and hence I have altered it. 

In any natural history work I should always recom- 
mend the printing of the Enghsh names of species with a 
capital letter. They are in such cases to all intents and 
purposes proper names, and should be so distinguished, 
but I have not marked them on the " proof " for altera- 



ACCLIMATISATION AND EXTEEMINATION 69 

tion. Printers to save themselves trouble decry the use 
of capitals, but within limits it is very desirable. 

Yrs. very truly, 

Alfked Newton. 

Although the re-introduction of the Capercaillie into 
Scotland had been so successful, Newton never quite 
approved of these experiments, which he regarded rather 
as attempts at accHmatisation, and of that he wrote : — 

Everything relating to what is called Acclimatisation 
is hateful to me, but I do think it is just possible that if 
Strix uralensis were introduced into this country, it 
might be of some use to check the Eat plague, and as 
Rats themselves are interlopers it might be fair to use 
aliens against them. 

In the light of the Little Owl plague at the present 
time, it is fortunate that that experiment also failed. 

All questions of the extinction of animals concerned 
him very closely {vide the article " Extermination " in 
the " Dictionary of Birds "), and in an address delivered 
to the British Association at Glasgow in 1876, he described 
in his own peculiar way the consequences of unconsidered 
accHmatisation. 

What if a future " Challenger " shall report of some 
island, now known to possess a rich and varied animal 
population, that its present fauna has disappeared ? 
That its only Mammals were feral Pigs, Goats, Eats and 
Eabbits — ^with an infusion of Ferrets, introduced by a 
zealous " acclimatiser " to check the super-abundance 
of the rodents last named, but contenting themselves 
with the colonists' chickens ? That Sparrows and 
Starlings, brought from Europe, were its only Land- 
birds, that the former had propagated to such an extent 
that the cultivation of cereals had ceased to pay — ^the 
prohibition of bird-keeping boys by the local school 
board contributing to the same effect — and that the latter 



60 THE GREAT AUK 

(the Starlings) having put an end to the indigenous 
insectivorous birds by consuming their food, had turned 
their attentions to the settlers' orchards, so that a crop 
of fruit was only to be looked for about once in five 
years — when the great periodical cyclones had reduced 
the number of the depredators ? that the Goats had 
destroyed one half of the original flora and the Rabbits 
the rest ? that the Pigs devastated the potato gardens 
and yam-grounds ? This is no fanciful picture. I 
pretend not to the gift of prophecy ; that is a faculty 
alien to the scientific mind ; but if we may reason from 
the known to the unknown, from what has been and 
from what is to what will be, I cannot entertain a doubt 
that these things are coming to pass ; for I am sure there 
are places where what is very like them has already 
happened. 

None of those who were present are likely to forget 
the occasion, one evening in Newton's rooms, when a 
young man interrupted an interesting talk about the 
fate of (it may have been) Moas with the rather large 
question : " Why do birds become extinct ? " The 
Professor replied without hesitation, " Because people 
don't observe the Game Laws ; see Deuteronomy xxii. 
6." The conversation languished after that and we soon 
returned to our various colleges, where we looked up his 
reference and read — 

If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way 
in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young 
ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or 
upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the 
young. 

But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take 
the young to thee ; that it may be well with thee, and that 
thou may est prolong thy days. 



CHAPTER V 



THE IBIS 



For some years it had been the custom for a number of 
naturalists, most of them members of the University of 
Cambridge, and all of them interested in the study of 
Ornithology, to meet together once a year or oftener, for 
the discussion of various topics and the exhibition of 
objects of interest. These " conferences," as they were 
called, were highly appreciated by those who attended 
them, and in the autumn of 1857 at the meeting which 
was held (as usual) in Newton's rooms at Cambridge, it 
was suggested that it would be advisable to establish a 
magazine devoted solely to Ornithology. In the following 
year a number of ornithologists met at the British 
Association meeting at Leeds, when they decided to meet 
again at Cambridge in November and discuss the question 
of the magazine. Accordingly a meeting was held in 
Newton's rooms at Magdalene on November 17, 1858, 
when the following resolutions were adopted : 

1. That an Ornithologists' Union of twenty Members 

should be formed, with the principal object of 
establishing a new Journal entirely devoted to 
Birds. 

2. That Lt.-CoL H. M. Drummond should be the 

President and A. Newton the Secretary of the 

Union, and that P. L. Sclater should edit the 

Journal. 

No official record of the meeting was made, but it 

seems to be fairly certain that eleven people were present. 

61 



62 THE IBIS 

As an instance of my forgetfulness I could have taken 
oath that Gurney was present at the Conference at 
Cambridge in October, 1858, when we founded the 
Ihis — or Avis as was to have been its name. Now I find 
from looking at old letters that Gurney was not at the 
Conference of 1858, though he had intended to be there, 
but had to go to a funeral somewhere else. He had 
been, however, at a former Conference, that of 1857 I 
suppose. Those present in 1858 so far as I can make out 
were yourself, Drummond, P. L. Sclater, and E. C. 
Taylor whom he brought down, the Godmans, Salvin, 
Sealy, Simpson, and A. and E. N. — eleven in all. I 
think any letters of that period are worth keeping, for 
no doubt the institution of the Ihis had a very remark- 
able effect on Ornithology all the world over. Alas that 
the poor old bird should nowadays fly so feebly, and yet 
I quite believe that its youth might be renewed, if proper 
steps were taken.* 

Newton was very definite in declaring that not all 
of these were the founders of the Union. 

Don't forget that E. N. [Edward Newton] was 
emphatically one of the founders of the B.O.U., which 
is a good deal more than being only one of the original 20. 
I have always looked on the founders as : — 

Drummond. 

Tristram. 

Newtons (2). 

Salvin. 

Godmans (2). 
The rest— Sclater, Gurney, and WoUey included — 
were asked to join us. 

The Editor and the Secretary lost no time in making 
arrangements for the new magazine, and Messrs. Taylor 
and Francis agreed to print it. The head of the latter 
firm. Dr. WilHam Francis, suggested the name Ihis^ 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, January 2, 1888. 




II'. d- D. DoH'imj. 
SIR EDWARD NEWTON, K.C.M.G. 



FOUNDATION OF B.O.U. 63 

and Joseph Wolf,* a friend of Newton, was commissioned 
to draw the figure of the Sacred Bird, which has always 
adorned the cover of the journal. 

I owe you many apologies for not having written to 
you before, but I have been so very, very busy. 

I hope things are promising for the Ibis ; we nearly 
lost Wolley | through the change of name, but I trust 
he is appeased. His name is such a tower of strength 
that we could not set up to be Ornithologists of the first 
water without his co-operation. As for the name itself, I 
don't think it signifies £0-0-2, and " Ibis " is as good as 
any other ; does it not signify " You will go," i.e. to the 
ends of the world, and in fact the Ibis is one of the most 
cosmopolitan of genera. I regard it in this light, and 
not in the way Wolley does, as a thing with a long bill, 
apt to be shut up in cellars for thousands of years, with 
no Hfe about it at all. I look upon it too as the scourge 
of reptiles ; the harbinger of that source of wealth and 
abundance, the overflowing of the river of knowledge ; 
and therefore I recommend Ibidiculture to all my friends, 
reminding them at the same time to say nothing against 
the sacred bird, for fear of the laws of the land of Egypt 
being put in force in this country : vide^ Herodotus, 
Euterpe, chap. 65.J 

The first number of the Ibis, which was ready in 
January, 1859, contained an article by Newton and his 
brother Edward on the birds of St. Croix, West Indies, 
the results of their visit to the island in 1857. As the 
editor, P. L. Sclater, was away during the early part of 
that year, and was shortly afterwards appointed to the 
arduous post of Secretary to the Zoological Society, 
Newton busied himself with the work of getting con- 
tributors to write articles for the new Journal. The 

* " My friend Mr. Wolf, whose supreme excellence as a zoological artist 
was only equalled by his readiness to oblige any one who appreciated good 
work." — " Ootheca WoUeyana," Introduction, p. vi. 

t J. W. wanted the magazine to be called " Avis." 

X Letter to H. B. Tiistram, December 10, 1858. 



64 THE IBIS 

first number was received with a chorus of praise by 
contemporary journals, so Newton tried to induce others 
to write less favourable comments, lest the young society 
should become too much filled with satisfaction. Mr. 
A. C. Smith, who was not yet a member, was asked by 
Newton to write a letter to the Zoologist picking holes in, 
or pulling feathers out of, the Ibis, and in reply to his 
complaint that he had no fault to find with the magazine 
he received the following letter : — 

But your objection that you do not know what to 
find fault with in the Ibis is indeed not valid. Nothing 
can be easier. It is printed 8vo size ; it ought to have 
been 4to to have allowed the plates to be larger, or 12mo, 
that it would have been easier to hold in the hand. It 
ought to be published monthly or bi-monthly, or half- 
yearly, or annually ; anything but quarterly. There is 
a want of unity about the design, or its contents display 
page after page a sameness which palls upon the reader. 
Its price is too high for the ornithological public, or it is 
too low to enable justice to be done to the plates. No 
publication of the sort was wanted at all, or that the 
void which every one felt existed has by no means been 
filled by the Ibis. Or, to go into particulars, that the 
Ornithology of Central America is far too dry, the birds 
of St. Croix too flippant. Mr. E. C. Taylor's paper on 
Egyptian Ornithology is only a rechauffe of what had 
already appeared in the Zoologist. (N.B. — Taylor says 
he sent his list of birds to Newman with remarks upon 
them, as afterwards printed in the Ibis, but Newman cut 
them all out, except one about the Egyptian Vulture's 
feet, and printed the bare Hst in the Zoologist.) Mr. 
WoUey devotes whole articles to the finding of a bird's 
nest as if no one had ever done such a thing before. Mr. 
Simpson is as bad. Messrs. Sturge and Evans thought 
because they went so far as Spitzbergen, therefore it was 
necessary that everybody else should be interested about 
them. Mr. Gurney's contributions are mere lists of what 
his collectors send him. Messrs. Salvin and Tristram 



THE IBIS 65 

vary so in their accounts of the same things that one 
knows not which to beHeve ; or that they both agree so 
exactly that it must be the result of a previous determina- 
tion to do so, and hence their testimony is valueless. The 
remarks on the Harlequin Duck are full of misprints, 
and that the author's notions of geography are exceed- 
ingly singular, when he speaks of " Europe with the 
exception of Iceland and Western Asia," That Mr. 
Hewitson's contribution has spoiled a good supplement 
to his work. That the Editorial articles are merely a 
display of knowledge, and that the review of Bree's 
book is ill-natured in the extreme, or that it does not 
detect half the faults in that very inaccurate publication. 
That the subject of British Ornithology is entirely passed 
over by the Ihis, or that British Ornithology should be 
left entirely to other magazines. That the scientific 
principles enunciated are merely the old ones always 
known, or they have a most startling and unpleasant 
novelty ; or that there are no scientific principles at all. 
That there is a horrible taint of heresy about the whole 
matter, or that the writers are far too orthodox for 
zoologists in these days. 

Here is a string of objections, any one of which may 
be harped upon, or all at once according to the fancy of 
the player ; for a reviewer may be allowed to bring contra- 
dictory charges, as in certain actions contradictory pleas 
are used, first " not guilty " and then " justification." * 

A question which greatly exercised the minds of the 
founders of the Ihis was that of a suitable motto for the 
Journal. Sclater sought eagerly for one in the classics, 
but not finding one that was appropriate he composed a 
line : — 

Ibimus incolumes tutique sub " ibide " sacra. 

Newton writes : "I have suggested to him as being 
better : — ■ 

' I semel in terras, ibis sub nomine et Ibis 
Sed quacunque ibis, floreat " Ibis " ibi.' " 

* Letter to A. C. Smith, July 18, 1859. 



66 THE IBIS 

Finally, it was decided that the motto for the first ^ 
series of the Ihis should be :— 

Ibimus indomiti venerantes Ibida sacram, 
Ibimus incolumes qua prior Ibis adest. 

This did not meet altogether with Newton's approval. 

The Ihis motto as it now is I confess I do not under- 
stand, but it is not worth while bothering about, and I 
have never intimated my disapproval to Sclater. I think 
I told you that Knox showed mine to the Bishop of 
Oxford (Stubbs), and he very much approved of it, 
though no doubt there was a solecism in the grammar. 

Though he was not at any time a very frequent con- 
tributor of articles to the magazine, Newton did much 
work in reviewing books and in other ways greatly 
assisted Sclater, whom he succeeded as editor of the 
second series of the Ihis (1865 to 1870). He was very 
keen on starting discussions, so in 1865 he got G. D. 
Rowley to write an article about the Cuckoo, or, as he 
always spelt it, Cuckow, and then asked A. C. Smith to 
write a letter of disagreement, thinking that " it will 
make people take a greater interest in the journal in 
which it appears." He did not want articles to be 
" scientific catalogues, but rather readable, \^T:itten in a 
simply unaifected way." To a correspondent who com- 
plained that the Ihis went out of his depth he replied that 
he doubted it, " but if it does you must learn to swim — 
and the process is easy when you have made up your 
mind to it, for our Holy Fowl is a typical wader and its 
legs are not so very long after all." 

His period of editorship was a time of strenuous work 
and of rapidly increasing responsibilities, so that he was 
unable to undertake the third series, which was edited 
by Osbert Salvin. Many years afterwards, writing to an 
old friend who lay dying, he recalled the early struggles 
of the Ihis. 



CANON TRISTKAM 67 

February 26, 1906, 

My dear Tristram, 

If the letter I have just received is really to be 
the last I am to have from you, as therein foreshadowed, 
there could not be one more gratifying to my feehngs, 
and I am at a loss for terms in which to answer it. I 
can never forget the steady, friendly, I may say, brotherly 
support I have invariably received from you, and if it 
were my good fortune to have done you a good turn in 
the matter of the Royal Society, a circumstance that 
had wholly passed from my mind, it was but a slight 
return for the aid you rendered in starting the B.O.U. 
and the Ibis, and again at the critical moment when our 
first Editor threw up the job, and (with one or two more) 
would not have been sorry had it come to an end. It 
was your Palestine papers that to a very great extent 
caused the success of the second series of the Ibis ; not 
that I would overlook the value of the help I had from 
Blyth, Swinhoe, and others. Their articles were of great 
scientific interest, but they failed in the qualities for 
reading, while your articles possessed both merits. 

There are few things I look back to with greater 
satisfaction than my six years' editorship of the Ibis, 
but that was entirely due to my contributors, among 
whom you were chief, and one on whom I could always 
rely. 

I can't trust myself to write more, and indeed you 
might easily be tired with more. It must indeed have 
been a comfort to you to have had all your children 
round you on Saturday, and so I say farewell, and God 
be with you till you are with Him. 

Yours as always, 

Alfred Newton. 

Henry Baker Tristram, Canon of Durham, was a 
friend and frequent correspondent of Newton's for several 
years before the foundation of the B.O.U., of which he 
was an original member. That Newton had a very 
strong afiection for him is shown by his action " in the 



68 THE IBIS 

matter of the Royal Society," which is explained by the 
following letter, written ten days before his death. 

The College, Durham, 

February 25, 1906. 

My deak Newton, 

It is utterly impossible to get out of your debt 
epistolary, as I have found ever since that unparalleled 
act of friendship many years ago, when you took off your 
name from the Royal Society in order to secure my 
election. When one looks back through the long vista of 
years there is nothing I have found to equal it for self- 
sacrifice and generosity. But, that apart, there is only 
one sense of generous fraternity. I am glad to deliver 
my soul. 

In my present state of health the political outlook 
hardly interests me, for I am very ill. The doctor stays 
in the house with me generally all night, as I suffer from 
breathlessness, but I have had the comfort of having my 
family, eight children and my sons-in-law gathered round 
me yesterday. 

Before my attack became worse I was able to enjoy 
two papers in the Ihis on Ross' Rosy Gull and the 
Scotch Antarctic, as well as to glance at my old friend 
Mr. Wliitaker's Tunisia, which resuscitated many 
interests of bygone years. I dare say this may be my last 
letter. 

Your sincere old friend, 

H. B. Tristram. 

Tristram was distinguished as a traveller, a naturalist, 
and an antiquary. He devoted himself particularly to 
the ornithology of Northern Africa, about which he wrote 
several most interesting papers in the early numbers of 
the Ihis, and of Palestine, which he visited several times 
and described in published volumes. In those countries 
he made many ornithological discoveries, and his sudden 
and unexpected departures were a constant source of 
mvstification to his friends, among whom he was known 



INTEREST IN IBIS 69 

as the " Sacred Ibis " or the " Great Gun of Durham." 
He was during all his life an indefatigable collector, and 
his birds and eggs, almost the largest collection ever 
amassed by one man, are now in the Liverpool and 
South Kensington Museums. 

I saw a long letter from Tristram to Sclater from 
Jerusalem, in which he says they have done wonders. 
If all he advances is true they must have got some twenty 
new species of birds.* Among other things he has found 
the descendants of the Ravens that fed Elijah, and they 
are previously undescribed except by the author of the 
Book of Kings. In future they are to stand as Corvus 
ElicB, Tristram. I have only to hope that Asinus 
halaami and Cetus joncB will also be found. f 

After the end of his term of office as editor of the 
Ibis Newton no longer took an active part in managing 
the affairs of the B.O.U., but his interest in the Society 
never failed, though he disapproved of certain modern 
innovations, and his advice was constantly sought by 
successive editors of the Journal. There were times 
when it appeared that the editors had not very carefully 
read the articles they published, and these occasional 
lapses seldom escaped him : — 

The Ibis for the past year has certainly been dis- 
tinguished by some crackers. It was only yesterday I 
heard from Legge, who drew my attention to a curious 
statement at p. 143 : — 

" On the top of trees in Celebes," says Meyer, " builds the Whimbrel." 
Then De Meyer is a I — r : proclaim it with a timbrel ! 

It was unfortunate that he would never be persuaded 
to approve of the British Ornithologists' Club, which was 

* One of the birds discovered on that journey was Tristram's Grakle 
{Amydrus tristrami), which he found in the rocky gorges of the Dead Sea. 
t Letter to Edward Newton, March 25, 1864. 



70 THE /^/>S 

founded in the late " nineties." He was accustomed to 
call by a most uncomplimentary name those monthly 
meetings and dinners which have done so much to 
advance the study of ornithology and to promote good 
fellowship among its votaries. 

One of the original " Ibises " and the first of them to 
die, in November, 1859, at the early age of thirty-six 
years, was Newton's friend, John Wolley. Shortly before 
his death he requested that his zoological collection, the 
formation of which had latterly been his chief occupation, 
should be handed over to Newton, and this wish was 
fully carried out by his father. The coUectons were sent, 
in February, 1860, from Beeston to Newton's home at 
Elveden. 

There were twenty-four enormous packages, which 
weighed altogether one ton and filled a railway truck 
— ^not a single breakage ! After consulting on the 
subject with P. L. Sclater, I came to the conclusion that 
I should be most advantageously serving the interest of 
Ornithology by publishing from Mr. Wolley's note-books 
a complete catalogue of the contents of his egg-cabinet. 
Mr. Wolley's life had been one of so active a nature, and 
his death was, until a few weeks before it took place, so 
entirely unexpected, that he had had but few opportuni- 
ties of making known to the world the results of his 
labours. To prevent those results from being lost to 
science was my main object ; and it appeared to me that 
this would be effectually attained by the publication of a 
Catalogue such as the present, which should embrace as 
far as possible all the information he had gathered, which 
is extracted from letters to his friends, from fi-agmentary 
diaries, or from detached memorandums, as well as that 
which was contained in his " Egg-book " — this latter 
being the principal record of his experience, and having 
been, with some few exceptions, most carefully kept for 
many years. 

In order to make the catalogue more complete 



"OOTHECA WOLLEYANA" 71 

Newton added descriptions of specimens he received 
subsequently and of the specimens in the collection 
belonging to his brother Edward and himself. 

The First Part of the " Ootheca WoUeyana," as the 
catalogue was called, was published early in 1864, and 
in his Preface Newton announced his intention of pub- 
lishing the Second Part on the 1st of December of the 
same year. Circumstances, however, long delayed the 
preparation of the work, and it was not until 1902 that 
Part II. appeared, followed closely by Parts III, and IV. 
(the last) in 1905 and 1907. Though this long postpone- 
ment was somewhat irritating to the expectant sub- 
scribers, the succeeding parts gained greatly in value by 
the delay, in that Newton was able to include eggs which 
had always baffled Wolley's efforts. A great number of 
these additional specimens were obtained by Wolley's 
collector Knoblock, whom Newton kept in his own pay 
for several years. Another circumstance which greatly 
added to the extent of the work was that, whereas 
Wolley's collection was confined to European species, 
Newton decided to extend its limits to those of the 
western half of the Palaearctic Regions, as being a district 
more naturally defined : — 

My foreign correspondence is growing awkwardly 
large, and yet I must increase it, for I am bent upon 
having every egg that is to be got before the publication 
of the " O.W." and I am trying to make Greenland, Spain, 
India, and Russia disgorge their ovarian possessions. 

In a " Retrospective Note " (November 20, 1906) 
Newton wrote : 

Thankful as I am at being able to complete this 
work, my feeling is rather of regret than satisfaction, for, 
owing to the length of time which has elapsed since the 
first part of it appeared, so few of Mr. Wolley's personal 
friends are left to see its conclusion, and this Catalogue 



72 THE IBIS 

is largely a record of ancient friendships. My only con- 
solation is that the protracted delay has not been my own 
fault, as I can honestly say that whenever the cessation 
of more important duties gave me opportunity, I resumed 
my labour of love, but again and again months — not to 
say years — ^passed without such opportunity recurring.* 

The " Ootheca Wolleyana " has been well described as 
a monumental work, and that it was very truly a " labour 
of love " may be seen from the concluding paragraph of 
the " Memoir " in Part II. 

To describe John Wolley's character at any length 
has not been my intention. I have tried, without the 
desire of unduly exalting the value of any branch of 
Natm'al Science, to give in outhne the chief events of a 
life which, if the study of God's creatures deserves 
encouragement, cannot be said to have been uselessly 
spent, for it added not inconsiderably to om* knowledge 
of them, and, if unswerving devotion to the cause of 
Truth merits any praise, must be admitted to have been 
honourably passed. The facts narrated here and in the 
following pages are left to speak for themselves : on 
them must Wolley's reputation rest. It w^ould add Httle 
to them to state that, in the various capacities of relative^ 
friend, and companion, there was little wanting in him, 
for such encomiums are too often apphed without due 
cause. His good qualities are treasured in the recollec- 
tion of those who knew him — now, alas ! dwindled to a 
small number — and especially of that one of them to 
whom he gave the last token of his esteem. Havmg 
endeavoured (how imperfectly no one knows better than 
myself) to discharge a duty owing to the memory of a 
deeply lamented comrade, I cannot conclude this sketch 
without an expression of gratitude at having been 
permitted to share so largely the intimacy and confidence 
of such an upright man. 

* " Ootheca Wolleyana," Preface. 



CHAPTER VI 

VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

Though the emoluments of the Drue Drury Fellowship 
were very meagre, Newton continued to do what was 
considered in those days a considerable amount of 
travelling. After he was elected to the Fellowship in 
1855 he had visited, as we have seen, Lapland, the West 
Indies, Boston, and Iceland. In the autumn of 1859 he 
went, by way of Paris, where he saw the Jardin des 
Plantes, to Copenhagen, to see his brother Francis Kodes 
Newton. 

This was merely a visit of pleasure, and he records in 
a letter to his brother Edward a hunting party of a kind 
which is now extinct. 

One day we went over to Saroe to assist at a chasse. 
Frank was made to take a gun and killed his only ohjet^ 
a roe-deer. There were 17 guns and about 50 beaters, 
the latter armed with clappers. They drove a large 
extent of forest, the guns being placed at " Stations," 
but the bag was limited : 5 Roedeer, 3 Hares, and 12 
Foxes ! It was worth seeing once. All the " hunters " 
got up extensively with game bags, couteaux de chasse, 
etc. If a man comes late he gets fined, and so also if 
he doesn't hold his gun up, misses a shot, shoots what 
is not game, etc. Everything is conducted according to 
rule, and people look as grave about it as if they were at 
a funeral. The head forester reads out the return after 
each drive, and at the end of the day announces the 
fines. A fat Swedish Count was very heavily mulcted 
for kiUing a Brown Owl.* 

* Letter to Edward Newton, October 13, 1859. 
73 



74 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

Most of his journeys were short trips to cities on the 
Continent, where he visited the local museums and made 
the acquaintance of their curators. In 1860 he went to 
Holland and Belgium, and in the summer of 1861 to 
Germany :— 

I have not much to record of my wanderings. The 
weather last week was insufferably hot, provoking one to 
all manner of maniacal acts, even beyond those of which 
the British tourist is usually guilty. I did nothing in 
the way of Ornithology until I arrived in its Vaterland, 
for so really Germany must be considered. I passed a 
pleasant afternoon with Blasius at Brunswick, whom I 
like much as a man, but I am not sure that the very 
high opinion of him as a naturalist I had formed from 
his writings is altogether carried out on further acquaint- 
ance. Perhaps, however, his judgment is too profound to 
get to the bottom of it in some few hours. I had a hearty 
welcome from Baldamus, at whose parsonage I passed a 
night, much pleased with his exceeding earnestness and 
simplicity. At Berlin, I found in Cabanis the German 
Sclater, skilled in the most abstruse mysteries of the 
science, to whom you and I, poor wretches, are but as 
mere proselytes of the gate, but a very agreeable fellow 
to meet, the vivacity of the Frenchman overpowering the 
Teutonic stolidity. Blasius did me the honours of the 
University collection at Brunswick, and also of his own 
private one, which is rich in N. Asiatic specimens. Bal- 
damus' egg-cabinet is capital, nevertheless I can regard it 
without jealousy, though in numbers of species he must 
far excel me. Of the wealth of the Berlin Museum I need 
not speak, for it is well known. Berlin itself seems the 
most terribly sleepy place I have seen for a long time. 
It would puzzle the very fastest young man to find any- 
thing of a Spree, barring the river, and that is one of a 
most sluggish nature. But the buildings are beautiful. 
I arrived here last night, or rather early this morning, 
after a most tedious journey, and have spent the day in 
the picture gallery, for the first time in my life giving way 



HOLY ORDERS 75 

to feelings of Maiiolatry, brought on by my introduction 
to the Madonna del Sisto, of which I could not write 
without raving.* 

The following year (1862) was marked by a decision 
which affected profoundly his subsequent career. It had 
always been his intention — with how much enthusiasm 
we do not know — to take holy orders, and he was to have 
been ordained by the Bishop of Ely in Advent. On his 
return from a short visit to the West Indies in October 
and November, he decided to abandon the idea. It is 
probable, as Dr. Shipley says, that this decision " made 
for peace in the Estabhshed Church " ; it is certain that 
the decision made for the progress and encouragement 
of Biology. It is equally certain that he did not himself 
regret it later. 

Miss Strickland, perhaps, was not so very far wrong 
in supposing me to be a parson — for a good many years 
I looked forward to that being my lot, but I am never 
sufficiently thanlvful that it was not ; though in the 
point of worldly goods I should probably have been a 
comparatively rich man. In these days of rising prices 
fixed incomes are a terrible institution.! 

It was the custom, though it was not a strict condi- 
tion, for the holder of the Drury Fellowship to take 
orders, so when Newton made this decision he at once 
offered to relinquish the Fellowship, but the Master of 
Magdalene J allowed him to hold it until it expired on 
March 25, 1863. " This is the last day I shall ever be 
able to consider myself Fellow of Magdalene, § my 
fellowship ceasing this Lady Day, and henceforth Norfolk 
Fellows are as clean gone as Norfolk Bustards." 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram. Dresden, August 22, 1861. 
t Letter to Mrs. Strickland, November 9, 1872. 
j Hon. and Rev. Latimer Neville, afterwards 9th Lord Braybrooke. 
§ Newton was elected in 1877 to a Professorial Fellowship at Magdalene, 
which he held until the time of his death. 



76 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

In the meantime Newton's father had died, and his 
home at Elveden was sold to the Maharaja Dhuleep Singh. 
** We are much disappointed at the price this place 
fetched. His Highness got it £5000 under the actually 
appraised value, and I dare not say how much under 
what we put it at ; so that our Sikh has not proved such 
a great find after all." Newton had the greatest affection 
for the place where he had been brought up, and he 
could never be persuaded to revisit it. Ten years later, 
when he was staying with Lord Walsingham at Merton : 

Dhuleep Singh came over and we all went to Stanford 
Mere. About a month before he went shooting ducks 
there and wading lost a diamond said to be worth between 
£2000 and £3000 from a ring, and this he wants to find. 
Accordingly they have let the waters off to lay dry the 
line he took, and the soil is to be taken up, stacked like 
peat and sifted ! . . . Eeally in a very delicate way he 
asked me if I would go and stay at Elden, saying he 
should be glad to see any of the family, but I, of course, 
told him there would be as much pain as pleasure in 
doing so, and this he seemed fully to appreciate. 

Excepting a short visit to Belgium in the summer of 
that year, the greater part of 1863 w^as spent in family 
business and in moving his belongings and his own and 
Wolley's collections to Cambridge, which was thence- 
forward to be his permanent home. 

When some thirty years hence a discerning Minister 
of Public Worship ascertains that you will be the right 
man in the right place if seated on the throne of Canter- 
bury (or say York, if you are not too fastidious), you will 
then find that the sifting of thirty years' Natural History 
accumulations is a labour of that kind which people who 
are not afflicted with hay-fever say " is not to be sneezed 
at." You will therefore I hope duly value these few 
lines, written amid an abomination of desolation. Tow 
was perhaps known in the days of Hercules, but cotton 



UNPACKING EGGS 77 

wool certainly was not, and I am sure he would not have 
performed the labour Augseus set him, had he been 
suffering from acute chortismus aggravated by breathing 
an atmosphere so thickly charged with lino-byssal fila- 
ments, that you might almost roll up an egg with safety 
in it. Under such circumstances I proceed to answer 
your letter. I only wonder I am not driven quite mad 
and do not dream I am a Gare-fowl's egg about to be 
involved in a winding sheet of cotton wool and stored 
away for ever in the inmost and most secure compartment 
of one of my yellow Lapland coffers.* 

In the summer of the following year he joined his 
friend Edward Birkbeck (afterwards Sir E. B.) in a 
voyage to Spitsbergen. Nowadays that island may be 
visited every summer by any tourist who likes to pay 
sufiicient gold to Messrs. Cook, but in the early " sixties " 
the voyage was a difficult and indeed a somewhat 
perilous undertaking, and the story of Newton's adven- 
tures, told in the following letters to his brother Edward, 
has a certain historical value. 

Sultana, R.T.Y.C, Hammerfest, 

June 30, 1864. 

Here I am once more at the place which I think I 
hate most in the world ; but I am bound to say that my 
second stay here has been more agreeable than my first 
was ; for in 1855 the snow was only beginning to go, and 
it rained or snowed ten days out of the eleven I passed 
here. Now the snow is all but gone and the weather 
really pleasant. To-day it is actually hot and I am 
writing this with my waistcoat open while on deck ; the 
sun is powerful enough for anything, though there is a 
good S.E. breeze. Yesterday the post steamer from the 
south arrived bringing me a cheery letter from M. and 
yours of the 1st May. Before I answer this, however, I 
will tell you of our outward voyage. We left Lowestoft 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, July 11, 1863. 



78 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

on the 1st June and arrived at Aberdeen on the 4th. 
There we had to take in various stores, water, etc., and 
did not get away till the morning of the 7th. We had a 
fair wind to start with, but it dropped towards the after- 
noon, and then we had a succession of head winds, cahns, 
fogs, etc., so that we did not sight the cost of Norway 
(Bremangerland) until the afternoon of the 9th. That 
night we were blown off again with half a gale, and then 
had a repetition of calms, etc., so that we did not get 
into Christiansund until the 13th. We sailed again the 
next day, having got a coast pilot, and on the 20th reached 
Svolvaer on one of the Lofoten islands. There we took 
another pilot as far as Tromso, and then a third to this 
place, where we arrived on the 26th, being a victim to 
head winds and calms the whole way ; most provoking 
when time has been an object. The next day Birkbeck 
set to work about getting a jagt to accompany us to 
Spitzbergen. Luckily there was one nearly ready, and 
still more luckily, though she was built for the purpose, 
she has never yet made a voyage, so we shall be spared 
the sickening stinlc of putrid blubber. She is to be (and 
I think will be) fit by the day after to-morrow, when I 
hope we shall sail in company for the Sound. Arrived 
there we shall go on board her and leaving the yacht in 
a safe place proceed to do as best we can. The accom- 
modation on board the Semmoline is as you may suppose 
not very luxurious. She is about 40 tons, one cabin only, 
large enough for four people to lie down in, but not high 
enough to stand up in. The fo'castle allows of four 
hammocks being slung ; we have ten men as crew, so 
where the fifth who is not on watch will sleep I don't 
know, or Ludwig (whom I mean to take on board) either ! 
but I suppose they will manage it somehow. There is a 
small stove in the after cabin, at which we must cook, 
and we have two whale-boats to be manned by four men, 
— one of whom is a harpooner, — each. It will be 
roughish work, but we shall enjoy the comfort of the 
Sultana all the more when we get back. I am not at all 
sanguine as to my success in things ornithological ; our 



VOYAGE TO HAMMERFEST 79 

tedious voyage here has lessened the chance of eggs 
almost to nil, and according to Malmgren (the ornitholo- 
gist of the Swedish expedition, begun some three years 
ago and still being carried on) the good things that have 
been reported from Spitzbergen are fabulous ; neither 
Larus sabini nor L. rossi have ever revealed themselves 
to him. 

The hire of our jagt for two months costs Birkbeck 
£200, but this is to cover all expenses, and leave the entire 
catch in his hands, which may be worth some £40 or £50. 
It is supposed to be a cheap bargain. Lamont's expedi- 
tion must have cost him a good deal more, and when 
young T. Thornhill went with Ld. Dunmore they paid 
£120 for six weeks, and only six men and one boat. All 
the people here are now crazy about shark fishing. Last 
year it was very productive between the N. Cape and 
Bear Island, and our jagt was going there had not Birk- 
beck hired her. One or two vessels have already returned 
with full cargoes and are off again. This place looks more 
thriving than it did nine years ago, but yet the largest 
" house " smashed some twelve months since. Wolley's 
old friend, Andreas Berger, the man who used to declare 
he had sailed to the north of 83°, has taken to drink and 
has been sent by his brothers to America, where he now 
serves in the U.S. Navy. There are only about three 
people that I remember formerly, and no one that I care 
about. As yet we have done nothing ornithological. I 
sent Ludwig out one day here to get some ptarmigan, 
they are very large on this island, but he returned without 
seeing a bird. He is off again to-day at his own request, 
and I think means to distinguish himself. 

Our party continues to be a very pleasant one. The 
Dr. (Wagstaff by name) and Lorange,the interpreter, both 
good fellows in their way, and Manners Sutton great fun 
at times. Birkbeck is rather too quiet and it is difficult 
at times to make out if he is not greatly bored with the 
whole thing. I dare say that occasionally he feels the 
want of the constant occupation he has been accustomed 
to, and certainly being on board a saihng vessel in a 



80 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

dead calm when you are in a hurry is not a cheerful 
business ; but I liJie him altogether very much. I only 
wish he would smoke, an accomplishment he is not equal 
to, though here it is almost a positive duty ; for nothing 
can be more disgusting than the smell of boiling blubber 
on shore ; or if that operation is not going on, there is 
always stock-fish. 

Trondhjem, 

September 7, 1864. 

We have returned actually without any one of our 
party setting eyes upon a Bear, a Walrus, or what to my 
mind was as bad, even a Lagopus hemileucurus / Nor in 
the egg way has my success been even tolerable. Not a 
single Grey Phalarope's, — -I never saw but one bird ahve, 
but I beheve it is not otherwise than numerous, though 
extremely local. The only point on which I think I have 
determined, and which is of any importance, is that the 
large species of Goose which frequents the Sound (and I 
dare say other localities) is the Pink-footed Goose ; but 
even of this I was unable to get an adult specimen, 
though I saw two in the possession of Malmgren, the 
Swedish naturalist, who was up there with the Scientific 
Expedition. All the same I shall never repent of having 
gone, still less of having taken Ludwig with me. It is 
almost a new world to have seen. I must also record 
among our captures nearly 50 Reindeer, and about a 
dozen Seals, mostly large ones. 

Now that you may understand our movements I must 
draw you a map, for there is not one in existence that 
can be at all relied on, and we have been to many places 
which have never yet been mapped at all. 

Cambridge, September 25, 1864. 

The day after I dispatched my letter to you from 
Hammerfest, I went out to sail and shoot in Hammerfest 
Bay. We saw a large flock of Long-tailed Ducks, and I 
got 4 at 3 shots ; they did not appear to be breeding, but 
were immature birds that had never properly moulted. 



TO SPITZBERGEN 81 

On the evening of July 2, the Semmoline, the 
Norwegian jagt that Birkbeck hired, got under way ; 
we followed the next morning (Sunday, the 3rd) — • 
rendezvous Straednaes, or in case of the Stor Fjord being 
blocked, Ice Sound — with Stabbel, who was pilot one 
year on board the Recherche, the French exploring expedi- 
tion, on board acting in the same capacity for us ; he 
had been about 30 times to Spitzbergen and, as we found, 
he knew the country very well. In the afternoon we 
overtook our consort, and having (for us) a fair wind, she 
was almost out of sight by 10 o'clock p.m. 

July 4. We saw Fulmars for the first time on the 
voyage. 

5th. Supposed to be near Bear Island, but we saw 
nothing of it, it was hazy ; large quantities of birds. 
Some of the Gruillemots appeared to me to be different 
from the U. troile. 

6th. No observation ; sighted land (Syd Cap) about 
5.30 p.m., bearing N.E. ; 6 p.m., much drift ice ; 7 p.m. 
the same. 11 p.m., much more ice sighted, bearing 
from N.N.W to S.E., and quite high, indicating that Stor 
Fjord was choked ; accordingly altered course to N.W. 
Of course, the first meeting with the ice was immense 
excitement ; everybody aloft except myself and the man 
at the wheel, and a wonderful sight it was to see the 
blocks drifting down slowly, at first small bits and far 
apart, then bigger and closer, until at last it looked like 
one close pack. We were much disappointed ; having 
met with no ice about Bear Island, we had thought we 
should certainly find nothing in Stor Fjord to stop us. 
Thermometer in air, 33°, in water 40°, until we passed 
by the first bit of ice, when it fell in a quarter of an 
hour to 32°. 

July 7. Thick and no observation. 9 a.m., sighted 
land from E. to N.E. Noon, land breaking out from 
E. to N. 7 p.m., pilot recognized S. point of Bell Sound. 
10 p.m., hove-to in thick fog ; very cold. Midnight, 
steered for Bell Sound ; land faintly visible at times. 

July 8, 2 a.m. On nearing Bell Sound found it full 

G 



82 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

of ice. 2.40 a.m., stood out ; fresh breeze and tumbling 
sea. 5 a.m., hove-to ; thick with snow, very cold. 
4 a.m., air 33°, water 31° ! 10.30 a.m. spoke the Lisa 
of Hammerfest who reported Ice Sound clear and gave 
us a shoulder of venison. Afternoon, sighted land. 
4 p.m., S. point of Ice Sound bearing E.S.E. ; fresh 
breeze. 7 p.m., sighted entrance to Ice Sound, two or 
three belts of drift ice right across. 8.30, passed through 
1st (or 1st and 2nd) belt ; Captain and pilot steering 
the ship from the rigging. 10 p.m., passed through 2nd 
belt (or 3rd), which was not so thick, but heavier. Birds 
innumerable begin to show themselves ; mostly Brun- 
nich's Guillemot, Northern Puffin, and Little Auk, a herd 
of White Whales, their ivory whiteness contrasting 
prettily with the colours of the ice, which was dazzling 
white and all shades of green and blue. 11.30 p.m., lost 
the breeze, lowered both boats to tow the ship. Occasional 
floes of ice, covered with Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake, and 
Fulmar, passing quite close to the shore on N. side of 
Sound. Under the Alkenhorn saw flocks of Geese, 
Brent, and a larger species ; lots of Eider Ducks. Ropes 
slightly frozen although the sun was shining brightly — 
not exactly on us. 

July 9, 2.20 a.m. Came to anchor in Safe Haven, 
found schooner from Tromso with Swedish Expedition 
on board. Lorange and I went to call and knocked up 
Duner, the astronomer. His colleagues Nordenskjold and 
Malmgren had been absent 12 days up the Sound in a 
boat ; he supposed they were beset, but was not uneasy 
about them. 10 a.m., Birkbeck and Manners Sutton in 
cutter with pilot and two hands to Coal Bay, which they 
found full of ice. (They returned next morning with 3 
Deer and a Red-necked Phalarope.) Before they started 
I saw the first Ivory Gull, which got a piece of meat from 
the Swede and came and ate it on a block of ice close by. 
M. Sutton shot it with n\y gun. The Doctor, Lorange, 
and I with Ludwig to land under Alkenhorn. I shot 
some Fulmars, Glaucous Gull, N. Puffin, etc. I made 
Ludwig walk along near the shore, in hopes of getting 



FOXES, EIDERS, AND REINDEER 83 

Geese ; but he saw none. I took a higher Hne, where the 
walking seemed better, but it was extremely bad going — 
bogs and big stones. Dr. and L. tried to get up the chff ; 
found it impossible. We all met for luncheon about a 
mile or so from the point, and I watched a Snow Bunting 
to its nest, which we got after hard work ; 4 eggs, 2 much 
damaged. Ludwig soon after found another ; 6 eggs, 
ready to hatch. He then tried to get up the cKff to the 
East of the Horn, and thought it accessible with a rope. 
Myriads of Guillemots and Little Auks. Foxes perpetu- 
ally barking on cliff. L. saw one but could not get 
within shot. Home to Sultana and after dinner row 
towards Glacier at head of Haven ; shot Little Auk, and 
L. had another Fox-hunt, over loose snow with slippers 
on ! Swede sends us a Deer. 

July 10, Sunday. M. Sutton and I with Ludwig 
went to the Eiderstone, got about 60 eggs, all fresh ; 
later in the day some of the crew went again and got 
about 30 more, and the last thing at night Ludwig went 
off once more and brought back 12 ! Constant ice-falls 
like thunder all day. 

July 11. Another jagt from Tromso put in early. 
Birkbeck hired a whale-boat and crew, in which he, M. 
Sutton, and Lorange set off to the South side of the 
Fjord ; the Dr. and I following in the skiff manned by 
three of the Sultana's crew. A fine day with fresh breeze 
in middle of Fjord ; good deal of ice coming down. Dr. 
shoots at a big seal which was lying asleep on a floe, but 
the brute woke up and rolled off into the water just 
before the bullet struck the ice. The whale-boat beats 
us hollow, but we overtook her as they landed to prospect 
a valley opening E. of the true Alkenfels. No Deer in it ; 
then on to another valley where 3 Deer were seen. I 
crawled up with Birkbeck within rifle shot of them, but 
he missed ! I had no rifle at all and I never shot at a 
deer, as I did not think Horace's old gun would be safe 
with a bullet. Subsequently the Tromso jagtsman killed 
one. We brought a tent on shore and camped out in 
" Birkbeck Dale." M. Sutton made a good fire with 



84 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

drift wood and proved to be a very good cook. Ice in 
evening coming down Fjord and getting aground just 
below our cam]). Very cold at night. Guillemots and 
Little Auks flying high overhead to chffs 3 or 4 miles 
inland. 

July 12. In boats to Advent Bay. Found an old 
Russian Hut with smoke coming out of chinmey. On 
landing found 3 Norwegians, who with 7 others had been 
shipwrecked off Pr. Charles' Foreland about six weeks 
before ; the other 7 had gone on board a jagt they met. 
These three came on here to shoot Deer. They looked 
pretty happy, though one had a frightful abscess on his 
arm. They had lost their reckoning and asked the day 
of the month and week ! Saw Deer on other side of Bay. 
Birkbeck and M. Sutton after them in skiff. B. missed 
again. Dr. Lorange, and I in whale-boat towards head 
of Bay, find some fast ice and a flock of Brent ; I had a 
shot with M. S.'s big rifle, but missed. Lots of Eiders and 
N. Pufiins. Just as we came to land saw 3 deer on hill 
not 500 yards off. Two minutes after Birkbeck came 
round stalking them ; M. S. and Norwegian followed. 
Birkbeck knocked over two, right and left, but one got 
up again and with the third trotted off slowly towards a 
pass where the Norwegian lay. He killed the unwounded 
one and then showing himself drove the wounded deer 
down to where I was with the Dr. and Lorange. The 
latter got tremendously excited and though it was quite 
clear the poor beast was done for, could not be restrained 
from shooting it again, hitting it in the haunch ! Im- 
mediately afterwards he rushed upon it with his rifle 
clubbed to hit it on the head, but Birkbeck and I called at 
him so that he gave up that idea ajid took to stoning it. 
At last the Dr. came up and throwing the beast stuck it. 
After that we pitched the tent. B. again went after 
another deer, but returned without a shot. Just before 
turning in I shot an Ivory Gull. Not quite so cold that 
night, but we saw the ice coming back up the Fjord, and 
next morning at 5 a.m., we found a thick fog and the 
Bay full of ice. B. off again after Deer, while we struck 



SWEDISH EXPEDITION 85 

the tent and got ready to be off, for we were afraid we 
might be beset. Of course, he got none, as you could 
scarcely see 50 yards. About 9 a.m., we got under way ; 
the Dr. and I in the skiff as before. It was not easy to 
find the way, but the Norwegians rowed as if by instinct 
and our crew followed as best they could. When we got 
within sight of the Russian Hut, we found another big 
boat, which turned out to be Nordenskjold and Malmgren, 
who had been released two days before and were on their 
way back to Safe Haven. We fraternised, of course. 
They had been for some time quite out of biscuit and 
tobacco, with both of which we were able to supply them. 
Malmgren had a wild Goose, which I saw at once was 
Ansei' hrachyrliynchus ! 

The fog still continued, but the Swedes said they 
meant to go home that day and invited us to follow, 
which we did. We soon got out of sight of land and had 
to steer by compass ; indeed, at one time we in the skiff 
lost both the other boats ; but by holding on our course 
came up to them again. We had had to diverge on 
account of the ice, and our crew could not pull the skiff 
as fast as the whale-boats went. About the middle of 
the Fjord it cleared, and the fog holding to the S. side 
we saw our way home well enough. A most fatiguing 
pull for the men, at least 30 miles from our camp to the 
yacht, and the tide against us most part of the way, yet 
we did arrive at last about 9 o'clock p.m. Found that 
Ludwig had been unable to do anything on the Alkenhorn 
even with rope and men. 

14th. Rest day ; the Swedes dine with us and very 
good fellows they were. Malmgren readily accepted my 
correction of his error about the Goose, which he had 
taken to be Anser segetum. He showed me another 
specimen and gave me two eggs. Showed me also a 
6 Lago'pus, the only one he had got. 

July 15. Birkbeck, M. S.,and Lorange to Coal Bay 
in Tromso jagfs boat. (They returned next day with 
1 Deer and 2 S Phalarofus flaUjrhynchus, M. S. sure 
that they were breeding on flat grassy land with pools of 



86 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

water on W. side of the Bay.) Capt., Dr., and I in skiff 
to Alkenhorn ; on way found Semmoline coming in, 
boarded her, she had been in the ice and knocked off 
some of her sheathing which would have to be replaced. 
Ludwig found an egg of Fulmar carried off and sucked 
by a Skua or Glaucous. Coming back a seal followed us ; 
Dr. and I gave him three barrels each, when he splashed 
about and we were lucky enough to get him into the 
boat ; the small species, Phoca Jcetida or hispida, about 
4 ft. long. In evening Dr. and I to Swedish schooner to 
consult Malmgren as to species of seal. As I was getting 
on board the dinghy slipped away before I had hold of 
accommodation ladder and down I went ; water not so 
cold as I should have thought (36°), and as I kept my pipe 
in my mouth I lost nothing.* Went back to yacht and 
changed. Duner and Nordenskjold called to inquire how 
I was and brought some Terns' eggs. They sat talking 
and drinking grog till late. Heard from them a good 
deal about the N., which they had surveyed some years 
before. N. recommends our going there for Walrus. 

July 16. None the worse for my ducking. On shore 
on E. side of Haven to get fossils. Ludwig walked over 
ridge and came back having found a nest of Anser 
brachyrhynchus, 2 young just hatched ; bad luck. Also 
a breeding-place, accessible, of Little Auk. Sent Ludwig 
off again to try and shoot old Geese. Dr. shot and missed, 
brought young birds. (N.B., they have each a few 
feathers on their feet !) The Swedes left about midnight ; 
Lorange and M. S. on board to see the last of them for 
some hours. They came home singing and were not 
easily prevailed upon to go to bed. M. S. humbugged 
Malmgren into the belief that he also was an egg-collector 
and got some given him : Glaucous, Pink-footed Goose, 
and also a very fine pair of Deer horns. 

July 17, Sunday. Tried to hire Tromso boat to go to 
Coal Bay to look for Phalaropes, but they insisted on 

* He said afterwards that this was the only action of bis life of which he 
was proud. '* Most men," he said, '' would at least have opened their 
mouths to say ' Ah ! ' " 



SEALS 87 

sailing. A great bore but can't be helped. After dinner, 
B., M. S., Lorange, and I on board Semmoline to go to 
Mittel Hook, etc. Ice pack in Fjord and water freezing ; 
some bumps in the night. 

July 18. 8 a.m., Semmoline anchored in Advent 
Bay, wind very fresh. B. and M. S. each in whale-boat 
after Deer. I stayed on board. B. saw a large stag but 
did not get a shot. M. S. killed three. Ivory Gulls and 
other birds about. 

July 19. 10 a.m., weighed anchor. About 11, B. 
and Lorange in boat to Mittel Hook. M. S. and I in other 
boat along shore to Eastward. Met a large seal, Phoca 
harhata, which after three shots from M. S.was harpooned; 
a most exciting capture, men not knowing their business 
nearly capsised us. Harpoon sHpped first time and had 
to be thrown again. Beast very ferocious, dragging boat 
through water at great pace, and coming up alongside as 
if he would board us. What must a Walrus be ? He 
was about 1 1 ft. long and took a deal of killing. Fulmars 
come and sit on water close by during operation. Wind 
rising. Landed, 5 p.m., on point just outside Sassen 
Bay, a quicksand and frozen beach above it. Looked 
out for Phalaropes ; saw none. M. S. up valley for Deer ; 
no luck. Eed-throated Diver came quite close to me. 
Rigged up sails and turned over boat for shelter, as it 
was very cold notwithstanding a good fire. About 
10 p.m., got boat off and stood out for Semmoline about 
5 miles off. White Whales again. Perhaps lucky we 
could not harpoon one as they are very strong ; but tried 
our best. Rain nearly all the way. 

July 20. Arrived on board Semmoline soon after 
midnight. Wind increasing ; ran for Advent Bay ; 
could not do it, then 'bout ship and make for Sassen 
Bay ; anchored behind headland. Gale increasing. 
B. and M. S. on shore in evening ; 4 Deer. 

July 21. Strong wind, can't get away. B. and M. S. 
on shore again ; 5 Deer. Other boat with skipper to 
eastward ; they returned next day ; 6 Deer. 

July 22. Left Semmoline at 11 a.m., in boat, as wind 



88 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

had moderated ; reached Sultana in Safe Haven about 
8.30 ; found they had had worse weather than ourselves. 

July 23. Semmoline arrived at noon. With Ludwig 
on shore to eastward ; found two Little Auks' nests and 
got big young ones out. Shown site of Goose's nest. 
Fossil and plant hunting. Semmoline oH at 5 p.m. B. 
built cairn on W. side and deposited record. Sultana 
off at 6 p.m. 

24th, Sunday. Becalmed ; foggy. Semmoline van- 
ished. By noon off Bell Sound. Spoke a-jagt from the 
N. with 80 walrus and 90 seals ! 

July 25. Calm and fine ; jagts in company. 

July 26. Do., Do., Do. Little drift ice between 
Bell and Horn Sounds. 

27th. Calm morning, foggy. 2 p.m., heavy cross 
sea rising ; opening Syd Cap in company. 

28th. High sea ; boats got in and made snug. 
Wind dropped as day got on and calm in afternoon. 

29th. Calm and foggy. About 15 miles from S. 
Cape. Semmoline becalmed in-shore. M. S. shot a big 
seal {Ph. harbata) from deck and he was duly harpooned. 
Thick fog in evening. 

July 30. Breeze from eastward, very cold ; dripping 
fog, clearing a Httle at times. Breeze freshened towards 
evening, but fog thick, so lay-to. 

July 31, 9 a.m. Semmoline close by ; ordered to keep 
within sight ; fog all day ; consort generally not a 
100 yards off. 

August 1. Fog as before. Do. consort. Met ice 
in evening. 

August 2. 1 a.m., thick fog ; large quantities of ice. 
Hove-to along with consort, whom we soon after lost 
sight of as she drifted to leeward. Supposed to be about 
half way between S. Cape and Hope Island. Sounding 
all day. 

August 3. Fog as before ; wind easterly ; miserably 
cold ; everything wet through. A few birds in evening. 

August 4. Dripping fog as before. About 5 p.m., 
wind got Northerly and fog hfted showing Valhs Pt. 



ICE 89 

lying N.E. by N. 7 p.m., sighted Semmoline ofi land. 
11.30 p.m., spoke her and made arrangements for next 
day. We had been so very crowded and uncomfortable 
before, that I decided not to go as M. S. was most anxious 
about it, and B. was helpless without Lorange. His 
intention was to be back in a week for supplies, etc. ; we 
were to rendezvous at Straedmaes, supposed to be open, 
and I thought I should then have my turn. 

August 5. Transhipping stores, bedding, etc., to 
Semmoline all morning ; about noon B., M. S., and 
Lorange off on board her. Sultana made sail for Straed- 
maes. Light wind ; lots of seals, " springers," Phoca 
grcenlandica, in strings, jumping out of the water and 
looking like the Sea-serpent. 

August 6. Beating up Stor Fjord ; wind N.N.W. 
and very light ; a big iceberg floating about undecidedly. 
Noon, much ice across. 3 p.m., reached ice and sailed 
about 2 miles through it. Pilot declared it '' fast " a 
little further up, were within 20 miles of Straedmaes. 
Watered from the ice, as we were running short ; then 
stood out to S.W. Lots of seals all day, mostly Phoca 
grcenlandica ; Ivory Gulls were numerous ; Dr. in boat 
shot 10, I from deck shot 3. 

Sunday, August 7. Calm. Seals very numerous and 
tame ; mostly the small species to-day. Several Ivory- 
Gulls. Mirage of " fast " ice all along the west shore 
of Stor Fjord. Snow in evening. 

August 8. Light air. Making for Thousand Islands 
to look for driftwood, being nearly out of fuel. 9 p.m. 
Anchored about 3 miles N. of E-usso. Dr. on shore ; 
sent Ludwig with him. 

August 9. 1 a.m.. Dr. returned with wood and birds. 
Ludwig shot 2 Phalaropes and thought he knew where 
there must be a nest. 9 a.m., I went ashore ; flushed 
a female from nearly the same place ; never saw her 
again, though I waited for an hour or two and afterwards 
walked all over the island. Lots of Terns breeding ; 
found eggs fresh. Eed-throated Divers also, but did not 
find their nest. Gnats humming and almost inclined to 



90 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

bite. Afternoon ; got under way again, but calm, and 
adverse tide, so at 8 p.m. anchored. 

August 10. 1.30., tried once more to reach Round 
Island. 3.0, sighted Semmoline. 4 a.m., they all came 
on board. They had cruised among the Thousand 
Islands and landed on Ryk .Island without seeing wahus or 
bear. From the latter place all was ice to the N. They 
then stood out to the eastward in hopes of finding a 
channel, and sighted GiUies' Land, the country Enghsh 
geographers don't believe in. Ice came drifting down 
upon them 9 knots an hour and they had to run. They 
got 7 seals. 

7 a.m., Semmoline anchored alongside ; transhipped 
baggage. 

10 a.m., both vessels off for Ice Sound again. 
Tumbhng sea ; N.E. wind ; rain and snow ; thick 
evening. 

August 11. 2 a.m., sighted land. Strong wind with 
snow. 6 a.m., hauled up for S. Cape. 8.0, rounded S. 
Cape. Much heavy ice. Noon : constantly running to 
S.W., skirting ice. Semmoline still ahead ; with a wind 
" straight in behind " she can go faster than Sultana. 
Fine evening. Water at noon, 34° ; at 7 p.m., 43°. 
(Gulf Stream ?) 

August 12. Fresh breeze, and fine. Keeping away 
still S.W. (N.B. — On my map I have not allowed for our 
deviations, but merely put the general course) to avoid 
tongues of ice. Pilot very desponding about ice ; thinks 
it is all coming up behind us from the N.E., and will run 
up the W. coast. It turned out afterwards that he 
mistook the land about Horn Sound for Bell Sound, 40 
miles further up. We had not had a good look at it. 
Pike-headed Wliales playing about and under ship. 

August 13. Still bearing to westward to avoid ice ; 
light airs. 

Sunday, August 14. Standing up for Ice Fjord. 
11 a.m., sighted Semmoline astern. Fresh breeze blowing 
out of Sound. 2 jagts in Green Harbour. 3 p.m., 
towing with boats. 5, anchored in Safe Haven, nearly 



LEAVING SPITZBERGEN 91 

in old place. Snow much diminished. On shore to W. 
side ; found old Russian Hut, flagstaff, etc., which had 
been covered up on former visit. B. and M. S. found 
Norwegian graves. After dinner on shore on E. side, 
sketching and getting plants. 

August 15. SemmoUne arrived. B., M. S., Dr., and 
Lorange in her to Coal Bay. I did not go as I thought 
it was useless looking there for eggs, and I can't manage 
Deer-stalking. Rainy day with wind. 

August 16. Capt. and I with Ludwig to Russian 
Hut ; find more graves. Get Red Snow plants, etc. ; 
afterwards to Alkenhorn, caught young Uria brunnichi 
and got other birds. Shot 2 Ivory Gulls, right and left, 
in evening. 

August 17. Calm. Salt water round ship froze at 
4 a.m. ; w^ind rising, let go 2nd anchor ; did not leave 
ship. Strong gale at midnight. 

August 18. Gale moderating. To Eiderstone with 
Ludwig. More than 12 nests still unoccupied ; one 
hatching ; lots of down. 

August 19. Calm and sunny. On shore to N.W. of 
Haven ; found shells, etc. Scraping ship's sides and 
watering. Fresh water on deck frozen at night. 

August 20. On shore at Fossil Ridge, collecting 
fossils and plants. Ludwig out later seal shooting ; no 
luck. 

Sunday, August 21. 3.30, SemmoUne returned with 
19 Deer, 11 Brent Geese, etc. ; nothing particular. 
7 a.m., weighed anchor ; wind light. 4 p.m., thick fog. 
Lost sight of Spitzbergen. 

August 22. Light wind. Saw last Ivory Gull. 

August 23. Moderate wind. Saw last Glaucous Gull. 

August 24. Light wind. Spoke Nora of Hammer- 
fest shark-fishing ; one hauled up as we passed. Sighted 
Bear Island on port beam about 3.30 p.m. 

August 25, 3 a.m. Again sighted Bear Island. Light 
N.W. breeze. First stars seen. 

August 26. Very light wind ; much warmer. Sighted 
land in afternoon. 



92 VISIT TO SPITZBERGEN 

August 27. Anchored at Haminerfest at 4 p.m., and 
got our letters. 

So ends my Spitzbergen journal. I found the mail 
steamer going to sail at 1 a.m. on the 28th (Sunday) and 
went on board her. At Tromso I parted with Ludwig, 
with great regret. He is the handiest and most obliging 
fellow I ever had to do with, and you may speak to him 
just as you would to a companion and he does not 
presume upon it. He was to start next day for Bals 
Fjord, whence he would walk across to Mukkanoma and 
so get to Muoniovara. 

Of my voyage down the coast of Norway I need not 
say much ; it was not a pleasant one. The countiy is 
thriving and the people are not improved by it. The 
merchants are as boorish as Germans, and the lower 
classes as extortionate as Jews. They all spit infinitely 
worse than Yankees. The Prinds Gustav is a small 
steamer constructed to carry about 15 cabin passengers 
and we had nearly 40. The further south we came, the 
more people came on board, and the closer every door, 
port and window were shut. To make matters worse, 
the winter hours were adopted and we scarcely ever ran 
at night ; this made the voyage three days longer. 



CHAPTER VII 

DR. Shipley's reminiscences 

By the Master of Christ's, Sir A. E. Shipley, G.B.E., F.R.S. 

Newton was admitted a member of Magdalene College 
in the spring of 1848, the entry in the admission book 
running as follows : — 

Maii 30, 1848 
Alfred Newton, filius Gulielmi Newton de Eldon Hall 
in eomitatu Norfolkiensi, armigeri, et uxoris ejus Elizce 
Milnes privatim institutus, annos natus XIX admissus 
est Pensionarius 

TiUoribus I v'^Rg,'^^'*^'^- 

His name appears for the first time in the Calendar 
for 1849, and he apparently came into residence in the 
October Term of the previous year. Altogether there 
were about sixty students residing at Magdalene at that 
time, including four sizars, and two " Ten-year men," a 
class of student which is now as extinct as the dodo. 
They were usually, but not always, country clergy, who 
by keeping one term in each of ten years and passing the 
necessary examinations obtained a degree. 

The Cambridge he came up to was very different from 
the Cambridge of to-day. It is even possible that he 
arrived on a coach or in a post-chay, for the railway line 
to Norfolk was only opened three years before, and the 
unlovely station which stands to-day much as it stood 
seventy years ago, was only built in 1845. At first it 
was provided with the usual two platforms, and no one 

93 



94 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

seems now to know why one of these was done away 
with, and the platform so elongated that passengers 
perform a perceptible part of their jom^ney on foot. 

Still in those days people were easily pleased, and the 
author of the " Pictorial Guide to Cambridge " (1867), 
after referring to coaching as a still extant but semi- 
barbarous mode of transit, breaks into the following 
rhapsody over our Railway Station : 

The progress of the train has ceased, the re- 
bounding of the carriages coming to a state of rest 
is over, the voices of porters and the opening of 
doors has commenced, and here we are standing on 
the pavement of the Cambridge station. What a 
surprise ! I had no idea of such a length of building, 
aU covered over, and comfortable ; it cannot be 
much less than four hundred feet. This is really 
one of the best stations I have seen for many a day. 
But how is it the stream of passengers is dividing ? 
Oh, I see, one half are taking themselves off to that 
handsome refreshment room, and the other half are 
passing through the building to trudge on foot into 
the town, or to indulge themselves with a cheap ride 
to the same place. 

When Newton came into residence the Master of 
Magdalene was the Hon. and Very Reverend George 
Neville Grenville, Dean of Windsor, who had been 
appointed in 1813. He and his successor, the Hon. 
and Rev. Latimer Neville, later Lord Braybrooke, 
presided over the College for ninety-one years. The 
Tutors were E. Warter and V. Raven, and Mynors 
Bright, a well-known authority on "Pepys' Diary " was 
Lectm-er in Classics, Dean and Prselector. At that time 
there were but four Foundation Fellows in the College, 
but there were no less than thirteen " by " Fellowships, 
though three of these were vacant in 1849. The by- 



UNDEKGRADUATE DAYS 95 

Fellows all received some small emolument from one or 
other of eight separate Foundations, which were con- 
solidated under the statutes of 1882, when the emolu- 
ments of these Foundations were merged in the general 
funds of the College. As was the habit of the times, 
nearly all the Fellows were in holy orders and many 
of them non-resident. 

There is little record of Newton as an undergraduate, 
but there is at least one significant fact. He was at that 
time notable for his English Essays, and I beheve won 
a College prize in this subject. It is sometimes said that 
men of science cannot write English. I don't believe it. 
Certainly they can and do write better Enghsh than 
literary men write Science. But in any case, Newton 
was a master of words ; they never dominated him. He 
used few, mostly Anglo-Saxon words, but he used them 
with an expert's sense of their meaning. In this, as in 
other aspects of his work, he showed a quite pecuHar 
sense of the just and the fitting. 

Whilst an undergraduate at Magdalene, Newton oc- 
cupied the rooms which later were made fireproof and 
now house the Pepysian Library. He was never in the 
technical sense a scholar of the College, in fact, he took 
a '' Poll degree," but after taking his degree, the College 
Order-book of 1854 records : 

Ego Alfred Newton admissus fui in sodalitium hujus 
Collegii pro Magistro Drury. 

This was a Fellowship known as the " Norfolk 
traveUing Fellowship," and restricted to those whose 
fathers belonged to the county of Norfolk; but the 
holder was not a Foundation Fellow The funds at the 
disposal of the Norfolk Fellow were later merged in the 
general funds of the College when the new statutes of 
1882 were sanctioned by Parhament. It was only in 
1877, when he had held the Professorship of Zoology and 



96 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

Comparative Anatomy for eleven years, that he became 
a Foundation Fellow. 

The town to which Newton came up in his nineteenth 
year was much smaller than to-day. The population in 
1851 was 27,815 ; to-day, with the extensions of the 
town boundaries which have taken place since the be- 
ginning of this century, it reaches the figm-e of 55,812 
The University also has more than doubled its size. In 
1849 there were 1775 undergraduates, 3786 members of 
the Senate, and 6906 members of the University " on the 
Boards " ; to-day the numbers are 3623, 7293, and 
15,094 respectively.* The distribution of the students, 
too, has altered ; in those days Pembroke had but 23 
undergraduates all told, Magdalene just over 50. 

The appearance of the tow^n was almost mediaeval. 
There were but few houses — ^barely a dozen — south of 
Parker's Piece ; Romsey Town, New Chesterton, and 
Newnham hardly existed ; and to the north the " hand- 
some and commodious shirehouse " opened in 1842 
almost coincided with the limits of the borough along 
the Huntingdon Road. To make way for this Court of 
Justice the last relic of the Castle, a massive and spacious 
gate-house, was removed. The older buildings of the 
Observatory looked then much as they look now, but 
the married Don was then unthought-of, and the in- 
numerable red-brick villas which stretch yearly further 
towards the setting sun, between the Madingley and the 
Barton Roads were undreamt of. There was no Selwyn, 
no Ridley Hall, no Girton, no Newnham, no Westminster 
or Cheshunt Colleges, and no Clergy-Training School, 
also there was no Theatre. 

The FitzwiUiam Museum stood unfinished with the 

* This was written in June, 1914. The numbers at present (November, 
1920) are 4776, 7780, and 15,862 respectively. 



CAMBRIDGE IN 1850 97 

then much smaller Addenbrooke's Hospital almost 
opposite. The Fitzwilham art collections, which had 
been housed in the old Perse School in Free School Lane, 
were still being exhibited in 1848 in the east room of 
the University Library. The old College buildings still 
stood at Pembroke, and small houses occupied the site 
of the existing College buildings now facing Trumpington 
Street to the south of the Chapel. Waterhouse's 
" structures " were not built until the early 'seventies, 
and Scott's beautiful court in Pembroke Street not until 
1883. In the middle of the last century people apparently 
preferred privacy, and where we now have open railings 
they had walls. There was a wall in front of Peterhouse 
and another shut off the little garden near the east end 
of Trinity Chapel ; a third wall enclosed the graveyard 
of St. Andrew's Church, and another had but recently 
hidden the Round Church. The new buildings of the 
Pitt Press were opened in 1833 and the old Lodge and 
neighbouring buildings which clung round the east end 
of King's Chapel had been by this time removed, but 
houses still clustered round the east end of St. Edward's 
Church and Great St. Mary's, and, indeed, the greater 
part of Market Hill was cumbered with buildings. The 
market was then held in an L-shaped space along the 
east and the southern side, and the old conduit which 
now stands at the corner of the Lensfield and Trumping- 
ton Roads stood at the west end of the southern limb. 
The greater part of the marketing in those days was 
done on Peas Hill, at that time a more spacious area 
than our present market-place, and Cambridge is one of 
the few towns left where the weekly market is still a 
featm-e in the life of the citizens. The year after Newton 
came up a providential fire destroyed some of those 
houses clustering around the east end of St. Mary's, and 
the opportunity was taken to remove the others. 

H 



98 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

The heavy gallery which occupied the whole width 
and some half of the depth of the chancel of Great St. 
Mary's remained almost until Newton became Professor. 
Here the Heads of Houses and the Doctors listened to, or 
slept through, the University sermon in great state, the 
Vice-Chancellor sitting on a throne in the centre of the 
front row. The University Library then sheltered on 
the west side " the Philosophy School," on the north the 
Divinity School, on the south " the School for Civil Law 
and Physic," and on the east a room where the Norrisian 
and other Professors of Divinity lectured. The Registry 
where the Registrary then carried on his business ad- 
joined the Divinity School. All these rooms now happily 
form part of the Library, the heart of the University. 
Gonville and Caius College then presented a more modest 
and chastened front to the world than it does now, but 
was, about this time, considering plans for the existing 
Hall and Combination Room, and towards the end of the 
'sixties Waterhouse's buildings were erected, replacing 
amongst other things the Theatre Coffee House and the 
original business house of the publishing firm of Mac- 
millan. All Saints' Church, once known as AllhaUows-in- 
the-Jewry, stood over against Trinity, with its tower pro- 
jecting over the narrow footpath and pierced by the 
" side- walk." The Selwyn Divinity Schools and the 
Literary Schools did not then exist in St. John's Street, 
but on the other side of the road to the Pensionary, which 
stood where now they stand, was a curious congeries of 
buildings known as the Labyrinth, a relic of the Hospital 
founded about 1200 by a burgess of Cambridge, John 
Frost. Here in dark and ill-arranged rooms lived a 
number of the more evangelical students, Simeonites as 
they were then called. These students and their dwel- 
lings are vividly described by Samuel Butler in his novel, 
'' The Way of All Flesh." The Labyrinth occupied part 



MAGDALENE COLLEGE 99 

of the area now covered by Scott's Chapel at St. John's. 
The old chapel stood till 1869 and the Master's Lodge 
then occupied the north end of the Hall and the north 
side of the second court. The new Lodge near to Magda- 
lene College was only erected in 1863, and in Newton's 
student-days a lane known as St. John's Lane ran from 
St. John's Street along the north side of the College to 
a small hythe which abutted on the river, close to the 
west end of the Library of St. John's. 

Holy Sepulchre had recently been " restored " by 
the Cambridge Camden Society, to the despair of all 
later archaeologists, and the opportunity was probably 
then taken of removing the wall which, as an old print 
shows, shielded the Round Church from the vulgar gaze. 
A little way beyond Newton's College stood in his 
student-days the old Church of St. Giles. " It is not 
improbable that this is the parent parish of Cambridge," 
writes Mr. T. D. Atkinson. We must never forget that 
Cambridge in origin was over the river, although the 
only " transpontine " College — as a late Master of Trinity 
designated Magdalene — was that to which Newton 
belonged. The Church, even after being restored by 
the ingenious Professor Farish, retained many features 
of interest, and it is a great pity that it was destroyed 
when the present plain, one might even say ugly, edifice 
was erected in 1875. 

The College which Newton joined in 1849 was some- 
what different from the Magdalene of to-day. A year 
or two before his "coming up," the " Cambridge Guide " 
describes the outer of its two courts as " very neatly 
stuccoed and sashed — and from the walls having been 
lately surmounted by an open parapet the whole presents 
an air of great neatness and elegance." " The chapel is 
about 50 feet long, 18 broad ; it is fitted up in an ex- 
ceedingly neat and pleasing manner, and has a curious 



100 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

Altar-piece of plaster of Paris representing the two 
Marys at the Sepulchre after the Resurrection, in 
alto-relievo, by the ingenious Mr. Collins." The words 
" neat " and " neatness " were overworked words in the 
middle of the last century and probably felt correspond- 
ingly tired. 

But to return to the chapel ; towards the end of the 
seventeenth century the space in the roof had been 
floored in to make an upper chamber in which the 
College Library was then placed, but about the time of 
Newton's arrival at Magdalene this upper story was 
removed, and the chapel was heightened, and by adding 
to it part of the Master's old Lodge lengthened. These 
" lodgings " had occupied the area now covered by the 
College Library, with an outer staircase and a northern 
wing, both of which disappeared when the present Lodge 
to the north of the College was built in 1835. 

The restoration of the chapel began in 1847 and lasted 
over a period of four or five years. During this time all 
the " incongruities were swept away and the chapel 
skilfully and beautifully restored to its original Gothic 
character ; the fine, high-pitched timber roof of the 
fifteenth century was once more restored to view ; the 
entire building fitted up with richly-carved and appro- 
priate wood-work ; the east window opened and with 
two side windows filled with painted glass." To those 
of us who only knew the Professor as a living and teach- 
ing zoologist it came as a surprise when we learned that 
he had painted one of the figures of these windows. He 
himself never alluded to it. 

On the southern slope of Magdalene towards the 
river is now an open garden, with a parapet and water- 
gate — which no one ever seems to use — ^flanked at the 
eastern end by the new buildings of the kitchen and by 
a comely set of students' quarters. These last buildings 



THE CAM 101 

Newton never saw. This garden and the new buildings 
occupy a site bought in part from Jesus College in 1790 
and in part from the town in the following year. When 
Newton came up, and for a quarter of a century after- 
wards, this site was covered by a congestion of small 
tenements, those abutting on the river-side being for the 
most part small ale-houses. In the middle of the last 
century much of the food and the wood and reeds used 
for firing came into Cambridge " up the Cam," and 
numerous small " hythes " such as we can still see to-day 
between the Magdalene Bridge and the northern side of 
St. John's College were then conspicuous along the upper 
reaches of the Cam, between Magdalene and St. John's 
and above Queen's, where the great mills were, and 
although for the most part put out of action, still are. 
The towing horses of the barges were cast off after 
passing Midsummer Common, and then the barges were 
punted along the backs of the colleges by stout poles 
called " spreads." In those days the bargee was a social 
feature in the University, as readers of Thackeray's 
" Codlingsby " will recall. 

In Mr. T. D. Atkinson's plan of Magdalene the houses 
huddled on this narrow site were separated from the 
College by a narrow pathway known as Salmon's Lane, 
but one of Newton's colleagues has told me that Newton 
used to say there were two lanes running parallel with 
the river and two rows of tenements between them ; 
after all, it is difficult to be incredulous about the over- 
crowding of small tenements sixty-five years ago, but 
one outstanding fact is that the corner house nearest to 
the bridge was a more substantial building and sheltered 
a well-known doctor of the town. 

Newton came of a country-gentry stock The family 
fortune was based on the West Indies, and it suffered 
the general dechne which accompanied the abolition of 



102 DR. SHIPLEY'S KEMINISCENCES 

slavery. His father was the owner of the Elvedcn 
estate near Thetford, whch was later sold to Prince 
Dhuleep Singh and afterwards passed into the possession 
of Lord Iveagh. His brothers, as brothers in county 
families in those days did, went their several ways into 
the various professions. Alfred Newton himself was 
destined for the Church ; there was, I beheve, a family 
living, and I w^ell remember on one sunny August after- 
noon in his later years as he and I went together on a 
drive over the chalk hills between Cherry Hinton and 
the Hills Road, his telling me this, and adding that " the 
nearer he got to orders the less he liked the look of 
them." Not that he was not always a Christian and a 
genuinely rehgious man, but he had his views, and Newton 
when he had his views never varied them or abated one 
iota of them. On the whole, I am inclined to think that 
it made for peace in the EstabHshed Church when Newton 
decided not to take holy orders. 

When I came up to Cambridge in 1880, a shy under- 
graduate, who had spent one year at St. Bartholomew's 
Hospital, where with the help of Stephen Paget I had 
dissected the leg of the wife of the butler * of the First 
Napoleon, I and my contemporaries fell under the 
glamour of Morpholog}^ We were not so very far ofE 
from the " Origin of Species," and we were even con- 
temporaneous with Darwin's later works, all of which 
dealt with living creatures, living organisms, and yet 
our obsession was w^th the dead, with bodies beautifully 
preserved and cut into the most refined slices, stained 
in various pigments so that like the king's daughter of 
the psalmist they were " all glorious within." Professor 
Adami, the distinguished pathologist, and I spent our 

* He was an old soldier who had served in this capaeity to Napoleon I. 
at Longwood and in his old age had married a young wife, who through 
misfortune died in the Hospital, and, no one claiming the body, it was 
dissected. 



FRANCIS BALFOUR 103 

afternoons during half a term in cutting into thin slices 
a small Amphioxus — there was no automatic microscope 
then, and each section had to be mounted on a separate 
slide — when really we should have been better employed 
in rowing or in playing football. It was a curious, and 
to me a still unexplained, result of Darwin's teaching 
that the younger men who — at a very great distance — 
followed his footsteps, followed them not in a direct 
line but at an angle, a morphological, an embryological, 
and an historical angle, an angle which, to use again an 
Americanism, anyway pointed more to the dead than 
the living. Professor Francis Balfour was about this 
time finishing his epoch-making work on Comparative 
Embryolog}^ He was in a way the founder of a new 
science, and without doubt was the most attractive man 
I have ever met. He had to a peculiar degree that 
elusive and indefinable quality, charm, and he charmed 
us all. Educated humanity is ever turning this way 
and that, trying to explore the unknown, to read the 
riddle of our being. It will never be solved, and were it, 
what would be left ? In the early 'eighties comparative 
embryology seemed the most likely means of reaching 
some solution of this eternal problem, and in a minor 
way, under Balfour and his lieutenant Adam Sedgwick, 
we all became comparative embryologists. 

Newton, however, had but little interest in such 
subjects ; not that he opposed them in any way ; indeed, 
he promoted them by his personal influence, and by 
lending his demonstrator to the acting Head of the 
Morphological Laboratory. Although in some respects 
old-fashioned and with fixed ideas, he was like Mr. 
Crisparkle's mother, " always open to discussion," but 
he invariably looked, as the China shepherdess looked, 
as though he would like to see the discussion that would 
change his mind. 



104 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

Yet he was open to argument, and without professing 
to study or to care much about the newer aspects of his 
subjects, he invariably helped them forward. It is 
characteristic of his liberahty of thought that when 
some years before his death he nominated a deputy to 
give his formal lectures, he chose William Bateson, the 
brilHant prophet of Mendelianism, a subject the Professor 
was uninterested in and probably mistrusted. He was, 
in fact, a mid- Victorian zoologist, very painstaking, 
quite unusually accurate, old-fashioned in some ways, 
but we must never forget that he was one of the first of 
the zoologists of repute to accept and champion the 
views of Charles Darwin. 

When I was a student his two courses of lectures 
were on Darwinism and on the Geographical Distribution 
of Animals. I don't think Newton liked lecturing. In 
the affairs of ordinary life he did not seem shy, but he 
did seem shy about lecturing. To begin with, he chose 
the uncomfortable hour of 1 p.m. I once also had to 
lecture for two or three years at that unhappy hour, 
and meeting at some social function a Girton lady who 
came to hear me, I apologised to her for frequently 
stopping before 2 p.m. on the ground of hunger. " Oh," 
she said, " we had always assumed that you'd lunched," 
and she seemed to think her or the other ladies' assump- 
tion as satisfactory to me as a mutton chop. 

Newton's lectures were desperately dry and very 
formal. The Professor sat before a reading desk and 
read every word of the discourse from a written manu- 
script, wi'itten in his minute hand with a broad quill, 
so that all the letters looked the same, like the Burmese 
script. At long intervals there was drawn the outline 
of a tumbler, Uke the wine-glasses which used to indicate 
in the foreign " Bradshaws " those railway stations 
which boasted of the existence of refreshment-rooms. 



LECTURES 105 

Whenever the Professor came to these outlines he 
reHgiously took a sip of water. Whether it was the 
time of day or whether it was that we students were 
all absorbed in Comparative Embryology and in Mor- 
phology, the attendance was always small. I went 
during my second and third year, and at times was the 
sole auditor. Not that that made the least difference 
to the Professor. He steadily and relentlessly read on 
— " the majority of you now present know," " most of 
my audience are well aware," and similar phrases left 
me in considerable doubt as to what parts of me were 
" the majority " and which the " most." 

Where the Professor excelled was in informal talks in 
his room after lecture and in his home in the Old Lodge 
at Magdalene College. He was a zoologist, not a necrolo- 
gist. As far as his lameness had permitted he had always 
been an open-air man. Owing to the vastness of the 
subject, every student of zoology must have a special, 
favourite group of animals, and Newton cared most 
about birds. But he was no " mere ornithologist," as 
his unsuccessful opponent at the election to the pro- 
fessorship described him in 1866. His shilling text- 
book " Zoology," one of the Manuals of Elementary 
Science, published by the Society for the Promotion of 
Christian Knowledge, was a model of its kind, and 
undoubtedly should be better known, for in clear and 
clean-cut Enghsh it covered practically every branch of 
zoology, and to the younger student presented an 
ordered framework upon which he could hang his 
scattered and isolated, but none the less real, items of 
knowledge. 

Newton's Sunday evenings were great institutions 
in the life of all of us who cared about biological science 
thirty odd years ago and onwards till his death. They 
began in a small way ; when the Professor first became 



106 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

a Professor in 1866 the number of those who passed the 
Natural Science Tripos was but nine, the year Newton 
died the numbers were, in Part I. 147, and in Part 11. 36. 
One of his best friends, one who " came up " about the 
time Newton was elected to the Chair of Zoology and 
Comparative Anatomy, and who in those remote days 
frequented the Sunday evenings at Magdalene College, 
told me that when his younger brother came up a few 
years later he sent by his hand a brace of partridges. 
The freshman knocked at the door, and entering the 
room, faced the back of the Professor, and after an 
almost audible pause, said " Please, sir, Fve brought 
you some birds." " Skins or skeletons," flashed back 
the ornithologist, always more occupied in ornithology 
than in gastronomy. Not that Newton did not value 
a good dinner. He breakfasted a little late, but very 
heartily, and he rather despised those who ate lunch — 
a biscuit and a glass of sherry buoyed him up for his 
one o'clock lecture — but he enjoyed his dinner. One 
curious custom he had, he always watered his wine ; he 
used to request a carafe to be placed near him and 
poured a little water into each glass of wine, though if 
I recollect aright he spared the port. 

On Sunday evenings after a glass, or perhaps two, of 
port, and a couple of exiguous Russian cigarettes in the 
Combination Room, the Professor used to retire, and 
twenty minutes later those who were privileged to dine 
with him in Hall went through the garden entrance, 
and so into the inner room, where we found him seated 
in an arm-chaii* just within the doors. The room was 
plainly but comfortably furnished in the mode of the 
Victorian period ; the fire was very hot, the guests were 
seated in a large circle of chairs, something like the 
Christy Minstrels of our boyish days ; and yet in 
spite of these obvious disadvantages Newton's Sunday 



SUNDAY EVENINGS 107 

evenings saved Zoology as the science of living animals 
in Cambridge. Often there were awkward pauses, but 
the Professor sat through them all, making paper spills 
out of old letters, and smoking pipe after pipe. To him 
the little Russian cigarettes were merely "hors d'oeuvres," 
the real business was tobacco in a pipe, and he held very 
strong views about pipe racks. The bowl of the pipe must 
be supported so as to be lower than the stem, and the 
numerous racks that supported his innumerable pipes 
exemplified this principle. These Sunday evenings were 
a little formal and a little dull, we were all a little afraid 
of the Professor, and much more afraid of ourselves. 
Sitting in that semicircle of seats it was difficult if not 
impossible to break up into groups, and yet those Sunday 
evenings and some others which I attended in Oscar 
Browning's rooms at King's and in Vine's at my own 
College helped me more than I can say. He was, in the 
real and the best sense, a man of the world, and hence 
he was able to help us and did help us in many ways, 
not in the least zoological. 

In politics and in daily life Newton was a Conserva- 
tive, even a Tory, he took little part in party affairs, 
having more important things to trouble about, but he 
resented and opposed any change in " the daily round, 
the common task." Alterations in the College dinner, 
the introduction of an organ into the chapel, the presence 
of ladies at divine service, all met with his disapproval 
and his dissent, and neither were silent. For many 
years he presided as the fii'st Chairman of the Board of 
Biology and Geology constituted under the statutes of 
1881. He was a just and equable chairman, better, 
indeed, in the chair than out of it, but he never approved 
of the existence of the body he presided over, and 
nothing would induce him to vote either for or against 
so new-fangled an idea as a Doctor of Science. His 



108 DR. SHIPLEY'S REMINISCENCES 

conservative caution spread at times to his writings. 
We have seen that he was able and even wilhng to accept 
new ideas and to teach them, when he had by careful 
thought arrived at the conviction that they were sound, 
still in his magnum opus, the " Dictionary of Birds," he 
preferred an alphabetical arrangement of his material 
rather than commit himself to any of the existing 
schemes of classification. None of these seemed to him 
satisfactory, and of course no system of classification of 
natural objects ever can be. 

Here may I add a few lines I wrote about Newton 
very shortly after his death, when my memory of him, 
never to be dulled, was, perhaps, a little sharper than 
now ? 

The Museum of Zoology in Cambridge, which has 
grown to be one of the largest in the kingdom, attained 
its position largely under his guidance. He was always 
on the look out for new and valuable specimens, con- 
stantly, though anonymously, buying and presenting 
these. He very greatly disliked any of his donations 
to be recorded in the Reports of the Museums and 
Lecture Rooms Syndicate. His gifts, not only of speci- 
mens, but of books, to the Library of the department 
must have cost a very large sum. His interest in old 
books and early editions was that of a scholar. He 
spent much time and knowledge on the University 
Library, but his special province was the Philosophical 
Library, situated in the heart of the Museums, over 
whose destiny he presided for many years. It is largely 
due to him that the Library at the present time takes 
in some 600 periodicals, and nothing gave him greater 
satisfaction than when, by the careful study of book- 
sellers' lists, he was able to complete a " broken set." 
There was something peculiarly scholarly about Newton's 
writings ; and in small matters of grammar and punctua- 
tion he was punctihous in a way that is now becoming 
rare. Very httle that he published was of an ephemeral 



CHARACTER 109 

nature, and his printed word is characterised by great 
width of knowledge, untiring research, and an unusual 
degree of accuracy. In trying to sum up Newton's 
character one's " mind naturally reverts," as Mrs. R. 
Wilfer said, to Dickens' description of Sir Leicester 
Dedlock, " He is a gentleman of strict conscience, dis- 
dainful of all littleness and meanness, and ready at the 
shortest notice to die any death you may please to 
mention rather than give occasion for the least im- 
peachment of his integrity. He is an honourable, 
obstinate, truthful, high-spirited . . . man." I have 
left out the words " intensely prejudiced, perfectly un- 
reasonable," because although at times Newton was 
prejudiced and was unreasonable, the adjectives Dickens 
used go beyond my estimate of these traits in his 
character. 

Once more to quote what I wrote soon after his 
death : 

When once you were a friend of Newton's, you were 
always his friend. He was possessed of the old-fashioned 
courtesy of manner, and a certain leisureHness of habit, 
which made a visitor feel that he was not trespassing on 
the time of his host. Both in appearance and in cha- 
racter he had the finest attributes of the old race of 
English country gentlemen, to which by birth he 
belonged. 



CHAPTER VIII 

EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

In the early part of 1858 Newton accompanied John 
WoUey to Iceland for the purpose of inquiring into the 
supposed recent extinction of the Great Auk, and into 
the causes which had brought about that result. During 
two months of enforced inaction in an Iceland village, 
the two men had opportunities of frequently discussing 
questions that were then occupying the minds of 
biologists. Among these were, " What is a Species ? " and 
" How did a Species begin ? " — the latter a question all 
the more naturally arising from the fact that their 
particular business was to find out how a species had 
come to an end. Both of them were well acquainted 
with the views of Lamarck and the author of the " Ves- 
tiges of Creation," and also of the contrary views of Sir 
Charles Lyell and of Adam Sedgwick. Moreover, in 
the preceding year, Newton had visited America, where 
he had frequently been impressed with the opinions of 
Professor Louis Agassiz, which were, briefly, that each 
species had had not one Centre of Creation, but that 
many — perhaps most — species had been created in 
several places, at sundry times, and possibly in vast 
numbers. These various conflicting theories gave rise 
to long discussions, often turning on the prevalence of 
Blue Foxes in Iceland, the relations between the Red 
Grouse and the Willow Grouse, and so forth ; but they 
never produced any definite result beyond a firm con- 
viction that, for the salvation of Botany and Zoology 
there must soon be found a solution of those problems. 

no 



VARIATIONS IN SPECIES 111 

On his way back from Iceland, Newton paid a visit 
to his friend H. B. Tristram (at that time rector of 
Castle Eden), who had recently made two journeys to 
Algeria and Tunis, where he had diligently collected 
specimens of birds and reptiles. Among these he was 
particularly interested by the desert-forms represented 
in the large series of Larks or Chats. 

Generally the inhabiters of the desert took a dull 
drab, but occasionally a warm or sand-coloured hue, 
while those which did not dwell in the desert wore a 
suit of much more decided and variegated tint. . . I 
was at once reminded of what, in a less degree, I had 
been shown and told the year before at Washington by 
Professor Baird, who pointed out to me the variations 
exhibited by examples of the same species of several 
groups of North American birds, according as they came 
from woodland, prairie, or elevated country. Among 
all these were indications of a similar general law. The 
woodland examples were the most highly coloured. 
Those from the prairies were less deeply tinted ; while 
those from the high plains — districts which, from what 
I heard, seemed to approach in some degree the con- 
dition of a desert such as is found in the Old World — 
exhibited a fainter coloration. Here, then, was a sign 
that like causes produced like effects even at the 
enormous distances which separated the several localities. 
The effects were plainly visible to the eye ; what were 
the causes ? The only explanation offered to me by 
Professor Baird, so far as I remember, was that the 
chemical action of light, uninterrupted by any kind of 
shade, produced the effect that was patent. With this 
explanation, though it hardly seemed satisfactory, one 
was fain to be content. 

It is thus apparent that Newton was ready and 
anxious for a reasonable explanation of these problems, 
and that he embraced the new teaching with enthusiasm 



112 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

will be evident from the following letters and extracts 
from his writings. 

Not many days after my return home there reached 
me the part of the Journal of the Linnean Society which 
bears on its cover the date 20th August, 1858, and 
contains the papers by Mr. Darwin and Mr. AVallace, 
which were communicated to that Society at its special 
meeting of the first of July preceding, by Sir Charles 
Lyell, and Dr. (now Sir Joseph) Hooker. I think I had 
been away from home the day this pubhcation arrived, 
and I found it when I came back in the evening. At all 
events, I know that I sat up late that night to read it ; 
and never shall I forget the impression it made upon me. 
Herein was contained a perfectly simple solution of all 
the difficulties which had been troubhng me for months 
past. I hardly know whether I at first felt more vexed 
at the solution not having occurred to me than pleased 
that it had been found at all. However, after reading 
these papers more than once, I went to bed satisfied 
that a solution had been found. All personal feehng 
apart, it came to me like the dii'ect revelation of a higher 
power ; and I awoke next morning with the conscious- 
ness that there was an end of all the mystery in the 
simple phrase, " Natural Selection." I am free to 
confess that in my joy I did not then perceive, and I 
cannot say when I did begin to perceive, that though 
my especial puzzles were thus explained, dozens, scores, 
nay, hundreds of other difficulties lay in the path, which 
would require an amount of knowledge, to be derived 
from experiment, observation, and close reasoning, of 
which I could form no notion, before this key to the 
" mystery of mysteries " could be said to be perfected ; 
but I was convinced a vera causa had been found, and that 
by its aid one of the greatest secrets of creation was going 
to be unlocked. I lost no time in drawing the attention 
of some of my friends, with whom I happened to be at 
the time in correspondence, to the discovery of Mr. 
Darwin and Mr. Wallace ; and I must acknowledge that 



EVOLUTION 113 

I was somewhat disappointed to find that they did not 
so readily as I had hoped approve of the new theory. 
In some quarters I failed to attract notice ; in others my 
efforts received only a qualified approval. But I am 
sure I was not discouraged in consequence ; and I never 
doubted for one moment, then nor since, that we had 
one of the grandest discoveries of the age — a discovery 
all the more grand because it was so simple.* 

At once a hundred difficulties were swept away : 
there seemed to be a plausible answer to the question, 
" Wliat is a Species ? " The new theory might even 
explain how one variety or race might pass into another, 
but the doubt arose whether the process of invisible 
steps could do more than that and produce the stupen- 
dous effects, which are now expressed by the word 
Evolution. 

That the doubt thus impHed was occasionally stagger- 
ing I do not deny ; but I always found that, even if for 
a time I reeled under it, I could by further reflection 
recover my balance and resume my position. The 
consideration which thus enabled me to keep, on the 
whole, a steady attitude, was one furnished by a very 
small amount of mathematics acquired in earlier days 
and fortunately yet borne in mind. One has not to go 
far in the study of algebra before one meets with a 
theorem in which one finds that certain properties can 
be proved for certain definite numbers in succession. 
If an indefinite number be taken, the same property 
can be proved to exist for the number next to it. Hence 
mathematicians (those most sceptical of men) conclude 
that this theorem is universally true. Now, to apply 
this. The existence of variation, however slight that 
variation might be, once accepted (and a very moderate 
amount of experience showed that variation did exist), 
who could doubt that variation might in certain cir- 
cumstances go on indefinitely ? Whether it would do 
so or not was another matter ; but what naturalist had 

* " I should add that at this time I had no acquaintance personally or 
by eoirespondence with either of the discoverers." 

I 



114 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

ever with good reason attempted to set a limit to 
variation ? Until such limitation, or cause for limita- 
tion, was shown, I felt I was justified in concluding that 
variation might go on indefinitely — that variation might 
extend, as indeed there was some positive evidence of 
its doing, from coloration to minor points of structure, 
and from minor to major points. Thus it seemed to me 
that, if mathematicians were right in admitting the truth 
of Euler's proof of the Binomial Theorem, I could not 
be very wrong in accepting the truth of Evolution by 
means of Natural Selection. When afterwards I came 
to read Mr. Darwin's " Animals and Plants under 
Domestication," the aptness of my application of the 
mathematical reasoning seemed to be more and more 
perfect. In those domesticated animals and plants of 
which the origin was perfectly certain, we had the definite 
quantities requii'ed for the illustration : in the domesti- 
cated animals and plants of which the origin was not so 
certain, we had the indefinite quantities : in the wild 
animals and plants the unknown quantities. We could 
prove by experiment that such and such results followed 
from any next step with regard to our known quantities, 
and by experiment could prove that similar results 
followed from the next step with regard to our indefinite 
quantities. Were we not justified then in concluding 
that the like results would follow from our unknown 
quantities ? * 

* " I had often wondered that this obvious illustration had not occurred 
to Mr. Darwin, in none of whose works have 1 noticed any allusion to it : 
but the cause of the omission I did not suspect until I read his Auto- 
biography. It was probably due to the fact of his not having made 
sufficient progress in mathematics to become aware of this simple theorem. 
He has told us (vol. i. p. 46), ' I attempted mathematics and even went 
during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to 
Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, 
chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning m the early steps in 
algebra. This impatience was very foolish and in after j'ears I have 
deeply regietted I did not proceed far enough at least to mideistand some- 
thing of the leading principles of mathematics.' He goes on to declare 
that he did not believe he ' should ever have succeeded bej-ond a very low 
grade.' To this belief we may perhaps demur. Under good tuition there 
seems no reason why he should not have derived as much satisfaction from 



DARWIN AND WALLACE 115 

Only four days after the publication of the famous 
paper, and one day after he had received and read it, 
Newton began to apply the principles of the theory of 
Darwin and Wallace to particular cases within his own 
knowledge. 

I have been very much pleased with a paper in the 
last number of the Linnean Society's Ptoc. on *' the 
tendency of Species to form Varieties and on the Per- 
petuation of Varieties and Species by Natural means of 
selection," by Darwin and Wallace. I am not quite 
sm^e that I altogether agree with them, but there is very 
much in it that is very good, and most of the ideas pro- 
pounded are original. I think there is a hint in it on 
which you might speak, on the subject I suggested to 
you when at Castle Eden as being a likely one for a 
paper before the Linnean Society, the variations induced 
by desert climate, as exemplified in North African Larks 
and Wheatears. The idea is perhaps not new, i.e. many 
naturalists know perfectly well that birds from desert 
localities do not exactly resemble individuals of the same 
species {i.e. good species, not those of bird-namers) from 
more favoured districts. Baird of Washington is quite 
familiar with this fact, and has or is about to put it into 
print together with the reasons whence he draws his 
conclusions. The great Gould, too, has made remarks 
{Proc. Z.S., 1855, p. 78) bearing more or less on the same 
subject, with respect to the coloration of birds inhabiting 
forests and plains, sunny and cloudy atmospheres ; but 
I do not suppose any one has connected these facts with 
the theory (though it is more than theory) of Darwin and 
Wallace, nor has any one practically applied their ideas. 
It seems to me that they can be connected and should 
be connected thus : any modification of the structure 
(using the word in its widest sense, even to comprehend 

algebra as he tells us a few pages before (vol. i. p. 38) he did from geometry, 
and as much delight as when the principle of the vernier was explained to 
him " — Extract from " Early Days of Darwinism," Macmillaii's Magazine, 
February, 1888. 



116 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

a mere change of colour) of an animal must in some way 
or other affect the ease or difficulty with which it con- 
contrives to maintain its existence. In the struggle for 
life which we know to be going on among all species, a 
very slight change for the better, such as improved 
means of escaping from its natural enemies (which would 
be the effect of an alteration in colour from one differing 
much to one closely resembhng the hue of surrounding 
objects), would give that variety a great advantage over 
the typical or other forms of the species. Allow the 
advantage to be continued for a considerable period, 
and the variety becomes not only a race with its varia- 
tions still more strongly imprinted upon it, but the typical 
form or varieties having experienced changes not ad- 
vantageous to their hfe may even become extinct. 
Thus to apply the case, suppose an Algerian desert to 
become colonised by a few pairs of Crested Lark ; we 
know that the probabihty is that of them one or two 
pairs would be likely to be of a darker complexion than 
the others, these and such of their offspring as most 
resembled them would become more liable to capture 
by their natural enemies, hawks, carnivorous beasts, 
etc. ; the lighter coloured ones would enjoy more or 
less immunity from such attacks ; let the state of things 
continue a few hundred years, the dark-coloured in- 
dividuals would be exterminated, the lighter-coloured 
remain and inhabit the land. 

Again, smaller or shorter-billed varieties would 
undergo comparative difficulty in finding food when 
food was not abundant, and had to be picked out from 
crevices among stones, these would be in comparatively 
reduced condition, in the breeding season they would 
not feel their capabilities were such as inclined them to 
matrimony, the consequences would be in a few hundred 
years the longer-biUed varieties would be the most 
numerous, they would become a race, in a few hundred 
years more they would be the sole possessors of the land, 
the shorter-biUed fellows dying out of their way until 
that race was extinct. Here are only two cases enume- 



OKIGIN OF SPECIES 117 

rated which might serve to create, as it were, a new 
species from an old one, yet they are perfectly natural 
ones, and such as I think must occur, have occurred, 
and possibly be occurring still. We know so very little 
of the causes which, in by far the majority, if not in 
nearly all cases, make species rare or common, that 
there may be hundreds of others at work, some even more 
powerful than these, that go to perpetuate certain forms 
in Darwin's words according to natural means of selec- 
tion. You may have a mere individual difference in 
the organs of digestion, and in this way produce a 
Gillaroo Trout with his gizzard-like stomach, out of a 
common Salmo fario. But for your paper you must 
first consult Darwin and Wallace, and you will under- 
stand that nothing that I have advised here is my own, 
but theirs, except the application of their theory to 
Algerian Larks and Irish trout. You should also get a 
little book of Vernon Wollaston's on the " Variation of 
Species," pubHshed a year or two ago by Van Voorst, 
the price of which is 5s. or so.* 

Thirty years later, when writing the article for 
Macmillan's Magazine, from which the above extracts 
have been taken, Newton asked Tristram to lend him 
the last quoted letter and recalled the circumstances in 
which it had been written — 

With many thanks I return the old letter you have 
sent me. The particular one, or more than one, that I 
wanted to see must be much earlier. I think you will 
find I mentioned the Darwin and Wallace paper to you 
as soon as I became acquainted with it, and that was in 
August, 1858, just after my return from Iceland, having 
taken Castle Eden on my way home. During our stay 
in Iceland Wolley and I had been continually discussing 
what should be held to constitute a " species " and 
how new " species " began. Of course, we came to no 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, August 24, 1858. 



118 EAELY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

conclusion worth anything. Then when I was with you 
you showed nie that marvellous collection of Larks and 
Chats, including so many '' Desert forms," something 
like which (in the way of local variation) poor Baird had 
shown me the year before in Washington. I was wholly 
bewildered. Towards the end of the month appeared 
that part of the Linneayi Journal, and behold all to me 
became as clear as possible ! Such a revelation never 
was before nor will be, I think, again to me. I want to 
work all this into a paper I have to do for Macmillan 
a propos of Darwin's " Life and Letters " ; but it has to 
be done at once, and therefore please let me have any 
letters you can find showing my frame of mind at that 
time, or at least before the publication of the " Origin," 
which was not until Nov. (or perhaps Dec.) , 1 859. To the 
best of my belief I took in the whole thing, details apart, 
from the first ; but I find I cannot trust my memory, 
and the letters would be a great help to me.* 

In November, 1859, the ever-celebrated " Origin of 
Species " was published. " Its contents I devoured and 
felt happier than ever, for now I began to see that Natural 
History possessed an interest far beyond that which it 
had entered into my mind to perceive." The various 
reviews of the book, most of them unfavourable to 
Darwin's views, were read by Newton, but produced 
little or no effect on him except to lower his estiuiate of 
the general run of critics. In the following year he was 
present at the memorable meeting of the British Associa- 
tion at Oxford — 

In the Nat. Hist. Section we had another hot Dar- 
winian debate. Mr. F. 0. Morris had a paper on the list 
to be read " On the Permanence of Species,'' but in the 
committee we decided it should not be produced (he was 
not there himself), Babington treating us to some selec- 
tions from it and remarking that it would, of course, 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, February 2. 1888. 



BISHOP OF OXFORD AND HUXI^EY 119 

appear in due course of time in the new series of the 
Naturalist. 

The ball was opened by a paper containing diluted 
Owenism by Dr. CoUingwood, followed by a long un- 
diluted atheistical rigmarole by a Prof. Draper, a Yankee. 
After this a hot discussion took place. Huxley was 
called upon by Henslow to state his views at greater 
length, and this brought up the Bp. of Oxford, who made 
of course, a wonderfully good speech if the facts had been 
correct. Referring to what Huxley had said two days 
before, about after all its not signifying to him whether 
he was descended from a Gorilla or not, the Bp. chaffed 
him and asked whether he had a preference for the 
descent being on the father's or the mother's side ? 
This gave Huxley the opportunity of saying that he 
would sooner claim kindred with an Ape than with a 
man like the Bp. who made so ill an use of his wonderful 
speaking powers to try and burke, by a display of 
authority, a free discussion on what was, or what was 
not, a matter of truth, and reminded him that on ques- 
tions of physical science " authority " had always been 
bowled out by investigation, as witness astronomy and 
geology. 

He then caught hold of the Bp.'s assertions and 
showed how contrary they were to facts, and how he 
knew nothing about what he had been discoursing on. 
A lot of other people afterwards spoke ; Brodie on the 
medical view of the thing, which he did very temperately, 
declaring that at present it was impossible to say what 
was the truth ; Lubbock, a son of Sir John's, who is a 
very clever young fellow, who took a decided Darwinian 
view, and Admiral FitzRoy, the man who commanded 
the Beagle, and who had better have let it alone. 

The feeling of the audience was much against the Bp., 
and Simpson, who had been very anti-Darwin, declared 
that if that was all that could be said in favour of the old 
idea, he was a convert. Not so Tristram, who waxed 
exceedingly wrath as the discussion went on, and declared 
himself more and more anti-Darwinian. The discussion 



120 EAELY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

was adjourned until the Monday, but it was then thought 
by the leaders on both sides that it had better be dropped, 
and so the matter rests. 

On the Sunday, at the University Church, Temple, 
the Master of Rugby, treated his audience to a sermon on 
Darwinism, in which he espoused Darwin's ideas fully ! 
Nothing very particular occurred during the last few 
days, and I did a good deal of lionising. Oxford is no 
doubt finer than Cambridge, but not to that extent that 
her sons make out.* 

Tristram had been the first zoologist of any note 
who, at the instance of Newton, publicly accepted the 
Darwinian views by his paper in the Ihis of October, 
1859 ; his re-conversion at Oxford to the old faith, 
perhaps inspired by a feehng of loyalty to the Bishop, 
was a source of disappointment to Newton, who sought 
(unavailingly) to show him the error of his ways. 

Elveden, 

July 30, 1860. 

My dear Tristram, 

Much is to be conceded to a man afilicted with 
a Chancery suit, and when it is a friend who is so afflicted 
one's feelings are those of the deepest compassion. But 
compassion and friendship are strained to the utmost by 
your assertion that Ph. colchicus and Ph. torquatus are 
" generally acknowledged " to be local varieties. This 
assertion I deny in totissimo. You can only quote two 
authorities, who do " acknowledge " it. Cuvier I have 
not by me. MacGillivi'ay is by no means unobjection- 
able, he only like a wise man goes upon what he has seen, 
and it is as plain as daylight that when he wrote he had 
never seen a torquatus fur sang. But I will generously 
come to your assistance and furnish you with another 
authority, — Samuel, by Divine Permission, one of the 
Quarterly Reviewers, Bp. of Oxford, a member of the 
Council of the Z.S.L., and Chancellor of the most noble 

* Letter to Edward Newton, July 25, 1860. 




^^^^^ 




w^^soBmkmtnati 



DARWINISM 121 

Order of the Garter. Read in the last number of that 
classical journal the original of the speech spoken to the 
British Asses — " locutus bos," — not this time sapo- 
naceous * but dowmight " savage and tartar ly." I am 
quite converted. I was (I confess it) in a " state of transi- 
tion," but Darwino^'c^ I might have remained for a whole 
geological aeon. The Bishop's speech and article have 
caused me by a process of " natural selection " to become 
something better. I am developed into pure and un- 
mitigated Darwinism. 

It is a delightful reflexion, the amount of charity 
with which one can regard all one's fellow creatures. I 
am no better than the rest of the human race. It is true 
I do not kill and eat animals quite so nearly alHed to 
oneself as do or did the Maoris, Caribs, or Ancient 
Britons. But the difference is only in degree. Oysters 
I swallow by the dozen, button mushrooms and straw- 
berries by the score, and green peas in countless numbers. 
It is amazing how digestion is soothed by the placid 
thought that one might have easily sprung from another, 
and perhaps the elder, branch of the family, been hatched 
a turkey and stuffed with truffles by the hand of a chef, 
or even been the truffles oneself, instead of devouring the 
same in ^persona. 

Serious as I am in all this, I am still more serious 
when I say that I wish you would come with me to 
Germany. It is never my way to travel expensively, and 
I am sure we should have lots to say to one another. I 
will start in ten days if you like. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

To this Tristram replied — 

July 31, 1860. ... I quite agree with you that you 
are not fit to be trusted to go to Germany without a 
keeper. In fact, Hanwell is the only fit place for a 
Darwinian. How they can answer the Quarterly I 
cannot tell except by the argument of noise and sneers 

* The reverend Prelate was irieverently nicknamed " Soapy Sam." 



122 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

with which they tried to put down S. Oxon. and every one 
else who did not subscribe to the infalhbihty of the God 
Darwin and his prophet Huxley. Many sane men have 
their monomania. Let us hope yours is only a transitory 
one. The more I look into this renovation of Lamarck, 
the more I see it is one blind plunge into the gulph of 
atheism and the coarsest materialism. You cannot 
stop. It is like a Chancery suit. 

The result of the Oxford meeting was of the nature 
of a drawn battle between the Darwinians and the anti- 
Darwinians. In the following year the British Associa- 
tion met at Manchester. 

Though the ancient behefs were not much troubled, 
it was for the last time that they could be said to prevail ; 
and thus I look upon our meeting in Manchester in 1861 
as a crisis in the history of biology. All the same, the 
ancient beliefs were not allowed to pass wholly un- 
challenged ; and one thing is especially to be marked — 
they were challenged by one who was no naturalist at all, 
by one who was a severe thinker no less than an active 
worker ; one who was generally right in his logic, and 
never wrong in his instinct ; one who, though a politician, 
was invariably an honest man — I mean the late Professor 
Fawcett. On this occasion he brought the clearness of 
his mental vision to bear upon Mr. Darwin's theory, with 
the result that Mr. Darwin's method of investigation was 
shown to be strictly in accordance with the rules of 
deductive philosophy, and to throw light where all was 
dark before.* 

The whole account you will see in the AtJienceum. 
How that we fought over Darwinism and the Gorilla. 
It was, I think, the general impression that the former 
subject had gained many more adherents since the last 
meeting than any one had thought for. Even Owen is 
prepared *' to take quite a different view of what are 

* A. N., Presidential Address to the Biological Section of the British 
Association, Manchester, 1887. 



OWEN AND HUXLEY 123 

called species from that which was generally held 20 
years ago," and he admits that species may have had 
their origin in second causes : after which I think there 
is nothing worth squabbling about. 

About the Gorilla, Owen, I do not think, gained any 
glory ; he asserted the old old story, about the Hippo- 
campus minor, etc., as if it had never been questioned ; 
but it mightily comforted his hearers to know that there 
was all that difference between their brains and a 
Gorilla's. So also about his faith in Du Chaillu, I cannot 
help thinking that he does not believe in him, and only 
keeps on because he has never yet confessed himself 
wrong about anything.* 

The meeting at Cambridge in 1862 witnessed the last 
determined resistance of the anti-Darwinians and their 
ultimate defeat. 

It was a good meeting, all the better for not being too 
crowded. There was a grand kick-up again between 
Owen and Huxley, the former struggling against facts 
with a devotion worthy of a better cause. The latter 
now takes it easy and laughs over it all, but Flower and 
Eolleston are too savage. No doubt it is very irritating 
when Owen will not take the slightest notice of all they 
have done and proved, and Owen does it all in such a 
happy manner, that he carries almost conviction from 
those who know how utterly wrong as to facts he is. 

I had meant to have had an "Ibis" dinner, but the last 
was the only evening we could have it, and then a lot of 
others wanted to dine together, so it ended in establishing 
a new " Club for Promoting Common Honesty " and we 
had a feed at the " Lion " under the presidency of Huxley, 
with Kingsley as vice. Ibises are to be ex-qfficio members ! 
We had some very good speechifying from both chairmen 
and others. This club, I believe, was founded with one 
rule only, and that was that any one drinking Sclater's 
health was to be expelled (this was Sclater's stipulation 

* Letter to Edward Newton, September 25, 1861. 



124 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

in his nervous juxta-matrimonial state, and the only con- 
dition under which he would allow the dinner to take 
place), so that as soon as Sclater left, which he did early, I 
proposed his health and every one drank it ; whereby it is 
difficult to say whether the association did not thereupon 
dissolve itself ! " * 

Thenceforward Newton never wavered in his alle- 
giance to Darwin's views, and very soon (1863) pubhshed 
in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society an interesting 
confirmation and illustration of Darwin's remarks on the 
way in which seeds may be dispersed by birds, describing 
the case of a partridge which had been found with its 
foot firmly imbedded in a lump of hardened earth. When 
the " Animals and Plants under Domestication " was 
pubhshed in 1868, he wrote in the Record of Zoological 
Literature a detailed and very appreciative notice of it, 
dealing more particularly with the Pigeons, which was 
acknowledged most cordially by Mr. Darwin. 

Down, Beckenham, Kent, 
Feb. 9, 1870. 

Dear Newton, 

I suppose it would be universally held ex- 
tremely wrong for a defendant to write to a Judge to 
express his satisfaction at a judgment in his favour ; and 
yet I am going thus to act. I have just read what you 
have said in the Record about my Pigeon chapters, and 
it has gratified me beyond measure. I have sometimes 
felt a httle disappointed that the labour of so many years 
seemed to be almost thrown away, for you are the first 
man, capable of forming a judgment (excepting partly 
Quatrefages) who seems to have thought anything of 
this part of my work. The amount of labour, corre- 
spondence, and care, which the subject cost me, is more 
than you could well suppose. I thought the article in 
the Athenceum, written, I have no doubt, by Owen, was 
very unjust ; but now I feel amply repaid, and I cordially 

* Letter to Edward Newton, October 8, 1862. 



THE ZOOLOGICAL RECORD 125 

thank you for your sympathy and too warm praise. 
What labour you have bestowed on your part of the 
Record ! I ought to be ashamed to speak of my amount 
of work. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday which you and the 
others spent here, and I remain, dear Newton, 

Yours very sincerely, 

Ch. Darwin. 

The Record of Zoological Literature (the name was 
changed with the aeYenth volume to the Zoological Record) 
was started in 1864 by the late Dr. Albert Giinther, who 
edited the first six volumes. Newton was from the 
beginning the principal contributor of details of ornitho- 
logical literatm'e, and during three years — 1871 to 1873 — 
he was the editor. The Record was so necessary to 
English-speaking zoologists that when it proved a 
financial failure as far as the publisher was concerned, 
the Zoological Eecord Association was constituted, 
which bore the expenses, until the Zoological Society 
took over the publication of the work. Recently it was 
united with the " Royal Society's International Cata- 
logue," and it still appears annually as a separate volume 
of that Catalogue, retaining its own title. Newton was so 
much interested in its continuance that he dechned to 
receive any remuneration for his contributions or for the 
three years of his editorship. 

In later life, with characteristic broadness of mind, he 
appreciated and approved of the principles of Mendehsm, 
though he never professed to follow it in detail. " While 
the early stages are easy enough to understand, the later 
steps are just the reverse, and I confess I cannot follow 
all the steps — ^nevertheless, I believe in its universal 
truth." 

One of the most remarkable things about Mendelism 
is that it tends to show the essentially identical nature of 



126 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

animal and vegetable life. Experiments are much more 
easily carried on (and that on a very large scale) with 
plants than with animals, and it is from plants that what 
are called " Laws " are most easily deduced ; but when 
you can make what is really the same experiment on 
animals, you find the results are similar. In one form or 
another this has now been tried on Rabbits, Mice of 
fancy colours, Canary-birds, Pigeons, domestic Fowls, 
and some other things, and I am assured that the excep- 
tions to the Mendelian principle proving true are exceed- 
ingly rare. Batcson and Punnett are tiying to find out 
whether these rare exceptions may not be the result of 
some other " law " which we don't at present know, 
and it seems to me quite possible that they (B. & P.) 
will succeed. There are occasional interruptions 
observable in plants, and the cause of them is also under 
observation. 

Years ago, when I fii-st began lecturing on Evolution, 
I used to point out that so far as we could judge the 
phenomena of Hybridisation were precisely similar in 
animals and in plants, so far as could be tested. Some 
crosses that were easily made (horse and ass) were abso- 
lutely sterile ; others obtained with difficulty, or at least 
seldom (bovines) were perfectly fertile ; and so on with 
other properties.* 

For many years Newton was a regular attendant at 
the meetings of the British Association, of which he was 
placed on the General Committee in 1860. He was for 
some years Chairman of the Close-time Committee and 
of the Migi'ation of Birds Committee. At different times 
he was Secretary, Vice-President, and President, of the 
Section of Zoology and Botany. The practice of some- 
times holding the meetings in the Overseas Dominions 
was estabhshed too late in his lifetime for him to take 
advantage of it, and he particularly regretted being unable 
to join the party which visited South Africa in 1905. 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie- Brown, July 25, lUOO. 



BEITISH ASSOCIATION 127 

Would it had all been ten years ago, and then 
assuredly I should have been of the party ! But my 
travelHng days are over. A curious question has occurred 

to nie : Will the influx of all these British Asses ( 

) make up for the loss of the vanished Quagga ? 

Every one I have met is charmed with the whole 
business, though I have heard of one man who got tired 
of it. He is a divine and felt bound, I suppose, to take 
a gloomy view of things. During his absence his con- 
gregation prayed for him earnestly in a combination 
from the form to be used at sea and that of the visitation 
of the sick, — ^he is a bad sailor, — and I am told the result 
was ludicrous ! * 

In 1875 Newton was a member of the Council of the 
British Association, and he took, as always, much trouble 
in seeking interesting papers for the Biological Section. 
Writing to Mrs. Strickland (June 13, 1876) he drew up 
the following imaginary programme for the Zoological 
Section at the Bristol meeting : — 

Your countryman Mr. Alston is going to be Zoological 
Secretary to Section D this year, and I am very glad of 
it, for he will work it up well. In fact, his activity is so 
great that I am able already to send you a hst of some 
of the proposed papers. If he gets them, we shall have 
a crowd. 

Zoological Papers. 

1 The President's Address. On the Manufacture of Genera 

and Species. Eloge of the late Dr. Gray. 

2 3Ir. F. Buckland. On Fishery Wares and Fishery Weirs,* 

illustrated by models of machinery and implements. 

The title of this paper, if objected to as belonging rather to 
Section A, maybe changed at the last moment, the material will 
remain the same. 

3 Dr. Carpenter. On the Bore of the Bristol Channel in rela- 

tion to Deep Sea Soundings carried on by the author 
(including the n -{-lih chapter of an unpublished auto- 
biography). 

* Letter to Col. H. W, FeUden, C.B., October 31, 1905. 



128 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

4 Miss Lydia Beclcer. On some Unnoticed Points iu the 
Theory of Sexual Selection as applied to Entozoa. 
(5 Prof. Mivart. On Dimorphism in the Common Frog. 
(6 Prof. Huxley. On Man as an Automaton. 
7 Sir J. Lubbock. On the Inability of Bees to avail themselves 
of Bank Holidays. 
Cardinal Manniny. On Certain Fallacies in Our Estimate 
of the Intelligence of the Lower Animals. 
9 Captain Lawson.* Exhibition of Zoological Specimens col- 
lected in New Guinea. 
10 Dr. Quackenbosh (of Chicago). On the Colorado Beetle. - 

2 Living examiolea of this destructive animal will be ex- 
hibited in the adjoining room in charge of the Quarantine 
officers of the Port of Bristol. 

N.B. — The papers bracketed will be taken together. 

Forty years ago, not less than at the present time, 
the members of the Association attended feasts and 
functions in the various towns they visited. An amusing 
incident occurred at the opening of the meeting at 
Brighton — 

Thefumiiest thing I witnessed was Sclater being taken 
for Louis Napoleon the first night and received by the 
Mayor, gold chain and all, with " How many seats does 
your Imperial Majesty want ? " His worship, it should 
be said, had dined ! Sclater with great presence of 
mind presented Tristram as the Emperor, whereon the 
Mayor got furious and turned to me with " Wlio are these 
persons ? " It should be added that we drove up in the 
Rowley carriage, rather a swell affair, to the platform 
entrance, and young Rowley who had gone on fii'st, when 
the carriage stopped, exclaimed, " There they are," 
meaning us ; but the Mayor, etc., thinking " they " could 
only mean the illustrious exiles, hurried out to meet us, 
and altogether it was exceedingly comical. 

In the 'seventies Newton was a regular attendant 

* Capt. J. A. Lawson, " Wanderings in New Gumea," 1875. Claimed 
to have climbed in a few hours to 25,314 ft. of " Mt. Hercules," 
32,783 ft. He met herds of wild oxen, troops of monkeys, and tigers of 
great size. 



THE RED LIONS 129 

at the dinner of the Red Lions, a Society of which 
Dr. T. G. Bonney, F.R.S., writes the following account: — 

The Red Lions. 

The Red Lions are a sort of Society or Club, composed 
of members of the British Association. Their object is 
convivial, and they may be said to sleep for all but one 
evening in the year, when, during the Meeting of the 
Association, they assemble for dinner. The arrange- 
ments for this are made by two members, called Jackals. 
How these are elected (I think they continue in office 
unless prevented from coming to a Meeting) ; what body 
elect a "new Lion" (who, I think, unless a permanent 
official of the Association, goes through a year of pro- 
bation — when he is called a cub), I do not know. I do 
not remember to have seen any copy of rules and they 
may be only traditional, but rules there are. The 
Chairman (how elected I do not know) is generally one 
of the senior members of the Association, known to be 
humorous and ready of speech — like the late Sir F. 
Bramwell or Sir J. Evans. He is called the King Lion. 
A card is sent by the Jackals to each member (Lion A) 
to say that " Bones will be provided at such a place and 
hour " * It is understood that each Lion will be as 
humorous as in him lies and abstain from anything hke 
serious talk with his neighbour. After dinner comic 
songs are sung, ladicrous speeches delivered, burlesque 
lectures or papers given, which are often most amusing. 
At York, I remember—in 1881 — the late Roberts Austen 
gave a parody of Prof. Tyndall, and his brother Jackal, 
Atcheson (afterwards Secretary) also dehvered a laugh- 
able piece of nonsense. When dinner is announced, the 
" Lions " roar approvingly as they go into the room ; and 
shake the tails of their coats — supposed to be wagging 
their tails. If the dinner is delayed or anything is not 
to their liking they growl ; if they approve, they roar and 

* A few guests, usually gentlemen from the place of meeting, specially 
connected with the Association, are invited. 

K 



130 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

agitate their coat-tails. They address the Chair as 
" Your Majesty." Ordinary applause is not permissible. 
Philosophy, in short, on that evening, plays the fool, and 
often does it very cleverly and wittily. 

At the Red Lion dinner held during the Glasgow 
meeting in 1876 the Lions' humour took the form of 
telegraphic greetings supposed to have been sent to the 
Den by various eminent personages. 

Telegrams received and read to the Den by the Lion 
King, Glasgow, Sept. 11, 1876:— 

1. 

Champs Elysees, 

cet onzieme Septembre. 

La France qui a tant souffert sous le drapeau rouge 
ne craint pas les Lions de ce couleur. Je les embrasse. 
Vive la France ! Vive I'Association britannique ! ! 
Vivent la solidarite et la liquidarite des peuples ! ! ! 

MacMahon, 

Marechal President. 
2. 

(Forwarded by the kindness of the Editor of the D.T.) 
New York Herald Office, 

Central Africa. 
Latitude and Longitude mixed. 
June 25, 1876. 
(Received at Alexandria, September 10, 9.50 p.m.) 

Ascended twin peaks over 50,000 feet. Named them 
Mounts Herald and Telegraph. Set up columns of each 
paper on both. Stars and Stripes float on one. Union 
Jack on other. Niggers nasty but don't relish rifles. 
Shooting first class lately. Quite a store of explosives 
left, but whisky giving out, having met missionaries. 
Make most of Cameron while you can as I will be back 
soon. 

H. M. Stanley. 
3. 

Varzin den 11 ten, September, 1876. 

Mein allergnadigster Herr und Gebieter, der deutsche 
Kaiser sendet seinem Koniglichen Bruder herzlichen 



TELEGRAMS TO RED LIONS 131 

Gruss, und er bittet den Himmel den britischen Verein 
vor dem Jesuiten Hackel zu beschiitzen. Darwinismus 
soil nicht in Europa existixen. Drei Axmee Corps 
werden mobilisirt. 

Bismarck. 

4. 

Romae, Palatio Vaticano, hora quindecima diei 
Festse Sci. Mungonis, Anno trigesimo primo 
pontificatus nostri. 

Salus et benedictio apostolica Leonibus Rubris. 
Rubri olim nosmet, cor nostri jam erubescit. Dormit 
Antonellius. Plenitudine infallibilitatis nostri certiorem 
facimus fidelem Haeckelium felicitatis sempiternse. Ilium 
virum illustrum in gastrseo nostro nominavimus " Eccle- 
sise Propugnator," et, Bismarckio nonobstante, com- 
mendavimus eum Collegio Sacrosancto in loco nostro. 
Non sunt approbata a sede apostolica Mivartii dogmata- 
Mo tu proprio. 

Pius, P.P. 

(No Latin dictionary or grammar being found in the 
Den, the foregoing message was unintelHgible to the 
assembled Lions, but the King announced that he had 
had it repeated to Professor Jebb, and the following was 
soon after read as the answer received from that eminent 
scholar.) 

Translation. 
Palace of the Vatican, Rome, 15 o'clock. Feast 
of Saint Mungo, in the XXXIet year of our 
Pontificate. 

Health and Apostolic benediction to the Red Lions. 
Once Red Ourselves, Our heart still warms to the colour. 
Antonelli is at his siesta. Empowered by Our Infalli- 
bility we assure the faithful Haeckel of eternal fehcity. 
Henceforth in our bosom we name him " Champion of 
the Church," and notwithstanding Bismarck commend 
him to the Sacred College as Our successor. The doc- 
trines of Mivart are not yet approved by the Holy See. 
Our bowels are rather better. 

Pius. 



132 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

5. 

August 17, 1876, 
Lat 90" N. common meridian. 
(Received at Disco Sept. !). Sent out at 3.43 p.m. by 
express Kajack. Forwarded by command of the 
Secretary of the Admiralty.) 

North Pole reached this morning. Not so high as 
St. RoUox's. Scotchman at a good salary found in 
charge, as expected. His name is Thomson. Bears 
becoming troublesome, buns being exhausted. Weather 
sultry. Refrigerators have proved most useful. Start 
South to-morrow, meridian of route as yet undecided. 

G. S. Nares, Capt., R.N. 
H.M.S. Alert. 

6. 

Executive Mansion, Washington, 
Sept. 11, 1876. 

American eagle now waving centennial wings greets 
Red Lion. How many of our scientists will we extradit 
in swap for Huxley, who is having quite a nice time on 
this side and concludes to stop ? Would M'Kendrick 
like Sitting Bull for vivisection ? Wire reply. 

U. S. Grant. 

7. 

Oneida Creek, 
Sept. 10, 1870. 

Marsh's Brontotherium too much for me. Have 
come here to regenerate. Very comfortable. Don't 
know when I shall return. An opening for Carpenter 
as Noyes is effete. Hepworth not thought much of by 
sisterhood. 

T. H. Huxley. 

8. 

Board of Foreign Relations, Pekin, 11th day of 
Moon Hien Fung (Month of Universal Abund 
ance, i.e. Harvest Moon) Year of Confusion, 
4065. 

Blother of Sun and Moon chinchin Led Lion King. 
Blitish Ass pigeon game not understand. Too muchee 
plenty talkee-talkee not enough washee-washee. Nares 



PROFESSORSHIP OF ZOOLOGY 133 

big fool go North Pole, muchee ice, starvee-starvee. 
Thomson wise man go home chow-chow quack-quack 
and bow-bow with Led Lions. Glosvenor pigeon no go. 
Ahsin too muchee savvy. Lice clop vely fine. 

Li.* 

Towards the end of 1865 it was decided by the Uni- 
versity of Cambridge that the teaching of Comparative 
Anatomy, which had hitherto been a part of the duty of 
the Professor of Anatomy, should be removed from his 
school and that a Professorship of Zoology and Compara- 
tive Anatomy should be founded. The election took 
place on March 1, 1866, and there were two candi- 
dates, W. H. D. Drosier, M.D., of Caius, and Alfred 
Newton, M.A., of Magdalene. Drosier had been twenty- 
second Wrangler in 1839 and a Senior Fellow of his 
College. He was a great sportsman, and is described as 
" a man of much ingenuity and wide knowledge of 
anatomy and natural history." He was, moreover, a 
man of considerable property, and was very popular in 
the University. Newton was armed with a powerful 
array of testimonials from Owen, Gould, Gray, Murchison, 
Sclater, and others. It was the bad custom in those days 
for elections to be made by the Senate, and candidates 
were required to canvass for votes, as in a parliamentary 
election. It often happened that electors gave their vote 
to a friend, although they might know that he was not 
the best candidate for the post. 

Magd. Coll., 

March 1, 1866. 

My dear Tristram, 

I doubt if it had been Horace's luck to stand 
a contested election. It would be difiicult for any one 
then to keep the aequam mentem, smd 1 admit I can't. 

* The authorship of these " telegrams " is not eertaip. They were 
found among Newton's papers, written in his own handwriting, so it is 
probable that some of them, at all events, were written by him. 



134 EARLY DAYS OF DARWINISM 

Tilings, however, are looking somewhat brighter. Except 
Humphry, the Professor (elect) of Anatomy, I have all the 
medicos in the place actively against me. They consider 
that it is profanity for a layman to be a dealer in bones. 
We look forward to seeing Clayton's white teeth grinning 
hideously to-morrow, and it is too probable that he will 
bring up a curate of his who has a vote. ... I have been 
interrupted in this by a committee meeting, and my head 
is full of nothing but pairs, shufflers, and the like. The 
results we have come to are these — 

D., 86 good +8 probable = 94 

A. N., 101 good+16 possible (shufflers) =117 
Absent or not voting . . . . . . 52 

Remains of doubtful . . . . . . 16 

Total Constituency . . . . . . 279 

I would willingly exchange my 16 possibles for D.'s 
8 probables. 

By this time to-morrow I shall be a man or a mouse. 

Yours ever, 

Alfred Newton. 

March 1, 18G6 

Close of Poll :— 

A. N. 110— D. 82. 

Laus Deo ! 

On the same day Charles Kingsley, whose voting on 
this occasion had been directed by his heart rather than 
by his head, wrote — 

March 1, 1866. 

My dear Newton, 

Now that all is over, I must sincerely con- 
gratulate you, though I would not have you (you will 
understand why) tell my poor dear old friend Drosier 
that I have done so. 

You have fairly deserved this post, in the only true 
sense of desert, earning, and thereby meriting, and I 
know you well enough to be as sure as those who sup- 
ported you, that it will be the opening of a career 



ELECTED PROFESSOR 135 

honourable to yourself and to the University. The way 
in which you took my voting against you I shall always 
consider as a personal obligation to myself. 
Believe me, 

Ever yours faithfully, 

C. KiNGSLEY. 



CHAPTER IX 

PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

Newton had only been Professor at Cambridge for two 
years when he made his first appearance on a more pubHc 
platform. As Vice-President of the Section of Zoology 
and Botany, at the British Association meeting held at 
Norwichin 1868, he read a paper entitled, "The Zoological 
Aspect of Game Laws," in which he clearly showed that 
the wholesale slaughter of many of our birds during the 
breeding season would shortly result in their extinction, 
unless laws were passed to give them protection. He 
began by condemning the exaggerated and over-coloured 
statements of those well-intentioned persons who write 
to the newspapers on the subject of " bird murder," and 
argued that " with some rare exceptions our wild animals 
have no great reason to be grateful to their ordinary 
defenders in the newspapers." Though some mischief 
was undoubtedly done by enthusiastic letter-writers, he 
admitted that attention had been drawn to the question, 
and that there was a growing desire on the part of the 
public to see effectual protection extended to many of 
our wild animals. 

By far the most complete protection is that afforded 
by public opinion. Of this we have the strongest possible 
instance in the case of the Fox, in most parts of these 
islands. Not much more than a century ago the British 
farmer was only induced to permit the galloping of horse 
and hounds across his seeds, or winter corn, by the 
thought that they were doing him a great service by 
ridding him of a pestilent marauder, and he would hear 

136 



PROTECTION OF BIRDS 137 

with grim satisfaction that the scourge of his wife's hen- 
roost had been run into ; or he would wiUingly at a 
vestry meeting pass the churchwardens' accounts giving 
rewards for the destruction of a vixen with her cubs, 
among other so-called " vermin." Nowadays, as we 
know, the British farmer is generally in the " first flight " 
of the horsemen, and the Fox has no friend more staunch. 
Thus it will be seen that an entire change of feeling has 
been wrought with respect to this species, and a change 
of the most effectual kind." 

After discussing the causes of the extinction in this 
country of the Bustard and the Large Copper Butterfly, 
and mentioning the beneficial results of legislation with 
regard to Salmon, he pleaded for an effectual measure of 
protection of Birds of Prey and Sea-fowl. With regard 
to the former he convinced his audience that the decrease 
of Hawks has nothing to do with the abundance of game, 
and that the presence of Owls is absolutely beneficial. 

Now for Sea-fowl — and here I must plead guilty to 
the charge (if it be a charge) of being open to a little bit 
of sentiment. At the present time I beHeve there is no 
class of animals so cruelly persecuted as the sea-fowl 
which throng to certain portions of our coast in the 
breeding season. At other times of the year they can 
take good care of themselves, as every gunner on the 
coast knows ; but in the breeding season, in fulfilment 
of the high command to " increase and multiply " they 
cast off their suspicions and wary habits and come to our 
shores. No one that I have ever heard of has complained 
of them as injurious in any way. Some few, as the 
" Scoulton Peewits," settle far inland, and their useful- 
ness as they follow the plough is everywhere recognised. 
But of the rest — I never heard the Willocks or Kittiwakes 
of the Yorkshire coast accused of raising the price of 
herrings, sprats, and oysters ! I think we may fairly 
assume that they are innocuous in every respect. But 
how do we treat them ? Excursion trains run to convey 



138 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

the so-called " sportsmen " of London and Lancashire to 
the Isle of Wight and Flamborough Head, where one of 
the amusements held out is the shooting of these harmless 
birds. But it is not merely the bird that is shot that 
perishes — difficult as it is to say where cruelty begins or 
ends — ^tliat alone would not be cruelty in my opinion. 
The bird that is shot is a parent — it has its young at 
home waiting for the food it is bringing far away from 
the Dogger Bank or the Chops of the Channel — we take 
advantage of its most sacred instincts to waylay it, and 
in depriving the parent of life, we doom the helpless 
offspring to the most miserable of deaths, that by 
hunger. If this is not cruelty, what is ? Can men 
blaze away hour after hour at these wretched inoffensive 
birds and call it " Sport " without being morally the 
worse for it ? We thank God that we are not as Spaniards 
are, who gloat over the brutalities of a bull-fight. Why, 
here in dozens of places around our own coasts, we have 
annually an amount of agony inflicted on thousands of 
our fellow-creatures, to which the torture of a dozen 
horses and bulls in a ring are as nothing. Surely I may 
be pardoned if I indulge in a bit of sentiment here ? I 
began by deprecating over-coloured statements, or I 
might dwell on this ghastly picture much longer, but 
there is one painful feature which it is said has been 
lately superadded. The modern fashion of ladies wear- 
ing plumes in their hats is said to give an impetus to the 
slaughter. This rests on good authority. Mr. Cordeaux 
writes of the Kittiwake at Flamborough {Zoologist, 
p. 1009) : " This graceful and trustful bird is threatened 
with speedy extinction at this famous breeding-place ; 
thousands have been shot in the last two years to supply 
the ' plume trade.' The London and provincial dealers 
now give one shilling per head for every White Gull 
forwarded ; and the slaughter of these poor birds during 
the season (the breeding season, remember) affords 
almost constant and profitable employment to three or 
four guns. One man, a recent arrival at Flamborough, 
boasted to me that he had in one year killed, with his 



SLAUGHTER OF SEA-FOWL 139 

own gun, four thousand of these gulls ; and I was told 
that another of these sea-fowl shooters had an order from a 
London house for ten thousand." No wonder the Kitti- 
wakes are rapidly disappearing. There has this year been 
a marked diminution of the great breeding colony in the 
Speeton Cliffs. Fair and innocent as the snowy plumes 
may appear in a lady's hat, I must tell the wearer the truth 
— " She bears the murderer's brand on her forehead." 

Now that a stop should be put to this wanton and 
atrocious destruction of a species, aggravated as it is by 
circumstances of peculiar cruelty, I think none of my 
audience will deny. The only question is how it should 
be done. As I have said before, no doubt public opinion 
would be the most effectual check ; but on the other 
hand, I fear lest by the time we can hope to influence 
public opinion to such a degree that Laricide shall be 
regarded in the same light as Vulpicide, there will be no 
more Kittiwakes on our coast to protect. It seems to 
me, after due reflection, that legislative interference is 
absolutely required, for we can hope to excite the interest 
of Parliament in the matter sooner than we can that of 
the nation at large. And this brings me to the special 
object of this paper. In many countries, as you are 
aware, there is a " close time " proclaimed by the local 
authorities, during which time the mere act of carrying 
a gun is an offence against the law. I need scarcely say 
that this " close time " extends over the breeding season. 

After a brief description of the " close time " orders 
in force in certain foreign countries and British colonies, 
he concluded his paper by an expression of hope that a 
" close time " would soon be established in this country. 
Although there had been discussions about the destruc- 
tion of birds at the meeting of the British Association in 
the previous year at Dundee, the meeting at Norwich 
was the first occasion on which the question of " close 
time" by legislation had been publicly advocated by 
a responsible person. Newton's paper was widely 



140 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

commented on by the journals at the time, and it made 
a profound impression on the pubHc mind. In the 
following year (1869) the Sea Birds' Protection Bill was 
passed by Parliament. Thus it may be said that 
Newton's paper at Norwich was the first stone in the 
foundation of the many Wild Birds' Protection Acts 
which have subsequently been passed. 

Shortly afterwards the British Association appointed 
a Committee " for the purpose of investigating the 
desirability of establishing ' a close time ' for the pre- 
servation of indigenous animals." This Committee, of 
which Newton was a member and over which he presided 
for many years, took an active part in promoting the 
earlier Bills for the protection of birds, and the members, 
of whom the most prominent were H. B. Tristram, 
J. E. Harting, and Newton, were frequently called upon 
to give evidence and advice to the Committees of the 
House of Commons. In 1872 a bill for the protection of 
" Wild-fowl " was brought into Parliament at the in- 
stance of the Close-time Committee, and so many un- 
toward changes and chances befell it before it became an 
Act that Newton wrote of it — 

" Save me from my foolish friends " ought to be a 
stave in the spring-song of each fowl of the air from the 
Nightingale which warbleth in darkness to the Dotterel 
which basketh at noonday. The Bill, as at first proposed, 
was framed entirely on the Sea-birds' Preservation Act, 
which became law in 1869 and had already proved to be 
a successful measure. The great feature of it was its 
being directed to a definite point — ^the preservation 
during the breeding season of those birds which, beyond 
all others, were subjected to cruel persecution at that 
time of year — ^thousands of Wild Ducks, Plovers, and 
Snipes, being constantly to be found in the poulterers' 
shops throughout the spring months, not only killed 
while they are breeding, bat killed, it is not too much to 



CLOSE-TIME COMMITTEE 141 

say, because they are breeding, since during that season 
they put ofE much of their natural shyness and fall easy 
victims to the professional gunners. Furthermore, all 
who really know anything of birds know that it is just 
those kinds which are rapidly diminishing in number — 
some of them, which in bygone days were most abundant, 
are now only seen as stray visitors. There is, for example, 
the Avocet, the disappearance of which can be plainly 
traced to its destruction by gunners. 

There can be no doubt that in its original form the 
Bill, as suggested by the Close-time Committee was a 
practicable scheme, and which would have gone far 
towards the protection of British wild-fowl. Unfor- 
tunately, in an almost deserted House, Mr. Auberon 
Herbert, on the motion for going into Committee, suc- 
ceeded in carrying by a majority of 20 to 15, an " instruc- 
tion " to extend the protection accorded under the Bill 
to " Wild-fowl " to other wild birds, and thereupon the 
spirit of the Bill was entirely changed, and it was con- 
verted from the reasonable measure originally contem- 
plated into one of indefinite and general scope. It was 
at once evident that in its new shape it would be im- 
practicable, and notice was speedily given for its rejection. 
Finally, it was referred to a Select Committee, by whom 
its sweeping clauses were limited by the introduction of 
schedules of certain birds to be protected, while the 
penalties were diminished. No ornithologist whose 
opinion could carry the slightest weight appears to have 
been consulted, and no ornithologist was among the 
twenty-three members forming the Select Committee. 

Mr. Herbert, on the 21st of June last, laid a cuckoo's 
egg in the carefully-built nest of the British Association 
Committee, and the produce is a useless monster — the 
wonder alike of the learned and the layman, and an awful 
warning as an example of amateur legislation.* 

* Letter to Edward Newton, July 10, 1872. 



142 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

I am in a state of great uncertainty as to the Bill, and 
am as often as not inclined to hope it may fail to pass. 

The inclusion of the Owl is no doubt a gain in itself, 
but considering the cost of it I question it being worth 
the price. Owls are and were in no danger of extermina- 
tion, but gamekeepers' backs will be put up by the Bill 
if it passes, and they will make a point of kilhng them 
now with all the vigour possible. It would have been 
better to have let public opinion gradually come round 
as it was coming round as to the utility of these and other 
birds. All the rest of the additions, saving perhaps the 
Kingfisher and Bearded Titmouse, are utterly useless, for 
none of them are in any danger of extermination, as are 
the " Wild-fowl " pure and simple. The penalty with 
costs would have been so plainly inordinate for killing a 
Robin Redbreast or a Hedge Sparrow that they were 
compelled to reduce it to one-fourth the limit (55. instead 
of £l) and make it inchide costs. It will now be scarcely 
worth any one's while to put the Act in force, and in the 
case of many Wild-fowl the gunner will get more for his 
bird than will repay him for all trouble and expense, even 
if prosecuted and convicted. All this we owe to the fools 
of enthusiasts. The Wild-Fowl Bill, followed next year 
by one for the regulation of birdcatchers would have done 
far more good.* 

In spite of the protests of Newton and other members 
of the Close-time Committee, the Bill became law, and so 
far as the Wild-fowl, which it was primarily designed to 
protect, were concerned, it remained to all intents and 
purposes a dead letter. 

The penalties, which were not at all out of proportion 
to the marketable value of Wild-fowl out of season by a 
professed gunner, were reduced to meet the case of a 
child who might thoughtlessly throw a stone at a Robin, 
and indeed, for the first offence no penalty was to be 
inflicted — but the culprit only cautioned and dimissed 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, July 29, 1872. 



WILD BIRDS' PROTECTION ACT 143 

on payment of costs. The Act therefore has been per- 
fectly useless — as the real friends of bird protection fore- 
saw it would — -in regard to Wild-fowl, and their persecu- 
tion goes on as actively as ever. For the last two years 
the shops have been full of Plovers, Snipes, Wild Ducks, 
etc., long after the breeding season, i.e. the so-called 
*' Close-time," began, just as though no Act existed. I 
need scarcely point out to you that no birds are decreasing 
more rapidly in this country than Wild-fowl of all kinds, 
and this is quite as much owing to the way in which they 
are shot down during the breeding season, when they 
become comparatively tame, as to drainage and improved 
cultivation.* 

The most important of the Wild Birds' Protection 
Acts was that of 1880, which definitely estabhshed the 
principle of a close time for all wild birds between 
March 1 and August 1, with the imposition of a penalty 
for any infringement of that regulation, and a more con- 
siderable penalty in the case of certain birds, which were 
specially named in the schedule. Unfortunately the 
members of the Houses of ParHament did not always 
agree as to what birds should be included in the schedule 
with the members of the " Close-time " Committee, 
who had been chiefly instrumental in promoting the Bill. 
One of the disputed birds was the Skua, which was not 
considered by the Lords to be worthy of special protec- 
tion ; it may be said that both species were eventually 
included in the schedule. 

July 26, 1880. 

Dear Walsingham, 

I am very sorry that the Duke of Argyll should 
object to any protection being accorded to Skuas. They 
are, of course, predatory, but I utterly deny their being 
" mischievous and destructive." We have two species 
which breed in Britain ; the commoner and smaller 

* A.N. to Lord Walsingham, January 27, 1875. 



144 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

species in Pennant's time bred in many of the Hebrides, 
Islay, Jura and Rum. It has been for some years quite 
extinct in Jura, and the last met in Rum that I have 
any record of was in 1837. There are still stations on 
both the Uists, Lewis, and some others of the Hebrides. 
A few pairs breed in parts of Sutherland and Caithness, 
and again in Orkney and Shetland ; but nowhere is the 
species sufficiently abundant to do any real harm, while 
the decrease within the past century of its breeding 
quarters shows that it is a species which will soon dis- 
appear, if subjected to the same conditions as formerly. 
Its extirpation as a British species would be a positive 
loss, not only to our Fauna, but it so happens that to a 
scientific zoologist it is one of the most interesting species 
we have, because it is, I beheve, the only one of our 
birds which commonly exhibits " dimorphism " in its 
plumage, and ornithologists have been at their wits' end 
to explain the why and the wherefore of this peculiarity. 
They would lament its extinction as a very great loss. 

Of the other species, the Great Skua, much more is 
to be said. I believe it now breeds only on the most 
northern of the Shetland Islands, and that it does so is 
due to the influence of three successive generations of 
the Edmunston family. Their conduct in this respect 
has been for upwards of 50 years held up to, and by, 
ornithologists as a most laudable example, and in my 
opinion nothing could be more detrimental to the hopes 
of those who desire to preserve to posterity our more 
interesting birds than the striking of this bird's name out 
of the schedule. I have been always looking forward to 
a fitting opportunity when I could get the Zoological 
Society to award its silver medal to the head of the 
Edmunston family as an acknowledgment of their 
meritorious conduct in keeping this species a Hving 
member of the British Fauna ; for without them it would 
long since have " gone under." But I will admit that 
the Ednmnston family may have (in the beginning) pre- 
served this bird from motives of personal advantage ; 
still their feelings are shared by others who inhabit the 



THE SKUA 145 

same island, and I enclose an extract from a paper 
written many years since, to show what are the feelings 
of the people of Shetland on the subject. That this 
feehng exists now I have the testimony of Mr. Howard 
Saunders who was in Unst last summer, and to allow 
the Great Skua to be exterminated there would in these 
days be an outrage. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

Extract from Mr. R. Drosier's " Account of an 
Ornithological Visit to Shetland and Orkney," Magazine 
of Nat. Hist, vol. iii. p. 322 :— 

The Skua Gull, called by the natives " Bonxie," is 
held and cherished by them with the greatest veneration 
and kindness, and nothing hurts their feelings more than 
to see the death of their favourite bird. I was particu- 
larly requested by two or three elderly natives, to spare 
this bird : as to the Skua were almost entirely trusted 
the care and protection of their lambs, during the summer 
months, that are always allowed to wander unrestrained 
over the island. These birds possess an inveterate dislike 
against the Eagle and Raven ; for no sooner does the 
broad and rounded wing of the Eagle appear emerging 
from his rocky habitation amid the cliffs, than the Skua 
descends upon him from the tops of the mountains, in 
bodies of 3 or 4, and never fail to force the eagle to a 
precipitate retreat. The natives always reward this 
service by casting from their boats the refuse portion of 
the fresh-caught fish, which he seizes with greedy 
avidity, snatching it almost from the hands of the 
fishermen. 

There was a strongly supported amendment, which 
was eventually dropped, to make bird's-nesting an offence 
under the Act of 1880. About this Newton wrote to 
Lord Walsingham (July 18, 1880) :— 

I do hope you will resist any attempt made by 

L 



146 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

sentimental people to make egg-taking an offence. If 
it were so there would be endless trouble — parents 
wouldn't pay the fines for their children, and the gaols 
would be full of boys. 

Though the " sentimental people " did not succeed 
in their endeavours, the poulterers were more persistent, 
and in 1881 an amending Act greatly facihtated the 
importation of game and wild-fowl killed abroad. 

The question of protecting birds' eggs was several 
times seriously considered by the Close-time Committee, 
and after that Committee ceased to exist the British 
Association appointed a Committee in 1891 and 1892 
" to consider proposals for the legislative Protection of 
Wild Birds' Eggs." In 1893 a Bill was introduced into 
Parliament by Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bart., the aim of 
which was to enable County Councils to prohibit the 
taking of the eggs of such species of birds as it might 
seem desirable to name in different locahties. The Bill 
passed the House of Commons, then it was amended in 
the House of Lords, chiefly at the instance of Lord 
Walsingham, prompted by Newton, then it was recon- 
structed by the Standing Committee and finally dropped 
because in its altered form it was not acceptable to its 
original promoter. 

After its introduction notes on the Bill were written 
by Newton and privately circulated among members of 
both Houses. These notes * so clearly define his views 
on the important question of egg-collecting that no 
apology is needed for repeating extracts from them 
here. 

It undoubtedly appears that it might be advisable to 
some extent to give effect to the desire expressed by many 
people, that some restrictions of what, for brevity's sake, 

* Afterwards published in "The Annals of Scottieh Natural History," 
April, 1894. 



EGG-COLLECTING 147 

may be called " egging," should be enacted. The 
question then arises of what nature these restrictions 
should be. It seems very simple to those who have not 
fully considered it ; but those who have seriously reflected 
upon it find it beset by many complications, and very- 
difficult of solution. Most people, however, will admit 
that birds' eggs are much more exposed to depredation 
in certain places than in others, and this only at certain 
times. 

Proof of this, if wanted, is supphed by the fact that 
in several parts of England private persons have formed 
small local associations to pay watchers, during a few 
weeks in the breeding time, for the protection of the 
birds frequenting particular localities — such as the Fame 
Islands, the sandhills near Wells in Norfolk, Breydon 
Water between Norfolk and Suffolk — which I mention 
because I myself subscribe to them. It may be that 
there are others. 

To me one way of treating the question seems pre- 
ferable to any other that has been suggested, and, indeed, 
after many years' consideration the only one practicable. 
This is to give the local authority (County Council or 
Justices in Quarter Sessions), subject to the assent of a 
central authority, power to prohibit all egging in certain 
definite places for a certain definite time. Such prohibi- 
tion would probably be confined to comparatively small 
bounds— an island, a sea-beach, cliffs, or sandhills 
adjoining the shore, a heath, common, wood or forest, a 
pubhc park, a mere or broad with the surrounding land, 
or so on, and would be locally known, so that the risk 
of boys being sent to gaol would be greatly lessened. 
Moreover, all egging being prohibited within the pre- 
scribed Hmits during the inhibited period there would be 
no need of attempting to prove that an egg found in the 
captor's possession was that of a protected species, such 
proof being in many, if not in most cases, as every 
practical ornithologist knows, absolutely impossible, if 
the defendant were advised by an ingenious counsel ; 
for, in the greater number of cases, an egg could not be 



148 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

proved to be that of any particular kind of bird, unless a 
witness could swear that he saw the bird lay it. 

Egging may be considered to be carried on chiefly 
by three classes of persons : — 

First, there is the man who for years has gathered the 
eggs of Plovers and certain marsh- or sea-birds for edible 
purposes, whereby, if he be an adept, he is able by their 
sale in the open market to add considerably to his own 
liveHhood. This man, I beheve, would rejoice at a 
" close-time " being enforced, after the first, second, or 
third laying of the birds, for the places where he pHes his 
calling, so as to allow the hatching of the second, third, 
or fourth laying (as the case may be) — and most of the 
birds with which he is concerned lay twice, thrice, or four 
times in the season — and so ensure the unimpaired 
continuation of the breed. 

Secondly, there is the ordinary schoolboy, whose 
depredations are at times extremely annoying to the 
owners or occupiers of gardens, plantations, and the 
like, but declared by the " Close-time " Committee to 
have little or no effect in reducing the number of birds 
in general, though their continuance year after year in 
particular districts may locally produce that effect. Now 
it is to be remarked that the ordinary schoolboy, as a 
rule, is quite indifferent as to the kind of bird whose nest 
he may rob, and any restriction as to protected or unpro- 
tected species would be whoUy lost upon him. To this 
rule there are some exceptions, and the exceptions often 
grow up to be fair naturahsts. 

Thirdly, there is the " collector," who is only some- 
times a naturalist in the true sense of the word. When 
he is one, he may be safely trusted to do no harm ; but 
more often he is a dealer, and his influence on the whole 
is destructive to the less common kinds of birds, though 
even to this there are exceptions — as for instance the 
notable case of the Golden Eagle, which in Scotland 
would have become extinct, as the Sea Eagle has, were 
it not that the price the " collector " pays for its eggs 
ensures its preservation at the hands of shepherds, 



EGG-COLLECTING 149 

foresters, and gillies — but these exceptions are not 
numerous, and it cannot be doubted that the dealing 
" collector " is in these days an evil, so that no true 
naturalist could object to see obstacles put in his way. 
Whether he would not be astute enough to escape the 
meshes of any Act of Parliament could only be ascertained 
after trial ; but certainly an Act to check his proceedings 
must be very different from the present Bill, which, I feel 
sure, would hardly touch him. He is well enough off to 
employ counsel if charged, and of his own knowledge 
would be able to indicate a line of defence that would 
ensure his acquittal perhaps in nineteen cases out of 
twenty, whatever might be the evidence of the pro- 
secution. 

On the other hand, the ordinary schoolboy could not 
afiord counsel ; and, being ignorant of the mode of 
escape, would be almost invariably convicted. If the 
Bench before whom he was brought let him off with a 
reprimand and a nominal penalty, a few cases of the kind 
would render the Act ridiculous. If the Bench inflicted 
a serious fine, and in default of payment, as would 
commonly happen, he went to gaol, the country would 
very properly ring with an outcry against an Act which 
brought that fate upon him for doing what an ancient 
authority — still respected by some people — held to be 
irreprehensible (see Deuteronomy xxii. 6, 7). 

But, as already hinted, there are places in which the 
schoolboy may do real harm, and I see no injustice in 
limiting him to some extent, while the " collector " is 
generally baneful ; and, as I have tried to show, the man 
who gathers eggs to eke out a living would be content, if 
not pleased, with restrictions that would tend to multiply 
the birds which produce them — just as professional 
gunners now admit that, since the passing (in 1876) of 
the Wild-Fowl Preservation Act, there are more Wild- 
fowl to shoot. I therefore strongly urge that the present 
BiU be amended so as to enable places and not species 
to be protected. It is an historical fact that old laws, 
which certainly did not err on the side of leniency, 



150 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

prohibiting the taking of the eggs of the Bustard, Crane, 
Spoonbill, and Wild Goose, have not saved those species 
from extirpation in England, and a naturalist may well 
doubt whether any law of that kind would have a bene- 
ficial effect on any species whose numbers are now 
dwindling ; but no one can doubt that if certain locahties, 
judiciously chosen, were reserved as breeding places by 
inhibiting in them for a longer or shorter time, as may 
seem advisable, the molestation of all birds frequenting 
them, a considerable number of species, the numbers of 
which are surely decreasing, would thereby take benefit, 
and this with proper precautions, without much risk of 
mischief, which I believe the Bill in its present shape will 
inevitably produce. 

Some of Newton's proposals for altering the Bill of 
1893 are more fully stated in the following letter : — 

May 28, 1893. 

My dear Walsingham, 

I thank you for your letter of yesterday. I am 
confident that my proposal for places of refuge will be 
found practical. Take for instance the Wells " meals " 
or sand-hills (mentioned in my" Notes "), where we are 
at present put to some expense in protecting Terns' eggs, 
and only succeed in doing so through the constant 
supervision of Feilden. Here the " order " might define 
the inhibited place as beginning, say, half a mile, or one 
mile, from Wells Church, and then extending for two 
miles along the coast, and 500 (?) yards inland from high- 
water mark. Within that area all egging should be pro- 
hibited, say, from the 1st or 15th day of May (so as to 
leave time for the proper gathering of Plovers' eggs) to 
the 1st July in each year. The same could be done with 
any of the Broads ; take Hickhng for instance, including 
Heigham Sound, almost the only breeding place of the 
Bearded Titmouse and Ruff that is left. There the limit 
might be 500 yards from the water's edge. Notice- 
boards, or placards warning people of the inhibited area 



PKOTECTION OF AREAS 151 

and period, should be stuck up at the boundaries, as 
many as may be wanted. 

I don't at all want to see these preserved places 
made too numerous ; and, though I have little faith in 
County Councils, I believe they would not care to act 
except on requisition from competent persons ; but if the 
principle on which the Bill is drawn is allowed to stand 
I can see no end to their absurdities, and yet none would 
be convicted but ignorant schoolboys who were taking 
Thrushes', Robins', Chaffinches' and other common 
birds' eggs ; for those are just the birds that would be 
named by County Councillors, being all they have ever 
heard of. 

The mercantile collector who does what mischief is 
really done in the case of rare or expiring species would 
always get off ; for he would insist on proof being given 
that the egg in question was that of one of the prohibited 
birds, and would be able to puzzle any ordinary (or even 
expert) witness by exhibiting other eggs not to be dis- 
tinguished from it, so that no bench could convict. 

Another point on which I lay much stress is being 
able to implicate any one conveying anybody else to a 
reserved place with intent, etc. This would make boat- 
men and " trap " drivers very cautious about strangers 
of whom they knew nothing ; and there is no pro- 
vision for demanding names or detaining suspected 
delinquents. 

I will not bore you further, and trusting that you will 
give the matter your attention, 
I remain. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

At the annual meeting of the Society for the Protec- 
tion of Birds, February, 1894, Newton commented on the 
Bill of the previous year and expressed the opinion that 
if it had been carried, one of the " most useless and mis- 
chievous measures would have been added to the 
Statute Book," He then proceeded to give his 



152 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

audience a practical exhibition of the difficulty, even the 
impossibility, of identifying birds' eggs. 

I have in this box the egg of a Reeve, side by side 
with the egg of a Redshank, and that of a Lapwing, and 
the difference can hardly be discovered. If you protect 
the Reeve you must extend the same favour to the 
Redshank and Lapwing, and thus you interfere with the 
Plover's egg trade. The idea of the Committee of the 
British Association is to give local authorities power to 
protect certain areas, in which you must prohibit the 
taking of all eggs within certain dates. 

In the same year The Wild Birds' Protection Act, 
1894, which was drafted by the Society for the Protection 
of Birds, and introduced by Sir Herbert Maxwell, became 
law, but it was still marred (in Newton's opinion) by the 
attempt to protect by schedule of species, and he still 
kept hammering away at trying to induce people to 
accept the more practical means of reserved areas. 

I do not know whether you ever saw some '' Notes " 
that I wrote on Maxwell's first Bill (1893),' but they were 
reprinted at H. Brown's request in the Scott. Nat. for 
last year. The argument I therein advanced is in my 
belief as good now as ever, though (as you know) the 
existing Act is a modification of what Maxwell originally 
intended, but the mischief (as I conceive) of trying to 
protect the eggs of species by name still remains as an 
alternative. The more I consider the subject the more 
certain I am that the principle of " area protection " is 
the only one that is practicable, and I much wdsh your 
sandhills, the neighbourhood of HickUng, and I daresay 
two or three other places in Norfolk, could be placed 
under the Act. But great judgment will be required to 
define the limits of each " protected area " as well as the 
close-time, whether it is to begin on the 15th April, 1st 
or 15th May, 1st of June, and so on. These are points 
on which local knowledge is everything, and most likely 



E.S.P.B. 153 

the close-time should vary in accordance with the 
locality. I only pretend to indicate the general line to 
be taken, and further than that I have only to say try to 
get Walsingham over. He has a way of conciliating 
people which would be very useful if he were on your 
side, and I know he is that from the part he took in the 
House of Lords in 1893. 

If it had not been for that fool of a Lord I 

think Maxwell might have been persuaded to accept the 
amendments of his Bill, and all the Terns would have 
been safe last year instead of being sacrificed.* 

The Society for the Protection of Birds, which was 
founded in 1889, received the first guinea towards its 
funds from Newton, and always found in him a cordial 
helper and adviser. Though he was several times invited 
to do so, he would neve? consent to become a Vice- 
President of the Society, possibly because he mistrusted 
what he considered to be their somewhat amateurish 
methods. He was constantly deploring the mistaken 
enthusiasm of people whose letters in the Times and 
elsewhere seemed to him to do more harm than good. 

" The worst is that people will gush and be sentimental, 
and as I found out before, when I had to do with the 
Bird Protection Bills in Parhament, the sentimentalists 
gave far more trouble than any one else." 

Though he condemned the form of the Act of 1894, 
and was always hoping that some day a more reasonable 
scheme might be adopted, he was bound to admit a few 
years later that much good had been effected even by 
that imperfect measure. 

How to get a commonsense Act of Parhament passed 
I don't know. We had one once which was pretty good, 
but as you know the poulterers got Harcourt to repeal 
the one useful clause in it, when it had existed only for 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, January 9, 1895. 



154 PEOTECTION OF BIRDS 

about a twelvemonth, and since that time the flood of 
silly sentimentalists has swept away everything practic- 
able. They have been aided by meddlesome people like 

and , who have never been able to understand 

the points at issue. In the present state of things I 
doubt whether we should be a bit better off for a new 
Act ; there is no one to look to it in either House of 
Parliament. I think there is no chance of Bryce's Bill 
being carried for many a year. There is no doubt as to 
the mischief it would do in regard to birds ; and the 
Golden Eagle would follow the Sea-Eagle into the 
Ewigheit. 

I quite agree with you that probably no harm has 
been done, or is likely to be done, by taking Crossbills' 
and Siskins' nests ; both species are no doubt increasing 
in number wdth the spread of planting in Scotland ; (by 
the way, is the Crested Titmouse extending into the new 
plantations ? It ought to do so soon ;) but still it is 
disgusting that all these nests should be taken just to 
put a few shillings or pounds into a man's pocket. 

On the other hand, we must recognise the fact that 
the Acts have done a great deal of good. The Great- 
crested Grebe w^as all but done for in Norfolk, and is now 
flourishing there as well as in other parts of the country. 
I hear of Tufted Duck (" in swarms ") everywhere, and 
this year there has been a pair of Redshanks breeding 
on the wet meadows betw^een this place and Grantchester, 
such a thing having been unknown for much more than 
50 years.* 

The inadequacy (as it seemed to him) of the existing 
Acts did not deter Newton from his public-spirited work, 
and for many years he devoted much time, as a mass of 
correspondence testifies, to attempts at securing proper 
protection for certain local species. In 1 893 he persuaded 
the Zoological Society to award silver medals to John 
Peter Grant, of Rothiemurchus, and Lochiel for their 

* Letter to J. A. Harvic-BrowTi, June 25, 1900. 



GREAT SKUAS 155 

successful protection of the Ospreys in Scotland. He 
also took an active interest in the (at one time) precarious 
fate of the Great Skuas in Shetland : — 

I learn with much gratification the result of your 
interviews with Mrs. Traill, to the effect that Mr. Gilmour 
is determined to afford effectual protection to the 
Bonxies on Foula. I have no doubt that the Society for 
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would easily and 
readily find fit watchers for next season. But I am 
always most anxious that the protection of birds should 
not be overdone, as I see great danger of its being. Given 
absolute protection to the breeding birds during a proper 
" close-time," I am convinced that a certain proportion 
of eggs may be safely taken without detriment to the 
species. This is the result of very general experience 
during a great many years, and herein I find the present 
law so very objectionable ; but still so long as it is law 
it must be obeyed. 

If it were possible to allow people to take Bonxies' 
eggs up to a certain day (what the day should be I don't 
pretend to know) but not to take a single egg after that 
day, the people would have no grievance and I am sure 
that the birds would not be less numerous. This, how- 
ever, is a consideration rather for legislators than for 
others, though such permission would enable the law, as 
it is, to be more strictly enforced, without any appearance 
of hardship. I know it was intended by those who had 
to do with the last Act of Parliament, but by their 
blundering ignorance, and the reading of the Act adopted 
by the English Home Office, which I believe was adopted 
by the Secretary for Scotland, the liberal interpretation 
was rejected, and the consequence has been very dis- 
astrous in many cases.* 

The anomalies of the law were intensely irritating to 
him, and perhaps caused him to say unduly hard things 
of the legislators. 

* A.N to W. Eagle Clarke, July 16, 1900. 



156 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

" The watcher we keep on Breydon Water is defied by 
the gunners there who want to shoot Spoonbills now 
frequenting it, and then a man is fined at Yarmouth for 
having two blackbirds in his possession ! " * 

An effort was made to remove the protection from 
the colony of Terns at Aldeburgh on the ground that 
they were responsible for the falling- off of the inshore 
fisheries. 

September 10, 1906. 

My dear Tuck, 

I am glad to see by a newspaper paragraph that 
you are taking up the question of the Terns at Aldeburgh 
(or Orford) Beach, for it is high time that somebody who 
knows something about birds and their ways should do 
so. I am too old to fight, and, moreover, I have not the 
necessary local knowledge. I have not been there since 
June, 1885. I am quite sure that there were not 40 pairs 
of Terns on the whole beach, and it is quite absurd for 
any one to assert (as I read) that there are now 40,000 
birds. 

That the inshore fisheries have been " fished out " has 
long been notorious. I made a point of it in an Address 
I gave to the British Association at the Glasgow meeting 
just 30 years ago, and in consequence my good friend 
Holdsworth (who had been Secretary to Huxley's Herring 
Fishery Commission) fell foul of me and we had a lively 
time in Nature. It is the greatest nonsense that can 
be to put down the falling-off to birds of any kind. In 
the days when sea-birds of all sorts were ever so much 
more numerous round our coasts than they have been 
for the last 50 years, there were plenty of fish. 

What I want to know, and should be grateful to you 
if you could tell me, is the real cause of the present dis- 
satisfaction. Are the fishermen honestly but ignorantly 
of opinion that the Terns have so multiplied as to become 
injurious, or have they been " put up to " this ? If so, 
by whom ? When I was last there the Aldeburgh men, 

* A.N. to J. A. Harvie- Brown, June 22, 1900. 



SHOOTING RAEE BIRDS 157 

or, say, a dozen of them, were keen eggers — for profit as 
well as sport. May not these men, dissatisfied with the 
order of the County Council prohibiting egging, be at the 
bottom of it ? What the precise order was I know not : 
if it was total prohibition my sympathies could be with 
the men ; but if it simply laid down a close-time after 
which no eggs were to be taken, it would be reasonable. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

He objected strongly to the too common practice of 
shooting rare birds, but he admitted that there were 
cases, as, for instance, when it was impossible otherwise 
to identify them, in which shooting might be justifiable. 

I am very glad to learn you are endeavouring to 
obtain the strange bird you saw. I am generally very 
much averse to the common practice of destroying 
indiscriminately all foreign stragglers ; but this is just 
one of the exceptional cases in which the death of a 
victim will in all probabihty be a real advantage to 
Ornithology, and I trust your efforts will be successful.* 

It is not quite easy to understand his attitude 
towards shooting birds on the autumn migration. 

I think we cannot complain of people shooting birds 
on the autumn migration, at that season stragglers may 
as well fall to the gun as be lost at sea, which would 
probably be their fate since they have got " out of their 
know," to use a good East Anglian expression. Feilden 
writes to me of very young partridges, " squeakers " we 
used to call them, being spoken of as " doddermites." 
I never heard of the word before, and do not know 
whether it is given by Forby. f 

Probably he had in his mind only those stragglers 
that stray far from their course, for at other times he 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, April 4, 1867. 
t A.N. to T. Southwell, September 16, 1902. 



158 PROTECTION OF BIRDS 

condemned very strongly the shooting of birds of prey 
in the autumn. Many of the Kites and Ospreys that fall 
victims to the August gunner are (or were) birds that 
had been reared in Britain, and if unmolested would 
probably return to breed in the following year. 

In spite of his enthusiasm for bird-protection Newton, 
always had a very strong sympathy with the true egg- 
collector, which must have become evident from the 
preceding pages. From his earliest years he had been 
a keen collector of eggs, and later he tells how in one 
day in April, 1861, he took two nests of the Golden 
Eagle in Scotland, " crawhng up hill with two sticks." 
He was always essentially an out-of-doors man, and, 
in spite of his lameness he managed to cover the country 
in a wonderful way. A correspondent writes : — 

On October 14, 1874, Mr. John Henry Gurney, his 
son (J. H. G.), Professor Newton, and I saw a Swift flying 
round Cromer Church tower : six Ring Dotterel at 
Northrepps. At this time, as we walked across country, 
the Professor declined any help in crossing a hedge, but 
instantly threw his crutches (sticks) over it and pitched 
himself through it so as to alight on his shoulder (or 
head, arms, and shoulder). He seemed expert in going 
through without scratch or hurt, in spite of his lameness. 

To the end of his life he sympathised with the egg- 
collector who was also a naturalist, but he reahsed fully 
the limitations of egg-collecting pure and simple. 

I am afraid I may fall somewhat in your estimation 
when I teU you that I don't suppose I shall ever again 
be able to take the interest in eggs that I did before I 
finished my Catalogue. I hope never to lose it, but one 
can't help finding that there are many other branches 
of Ornithology which are really more important, though 
I will never yield to any one in maintaining that there 
is nothing like bird's-nesting for bringing you into contact 



OOLOGY 159 

with the bird and its life ; so that it is in one sense one 
of the highest pursuits of Natural Science. But I was 
never one of those — or, if ever, that must have been well 
over fifty years ago — ^who thought that " oology " was 
going to have an important effect on phylogeny {i.e. 
classification) and so forth.* 

* A.N. to F. C. R. Jourdain, March 18, 1907. 



CHAPTER X 

MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

In the realm of Ornithology, and, indeed, in all the 
study of Nature, there are few questions that appeal so 
strongly to the imagination, and few questions of which 
man is still so ignorant, as that of the Migration of Birds. 
From his boyhood Newton was keenly interested in 
migration, and with his brother Edward he kept for 
many years a record of the movements of the birds at 
Elveden. 

The ordinary observer, until lately at least, never 
thought of birds being resident as a species while they 
were migratory as individuals. Thus it came to pass 
that scarcely anybody knew of the migration in this 
country of the Song-Thrush, the Redbreast, and others. 
It needs a considerable familiarity, not only with the 
district, but with the individual birds frequenting it, 
to find that out, and in some cases it is very difficult to 
do so. I have never been able to observe for myself 
any indication of the Hedge-Sparrow being migratory, 
yet I feel sure that it is. Fifty years ago I observed the 
local movements of the Redbreast, but it was not until 
I had passed some two or three seasons (July and August) 
in Dorset, that I noticed its actual migration, and that 
in considerable numbers. 

It seems to me probable, though I cannot prove it, 
that the young broods of nearly all birds leave the place 
of their birth as soon as they are fit to travel. People 
commonly say they are driven away by their parents, 
and in some cases that certainly seems to be so ; but I 
very much doubt whether it is in the majority of species, 

160 



MIGEATION OF BIRDS 161 

and I suspect the young go off of their own accord. It 
would take a Hfetime to make this out, and few men 
have the leisure or opportunity for such continuous 
observation as would be required. I have been in my 
younger days especially favoured in that way ; for 
beginning as a boy, I had nearly twenty years of good 
opportunities ; but, of course, of those twenty years a 
great part was spent in learning one's business, I can't 
say in apprenticeship, for that would imply the teaching 
or supervision of a master, and master, of course, I had 
none. Moreover, during that period there were various 
interruptions, such as schools, college, and going abroad 
from time to time ; though I had my brother to help me, 
and he was a far better observer than I. Our joint 
experience, however, points to what I have stated, and 
the *' Register " we kept for nearly ten years warrants 
my having confidence in it ; the more so that since that 
time the more I read about migration by good observers 
the more I am confirmed in the opinion.* 

The letters of ill-informed persons to the newspapers 
about migration, not less than about bird protection, 
roused Newton's wrath. The " silly season " of 1874 
was marked by a discussion of this sort, which impelled 
him to write to Nature a masterly exposition of the facts 
of migration as far as they were then understood. The 
discussion began with a theory of migration set forth by 
a Scandinavian poet, which treated that movement as 
an attempt on the part of the birds to obtain more light. 
It is not certain whether the theory was advanced in 
earnest or merely as a poetic fancy, but it is obvious 
that it contains its own refutation. The first letter, 
which professed to give the " latest accepted theory " 
on the subject and which prompted Newton to reply, 
is so remarkable that extracts may be quoted from it 
here. 

* Letter to W. Eagle-Clarke, February 2, 1901. 

M * 



162 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

I believe it was only some twenty or thirty years ago 
that anything like a practical solution of the difficulty was 
arrived at. The birds congregating about the south 
coast are seized with a sudden impulse or mania to fly 
upwards. This is caused by some atmospheric change 
coinciding with a warm south wind moving in a high 
stratum, into which the birds soar with an involuntary 
motion of their wings. This motion (involuntary like 
that of the heart) is continued for many hours, and the 
birds fly blindly along until the paroxysm passes off, when 
they at once begin to descend, making many a fatal drop 
into the sea. 

The same phenomenon occurs in Africa and southern 
countries, where the migratory birds congregate for a 
northern flight about April. Experiments were tried here 
and in Africa which tended to corroborate the above 
facts. Migratory birds were kept in cages along the 
coast, and it was found that each was seized with a pro- 
longed paroxysm coinciding with the time that the wild 
birds disappeared. Cages were constructed with silk at 
top and bottom to prevent the birds from killing them- 
selves ; and it was noticed that after the paroxysm had 
passed away, the birds began to look about them, to 
plume themselves, and eat and drink, apparently with a 
notion that they had arrived at their new home.* 

Of this Newton writes : — 

On reading these wonderful paragraphs, some ques- 
tions naturally arise. How does the writer account for 
his '' birds congregating about the south coast " ? What 
brings them there, that they may be " seized with a 
sudden impulse or mania to fly upwards " ? Who has 
ever observed the " atmospheric change " and coincident 
" warm south wind moving in a high stratum " ? Do 
these remarkable meteorological phenomena occur but 
once in the whole season of migration, or is there a suc- 
cession of them to suit the convenience of each migratory 
species ? Who, moreover, has seen the birds soar into 

* Times, September 18, 1874. 



CAUSE OF MIGRATION 163 

this peculiar current of air ? and who of such fortunate 
persons knows that the motion of their wings under such 
conditions is " invohmtary hke that of the heart " ? 
Finally, what is the cause of the '' paroxysm " ? for, with- 
out knowing that, to attempt to explain the observed 
facts of migration is an attempt to explain obscurum iier 
obscurius. 

When a satisfactory answer is given to these questions, 
it will be time to inquire whether this " latest accepted 
theory " of migration sets the matter in any clearer light, 
or whether it is not as arrant nonsense as was ever foisted 
upon an innocent public, even at the height of the " silly 
season." The last paragraph of the writer's letter, I may 
remark, has nothing in it of consequence. Granting that 
the migratory impulse is instinctive, it is, like other in- 
stinctive practices, followed as far as circumstances will 
allow.* 

Then follows an admirable statement of the original 
causes of migration, and of the modes of migration, 
ending with the question : 

" How is it that birds find their way back to their 
old home ? " This seems to me the most inexplicable 
part of the whole matter. I cannot even offer an 
approach to its solution. . . . Here I have no theory 
to advance, no prejudice to sustain. I should be thank- 
ful indeed for any hypothesis that would be in accord- 
ance with observed facts. . . . The solution is probably 
simple in the extreme — possibly before our eyes at this 
moment if we could but see it — but whosoever discovers 
it will assuredly deserve to have his name remembered 
among those of the greatest discoverers of this or any 
age. 

With the caution — ^perhaps even excessive — ^that 
was so characteristic of him, Newton would never permit 
himself to advance any general theory of migration, nor 
was he even satisfied with any of the theories suggested 

* Nature, September 24, 1874. 



164 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

by others. It is, indeed, hardly too much to say he 
despaired of an answer ever being brought forward to 
the great question — in his own time, at all events. 

With much that you say I wholly agree, though I 
can't attach much value to what has hitherto been 
written about " Land routes " of migration and so on. 
There may be such things, indeed, I will go so far as to 
say that such things probably exist, but as yet w^e really 
know next to nothing about them. The worst of it is, 
I don't see my way at present to knowing much more, 
for want of well-placed and trustworthy observers. 
The ordinary man who records his first Swallow and so 
on, however faithful he may be, goes very little way to 
help, and how to improve him I don't know. 

Even if I had kept a record of my own observations 
on birds travelling by night, since I took up my permanent 
abode at Cambridge, it would tell me very little that 
would be of use ; and I take it that in all that time few 
people have had opportunities so good as mine ; for my 
habit of working late at night and, except in really cold 
weather, with a window open, is not one that many 
indulge. I can only, as a general result, say that when 
the sky is clear one hears nothing ; but given a cloudy 
sky, fi'om the end of July to the middle of October, the 
chances are one hears birds fly over. What birds they 
are it is nearly always impossible to say, because the 
generality seem to use a dift'erent language when travel- 
ling. 

After long experience I have come to the supposition 
that certain notes are uttered by Oyster-catchers ; but 
I never heard an Oyster-catcher utter such a note by 
daytime or when he is at home ! It is very rarely that 
one catches an unmistakable note, a Cuckow's, a Red- 
shank's, or a Golden Plover's, yet hundreds of them must 
be passing over. 

There is plenty more to be done in the migration way, 
if we only knew how to do it.* 

* Letter to J, A. Harvie-Brown, September 9, 1900. 



MIGRATION REPORT 165 

I am glad of the good progress you have been making 
in the Migration Report. It is impossible for me to say 
what your ingenuity may not have evolved out of all 
the records in the Field and elsewhere that you have 
been working at ; but I own I shall be surprised if you 
are able to lay down any " land routes," my ideas being 
that local influence is beyond human intelligence and 
consequently calculation. However, we shall see, and 
I will admit that there are a jew recorded facts that seem 
to show it is subject to rule : e.g. I have known year 
after year a Woodcock to be flushed under a particular 
tree, fly out to the open in a particular place, and be then 
shot by a gun placed for the purpose ! Then there is 
that Rough-legged Buzzard which used to fly year after 
year to a particular dead tree at Northrepps and be 
always shot dead ! These things incline one to believe that 
there may be land routes ; but who is to lay them down ? * 

Barrington's evidence as to long-winged or short- 
winged examples of the same species of bird strongly 
confirms what I put forth in " D.B." (p. 557), and that 
is really only the legitimate deduction of what Tristram 
had already observed in the passage {Ihis, 1865, p. 77), 
to which I there refer. There is nothing to show that 
the age of the individual has anything to do with the 
matter, and I don't think it has. It is simply that the 
longest-winged birds go furthest in each direction, and 
apparently start soonest. It seems to me quite natural 
that they should do so. The tendency of long- winged 
individuals is to breed others as long-winged, or even 
longer, and so the thing goes on, and has been going on 
for ages. This may point to the polar origin of life, and 
certainly does not contradict such a supposition ; but 
it can't be said to go far to support it. All I think one 
can say is that if the hypothesis that Life originated at 
the Pole be true, the fact would very likely account for 
the facts as we find them. Further than that it would 
hardly be safe to go at present. | 

* Letter to W. Eagle-Clarke, April 7, 1900. 

t Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brovvn, November 2, 1900. 



166 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

He often talked and wrote to his friends of the birds 
he heard passing over Cambridge on dark nights. 
" Owing to my practice of writing late at night these 
thirty years or more, with a sliding pane in my window 
let down, I have observed that they come from the N.E. 
in a straight line — ^flock after flock." 

If he was unwilling to formulate a theory of migra- 
tion, he was always eager to point out the fallacy in any 
of the new ideas or to show the absurdity of ancient 
superstitions. Of these latter, the hardest to die was 
the theory that birds hibernated in a torpid state, and 
he declared that on this point only in connection with 
this subject could we boast ourselves to be clearly wiser 
than our ancestors. But year after year, instances of 
this curious belief presented themselves to him either in 
public print or in private communications. 

I forget all about Kalm's story ; but it is really not 
so uncommon for people to be able to persuade them- 
selves of the truth of anything they want to believe, as 
Mr. Gladstone was said to do. I was once almost 
stumped by a story about torpid Swallows till provi- 
dentially a witness presented himself and explained the 
whole thing by stating that they were Bats ! 

I had a bit of fun once in Nature with the late Duke 
of Argyll, who pretended that his brother-in-law (I think 
it was) had seen Swallows or Martins dug out of the banlv 
of the Tigris or Euphrates. I doubt whether the Duke 
believed it, but he felt bound in honour to stand up for 
his informant. 

Elliott Coues was much inclined to believe in torpidity, 
perhaps did believe in it, but was ashamed to declare his 
belief, for he had enough physiological knowledge to 
know that such a thing is all but impossible in a bird. 
No one has ever traced or ever will trace the bounds of 
human credulity ; for the last ten days or more people 
have been writing letters to the Times, nearly all 



SUPEESTITIONS 167 

expressing their belief in " dowsing," and that is evidently 
the belief of the editor or proprietor, or both. 

I must look up my Olaus Magnus ; I think he gives 
a woodcut with an amusing scene of Swallows being 
taken out of a fishing net, and it might be worth while 
for you to have this copied and inserted in your book.* 

Of the same kind is the equally ancient behef that 
little birds get themselves conveyed from one country 
to another by their bigger brethren. Storks and Cranes 
on their migration are manifest to beholders, but the 
transit of lesser birds of feebler flight is seldom evident, 
and when, as often happens, large and small birds dis- 
appear or arrive simultaneously, what is more natural 
than that the ignorant should suppose that the latter 
should avail themselves of the former as a vehicle ? 
Thus in 1740 the Tartars of KJrasnojarsk assured 
J. G. Gmelin {Reise durch Siberien) that when autumn 
came each Crane took a Corncrake on its back and 
transplanted it to a warm land, while the well-known 
belief of the Egyptian peasant that Cranes and 
Storks bring a living load was not long since gravely 
promulgated in this country as a truth, f 

One would like to know what measure of scorn he 
would have poured on the theory recently, and (it is 
said) seriously suggested, that the Cuckow lays her eggs 
in the nests of other birds in return for her services as 
guide from southern lands ! 

In the much discussed question of migration routes 
he took the deepest interest, and he had the highest 
opinion of the work of Professor Palmen ; but later it 
appeared that his belief in routes was shaken, and he 
returned to the inore tenable creed that every species 
on migration goes its own way, and what is called a 
migration route is only the coincidence of the way taken 
by more or few of them. 

* Letter to W. Eagle Clarke, January 11, 1905, 
t " Dictionary of Birds," p. 550. 



168 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

I thiiik we doii"t know enough about the routes of 
birds, if routes there be, to say which are the best stations 
for observing them, and these can only be found out by 
continuous series of observations. 

We want a score or so of Gatkes begotten and perched 
on a score or so of hghted-up islands and lightships all 
round ; then one might do something more than guess 
warily ; but even thus the " personal equation " has to 
be taken into consideration. I think there is as little 
chance of there being another Gatke born as there is of 
another Gilbert White, Shakespeare, or Robert Burns ! 

I hope that Clarke's Redpoll studies will not send him 
into a Lunatic Asylum ; mine nearly did so with me, 
but fortunately I had Dresser to share the trouble, and 
we continued to keep ourselves sane — at least apparently 
so. I think Redpolls are like the Apocalypse, their 
study finds a man mad (like poor Coues for instance), or 

makes him so. For this reason I wish X would 

take them up, and then perad venture he might be finally 
interned in Colney Hatch and cease to do evil ; that he 
should learn to clo w^ell I think impossible. But I am 
growing tolerant in my old age, and look upon sub- 
speciefiers as Mohammedans look upon Franks ; un- 
comfortable creations that Allah for some purpose of 
his own permits to exist, an old but apt simile.* 

He had the greatest admiration for Hen Gatke, of 
whom he wrote that, " through liis watchfulness Heligo- 
land has attained celebrity as a post of observation quite 
beyond any other in the world, so that ornithologists 
may at times wonder whether the man made the station 
or the station the man— so fitted have they been for one 
another." The two men veiy frequently corresponded, 
but they only met once, when Newton was taken to 
Heligoland on board a friend's yacht. At the end of 
his stay, when he was stepping into the dinghy to take 
him on board again, Nev, ton had the misfortune to slip 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, January 9, 1906, 



GATKE OF HELIGOLAND 169 

and ruptured an important tendon in his sound leg. 
Thenceforward he went always with two instead of, as 
formerly, with one stick, or (in the words of a friend of 
his) from a three-legged he became a four-legged man. 

With one of Herr Gatke's points Newton found 
himself unable to agree, and that was with regard to 
the speed at which migrating birds travel. Gatke 
maintained that Grey Crows flew from Heligoland to 
Lincolnshire in three hours, at a rate of 120 miles an 
hour, a speed which it would appear impossible for a 
bird of the crow kind to attain. Still more wonderful 
was Gatke's contention that the Bluethroat flies from, 
the Nile Delta to Heligoland in nine hours, and his 
observations of Curlews and Plovers, which were timed 
to cross the island of Heligoland, a distance of rather 
more than four miles, in one minute. Against these 
Newton set the commonly observed instances of Swallows 
and Partridges, which are easily outstripped by a railway 
train, and the speed of Carrier Pigeons, which was de- 
clared by Mr. Tegetmeier to be about thirty-six miles 
an hour. 

Though it seemed that he almost despaired of an 
answer ever being given to the fundamental questions of 
migration, he spared neither time nor trouble in trying 
to investigate the facts, so far as they might be observed, 
of that wonderful movement. It was mainly owing to 
his initiation that the British Association appointed in 
1880 a committee to inquire into the migration of birds. 
For twenty-three years (1880-1903) Newton presided 
over this committee, which collected a great mass of 
valuable information, chiefly through the untiring energy 
of Mr. J. A. Harvie-Brown and the late Mr. John Cor- 
deaux. One of the schemes originated by the committee, 
in which he took the most active interest, was that of 
observing migration from lighthouses and light-vessels. 



170 MIGKATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

and he gave unfailing assistance and advice to Mr. Eagle 
Clarke, who isolated himself in those remote places during 
his vacations for several years, with most valuable results. 
One of the first journeys Mr. Eagle Clarke took on 
this account was to the lighthouse at Ushant in 1898 ; 
Newton gave him considerable assistance in getting the 
necessary permission, but the trip came to an untimely 
end : — 

Clarke, who went with a Government grant and the 
sanction of the French authorities to Ushant to make 
observations on bird migration, found himself the object 
of suspicion and so dogged by a gendarme, sent specially 
from Paris to look after him, that he gave it up, on the 
advice of H.M. Consul at Brest — in order "to avoid 
serious consequences " — as a bad job and came away re 
infecta. The military prison of Cherche Midi in Paris 
seems to be the proper place for a spy who passed off as 
an observer of autumnal migration. I wonder if the 
French authorities thought of that ? 

But the visit was not altogether a failure, and some 
very interesting flights of migrants were seen. 

It is very good to find that after all your visit to 
Ushant has produced something, and I congratulate 
you on the excellent reports you have received. I 
only hope they will not bring the repoiters into collision 
with the authorities, or your friends may find themselves 
condemned as traitors to the Isle du Diable ! How they 
nmst have enjoyed the " pet its oiseaux " that killed 
themselves, for there is nothing by way of " gibier " 
that Frenchmen more delight in ! 

Without turning to Gatke I forget what is the 
greatest number known to have been killed at Heligo- 
land ; but 1500 in one night seems to be a very big bag. 

I heard the other day of a saying either from York- 
shire or Lincolnshire which pleased me much. A man 
said that there was such an arrival of Golden-crested 



BIRDS AT A LIGHT-VESSEL 171 

Wrens on the shore, that the bushes were " lousy " with 
them.* 

In the autumn of 1903 Mr. Eagle Clarke spent thirty- 
one days on board the Kentish Knock light-vessel, and 
during the last two days he was there he saw one of the 
largest movements of birds that any ornithologist had 
ever witnessed : — 

From Saturday at II a.m. until Sunday at 4 p.m. 
Starlings and Larks in extraordinary numbers passed 
from E. to W. without a hreaJc, i.e. a day and night. . . . 
No one who has not witnessed these E. to W. flights 
can form any idea of the countless numbers of those 
and other species crossing the North Sea at this season. 
On Saturday afternoon the first Jackdaws and Rooks 
appeared in small numbers. On Saturday at 6.30 p.m. 
and down to 5 a.m. on Sunday we had crowds of birds 
at the lantern — Starlings, Larks, Meadowpipits, Chaf- 
finches, Goldcrests, Mistlethrushes, Song Thrushes, and 
a few Rooks and Jackdaws (the two latter species being 
captured at the lantern). It was pitiable to see the 
numbers that rained overboard. They could only be 
estimated at thousands. Very few fell on deck owing 
to the wind which prevailed at the time, and which 
carried the victims beyond our reach. The species 
mentioned were captured by means of a hand net by 
a seaman stationed on the top of the lantern, who 
netted them like so many moths as they approached the 
lantern. In this way we took species varying from the 
tiny Goldcrest to the clumsy Rook ! f 

In acknowledging this letter Newton wrote : — 

It is very gratifying to know that you are pleased 
with the whole thing, and certainly the experiences of 
your last day or two will be something to remember for 
ever. It is indeed a striking instance of the enormous 
sacrifice of individual life made by Nature, I suppose for 

* Letter to W. Eagle Clarke, November 20, 1898. 
t Letter from W. Eagle Clarke, October 21, 1903. 



172 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

the benefit of the species, but it is hard to see how the 
machinery works. However, I am not going to descant 
on this now. Clearly your observations have been more 
interesting than those on the Eddystone, and I hope we 
shaU have from you a paper in the Ibis accordingly ; but 
more than that they ought to help enormously towards 
that book on migration generally that I have long been 
hoping you will one day write ; for you of all men are 
the man to do it. Still, still the great mystery of how 
the birds do it remains, and that I begin to fear will 
never be explained in my time ; but it is no deterrent, 
or ought not to be, to you. 

The more the facts of migration are ascertained the 
more likely are we (or our successors) to understand what 
brings them about ; so I trust you will be setting 
seriously to work on what ought to be a great book, 
which will cast into shade everything that has been 
written before, even the good Barrington's excellent 
performance. 

Often as I have thought over what appears to be the 
" waste " of bird life at sea (a thing which very few people 
ever take in at all) this last letter of yours fills me with 
fresh and ever-increasing amazement. The slaughter, if 
one may so call it, seems so indiscriminate ; there can be 
scarcely room for Natural Selection to act. Were you 
able to form any opinion as to the proportion of young 
to old birds, or were the troops almost wholly one or 
the other ? * 

Mr. Clarke could not return a satisfactory answer to 
the last question, owing to the high speed at which the 
birds were travelling, but he remarked : — 

I have a number of notes on the subject of old and 
young, but in the vast majority of cases it was quite 
impossible to say what the flocks were composed of in 
this respect. As to the waste of life, I am afraid Nature 
never contemplated lighthouse and lightship lanterns, 
and it is difiicult to see how she works, if she works at 

* Letter to W. Eagle Clarke, October 22, 1903. 



DESTRUCTION OF MIGRANTS 173 

all, in this particular connection. We should expect 
fewer old birds to perish, and yet what a vast number do ! 

Referring to this destruction of birds at lightships, 
Newton wrote : — 

It does not seem to me that the destruction of life is 
due to the lightships. They only enable one to see it. 
It would surely go on nearly the same if there were no 
lights. The birds are evidently lost already, and they 
only make for the light in the want of any other directive 
impulse. Unless the weather cleared or something else 
(one hardly knows what) happened, they would fly on 
aimlessly till they fell from exhaustion, perhaps on land, 
most likely into the sea. It is a dreadful problem, one 
to keep one awake at night thinking upon it. 

In one way it is plain that Natural Selection does act. 
The birds that migrate successfully, and so carry on the 
species, must be of the best, any shortcoming must carry 
a fatal penalty ; but what a lot of unlucky individuals 
there must be ! * 

It was at Newton's suggestion that Mr. Eagle Clarke 
decided to write his invaluable book on migration, and 
he gave him help in a hundred ways in the task. Newton's 
knowledge of the old writers on Natural History was 
profound, and he was able to make many suggestions for 
the chapter on the history of migration. 

January 5, 1905. 

My dear Clarke, 

Such an introduction to your book would be 
most desirable if not necessary, and I am sure I will 
gladly help you all I can. Nothing like it has, I think, 
been attempted of late years, and the old attempts are 
sure to be full of errors, because so much has turned up 
since they were written. I have never gone regularly 
into the business and I can't say off hand what Aristotle's 
or Pliny's views on migration were ; but it will not be 

* Letter to W. Eagle Clarke, October 24, 1903. 



174 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

very difficult to make out, the one drawback in the 
former case being that you never know what is his and 
what is his reporter's or note-taker's, for I am one of 
those who think that his text has been overlaid by some 
one else. 

The best edition of Aristotle on Animals is that by 
Aubert and Wimmer, which has a capital index and a 
German translation to face the Greek, and that I can 
lend you at any time. I have also Sillig's edition of 
Pliny, which is said to be the best, and that is equally at 
your service whenever you are ready for it ; but I 
suppose you are not going to begin immediately. I think 
you must not trust Bostock and Riley without comparing 
their version with the original. The English translations 
of Aristotle are too misleading to have anything to 
do with. 

A much more troublesome job will be that offered by 
the mediaeval writers, if you meddle with them or their 
successors of the Renaissance, Belm, Gesner and Aldro- 
vandi ; but you have to be on your guard that 
" hibernation " as used by them is restricted to its proper 
meaning — wintering — and not necessarily in a torpid 
condition. I think the belief in torpidity and sub- 
mergence is comparatively recent, and it is indeed 
astonishing what a hold it obtained on otherwise sound- 
thinking men. Most certainly there is no sign of the 
real ancients. Homer and Job, holding it. 

If I remember right, Pliny had a great notion of birds 
being transmuted ; the Cuckow becoming a Sparrow- 
Hawk in winter, and the Redstart a Redbreast ; but 
Pliny was a very child-like person in many ways, though 
he met his end as a man of science should. I have a 
notion (which may be wrong) that the submergence 
theory was invented in the North, Olaus Magnus and 
people of that sort. 

Anyhow a history of opinion on migration would be a 
delightful thing to write, and write it I hope you will. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 



GEOGRAPHICAL DISTEIBUTION 175 

Though he did all that was in his power to forward 
this study, the same note, almost of despair of solving 
the great question, sounds in all his writings on the 
subject of migration : — 

Lay down the paths of migrating birds, observe 
their comings and goings, or strive to account for the 
impulse which urges them forward as we will, there still 
remains for consideration the most marvellous thing of 
all — How do the birds find their way so unerringly from 
such immense distances ? 

A writer * in the Contemporary Review, giving a some- 
what fanciful description of the " army of birds " on the 
Spring Migration, remarked that it was " like the 
Kingdom of Heaven which cometh not by observation." 
Newton justly retorted that all we know of migration is 
due to observation, and nearly all w^e do not know to 
want of it. 

Closely connected with Migration is the Geographical 
Distribution of Birds. The publication in 1876 of 
Wallace's great book t was welcomed by Newton as an 
event — 

that will, if I am not mistaken, in after ages charac- 
terise the present year as an epoch in the history of our 
sciences inferior only in importance to that which marked 
some eighteen or nineteen years ago the promulgation 
of a reasonable Theory of Evolution by Mr. Darwin and 
Mr. Wallace. And while it is to the latter of these two 
naturalists that we owe the boon that has recently been 
conferred on us, it is unquestionably from the former 
labours of both — ^united yet distinct — that the boon 
acquires its greatest value. 

He was careful, however, to add that he by no means 

* The Duke of Argyll, Contemporary Review, July, 1880. 

t " The Geographical Distribution of Animals, with a Study of the 
relations of living and extinct Faunas as elucidating the Past Changes of 
the Earth's Surface." By Alfred Russel Wallace, 2 vols. 



176 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

pinned his faith td all the author's details or to all his 
conclusions. 

As was the case with many other naturalists, he had 
long been groping in the dark with regard to this 
question, and Wallace's book immediately let in a flood 
of light. 

With regard to the Ptarmigan question I think I can 
tell you exactly how the mistake of admitting Lagofus 
rwpestris as a British bird originated. More than a 
century since Edwards described and figured under the 
name of " Rock Grouse " a Ptarmigan from Hudson's 
Bay, which as the figure now shows must have been a 
hen bird in the orange-yellow plumage of the breeding 
season, and on this figure was founded the species known 
in systems as Tetmo (or Lagopus) rupestris — a name 
which is therefore applicable to the smaller black-tailed 
Ptarmigan of the northern parts of North America. 

The different plumages assumed by the Ptarmigan of 
Europe were for a long time little known, and for at 
least the first twenty years of the present century it was 
generally (I do not say universally) assumed among 
naturalists that this bird had but two states of plumage, 
being white in winter and grey in summer, this last 
assumption being, as we now know, partly an error, since 
in the breeding season, i.e. at the beginning of summer, 
the plumage of the hen is orange-yellow, while the grey 
dress is put on later in the summer and may be more 
correctly called the autumnal plumage. However, this 
fact was not generally known to the naturalists of the 
time who (with perhaps a few exceptions) believed that 
the summer plumage of the European Ptarmigan was 
grey and that of the American orange-yellow. 

Under this beHef, some thirty years or more ago (I 
cannot, in the absence of books, speak positively), a hen 
Ptarmigan was sent from Scotland to (I think) Lord 
Stanley in orange-yellow plumage, the ordinary plumage 
of the breeding season, and as at that time it was con- 
sidered that the American species only assumed a dress 



THE PTARMIGAN 177 

of this colour, it was naturally thought that this Scotch 
specimen belonged to the American species, and accord- 
ingly Lagopus rupeslris was enrolled as a British bird. 
This appears from Mr. Eyton's book and I think also 
from the " Fauna Boreali- Americana." 

When it was subsequently discovered that the hen of 
the Scotch Ptarmigan had a breeding-plumage of orange- 
yellow Hke that hitherto supposed to be peculiar to the 
American bird, the presumption became strong that those 
who considered Lord Stanley's specimen to belong to 
L. rupestris were mistaken, and this presumption became 
almost proved when time went on and no one could 
point to a Scotch specimen of a cock bird with the 
characters of L. rupestris. 

For myself I feel well assured that there is no reason- 
able ground for supposing that L. rupestris has ever 
occurred in Scotland. 

That you should find the Ptarmigan of the hill- tops 
in Sutherland and thereabout smaller than those fre- 
quenting a lower zone is quite in accordance with what 
I should suppose would be the case, but I cannot believe 
that any valid specific distinction can be made out 
between them. Look how Grouse and Partridges vary 
in size according to the district in which they are reared, 
but indeed there is no need to draw examples from other 
species, since the Ptarmigan itself, to my knowledge, 
supplies instances. The largest Ptarmigan I ever saw 
or handled was obtained on the island of Qvalo (on which 
Hammerfest stands), I think two of them would almost 
weigh as much as three from the mountainous frontier 
region of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the fact may 
I believe be explained thus : Owing to the influence of 
the Gulf Stream Qvalo (though situated further north) 
enjoys winters much less long and severe than does the 
mountain tract in question, and one may safely assume 
that the Ptarmigan of the former are better fed and 
consequently as a rule larger than those of the latter. In 
like manner the Ptarmigans of your middle hill zone are 
larger (as you sa v) than those of the summits. The fact 

N 



178 MIGRATION AND DISTKIBUTION 

your inlorinant mentioned of the hilltop Ptarmigan 
assuming their winter plumage earlier than the birds 
lower down shows that the winter there is longer, as of 
course, might have been predicated, and it is extremely 
interesting to me to have my observations of the Nor- 
wegian birds borne out by yours of the Scotch ones. The 
very fact you mention of the Ptarmigan being scarce 
on the Sutherland hilltops and plentiful lower down 
shows that the conditions of their existence on the 
former are less favourable to them than where less 
exposed. 

As to Lagopus montanus, as I have said elsewhere, I 
believe that all the mountain Ptarmigans of Europe 
(exclusive of Iceland and Spitzbergen) are referable to 
one and the same species, viz. L. mutus, but I must 
confess that I have not had all the opportunities I should 
like of comj^aring Ptarmigans from the Alps and Pyrenees 
with those of Scotland and Scandinavia. It is true that 
the Swiss and Pyrenean birds are now completely isolated 
and cut ol? by a wide interval from their northern 
brethren, but no one can doubt that there was a time 
and that (geologically speaking) not so long ago when the 
range of the species was uninterrupted. Bones of the 
Willow Grouse and Snowy Owl are found in the French 
bone-caverns very far south, contemporary with those 
of the Rein-Deer, and it is pretty plain that as that 
glacial epoch gradually disappeared bnds of the habits 
of the Ptarmigan would be driven (by the coming of a 
warmer climate) to the mountains, while they would 
cease to exist in the low countries.* 

Although he would never commit himself in his 
published writings to theories of migration and distribu- 
tion, he sometimes allowed himself to speculate on such 
matters in correspondence with his friends : — 

I never made any notes that would be of any use to 
you on the polar distribution of animals, for I did not 

* LeUer to J. A. Harvie-Bromi. October II, 1869. 



ORIGIN OF LIFE 179 

get far enough for that at the time when I was thinking 
whether I could bring the subject into a lecture. What 
then occurred to me was little more than this : — 

Life on the earth most likely had its origin at one of 
the poles, since there conditions that admit of its existence 
would first occur as the planet was slowly cooling down. 

Gradually Life, now differentiated into Plant Life and 
Animal Life, made its way towards the Equator, and in 
so doing became more and more differentiated. 

Then must (?) have come a change which wholly or 
almost wholly divested the poles or pole of Life, confining 
it to equatorial regions. Such a change as this was 
probably more than once repeated in the course of various 
geological epochs. When things pretty much as we know 
them now came to be established there was (and is) 
probably very little if anything left of the primeval polar 
life ; for setting aside the possible total extinction of it 
through severity of climatic conditions, evolution would 
have so far improved the forms that were travelling 
polewards that any vestiges of the original polar life 
would be swept away by the better-fitted newcomers. 

But of course all this, or very nearly all, is absolute 
speculation. The most that can be said in its favour is 
that such facts as we know do not seem to contradict it. 
So long as the " Geological Record " is so imperfect I do 
not see how we are to advance further. 

Moreover, you will see that my speculations had 
reference to periods long anterior to even the Eocene. 
In the Eocene period nearly all the big divisions that we 
have now were already well established ; e.g. Birds, 
Hesperornis and Ichthyornis, one Ratite the other Cari- 
nate. If the Miocene coal-beds at Discovery Bay ever 
yield any Vertebrate remains they will probably be 
found very like things that now exist, and to judge from 
the analogy of botanical remains, they may be more 
like things of Europe and North America than those of 
South America or New Australia, not to say New 
Zealand.* 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, January 7, 1886, 



180 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

Thanks for your annotated copy of the Rednecked 
Flareup [Phalarope] ; but some of the questions you ask 
are easier put than answered. What is " Arctic " in one 
longitude may be only " Subarctic " in another ; and as 
for '* Boreal " or even " Polar," the meaning assigned to 
them (especially the former) depends much on the fancy 
of the inquirer. There can't be a doubt, I think, that 
Phalaropus fuUcarius has a more northern range than 
P. hyjierboreus, and might be almost justifiably called 
" Polar " ; yet it does breed, as I have every reason to 
believe, in the S.W. corner of Iceland, a good way short 
of the Arctic Circle. One does not know what to make 
of these things, or whether there is any use in labelling 
such or such a species as '" Polar," " Arctic " and the 
like. 

I wish one knew what ordinarily becomes of the 
multitudes of Phalaropcs of either species when they 
come southward at the end of summer. Occasionally 
something goes wrong and then they occur here (two, if 
not three. Grey Phalaropcs were one autumn killed in the 
Cam at the bottom of the gardens of this college, not 300 
yards from where I am now writing, 15 or 20 years ago), 
there and everywhere, and ingenious persons sit down to 
compile a " wreck chart ; " it would be more to the 
purpose to know the course of their successful voyages. 
Do they, like other LimicolcB, wing their way by night 
unseen of us to Southern waters ; or do they herd with 
the millions of , Rotches, Brunnich's Guillemots, and so 
on, in some parts of the Atlantic rarely visited or never 
by the observing ornithologist ? 

It IS interesting to read of " record bags " of Wood- 
cocks and so forth in Shetland or elsewhere, but depend 
upon it those are the exceptional events in the economy 
of a species, the very fact of their being " records " proves 
that, but (I humbly think) proves very little else. 

This afternoon we had a snowstorm, and in half an 
hour what seemed to be nearly an inch of snow fell, but 
that only shows what the weather when it has a mind to 
be malicious can do ; but it is not in the ordinary course 



HOLARCTIC REGION 181 

of things that it should occur on April 15. Don't think 
for a moment that I despise these inquiries ; very 
far from it. If our excellent forefathers, whose souls I 
trust are with the saints, had only made similar observa- 
tions, we should know more. I only object to arriving 
at conclusions on very slight evidence.* 

There was, however, one important point about 
which he had no hesitation in declaring his difference 
from Wallace, and that was in regard to the latter's 
Nearctic and Palaearctic Regions. Newton found many 
reasons for grouping these two, with certain important 
modifications, into one, which he called the *' Holarctic," 
and he had the satisfaction later of seeing his views 
accepted by other biologists. He lost no opportunities 
of acquiring information about the faunas of debatable 
regions, more particularly of those oceanic islands, which 
always had for him the greatest fascination. 

One thing I beseech you to look out for. The amiable 
land-reformer Wallace makes the Cape Verd Islands 
" Palaearctic," to the humble disciple who now addresses 
you they seem to be " Ethiopian." May it be your lot 
to settle this point, and that you may settle it I pray 
you not to stick only to birds, delightful and always 
blessed as they are, but pocket all the shells, glycerine 
all the beetles, pin all the butterflies and other bugs, 
and in fact do all you can in the way of collecting down 
to the " lowest marines." 

After behaving in this fashion the odour of sanctity 
which clings to your head will be enormously intensified 
and become a quintessence of sweet savour ; but please 
to remember I don't care a button whether you prove 
these islands to be Palaearctic or Ethiopian, I only want 
to know, the truth, though I admit it would be incon- 
venient if you were to find they were Neotropical ; but 
then I can trust you, for you do not seek a reputation 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, April 15, 1903. 



182 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

to be obtained only by the discovery of mare's nests, as 
is the fashion nowadays.* 

He had much correspondence, always of a very 
friendly nature, with Mr. Wallace, and so far as this 
question is concerned, it ended with the following 
letter : — 

Magdalene College, Cambridge, 

June 17, 1894. 

My dear Wallace, 

I thank you very much for the paper you have 
sent me. I saw the title of it advertised and got a copy 
of Natural Science accordingly — ^reading it with interest 
but with no little regret, though I have no fault to find 
with the way in which you defend your position and 
attack mine. Indeed, I highly appreciate your delicacy 
and feel sure of your wish to do nothing but bring out 
the truth. I should much like to reply to you, but I 
really don't know when I can find time to do so. I am 
off on Tuesday for a three weeks' holiday beyond the 
j-each, I hope, of posts. I will only remark now that you 
proceed on the supposition that my " Holarctic " Region 
=your Palsearctic and Nearctic — whereas the southern 
boundaries of this last are, in my opinion and that of 
several American zoologists, very uncertain — ^though to 
me it is clear that the Neotropical Region extends much 
more to the northward than you would have it run — and 
probably the same is to be said of the Indian Region. 
Thus a very considerable number of the genera, which 
you assign to your Nearctic and Palaearctic Regions, 
belong really to more southern areas, and by their 
elimination your lists would present a very different 
aspect. Again, too, you have omitted from your Nearctic 
list all the Palaearctic genera of birds which inhabit 
Alaska, and if I am not mistaken there are several 
Mammals also, making Alaska essentially Palaearctic. 
There are also not a few other (as it seems to me) 
inaccuracies, which would make no small change. 

* letter to Canon H. B. Tristram, February 16, 1889. 



ADDRESS AT MANCHESTER 183 

I have always looked on the study of Geographical 
Distribution as having a most important bearing on 
Evolution — ^but the greater part of this bearing would 
really be obscured, if your doctrines be correct. I do 
not know that there is much use in having " Regions " 
at all, but certainly there is very little if they are to be 
considered for the most part identical with the main 
division, ordinarily accepted by geographers. I have, 
however, a strong belief in " Faunas," as you may see 
from what I foreshadowed at the end of my British 
Association address at Manchester some years ago. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

The passage in his address at Manchester, to which 
allusion is made in the foregoing letter, so well exhibits 
Newton's broadness of mind that it may jfittingly be 
quoted here : — 

... I would, by way of conclusion, offer a few re- 
marks on the aspect which the subject of Geographical 
Distribution presents to me. Some of us zoologists — I 
am conscious of having myself been guilty of what I am 
about to condemn — ^have been apt to speak of Zoological 
Regions as if they were, and always had been, fixed areas. 
I am persuaded that if we do this we fall into an error as 
grievous as that of our predecessors, who venerated the 
fixity of species. One of the best tests of a biologist is 
his being able to tallc or write of " species " without 
believing that the term is more than a convenient counter 
for the exchange of ideas. In the same way I hold that 
a good biologist should talk or write of " Zoological 
Regions." The expression no doubt arose out of the 
belief, now scouted by all, in Centres of Creation ; and, 
as sometimes used, the vice of its birth still clings to it. 
To my mind the true meaning of the phrase " Zoological 
Region " is that of an area inhabited by a fauna which is, 
so to speak, a " function " of the period of its develop- 
ment and prevalence over a great part of the habitable 



184 MIGRATION AND DISTRIBUTION 

globe, but at any rate of the period of its reaching the 
portion of the earth's surface where wo now find it. One 
great thing to guard against is the presumption that the 
fauna originated within its present area and has been 
always contained therein. Thus I take it that the fauna 
which characterises the New Zealand Region — ^f or I follow 
Professor Huxley in holding that a region it is fully 
entitled to be called — is the comparatively little-changed 
relic and representative of an early fauna of much wider 
range ; that the characteristic fauna of the Australian 
Region exhibits in the same way that of a later period ; 
and that of the Neotropical Region of one later still. But 
while the first two regions have each been so long 
isolated that a large proportion of their fauna remains 
essentially unaltered, the last has never been so com- 
pletely severed, and has received, doubtless from the 
north, an infusion of more recent and therefore stronger 
forms ; while, perhaps impelled by the rivalry of these 
stronger forms, the weaker have blossomed, as it were, 
into the richness and variety which so eminently 
characterise the animal products of Central and South 
America. I make no attempt to connect these changes 
with geological events, but they will doubtless one day 
be explained geologically. It is not difficult to conceive 
that North America was once inhabited by the ancestors 
of a large proportion of the present Neotropical fauna, 
and that the latter was wholly, or almost wholly, thrust 
forth — perhaps by glacial action, perhaps by the incur- 
sion of stronger forms from Asia. The small admixture 
of Neotropical forms that now occur in North America 
may have been surviviors of this period of stress, or they 
may be the descendants of the more ancient forms 
resuming their lost inheritance. Beyond the fact that 
these few Neotropical forms continue to exist in North 
America, its fauna seems to be in a broad sense insepar- 
able from that of the Palaearctic area, and, in my belief, 
is not to be separated from it. The most difficult 
problems are those connected with the Ethiopian and 
Indian (which Mr. Wallace calls the Oriental) areas ; but 



ZOOLOGICAL REGIONS 185 

I suppose we must regard them as offshoots from a 
somewhat earlier condition of the great northern or 
" Holarctic " fauna, and as such to represent a state of 
things that once existed in Europe and the greater part 
of Asia. To pursue this subject — one of most pleasing 
speculation — would now be impossible. I pray you to 
pardon my prolixity, and I have done.* 

* Presidential Address to Biological Section, British Association. 
Manchester. 1887. 



CHAPTER XI 

GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

If it can be said that Newton's life was influenced 
more by any one man than by another, that man was 
unquestionably Gilbert White, of Selborne. We have 
his word for it that he had the greatest admiration for 
White from his very boyhood, and in his " Journal," of 
June 26, 1844, he records the fact that *' To-day is the 
anniversary of the death of Gilbert White, 1793 " — a boy 
of fifteen does not lightly take notice of an event of that 
kind. To use a somewhat old-fashioned and, perhaps, 
out-of-date expression, both were of " gentle birth," and 
he often quoted and commented on Gilbert White's 
expression in one of his letters to Robert Marsham, " I 
was born and bred a gentleman and hope I may be 
allowed to die such." 

The smallest detail connected with the life and 
writings of Gilbert Wliite always had the deepest interest 
for Newton, and he never lost an opportunity of adding 
to the meagre facts recorded. During many years before 
its publication in 1877 he assisted in the preparation, and 
read all the proofs, of the edition of " Selborne " edited 
by Professor Thomas Bell, F.R.S. That edition con- 
tained nearly a hundred letters of Gilbert White which 
had never been published before, and was thus im- 
measurably superior to previous editions, but Bell 
had made a somewhat perfunctory use of the mass of 
material lent him by White's descendants. Newton was 
especially disappointed that so little information was 
recorded of ^^^lite's brothers, Thomas, Benjamin, and 

186 



BELL'S EDITION OF ' SELBORNE " 187 

John ; the last was chaplain at Gibraltar, of which place 
he wrote a zoology that was never printed, and was for 
many years a correspondent of Linnaeus. Another 
blemish, to Newton's mind, on the book was the omission, 
due to what he considered Professor Bell's " prudery," of 
many interesting letters. The language of the eighteenth 
century was somewhat more free than that of the nine- 
teenth, and though White never used expressions which 
could be called coarse even by the most fastidious, he 
spoke and wrote openly and naturally in the manner of his 
time. In spite of protests. Professor Bell omitted many 
quaint and even amusing passages, lest they should bring 
a blush to the cheek of the young lady of his day. 

Old Bell has at last brought out his Edn. of " Gilbert 
White," the second volume of which contains some 
charming letters and shows him to have been (what I 
always suspected he was) a naturalist Mr. Pepys. But 
Bell has been foohshly prudish, and because there were 
certain expressions rather broader than are nowadays 
used he cut them out unsparingly. E.g. — ^there was a 
certain Dr. Chandler, a friend of White's, who being on 
the Continent at the outbreak of the French Revolution, 
was driven from pillar to post, but at length with his 
wife took refuge at Selborne. The first thing the good 
lady did was to be brought to bed, and dear old G.W. 
writes to a friend on the event that the Dr. was infinitely 
diverted because he could not determine in which 
country of Europe his infant was begotten. This Bell 
has struck out. I saw the passage in the proof, and 
begged it might remain ; but to no purpose. The same 
with a passage in which White, describing the effects of 
an exceeding cold winter and protracted spring, observes 
of his attenuated haystacks that it would have been 
creditable to the last two young ladies he married to 
their swains had their waists been as thin ! This 
prudery is disgusting.* 

* Letter to Lord Lilford, February 10, 1878. 



188 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

Later, in answer to a question of Mr. Holt White as to 
the publication of certain passages in the letters of John 
Mulso, Gilbert White's contemporary and lifelong friend, 
he expressed himself to much the same effect : — 

Far be it from me to say what the owner of these 
letters should or should not print ; of course, I know that 
men will write many things that should not be printed. 
I protested most vehemently (only alas ! too late) 
against certain passages that Wheatly printed for the 
first time in his Edition of Pepys, which render it im- 
possible to leave about the volume that contains them. 
But in my opinion there is nothing in Mulso's letters that 
might not appear ; there are expressions showing a 
coarse mind, which I am sure was in great contrast to 
Gilbert White's, but nothing worse, and if it is said that 
certain passages have been suppressed people will put a 
harsher construction on Mulso's character than they 
would if the passages were in evidence. More than that 
they will wonder how Gilbert White could live in affec- 
tionate friendship with such a man, so that his character 
suffers also. Puris omnia pura is a good juotto, and if 
one did not believe in it one has no business to teach 
Zoology. 

No doubt that people in the 18th century did things 
openly that they are now ashamed of doing, and also 
that ideas of what a parson might or might not do were 
then very different froin what they are at the present 
day ; but I greatly doubt our being better than our fore- 
fathers, who did not brag of their virtues as we do ; 
indeed, I should think that Pharisaism had greatly in- 
creased in the last fifty years.* 

There were other editions of Gilbert \^Tiite's book for 
which Newton could find no good words to say, and 
among the worst offenders was the late Mr. Grant Allen. 

. . . The death of the editor, which almost coincided 

* Letter to R. Holt- White, November 17, 190C. 



GRANT ALLEN'S EDITION 189 

with the issue of the book, makes the reviewer's task 
pecuharly ungrateful, since with the greatest respect for 
Mr. Allen, it must be deliberately said that if there were 
a work off which he ought to have kept his hands it was 
the "Natural History of Selborne." How little he 
could understand the author, or enter into his feeUngs, 
and it will be admitted that no man can properly edit a 
book without being imbued by its spirit, may be seen by 
a passage in his Introduction (p. xxxi) where, wholly 
unmindful of what is shown by the work itself or the 
portions of the author's correspondence printed by Bel], 
Gilbert White is represented as settling down at Sel- 
borne " to a placid bachelor existence," and " being a 
cehbate Fellow " (how many Fellows were there in those 
days, and for long after, who were not celibate ?) "he 
gave himself up almost entirely to his favourate fad of 
watching the beasts and birds of his native country." If 
a word could be found to raise a feeling of disgust among 
the thousands of admirers of Gilbert White, it is that 
which is above italicised. Who but a vulgarian could 
conceive of White's lifelong devotion to the study of 
Natural History being designated a " fad " '? And yet 
Mr. Allen wrote himself a naturahst ! How much he 
knew of the methods of observing naturalists in general, 
and of White's in particular, is shown by another passage 
in the same Introduction (p. xxxiii). Describing the 
lawn and garden at Selborne, this editor is pleased to 
say : " Here the easy-minded Fellow of Oriel and curate 
of Faringdon could sit in his rustic chair all day long, and 
observe the birds and beasts as they dropped in to visit 
him." What the fellowship and curacy have to do with 
the matter is not apparent, but had Mr. Allen any ex- 
perience of observational natural history, he would have 
known that beasts and birds do not " drop in " to visit 
people sitting all day long in chairs, rustic or otherwise ; 
while he must have read Gilbert Wliite's writings to very 
little purpose to think that was the way in which the 
observations, so inimitably recorded, were taken. There 
is hardly a bit of armchair work in the whole of them. . . . 



190 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

Grant Allen's edition contained the marginal notes 
made by Sanmel Taylor Coleridge in his own copy of the 
book. " These Marginalia are sixteen in number, and 
by how much the world is better for their publica- 
tion it is not easy to say, since anything more inane 
and commonplace than most of them cannot well be 
imagined." Newton sarcastically suggested the issue of 
a supplement to the New English Dictionary to contain 
what Mr. Allen called Coleridge's " certain yet hitherto 
unknown etymology " of the word gossamer, as " God's 
Dame's Hair," w^hich illustrates the old notion well 
expressed by the saying of an expert, that " the less 
authority there is for any derivation the more glorious 
is the guess ! " (W. W. Skeat in litt. ad hoc). 

Another edition of Selbornc which appeared at about 
the same time was that of Dr. Richard Bowdler Sharpe, 
with ten pages of introduction by the Dean of Rochester, 
" a part of the performance which may be dismissed with 
the remark that more than half of it would serve as a 
prelude to almost any kind of book." One of the worst 
features of that edition is that it contains imaginary 
portraits of Gilbert White, of whom one of the best 
known personal facts is that he would never sit for his 
portrait. This roused Newton's just anger, and he de- 
scribed the figures as " offensive impertinences," and — 

as such they will properly be resented by all lovers of his 
memory. Moreover they all express one and the same 
falsification, proving the draughtsman's ignorance of his 
victim's personal appearance. In every one Gilbert 
White is represented as " wearing his own hair," to use 
the old phrase. Yet we have undoubted proof that he 
always wore a wig, as did nearly all the respectable 
gentlemen of his day. In 1752 we find him paying forty- 
five shillings for a " feather top'd grizzle wig " from 
London; and in 1783 his niece wrote to him from 



OTHER EDITIONS 191 

London, " Mr. Grimble has sent your wig," while the 
humorous Hues, ascribed to him by Bell — 

Ye worthy friends in Abchurch Lane, 

Who do our noddles thatch, 
Send me a wig, but not too big, 

With care and with despatch, — 

which are said to have formed one of his orders, tell of 
this wig- wearing as a constant habit. However these 
objectionable caricatures may suit some debased tastes, 
they represent him as something between a clerical fop 
and a fool. ... It may be added that all are equally 
false and equally vulgar. * 

Though Newton never edited '' Selborne " himself — 
there is, indeed, no reason to suppose that he even con- 
templated doing so — ^he spared no time and pains in 
helping others who were writing about White or in 
trying to add to our knowledge of the naturahst or to 
explain doubtful points in his notes and letters. His 
article on Gilbert White written for the " Dictionary of 
National Biography " contains a large amount of informa- 
tion which was at that time unknown. This was to a 
great extent due to the help he received from Mr. 
Rashleigh Holt- White, the living head of White's family, 
who was at that time preparing the life of his great- 
grand-uncle, and was in possession of all the family 
papers. This article contains Newton's considered 
opinion of Gilbert White as a naturalist, and as it was 
too long to be printed completely in the published volume, 
a part of it may be quoted here. 

That White's " Selborne " is the only work on natural 
history which has attained the rank of an English classic 
is admitted by general acclamation, as well as by com- 
petent critics, and numerous have been the attempts to 
discover the secret of its ever-growing reputation. 
Scarcely two of them agree, and no explanation whatever 

* Macmillari's Magazine, July, 1900. 



192 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

oSered of the charm which invests it can be accepted as 
in itself satisfactory. If we grant what is partially true, 
that it was the first book of its kind to appear in this 
country, and therefore had no rivals to encounter before 
its reputation was established, we find that alone in- 
sufficient to account for the way in which it is still 
welcomed by thousands of readers, to many of whom — 
and this especially applies to its American admirers — 
scarcely a plant or an animal mentioned in it is familiar, 
or even known but by name. Goldsmith's " Animated 
Nature " was begun in 1769, two years after the com- 
mencement of White's correspondence with Pennant 
and in the very year in which White first wi'ote to Bar- 
rington. That book appeared in 1774, when the corre- 
spondence was all but concluded and the monographs 
were ready for the Royal Society. One author could not 
have been influenced by the other. Goldsmith's work 
was one of the most profitable of his literary under- 
takings, and was at once popular beyond anything of the 
kind before published ; but no one reads it now, and, 
what is more, no one could conscientiously edit it without 
having to add notes that would expose the author to 
ridicule on one point after another. He could only 
translate and travesty Buffon, and the man who on so 
many subjects " wrote like an angel " could not touch 
the works of Nature without deforming them. Yet none 
can deny there is a charm, an old-fashioned fragrance 
even, in Goldsmith's " Animated Nature," the only work 
of that age with which White's can be compared. But 
taking the latter's " Selborne," of the hundreds of state- 
ments therein recorded, the number which are un- 
doubtedly mistaken may be counted almost on the 
fingers of one hand. The gravest is perhaps that on the 
formation of honeydew (Letter Ixiv. to Barrington) ; but 
it was not until some years later that the nature of that 
substance was discovered in this country by Curtis 
{Trans. Linn. Soc, vi. 75-91), and was not made known 
until nearly a twelvemonth after its discoverer's death ; 
while we have editor after editor, many of theui 



GILBERT WHITE'S GREATNESS 193 

well-informed or otherwise competent judges, citing fresh 
proofs of White's industry and accuracy. That he was 
a prince among observers, nearly always observing the 
right thing in the right way, is a very great merit ; but 
not a few others have been as industrious and as accurate 
without attaining the rank assigned to him. Good- 
natured reviewers are apt to say of almost any new book 
on observational natural history that the author has 
studied in White's school, and to prophesy the success of 
a work which they declare has been written on the model 
of " Selborne." Such an author has frequently the gift 
of writing agreeably, and has occasionally been a fair 
naturahst, though too often there is a tendency to observe 
the wrong thing or in the wrong way ; but the best of 
these men does not come near White. He had a genius 
for observing, and for placing before us in a few words 
the living being he observed. That, in addition to his 
excellence in this respect, he was not only all that was 
meant by the old phrase " a scholar and a gentleman," 
while that he was a philosopher of no mean depth, is also 
evident ; but it seems as though the combination of all 
these quaHties would not necessarily give him the un- 
questioned superiority over all other writers in the same 
field. The secret of the charm of his writings must be 
sought elsewhere ; but it has been sought in vain. 
Some have ascribed it to his way of identifying himself 
in feeling with the animal kingdom, though to this sym- 
pathy there were notable exceptions. Some, like Lowell, 
set down the " natural magic " of White to the fact that, 
" open the book where you will, it takes you out of 
doors ; " but the same is to be said of other writers, who 
yet remain comparatively undistinguished. It may be 
certainly averred that his style, a certain stiffness 
characteristic of the period being admitted, is eminently 
unaffected, even when he is " Didactic," as he more than 
once apologises for becoming, and the same simplicity is 
as observable in his letters to members of his family, 
which could never have been penned with the view of 
publication, and have never been retouched, as in those 

o 



194 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

which he addressed to his stately correspondents, 
Pennant and Barrington, f or use in their works. Then, 
too, there is the complete absence of self-importance 
or self-consciousness. The observation or the remark 
stands on its own merits, and gains nothing because he 
happens to be the maker of it, except it be in the tinge of 
humour that often delicately pervades it. The beauties 
of the work, apart from the way in which they directly 
appeal to naturalists, as they did to Darwin, grow upon 
the reader who is not a naturalist, as Lowell testifies, and 
the more they are studied the more they seem to defeat 
analysis. 

Mr. Holt- White's help in the article for the " Dic- 
tionary of National Biography " was amply repaid by 
Newton, when the former was writing his " Life and 
Letters of Gilbert White." As recorded in the Preface, 
" To Professor Newton, my obligations are many and 
great. In addition to nmch valuable advice, he has been 
good enough to send me the natural history notes which 
appear with his initials." After a visit which Mr. Holt- 
White paid to him at Magdalene at that tiine, he wrote : — 

Needless to say that your visit gave me much 
pleasure, and I hope that it may not be your last. I 
look on the entertainment of you as a duty to G.W., 
from whom I have derived more advantage than from 
any other naturalist, and it would take a long while to 
pay off that debt. 

He took exception to the description in the Preface 
of White as " remaining single " : — 

I think " a bachelor " or " unmarried " would be 
better than " single," which seems to imply singularity, 
and I being in that condition demur to such an impli- 
cation ! Some people seem to forget that we are all 
born " single," barring, as the Irish would say, twins 
of both sexes — so that it is the natural unsophisticated 



THE "MOLLY" LETTERS 195 

state of man. For the rest, there is really nothing to 
remark upon. It appears to be as good as good can be. 
The Shakespearean quotation is very happy, and alto- 
gether it is what G.W. and his contemporaries would 
have called an " elegant piece." But I must not omit 
expressing to you my thanks for so kindly and fully 
acknowledging such services as I have been able to render 
to you, services which I must say it has given me very 
great pleasure to afford — if only in regard to the debt 
I incurred through your valuable assistance, when I was 
writing the article for the "Dictionary of National 
Biography." 

It was not only on matters of Natural History that 
his advice was sought, but on questions also of the 
publication or otherwise of more personal letters : — 

Now I come to the " Molly " letters, about the 
advisability of printing which, you asked my opinion. 
I have read them attentively and am come to the con- 
clusion that, owing to my bias, my opinion on the 
subject is worth nothing ! I do so dread the notion 
that many persons, not at all adverse critics, might 
think that one could have too much even of Gilbert 
White ! I think before printing them in extenso you 
ought to consult some one else, who would be a fairer 
judge than myself. I am afraid people would resent 
the solicitude with which the writer regularly orders 
codfish and desires his brother to draw the interest of 
the Long Annuities ! Yet in most of the letters there 
is a playful tone, which to me is highly diverting and 
agreeable. Extracts might certainly be printed without 
any doubt, but the making of them would require very 
careful selection, and that by a competent man. I 
wish I knew one to recommend, but I must plainly say 
that I don't. If you should find a competent judge to 
say " print the whole," I should be only too glad, but 
it is what I dare not trust myself to say — ^because I 
know myself to be such a strong partizan — ^whiter than 
the whitest of Whitists. I can't put it more concisely. 



196 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

The " Molly "' letters, with a few exceptions, were 
included in the " Life," which was published in two 
volumes in 1901. 

I think you will like G. White's " Life."* It ought to 
have been, and might perfectly well have been, got into 
one volume, and there are a few (very few) blemishes 
in it. People ought to buy it, but I suppose the public 
which takes I don't know how many thousand copies of 
an " Englishwoman's Love-Letters " will not have it. 
The book is too matter-of-fact for " gush," and as to 
the reviewers they know nothing of the " inwardness " 
of " Selborne," and in their ignorance make absolute 
fools of themselves, when criticising this book.f 

Newton had little fault to find with the substance 
of the book, but the covers were adorned with a Swallow 
unlike any bird known to naturalists, which drew lamen- 
tations from him : — 

The green binding reminds me of the Willow Wren 
and is therefore very appropriate, but why, oh why did 
not Mr. Murray get somebody who knew what a Swallow 
was to design the figure on the back ? They are carica- 
tures of that blessed bird, as terrible to behold as those of 
G.W. in another edition ! And a Swallow is such a 
lovely bii'd ! 

And later on : — 

If the Swallows on your binding were strictly con- 
ventional, I should not mind them. The Swallows on a 
plate don't spoil my dinner, but your binders have 
attempted realistic Swallows and have disgracefully 
failed. The designer (I will not call him draughtsman 
even) ought to have a dozen or two thrust down his 
throat. That would be an " object lesson " teaching 
him what a bad swallow means. 

* "The Life and Letters of GUbert White." By Rashleigh Holt- 
White. Two vols., London, 1901. 

t Letter to Thomas Southwell, July 3, 1901. 



MULSO'S LETTERS 197 

In the course of his preparation of the article for 
the "Dictionary of National Biography" Newton had the 
opportunity of reading the letters to Gilbert White of 
John Mulso, who was White's intimate friend and corre- 
spondent during more than forty years. Unfortunately, 
Mulso or his descendants had destroyed Gilbert White's 
letters to him, but his own letters are full of interesting 
observations and throw much light on the life and 
character of his friend They are now in the possession 
of a collateral descendant of Gilbert White, the Earl of 
Stamford, whose father, the late Earl, lent them to 
Newton. 

Magdalene College, 

June 13, 1898. 

Dear Lord Stamford, 

... I cannot refrain from expressing to you 
the extreme gratification that the opportunity of examin- 
ing these volumes * has given me. Though my hopes 
had been high, their fulfilment far exceeded any antici- 
pation, and it is very long since anything so interesting 
has passed into my hands, while I can but wonder that 
these papers have remained so long unpublished. I 
desire to offer you my most sincere thanks for the 
pleasure I have derived from the reading of these letters, 
to say nothing of the wonderful light which they reflect 
upon Gilbert White's life, and their consequent utility 
to me in the task I have undertaken. Though I cer- 
tainly had not hitherto neglected any means of inform- 
ing myself concerning him, I feel that he had been a 
man comparatively unknown to me. I read through all 
the letters, some of them several times, and there are 
many which I should like to read again. I earnestly 
hope they may be soon printed, and just as they stand, 
though there are a few coarse passages. One does not 
leave them with an exalted opinion of the writer, but 
there is nothing to affect the estimable character of Gilbert 

* " Mulso's Letters." 



198 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

White who, it is evident, not unfrequently must have 
administered a reproof to his correspondent, and that is 
possibly a reason why his own letters have disappeared. 

Yours very faithfully, 

Alfred Newton. 

Lord Stamford and Mr. Holt- White eventually 
decided to pubhsh Mulso's letters, and Newton's advice 
was again sought as to what should or should not be 
printed. 

When the book appeared in the following spring, it 
gave Newton profound pleasure to find that the volume 
was dedicated to himself, a compliment which he 
acknowledged in the following letter. 

March 20, 1907. 

My dear Holt- White, 

I have just received the precious volume and 
was congratulating myself on its neat and trim appear- 
ance — thinking how easy it would be to convey the like 
congratulations to you, when it opened of its own 
accord immediately after the title-page, and the Dedica- 
tion was in full view. This alters the case, and now my 
duty is more than doubled. It is most kind of you and 
your noble cousin to have thought of me in this con- 
nection—yet if an almost unbounded reverence for the 
character and especially the example of your great- 
grand-uncle gives a man a claim to that distinction, 
then your selection of me is justified — for I doubt whether 
any one has ever entertained so strong a feeling towards 
Gilbert White as I have from my very boyhood. 

Be assured that I consider this one of the prettiest 
compliments that have ever been paid to me, and be- 
lieve me with the sincerest thanks, 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

It may truly be said that Gilbert "Wliite was one of 
the very last interests in Newton's life. Only a few days 



THOMAS BEWICK 190 

before his death, writing to a correspondent who had 
asked him where White had been born, he rephed : — 

There is Gilbert White's own authority for his having 
been born at Selborne Vicarage. In one of his poems 
he has : — 

" Nor be the Parsonage by the Muse forgot, 
The partial bard admires his native spot." 

I beheve I was the first to point this out. 

So far as is known, he visited Selborne once only, 
in 1874. 

Last week I went on a pilgrimage with A. C. Smith 
to Selborne, and was charmed with the beauty of the 
place. Unluckily, old Bell was not at home. 

It is wortli recording that he possessed Yarrell's copy 
of the first edition of " Selborne," and Gilbert White's 
copy of Bay's " Pisces." 

Hardly inferior (in Newton's opinion) to Gilbert 
White in having a lasting influence on British Ornith- 
ology was Thomas Bewick, whose " Land Birds " ap- 
peared in 1797, the " Water Bkds " in 1804. 

Now there is really a chance for you, the long ex- 
pected autobiography of Bewick is published. Sit 
down and write us a notice of it for the Ibis ; surely you 
can knock off sixteen of our little pages on a subject 
which must interest you as a Northumbrian, an ornith- 
ologist, and an admirer of all true men ? I should think 
Bewick has done more to instil Ornithology in boys' 
hearts than " any other man," not excepting Gilbert 
White, for there is many a lively lad who has been 
attracted by those wonderful wood-cuts, which at once 
appealed to his senses, and who would never have had 
the patience even to skim over " Selborne." You are 
the man to do it, you live on the spot, have talked with 
dozens of people who knew the old fellow well, and must 
have lots to say about him, of your own picking up. 



200 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

Pray now, set to work, or else when you come to Cam- 
bridge look out for squalls. I shall most assuredly put 
every local member of the B.O.U. up to sending you to 
Coventry or Corinth, I mean the city of the seceders, 
not of the two seas, or some other very disagreeable 
place if you do not.* 

Of the older naturalists Newton had the greatest 
reverence for Willughby and Ray, of whom he wrote 
(" Dictionary of Birds," p. 7) : — 

^The foundation of scientific Ornithology was laid 
by the joint labours of Francis Willughby (born 1635, 
died 1672) and John Ray (born 1628, died 1705), for it 
is impossible to separate their share of work in Natural 
History more than to say that, while the former more 
especially devoted himself to Zoology, Botany was the 
favourite pursuit of the latter. Together they studied, 
together they travelled, and together they collected. 
Willughby, the younger of the two, and at first the 
other's pupil, seems to have giadually become the master, 
but dying before the promise of his life was fulfilled, his 
^vritings were given to the world by his friend Ray, who, 
adding to them from his own stores, published the 
" Ornithologia " m Latin in 1676, and in English with 
many emendations in 1678. 

Writing (April 24, 1906) to Mr. T. Whitaker, who was 
then preparing his " Birds of Nottinghamshire," Newton 
reminded him to pay tribute to the memory of Willughby. 

There is, however, a much greater Nottinghamshire 
ornithologist [than Wolley] of whom you should give 
some account, and that is Francis Willughby of Wollaton 
(born 1635, died 1672), to whom justice, I think, has 
never been done, nor has his life been properly written ; 
for he was so overshadowed by his friend Ray, who was 
his senior by a few years only, but survived him and saw 
to the pubhcation of his " Birds " and *' Fishes." 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, July 3, 1862. 



RAY, WILLUGHBY, GOULD 201 

. . . Anyhow in your book you must not neglect 
Willughby — ^the earliest ornithologist in England after 
Turner. 

When the " Willughby Society " was established in 
1879, Newton with Osbert Salvin and Dr. P. L. Sclater 
formed the committee of selection. The object of the 
society was the reprinting of rare ornithological works, 
and in return for an annual subscription of one pound 
the members received a copy of each of the reprints. 
The first to be produced was Tunstall's " Ornithologia 
Britannica " ; this was followed by Sir Andrew Smith's 
paper in the South African Journal, Reports of his 
Exploring Expedition, and other rare works. Un- 
fortunately some trouble arose between Mr. Tegetmeier, 
the Director of the Society, and a lady copyist, with the 
result that the Society came to an untimely end. 

Of the ornithologists of the middle of the nineteenth 
century probably the most widely known was Mr. J. 
Gould, whose '" Birds of Europe " and " Monograph of 
the Humming-birds " and countless other volumes were 
eagerly bought. The books were popular on account 
of the coloured illustrations, which were better than any- 
thing of the kind produced up to that time, but it does 
not appear that Gould was himself a very serious 
ornithologist. 

By the way, Gould always sends me his " Birds of 
Great Britain " to look over for him, and the utter 
ignorance they sometimes betray is amazing. He has 
no personal knowledge of any English birds, except 
those found between Eton and Maidenhead, and about 
these species he fancies no one else knows anything. 
It is most amusing to see how anxious he is to avoid 
committing himself about Darwin's theory. Of course, 
he does not care a rap whether it is true or not — but he 
is dreadfully afraid that by prematurely espousing it 



202 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

he might lose some subscribers, though he acknowledged 
to me the other day he thought it would be generally 
adopted before long.* 

Another very popular naturalist of a rather later 
period than Gould was Mr. Frank Buckland. 

I am afraid I know of no one who could help you in 
your Trout inquiries. I never had any taste for fishing 
and have no piscatorial or ichthyological correspondents, 
though I fully appreciate the interest of your observa- 
tions. It is a pity that Day published them in such a 
place as Lm^d and Water and gave that ignorant fellow 
Frank Buckland the opportunity of introducing them. 
By the way, I see from Saturday's No. that he has just 
become aware of the existence of Bacteria — which he 
calls " brutes ! " f 

The expression quoted in the letter above was less 
than fair, for however little of a scientific man Buckland 
may have been — and that was owing to his lack of a 
scientific training — ^there have been few people during 
the last fifty years who have done more than he did to 
encourage the study of Natural History in this country. 
He was always on friendly terms with Newton, who 
wrote of him afterwards : '' . . . Buckland, for whom 
personally I had nuich regard. His great mistake was 
that he believed people when they told him he was a 
naturalist, while he was wanting in every essential of a 
naturalist, except zeal." 

Thomas Edwards, the " self-made " naturalist of 
Banff, whose life was written by Smiles, corresponded 
frequently in the 'forties and 'fifties with Newton, 
who often spoke of him with affection. Mr. Harvie- 
Brown proposed to put a portrait of Edwards with those 
of others on the title-page of his " Fauna of the Moray 
Basin." 

* Letter to Edward Newton, April 25, 1864. 
t Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, May 10, 1880. 



EDWARDS, JEFFERIES 203 

Your proposed medallion title-page is a very good 
idea, and I would submit that you should put old Thomas 
Edwards among those you may please to honour. I 
have got a good many of his letters written to me in the 
'fifties. I don't know whether you would care to 
have them, but if so they are at your service, and I 
think I could lay hand on them without much trouble. 

Smiles made such a ridiculous mess of his Memoii* of 
him, that I should be glad to see a proper notice of the 
old man's services inserted, such an one as I am sure 
you would write. His enthusiasm led him into several 
egregious misstatements (to put the matter mildly) 
which it is hard to overlook ; nevertheless the man was 
without doubt a born naturalist, and did a little good in 
the bird and beast way. I think he is worthy of a place 
alongside of St. John and Gordon, to say nothing of 
Thornton.* 

Newton's opinion of Richard Jefferies, whose books 
achieved a considerable popularity at one time, was not 
a favourable one. Considering him as a scientific man, 
Newton was right, for Jefferies' books contained many 
inaccuracies and no original observations. The novels 
did not add greatly to his reputation. 

You nmst go elsewhere for details of Jefferies. 
Several books have been written about him. He was 
an unhappy man, with bad health and a genius for 
" word painting," which took with the pubHc. He tried 
to write novels, but they were invariably scouted ; yet 
such is the ignorance of people in regard to Natural 
History that his books about animals were read with 
rapture, though they were every bit as bad as his novels. 
The greater part of the poor wretch's life was spent in 
abject misery, as he was too proud to let his friends 
know that he often had not enough to eat ; at least so 
I have heard say. I believe at the last he was better off, 
but then it was too late. I regard the poor man with 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie- Brown, February U. 1892. 



204 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

great commiseration, but there is an utterly false tone 
(as it seems to me) in all his writings.* 

Another naturahst of the same period, with whom 
Newton came much into contact, but of a different 
quality from some of those others already mentioned, 
was Mr. Henry Seebohm, who had made a considerable 
fortune at Sheffield, and late in life devoted his energies 
to Ornithology. He made two journeys to Siberia, in 
1875 with Mr. Harvie-Brown, and in 1877 alone, and 
published two volumes describing his voyages and dis- 
coveries. Newton's first meeting with him was in 1877, 
when he went to Sheffield to see Seebohm's collection of 
eggs. 

Early in December I took train to Sheffield and 
gratified my eyes with the spoils w^hich the adventurous 
Seebohm reaped in Siberia. And very great they are 
for an Arctic harvest, interrupted as it was by two ship- 
wrecks in the river Yenesei. Each of these disasters 
cost him a week's diversion from his proper pursuits, 
and occurring, as they did, in the height of the short 
summer, they seriously crippled his operations. On the 
whole he thinks himself fortunate in saving what he had 
got, and save it he did, every egg-shell. That is a 
wonderful man, and it is a pity he is so very rough in 
his ways. I take it he will prove himself a leader now 
that he is fairly come to the front. At the Zool. Soc. 
one evening he described his expedition in a way better 
than anything I have ever heard there before ; just saying 
the right thing, neither too much nor too little, and 
keeping up the interest of his audience (a good one) for 
a whole hour most admirably and without the slightest 
apparent effort. Huxley, who heard him somewhere 
else, is said to have pronounced him a born lecturer ; 
and he ought to know the necessary qualifications if 
any one does.f 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, September 12, 1904. 
t Letter to Lord Lilford, January 7, 1878. 



HENRY SEEBOHM 205 

If Seebohm had been content witb his fine record as 
a traveller and collector, all would have been well, but 
he ventured without a sufficient equipment into the 
thorny questions of classification, and, after perpetrating 
some rather glaring inaccuracies, he inevitably fell foul 
of Newton. 

It is not so much that Seebohm is no scholar, but it 
is his way of making reckless assertions that is so repre- 
hensible. You may remember in the Ibis for July last 
he launched out into a tirade against people in general 
for having neglected PaUas's " Zoographia," concerning 
which he propounded a long story absolutely without 
truth and (as I cannot but beHeve) wholly of his own 
invention. When I told him, as I did privately, how 
the matter stood, and lent him Von Baer's report (of 
which he had never heard), he made a most shuffling 
attempt in the next number to get out of the scrape. 
It is no part of my business to set other people right or 
show up their " blunders " (his own favourite word), so 
long as they keep clear of me ; and as this matter did 
not in any way concern me, I let him alone. When, 
however, it came to a fresh attack on me based on a 
mare's nest discovery, I thought it time to notice it.* 

He is a man who, having made a lot of money at 
Sheffield, has retired from business, and taken up 
Ornithology. He has great force of character and is a 
fluent speaker, qualities which have helped him in the 
world and dispose some people to think him a great man. 
But his writings show him not to be clear-headed or 
logical. I knew him to be shallow and ignorant as 
regards Ornithological literature, but until last week I 
had given him credit for knowing birds when he saw 
them. To my great surprise my eyes were opened. I 
was going to London, and, just before starting, there 
arrived a small box of bird skins from Portugal which 
the sender asked me to determine for him. As I knew 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, March 16, 1883. 



206 GILBERT WHITE AND OTHERS 

the species were all SylviidcB, in which family, as you 
are aware, Mr. Seebohm has attained great critical 
reputation, 1 thought I would take them with me to 
town, open the box there and compare them with his 
series, which I had not seen for several years. To my 
infinite amazement I found that he could not recognise 
some of our commonest English birds. He insisted on 
a common Sedge-Warbler being a Reed-Wren, and 
notwithstanding the wonderful rules he has laid down 
for infallibly distinguishing the Willow- Wren and the 
Chilfchaff he was no better than anybody else in deter- 
mining them, when it came to actual specimens.* 

In spite of the hard things which Newton wrote of 
Seebohm, they continued perfectly friendly until the 
death of the latter in 1895. 

* Letter to Rev. A. C. Smith, November 30, 1883. 



CHAPTER XII 

METHODS or WORK 

It will have become apparent to the reader who has 
followed these pages so far that Newton was an earnest 
seeker after the truth in all things, and, so far as it was 
humanly possible, he was never satisfied with anything 
less than the completest accuracy. From quite early 
days he was constantly receiving eggs from people, 
who believed, in their enthusiasm, that they had 
discovered some rarity, and wished for Newton's con- 
firmation. 

For the last thirteen days I have been wrapped in 
contemplation (and a great-coat) with respect to the egg 
you have entrusted to my care. " Who steals my purse," 
etc. {vide Shakespeare). Morris cracked the shell of it, 
what if I totally demolish its reputation and good name ? 
I am more than ever disposed to agree with the anony- 
mous reviewer in the Ihis. The office of Devil's Advo- 
cate is a particularly ungracious one. I know perfectly 
well that it is the habit of collectors to put their implicit 
confidence in evidence on which they would refuse to 
hang the veriest cur which ever merited the decoration 
of the tin pot. 

After a really serious and steady course of observa- 
tion I have deliberately come to the conclusion that in 
your egg marked Nucifraga caryocatactes I can detect no 
character which may not be found in a Magpie's. At 
the same time I am fain to confess, as I said in the hasty 
scrawl when I last wrote, that I have not got a Magpie's 
egg with which to match your pattern. In size and 

307 



208 METHODS OF WORK 

shape, and in colour of ground and of markings, and in 
the forms of these markings I can equal it in unquestion- 
able Magpie's, and this from by no means a large series. 
Had I a good series, say 500 specimens, I might possibly 
find its exact double. Not that this is saying much. 
But I would tell you how your argument differs from 
that of Wolley's in regard to the Smew's eggs. He did 
not rest satisfied with the story of the people concerned, 
or even with the appearance of a stuffed Smew's skin 
with " hatching spots " under her wings, the only Smew 
he had ever seen in Lapland, or with the eggs before him 
corresponding with what he had previously ascertained 
from a really trustworthy and tried man to be their true 
appearance. With all this, and even with the general 
dissimilarity between the supposed " Unilo's " eggs and 
the ordinary form of Wigeon's, he was not satisfied ; not 
until he had discovered a minute but constant difference 
which held on one side with his three Unilo's eggs and 
on the other with his three hundred Wigeon's, did he 
allow himself to believe that he really possessed 
genuine Smew's eggs. It was this one point of evidence 
of a positive nature, and about which there could be no 
mistake even with closed eyes, supervening on all the 
presumptive testimony which makes the case of the 
Smew one so excellently proved. 

Now I really think in the case of your Nutcracker's 
it is by no means a statement unfavourable to your view, 
to say that as far as our knowledge goes there is nothing 
in the appearance of the egg to afford any evidence 
against the Nucifragine theory ; but I do believe that 
the fairest statement would be to put it that there is no 
perceptible character in the egg which is not also possessed 
by many Magpie's.* 

For many years I have been trying to impress upon 
people the necessity of identifying the eggs they take at 
the only time and under almost the only conditions which 
render identification certain. If they will not do this 

♦ Letter to H. B. Tristram, April 25, 1860, 



IDENTIFYING EGGS 209 

they have no right to expect that others will be at the 
trouble of making an examination which seldom leads 
to a satisfactory result, and is therefore generally but a 
waste of time. In ordinary circumstances it surely may 
be looked for that a man when he has found a suspicious 
nest should lay himself out to see the owner, and if he 
cannot do that satisfactorily he should refrain from 
taking the eggs. It is notorious that this is absolutely 
necessary in the case of Ducks' nests, and the subsequent 
examination of the down is a very poor substitute for 
the evidence that the finders may in most cases with a 
moderate amount of prudence obtain on the spot. The 
cases when this cannot possibly be done are compara- 
tively rare.* 

In 1906 two young ornithologists found the Scaup 
Duck breeding in the Hebrides and presented Newton 
with eggs for the Cambridge Museum He wished to 
include a record of the find in the " Ootheca WoUeyana," 
but in spite of the most careful observations of the bird 
made by the finders of the nest, he was unwilling to admit 
the authenticity of the eggs without a further identifica- 
tion of the down : — 

Hurrah ! Victoria ! ! Hallelujah ! ! ! Banzai ! ! ! ! 
Hooroosh ! ! ! ! ! I must express my exultation in 
many languages. 

Yesterday I placed in Gadow's hands six glass-topped 
boxes containing down of (1) Eider-Duck ; (2 and 3), 
Black and Velvet Scoter ; (4) Dun-Bird ; (5) Tufted 
Duck, and (6) Kiimear's Hebrides nest of 11/6/06. 
To-day Gadow brought me a lock or " spray " of each 
between two slips of glass, and I waited with all the 
patience I could muster for the verdict. The Hebrides' 
down would not match any of the foregoing. Then, for 
the first time, I produced your little packet of Scaup's 
down from Sutherland and he put a lock of it between 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Biown. December 2, 1880. 

P 



210 METHODS OF WORK 

two other glass slips, iiniiiediately exclaiiuiug " That is 
the same as the Hebrides specimen ! " Can anything 
be better ? You will observe that this investigation (if 
so it may be called) was carried on with the utmost 
fairness. All he knew was that 1 wanted, if possible, 
to determine the " unknown quantity," i.e. the Hebrides 
down. I was careful not to give the slightest indication 
of what I should like the result to be, and yet you see 
it has come out exactly as I should like it to be, and all 
to the credit of Kinnear, Bahr and Co. May the angels 
take charge of them and their shadow never grow less. 
I am so glad on their account. 

You can't reaUze how this business has been afflicting 
me, for 1 had made up my mind to omit Kinnear's eggs 
fi'om the " O.W." unless the down examination were 
clearly in favour of their being Scaup, and I know what 
a serious blow it would be to him if I did so. 

Gadow, though he has no doubt on the mattter, admits 
that the differences between these downs are to a great 
extent beyond description ; but curiously enough the 
Scaup's is distinctly darker (almost black with a whitish 
centre, as they all have) than Tufted Ducks' (which is 
ashy-brown) or any of the others. Anas nyroca, which 
we afterwards tried, comes very near it ; but of course 
that is out of the question. 

In giving all these different downs to Gadow to try, 
my object was, of course, not to mislead him, but to 
train his eye to differences which at first sight are hardly 
apparent, and no doubt it is only a trained eye that can 
detect these almost minute differences. He was positive 
about the Hebrides down being different to any of the 
others, knowing nothing more about it than that I 
wanted it determined if possible ; nor did he know when 
I handed him the precious lock of Scaup's from the little 
bit you sent me that I expected or thought it possible 
that they should be the same. 

Afterwards we put them all under a strong powder 
(nucroscope), but that did not help us nuich. It chiefly 
showed that the old downs become brittle and lose the 



THE IDENTIFIED DUCK 211 

abortive hooklets ; but the structuie seems to be much 
the same in all.* 

He often quoted his old friend Hudlestone, who 
" used to declare that an identified duck's was the most 
valuable of eggs— in consequence of which he got the 
nickname of ' The Identified Duck ' (for we valued him) 
— and there is a good deal of truth in it." 

When he was collecting materials for his " Bustard 
in Britain " (a book that never saw the light), any refer- 
ence to the bird in however obscure a book was traced, 
if possible, to its source and its accuracy or otherwise 
tested. 

I have lately been much interested by corroborating 
in a minute point the story of an old man, one Chafin, 
who in 1818, being then about eighty-four years of age, 
published a book on Cranbourn Chase, wherein he says 
that in November, 1751, he saw and shot at near Andover 
25 Bustards, and winds up by saying " In two or three 
days after I set off for Cambridge " (to account for his 
not renewing his attempt on their lives). A reference 
to the Residence book of Emmanuel College, at which 
Chafin was then an undergraduate, shows that he returned 
on the 4th Nov. 1751, so that his encounter with the 
Bustards would have been on the 1st or 2nd of that 
month and year ! f 

Questions of all kinds more or less connected with 
Natural History were constantly sent to him, such as 
the death-song of the Swan, the winter transformation 
of the Cuckoo, the hibernation of Swallows, and so on. 
One of these hardy annuals was the Great Black Wood- 
pecker, which was from time to time reported as having 
been seen in some part or other of Britain, but never to 
Newton's satisfaction. 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Browii. October 7, 1906. 
t Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, December 8, 1884 



212 METHODS OF WORK 

Picus tnartius seems determined to be the Sea Serpent 
of British ornithologists ! He is always careful to keep 
out of the way of any observer of experience, and I think 
that until he does reveal himself to some one who is able 
to kill him or knows him well by sight it is best not to 
think too much of his supposed apparitions.* 

I read in some paper of the Black Woodpecker, and 
a particularly lame story I thought it. I don't believe 
that Lilford ever tui-ned out any birds of this species, 
for he, if any one, well knew it needs fir woods to live in, 
and there are none in his neighbourhood. Beside that 
I think he never had any number in his possession (I 
remember one). The tendency to construct myths is 
something wonderful ! Look how many have grown up 
about the Gare-fowl, and many more there will be. It 
would never sm-prise me to read that he had the bird — 
perhaps half a dozen birds — alive on one of his ponds at 
LiKord ! t 

On another occasion a celebrated literary personage 
proclaimed his behef, accompanied by second-hand 
evidence, in the well-worn legend of the mother Viper 
swallowing her young. 

Ml'. for aught I know may be another 

Vesalius, John Hunter, or Von Baer ; but it is my mis- 
fortune not to have heard of him before, so far as I 
remember. There are some subjects that I never discuss, 
such as Transubstantiation, Evolution, Free Trade, and 
the Hibernation of Swallows. This old, old story belongs 
to the same categoiy. I have made up my mind on 
each and all of them, and in respect of them when any- 
body smites me on the one cheek, I hold my tongue, if 
I do not quite fulfil the Christian precept of turning to 
him the other also. Some years ago I most unintention- 
ally got myself into a mess along of some Manx Cats, 
and came in for a great amount of abuse. I at once let 
those interesting animals alone, and, as I felt none the 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Biown, December 1, 1873. 
t Letter to T. Southwell, December 22, 1902. 



YARRELL'S "BRITISH BIRDS" 213 

worse since from doing so, I can only recommend your 
following the example in respect to the Vipers. This is 
really all I have to say on the subject ; when some one 
is able to show by what means the process of digestion 
in the mother- vipers is arrested, it may be worth talking 
about, otherwise we might as well attempt to argue with 
an ordinary Chinaman, who will maintain that an eclipse 
is caused by the Great Dragon attacking the sun or the 
moon (as the case may be) and swallowing the whole or 
part of those bodies. But if you don't like lying down 
and being kicked, at least do not pull me (for Heaven's 
sake) into the controversy. I think you will find letting 
it drop the cheapest in the end, for there is not a chance 
of your convincing your opponent ; and if there were, 
you may depend upon it he is not worth convincing.* 

It must be admitted that in the search for truth, 
and in the avoidance of inaccuracies, caution may be 
carried beyond the bounds of reason. This is especially 
so in a subject like the study of the birds of Great Britain, 
where the increasing number of accurate observers is 
constantly adding to our local knowledge. In 1871 
Newton began the editing of the fourth edition of 
Yarrell's " History of British Birds," the standard work 
on the subject. There was an agreement made with 
Mr. Van Voorst, the publisher, to the effect that the 
whole book should be completed and published not later 
than the year 1885. By the end of 1879 only a quarter 
of the book had been produced. 

I only hope Part V. will not give me so much trouble. 
I have brought between two hundred and three hundred 
books here to enable me to get on with it, but I cannot 
say as yet that I have seriously begun, though much of 
the preliminary work is done. I have also brought a 
large number of skins. 

By the beginning of 1882, when more than ten of the 

* Letter to T. SouthweU, May 13, 1891. 



214 METHODS OF WORK 

foui'teen years had elapsed, and only a half of the book 
was ready, Mr. Van Voorst quite naturally began to get 
a little bit restive, and said that the copyright of " Yar- 
rell " would be out before long, and that at the rate of 
one part in two years no one of his generation would ever 
live to see the completion of the work. Newton con- 
tended that he had never made any agreeinent as to the 
date of issue, etc., that his system of editing required an 
intimate acquaintance with thousands of books and 
obscure publications, and that he could not do justice 
to the subject if he hastened the publication of the parts. 
Mr. Van Voorst threatened legal proceedings, and event- 
ually an arrangement was made to the effect that Mr. 
Howard Saunders should edit the third and fourth 
volumes of the book. The decision was welcomed by 
the long-suffering subscribers, but it was a bitter blow 
to Newton, who wrote : — 

This is a terrible wrench. For more than twenty- 
two years the preparation of " Yarrell " has been one 
of the main objects of my life, and 1 can safely say that 
no man ever devoted himself more faithfully to a task. 
On the other hand, I am now free from bonds that have 
held me in slavery (though you know the work has 
always been fascinating) foi* ten years and more.* 

To a man endowed with such a highly developed 
faculty of sceptical criticism, as the above-quoted letters 
show was the case of Newton, it might be expected that 
the quickly changing schemes of nomenclature and 
classification would cause, at the least, some searchings 
of heart. It nuist therefore be recorded that, so far as 
questions of classification were concerned, he always 
kept an open mind and was ever ready to consider new 
ideas. 

With regard to a systematic arrangement of birds, I 

* Letter to A. C. Smith, May 23, 1882. 



CLASSIFICATION 215 

am much mistaken if we are not on the verge of the 
adoption of changes which a short time ago would have 
astonished the most learned ornithologists, and that in 
a year or two all the old " orders " will be entirely 
broken up and new ones constructed. Prof. Huxley, 
Mr. Sclater, and I, working each from different sides, 
have come to something very like the same results, and 
I must confess I think our results are likely to be lasting 
ones. I own, therefore, I should be very sorry to see 
our University pledged to maintain a systematic arrange- 
ment which, unless I read the signs of the times very 
wrongly, is about to be set aside for ever.* 

It may be said, indeed, that he was always waiting 
for the true scheme of classification, and he never adopted 
one or publicly formulated one of his own so long as he 
lived. 

I think a fairly satisfactory arrangement (all things 
considered) of British birds might be made— beginning 
with CorvidcB. You may go to Buntings, Finches, and 
the Larks. Then comes a break and you must start 
afresh with (say) Paridce (including Nuthatch and Tree- 
Creeper) and so to Sylviidce, Turdidce, LaniidcB {-{-Am'pelis) 
and finishing with the Swallows, which so far as I can 
see form the only family of Passeres about the boundaries 
of which one can be sure. I believe I sent W. Eagle- 
Clarke a tentative list some years ago, of which he made 
use in the Edinburgh Museum, and I doubt whether I 
could improve upon it now — for one is no nearer the 
fedigree of British bird^ than one was then.j 

In questions of nomenclature it must l^e admitted 
that Newton was ultra-conservative. He founded his 
faith on the Twelfth Edition of the " Systema Nature " 
of Linnaeus, and he strongly resented any attempts to 
upset the old order. 

* Letter to Mrs. Strickland, February 12, 1867. 
t Letter to William Evans, November 20, 1898. 



216 METHODS OF WORK 

AVliat you call the Martes martes " difficulty " is no 
difficulty whatever to me. I follow the usage of a cen- 
tury or more, and when I find it expedient to adopt a 
specific form as generic I take the next oldest specific 
name, and there is sure to be one at hand. This was the 
invariable practice till a few years ago when these 
foolish people started on " principles " which were not 
only new, but such as no man of sense or education 
would take up. It has been shown that the Scomber 
scomber and one or two similar cases, sometimes cited 
in defence of the new theory, were probably due to care- 
lessness, or want of supervision. Certain it is that in 
Linnaeus' own copy of the 12th Edition of the " Syst. 
Nat." which you may see in the libraiy of the Linn. 
Soc. he has crossed out scomber as a specific name, and 
had his intended 13th Edition ever appeared it would 
doubtless have been corrected. 

It is a curious thing that the more ignorant and un- 
educated a man is the more he tries to upset all estab- 
lished scientific nomenclature ; but it has happened 
that a few educated men have (from vanity ?) done 
some mischief in the same direction, and they are greedily 
followed by the unlearned, who fancy themselves wiser 
than all the rest of the world /^ 

Certainly " comparative " names are objectionable, 
except the time-honoured major and minor. One 
objection is (and it applies even to these two words) 
that when one is bestowed, another species is so apt 
to turn up which renders it inapplicable. I think 
nothing is more abominable than naming animals after 
men or women, and of late the practice (which shows 
that the nomenclator is ignorant or idle, perhaps both) 
has been so followed that it is almost an insult for any 
person to be so " commeinorated." 

As to generic names, it has been reduced to an 
absurdity. AVhat do you think of Thonarsitorson as 
the generic name of a dove, given by Bonaparte in his 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett- HamUton, June 30, 1904. 



NOMENCLATURE 217 

later and semi-insane condition ? and according to 
Reichenbach the species stands as TJionarsitorson dupetit- 
thonarsei! (see Cat. B. Br. Mus., xxi. p. 90). I would 
sooner be a Scomber scomber. One of the most beautiful 
birds of the Sandwich Islands bears the joint names of 
two of the biggest rascals that ever landed upon them.* 

The practice of putting a small initial letter to a 
specific name originated, it seems, with Strickland, and 
for a long while indicated that whoever followed the 
practice accepted (at least in spirit) the British Association 
Rules for Nomenclature. Linnaeus himself never called 
any animal (but only plants) after a man or woman, and 
his practice was to write a substantive with a capital 
letter and an adjective with a small one. A great many 
people failed to see the difference and so confusion 
arose, f 

With the comparatively recent practice of describing 
sub-species and the introduction of trinomials, Newton 
could never bring himself to agree. Doubtless the 
enthusiasm of some of the modern naturalists outran 
their discretion, but it is impossible for the working 
zoologist to do without the use of trinomials altogether, 
and one cannot suppose that in the course of time 
Newton would not have seen the necessity himseK. 

Finsch wrote to tell me of Hartert having made some 
thirty or more subspecies of Alauda cristata, and now I 
hear of nine of Loxia curvirostra. 

If I had not so much on my hands I think I should 
do what might save future ornithologists a good deal of 
trouble. You know that England and Wales have fifty- 
two counties between them ; two of them, Rutland and 
Middlesex, are ornithologically speaking of small account 
and may be safely neglected, though the County Council 
of Middlesex thinks not a little of its capabilities and 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett-HamUton, October 12, 1898. 
t Letter to William Evans, November 21, 1898. 



218 METflODS OF WORK 

sternly prohibits the taking of Osproys', Bearded Tit- 
mouse's, and various eggs within its limits. Well, then, 
you have in South Britain fifty counties — for I don't 
propose to deal with N.B., where the more philosophical 
boundaries of watersheds have been successfully intro- 
duced — and I propose to take some common bird such 
as Frlngilla coelebs or Emberiza citrinella, or both, and 
divide each into fifty sub-species ; thus : E. citrinella 
nortkumbriensis ; E. citrinella dunelmensis ; E. citrinella 
eboracensis, lincolniensis, and so forth, as far as cornii- 
biensis, and then back again through Wales and the 
west coast, taking the Midlands afterwards. There will 
be the names on the asset side of my account and I shall 
not trouble myself about finding out the differences of 
all these sub-species, I may safely leave details of that 
kind to those whom it may sub-specially concern. 

Now will you give me room for a paper of this kind 
in your " Annals " ? If so, I reconmiend you to print 
twice as many copies of that particular number as usual, 
for I prophesy an enormous run upon it. 

All this new-fashioned stuff and nonsense about 
trinomials and nomenclature generally is begotten by 
pride (or self-conceit) upon illiteracy, and a very pretty 
progeny is the consequence ! Hartlaub wrote to that 
effect forty years ago, but he was unheeded ; now you 

have X the greatest sinner of all on this side of the 

Atlantic. He has been attacked by men who only half 
understand their business, so he has been able to score 
off them. Of course, that has made him worse. His 
ingenuity I admit, but his deficiency in common sense is 
obvious.* 

I am sure that the fewer new words a scientific author 
makes, the better chance he has of obtaining readers, 
even at the expense every now and then of a circum- 
locution. 

In like manner I can't see why people can't recognise 
the existence of breeds or local races without calling 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, July 20, 1904. 



TRINOMIALS 219 

them " sub-species " and giving each a special name. 
Again, too, if sub-species why not sub-sub-species, any 
number of subs, in fact ? 

I suppose you are committed to use " Vole," but I 
hope you will give due prominence to the fact that it is 
only the Orkneyan way of pronouncing and spelHng what 
in most parts of England is called Fell, and comes from 
the Old Norsk f joll — modern fjeld. Its first use is " Vole- 
Maus," i.e. Fell-Mouse, and in England the beast's 
common name is Field-Mouse, It was some learned 
donkey who thought of dropping the essential Mouse, 
and leaving the bare Vole, not knowing, of course, what 
the latter really stood for.* 

Already a year later he admitted that there were 
worse things even than trinomials, trifles though they 
were. 

I thought you might appreciate that reproduction of 
WoUey's sketch, and I am glad you do so, trifle as it is 
— but then the world is made up of trifles, and from 
some the more we can free ourselves the better. Of this 
kind are trinomials, motor-cars, hymns, and cats — the 
last perhaps the worst of all, for there is no avoiding 
them. Until I am run down by a motor-car I shan't 
much mind, and when I am run down I suppose I shall 
be finished and so mind still less.f 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, April 21, 1904. 
t Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, April 5, 1905. 



CHAPTER XIII 

LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

The labour which Newton devoted to the recording and 
identification of specimens for the Museum was equalled 
or even surpassed by the industry of his researches in 
the history of Ornithology and the meaning of names. 
The most casual perusal of the " Dictionary of Birds " will 
show that it is a mass of information with hardly a 
redundant sentence. The Introduction, in particular, 
which contains a history and a general survey of the 
science of Ornithology, is evidence of a rare and wide 
learning. From his undergraduate days Newton had 
taken an interest in Scandinavian tongues, his knowledge 
of which improved during his visits to Norway and 
Sweden, and to these he added a considerable knowledge 
of Anglo-Saxon. The present biographer wrote to 
Professor Skeat asking for some account of Newton as a 
student of languages and received the following letter in 
reply :— 

Cambridge, 

June 25/09. 

Dear Sir, 

I am quite grieved to find that I am unable to 
help you. I spend much time in helping others — they 
are quite welcome always. 

But unfortunately I have not kept Professor Newton's 
most useful letters. I used the information, all the same ! 

But you can say this : — - 

When I returned to Cambridge in 1864, I was 
extremely desiroiis of learning Anglo-Saxon, but knew 

220 



ANGLO-SAXON 221 

nothing as to the names of the best books, nor had I any 
idea as to whom to apply for information, as the study 
seemed to be absolutely unknown here. In this dilemma, 
I apphed to my oldest and best friend, who happened to 
be at that time a Fellow of Magdalene College. He 
bethought him of asking Newton for advice, who 
at once told him that the easiest book for a beginner 
was Vernon's " Anglo-Saxon Guide." I at once procured 
this very useful work (now superseded by Dr. Sweet's 
Anglo-Saxon Primer), and this enabled me to make a 
good beginning. But for Prof. Newton, I should not 
have known what to do ; and I owe it to him that I have 
been enabled to study Old Enghsh successfully. 

Prof. Newton was also well acquainted with Scandi- 
navian, and was especially interested in Scandinavian 
bird-names ; indeed he knew the names of birds in a large 
number of languages ; and in many cases, knew the 
history of the names themselves ; so that, for practical 
purposes, his philological knowledge was extensive. He 
most kindly assisted me (as well as the editors of the New 
Enghsh Dictionary) in many of my etymological investi- 
gations ; and I always found his information of much 
value. 

It is difficult to specify instances. But you will find 
an example under Ornithology, in my book entitled "Notes 
on English Etymology," Oxford, 1901, at p. 201. The 
information afforded by Prof. Newton helped me (and the 
New Eng. Diet.) to give a correct account of that word. 
I again quote him twice {s.v. Staniel) at pp. 280, 281, of 
the same. And again s.v. Whimbrel, p. 319 of the same 
work, I quote Willughby, whose work I never saw, but 
only knew by help of Prof. Newton's communications. I 
beheve I was also indebted to him for a recommendation 
to read Stedman's " Surinam," a most fascinating book, 
which I read through twice ; it helped me (and the New 
Eng. Diet.) to a correct understanding of the words 
Piccaninny and Quassia, see pp. 213, 234 of the same 
book. 

Prof. Newton was naturally much interested in the 



222 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

Anglo-Saxon names of birds. I remember that I pointed 
out to him the list entitled " Nomina Avium " in iElfric's 
Vocabulary, as printed at col. 131 of Wiilcker's reprint 
of T. Wright's " Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabu- 
laries," London, 1884. This he at once copied out on 
slips of paper and arranged in alphabetical order for ready 
reference. 

By his assistance I was able to give a fuller account 
of the phrase cockshut time than even that in the New 
English Dictionary. This article is printed at p. 166 of 
the Transactions of the {London) Philological Society for 
1903-6. I mention his name twice on p. 167. 

The only letter I can find from him is the one which 
I enclose, which gives useful information as to the word 
Avocet. You wdll see that he asks me to tell him when I 
publish my views on the subject. But I have not yet 
done so, as I cannot find the ultimate origin of the word. 
The only suggestion I know is that it is a derivative of 
Lat. avis, a bird ; and this is by no means satisfactory. 
All I know about it is that it occurs in l^^lorio's Italian- 
Enghsh Dictionary (1598), who gives : '* Avosetta, a 
fowle like a storke," and that he also spells it Avoserta. 

I also enclose the note which accompanied a present 
of Part II of his " Dicty. of Birds " (1893). 

I am extremely sorry that I can help you no further. 

Yours, 

W. W. Skeat. 

The letter concerning the Avocet, to which reference 
is made, reads : — 

10.1.1906. 

My dear. Skeat, 

Thanks once more. 1 find it was Gesner who 
first described the Avocet and published its name — over- 
leaf I have transcribed the passage. Aldrovandi, whose 
3rd volume of " Ornithologia " was not pubhshed tiU 
1603, though an Italian, added nothing to the point. I 
don't know, but I should infer that Gesner, who was a 
modest man and did not vaunt his own experience, 



PROFESSOR SKEAT 223 

probably saw the bird himself at Ferrara. It is rather a 
misnomer for the people to have called the Long-billed 
Curlew Spinzago, for its bill is distinctly blunt and not 
needle-pointed. Pray let me know when and where you 
publish your views as to Avosetta, that I may refer to 
them if occasion should arise. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

De Avosetta 

Avis hsec, cujus iconum in sequeH pagina damns, apud 
Malos Ferrarse auosetta (ni fallor) nominatur, nescio qua 
ratione : & a rostri sursum inflexi figura beccostorta 
& beccoroella. Lucarni circa lacum Verbanum spinzago 
d'aqua : nam &; arquata avis jam supra nobis descripta 
spinzago simpliciter eis nominatur, haec vero aquatica 
est, & palmipes. 

Conradi Gesneri, Tigurini medici & Philosophiae 
professoris in Schola Tigurina, " Historiae Animalium," 
Liber III, qui est de Auium natura (Tiguri : 1555), p. 225. 

The above is the earHest description of the Avosetta, 
but the same is first mentioned a few pages before (p. 215) 
in the description of the Arquata or Spinzago simpliciter, 



i.e. the Long-billed Curlew. 



A.N. 



He always spelt the Cuckoo in the old-fashioned 
manner " Cuckow," and preferred to write the Whooper 
Swan without the initial " W," for which he had the 
authority of Professor Skeat : — 

Cambridge, 
January 4, 1906. 

My dear Newton, 

I think the inconsistency in the spelling of 
hoof-wJioof is not exactly my own, but due to the per- 
versity of the English public. The correct form (etymo- 
logically) is hoop, but you cannot get people (as a rule) 
to adopt it. But if you have the courage of your opinions 



224 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

I should be glad to see the name hooper brought to our 
notice. It's precisely in the same case as hole, adj., 
which became whole about a.d. 1500 or a little earlier, 
and is likely to remain whole for another century. 

The cause was that (about 1450-1500) a habit arose 
of prefixing a well-pronounced w to words beginning 
with ho, hoo, o, oo. I gave a long list of these, and 
traced the fate of each word in the set, a few years ago, 
for the Camb. Phil. Society. One of the most interesting 
is hot, because Spenser got hold of the form whot, and 
stuck to it ; but it has now become hot again ; for 
the prefixing of the w was, first of all, in fashion ; and 
secondly, went out again : ivhole and whoop are almost the 
only ones left. But the w survives in dialects, as in 
woaks for oaks and wuts for oats. 

That's how I still write whoop, though I know that 
hoop is better, and I still wTite delight, though I know it 
to be an ignorant substitute for delite. 

As to spelling reform, I should like to see it ; but 
it is impracticable at present. I have an article to write 
upon it for the B.A. 

Yours sincerely, 

W. W. Skeat. 

The origin of the name Capercally or Capercaillie 
was the subject of much correspondence at one time with 
Mr. Harvie-Brown and others. 

Now about the etymology of Capercally. (Of course, 
I know nothing, absolutely nothing, of Gaelic.) Having 
to Aviitc the article thereon for the " Encycl. Brit." and 
being in great doubt as to the spelling, I applied to all 
such persons as I thought coidd help me — among others 
to the corresponding Editor of the Encylopsedia, Mr. 
McArthur, whom I requested to inquire of the best 
Gaelic scholar he could get concerning the meaning, etc., 
of the name, and I herewith enclose you 3 letters which 
were the result of that inquiry. The first from McArthur 
introduces the others. 1 never heard of Dr. McLauchlan 



CAPERCAILLIE 225 

before and take his reputation on trust from McArthur, 
but I doubt not he is a good authority. Not feeling quite 
sure of the particular sense in which McLauchlan used 
the expression " old bird," I applied to him again, asking 
whether it signified antiquus, adultus, or senex, and you 
will see that he says it means the last. " Capull " ( = 
Caballus) you perceive he will not hear of. Please to 
return me these letters at your convenience. 

My own opinion, so far as it is worth anything, is 
that the Gaelic name of the bird ought to be spelt as 
McLauchlan says, " Capercoille " — but the English or 
Lowland Scotch, I think, should be Capercally, or Caper- 
kally (plural — ^ies). The first of McLauchlan's letters 
shows, I think, how Sibbald's Cafricalea came about — 
" Gabhar," caper, the goat — but this is beside the 
mark. 

Your explanation of the interchange of z and y in 
old books is I think hardly sufficient, for they were used, 
I will not say indifferently, but at times one for the other, 
long before the days of printing, and Old Enghsh MSS. 
have a mysterious letter | or f about the pronunciation 
of which some of the best Old EngHsh scholars are in 
doubt ; for in some words it is modernized into gh, if I 
remember right, frequently into y consonant, and less 
commonly into z.* 

I am really greatly indebted to you for all the trouble 

you have taken in re Caper , but I am still in doubt 

as to how I should best render the name in English. 
The z is clearly not wanted, to say nothing of its being 
misleading to a Southron, and it seems to me that its 
retention savours of pedantry. It may be proper 
enough in a proper name like Menzies, just as we have 
people in England who stick to Smijth and ffolkes — ^the 
" ij " in the first being merely a " y " marked to show it 
is to be pronounced short, and the " ff " in the last 
standing only for an initial or capital F. 

Pennant, who seems to have been the first British (as 

* Letter to Mr. J. A. Harvie-Brown, March 16, 1878. 

Q 



226 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

opposed to Scottish or Irish only) naturaHst who mentions 
it as a bird of this country, says that it was called " in the 
old law books Caperkally." Your evidence contradicts 
this, but in some of the subsequent Acts it may have been 
so termed, for I have generally found Pennant pretty 
accurate. Still he gives no particular authority and it 
may be that he got this information verbally, in which 
case he is certainly not far wrong, for I suppose he in- 
tended the second '' a " to be sounded broad, and I am 
told that the nearest approach to the sound of the Gaelic 
when written in EngUsh is " Caper-coilye " or perhaps 
" Caper-choylye." It would be a great pleasure to me 
to prove Pennant absolutely right by finding a " law- 
book " in which the name was spelt " Caperkally " 
or " Capercally " — ^which last I am pretty sure WoUey 
used to maintain he had satisfied himself was correct. 

I wish Mr. Small wrote more distinctly, I can't be 
sure whether he means his new derivation to be " Cabbar " 
(an old bird) and " Coille," the first word being written 
to look more like " Cakkar." 

I forgot to answer the question in your former letter. 
I have duly received your paper on " Birds of Suther- 
land and Gulls in the Forth," but no duplicate copy of 
" Transylvania." * 

The word written by Mr. Small was correctly, 
** Cabher," signifying an old man, or old bird. 

Soon after this Mr. Harvie-Brown began to collect 
material for his book " The Capercaillie in Scotland " 
(pubHshed in 1879), and Newton gave him much help in 
looking for early references to the bird. 

I cannot find a copy of Lindsay's (Pittscottie) History 
in our library, but I have found that we possess 2 editions 
of the Scots Acts. In the older (printed in 1566) there 
is one of Q. Mary, 1551. "Of the prices of wylde and 
tame meitis. Ca. Xj," which are to be : — 

" Gran " 5/-, " Swan " 5/-, " Wylde geese of the 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, February 17, 1876. 



CAPERCAILLIE 227 

greit kind " 2/-, " Claikquink and mte " -jlSd,, 
" pleuver and small meere foule " -/4c?., " blak cok and 
the gray hen " -f6d., " the dosane of poutis " -/I2d., 
" quhaip "" -jGd., " the cuning " 2/- until the next feast 
of Fasternis Even and afterwards -/12c?., laproun 
-I2d., woodcok -/4i., larks and other small birds -j^d. 
the doz., " Snype and qualzie " -j2d., " tame geese " 
-/16(?., " capone " -/12c?., " hen and pultrie " -/8c?., 
" chikin " -/4c?., " gryse " -/18c?. 

In the later edition (1681) the same spelling is ob- 
served. 

Now what can this " gryse " be ? Sold at 18 pence 
when black cock and grey hen were at 6 pence and 
" pouts " (I suppose heath-poultes or moor-poultes, 
i.e. Red Grouse, at 12 pence the dozen ! Was it Caper- 
cally ? 

Pinkerton in his " Hist. Scotl. " (II. p. 397) prints a 
letter from one John Elder of Caithness to Henry VIII . 
in which the former says : — " Our delight and pleasure 
is not only in hunting of red-deer, wolves, foxes and 
graies, whereof we abound and have great plenty." 
" Graies " here are, of course, badgers, as also in the Act 
of Jas. II. (of Scotland), 1455, prescribing the dress of 
the Lords of Parliament, who were to have, '* ane mantill 
of reid, rychtswa oppinnit befoir, and lynit with silk, 
or furrit with cristy gray grece or purray." The later 
edition spells the word " griece." 

Badgers, though eatable, could never have come into 
the market sufficiently often to make it desirable for 
their price to be fixed, and I only quote these passages 
to be assured by you that the "grice" of Pittscottie 
cannot refer to them. 

But the " gryse " of Mary's Act puzzles me not a 
little just as much as some of the other birds (?) named 
in the same document.* 

I can no more decide whether Dr. McLauchlan or 
McArthur is the better Gaelic scholar than I can take 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, February 16, 1878. 



228 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

on me to say which derivation is the truer. But what 
makes me lean to the former is that not only has he the 
latter 's experience to go upon, but also that having asked 
the Editors of the " Encycl. Brit." to get the opinion of 
the best man, and they (having opportunity of knowing 
who that best man is and of getting his opinion) choose 
McLauchlan. Of course, both he and they are liable 
to error, and there are more differences of opinion among 
scholars than among naturalists even, though Heaven 
knows these are wide enough at times. What I should 
recommend you to do is to state both and adopt 
neither ! Your " Horse-cock "" * brings us to the fabled 
Hippolectryon of Aristophanes, or Cockhorse of our 
childhood ! 

I don't think the law of priority can apply in the case 
of derivations for a minute. We should have to accept 
the famous lucus a non lucendo, Roma from Romulus, 
Tibur from Tiburinus, and all the rest of the fanciful 
derivations invented before Etymology was anything but 
a series of guesses. 

Dr. McLauchlan's letters were, of course, written with 
the object of his views therein expressed being made 
public, but Mr. McArthur, I imagine, would not like 
being quoted as though he thought himself or was thought 
to be a Gaelic authority, for he told me in one letter that 
he was not. 

I sent you a card yesterday anent Przevalsky — one 
part of which (the 3rd) is wanting. 

A Squirrel inquiry would no doubt be in some 
degree interesting— but I don't think people will 
value it so much as they will this Caperkally investi- 
gation. 

Everybody seems to think that " Gryse " in that old 
statute means pig, I am sure it cannot be grouse. Have 
you made out mittalis,atteils,goldings (NB.,gaulding is 
now the general word in the EngHsh W. India Islands 
for the smaller Herons), mortyms, scJiidderenis, brissel-cocJc 

* This is a reference to an improbable derivation of the word from the 
Gaelic " capull," a horse. 



MISTLETOE THRUSH 229 

(c/. coq de brossailes) or fannies {cf. paons) ? " Lapron " 
I take to be Hare (Lepus). 

There is no doubt about the MS. use of 3 — cm|t= 
knight is a good illustration of it.* 

Mr. Thomas Southwell, a well-known Norfolk natur- 
aHst, found that the Mistle-Thrush was called in some 
districts of East AngHa " Drain," the same name by 
which the bird is known in France, and he asked Newton 
if he knew the origin of the word. 

March 5, 1902. 

My deae Southwell, 

I don't know what is the origin of Draine 
except it be as Vieillot, in the passage I have transcribed, 
says from the bird's cry " tre, tre, tre." Littre does not 
attempt any derivation, but RoUand compares it with 
the Spanish Drena. It has long been the pubhshed name 
of the Mistletoe Thrush in French books, and no doubt 
Bewick quoted it from Bufion. Buffon, by the way, 
is just as explicit about the birds feeding on the berries 
and bearing some of its common names from the fact as 
Vieillot is, and it is the same in various Italian dialects, 
which all come from the local name of the Mistletoe. 
Had not Mr. Engelheart " missled," he would have 
caught it pretty severely from me, but I am thankful 
I have not had to administer the punishment, for in my 
reply I stuck simply to the points he had raised. 

Wilkin had prepared me for some discrepancies 
between the different editions of Browne's " V.E.," but 
those you notice between that of 1646 and the others 
are in this case of no importance. In Wilkin's reprint 
he has the Greek word e^o^o/ao?, which is clearly 
wrong, for it ought to be l^oi^opo*; as it stands in 
Browne's first edition. 

I saw Wilkin's note about the European species of 
mistletoe, but that does not signify as the Viscum album 
admittedly grows in Greece and was doubtless the 
origmal igo?. 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, March 20, 1878. 



230 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

The articles in tho, Standard that I mean began fully 

20 years ago. Perhaps you know whether Mr. S has 

been writing all that time. I never heard of Mr. R 

or saw to my knowledge any of his articles. What a 
discovery for him to make about Dodman and Thrushes ! 
If he be an imitator of Jefieries he must be bad indeed, 
for I think the writings of the latter to be in the worst 
taste possible. It has always amazed me to read how 
much he is admired, for greater rubbish there can hardly 
be. Whenever he tried his pen on human beings the 
reviewers were down upon him, and most justly, for 
they saw what stuff it was ; but knowing no Nat. Hist, 
they did not find him out there. All the same I pity 
the wretched man. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

Writing in "Yarrell"* of the Mistletoe- Thrush, 
Newton added an interesting footnote on the subject of 
the bird eating the hemes of the mistletoe. 

This fact was known to Aristotle, as his name, 
{l^o^opos) for the bird shews. Dr. Prior, in his 
" Popular Names of British Plants " (p. 153), gives the 
derivation of Mistletoe, or its Old-English equivalent, 
Mistiltan, " from mistl, different, and tail, twig, being so 
unlike the tree it grows upon ; " but my two learned 
friends, Mr. W. W. Skeat and Mr. J. Rawson Lumby, 
think mistl to be an unusual contraction of the unusual 
form mistltc, which is a corruption of misUc (unlike), while 
the Doctor's derivation, taken from Bosworth, is contra- 
dicted by the use of the t in the old High-German mistil, 
(mistletoe). This last, clearly the origin of the plant's 
name, is probably from mist, meaning dirt or obscurity. 
The idea of dii't, from the viscosity of the berries, is 
most likely that which is here attached to the word ; 
but it may refer to Mist, one of the goddesses of fate in 
the Northern mythology, and in this sense Mistletoe 
would signify " twig of fate," in connection with which 
there is a story in Snorri's " Edda " (chap. 49). Tan, 



DECOY 231 

it may be observed, still survives in English as the 
" tine " of a fork or of a stag's antler. Anyhow it would 
seem that the proper name of this bird should be written 
in full " Mistletoe-Thrush," and not, as commonly, 
" Missel-Thrush." * 

The origin of the word " decoy " is not generally 
known. 

" I have had no doubt since I looked into the question 
of the origin of our word decoy. It comes straight from 
the Dutch " eende-coy " — ^Duck-coy — •" coy " meaning 
more than a cage but almost any kind of enclosure for 
keeping birds ahve. The " eende " not being under- 
stood by Englishmen soon lost its first syllable, and then 
you have the word exactly. I think I pointed this out 
in a review I wrote somewhere of Payne-Gallway's book, 
saying that it was absurd to speak of a Duck Decoy, 
though of course one might properly speak of a Decoy 
Duck. 

Pijlstaart is nowadays even the common Dutch name 
for the Pintail, which is almost translation of the word, 
" pijl " (pronounced file) being a spike of any kind. 
Pijlstaart was also applied by Dutch sailors to the Tropic- 
bird from its long spike-like tail, hence Pijlstaart Island, 
corrupted into " Pillstart," a well-known place to the 
North of New Zealand, and perhaps repeated in other 
seas. " Staart " is, of course, tail, as in Redstart, Start 
Point, etc.f 

Partly by reason of his physical infirmity, which 
necessarily made his life more sedentary than that of 
others, and partly owing to his habit of discouraging 
visitors except at stated hours, Newton had more time 
for reading than have most men, and he was blessed with 
an uncommonly retentive memory. Sale-lists and book- 
sellers' catalogues from all countries filled his letter-box, 
but he was not a collector of books, though his Hbrary 

* " History of British Birds," 4th edition, I. p. 260. 
t Letter to Mr. T. Southwell, May 5, 19U3. 



232 LANGUAGES AND WORDS 

contained many of great rarity, and his purchases were 
few. The University and Philosophical Libraries pro- 
vided hini with most of the books he wanted, and there 
were few treating even remotely of Natm-al History that 
did not eventually find their way to him. There was 
usually something to be learnt from them, but there were 
occasions when he found that his hours had been wasted 
and then he did not hesitate to trample on the luckless 
author. 

I have been wasting 3 or 4 days looking over an essay 
by a very great German classic on the Fauna of the early 
Roman writers. I had hoped to have found a great many 
allusions to birds and other animals all carefully set 
forth, but to my disappointment there is nothing of the 
sort, and the author avoids any serious difficulty. I 
believe the authorities here have gone so far as to say 
they will print this, but I should not advise it. You 
may judge what the book is like when the author wants 
to make out that the Napun, given by Pliny as an 
Ethiopian name of the Giraffe, is the Okapi ! As if the 
recondite resemblances between these two animals was 
plainly visible to every eye, instead of being reserved for 
those who are comparative osteologists ! People hke 
this ought to be shut up in Tolbooths or such-like places, 
where the harmlessly silly may live their lives without 
bothering others with their nonsense.* 

His varied learning and his accurate memory were 
constantly being called upon in the most diverse direc- 
tions and were seldom found wanting. At a meeting of 
" The Family," an old-fashioned University dining-club, 
somebody raised the question of the " No Snakes in 
Iceland " story. One member present remembered the 
reference to it in Boswell,f but it was Newton who knew 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, March 20, 1900. 

t "Langton said very well to me afterwards, that he could repeat 
Johnson's conversation before dinner, as Johnson said that he could repeat 



SNAKES IN ICELAND 233 

the origin of it, and at the request of Mr. H. T. Francis, 
then Librarian of Gains, he wrote the history in a note 
on the following day. 

M.C., February 12, 1903. 

My dear Francis, 

I told the whole of the " No snakes (or owls) 
in Iceland " story, chapter and verse, in Notes and 
Queries ever so long ago — ^perhaps 20 years — but I 
cannot lay my hands on the reference. Briefly it is this. 
There was one Anderson, burgomaster of Hamburg, who 
wrote " Nachrichten von Island " which was (posthum- 
ously) pubhshed in 1746 or 1747, and therein the occur- 
rence of Owls and Snakes in that island is mentioned. 
The Danish Government did not like what he said 
generally of the place, and employed one Horrebow to 
reply to him. This Horrebow did in his " TilferladeHge 
Efterretninges om Island," pubhshed in 1752, taking 
Anderson's assertions categorically. An English trans- 
lation of Horrebow appeared a few years after, each of 
the subjects on which he remarked being headed Chapter 
so and so. Thus you have " Chaper XLII. Of Owls. 
There are no owls of any kind in the whole island," — and 
the same with Chapter LXXIL " Of Snakes." I don't 
suppose the book attracted much attention till Sidney 
Smith (I think) happening to come across it saw the 
absurdity and l3rought it into some article (on quite a 
different subject) in the Edinburgh (?) Review and 
the expression has since become famous. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

a complete chapter of the ' Natural History of Iceland ' from the Danish 
of Horrebow, the whole of which was exactly thus : — 

' Chapter LXXII. — Concerning Snakes. 
' There are no snakes to be met with throughout the whole island.' " 
[" Life of Johnson," chapter xxxviii]. 



CHAPTER XIV 

WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

As the years went on the number of Newton's friends 
and acquaintances grew. Most of the leading zoologists, 
and many besides, in this and other countries were 
personal acquaintances and many of them were frequent 
correspondents. He never employed a secretary and 
was always most particular to answer a letter on the 
morning after its arrival. 

I don't know that much credit is due to me for 
being punctual in correspondence. Experience has 
shown me that in the end it saves trouble to be so, and 
that is why I am never easy so long as a letter remains 
unanswered. 

He wrote on the back of each letter the date of its 
receipt and the date of his reply : if the letter were of 
any importance, he wrote and kept a rough draft (which 
he labelled " draught ") of his reply. Nearly all letters, 
excepting the most trivial notes such as invitations to 
dinner, etc., he kept tied up in bundles. When it is 
remembered that he wrote to and received a letter from 
his brother Edward almost daily, and that his letter 
address book contains several hundreds of names, it can 
be believed that the accumulated correspondence of 
more than fifty years amounted to tens of thousands of 
letters. 

Although he was invariably courteous and punctilious 
in replying to people who wrote to him about one thing 

234 



CORRESPONDENCE 235 

or another, he complained in private of the time he 
wasted in writing to them : — 

People keep writing to me on every conceivable 
subject connected with birds, but there is nothing in 
their letters on which I need comment to you. I begin 
to suspect that I shall have to invent a lithographed form 
acknowledging the receipt of a stranger's letter " which 
shall have due attention," and then put it in the waste- 
paper basket — after which there must be another form 
to the effect that it " had received due attention." 
This would make one much beloved.* 

Apart from his purely scientific correspondence, 
Newton wrote regularly on all manner of subjects to a 
number of old friends, among whom may be particularly 
mentioned Canon Tristram of Durham, Lord Lilford, 
and Mr. J. A. Harvie-Brown. The first of these had a 
severe "stroke" in 1893, and the correspondence was 
interrupted for some months. When he was beginning 
to recover, Newton wrote to him : — 

I am indeed glad once more to see your handwriting, 
and I congratulate you most heartily on having once 
more resumed the practice of the 2nd of the " 3 R's " — 
and in your case I may say of the 4th since R-ticulation 
has been added to the others. I take it as a great 
compliment that you should select me as the recipient 
of your second MS., and I admire the judgment of your 
Dr. in prohibiting the two P's — preaching and poli- 
tics. I believe (miscreant that I am) that the former 
makes few men better, and I know that the latter makes 
many men worse. 

You are easily pleased if you can find delight in 
B.M. Cats ; as a whole a more useless litter was never 
kitted,! ^ot; even one which a few weeks ago my man 

* Letter to Lord Lilford, March U, 189L 

t I.e., "British Museum Catalogues," of which he had a deep-rooted 
dislike. A careless correspondent confused catalogues with dictionaries and 



236 WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

found deposited by my (garden) doorstep and by the 
desire of the mother's owner its members expiated their 
uncommitted offences in a prompt water-butt.* 

Even the comparatively trifling business of beginning 
or ending a letter demanded a definite amount of care 
and consideration. Mr. Harvie-Brown wished to dedi- 
cate a volume of the " Fauna of Scotland " to Newton 
and sent him a draft of the proposed dedication, which 
came in for Newton's criticism : — 

I indeed take it very kindly of you that you should 
wish to dedicate your book to me, but I confess I hardly 
think that a regular dedication is merited by my services 
or will in any way aid your book. It has already given 
me much pleasure to be of any use to you, but I think 
it only my duty to help any one who like yourself desires 
to promote and extend the knowledge of Natural 
History, and a few words in your preface or intro- 
duction will amply repay me for any trouble I have 
been at in regard to your book. 

If, however, you insist on a regular dedication, I 
would suggest that you should word it somewhat less 
formally, and at any rate substitute "Dear Newton" 
or "Dear Prof. N."— for the "Dear Sir" at the begin- 
ning, and "Yours very truly" or "Yours truly and 
obliged " for the " Faithfully yours " at the end. This, 
however, is only a matter of taste, yet taste has so 
much to do with Dedications that on this account I 
often think they are best left alone, or rather left out.f 

Most of his letters were written with a definite 

was properly reproved : — " In your letter you cite my note in the ' Catalogue 
of Birds ' instead of the ' Dictionary of Birds.' Of course this was but 
an inadvertence and being in a private letter is ot no consequence. I 
would only beseech you to be careful not in any publication to associate 
my name with the former of these works, as I have no wish to deprive 
its authors of the reputation it has achieved." (Letter to A. P. R. VVollaston, 
February 16, 1902.) 

* Letter to Canon H. B. Tristram, October 23, 1893. 

I Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, January 15, 1879. 



A ZOOLOGICAL ANECDOTE 237 

matter-of-fact purpose, and ** gossipy " is the last word 
that could be used of them, but his quiet (if somewhat 
caustic) humour relieved the dryness of many a page. 
He loved telling and hearing humorous stories — Dr. 
Guillemard remarks elsewhere that he laughed with his 
whole body — and he often passed them on in letters to 
his friends. The following was written as a postscript 
to a letter * to Mrs. Hugh Strickland dealing with the 
legal terms of a bequest to the Museum : — 

Here is a zoological anecdote. Mr. G. X. is very 
ugly and hairy. He went to call at a house a few days 
ago and found only a little girl in the drawing-room. 
He began to say something civil to her but she would 
not answer. At last he said, " You don't know who I 
am ? " *' Yes, I do," she replied, " I gave you a bun at 
the Zoological Gardens last Sunday — and, you naughty 
man, you had no clothes on ! " 

Newton wrote with a blunt quill pen a firm and 
distinctive, but too often illegible, handwriting which 
frequently bafHed the recipients of his letters : — 

Magd. Coll., 

May 26, 1892. 

My dear Potter, 

... I hope we may see you here one of 
these days, and you know you will always be welcome 
in my rooms. Poor Babington makes very little 
progress, and I doubt whether he will get about again. 
His doctor assured me to-day that it is only a bad form 
of gout — a disease from which his very abstemious 
habits ought to have kept him free — but it is said that 
he has been a martyr since his marriage to sweet 
puddings — so I pray you to take warning and believe 
me to be, 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

* July 6, 1878. 



238 WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

Mr. Potter replied that a diet of suet puddings was 
hardly appropriate for a man of Professor Babington's 
age, which drew from Newton a postcard : — 

" Sweet not Suet puddings have been the bane of 
C. C. B. The latter are not only excellent but, in 
moderation, harmless. Excuse my bad writing. — A. N." 

Most of his letter- writing was done in the morning 
after a late breakfast. The afternoon he usually spent 
in his room at the Museum, and late at night he did 
the greater part of his writing : — 

As for working at night I am sorry to hear that you 
object so much to it. For the last 20 years and more 
nearly all my best head work (if any of it has deserved 
such an epithet) has been done between 10 p.m. and 
2 a.m. simply because it is only then that I can ensure 
being free from interruption. It is true that one 
might get 4 hours in the very early morning — but then 
one must interfere with other people's hours about 
getting up — servants' especially — for I could not under- 
take to do anything without breakfast and a fire, and I 
don't think I am really the worse on the whole for my 
early hours.* 

He was almost meticulously exact in his writings, 
which made him a slow worker, as it took him some 
minutes to get up from his chair, find a required 
passage in a book, and return to his chair. 

. . . such reputation as I have for accuracy, and I 
will not pretend to say that it is not to some extent 
deserved. I have from time to time come an " awful 
howler " for, do what you will, such things are not 
always to be avoided, f 

The " Dictionary of Birds," with its thousands of 

* Letter to Thomas Southwell January 21, 1888. 
t Letter to R. Holt- White, April, 1907. 



PUBLISHEES 239 

references and quotations, represents an amount of 
labour that can hardly be computed, and the number 
of inaccuracies in it is insignificant. One of his own 
copies is full of hundreds of notes in pencil, many of 
considerable importance, additions, suggestions and 
corrections, which, it may be hoped, will be embodied 
some day in a new edition. 

As in the case of the Fourth Edition of " Yarrell," 
mentioned above, Newton was provokingly slow in the 
preparation of the "Dictionary of Birds," so much so 
that he had a serious quarrel with his publishers about 
the question of payment. Many of his friends were 
persuaded that he had a good case for going to law with 
them, but such a course was distasteful to him, and 
after many delays the book was completed. 

It may readily be believed that Newton's habits of 
delay were in a high degree irritating to publishers and 
other people of business-like methods. The publication 
of any book or pamphlet of his involved usually a 
somewhat heated correspondence, of explanations of 
delay on his part, and of protest on the part of the 
exasperated and long-suffering publisher. During one 
of these controversies, when he was in the throes of 
publication, he wrote : — 

I may use the words of Eli about his wicked sons 
and say it is no good report that I hear of "Messrs. 
X. and Y." ; but publishers I really believe are all 
scoundrels alike, especially those of the highest repute. 
One must be dumb before the shearers because one 
can't help oneself. They keep well within the law, 
which it is their business to know, but the law enables 
them to fleece their victims at pleasure. I have 
forgotten the particular incidents of the opening of the 
6th Seal, but I know there is somewhere an uncomfort- 
able place mentioned in which there will no doubt be 



240 WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

room for publishers, and bootmakers, who next to the 
former inflict the greatest misery on unoffending 
mortals.* 

He insisted always on a high degree of accuracy in 
his pupils, greatly to their benefit in after years, and 
advised them always to write down their ideas and 
record any interesting observations. He would often 
himself copy pages out of a book which he did not 
possess, for possible future use. 

Don't give way to the desire of self-advertisement. 
Depend upon it your opportunities will come of them- 
selves. But it is a good thing to write down one's 
thoughts, theories and inventions, though it may be 
years before one uses them. What I put into my 
article " Migration " was sketched out and in part 
written one night at Brussels, at least 20 years before 
I had the chance of putting it into the " Encyclopaedia 
Britannica ! " f 

As to writing and tearing up what one has written, 
I take that to be the only way of doing good work — 
and even the practice I have had for fifty years does 
not save me from that kind of thing. What I wrote 
on Gilbert White for the " Diet, of Nat. Biogr." must 
have been written and rewritten three or four times 
at least, some passages perhaps less often, but others 
more. % 

. . . What I mean by " revision " — about which 
you inquire — I can best explain by stating my own 
way of proceeding. I write, rewrite, and again rewrite, 
everything I intend for publication — beside reading 
aloud to myself all I have written between the 2nd and 
the 3rd writing — and again after the 3rd writing is 
done. It is a tedious business, and apparently not 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Bro\vn, September 26, 1905. 
t Letter to C. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, March 23, 1901. 
X Letter to R. Holt- White, October, 1899. 



STYLE 241 

always successful — witness Mr. 's improvements (?) 

on my article — but on the whole it answers, especially 
the reading aloud to oneself, for I would not, on any 
account, have any one to hear me. Another thing in 
" revision " which I have found useful is to get rid of 
every word (adjectives especially) that has not an 
eJQTective meaning, and to reduce every sentence to the 
smallest number of words. Here, again, it seems from 

Mr. 's treatment, I don't always succeed, and so 

in all humility I offer these suggestions. It more than 
once struck me in reading your MS. that it was capable 
of being strengthened in places by omitting a word or 
two here and there, or by recasting a sentence. My 
own experience goes to show that these emendations 
occur to one when one is reading aloud, for then the 
ear tells one that this, that, or the other might be 
bettered.* 

His own writings were distinguished by a marked 
simplicity of style ; every word was well chosen and 
seldom was one redundant. 

You will see that I have always taken exception to 
the use of " central " as applied to tail feathers. I dare 
say this may be a bit of pedantry on my part, but my 
notion of " centre " (and therefore of its adjective) 
always implies a certain spot in a definite enclosed 
space, and accordingly the word is inapplicable to the 
middle feathers of the tail, though I am well aware 
that it is often so used by authors who don't care for 
accuracy. " Middle " is a good old plain English word 
which may well be employed instead, f 

... In the report (Migration) there are only two 
things other than ordinary composition " fads " that 
seem to need correction — one is "most of" into 
" nearly all " because a " most " occurs in the next 

* Letter to R. Holt- White, May 5, 1900. 
t Letter to T. Southwell, October 30, 1888. 

R 



242 WEITING AND CONSERVATISM 

line, and the other is the misspelling of Rossitten, for 
which I must hold myself guilty in my MS. 

B.'s suggestions don't amount to much, and if it 
would gratify him might all be adopted — though I 
should shorten his " what may at present be termed " 
into " apparently," that being vague enough for any- 
thing. I dislike " commence " to do a thing — what is 
the harm in " begin," a word which is going out of 
fashion so fast that the next revision of the Old Testa- 
ment is likely to open with the words " In the com- 
mencement," etc ! 

I can never see why in serious writing Daws should 
be nicknamed Jack. The word did well enough of 
itself for Shakespeare, and naturalists do not generally 
write of Tom Tits. Jack- Snipe is quite another matter, 
and there the prefix has a real meaning, though it may 
be of obscure origin.* 

Being endowed with a very highly critical faculty, 
Newton was naturally somewhat intolerant of the less 
considered judgments of others. Among those who 
came in for his especial condemnation were (often very 
undeservedly) writers of ''popular" Natural History 
and the reviewers of Natural History books. 

For a long while it has been the burthen of my 
song that we have more Natural History Journals than 
the country can afford, with the result that the numer- 
osity is not only injurious to the Journals themselves 
but to Natural History itself, as it lowers the tone of 
the contributions. I wish I had friendly advice to give 
you, but I hardly know what can be done. If you, or 
any other man in your position (should such there be), 
were to buy up one or two of these miserable periodicals 
which have no excuse for their existence, I fear the 
only efi"ect would be that successors, still less worthy of 
support, would be started ; and yet I know nothing 
else that is possible. 

* Letter to F. Knubley, August 16, 1903. 



REVIEWEES 243 

The lot of rubbishy naturalists we have about is 
Very great, and the worst of it is that the people of this 
country like a low class of Natural History writing 
better than a high one. Look at the way the most 
wretched books sell, and the silly style in which they 
are reviewed ! Editors of newspapers seem to think 
anybody capable of reviewing a Natural History book, 
or of writing a Natural History article. If occasionally 
a competent critic does speak his mind, he is put down 
as ill-natured or as having some private spite.* 

Natural History reviewing is one of the lost arts 
in this country. They still practise it rather well in 
America, for the reviewers there seem to take some 
little trouble to learn what the author has to say. 
Here a man only scribbles off a lot of platitudes, or 
if he wants to be nasty tells his readers what he thinks 
the author ought to have said.f 

In spite of his fundamental devotion to accuracy, 
he was equally cautious in assertion, and he would 
never, if it could be avoided, allow himself to be drawn 
into controversy. He was invited to contribute to a 
well-worn discussion about the hibernation of the 
Cuckoo. 

the Cuckow, the Cuckow ! What a bird that is ! 
I do not completely " endorse " (lingua Americana) 
Baldamus, because it is manifest that his statement is 
not " universally " but only *' approximately" true, and 
this is enough. Quod scripsi scripsi, and Newman 
means to reprint my Nature article in the Zoologist. 

1 have not the slightest wish to take part in a con- 
troversy which promises now, as it proved to be before, 
to be productive of much acerbity ; for the editor of 
Nature three years and more ago sent me many letters 
which he had received but never printed, and the 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie- Brown, October 23, 1887. 
t Letter to T. Southwell, February 27, 1902. 



244 WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

violence with which people expressed themselves was 
amusing. The Cuckow is one of the Englishman's 
divinities, and anybody who strives to dispel or explain 
the mystery pertaining thereto is supposed to be guilty 
of profanity. It was this that chiefly made me abstain 
from writing an article on " Cuckow's Dupes " which I 
had long been perpending. 

Dear old Hewitson would go at me with still greater 
fury than he has exhibited towards you. "Doubt my 
Cuckow, doubt me." So that in spite of your solicita- 
tions (and there are not many of my friends to whom 
I would sooner listen) I must preserve my peace of 
mind. * 

His habitual caution prevented him from uttering 
theories about such questions as Classification or Geo- 
graphical Distribution, and to matters of philosophical 
speculation it may be said that he was almost in- 
difi'erent. 

I do not think Huxley can be charged with coining 
the word " Positivism." I have heard it these 20 
years nearly, though I confess I have never attached 
any very definite meaning to the word, or cared to 
know anything about M. Comte, the founder of the 
system. I have heard Huxley call it a kind of super- 
stitious infidelity which had all the advantages of 
Popery without anything to counterbalance them, but 
I am not curious in these matters and, believing that 
everything in this world is comparative from Anatomy 
downwards, I have not troubled myself to inquire into 
the merits of a Positive Philosophy, f 

In politics, as one might expect, Newton was 
staunchly Tory, the old order was the best and changes 
should be opposed ; but it cannot be said that he was 

* Letter to Rev. A. C. Smith, April 22, 1873. 
t Letter to Mrs. Stricklaad, June 26, 186'J 



POLITICS 245 

ever actively concerned in politics, either national or of 
the University. 

We are all furious here ; the Council has refused to 
allow a petition against Gladstone's Bill to come before 
the Senate, and I believe we shall have to nonplacet 
every Grace till the Council comes to its senses. But 
I do wish we had a leader one could respect. The last 
squib though from the other side is good — 

O Teddy Perowne 1 is gone to his own, 
He is gone to his own in a chariot, 
On a fizzing hot plate he is sitting in state 
With Pilate and Judas Iscariot. 

1 It has just struck me that this is an obvious mistake, and for 
"Teddy P," I should read "Billy Gladstone. "—A. N.* 

When Lord Salisbury went to Cambridge in 
January, 1891, he confessed that he had never been 
to a political meeting in his life, and thought it useless 
at his time of life to begin the practice of attending. 

In College politics, as well as in greater affairs, he 
was staunchly conservative, and in the progressive days 
at the beginning of this century it often happened that 
he voted in a minority of one. The following instances, 
familiar to many Cambridge men, of his sturdy opposi- 
tion to change have been so well told by Mr. Benson 
that they may best be given in his own words : — 

Shortly after this date (1905) music was introduced 
into the service. There had not been a musical instru- 
ment in the chapel since 1680, or any species of music, 
and the introduction of the harmonium was a sore blow 
to the Professor, who had hitherto successfully resisted 
all attempts to establish an organ in the chapel. When 
hymns were introduced, it was an unfailing amusement 
to see the Professor open a hymn-book, and survey the 
scene with ill-concealed disgust. He used to shut the 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, June 6, 1869. 



246 WEITING AND CONSERVATISM 

book with a snap before the end, and sit ostentatiously 
down with an air of relief. He always said a loud 
Amen at the ends of the prayers ; but when the Master 
introduced a little prayer for the College, from the old 
Compline Service, the Professor used to turn to the 
pages of his Prayer-book, look round with dramatic 
bewilderment, as though he thought the Chaplain was 
delirious, and hold his lips stiffly sealed at the con- 
clusion, for fear he should forget himself and add the 
endorsement of an Amen to any petition of so singular 
a character. 

On another occasion it was proposed that ladies 
should be admitted, in restricted numbers, to the 
chapel service. The discussion was amicable, and a 
system was suggested. To my surprise, the Professor 
took very little part, except to interject an occasional 
growl ; but when the motion was put to the vote, the 
old man grew suddenly white, and in a voice strangled 
with passion made a most vindictive speech. He said 
that he disapproved of all the alterations in the chapel 
service ; that it was no longer the least pleasure for 
him to attend. Everything done or suggested was 
utterly out of keeping with the idea of a plain collegiate 
service. He disliked it all from the bottom of his 
heart ; and he wound up by saying that we might pass 
what votes we liked, but that if one lady was admitted 
to the chapel service he should never set foot in the 
building again. 

An embarrassing scene occurred when one of the 
Fellows asked leave that his daughter's marriage might 
be celebrated in chapel. The Professor exploded in 
wrath. He had never heard such a preposterous sug- 
gestion. A College chapel was not intended for such 
things as weddings ; the young lady could have no 
associations with the place ; he regarded it as a most 
improper and entirely unaccountable proposal. On that 



COLLEGE POLITICS 247 

occasion the rest of the governing body were rather 
indignant at the attitude of the Professor to what 
seemed a very reasonable request, the matter was put 
to the vote, and the chapel placed at the disposal of the 
Fellow in question. At the following College meeting 
the Fellow withdrew his request. His daughter had 
been so unfortunate as to break her leg while playing 
lawn tennis ; she was to be married quietly in the neigh- 
bouring village church as soon as she could get about. 
The Professor smiled, and said, with really incomparable 
humour, Solvitur non ambulando. 

One great scene took place when an organ was 
offered by one of the Fellows to the College chapel. It 
was thought that the Professor would object so strongly 
that the proposal was deferred. Eventually, however, 
it was brought forward. The Master began by saying, 
" I have a proposal to make about the chapel, which I 
fear you will not like. Professor." The Professor flared 
up and said, " No, indeed, I never come here without 
hearing something that I dislike very much." The 
offer was then stated, and every one then welcomed it 
with cordiality and enthusiasm. The Professor waited 
till they had done, and then, with a little bow to the 
donor, said, " Words entirely fail me to express my 
sense of the generosity and public spirit which prompts 
this offer. But I am bound to say that I object in toto 
to music in a College chapel. It is entirely out of cha- 
racter, and I am therefore bound to oppose what I 
believe to be against the best interests of the place." 
The usual scene took place, the Professor voting in a 
minority of one. But when the organ was erected, he 
contrived to say something pleasant to the giver about 
its improving the appearauce of the chapel.* 

As well as of bootmakers and publishers, Newton 
was pardonably impatient of Bores : — 

* A. C. Benson, Cornhill Magazine, June. 1911. 



248 WRITING AND CONSERVATISM 

I always try to love my enemies, but I think it 
can hardly be inconsistent with Christian principles to 
hate bores, seeing that the New Testament lays down 
no injunction as to how they are to be treated, unless 
by a slight change of spelling they are to be driven 
down a steep place to perish in the water below.* 

It is not easy to avoid conveying the impression of 
a fiercely intolerant and prejudiced man, impatient of 
opposition, and convinced of his own unassailable exact- 
ness. Such he might, and doubtless did, seem to some 
on first acquaintance, but, good fighter as he was, and 
hating innovations, he had the keenest sense of justice. 
Mr. A. C. Benson wrote f of him : *' I never saw a man 
who took a defeat better. He fought to the last 
moment, and when he was outvoted, he accepted the 
situation gracefully and good-humouredly. I never 
heard him make any sort of criticism or recrimination 
afterwards." 

It is not unkind to say that he was almost com- 
pletely lacking in emotion, but under his somewhat 
grim exterior lay a really warm heart and an un- 
expected depth of afi'ection for and understanding of 
others. He took a keen personal interest in the young 
men who came to visit him, and his judgments of their 
capabilities were seldom at fault : — 

Balfour, J scholar of Trinity, was here last night; 

* Letters to Canon H. B. Tristram, September, 1892. 

t Op. cit. 

X Francis Maitland Balfour, bom 1851, Scholar and Fellow of Trin. 
Coll. Camb. Oxford was most anxious to gain him as a successor to the 
late Professor G. Rolleston, and Edinburgh made repeated efforts to 
secure him for her chair of Natural History. But he would not leave his 
own university, and in recognition of his worth and loyalty a special pro- 
fessorship ot animal morphology was, in the spring of 1882, founded for 
him at Cambridge. On July 18, 1882, he and his guide set out from 
Courmayeur to ascend the virgin peak of the Aiguille Blanche de Peu- 
teret. They never came back alive (" Diet, of Nat. Biography"). 



F. M. BALFOUR 249 

second in the First Class of the Nat. Sci. Tripos, of this 
year, and no doubt the next Fellow of Trinity. Younger 
brother of Balfour of Whittingehame. He is exceedingly 
quiet and modest. He will be a very great man, and I 
should be sorry to lose him from Cambridge. . . . He 
will be more known as a student and from his researches 
than in any other way, unless he gets over his 
shyness.* 

Nor did his interest in young zoologists cease when 
they left the University. Most of them came back at 
one time or another to see him at Cambridge, and he 
was always generous in giving help and advice to his 
friends : — 

I don't say you are wasting time over Palsearctic 
mammals. It is a great thing for a man to have a 
special subject, of which he can become master; but 
the more he is able to generalise the better, and this 
especially in the matter of travel and observation in 
foreign countries. Hence my great regret that you are 
not going with Skeat, who (by the way) was here last 
night. A twelvemonth in the Tropics could not fail to 
do you a world of good. I know what a benefit it was 
for me to have been six months and more in the West 
Indies. A journey to Siberia would, of course, be very 
profitable to you ; but it would not enlarge your view 
as to Nature in the same way that working in the 
Malay Peninsula would. 

I always regret that I did not do more in the 
travelling way, but various obstacles presented them- 
selves. I ought to have gone to the Cape and to Aus- 
tralia, to say nothing of the Sandwich Islands, f 

* Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, August 17, 1874. 

t Letter to G E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, January 19, 1899. 



CHAPTER XV 

WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

From the time of his election to the Professorship of 
Zoology in 1866 until the end of his life, Newton never 
left Cambridge for more than a few weeks at a time, 
and for the greater part of that time, until within a few 
years of his death, when he appointed Mr. William 
Bateson, F.R.S., to be his deputy, he delivered a course 
of lectures in two terms of every year. 

I began holding forth to-day and had a pretty good 
audience — 30 or 40 at least — and 14 men were kind 
enough to inscribe their names on a board, which means 
as many pounds in my pocket ! I gave them some very 
heretical notions (according to some people's ideas) but 
wrapped up so judiciously that I believe even Clayton 
would not have been shocked.* 

Dr. Shipley has mentioned in another chapter 
(p. 104), Newton's apparent shyness in lecturing : this 
was probably an expression not so much of shyness as 
of a strong distaste for the business of lecturing. 

If I could afford it I would to-morrow give up part of 
my salary to pay a lecturer who would be more com- 
petent than myself, and such a man I could find easily 
enough, because I know that I am one of the worst of 
lecturers. In the first place, I never found myself 
getting any real good from lectures when I had to listen 
to them, and disbelieve totally in them. A man who 
does believe in them might, or assuredly would, do 

* Letter to H. B. Tristram, October 22, 1866. 
250 



ZOOLOGICAL TEACHING 251 

better than one who does not. Of course, lecturing is 
anything but the chief part of my duties, as I under- 
stand them, and the rest I flatter myself I perform 
decently.* 

When the teaching of Zoology in the University was 
considerably changed about the year 1884, after the 
death of Francis Balfour, Newton went to the trouble of 
writing a course of lectures on Geographical Distribution, 
and another course on Evidences of Evolution. They 
were very correct, painstaking lectures, but unfortu- 
nately he found that they would not stretch over a 
whole term each, of three lectures a week. He 
announced that he would lecture on Monday, Wednes- 
day, and Friday at twelve oclock, but year after year 
he told the class that next Monday he would unfortu- 
nately not be able to lecture owing to urgent business ; 
and this would continue throughout the term. He 
went instead on a weekly tour of inspection of some 
farms with the College Bursar, his friend F. Pattrick. 

It is quite certain that he put little value on lectures 
as a means of teaching. What he thought of the 
University course of zoological studies, or what he 
would have liked to see substituted for it, is not so 
plain to see. 

A course of Elementary Zoology is undoubtedly a 
good thing and I wish there had been such a thing in 
my younger days, but my experience of it here is that 
it is very apt to disgust or at least dishearten the man, 
who is by nature a zoologist. If he can stand it, all the 
better for him ; but it is only a groundwork, and the 
mistake so many people make is that after they have 
gone through the course they think they are finished 
zoologists, f 

* Letter to Mrs. Strickland, March 18, 1874. 
t Letter to N. B. Kinnear, February 13, 1907. 



252 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

He never ceased to lament his lack of an early 
training in Zoology, and quite unjustly accused him- 
self of narrow-mindedness. Such a charge could never 
be brought against the man who encouraged F. M. 
Balfour in 1875 to establish a class in Morphology, a 
subject of which he (Newton) was quite without know- 
ledge ; he gave up his own private room in the Museum 
to Balfour's class, and did everything he could to 
promote its success. 

The narrow-mindedness of which I accuse myself has 
reference to other branches of science than Ornithology ; 
in that I believe I have always been fairly afield, and if 
I had only had anything of a scientific education, such 
as boys and young men nowadays so easily get, I dare 
say I should have been more tolerant of conchologists 
and such like. You may imagine what a grind it was 
when, at 37, I had to get up the animal kingdom for 
myself and by myself in order to teach its nature to 
others ! I often wonder if some of my earlier pupils 
remember the astonishing blunders I know I used to 
make. Fortunately, very few of my classes knew any- 
thing about the subject, and I used to contrive to make 
some of those that did teach me.* 

He admitted frankly that the study of the Invertehrata 
had little attraction for him, and he heaved a sigh of 
relief when in the course of his lectures he reached more 
congenial Orders. 

November 23, 1877. 

My dear Lilford, 

I have been busying myself, as usual at this 
time of the year, with animals very unlike birds ; going 
through the customary course of Invertebrates and, as 
in each preceding year, becoming convinced of the 
hopelessness of anybody being able to comprehend the 
length and breadth and depth of them. These 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, June 26, 1886. 



MR. PERKINS AND THE DUKE 253 

qualities would puzzle even Solomon himself had he 
lived to these our days, only, like the wise man he was, 
he judiciously expired before Comparative Anatomy 
was invented, and so escaped the difficulty. I look 
forward, however, to reach my paradise of Birds once 
more some time next week and then, for anything I 
care, the " slimy things " may " crawl upon the slimy 
sea" just as they did in the presence of the Ancient 
Mariner, until October next. 

Meantime Ornithology with me has been almost at 
a standstill ; nothing seems to have occurred worth 
thinking about, nor have I heard of any shooting to 
deserve putting on paper. The most sporting character 
(observe the accent) in the University, namely the 
tutor of Downing, has nearly sent himself out of this 
world by trying to extract a thorn from his knee with 
a knife that he had used a few days before for cutting 
off a fox's brush, without cleaning the blade. Not 
only his life but his limb has been saved, but he has 
lost his liberty, and we the stories that are generally 
current about his sayings and doings at this time of 
year. Not many seasons ago the Duke of Cambridge 
hired the shooting at Six Mile Bottom, which used to 
be Genl. Hall's, and as there are certain enclaves of 
Downing property therein, he was advised to continue 
the General's policy of inviting some representative of 
that college to shoot. He did so, and this man went. 
When they stopped for luncheon the bodily wants of 
H.R.H. were attended to before those of any one else, 
and this Jack Perkins thought bad manners ; so he 
exclaimed : " Why, Highness, if you came to shoot 
with me I should help you first ; and when I come to 
shoot with you, I think you ought to treat me in the 
same way." I believe he has not since had the 
opportunity of being " helped." 

Pardon me all this twaddle, and believe me, 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 



254 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

While I think of it. I heard one of the best bulls 
yesterday. An Irishwoman giving evidence about her 
husband, strongly in his favour, was at last asked, " Is 
he a faithful husband ? " and answered, " Bedad, then 
for that I couldn't say, sor, for my last child was not 
his at all." Ponder this. — A. N. 

To the end of his life Newton always protested that 
lecturing was quite out of his line, and when he was 
dying he insisted on his nephew Charles burning 
bundle after bundle of lecture notes, lest they should 
fall into the hands of some misguided person, who 
might, perhaps, publish them under his name. 

But the necessary course of professional lectures 
took very far from a first place in his activities. His 
friend and former colleague at the Museum, Mr. J. W. 
Clark, wrote of him : — 

From the first day of his election Newton took a 
keen interest in the Museum, using this word in its 
widest sense. He was absolutely catholic in his views. 
Ornithology was his pet child ; but all the other 
members of the Museum family were treated by him 
with afiectionate regard, even down to the preparations 
of organs in spirit — which he never really liked, but 
submitted to as necessities. He made his friends and 
wide circle of acquaintances help him in the acquisition 
of specimens from all quarters of the world ; and the 
rapid development of our collections is largely due to 
his energy. Without him we should never have had 
the skeleton of the Extinct Manatee (Rhytina), the 
White Rhinoceros, the Extinct Ox {Bos primigenius), 
and many other rarities.* 

The skeleton of the Bos primigenius mentioned by 
Mr. J. W. Clark came from Burwell Fen, between 
Cambridge and Ely. 

* Cambridge Review, June 13, 1907. 



CHARLES KINGSLEY 255 

Nothing new of importance, except that I have got 
through William nearly an entire skeleton of the most 
lovely Bos primigenius, which I intend shall be the 
envy of the world. I am going to have a further 
search made for the missing bones, but as it is it is 
wonderfully perfect. Such a monster ! He was quite 
at the bottom of the peat resting on the clay and must 
therefore have come to his end in very early days. 
Also there could have been no wolves or foxes about or 
they would have run off with some of the small bones 
— whereas we have 7 out of the 9 tail vertebrae and 
the bones of the tongue (hyoid). I got it, too, very 
cheap, which is an additional advantage. A neigh- 
bouring curate hearing that the men were digging up a 
bull came after it for the Bury Museum while William 
was there and had the head in a cart covered with a 
sack. His reverence tried to make the men discon- 
tented, but William held his peace.* 

One of the friends who was always ready to help 
him in acquiring specimens for the Museum was another 
Magdalene man, Charles Kingsley, who wrote after a 
voyage to the West Indies in the winter of 1869-70 : — 

March 10, 1870. 

My dear Newton, 

Your letter explains. I wrote a long letter 
to Clark the day after I came back, bidding him send 
it on to you and sending you messages, and had no 
answer. 

I have brought all I could get. Snakes (some very 
rare) and bats. The niggers have shot all the birds. 

I asked Clark, or you, to come hither, or both if you 
could, see us, and see what you wanted to carry off. 
They are few, but more are coming. If you will let 
me know whether you can come or not, I will write 

* Letter to Mrs. Strickland, April 25, 1874. 



256 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

more fully. We had no opportunity of using your 
kind introduction at St. Thomas'. 

The West Indies are a neglected Paradise. What 
fouls human beings are — specially English ! 

Ever yours, 

C. KiNGSLEY. 

P.S. — I have, I hope, opened a regular trail from 
the West Indies to the Museum. 

Kingsley was for many years a close friend and a 
frequent, but illegible, correspondent of Newton, who 
suggested to him the references to the Great Auk in 
" Water Babies." The following characteristic letter 
was with difficulty deciphered : — 

Eversley Rectory, 

June 4, 1867. 

My dear Newton, 

Your bird books are delightful. Gladly 
would I give up History to think of nothing but dicky 
birds : but it must not be — yet. 

Some day, ere I grow too old to think, I trust to be 
able to throw away all pursuits save Natural History, 
and die with my mind full of God's facts instead of 
man's lies. 

Yours ever, 

C. Kingsley. 

On the back of this letter Newton wrote : — 

Froude informs the Scottish youth 
That parsons have no care for truth. 
The Reverend Canon Kingsley cries 
That history is a pack of hes. 

What cause for judgment so mahgn ? 

A brief reflexion solves the mystery. 
For Froude thinks Kingsley a divine, 

And Kingsley goes to Froude for history.* 



* These verses are quoted in iVoude's obituary notice in the Times 
of October 22, 1894, and are there attributed to "the present Bishop oi 
Oxford [Stubbs]." 



INTEREST IN UNDERGRADUATES 257 

Another of his activities, though necessarily less 
public than those already mentioned, was his practical 
help to young men who may have attended his lectures 
or his Sunday evenings, in their efforts to obtain work 
after leaving the University. The editor of this 
memoir has received at least a score of letters from 
people who have asked him to record Newton's sympa- 
thetic help to them, often unsolicited, when they were 
making their first flights from Cambridge. The fol- 
lowing letter, written to a young graduate already 
embarked on the career of Medicine, would almost have 
persuaded most people to follow the unprofitable (in a 
worldly sense) line of zoological research : — 

I suppose I ought to congratulate you also on win- 
ning the Surgical Scholarship, and if it makes you any 
the happier I would do so ; but I do view with jealousy 
anything that binds you closer to your *' profession," a 
very good and noble one I admit it to be, but I would 
much rather see you devoted to Zoological Science, in 
which the harvest is plenteous and the reapers, so far as 
I can see them, so few. 

I have the highest opinion of Lord Lister, but I 
would far sooner be a John Hunter or a Cuvier. The 
professional man is very good, but the unprofessional, 
with no other aim than that of advancing knowledge, is 
far better, and there are, unfortunately, so few men 
comparatively who can follow science (as I believe you 
can) regardless of professional success, the plain English 
of which is fees ! 

However, we must be thankful for what we get, and 
if a professional man of first-rate ability will but occa- 
sionally devote a little of his spare time to purely 
scientific (and unpaying) questions, we ought to 
applaud him, and be grateful for the small mercy.* 

* Letter to P. H. Bahr (now Dr. P. Manson-Bahr), March 26, 1907. 

S 



258 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

A duty in the University which fell to him very 
soon after his election to the Professorship of Zoology 
was that of Chairman of the Special Board of Biology 
and Geology, which he occupied with conspicuous suc- 
cess for many years. 

As to my Chairmanship of the Special Board to 
which I belong, I was chosen to it years ago, and in 
every year I have made a hond fide offer to make way 
for anybody who would like to take my place ; but 
they seem to think my government divides them the 
least, and so I am suffered to remain — perhaps as a 
King Log ! But I am bound to say that we are a most 
harmonious body, and my subjects are content to dis- 
cuss matters peacefully. We do discuss I can assure 
you (and on Saturday I sat for nearly 4 hours), but 
as becomes philosophers. In other Boards I under- 
stand this is not so, and personal wrangles (to us 
unknown) are frequent. Seriously speaking, the self- 
abnegation of our biologists — many of them, be it 
borne in mind, young men of ambition only equalled 
by their capacity — in regard to the interests of the 
University, hampered as they now are by financial diffi- 
culties, is beyond any praise that I can bestow.* 

A Cambridge institution in which he always took a 
keen interest was the A.D.C., more particularly when 
a Greek play was to be given. Mr. A. C Benson, the 
present Master of Magdalene, writing in the Cornhill 
Magazine,^ recalls his first meeting with Newton during 
a rehearsal of the Birds of Aristophanes in 1883 : — 

We, the performers, were sitting about in full dress 
at one of the last rehearsals, when a strongly-built man 
of about fifty, leaning heavily on a stick, with a brisk 
alert face and bushy grey side -whiskers, came into the 

* Letter to Canon H. B. Tristram, November 26, 1888. 
t June, 1911. 




Sketch by C. AL Newton. 



THE PROFESSOR. 



GKEEK PLAY 259 

room with one of the Committee. He seemed to me to 
bristle with decision and alertness. He wore an old- 
fashioned tall top-hat, very high in the crown, with a 
flat brim ; and a short full-skirted tail coat. He looked 
sharply from bird to bird, and then said suddenly, 
" That scarlet Ibis is all wrong ; the head ought not 
to be scarlet — it is preposterously absurd ; it must be 
darkened at once." 

The Ibis was the headgear of a friend of mine, 
Willy Boyle, an extremely good-natured, able, rather 
indolent Eton man, with much musical ability. He 
took off the head. It was a pleasing object, made of a 
long-haired rough red plush, with a curved black beak 
and large, shining, roguish black eyes, represented by 
means of a sort of glazed metal stud. 

Some paint was brought, and Professor Newton 
daubed over the bird-head with it, giving a dusky 
draggled air. The owner looked on ruefully. The 
Professor said sharply : " There ; that is better now, 
but it is still ridiculous. An Ibis with a scarlet head ! 
Whoever heard of such nonsense? " It was not better 
at all ; it was much worse, though perhaps it was 
ornithologically correct ; but it sacrificed a pretty point 
of colour. . . . That was my only sight of the Professor 
at that date. He seemed to me to be decided, brisk, 
peremptory, not very good-natured, not a man to 
oppose in any way. 

Newton wrote to his friend Lord Lilford about the 
same production of the Birds : — 

December 4, 1883. 

My dear Lilford, 

I suppose Aristophanes had not a much more 
definite notion of an Ibis than he had of a Phoenix. 
He had heard of both and so mentioned their names. 
The great drawback to the performance here was the 
very small size of the stage. Had there been room for 
the men to stand, the members of the chorus should 



260 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

(and would) have been doubled. As it was they were 
crowded so as to interfere with the effect, and their 
wings bad to be made so short as to seem ridiculous. 
But it is, I am sure, a mistake to attempt a Greek 
comedy. It was pitiable to see an educated audience 
convulsed with laughter just because one fellow is 
giving the stick to another, and there is a great deal 
of stick work in the play. No one enjoys more than 
I do seeing the clown pursuing a policeman with a red- 
hot poker and any rough work of the kind in a panto- 
mime, because it is according to nature — otherwise the 
red-hot poker would not have been there — but it does 
not seem natural for Greeks to indulge in common 
buffoonery. It grated upon one's ears to hear the men 
laugh in English ; one expected that they should have 
done it differently and I would have had them laugh in 
Greek if that were possible. . . . 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

Twenty years later the Birds w^as played again at 
Cambridge, and Newton was much vexed by the pro- 
ducers' attempt to introduce the Scarlet Ibis, the Rosy 
Spoonbill and the Blue Jay, all American birds, in place 
of the more sombre members of their families known to 
Aristophanes. 

Simultaneously the Greek play The Birds is coming 
on this next week, and I am going to a rehearsal of it 
to-night. The last time they did it, they made a very 
pretty thing of it, and I hope this time it will be as 
good. I have had some trouble to stop the appearance 
of a Platalea ajaja in the chorus, just as on the last 
occasion I had with Ibis rubra, which, as I dare say you 
know, is in the popular mind the Sacred Ibis. I re- 
member a picture painted by an R.A. in which it was 
introduced in the courtyard of an Egyptian temple, 
with Pharaoh's daughter or Potiphar's wife feeding it ! * 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett -Hamilton, November 21, 1903. 



HOSPITALITY 261 

The Birds are doing beautifully. To my disgust 
they dressed the Jay after Cyanurus cristatus instead 
of the Greek form of Gai^rulus glandarius. It does not 
so much matter as people take it for a Roller, which 
it might well be had the ancients known that bird, 
and it seems as if they didn't, at least they never 
mentioned it.* 

It was, however, in his own rooms in College, the 
old Master's Lodge, that Newton's influence was most 
widely felt. There he was at home to his friends every 
Sunday evening during term time. After crossing the 
bridge and passing the gate of Magdalene you came 
immediately to what appeared to be a stable entrance 
to a slippery and stony yard. Across the yard was a 
narrow and ugly door, through which, after struggling 
with a recalcitrant bell, you were admitted into a dark 
passage leading into the Professor's rooms. Newton 
delighted in hospitality and nearly always invited one 
or more friends to dine with him on Sunday. If it was 
your fortune to be a guest, you were bidden, rain or 
no rain, to leave your College cap in his rooms, and 
then you proceeded — "processed " is rather the word — 
with him across the garden and through the hall to the 
high table. Dinner was a heavy and thoroughly British 
affair of roast beef or turkey and plum pudding, which 
may have become irksome to the Fellows of the College, 
who perforce dined there regularly, but it was interest- 
ing to the infrequent visitor, who found that it agreed 
well enough with the setting, and there was a charm 
about Newton's courtly action of " taking a glass of 
wine " with his guest and with others up and down the 
table, which none of them is likely to forget. The con- 
versation was sometimes almost startlingly in keeping 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, November 27, 1903. 



262 WORK AT CMIBPJDGE 

with the dinner, and the present writer will always 
remember one night in a Long Vacation when he dined 
alone at the high table with the Professor and the 
Master, Neville.* We, or rather they, talked of the 
Bedchamber Plot as of an affair of yesterday, and the 
bewildered guest began to have doubts about his own 
sobriety. After dinner an adjournment was made on 
Sundays to the Combination Room. This involved a 
steep climb up a rather slippery wooden staircase, but 
Newton always refused assistance, preferring the use of 
his two sticks. It is (or was) the custom to take the 
dessert and port wine sitting at small tables about the 
fire-place, and it is the duty of the junior Fellow to see 
that the wine is passed and so on. When many guests 
were present the decanter was apt to get delayed in its 
progress, and Mr. Benson records that " the Master 
once innocently suggested that for a change we should 
sit round the big oval table. The Professor was speech- 
less with indignation, and sate sullenly through the 
proceeding, scarcely opening his mouth except to say 
that he would hardly have known the place." 

Nothing vexed him more than innovations : what 
was the custom in that place was right, and there was 
no more to be said. But he was always genial and full 
of talk, and after a second glass of port wine he departed 
with his guests to his rooms. There you would find a 
blaze of gas (to this was added in later years electric 
light), a semicircle of not very comfortable chairs set 
about the fire, which was nearly always lighted, and a 
tray containing cups and a pot of the strongest brew 
of coffee. 

Whilst the Professor was changing into a thin, black 
coat made of a sort of cashmere material, which he wore 

♦ Latimer Neville, 7th Lord Braybrooke, Master of Magdalene, 1853- 
1904. 



THE OLD LODGE 263 

on these occasions, the guests had time to look about 
the two rooms that were visible to the ordinary visitor, 
and it must be admitted that there was little that was 
pleasing to the eye. The walls, so far as one could see 
them, were covered with an ugly drab-coloured wall- 
paper, the floors with threadbare carpets, and the 
furniture lacked beauty. Everywhere were books, on 
the tables and chairs, on the floor and in book-cases 
about most of the walls. Piles of papers and bundles 
of letters were on the top of the books, and one might 
think that the disorder was complete, but the Professor 
knew where everything was, and when some point arose, 
which demanded a reference, as often happened, he went 
unerringly to the right spot. One or two water-colours, 
a few rather dingy portraits hung high on the wall, 
and a beautiful drawing of a Gye-Falcon by Wolf 
were all the pictures that the book-cases allowed. An 
adventurous visitor who looked into the Professor's 
bedroom would have seen a huge four-post bed, and if 
he got so far as the spare bedroom, the " Cowshed " as 
it was called — it was built on the site of the old cow- 
house of the Master's Lodge — he would have received 
an impression of a brilliant blue wall-paper and of little 
else. It must be confessed that Newton had little or 
no sense of the beautiful, at least as it appears to the 
younger generation. 

Coming back to the inner room, where the coffee 
was set out, one would find the Professor sitting in a 
tolerably easy chair just inside the door : beside him a 
table on which were a cup of tea, a blue porcelain jar 
of tobacco, several pipes, a box of Russian cigarettes, 
and a number of half-sheets of paper, of which he made 
innumerable spills during the course of the evening. 
He seldom used matches, and preferred to light his pipe 
with a spill from the fire. This, for a heavy man with 



264 WORK AT CMIBRIDGE 

two lame legs, was a toilsome business and involved 
mucli exertion in hoisting himself out of the chair and 
returning to it again, but he resented assistance in such 
things. A stranger, unaccustomed to his ways, who 
ventured to offer him a lighted spill, was rewarded with 
a piercing glance and — " You're very good (a favourite 
phrase of his), but I can help myself." 

Between nine o'clock and midnight the cracked 
door-bell would ring at intervals, and from half a dozen 
to twenty visitors would come to see the Professor : 
undergraduates and dons, old Cambridge men, travellers, 
men of all ages and conditions. Conversation was 
general, and though it was often of a scientific kind, 
it was by no means so always. The Professor delighted 
in humorous stories, which he often told exceedingly 
well, and he had an abundant store of reminiscences of 
people. Like many men of respectable stock he had a 
high appreciation of " family," and he often knew more 
of his visitors' family histories than they knew them- 
selves. As somebody said, all genealogists are related 
to each other. 

If he liked successful and distinguished people, he 
was equally glad to see those who had not yet made 
their mark in the world and to help them, if it were in 
his power to do so. When sons or relations of any of 
his old friends came up to the University, he was at 
pains to seek them out, and he was genuinely dis- 
appointed if they did not come to see him. 

I feel inclined to quarrel with you for not having 
put me in the way of knowing *' young Candler." He 
came to my rooms on Sunday night, brought by a 
young Jesse, son of the Abyssinian man, who has been 
equally culpable in not letting me know sooner of his 
existence. Candler seems a very good sort of fellow 
indeed. I hope he liked his evening and will let me see 



SUNDAY EVENINGS 265 

more of him. It is a real pleasure to me to know men, 
espeeially young men, of this kind. I know by my 
own feelings what benefit I should have got, if in my 
undergraduate days I could have been acquainted with 
anybody a good deal older than myself who would be 
willing to help me. It will be his fault if he does not 
avail himself of the chance.* 

The ugly rooms, the hard chairs, bitter coffee and 
blazing gas do not make an attractive picture, it would 
hardly be expected that men would go there again and 
again, whenever they had the opportunity. It is the 
fact, however, that the many people who have assisted 
the present writer in his work have been unanimous in 
bidding him not to forget " Newton's Sunday evenings," 
and some of them have even said that they remembered 
them with more pleasure than anything else in their 
time at Cambridge. It is difficult, often impossible, 
for most people in after years to remember who was 
the person, if person there was, or what was the 
occasion, that pointed out for them their line of life ; 
but it may surely be said that many a career of 
adventure or research could trace its origin to the Old 
Lodge at Magdalene. 

It will not be considered unfitting to record here 
the account written by a distinguished traveller and 
naturalist. Dr. F. H. H. Guillemard of Gonville and 
Caius College, of his friendship with the Professor, 
which began when he was an undergraduate and 
continued during nearly forty years. 

. . . When I returned to Cambridge from Lapland in 
October, 1872, 1 attended Newton's lectures for the first 
time. The manner of them has more than once been 
described. They were, I think, on the anatomy of the 

* Letter to T. Southwell, February 27, 1891 



266 WORK AT CAMBEIDGE 

Vertebrata, but I am by no means sure, for I certainly 
took uo note?, and I do not think tbat any of us paid 
much attention to them, though there was that about 
the lecturer that made what is now termed ** rotting " 
or anything like bad behaviour quite out of the question. 
They were delivered with a sort of professed perfunctori- 
uess. He seemed to say aloud, with the old-world 
courtesy that was so characteristic of him, " Gentlemen, 
I am aware that this must seem to you rather dull 
stuff, but it is my duty to deliver it, and I must ask 
you to be kind enough to listen to it with patience." 
He read these effusions standing and partly propped up 
by a high stool ; now making hasty dives at a tumbler 
of water, of which he would absorb a couple of quick 
gulps, now mopping a heated brow with a large handker- 
chief. I feel sure he hated these lectures. If only he 
had taken bird migration or distribution as his subject, 
how different it would have been ! But in those days 
such studies would have been considered trifling, and 
altogether beneath the horizon of professorial teaching. 

I suppose it was at the opening lecture that we 
inscribed our names. Seeing mine, he inquired what 
relation I was to a member of my family whom he knew. 
I told him. He then asked, I suppose by way of some- 
thing to say, where I had spent the Long Vacation. 
My reply of " Lapland " fairly galvanised him. 
" What ! Lapland ! What did you go there for ? " 
" Well, sir, chiefly after birds." "Birds! Look here, 
what are you doing on Sunday next? Come to my 
rooms in Magdalene at half-past eight." And 
thus — now, alas ! nearly fifty years ago — began our 
friendship. 

Nowadays, of course, an invitation such as this is 
common enough, and I understand that the under- 
graduate occasionally even calls his tutor by his 
Christian name. But this was certainly not the fashion 
at the period of which I speak. The don in those days 
as a rule only bade you to his rooms for the purpose 
of gating you, so I was proportionately impressed and 



DE. GUILLEMARD 267 

presented myself at the hour appointed. Newton's 
rooms have been described by Mr. Benson in his 
"Leaves of the Tree," and I think he does them 
considerable injustice. For him they were the last cry 
of the mid- Victorian epoch, of a type calculated to 
make the strongest aesthete shudder. I am rather 
abnormally affected by my surroundings, but I never 
experienced in them any such feelings of artistic malaise. 
Books, to my thinking, are the most seemly of all wall 
adornments, and with books the walls of Newton's 
sitting-room (for in those days he had but one) were 
almost entirely covered, and, I might add, the chairs 
and sofa also. There was, it is true, but little in the 
way of decoration, but what there was was good. 
Immediately over the door by which one entered hung 
a magnificent pair of reindeer horns — the spoils, I 
fancy, of his Lapp journey, and facing the wide French 
window was a beautiful watercolour of an Iceland 
Falcon by Joseph Wolf (the one man, as Newton used 
always to say, who could draw the birds of prey). 
Another, or rather a colour print, by the same hand, 
hung over the mantelpiece, and in later days a 
Japanese kakemono by a celebrated artist, representing 
a skein of geese dropping down to the water, occupied 
the only book-free space on the window side. 

Newton's manner with unfledged youth was very 
kindly and reassuring. He talked to them as equals, 
which seemed strange to us in those days when the 
gulf between don and undergraduate was of unfathom- 
able depth, and soon made them feel as much at their 
ease as was possible in the early 'seventies. We sat 
rather close together, the room being small, and I 
remember being rather astonished (so different were 
things then) at the presence of tobacco and spirits, the 
latter, of course, being in the form of brandy, for 
whiskey was at that time a fluid almost unknown to the 
southron, though I had made its acquaintance in the 
Orkneys. Strangely enough, I can recall but few of 
the early habitues of Newton's salon. There was E. 



268 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

Knubley of Magdalene, a " birdy " man ; Frank Balfour, 
very popular, of course, with everybody ; Richard 
Lydekker, ^ire a quatre epingles, as the French say, a 
great swell with a future before him in the world of 
science; and Ernest Muggeridge of Kings,* the only non- 
Etonian of the thirteen undergraduates of that College, 
a keen entomologist, with whom — in company with our 
present Slade Professor of Fine Art, Edward Prior — 
I used to make excursions to the Northamptonshire 
woods. Frank Darwin I remember, and G. R. Crotch, 
University Sub- Librarian, a mighty beetle-hunter before 
the Lord. Duppa Crotch too, I believe, was often there, 
though I think at a somewhat later period — Shakesperian 
and autophagist. For, with what truth I know not, the 
story ran that while chopping wood one day he inadver- 
tently severed a digit. To take it to the cook and order 
it for dinner was, as the reporters say, the work of an 
instant. Anxious, as a true student of Nature, to prove 
everything, he was loth to lose such a God- sent oppor- 
tunity for a blameless cannibalism. Later came Adam 
Sedgwick, Bateson, Marr, Dr. Sharp, A. H. Evans, 
Barrett-Hamilton and a host of others well-known in the 
world of science to whom I need not further allude. 

Newton welcomed me very warmly that first evening, 
I remember, and questioned me about where I had been 
and what I had done. I felt that in his eyes it was some- 
thing to be an habitue of Stevens's, more to have worked 
the Copinshay cliffs in search of eggs, and still more, 
perhaps, to have camped on the Qvikkjokk fjells. But 
although these facts may have prepossessed him in my 
favour I really ascribe the special warmth of my welcome 

* Muggeridge was a man of very fine character and most lovable 
disposition. He was a great friend of Henry Bradshaw, who wrote " Is'o 
one can ever know how much I owe to Ernest ... as any one must who 
saw much of him and did not find the strength in himself to do the right 
which he knew he ought to do. . . . The memory of such a friend is a 
thing to help one on in life as few other things except his living self 
could do." He died in Hongkong in 1879, and years afterwards I sought 
in vam for his grave in the " Happy Valley " there. His remains, as 1 
later discovered, had been brought back to England. 



THE PROFESSOR'S PIPES 269 

to quite a diflferent and much more trivial cause, but 
one so characteristic of Newton that I cannot omit it 
here. The Professor's pipes, of which he had many, 
each being in turn allotted its spell of work, were all 
precisely similar. They were of briar, a short quadran- 
gular basal stem carrying a stout bowl with a chamfer 
at the mouth, below which was a single ring of fine 
beading. The real stem was of chicken bone, fitted in 
with a cork plug. When, being asked if I would like 
to smoke, I drew a precisely similar article from my 
pocket, Newton was delighted. There could be no 
stronger evidence of my common sense and intelligence, 
and from that moment I was "approved." After that, 
I believe, I might have proclaimed myself a Socialist, or 
proposed that women should dine in Hall, or spoken of 
S as the greatest living ornithologist with im- 
punity. All would have been forgiven. 

That first evening was the forerunner of countless 
others. For, though I ceased to be resident after 
taking my degree, and for many years was incertm sedis 
as the phrase goes — a wanderer over the earth — I always 
came back to Cambridge to work up my collections and 
always went to Newton's Sunday evenings as a matter 
of course. That was the great thing about Newton — 
one always found him where one left him, not only 
socially, but topographically. One might brave the 
Arctic ice or disappear for a year or two into the heart 
of the Dark Continent, but when one returned with no 
little of the Rijp van Winkel feeling at heart, there was 
Newton sitting in his chair making spills, just as 
one left him. It almost made one wonder whether all 
our past adventures were not a dream, and our moving 
accidents by flood and field mere figments of the 
imagination. 

No one, indeed, could be more immutable than 
Newton in his daily doings, which were all ruled on the 
Medo-Persic plan. I do not precisely remember his 
hours, but I am pretty certain that a good deal of his 
work was done at night, and hence — though hardly in 



270 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

the running with Bradshaw — he was not a very flagrant 
early riser. His daily wayfaring to the Museum was an 
afi"air which called for no little effort on his part, for his 
great lameness — much accentuated by the accident that 
befell him in Heligoland — made him a " four-legged 
man " ; he used a stick in each hand and his rate of 
progression was not rapid. In his room at the Museum 
he sat with the door open, and was thus enabled to 
waylay any passer-by with whom he wanted to talk. 
His lunch consisted usually of a glass of sherry and a 
biscuit of the nature of a " Captain's," or first cousin 
thereto, and when, for some reason which I do not 
recall, these odontoclastic delicacies became unobtain- 
able, the whole tenour of his life seemed in danger of 
being upset until it was discovered that the College cook 
could produce an article equally solid in substance if 
not superior in merit. By this Spartan diet he was 
supported until dinner-time, at which meal he played a 
good English knife and fork, keeping up with marked 
gravity of ceremonial the old-fashioned custom — confined 
nowadays, alas ! to his own College and that of Magdalen, 
Oxford — of "taking wine" with his guests. Though 
not intolerant of the ''beaded bubble winking at the 
brim " it was the more serious vintages of the Penin- 
sula which chiefly appealed to him. A mutual friend 
reminds me of the appreciation with which he held 
a particularly attractive glass of port to the light and 
murmured " How old Kingsley would have lapped 
this up ! " 

A more congenial neighbour at dinner no one could 
wish for, but he was at his best with a small party of 
"birdy" friends where conversation was more or less 
general and the political atmosphere purged of " all 

those d d Radical ideas" which found such scant 

favour in his sight. To put it mildly, Newton was no 
Progressive. In his eyes alteration of any kind was 
the one unpardonable sin ; change little short of a crime. 
I feel sure that the donning of a new suit must have 
caused him actual pain, and he avoided inflicting it as 



A TOEY OF THE TOEIES 271 

much as possible. The pea-like similarity of his little 
black silk ties must have mitigated his anguish in the 
matter of what is now gracefully termed neckwear. As 
a thing was, so it had to be, whether in habit of body or 
of mind, and hence he did not readily adopt many of 
the latter-day views in ornithology. Of all men I ever 
knew he was the least carried about with every wind of 
doctrine. Trinomialism was abhorrent to him — it cer- 
tainly threw a shadow over his later years — and the 
Turdus turdus turdus craze rendered him well-nigh 
speechless. I wonder what he would have thought of 
cubism had he lived to see it ! Not that he was in the 
least averse from new ideas in his favourite science so 
long as they came, so to speak, with good introductions. 
He held an open mind with regard to classification, and 
indeed (good naturalist as he was) was quite capable of 
embracing subversive, if not revolutionary views did 
the arguments in favour of them but hold water. He 
welcomed, or was even the actual initiator of, many 
new developments of ornithology, notably those con- 
nected with Migration and Close-time, which I need 
not enlarge upon here. But at bottom, as I have said, 
he was a Tory of the Tories, and ofttimes, too, in rather 
unexpected ways. One did not always detect from afar 
the red flag which induced the vehemently taurine 
attitude. 

With all his classical leanings Newton was not a 
particularly " booky " man. Apart from travels and 
scientific works, with which he kept himself thoroughly 
au courant, he did not trouble himself much about the 
moderns, but it would not have been easy to mention 
any pre-Edwardian book that had won its way to fame 
with which he was unacquainted, whether fact or 
fiction. Thackeray was a special favourite. I cannot 
now recollect whether he knew him personally, but I 
well remember his description of a joyous individual, 
Arcedeckne by name,* from whom, he told me, 

* This, no doubt, was Aadrew Arcedeckne, son of Chaloner 
Arcedeckne, who matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, February 6, 1798. 



272 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

Thackeray drew the character of Harry Foker, and 
how he went up after the finish of the lecture on 
" The Four Georges," slapped Thackeray on the back, 
and said '* Splendid ! old cock, but why didn't you 
have a pi-anner ? " Those who knew the subject of 
these notes will picture the appreciative quakes which 
shook his abundant waistcoat in relating the story. It 
did one good, I may remark parenthetically, to see 
Newton laugh. I do not think I ever knew any one — 
unless it was Arthur Hilton, the inimitable author of 
the Light Green — whose face, nay, whose whole figure, 
were (on occasion) more vividly expressive of mirth ; 
though, it must be confessed, they could equally well 
express other moods when necessary. It is rather diffi- 
cult to realise that any one so meticulously careful can 
have been a whole-hearted lover of fiction, yet such 
no doubt he was. That wonderful book, "A Dic- 
tionary of Birds," shows no evidence, save that of a 
catholicity of reading, by which one might detect it. 
His was, indeed, a peculiarly tidy mind, and if he were 
not accurate I do not know who could be thus 
described. He would take immense pains about a 
verification, and always had chapter and verse under 
his hand, like Robertson Smith. There was no shadow 
of slackness about him, and one instinctively tightened 
up one's ordinary diction when in his company. He 
did not like "zoo" or "rhino." I wonder what he 
would have said could he have seen the legend on a 
parcel sent me not long ago — " Photos on appro, for 
repro." ! He held the pen of a good, if not a ready 
writer, and expressed himself in excellent clear nervous 
English, though I remember his lamenting to me that 
he wrote slowly. He was a capital letter- writer, 
though I became aware of this chiefly from his letters 
to others, notably those to his lifelong friend Lord 
Lilford, for in my journeys I was seldom in very 

Lord Huntingfield, his relative, who possesses his beautiful gold-headed 
Ciine, tells me he was said to have been much like a seal in appearance, 
and hence Thackeray's name of Foker (Latin Phoca). — F. H. H. G; 



OLD AGE 273 

accessible places, and at home we lived too close to 
render writing necessary, except for dinner invitations. 
In these his old country-house habits came out, and he 
would often say, " There is a good moon now, will you 
give me the pleasure of your company (I think it was 
always ' the pleasure of your company ') on Sunday 
next." 

With the advance of years Newton's infirmities 
evidently became a greater trial to him, but he bore 
them bravely and seldom spoke of them. One by one 
his own people had passed away before him and he 
grieved over their going. " I am the last of my 
generation," he would pathetically and curiously often 
say. Then it became evident to him that his own days 
were numbered. The call came lingeringly, and he 
fought the enemy inch by inch. Near the end he 
rebelled against dying in his bed and directed that he 
should be placed in his arm-chair. " Here will I meet 
my fate," he said, in quaintly stilted phrase ; and in 
his chair he died. 

In the light (or, should I not say, the darkness) of 
these post-bellum days, Newton must be accounted an 
extinct type, as extinct as the Great Auk and Dodo of 
which he loved so much to write. Such strength of 
individuality I cannot recall in any other person I have 
known. It can safely be said that, having carefully 
envisaged his question and decided it, no human power 
could make him alter his mind. Yet one almost 
hesitates to say it, lest a wrong impression should be 
conveyed, for he was one of the most lovable of men, 
and inspired an unusual degree of personal affection in 
the many young men who frequented his rooms. The 
influence he exercised upon them was remarkable, not 
only upon the ornithologists, but upon men like Adam 
Sedgwick, Bateson, Frank Darwin, Lydekker, and a 
host of others in difierent fields. It would, I think, 
be correct to describe him as the founder of the 
modern Cambridge scientific school, developing the 
good seed sown by Henslow. who was to a former 

T 



274 WORK AT CAMBRIDGE 

generation, I imagine, very much what Newton was to 
mine. God rest his soul ! How I wish I could bring 
him back ! There are few of whom I have such kindly 
recollections. 

F. H. H. GUILLEMARD. 

1920. 



CHAPTER XVI 



LATER YEARS 



Although, as has been stated above, Newton's home 
during the last fifty years of his life was at Cambridge, 
it must not be supposed that he spent all his days in 
museums and libraries. He was, first of all and by 
nature, an out-of-doors man, and in early days he was 
a keen game shot. " Here I oscillate between a gun 
and a proof-sheet," he wrote in September, 1870, from 
Bloxworth, in Dorsetshire, where he spent a part of 
every summer with two of his sisters between 1866 
and 1886. He was a large and powerfully built man, 
and in spite of his lameness he could move about rough 
country with astonishing ease. At one time or another 
he made expeditions to many of the remote parts of 
Britain, and nothing delighted him more than days 
spent in watching birds. 

The chief thing I have to tell you of is a charming 
day at Pentire, a headland on the N. coast of Cornwall. 
When I wrote last I think I told you I had got Gat- 
combe to arrange for an expedition in search of Choughs. 
We started about 7 o'clock in the morning and went 
by rail to Bodmin Road Station, where we had a car- 
riage to meet us, and getting into it passed through 
Bodmin (just like an Irish town) and Wadebridge. 
Thence we bore to the right to a place called Trevornan, 
a comfortable old house where lived a cheery old lady 
whose nephew, a certain Mr. Darrell Stephens, was the 
man who was to show us the Choughs. He is a very 
good sort of fellow, some 21 or 22 years old, preparing 

275 



276 LATER YEARS 

to be a land agent, and to that end he has been learn- 
ing his business under Baron Hambro's man at Milton 
Abbey where, having a great taste for botany, he had 
become acquainted with Mansel-Pleydell. 

As it was still early we declined being " refreshed " 
and almost immediately started again in the carriage, 
taking Mr. Stephens with us, and so went some 2 or 3 
miles to the sea, along the right bank of the river that 
runs through Wadebridge, our drive ending by crossing 
a beautiful hard sand, for the tide was out. Then we 
sent the carriage to a neighbouring farm-house to wait 
for us and took to our legs, scrambling up the cliff and 
along it towards Pentire Point. A great part of the 
cliff here is steep for say 200 feet above the water with 
a steep grassy slope above it. 

Mr. Stephens was very keen about the rare plants 
that grew here, but I am afraid they were rather lost 
upon me, though I could well admire the enormous 
number of wild Howers which made the turf quite 
bright with all sorts of colours. I don't think too that 
I ever saw more butterflies at once, a great many of 
one of the " Blues," which, by the way, exactly matches 
in colour the flower of the Squill which was growing in 
abundance. There was also a great number of Colias 
edusa. We were scarcely ever out of sight of one, and 
I hardly exaggerate when I say that in some spots they 
were in flocks. As we kept ascending towards Pentire 
Point the view became more and more extensive and 
beautiful ; but of course our chief object was the 
Choughs, which Mr. Stephens had seen constantly for 
some weeks past. The cliff and slope were broken in 
places by little ravines, "gugs" they call them, some 
of which we could cross while others it was better to 
walk round. Just as we were climbing the side of one 
of them, rather a shallow one, we all three heard a note 
which was perhaps most like a jackdaw's of any I had 
ever heard, but still unmistakably different. I knew 
at once it must be a Chough's, and looking up we saw 
on the wing 3 black rook-like birds that seemed to 



CORNISH CHOUGHS 277 

have risen from the cornfield that skirted the slope 
and was bounded by a stone wall. They flew on and 
disappeared over the ridge and Mr. S. said they would 
be seen to settle on the rocks. When we got to the 
top of this ridge we found ourselves almost at the end 
of the slope, for the other side of the next " gug " was 
precipitous almost to the top. 

I may say that the slope is so steep that though it 
abounds in rabbits Mr. S. says it is difficult to get 
them, for when shot they roll down into the sea ; in 
places it must be 200 yards wide at least. 

Well, at first we could see no Choughs, but after a 
while we made out first 2, and then the third, sitting 
on the side of the cliff", and then getting as near as we 
could we lay down and watched them with our glasses. 
Two of them, a pair I should think, sat quite close 
together and were preening their feathers. It was a 
bright cloudless day and as they sat in full sunlight we 
had a capital view of them with the beautiful purple 
gloss (which was quite plain) on their feathers, and 
their red bills and legs, the last, however, not so bright 
as I should have expected. These birds were not con- 
tent with arranging their own feathers but they fre- 
quently trimmed one another, especially their heads, 
and one could see one bird shut its eye while the other 
was carefully picking round it. These two birds seemed 
to take no notice of us, we were perhaps just out of 
ordinary gun-shot, but the third was more fidgetty and 
kept jumping from one rock to another and every now 
and then calling out. I could have stayed watching 
them much longer, but we had to be going on ; so after 
half an hour, or perhaps not so long, we proceeded, and 
then after a short flight or two they rose up and came 
back over our heads within easy shot. On the wing 
they look much more like Kooks, indeed one might 
have some trouble to distinguish them, but their wings 
seem larger in proportion to their bodies, just as Stock- 
Doves' are larger than Ring-Doves'. 

These birds we saw no more. By and by we got to 



278 LATER YEARS 

the headland, where the view was really magnificent, 
the whole coast, from Hartland Point in Devonshire to, 
as they said. Cape Cornw^all, being within sight. How- 
ever, I think it is impossible we could see Cape Corn- 
wall, and that our furthest point to the westward was 
the Gurnard's Head ; but that is close to it. Pen tire is 
so high that you see over some of the intervening 
points, Trevose Head in particular, which juts out much 
further from the regular trend of the coast. In the 
distance we had Lundy Island. I don't know when I 
ever saw such a bright day, everything seemed to 
sparkle with light. Inland to the eastward w^e had 
Row Tor and Brown Willy, which are near the Cheese- 
wring, and I was pleased to find I recognised their 
outline, though I had never seen them before from this 
position. To the south was the estuary of the river on 
which Wadebridge stands, with a great bar of sand 
across it, and another river that comes from Padstow. 
But all the interior of Cornwall is alike (except the 
wooded valleys), and our eyes were chiefly seaward, as 
the shore immediately below us we could not see.* 

In the summer of 1882 an unfortunate accident 
crippled him still further. 

My summer has been one of shattered hopes. A 
friend of mine, Woodall by name, agreed to take Tris- 
tram and myself for a cruise in his steam yacht to 
Heligoland and Denmark, and accordingly we went on 
board the Garland at Yarmouth on the morning of 
June 1. We did not get off", however, for two or 
three days afterwards, owing to the weather ; for our 
yachtsman, even when he has a tea-kettle to rely upon, 
does not like knocking about in a head wind. 

At last we had a lair run to Heligoland, and a most 
enjoyable interview with Gatke and his marvellous 
collection. 

Mrs. Governor of that important dependency was 

♦ Letter to Edward Ne^vton, September 19, 1877. 



ACCIDENT AT HELIGOLAND 279 

bent upon hearing Tristram's eloquence, and, accord- 
ingly, after being there 2 or 3 days, we departed, 
promising to bring the Canon back to fire ofi" the 
following Sunday. 

In the meanwhile we went to Bremerhaven, and 
then by land to Bremen and Hamburg, looking up 
friends ornithological and otherwise at both places. 
We attempted to return to Heligoland to fulfil our 
promise, but were blown back to the AVeser, and there 
passed 2 or 3 days uselessly. At last we did reach 
Heligoland again, and meant to be off at daybreak 
next morning for Jutland, where I had in view a visit 
to several happy hunting grounds — Avocet, Black 
Stork, and other nice things. But the glass fell and 
the wind rose, so we had to lie in the roadstead some 
days more. The gale was so heavy that we broke an 
anchor, and had several other little misadventures, 
while every hour our chance of going to Denmark 
diminished ; for both Woodall and Tristram had en- 
gagements at home they were bound to keep. 

When the weather in some degree moderated we 
went ashore, to dine and sleep at the Governor's house ; 
and coming back the next day, as I was stepping into 
the boat from the pier, the big tendon of my sound leg 
snapped just above the knee-cap. I, of course, col- 
lapsed ; but it is impossible to exaggerate the kindness 
of everybody, and after a surgeon had come off to the 
yacht and built up a wall of plaster of Paris and tow 
along the whole length of my leg, we got under way 
for Yarmouth direct. Arrived there (and coming in for 
another gale on the way), I was brought to London, 
and was laid up for more than two months at my 
brother's house. All went well, however, I am thankful 
to say, and towards the end of August I found I could 
walk with 2 sticks very fairly.* 

That was the end of his more active days, and 
thenceforward, to use his own expression, "from a 
* Letter to Rev. A. C. Smith, October 6, 1882. 



280 LATER YEARS 

three-legged I am become a four-legged man." Many- 
people would have been embittered by such a calamity, 
but Newton was never heard to complain ; and he even 
made light of it in writing to his brother Edward. No 
man ever had his days more fully filled than were his. 
Among his papers was found a printed form for the 
publication of the first issue of " Who's Who," and 
against the heading of Amusements was scribbled, in 
his handwriting, " No time for any," 

Happily, however, his double lameness did not keep 
him a permanent prisoner at Cambridge, and for many 
years he joined his friend, Henry Evans, of Derby, in 
cruises about the British Islands. 

Sir Archibald Geikie, who was his fellow-guest in 
many of these cruises, writes : — 

Year after year " Alfred the Great," as Evans used 
playfully to call him, was received with open arms, not 
only by his host, but by every member of the crew. 
And no one could look forward with keener zest to these 
holidays than Newton, when for some weeks he could 
escape from the cares of University life to the firths and 
sounds of the north and west of Scotland, where no 
letters could reach him, even if he had left an address 
behind him, which he was generally careful not to do. 
Nowhere could he be seen to be more completely in his 
element than on board of the Aster. He loved the sea 
and its associations with such a sturdy afi'ection that 
inclemencies of weather, by no means infrequent in 
those regions, never drew from him the least sign of 
impatience, or seemed in any degree to disturb his 
habitual cheeriness and his enjoyment of the cruise. 
Clad in the light-grey tweed suit which did duty on 
these voyages, but without top-coat or waterproof, he 
would sit for hours on some exposed part of the vessel, 
smoking innumerable pipes and watching for every 
variety of sea-fowl that might show itself either in the 



SIR A. GEIKIE'S RECOLLECTIONS 281 

air or in the water. In the course of a few days sun, 
wind, rain, and salt spray told on his complexion, which 
then assumed a ruddiness that would have astonished 
the inmates of Magdalene College. The sharpness of his 
eyesight in the detection of birds on the wing, even 
when he had nearly reached the age of seventy years, 
was always an astonishment to his companions. And 
the enthusiasm with which each fresh form was greeted 
by him as it flew overhead became infectious to all on 
board. . . . 

These cruises formed an important element in 
Newton's life during his later years. He looked forward 
to them with almost boyish exuberance and delighted 
afterwards to recount their varied incidents. They not 
only provided a healthful and delightful holiday, but kept 
him still in close personal touch with birds, which had 
been the main interest and study of his life. In spite 
of the lameness which was understood to have been the 
result of an accident during infancy, he was often the 
first to enter the boat which had been got ready for a 
landing on some surf-beaten rock, or for a closer inspec- 
tion of the caves and stacks at the foot of a bird- 
haunted precipice. On such occasions, so self-dependent 
was he, he would gently repel ofl"ers of the assistance 
which was always at his service. It was only when 
the increasing feebleness of his limbs would have made 
such assistance indispensable that he reluctantly gave 
up the annual cruise.* 

His first visit to St. Kilda was made in 1887 : — 

The general sight is magnificent, but I have seen 
taller cliffs and cliffs more full of birds in Spitzbergen. 
I think the St. Kilda minister is a very good fellow, 
but I wish he would stop the cruelties that the lambs of 
his flock perpetrate on innocent young birds, which 
they bring away and torture for their own amusement. 
I was afraid it would be thought unmannerly or I should 

* Sir Archibald Geikie, P.R.S. Proceedings of the Royal Society, 
B. vol. 80, 1908. 



282 LATER YEARS 

have liked to use my stick on 2 or 3 boys, besides, 
not knowing the laws of the country, I might have 
brought them down upon me.* 

In 1891 they went up through the Minch to Orkney, 
thence to several outlying skerries and to the Flannans, 
west of Lewis. 

I write to report our return from a charming cruise, 
though we saw nothing of any great importance and 
performed no great achievement. The 2nd day after 
our arrival here Evans took us over to Oronsay for the 
afternoon. I wish we had had the whole day there, for I 
should like to have searched some of those kitchen- 
middens, and indeed I failed to find the one which 
Grieve depicts. If he had only given a map instead of 
a useless figure it would have been better. We found 
one that had been cut into, but from his description it 
can't be that in which he got the Great Auk bones. I 
made some notes upon it which I can send you if you 
think they will be of any use to you, but I fear they 
are worthless. We saw the usual birds, but nothing 
more. Next day we started for the north, and got up 
to the skerries on Sunday, the clifis looked as grand as 
ever, and so did the Eagles, both of which we saw 
sitting and for a good long time, one on each side of 
the nest. I believe I saw a young bird in it, but 
neither Evans nor my brother go so far as that — 
though both agree as to its being the nest. We had 
your book in the boat with us and went to the very spot 
where your photographer must have stood, but thence the 
sight of the eyry is not visible, being round the corner of 
the first projection. On this we all agreed. Your photo- 
grapher has " distanced " the rest of the clifi' more than 
he ought, I suppose to increase its picturesqueness. We 
were in the boat or on the rocks on that side for more 
than 2 hours, having the Eagles in view most of the 

♦ Letter to J. A. Harvie-Brown, July 29, 1887. 



SUMMER CRUISES 283 

time. We saw no Falcons, as we did last year, neither 
did Evans when he was there some ten days before, and 
we fear the gamekeeper, who told him some time ago he 
was going over from Lewis, may have done for them. 
Though the Eagle's nest is to all appearance inaccessible, 
being well overhung, anybody might kill the birds with 
a rifle, and I consider their existence most precarious. 

The next day we were off" to N. Rona. There the 
sea was calm, but there was a good deal of swell, and 
though I believe I could have got into the boat without 
any risk, my brother begged me not to try it. I there- 
fore stayed on board contenting myself with looking at 
what J. Wolley used to consider the land of promise, and 
admiring the accuracy with which you have depicted it. 
Your view is really excellent. Evans went ashore and 
stayed for some time, and my brother rowed backwards 
and forwards along the rocks, while the yacht kept ofi' 
and on. Evans reported a pair of Falcons, but nothing 
else more than the usual birds. The landing was easy 
and I am very sorry I did not go. Of course there was 
a great surf on the other side. Then we stood away to 
Suleskerry, where we made no attempt to land, but I 
suppose there would have been no real difficulty in 
getting ashore or coming off had anything been to be 
gained by it. 

1 think there must be more Gannets there than on 
Stack (perhaps twice as many), but, as Evans says, you 
might add or subtract the whole lot from those at 
St. Kilda without noticing the ditference. After looking 
the rock well over with our glasses we turned southward 
and reached Loch Roagh in Lewis where we lay that 
night. Such a piping hot day it was, the sea like satin 
but a fair swell upon it, and a good deal of haze ; sun 
setting like a ball of copper and the moon rising like 
another. 

Tuesday morning we were off to the Flannan Islands 
which delighted all of us ! There was a bit of a swell, 
but one could have landed almost anywhere, and we 
boated in and about them for a couple of hours. No 



284 LATER YEARS 

Pomatorhine Skua or Wild Geese, however, gladdened 
our vision, and except a Corvine bird which just showed 
itself and then disappeared, there was nothing beyond 
the ordinary sea-birds. Evans has a great fancy for 
going into caves, and his fancy would here have perhaps 
tired itself, for they seem endless, but after some four 
or five I suggested that the open air was certainly 
sweeter and the chance of being splashed by the Shags 
and their companions not greater. I think these islands 
might repay you for another visit, if you had the luck 
to hit off quiet water. It seems to me (from the good 
look we had at them in so many directions) quite clear 
how they came to be called the " Seven Hunters." The 
Eastern group consists of two pairs of sizable islands 
making four islands, and the Western of one pair, and 
the most western stack of all, which stands so distinctly 
from the rest both in position and outline, the latter 
very like Levenith in St. Kilda, of which it is a sort of 
miniature. We went very close round this, hoping we 
might find a Gannet or two on it, but could see none. 
There were plenty about, and Fulmars also, but I think 
they were not " at home " there. By the way, Evans 
quite believes in the Fulmar breeding on N. Rona, as he 
saw one or more on the land. 

From the Flannans we came to Shilley Sound, 
intending to go next day to the Outer Hysgeir, but 
the sea beoan to tumble about and it became evident 
in the morning that if we went we could not land there, 
so we came back through the Sound of Hamir to Braca- 
dale, starting next day for Loch Skavaig and Coruisk, 
and so to Oban. There we had to coal, and on Friday 
returned to Jura. Yesterday we went round the Loch 
Tarbet of this island, where we found a jolly lot of seals — 
all vitulina. By the way, we saw some fine grey seals 
at Oronsay, N. Rona, and the Flannans, very tame at 
the latter, and one Imge monster let us get quite close 
to him before he wriggled off his rock. 

To-morrow we are off for the south, and if we have 
done nothing towards adding to the knowledge of birds 



HEBRIDES 285 

we have (or at least I have) had a very enjoyable holi- 
day, and I shall be able to go back to work refreshed. 

I went into Scott's, the bird-stuffer at Oban, and saw 
there a Diver which I advised him to show to you the 
next time you call upon him. I don't say it is, but it 
looks as if it might be a young example of Colymhus 
adamsi. It is a wretchedly mounted thing, and has the 
tip of its bill damaged by shot. He said it was got in 
those parts (Sound of Mull, I think), and if so you 
might like to compare it with a C. glaeialis of the 
same age, for I forget if it has a whitish bill or not. 
This specimen certainly has. 

Evans says he was at Hychier off Canna about three 
weeks ago and found only some half a dozen Terns 
there, but no sheep. Those that were put on the island 
last and destroyed the Ternery did badly, the owner 
losing more than half. Serve him right ! 

I have been always looking out for a collision with 
the Shiafitelle and am sorry it did not come off. Write 
to me at Cambridge. 

P.S. — Off the Flannans we had a distant view of 
St, Kilda and Barra.* 

The Shiantelle was Mr. Har vie- Brown's yacht, in 
which for many years he made cruises about the Scottish 
coasts and islands, collecting additional material for his 
volumes on the Fauna of Scotland. During this year's 
cruise he had planned to meet the Aster about the 
Orkney Islands, but for some reason the scheme mis- 
carried, and he consoled himself by writing the " Song of 
the Shearwater," which he sent to Newton. 

PuFPiNus Gravis. 

Carmen Harveio'Brunneanum, more KipUngiano. 

By the old North Rona chapel, looking southward to the sea. 
There's a Shearwater a-sittin', an' I know she thinks o' me ; 

* Letter to J. A. HarvieoBrowri, June 28, 1891. 



286 LATER YEARS 

For the wind is in the sea- pinks, an' the Herrin' Gulls they say, 
" Get you back, you Scottish reiver ; get you back to Mingulay I 

Get you back to Mingulay ! 

Where the old Shiantelle lay, 
Can't you 'ear 'er chains a-rattlin' from Oban to Mingulay ? 
On the road to Mingulay, 

Where the whales an' dolphins play. 
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer Skye to stop all day ! " 

'Er plumage was that mottled as she sot upon the green. 
She looked a perfec' beauty jus' the same as Sheba's queen, 
An' I seed 'er first a-broodin' a whackin' piece o' loot, 
A big white egg a-wastin' right underneath 'er foot, 

Bloomin' egg as white as chalk, 

't would make collectors walk 
Plucky distance for to see it ; if they got it, 'ow they'd talk ! 

On the road to Mingulay ! 

{Hiatus valde defiendus.) 

Ship me somewhere north of Lewis, though the weather be accurst. 
Where the decalogue's not m it, and the decapod * comes first ; 
For the Herrin' Gulls are callin', and it's there that 1 would be. 
By the old North Rona chapel, sloping southward to the sea. 

On the road to Mingulay, 

Where the old Shiantelle lay, 
With the mushrooms 'neath the sunshine, gleaming white on Mingulay, 

On the road to Mkigulay, 

Where the whales an' dolphins play, 
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer Skye to stop all day ! 

In June, 1893, they made a cruise to the Outer 
Hebrides and to the Orkneys, where Ne"wton visited one 
of the famous haunts of the Gare-fowl. 

I had a delightful fortnight in Scottish waters, 
afloat about ten days, and the weather, except for 
24 hours, everything that could be desired. Even 
that break had its benefit, for it made all the rest 
the more enjoyable, and was not so ver^/ bad while it 
lasted, I was carried through and around Orkney, 
close alongside of the Hohn of Papa Westray, where 
Great Auks used to breed ; our good H.-B. and 
Buckley did not appreciate that fact, and like the 
celebrated Levite, passed by on the other side. 

* "The lobsters of the Outei Hebrides are first-rate." On this point 
all voyagers agree, from the venerable Dr. Johnson to the present time. — 
J.A.H.-B 



SIR EDWARD NEWTON 287 

Nevertheless, I accord to H.-B. all th.e honour and glory 
of identifying the spot where the last bond Jide British 
Great Auk was slain, and the print from the photograph 
in the " Orkney " volume is marvellously good. 

We spent a peaceful Sabbath at the Shiants, the 
third time I have been to that heavenly spot. But to 
see the effect of the drought even there ! What had 
always been banks of glowing green (on which the 
Puffins looked like daisies) was this year of a hair- 
brown.* 

His last cruise was in 1899, when the Aster went 
all round the coast of Ireland. 

It was about this time that Newton suffered the 
greatest loss of his lifetime by the death of his brother, 
Sir Edward Newton, in April, 1897. Edward was 
three years younger than Alfred, having been born in 
1832. All his life he was an ardent naturalist, and he 
began to contribute notes to the Zoologist at the age of 
twelve and a half. 

He was almost equal to a warrener in the way he 
could find nests by watching the birds, or making them 
show him where their nests were. There are now 
several men who can do this, and have done it, 
probably better than he ever did, but I think he was 
the first naturalist who ever brought this into practice 
— and it was for the love of watching the birds and 
learning their ways, much more than with the object of 
taking their eggs, that he did it.f 

From Cambridge, where he graduated in 1857, 
Edward Newton went into the Colonial Service, and 
was successively Assistant Colonial Secretary, Auditor- 
General, and Colonial Secretary of Mauritius ; after- 
wards he was Lieutenant-Governor and Colonial 

* Letter to Col. H. W. Feilden, August 14, 1893. 
t Letter to H. B. Triatram, May 20, 1897 



288 LATER YEARS 

Secretary of Jcamaica. He was created C.M.G. in 1875, 
and K.C.M.G. in 1887. During his service in Mauritius 
he discovered no fewer than twenty-seven new species 
of birds living in Madagascar, the Comoros, and Mas- 
carene Islands, and he took an active part in the dis- 
covery of remains of the Dodo, Solitaire, Aphanapteryx, 
and other extinct birds of Mauritius and Rodriguez. 
He retired in 1883 to a house at Lowestoft, whence he 
often made visits to his brother at Cambridge. 

The loss is one from which I can never recover, and 
it is one which has at once made me feel ten years 
older. We had absolutely identical tastes and pursuits 
throughout fifty years and more, though we were often 
separated for years.* 

To say that he felt ten years older was no idle 
phrase. His friends remarked a definite change in the 
Professor, and thenceforward, though his age was only 
sixty-eight, he seemed to have become suddenly, as 
some men do, an old man. He was still, for several 
years to come, a familiar figure in the streets of 
Cambridge ; if the four-wheeled cab took him to the 
Museums in the afternoon, he walked back to Magdalene 
whenever it was fine. And that was a progress that 
one will never forget ; the tall old man — bent as he 
was, he certainly stood six feet — dressed in an old- 
fashioned black tail-coat, light grey trousers, and black 
stove-pipe hat, or in summer a high-crowned felt hat 
of pale grey. AVhite hair and whiskers and keen 
bright eyes that seemed to be fixed on the horizon ; but 
he was quick to see a greeting from a passer-by, and he 
was amazingly dexterous in transferring a stick to the 
other hand in order to salute a lady. He had a strong 
dislike of the Cambridge tramcars, and objected to 

* Letter to G. E H. Barrett-Hamilton,. June, 1897. 



PORTRAITS 289 

their being taken along the King's Parade. Often on 
his way from the Museums he would walk down the 
middle of the street from Benet Street to Market Hill 
deaf to the tinkling bell behind him ; speed mattered 
little to the old horse-drawn trams of Cambridge, and 
he hardly lived to see the day of motor 'busses. 

Two attempts were made to paint his portrait. The 
first was by the distinguished artist Charles Furse, who 
both in his origins and in his tastes had much in 
common with Newton, but for some reason they failed 
to get on together, and the picture was never finished. 

For the last five days I have been surrendering my 
body wholly to my Apelles, and I fear that his job is 
not much more than half done. Some people think 
that the result will be satisfactory ; but for my own 
part I as yet fail to recognise in the performance any 
trace of the expression of chastened resignation which 
I know I wear while the process is going on, and I sit 
staring at a blessed gas bracket, which is the object 
chosen for me to fix my eyes upon. However, I occa- 
sionally cast furtive glances at some papers that lie 
before me, and thus the whole of the 20 hours the 
operation has so far taken has not been wholly wasted, 
for I have to some extent revised the MS. " Birds of 
Sussex," which good old Borrer submitted to me.* 

He complains later (June 14) that the " thorny 
Furse has made my hand look like an overgrown 
baby's — fat and fubsy, which may be artistic, but I 
know to be untrue." 

The second portrait was painted by Mr. Lowes 
Dickinson, and was considered good enough to be 
hung in the Combination Room at Magdalene. 

Honours came to him late in life : he had been 
elected F.R.S. in 1870. In 1900 he was awarded one 

* liCtter to Lori Lilford, May 31, 1890. 

U 



290 LATER YEARS 

of the Ro}'al Medals of the Royal Society and the Gold 
Medal of the Linnean Society. He also held the dis- 
tinction of being a Vice-President of the Royal and 
Zoological Societies. An old friend of his, and a friend 
also of Darwin and of Wallace, wrote to him : — 

December 21, 1905. 

Dear Professor, 

I cannot refrain from sending you a line this 
Christmas. I am now in my ninetieth year and may 
never have another opportunity. Though I have not 
had the pleasure of seeing you lately, I am always 
hearing you spoken of and invariably with esteem and 
regard. Every one honours Newton, and none more 
sincerely than, 

Yours most truly, 

W. B. Tegetmeier. 

About the same time, November, 1905, he had a 
bad fall in coming out of Hall ; it shook him seriously 
and he was never the same again. But he did not give 
up his work ; he was then finishing oflf the " Ootheca 
Wolleyana," and he began already to make plans for 
the future. 

It will indeed be a great pleasure to me to get this 
[" Ootheca Wolleyana "] done, and if I only keep my life 
and faculties I ought to be able to do it. Then there 
is the G are-fowl business to which I am pledged if 
possible, and though that will mean a great deal of 
work I am not without hope of managing. Beyond 
that I dare not look ; but there are over 50 years' notes 
on the " Bustard in Britain " to solace my second child- 
hood, if that should come about. At any rate I am 
not wanting in occupation if I live another ten years.* 

The last word of the " Ootheca " was written on 
November 20, 1906, and the final part was published 

* Letter to G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton. September 27. 1905. 



LAST ILLNESS 291 

in the Spring of the following year. The Professor 
continued to keep up his frequent correspondence with 
a number of friends ; his memory was unimpaired and 
his interest in other people's doings was as keen as ever 
it was, but he was not fit for further work. In May, 
1907, he was beset by a serious attack of dropsy, his 
first real illness in seventy-eight years, and he tried to 
look upon it in his customary philosophical way. 

I am sorry to say I have been laid up now for some 
weeks with a most obstinate dropsical attack, which 
defies the strongest drugs the doctors have been dosing 
me with. I am almost thinking of sending to Holland 
for a Dutch engineer to come and drain me, after which 
he can turn his hand to our Fens, where I hear there are 
just now hundreds of acres under water — whether due to 
the bursting of a bank I do not know.* 

A few days later, when he knew that his illness 
would be his last, he wrote to Mr. Harvie-Brown : — 

M.C.C., 
May 29, 1907. 

My dear H.-B., 

For the first time in my life I find myself 
writing to you as a serious invalid, for though my 
doctor professes to be hopeful of the result, I can't say 
that I feel so at all, but that a stubborn attack of 
dropsy which took me some weeks ago means to carry 
me off. I am thankful to say^ that so far it is not 
attended by any pain — though from weakness there is 
considerable amount of inconvenience, which must be 
expected — but I have much — very much — to be thank- 
ful for, and indeed have received blessings innumerable. 
I wish I could have lived to tell " The Story of the 
Gare-fowl" and "The Bustard and Britain," for which 
I have laid in a vast stock of material, but perhaps 

* Letter to W. Eagle-Clarke, May 21, 1907. 



292 LATER YEARS 

some one else may be found to use it efficiently. I think 
a nice book could be made out of each batch. 

As to myself I trust I am sufficiently thankful, for 
I have had a life to be thankful for. I have known 
some of the best of men whom I could know, and what 
is more have been on the best terms of friendship with 
them, and it has certainly pleased God to bless me in 
countless ways and particularly in my Natural History 
acquaintances, both at home and abroad. By a most 
wonderful combination of circumstances I came in for 
the Travelling Fellowship of this College — the only thing 
of its kind, and the very thing that suited me ! Then 
again, by a like wonderful chance, the newly founded 
Professorship of Zoology in the University fell to me ! 
If it had been worth more some better man would have 
tried for it and got it. But it was just what I wanted, 
and though many others would have done much more 
with it, I am not sure that the study of Zoology in the 
University would have been thereby really helped. 

So God bless you, 

Alfred Newton. 

A few days before the end an old friend, Mr. J. J. 
Lister, went to see him when he was in great distress. 
" I have had a very happy life," he said. 

The evening before he died the Master was sent for. 
A prayer was said and then the Professor wished him 
good-bye. " God bless all my friends — God bless the 
College — and may the study of Zoology continue to 
flourish in the University." A little later — his breath- 
ing was very laboured and he could speak only with 
difficulty — he asked to be lifted up. " I must die in my 
chair, like dear Bradshaw." So, on June 7, 1907, he 
died. 



CHAPTER XVII 

MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

The following letters written to and by Newton, 
dealing with various subjects, which do not find a place 
in the foregoing chapters, are arranged in order of date. 

From John Wolley to A.N. :— 

Muonioniska, 

November 15, 1853, 

Ludwig Knoblock tells me the following as a Finnish 
story. Kiowroo (one of the names of the devil, for he 
has very many in Finland) had taken a lad as drang 
for one year, a lad of, seventeen years of age and very 
clever. Kiowroo was somewhat jealous of him, and 
would constantly have wagers with him which could do 
things best. 

One day they agreed to see which could bear the 
heavy trunk of a tree furthest without setting his end 
to the ground. They agreed that whoever had the 
small end must go first, and if he looked back the other 
might poke him in the eye besides winning the wager. 
The boy said he was quite ready to take the large end, 
so off they started. But they had not gone far before 
the lad slipped his share upon the ground and sat upon 
it ; Kiowroo suspected something but he durst not look 
back for the lad called out that he had a sharp spike 
ready for his eye in case he turned his head. At last he 
could go no further and began to say it was wonderfully 
heavy, but the lad declared he did not feel it at all. 
Presently he could not stand it any longer, but let his 
end drop : and before he dare look round the lad was 
on his legs with the tree upon his shoulder. So the 
devil lost that wager. 

Another day they were to try which could drive his 

293 



294 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

head hardest against a tree. The boy slipped away 
and cut a hole in a tree just so deep as half his head, 
and covered the place with bark. When the trial came 
oft' the boy tried first, and his head was buried down to 
the eyes in the wood. The devil came after and 
smashed off a great piece of bark with the wood under 
it, but his head went nothing like so deep as the lad's, 
so he lost that wager too. 

Next they had a dispute Avhich could throw highest 
an enormous hammer. The devil cast it to the roof of 
a high room, but the drang waited a little ; and the 
devil said, "Go on." The lad replied: "I am only 
stopping till that black cloud comes overhead, that I 
may throw it upon it." The devil said : " Nay, nay, my 
father's old hammer, 1 will pay you the money rather." 

Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E., 

January 19, 1867. 

My dear Sir, 

Will you have the kindness to give me some 
information on one point? Not long since I was 
speaking to Mr. Wallace about his mimetic butterflies, 
and I told him of the case of the Rhynchoea, of which 
the female is more beautiful than the male, with the 
young resembling the latter. He answered me that 
you at Nottingham had advanced this or some such 
case, and that you had simply explained it by the 
male being the incubator. 1 should be extremely 
obliged if you would give me any information on this 
head and allow me to quote you. The subject interests 
me greatly, as in the 4th Edition of the " Origin " I gave 
the obvious explanation of female birds not being 
gaudily coloured, etc., on account of their incubating; 
1 knew then of the RJiynchoca but passed over the case, 
from not having space and from its appearing to me 
quite inexplicable. 

I hope that you will forgive me troubling you, and 
believe me, my dear Sir, 

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Darwin. 



CHARLES DARWIN 295 

P.S. — As I am writing, I will ask one other ques- 
tion, for the chance of your being able to answer it. 
Does the male black Australian swan, or the black and 
white S. American swan, differ from the females in 
plumage ? i.e. in the intensity of the black, or in the 
amount of black in the black-necked species ? 

Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E., 

March 4, 1867. 

My dear Sir, 

Very many thanks about the Dotterel, and I 
am pleased to hear of this additional evidence. I have 
looked to Swinhoe's papers, but the case does not seem 
very conclusive. After writing to you I remembered 
that the female of the Carrion -hawk of the Falkland Fs. 
(formerly called Polyhorus N. Zealandii) is very much 
brighter coloured than the male, as I ascertained 
(" Zool. Voyage of Beagle : Birds ") by dissection ; I 
have written to the Missionaries there about its 
nidification and if I receive any answer, will in- 
form you. 

The other day I thought I had got a case at the 
Zoological Gardens in the Casuarmus galeaius, in 
which the female has the finest and brightest caruncles, 
etc., but Sclater tells me it would be rash to trust to 
the comparison of a single pair, and he tells me that 
the male Ostrich has the finest plumes. 
With my best thanks, 

I remain my dear Sir, 
Yours very sincerely, 

Charles Darwin. 

P.S. — Mr. Blyth tells me that according to Jerdan 
the natives say the male Turnix alone incubates and 
attends to young. 

There is another consideration which might lead to 
the female being the most beautiful, viz., if they were 
the more numerous than the males and the species were 
not polygamous, for in this case the more beautiful 
females would be selected. 



296 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

Everslev Rcctorv, Wmclifield, 

Apri], 1867. 

My dear Newton, 

Terrible hard work — and a sad death iu our 
family, have prevented my thanking you and John 
Clark for your kind correction of my lecture. 

I am very glad to know what the Bearded Tit feeds 
on and that it is not a Shrike. But most thankful am 
I for your guess at jicedulde. It is proof of high 
critical power — you should take to editing Greek 
plays. 

I knew Jlcedulse was " beccaficos." But thought the 
French used it for Whcatears and other little birds. 
But -picedulae is a delightful correction. But " hawks " 
for " auetes " was the printer's error. 

I am well pleased that you found so little fault with 
the whole. I omitted the antiquity of man, and flint 
implements : because it was unfair to commit good 
Norman McLeod, who is a martyr already to his liberal 
opinions, responsible for the discussing so great a subject 
in a single paragraph. 

Thank God, the birds arc coming — which always 
make my heart grow young again. Chiifchaff, wryneck, 
wheatear, and garden warbler are here, and I am 
straining my ears everywhere for that jolly little 
feathered Bacchus, the black cap. I will see Stevenson's 
" Birds of Norfolk." I was very sorry to hear of your 
illness ; but I was told it was gout. 

Ever yours obliged, 

C. KiNGSLEY. 

Loudon, 

January 18, 1870. 

Dear Newton, 

Can you inform me if there is any canal you 
know of in your part of the country with a straight 
piece (without locks) five or six miles long, or any 
piece of water of that extent ? I have undertaken (for 
a heavy wager) to prove by measurement the rotundity 
of the earth, to one of those strange phenomena who 



A. R. WALLACE 297 

do not believe in it and who is willing to pay to be 
enlightened. 

Will you also give me your advice on another point ? 
I am about to publish all my papers which bear upon 
Natural Selection, etc., in a volume. I should like an 
attractive title, but will not have a misleading one. I 
have at present fixed upon " Contributions to the Theory 
of Natural Selection. A Series of Essays," as exactly 
expressing what the book will be. Macmillan has a 
dislike to the word Contributions, and wants me to call 
it " Essays on Natural Selection," or '* On Natural 
Selection ; a Series of Essays." But these indicate too 
much a complete work on a definite subject to please 
me. 

Do you think my title will do, or can you suggest 
anything quite different ? 

Yours very faithfully, 

Alfred R. Wallace. 



A.N. to Edward Newton 



Cambridge, 

April 14, 1870. 



He told me the day I got there that the digging 
which Greenwell (he is a Canon of Durham and the 
greatest resurrectionist in England) has been carry- 
ing on for some years at Grime's Graves on Weeting, 
behind Broomhill, had at last produced something, and 
I made Newcome drive me over next day. Last year I 
went there but there was nothing to be seen but a great 
number of depressions (about 200 they say) like ordinary 
disused stone pits. 

All the old antiquaries have always said that these 
were the remains of an ancient British village or town ; 
but Greenwell found the country all round, and particu- 
larly on the Brandon side, so covered with old worked 
flints that he was sure that the depressions were the 
remains of pits made in the old time to get flint. It 
now appears that he was right, and I don't know 



298 MISCELLANEOUS LETTEKS 

wheu I have been more interested than with the results. 
At the beginning of last week, after he had been digging 
out the rubbish from one of these pits (he V)egan 3 
years ago, but of course only worked occasionally) and 
had got down by the side of the solid chalk about 39 
feet, he found a horizontal opening; clearing this he 
found it was the entrance to a gallery, or rather series 
of galleries, and these he has since been clearing out ; 
for the makers of these galleries, after they had got 
what they wanted, seemed to have filled in some of 
them with the chalk they excavated from the others — of 
course, to save the trouble of hoisting it to the top. 
These galleries run in almost every direction, with only 
enough between them to keep the roof from falling in, 
and it is quite clear that the object with which they 
were cut was to get at the " floor flint," a stratum 
of the finest and hardest flint some 9 to 12 inches thick 
which lies at that depth and is entirely removed from 
the galleries. One of these is either 27 or 29 feet long, 
and appears to have communicated with a similar shaft 
now nearly filled up and forming the next depression, 
and there seems a probability that the whole formed an 
immense series of " pot-holes " (like those they used to 
take rabbits in on the warrens). The gallery at the 
entrance is nearly high enough to stand in, say 5 feet, 
but it soon diminishes and the branches are not above 
3 feet high, some of them less, so that the miners must 
have lain on their side just as pit-men do now in the 
collieries. But the best thino' has to come ; these 
galleries were all excavated with picks made of Stags' 
horns ! more than a dozen of which have been found in 
this one pit, among the rubbish or quite at the end of 
the galleries. Whether this pit ever caved in and the 
workers had to leave their tools one can't say, but 
probably it was so. The next that is opened will 
probably show ; for one cannot think that the picks 
were of no value, some indeed are quite worn, but the 
others are quite fresh. The horns are longer than the 
average fen liorn, but not so big as those of the drift. 



FLINT PITS 299 

A few splinters of flint are found, but very few, 
showing how careful the men were about every morsel 
of it they broke off, and one rough flint axe or " celt." 

The big and royal antlers are broken off the horns 
and then you have a capital pick. Nearly all the horns 
are naturally shed, there were, I think, only 3 taken 
off dead deer, and this is curious, for however abundant 
deer may have been, it is notorious that the finding of 
shed horns is a rarity. I got a very good pick which 
was found and brought " to bank " while I was there ; 
it has been much used, the point blunted and hammer 
end worn by use. 

Of other " works of art " I saw 'several shallow cups 
cut out of chalk, which it is suggested may have been 
used as lamps. I went down the ladder and into one 
gallery ; the pick marks on the walls and roof are as 
plain and fresh-looking as possible and Greenwell 
declares some of the picks have thumb or finger marks 
(showing the grain of the skin) in the fine chalk with 
which they are now encrusted. There is no doubt about 
the existence of these marks, but I found I could make 
them for myself and I doubt their being impressions of 
the skin of their ancient proprietors. 

Altogether the discovery is very wonderful, and I 
hope other people will go to work and open some more 
pits. You may fairly give them an age of 2000 years, 
for it is clear that metal was unknown at the time. 

Greenwell is convinced that if more pits are opened 
they will find the skeleton of some ancient miner who 
was overwhelmed by a fall ; it is very likely, and I hope 
the search will be continued, but Angerstein as you 
know is a queer customer and it is impossible to say 
what crotchet he may have. 

A.N. to J. A. Harvie-Brown : — 

Bloxworth, Blandford, 

August 29, 1876. 

I am very glad to have your confirmation of my 
opinion as to there being dialects in the song of birds. 



300 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

I believe that the notion first occurred to me the first 
day I ever landed in Norway. This was at Christiansand 
in May, 1855, and I was immediately struck with the 
songs of the Redstarts and Wheatears sounding 
differently from those I had been hearing only a few 
days before at home. 1 thought, however, that some of 
the difference might Ije due to rocky localities in which 
I heard the Norwegian birds, and I am now not sure 
that in some cases this may not have something to do 
with the difference in tone, especially if the sound does 
not strike one's ear directly but is reflected from stones 
or rocks. 

Still I am quite inclined to believe that part of the 
difference at least is actually local and I see no reason 
why the notes should not vary. The case of your 
particularly full-voiced Redwing might be an individual 
peculiarity, for every one must have observed what a 
difference there is between the song of one Song-Thrush 
and another. I should say that I never heard two sing 
exactly alike, and it is easy to recognise the same bird 
day after day, not to say season after season. Of all 
our birds this difference is perhaps most easily noticed 
in the Song-Thrush on account of its loud notes and the 
abundance and familiarity of the species ; but I have 
noticed it nearly as conspicuously in the Nightingale and 
also decidedly with Skjdark and Blackbird, 1 believe 
also in the Chaffinch, Willow -Wren and some others. 
If then there be, as there certainly is, this individual 
difference, it is not unnatural to suppose that it may be 
(like other individual differences) hereditary, and as 
there must in the majority of cases be greater con- 
sanguinity between (say) the Redstarts and AVheatears of 
Christiansand than between the same birds in Suffolk 
the matter seems capable of easy explanation. An ex- 
tension of the principle will to some degree suggest a 
reasonable theory of the "confusion of tongues" with- 
out a Tower of Babel ! 



BLACKGAME. OWLS 301 

A.N. to J. A. Harvie-Brown : — 

10, Beaufort Gardens, S.W. 

January 10, 1877. 

It is quite a new notion to me that the Capercally 
drives out the Blackgame. Without intimating any 
doubt — because indeed I am not in a position to doubt 
or to believe — I will, however, ask you to be fully satis- 
fied that this is the case. I know how fond game- 
keepers and others are of imagining that such or such a 
thing has caused a diminution of game. Thus it has 
grown to be a prevalent belief in Norfolk and Suffolk 
that French Partridges drive away the grey birds. I in 
former years had ample opportunity of seeing both 
species and made pretty good use of it, and I am con- 
vinced that the belief has not a particle of foundation. 
Again I know from experience in Dorsetshire that in 
some seasons Blackgame are unaccountably scarce and 
in others unaccountably plentiful, and there there are no 
Capercallies at all. 

I am just returned from Brighton where I saw 
Mr. Booth's collection. He seems to have murdered 
several Eagles last spring at their nests ! 

Bloxworth, September 20, 1877. 

Dear Lilford, 

Concerning Owls : both last year and this I 
have been exercised in regard to an Owl that comes and 
hoots in trees near this house. On more than one 
occasion last year my brother Edward and myself saw 
a Barn Owl fly from a tree whence such hooting had 
been heard but a few minutes before, and no Brown 
Owl could be found in or flushed from the said tree. Is 
it possible that after all the Barn Owl may hoot after a 
fashion ; for I ought to say that this note is not the 
regular " Tu-whit, Tu-whoo," but a wavering *' whoo- 
yoo-o-yoo-yoo," preceded and followed by horrid and 
unholy shrieks ? 

I won't have that Durham Canon arrogate '* Tit- 
mousen " to himself. He only heard it from me {vide 



302 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

Yarrell, "Br. B.," ed. 4, i. p. 490, note). These same 
birds are scarce with us this autumu. In the garden 
here there are no lioneysuckle berries, and not a Parus 
palustris have I in consequence seen at a bower just 
opposite my window. 

Now that you remind me of it, I think that I too 
have heard Titmousen cry in alarm when a Woodcock 
has been on the wing. It must be an Owl they take 
it for, and I know the Long-eared Owl preys at times 
on small birds, so there is some ground for their 
terror. 

I believe I told you of my seeing 11 Blackgame 
(9 in one field) one day about a week ago. I have 
seen nothing of any importance since. I expect to be 
making my start about this day fortnight. 

Do you like eels ? I don't, but not exactly on the 
ground assigned by a Yankee : " Do you think, sir, I'd 
eat a darned damp snake ? " 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

P.S. — I ought to have said that the venison turned 
out an unmixed comfort. 

A.N. to Rev. A. C. Smith :— 

October 31, ]878. 

I fully expected that some of my friends would be 
startled at the way I dealt with the Crows ; but I am 
gorry to hear that you are distressed at it. I can only 
say I was forced to it by the evidence, which I tried to 
consider as fairly as possible. If I had any bias it was 
to have things as they always have been, but the 
evidence was too strong for me. Be sure, however, 
that I shall not quarrel with those who don't see it as I 
do, and, if I am not mistaken, to the "British Bird" 
public the Black and Grey Crows will long stand as 
distinct " species." 

I thought I had said enough about Rook shooting. 
As a " sport " it has no charms for me, but rather 



ROOKERIES 303 

inspires disgust. Still I am not sure that as regards 
the welfare of the species the practice is detrimental. 
It reduces the number of mouths to be fed and the 
survivors must consequently thrive in proportion. If 
there was no Rook-shooting we should doubtless have a 
large emigration of young Rooks in autumn, and a 
very small number of the emigrants would return in the 
spring. As it is the emigration is hardly perceptible, 
perhaps being no greater than the immigration in 
spring. 

The varied fortune of rookeries is indeed very 
curious, and their waxing and waning would be a 
wonderfully interesting subject to investigate ; of 
course, in almost every case the supply of food is the 
turning-point. We have, as I dare say you know, an 
abundance of Rooks here, not, I am sorry to say, in the 
garden of this College ; but from St. John's to Downing 
is an almost continuous rookery so far as the presence 
of trees admit. When I first knew Cambridge T think 
there were two distinct establishments ; that in the 
Johnian " wilderness," and that in the trees fronting 
Cat's Hall. The former has spread in extent, though I 
am not sure there are more birds, partly owing to many 
trees having been blown down, and the latter certainly 
has more nests than it used. There are nests at 
intervals all along the backs of the Colleges as far as 
Queen's ; so that really, as I have said, there is scarcely 
any breach of continuity. Downing, too, is but a skip 
and a flutter from Cat's, and since the Downins^ trees 
have grown up. Rooks have taken to them immensely. 
There is also a nest or two in the garden of Caius though 
quite surrounded by buildings, and some at Sidney. I 
wish we had some in our grounds, but I suspect our 
trees are not to their liking. 

July 24, 1879. 

My dear Lilford, 

I had nearly omitted to notice your kind 
offer of Flamingoes' eggs, for which I thank you much ; 



304 MISCELLANEOUS LETTEES 

but unless they are from some new locality or possess 
some other remarkable qualification, I will not trespass 
on your bounty. I have specimens from Spain, France, 
and India, and there is a " damnable iteration " about 
them all. Why does not some one bring home a 
Flamingo's nest ? the whole pillar of mud in which the 
hen " s'assoit, comme Monsieur sur une vase " — as the 
Frenchman told J. W. Clark. There is a deal of in- 
teresting matter to be got out of this bird. How does 
it collect the mud, and how heap it up ? To this day 
the best authority on the subject is old Dampier, 
who wrote more than 200 years ago. If the gentle- 
men of England who go abroad at ease would look after 
a few things like this they would cap their exploits, 
which of course already surpass those of the orni- 
thologists of any other nation. 

Your hybrid Owl must be a really funny fellow. 
Do pray have his portrait taken, and at least twice ; 
once before he loses his first plumage, and then when 
he gets his next suit. All young Owls, so far as I 
know, have dark irides ; when he gets older he will 
probably have them a half-and-half colour, something 
between Bass and Guiness. 

I went to Baker's to-day and saw the son (whom by 
the way, I believe to be a good honest lad). I told 
him his father was very foolish not to send you your 
bird at once. He has had an Eagle of my brother's 
some 8 or 9 years. It is always coming home next 
week ! 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

S.S. QJouworm, R.Y.S., Dartmouth, 

Augu8t 8, 1883. 

My dear Newton, 

Your information about Great Auk's egg is 
correct, I saw it at Burton's ; a very fair good specimen 
with a largeish fracture or irregular orifice at the small 
end, which had been tolerably patched up ; it had the 



LORD LILFORD 305 

word " Pingouin," or part thereof, written on it in two 
places. I had a letter from Franck on 19th ult. saying 
that the lowest price was £150, and that it was the 
finest specimen in the world. I declined to buy, and 
know no more about it except that Burton told me that 
Franck had bought it for the Continent, and that I told 
several people about it. 

My doings since I last saw you are shortly told. 
I went with my wife and youngest boy to Biarritz at 
the end of January, stayed there much bored for about 
three weeks and went on to Seville via Madrid about 
the end of February. I had this vessel in the river, 
but lived at pothouse, made several expeditions down 
the river, but was much hampered during March and 
early April by bad weather. We shot about 20 Great 
Bustards, and nothing else worthy of remark except a 
pair of Sterna Caspica, rare birds in those parts, never 
met with before by self or Irby. Flamingoes were 
more numerous than I ever saw them before, but at 
their nesting time / was crippled by gout in the right 
hand, not very severe but sufficiently so to prevent 
any pleasure in locomotion, and I could not inspire 
my boy to wade some two or three miles of mud and 
water to the Lucio seal, which is no doubt the spot 
where Abel Chapman tells in last Ihis of having seen 
them on their nests. I joined my wife at Granada 
towards the end of May, and came home thence by 
Cordova, Madrid and Paris. Went to Neuevahn with 
Irby at beginning of June, he caught several swallow- 
ytailed Flutter-bugs, P. podalirius, with his boy from 
Darmstadt, and remained in apparently comparative 
contentment for ten days. My wife joined me, we 
found nest of Cyanecula loolji I bathed, drank, and 
came to London at the beginning of July, was detained 
there by bad weather for several days. Did my 
Fisheries Ex*"" several times as well as a bath-chairist 
could. Met your brother there, the " worthy Magis- 
trate," who told of your worthy self; and came down 
here about three weeks ago. Weather and fishing 

X 



30C MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

very indifferent, hardly any Kittiwakes now ou the 
coast, a good many when we first arrived, but no pro- 
pagation in these parts of that species. We shall be 
going to Lilford about the middle of next week. Shall 
I send you some venison ? And if so, whither ? Irby 
has hired a shoot of some 4000 acres near Wimborne, 
where he has a good breed of partridges, and expects 
to slay snipes. There arc a few Blackgame. 

Let me hear how you are. 1 hope the rheumatism 
has left you in peace of late. 

Did you hear tell of a mourning friend at poor Jack 
Russell's funeral, who hearing a bystander remark that 
the flowers, wreaths, etc., in the grave were very beau- 
tiful, said, "Yez, it is very luvly, sheur enuf, but I 
rackon the dear old feller eud zeuner lie in a vuz brake." 
My wife sends her very kind remembrances. 

Yours very truly, 

LiLFOED. 

S.S. Glowioorm, R.Y.S., Dartmouth, 

August 12, 1883. 

My dear Newton, 

Thank you very much for yours of 10th to 
hand yesterday. I should like to hear what becomes 
of the egg of Great Auk. I would have given £100 for 
it, but did not particularly care to make an offer. 
I told Seebohn about it, but he did not seem 
to rise. 

About the killing of Otis tarda in Spain, I wanted 
some choice specimens and as I found that there is now 
a demand for them in Seville for culinary purposes, 
l)esides a little French widow who buys all she can get 
at 2 $. for preserving and sending to Paris, thinks I that 
we may as well have our share. With 3 exceptions all 
that we shot were old males. There is no fear of the 
extinction of the species in Spain, as the Marisma of the 
Guadalquivir seems to be the only district in which 
they are bullied by man to any extent, and with the 
exception of a wandering Bonelli's Eagle they have 



MISTLETOE 307 

there no other enemies. We saw a very great number, 
and they are very wide awake in the day time but 
though no amount of driving and fair shooting will 
materially affect the species, the demand aforesaid in 
Seville has evoked a murderous practice of shooting them 
with lantern and bell at nights, which is most destructive 
to the male birds, but they are if not polygamous " muy 
putaiieros," as a young Spaniard said to me, and every 
healthy old male treads every female that he can get at. 

If you could spare the necessary time, there would 
be little difficulty in seeing Phcenicopterus at his home 
either in Spain or in Sardinia. 

You are right in supposing that I blundered about 
Cyanecula ; those we found at Neuevahn were the 
white-spotted race, which is apparently entirely un- 
known to the natives of those parts. 

We go to Lilford this week, when you shaU promptly 
have some venison. I do not know exactly whereabouts 
Irby's shoot is, but I believe that Wimborne is his post 
town. I have just heard of a nest of Hobby near Lilford, 
but not on my own territory. 

Yours very truly, 

Lilford. 

December 20, 1890. 

My dear Lilford, 

It is the very Viscus berry itself that 
T. viscivorus visits the tree opposite my window to 
devour, the tree being an old apple with a fine growth 
of Mistletoe upon it. In all the more than 26 years 
that I have been here I have never seen any other bird 
touch a Mistletoe berry save a Robin on one single 
occasion ; but T. viscivorus clears them all off when 
they are really ripe. This very morning there sat a 
wretched Song-Thrush, with plenty of Mistletoe berries 
over his head and around him, but he did not even look 
at them, and so it always is. Yet the taste of this very 
bird is adaptive enough to let him be greedy over pie- 
crust. 



308 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

We have now got a pretty deep snow, which I find 
very uncomfortable, though the resources of civilisation 
in the shape of " lawn-tennis soles " to my boots enable 
me to get about more freely than before their in- 
vention. 

News I have none and I am almost compelled to 
comment upon Mr. Parncll's doings, low as that form of 
eking out a letter would be, but even there everything 
that can be said on the subject has been said, and 
novelty is impossible. Guillemard has sent me a copy 
of his " Ferdinand Magellan " and I am charmed with 
so much of it as I have read. The story is of itself 
most interesting and it is capitally treated by him. I 
feel quite glad that he had some of my books to work 
with — especially as at last I have got them safe again. 
Do you know anything of our Canon ? I wrote to him 
some weeks ago asking if he really meant to go to the 
Sandwich Islands, but have had no reply. It will be a 
pity if he has contracted the modern habit of not 
answering letters. 

I yesterday had from a friend a bone which he had 
found under a Golden Eagle's nest, and on taking it to 
the Museum I discovered to my surprise that it was a 
Shag's, and a young one at that — so the inference must 
be that Golden Eagles rob Shags' nests, a rather curious 
thing. 

Wishing you. Lady Lilford and all yours the best of 
wishes, believe me to be, 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

P.S. — Kiwis are too nocturnal, or at least crepus- 
cular, to be entertaining — though years ago WoUey, my 
brother Edward and I were much interested by watching 
the first Ajjteryx that came alive to England for an 
hour or two by the aid of a bull's-eye lantern. And we 
stood the poor creature a drink, the first it had had 
since its arrival and, so far as I could learn, the only 
one it enjoyed during its long captivity. It was nice 



CANON TELSTRAM 309 

to hear it blowing bubbles through its nostrils, just 
putting the tip of its bill in water. 

A.N. to Canon H. B. Tristram : — 

lOj Beaufort Gardens, 

December 29, 1890. 

I had begun to be unhappy about you. There 
seemed a possibility in these days of (asserted) noiseless 
explosions that the Great Gun of Durham had gone off 
silently, with intentions murderous to the peace of 
Hawaiian birds, and that the Sandwich Island Com- 
mittee might be startled to find that both bread and 
meat were taken out of its mouth, and a flavour of 
Durham mustard left only. 

I thank you for your good wishes, and return them 
to you and all yours ; but put not your trust in grand- 
children being ornithologists or any of the rising 
generation. The more promising they are as boys the 
less likely are they to turn out worth anything. Think 
of Lilford's youngest boy who was unhappy because he 
was shaky on his " Grebes," and has now descended to 
incredible baseness, even acting in a Greek play where 
he had to call a Swan " redfooted " ! N.B., it could 
not have been C. coscoruha and was hardly likely to 
be C. davidi. 

Your voyage will not be so entertaining as Magel- 
lan's (by the way, get Guillemard's new book * and 
take it with you to read), but I hope less disastrous, 
very delightful for a good sailor, but for sight seeing 
nil nisi pontus et aer, as the old Latin grammar put it, 
until you get to Japan, and then I expect you will be 
much pressed for time. Convey my love to Mitsukuri 
at Tokio, and another man there, a very nice fellow and 
a botanist whose name at this moment I forget. He 
came to Cambridge speaking American quite intelligibly, 
but after he had been with us a little while he spoke 
English so fluently that he ranallhiswordsintooneword- 
andcouldn'tbyanymeansbeunderstood, perhaps he has 

* " Ferdinand Magellan." 



310 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

now slowed down a l)it, in which case you will find him 
very agreeable. 

it really is a pity you can't come home by the 
Sandwich Is. and stop the space of a steamer there ; 
even Oahu, the island on which' Honolulu stands, has 
not been worked, and I might tell you of a place there 
where I think you would find a species of which only 
one other specimen is known to exist, and that got more 
than fifty years ago. 

Magdalene College, 

Cambridge, 

October 14, 1895. 

My dear Harting, 

I am extremely obliged to you for sending 
the Swan book,* and I will return it in a few days. 
I have also to thank you for your letter received this 
morning and the accompanying copy of your article on 
" cob and pen," which I am very glad to have. You 
show abundant authority for the use of the words " cob " 
and '* pen," and I only wish I had known of it sooner. 
But I cannot agree with you as to the meaning and 
application of either. It is possible that " col) " may 
refer to the " berry " on the cock Swan's bill, since the 
word was used to signify any round substance, and in 
that sense its diminutive (?) still survives in " cobble," 
a round stone such as roads are paved with. 

But there was another signification ( = testiculus), 
and as I find that a " cob horse " meant a " stone horse," 
I was inclined to think that a " cob swan " was a male 
possessing the natural power of procreation. I would 
refer you to the " New English Dictionary " (sub voce), 
into which I much wish I had looked before my article 
" Cob " was published. 

All you say as to *' Cop" is right enough, and as a 
provincial word it has been known to me, in the sense 

* " The Orders, Lawes, and Ancient Cuatomea of Swanns. Caused to 
be printed by John Witherings, Esquu-e, Master and Governour of the 
Royall game of Swans and Signets throughout England. Prmted by 
August Mathewes, 1632." Sm. 4to, with Vignette of Swan on title page. 
An exceedingly raie little volume. 



FLINT JACK 311 

of head, or crown, or crest, from my boyhood ; but 
though b and p arc in many cases interchangeable, and 
most likely " cob " and " cop " have a common origin, 
yet I cannot think that "cob " would ever return to the 
form " cop." 

I do not think your explanations of " pen " will 
hold, and we shall have to look further to account for 
it. Likely enough it is connected with penna, but 
its special meaning as a hen swan seems still obscure. 
I shall send the copy of your article to Skeat, and if he 
can throw any light on the subject I will let you know. 
Notwithstanding what you have written, and my own 
suggestion now made as to " cob," I still think Yarrell's 
second statement is unintelligible, though his first, on 
your showing, is satisfactorily authorised. [See Diet. 
Birds, art. " Cob".] 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 

September 5, 1899. 

My dear Harvie-Brown, 

I am afraid you will find it very hard to get 
any specimens of Flint Jack's handiwork. You may be. 
sure that most of his victims threw them away as soon 
as the fraud was exposed. Except John Evans * who, 
I believe, has some, I cannot think of anybody of my 
acquaintance likely to have any — and he would not be 
likely to part with them. I have certainly seen some 
of Jack's forgeries in Museums — the Blackmore Museum 
at Salisbury among others — but there they are kept for 
a purpose, and would not be given up. I am not sure 
that we may not have a few of the counterfeits in our 
Antiquarian Museum at Cambridge. I remember some 
one exhibiting some at a meeting of the Ray Club 
about the time the matter was exposed, and I think 
John Evans had a good deal to do with it. The story 
is that he, or some one else, beginning to suspect Flint 
Jack, drew on paper the form of a purely imaginary 

* His are now in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford. 



312 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

implement, sayiug that such a specimen would be worth 
a good bit of money. Jack is said to have looked at 
the sketch and declared he had once come across a 
thing like it which he had sold to a gentleman, etc. 
The next time he came round he produced a flint corre- 
sponding accurately with the drawing and claimed his 
reward. The money was paid to him and he was told 
how he had been entrapped ; but he saw the joke of the 
thing and enjoyed it very much ! 

The trade of " Hint-knapping " has been carried on at 
Brandon time out of mind. The " floor-Hint," as it 
is thereabout called, produces the hardest and finest 
quality, and I believe it is known that even before 
gun-flints came into use, flints for common strike-a- 
light purposes were manufactured there to a great 
extent. In more recent times almost the whole supply 
of gun -flints has come from that place, and a very 
curious thing is that there is still a demand (only very 
limited in these days) for them, but goodness knows 
whence it comes and whither they go. ... In that 
neighbourhood it is not worth while to make forgeries ; 
you can't do it properly with an iron hammer (as the 
gun-flints are made) and the dull new surface is always 
recognisable. It takes centuries to put on the proper 
patina^ and if polishing is attempted it is almost always 
overdone. The best imitation is produced by rubbing 
the fracture with a bit of cheese, but naturally that can 
be as quickly removed by the finger, and then you 
have the dull surface again. Besides this, in the majority 
of cases the colour of the fracture is affected by age — 
sometimes remarkably so. 

Yours very truly, 

Alfred Newton. 



A.N. to J. A. Harvie-Brown 



Lowestoft, 

November 17, 1900. 



There must be plenty of analogies between the 
migrations of Fishes and of Birds, yet I should suppose 



A HARE'S WHISTLE 313 

that there were also plenty of differences. I have always 
felt that a good book on the migration of Fishes, both 
salt-water and fresh, was much wanted. 

A year or two ago a man wrote to me enquiring as 
you now do about the vent feathers (under tail coverts 
if you like it better) of the Blackcock. I could only 
tell him that I knew nothing beyond the fact that they 
are sometimes marked with black and sometimes not. 
Never having lived in a Blackcock country my oppor- 
tunities of observation have been nily and I could not 
find out that anybody, here or on the continent, had 
explained or attempted to account for the variation ; 
but I remember noticing the fact when a boy, in some 
Blackgamc sent to my father from Perthshire. 

By way of starting a theory, to be kicked over if 
need be, I should surmise that the young birds have 
the bigger marks, the " T " or anchor shape, which 
gradually lessens to the arrow-head, that to an " ermine " 
spot and finally disappears. This is just the reverse of 
the " return marking " on the Waxwiug's pinions, for 
they, I am pretty sure, are only seen in old birds, and 
they seem to increase with age. 

It would be a very pretty hare for you to start in 
the " Scottish Annals " : this of Blackcocks' bottoms ! 

A.N. to G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton :— 

February 10, 1905. 

Now I want you to tell me whether you have ever 
heard, or heard of, a Hare's whistle, if I may so call it. 
Do you know any one who has described it, and if so 
who ? I believe I have heard it, but very rarely and 
so long ago that my recollection of it is indistinct. 
I think it is only uttered at night, and I suppose in 
the rutting season ; but that I don't know. 

The first time I heard it I had not a notion of what 
it was, nor did I know for some time what animal it 
came from, and then, so far as I remember, an old 
warrener told me. I think the ordinary gamekeeper 



314 MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS 

knows nothing about it ; but then the ordinary game- 
keeper is one of the most stupidly unobservant of 
beings. Poachers, however, do know it and imitate it 
with a " hare-call," one of which I should much like to 
get hold of. None of the books in common use men- 
tions it so far as I am aware, but there is nothing very 
extraordinary in that ; for so very few people who 
have written books know anything about the habits 
of mammals beyond the most obvious facts, and accord- 
ing to my recollection this cry, call, or whistle is so 
shrill that it is possible some people could not hear it 
at all. You know that many can't hear a Shrew, and, 
it is said, scarcely any one over forty, a Bat. 

A.N. to P. H. Bahr :— 

July 5, 1906. 

I know what a nuisance letter- writing is when " in 
the field," and all the spare time one has is or ought to 
be devoted to writing up notes, but I do like hearing of 
people's existence especially when they are gone on a 
venture which oneself has chiefly instigated. 

You are perfectly right in your opinion of game- 
keepers ; taking them as a lot they are as big a set of 
fools as one ordinarily finds, but (and it is an important 
"but ") there are some brilliant exceptions. I have had 
nothing to do with crofters, but from all I have heard I 
have a poor opinion of them. Tliey may be picturesque, 
but in every other but a sentimental view I am sure 
the landscape would be better without them ; from tlie 
economic point of view that is without doubt. 

By the way, that white or whitish patch at the base 
of the bill is not peculiar to the Scaup Duck, the Tufted 
Duck often has it, not so conspicuously or well marked 
as the other but quite enough to show. I have had 
very little acquaintance with Scaup Ducks, almost none, 
but it seems to me that if you are looking down on the 
bird, even from a slight elevation, the very light- 
coloured back ought to enable you to distinguish him 



DUCKS' BACKS 315 

at once from the dark-backed Tufted Duck, even though 
the latter wears his white flank-feathers so high that 
they almost meet in the middle of the back. By the 
way, did you ever notice a curious difference between 
the Pochard and the Tufted Duck ? The former has a 
complete " turtle back," while the latter has a well- 
marked longitudinal depression running the whole 
length of it. 

If you have not noticed this, just look the next time 
you are at the Zool. Gardens. I don't know how it is 
with the Scaup or White-eyed Duck, perhaps betwixt 
the two. 



APPENDIX 

LIST OF PUBLISHED PAPERS 

Newton, A. Nestling of the Siskin {Fringilla spinus) in Confine- 
ment. Zoologist, No. 120-1, Dec, 1852. 

Some Account of a Petrel, killed at Soutliacro, Norfolk ; 

with a Description and Synonymy. Zoologist, No. 120-1, Dec, 1852. 

Extracts from Letters of John WoUey, Esq., now in Lap- 
land. Zoologist, p. 4203, Feb., 1854. 

Psittaci novae Speciei ad conurum Genus Pertinentis 

descriptio. 1859. 

Remarks on the Harlequin Duck {Histrionicus torquatus, 

Bp.). Zoologist, p. 162, 1859. 

Memoir of the late John Wolley, Jun., Esq., M.A., F.Z.S., 

etc. The Ibis, 1860. 

Newton, A and E. Observations on the Birds of St. Croix, 
West Indies. The Ibis, 1860. 

Newton, A. Note on the supposed Occurrence of the Hirundo 
bicolor of North America in England. Proc. Zool. Soc, Feb. 28, 
1860. 

On some Hybrid Ducks. Proc. Zool. Sac., June 26, 1860. 

Remarks on the Anas (Anser) erythropus of Linnaeus. 

Proc. Zool. Soc, June 26, 1860. 

Suggestions for saving Parts of the Skeletons of Birds. 

Rep. Smithsonian Inst., 1860. 

Suggestions for forming Collections of Birds' Eggs. Smith- 
sonian Misc. Coll., 1860. 

Suggestions for forming Collections of Birds' Eggs. Re- 
printed, with additions, from the Circular of the Smithsonian Institution 
of Washington. London, 1860. 

Anweisung zur Anlogung von Eiersammhmgen. (Trans. 

by E. Baldamus.) Journ.f. Ornithologie, Nov., 18G0. 

Description of a New Species of Water-Hen {Gallinula) 

from the Island of Mauritius. Proc. Zool. Soc, Jan. 8, 1861. 

Particulars of Mr. J. WoUey's Discovery of the Breeding of 

the Waxwing (Amfelis garnilus, Linn.). The Ibis, Jan., 1801. 

316 



PUBLICATIONS 317 

Newton, A. Abstract of Sir. J. Wolley's Kesearches in Iceland 
respecting the Gare-Fowl or Great Auk {Alca impennis, Linn.). The 
Ibis, Oct., 1861. 

On the Possibility of taking an Ornithological Census. 

The Ibis, April, 1861. 

— — On the Possibility of taking a Zoological Census. Journ. 
Proc. Linn. Soc, 1861. 

Eemarks on Pallas's Sand-Grouse {Syrrhaptes paradoxus)- 

Proc. Zool Soc, May 14, 1861. 

On a Hybrid Duck. Proc. Zool. Soc, Dec. 10, 1861. 

On some New or Rare Birds' Eggs. Proc Zool. Soc, 

Dec. 10, 1861. 

On the supposed Gular Pouch of the Male Bustard {Otis 

tarda, Linn.). The Ibis, April, 1862. 

On the Zoology of Ancient Europe. Read before Camb. 

Philos. Soc, March 31, 1862. 

Remarks on the Fringilla incerta of Risso. Proc Zool. 

Soc, April 8, 1862. 

On the Breeding of the Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryo- 

catactes). Proc Zool. Soc, June 24, 1862. 

On the Discovery of Ancient Remains of Emys lutaria in 

Norfolk. Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist., Sept., 1862. 

Review of the recently published Memoir of Bewick. The 

Ibis, Oct., 1862. 

Arctic Auguries. Ocean Highways, Feb. (?) 1862, (?) 1863. 

On a New Bird from the Island of Madagascar. Proc. 

Zool. Soc, Feb. 24, 1863. 

Two Days at Madeira. The Ibis, April, 1863. 

On an Illustration of the Manner in which Birds may 

occasionally aid in the Dispersion of Seeds. Proc. Zool. Soc, 
April 21, 1863. 

— — On Two New Birds from Madagascar. Proc. Zool. Soc, 
May 12, 1863. 

Acclimatisation and Preservation of Animals. National 

Review, No. 33, July, 1863. 

Remarks on the Exhibition of a Natural Mummy of Alca 

impennis. Proc. Zool. Soc, Nov. 10, 1863. 

On the Breeding of the Green Sandpiper (Helodromas 

ochropus). Proc Zool. Soc, Dec. 8, 1863. 

On the Irruption of Pallas's Sand-Grouse {Syrrhaptes 

paradoxus) in 1863. The Ibis, April, 1864. 

Notes on the Zoology of Spitsbergen. Proc Zool. Soc, 

Nov. 8, 1864. 



318 PUBLICATIONS 

Newton, A. Notes on the Ornithology of Iceland, Appendix 
to Baring Gould's " Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas." 1864. 

On Two New Birds from the Island of Rodriguez. Proc. 

Zool. Soc., Jan. 10, 1865. 

On some recently Discovered Bones of the Largest Known 

Species of Dodo {Didiis nazarenus, Bartlett). Proc. Zool. Soc, 
Feb. 14, 1865. 

Notes on the Birds of Spitsbergen. The Ibis, April, 1865. 

On an apparently undescribed Bird from the Seychelle 

Islands. The Ibis, August, 1865. 

The Gare-Fowl and its Historians. Natural History 

Review, Oct., 1865. 

On a Remarkable Discovery of Didine Bones in Rodriguez. 

Proc. Zool. Soc, Nov. 28, 1865. 

List of Animals collected at Mohambo, Madagascar, by 

Mr. W. T. Gerrard. Proc Zool. Soc, Dec. 12, 1865. 

Newton, A. and Others. Report on the Extinct Birds of the 
Mascarene Islands. By a Committee consisting of Professor 
A. Newton, Rev. H. B. Tristram, and Dr. Sclater. Report of the 
Brit. Assoc, 1866, 

Newton, A. On some New or Rare Birds' Eggs, Proc. Zool. 
Soc, Jan. 24, 1867. 

Zur Vogel-Fauna Spitzbergens. Journ. f. Ornith., xv., 

Mai, 1867. 

Supplement to a Report on the Extinct Didine Birds of 

the Mascarene Islands. Rept. Brit. Assoc, 1867, 

Remarks on Professor Huxley's Proposed Classification of 

Birds. The Ibis, Jan., 1868, 

Newton, A. and E. On the Osteology of the Solitaire or Didine 
Bird of the Island of Rodriguez. Proc. Roy. Soc, No. 103, June, 
1868, 

Newton, A. The Zoological Aspect of Game Laws. Report 
Brit. Assoc, 1868. 

The Strickland Collection in the University of Cambridge. 

The Ibis, July, 1869. 

On Existing Remains of the Gare-Fowl {Alca impennis). 

Tfie Ibis, AprH, 1870. 

On Cricetus nigricans as a European Species. Proc. Zool. 

Soc, May 12, 1870, 

On a Method of Registering Natural History Observations. 

Trans. Nor foil and Norwich Naturalists' Society, 1870-71 (1871). 
pp. 24-34, i871. 



PUBLICATIONS 319 

Newton, A. On some New or Rare Birds' Eggs. Proc. Zool. 
Soc., Jan. 17, 1871. 

Letter re Lagopus of Spitsbergen. The Ibis, AprU, 1871. 

Exhibition of Eggs of German North-Pole Expedition. 

Proc. Zool. Soc, June 20, 1871. 

Eier. Die Zweite deutsche Nordpolarfahrt, vol. ii., (?) 1871. 

On a remarkable Sexual Peculiarity in an. Australian 

Species of Duck. Proc. Zool. Soc, Nov. 7, 1871. 

On an Undescribed Bird from the Island of Rodriguez. 

The Ibis, Jan., 1872. 

Osteology of the Solitaire. (A Letter.) Ann. Mag. Nat. 

Hist., Series IV., vol. ix., Jan. 10, 1872. 

Osteology of the Solitaire. (A Letter.) Ann. Mag. Nat. 

Hist., Series IV., vol. ix., March 9, 1872. 

Second Supplementary Report on the Extinct Birds of the 

Mascarene Islands. Report Brit. Assoc, 1872. 

The Notornis of Lord Howe's Island. 1873. 

On the Great Northern Falcons. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., 

Series, 1873. 

On a Living Dodo shipped for England in the Year 1628. 

Proc Zool. Soc, June 16, 1874. 

Suggestions as to the Acts of Birds most proper to be 

Observed by Meteorologists, Nov. 17, 1874. 

Manual of Zoology, published by the Society for Promoting 

Christian Knowledge. 1874. 

Additional Evidence as to the Original Fauna of Rodriguez. 

Proc Zool. Soc, Jan. 19, 1875. 

Notes on Birds which have been found in Greenland. 

Proc. Acad. Philadelphia, 1875. 

Suggestions as to the Acts of Birds most proper to be 

Observed by Meteorologists. Quart. Jaurn. Meteorological Soc, 
vol. ii., April, 1875. (N.B. — ^The paper mentioned above is 
probably a mounted final proof of this paper.) 

Exhibition of Dutch Drawings of Dodo and other Extinct 

Birds of Mauritius. Proc Zool. Soc, May 4, 1875, 

Note on Paloeornis exsul. The Ibis, July, 1875. 

On Certain Neglected Subjects of Ornithological Investi- 
gation. Brit. Assoc, August, 1875. 

On the Assignation of a Type of Linnean Genera, with 

especial reference to the Genus Strix. The Ibis, Series III., vol. vi., 
1875. 

On some Ornithological Errors in the Reliquice Aquiianicw . 

Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Feb., 1876. 



320 PUBLICATIONS 

Newton, A. and E. On the Psittaci of the Mascarene Islands. 
The Ibis, July, 1876. 

On the Naturalisation of the Edible Frog {Rana esculenta) 

in Norfolk. (?) Zoologist, July, 1876. 

Address to the Biological Section of the British Association. 

Glasgow, Sept. 6, 1876. 

The Dodo. Encylcopcedia Britannica, Ed. 9, June, 1877. 

Newton, A. and Mrs. R. Lubbock. Letters relating to the 

Natural History of Norfolk. Trans. Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' 
Soc, vol. ii., pt. 4. 1877. 

The Nomenclature of the Groups of Ratitae. Ann. Mag. 

Nat. Hist., Dec, 1877. 

Stone in Solitaire. Proc. Zool. Soc, March 5, 1878. 

Zoological Geography — Didus and Didunculus. Two 

letters in Nature, June, 1878. 

Newton, A. The Rooks and London Rookeries. Zoologist, 
Series III., vol. ii., Dec, 1878. 

Hawking in Norfolk. Lubbock's '' Fauna of Norfolk," 

2nd ed. 1878. 

Remarks on Death of Lord Tweeddale. Proc. Zool. Soc, 

Jan. 14, 1879. 

On AkctorcBnas nilidissima. Proc Zool. Soc, Jan. 14, 

1879. 

On some Moot Points in Ornithological Nomenclature. 

Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., August, 1879. 

More Moot Points in Ornithological Nomenclature. Ann. 

Mag. Nat. Hist., Dec, 1879. 

On ChcBtura Caudacuta. Proc Zool. Soc, Jan. 6, 1880. 

List of the Birds of Jamaica. (Corrected proof.) July, 1880. 

Newton, A. and E. List of the Birds of Jamaica. Handbook 

of Jamaica (1881), 1880. 

List of the Birds of Jamaica. Jamaica Handbook (1881). 

1881. 

Newton, A. On an Egg of Cariamacristata. Proc Zool. Soc, 
Jan. 4, 1881. 

Protection of British Birds. 

(1) Report on the Practicability of establishing " A Close 
Time " for the Protection of Indigenous Animals, by a Com- 
mittee appointed by the British Association, 1869-1880. 
British Association Reports, London. 

(2) The Wild Birds' Protection Act, 1880, with Explanatory 
Notes. London {Field OfiB.ce), 1880. Quarterly Review, vol. 151, 
No. 301, Jan., 1881. 



PUBLICATIONS 321 

Newton. A. Note on the Generic Name Hypherpes. Proc. 
Zool. ,Soc., March 15, 1881. 

Footnotes to " Extracts from the Calendar of the Rev. 

William Whitear, M.A., F.L.S., 1809-1826," by T. Southwell. 
Trans. Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists'' Society, vol. iii., 1881. 

The White-Backed Woodpecker not a British Bird. (Cor- 
rected proof, dated Sept. 20, 1881.) 1881. 

Ornithological Nomenclature. Addendum to The Ibis, 

Jan., 1883. 

Mr. Seebohm's " Fugitive Observations." (Cambridge, 

May 19, 1883.) 1883. 

The Fur-Seals of Commerce, A Monograph of the Seal- 
Islands of Alaska. Quarterly Review, No. 312, Oct., 1883. 

Memoir of the late John Scales. Trans. Norfolk and 

Norwich Naturalists' Society, vol. iv., 1885. 

Address to the Biological Section of the British Association. 

Manchester, 1887. 1887. 

Exhibition of a Stuffed Specimen of Bulweria columbina. 

Proc. Zool. Sac, Nov. 15, 1887. 

Darwin's Life and Letters. The Life and Letters of 

Charles Darwin, including an Autobiographical Chapter. 3 vols., 
London, 1887. Quarterly Revieiv, No. 331, Jan., 1888. 

Early Days of Darwinism. Macmillan's Magazine, No. 340, 

Feb., 1888. 

On the Irruption of Syrrhaptes paradoxus. Brit. Assoc, 

Section D., 1888. 

The Irruption of Syrrhaptes paradoxus. Scientific News, 

Sept. 10, 1888. 

[Summary of Prof. Newton's Address to British Association — 
" On the Irruption of Pallas's Sand-Grouse, Syrrhaptes paradoxus."] 
Zoologist, Series III., vol. xxi., No. 142, Oct., 1888. 

Newton, A. and E. Notes on some Species of Zosterops. The 
Ibis, Oct., 1888. 

Newton, A. On the Breeding of the Seriema {Cariama cristata). 
Proc. Zool. Soc, Jan. 15, 1889. 

On the Young of Pallas's Sand-Grouse {Syrrhaptes para- 
doxus). The Ibis, April, 1890. 

Obituary. Mr. J. H. Gurney. The Ibis, July, 1890. 

Notes on some Old Museums. Annual Report of the 

useums Association, 1891. 

Errors concerning the Sanderling {Calidris arenaria). The 

Ibis, July, 1892. 



322 PUBLICATIONS 

Newton, A. Note on the Occurrence of the Sanderling {Calidris 
arenaria) in New South Wales. Records of Australian Museum, vol. 
ii., 1892. 1892. 

Remarks on Exhibition of Skin of an Immature Sylvia 

nisoria. Proc. Zool. Soc, Nov. 1, 1892. 

The " Russet-Pated Chough " of Shakespeare. Zoologist, 

Oct., 1893. 

Origin of the Terms " Cob " and " Pen." 1 893. 

On a New Species of Drepanis discovered by Mr. R. C. L. 

Perkins. Proc. Zool. Soc., Nov. 7, 1893. 

On the Great Flood of 1852-3 in South- Western Norfolk. 

Trans. Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Soc, vol. 5, 1893. 

Notes on " A Bill to Amend the Wild Birds' Protection 

Act, 1880." The Annals of Scottish Natural History, April, 1894. 

Contributions to Pasfield Oliver's edition of Leguat's 

"Voyage." 1891. 

On a Rare Bird from the Sandwich Islands (Heterorhynchus 

olivaceus). Proc. Zool. Soc, Dec. 15, 1896. 

Sir Edward Newton, M.A., K.C.M.G. Obituary Notice. 

Proc. Linn. Soc, Session 1896-97. 

(?) Newton, A. Sir Edward Newton, M.A., K.C.M.G., F.L.S., 
C.M.Z.S. Obituary Notice. The Ibis, July, 1897. 

Newton, A. On some New or Rare Birds' Eggs. Proc. Zool. Soc., 
Nov. 16, 1897. 

The Preface to " Coloured Figures of the Birds of the 

British Islands." Issued by Lord Lilford, F.Z.S., etc. 8vo., 
London, 1897. 

On the Orcadian Home of the Gare-Fowl {Alca inipennis). 

The Ibis, Oct., 1898. 

Obituary Notice. Osbert Salvin. Obituary Notices of the 

Proc. Royal Soc, vol. 64, (?) 1898. 

GUbert White of Selborne. Born July 18, 1720 ; Died 

June 26, 1793. 8vo., Cambridge, 1899. 

The Great Shearwater in Scottish Waters. The Annals 

of Scottish Natural History, July, 1900. 

Gilbert White and his Recent Editors. Macmillan's 

Magazine, No. 489, July, 1900. 

Obituary Notice, Lionel William Wiglesworth. The Ibis, 

Oct., 1901. 

On some Cranes' Bones found in Norfolk. 1901. 

Memoir, John Wolley. ''Ootheca Wolleyana," vol. i. 

On the White Rhinoceros. Proc Zool. Soc, August 6, 

1903. 



PUBLICATIONS 323 

Newton, A. Review of Evan's " Turner on Birds." The Ibis, 
1903. 

Leguat's Giant Bird. Fourth International Congress of 

Ornithologists, Cambridge, June 20, 1905. 

Books, Letters, and Papers Exhibited [by A. Newton] in the 

Philosophical Library by permission of the Committee. June 20, 
1905. Fourth International Congress of Ornithologists, Cambridge, 
1905. 

Remarks on Louis Bureau, " Sur un Atlas des Planches 

coloriees de I'Ornithologie de Brisson attribue au Peintre Martinet, 
provenant de la vente Alph. Milne-Edwards." Proc. Fourth Inter- 
national Ornithological Congress, 1905. 1905. 

Alca impennis. " Ootheca WoUeyana," vol. ii., 1905. 

Appendix. The Publications on Natural History of John 

WoUey, except those included in the body of the Work. " Ootheca 
WoUeyana," pt. iv., vol. ii. 



Papers in Quarto. 

Newton, A. On a Picture supposed to represent the Didine 
Bird of the Island of Bourbon {Reunion). Trans. Zool. Soc., vol. vi., 
1867. 

Newton, A. and E. On the Osteology of the Solitaire or Didine 
Bird of the Island of Rodriguez, Pezophaps solitaria (Gmel.). Phil. 
Trans. Roy. Soc. 1868. 

Newton, A. The Zoological Aspect of Game Laws. Seems 
to be an extract from a Paper of Professor Newton's. Paper read 
at meeting. Brit. Assoc, August, 1868. 1868. 

The Migration of Birds. Nature, Sept. 24, 1874. 

On the Species of Hypsipetes inhabiting Madagascar and 

the Neighbouring Islands. Ornithological Miscellany, p. 41, 1876. 

Der Kukuk (I. and II.). Ornithol. Centralblatt, Feb. 1 

and 15, 1878. Jahrg. III., 1878. 

Der Dodo. Ornithol. Centralblatt, Sept. 1 and Dec, 1878. 

Jahrg. III., 1878. 

Newton, A., and Parker, W. K. Birds. Encyclopcedia Britan- 
nica, 9th ed., (1) 1875. 

Newton, A. Ornithology. Encyclopcedia Britannica, 9th ed., 
vol. xviii., 1884. 

Visitations of the Rotche or Little Auk. Science Gossip, 

vol. ii., No. 13, March, 1895. 



3^4 PUBLICATIONS 



Keports of Committees. 

Report of the Committee consisting of the Rev. Canon Tristraiii> 
Professor Newton, H. E. Dresser, J. S. Harting, and the Rev. A. F. 
Barnes, appointed for the purpose of continuing the Investigation on 
the DesirabiUty of Establishing a " Close-time " for the Preservation 
of Indigenous Animals. Rep. Brit. Assoc, 1872. 

Do., do., do. Rep. Brit. Assoc, Bradford, 1877. 

Statement by the Committee appointed by the British Association 
for the Advancement of Science, for the purpose of continuing the 
Investigation on the Desirability of Establishing a " Close-time " 
for the Preservation of Indigenous Animals. Feb., 1876. 

Report of the Committee . . . appointed for the pmrpose of 
enquiring into the Possibility of Establishing a " Close-time " for 
the Protection of Indigenous Animals. 1876. 

Report of the Committee, consisting of the Rev. H. F. Barnes- 
Lawrence, C. Spence Bate, Esq., H. E. Dresser, Esq. (Sec), Dr. A. 
Gunther, J. E. Harting, Esq., Dr. Gwyn Jeffreys, Professor Newton, 
and the Rev. Canon Tristram, appointed for the purpose of Inquiring 
into the Possibility of Establishing a " Close-time " for Indigenous 
Animals. Rep. Brit. Assoc, 1878. 

Report of the Committee, consisting of Mr. Thiselton Dyer 
(Sec), Professor Newton, Professor Flower, Mr. Carruthers, and 
Mr. Sclater, appointed for the purpose of "Reporting on the present 
state of our knowledge of the Zoology and Botany of the West 
Indian Islands," and taking steps to Investigate Ascertained De- 
ficiencies in the Fauna and Flora. Brit. Assoc, Bath, 1888. 1888. 

Bird Migration in Great Britain and Ireland. Report of the 
Committee . . . appointed for the purpose of making a Digest of 
the Observations on the Migrations of Birds at Lighthouses and 
Light- vessels, 1880-1887. Brit. Assoc, 1896. 

Do., do., do. Third Interim Report. Brit. Assoc, 1900. 

Do., do., do. Fourth Interim Report. (Proof.) Brit. Assoc, 
1901. 

Do., do., do. Fifth Interim Report. Brit. Assoc, 1902, 

Do., do., do. Sixth and Final Report. Brit. Assoc, 1903. 

[Letters and reviews published in weekly and other Journals 
have been omitted from the above list. For the sake of completeness 
should be added three works, the publication of which extended over 
a term of years, namely. " Yarrell's History of British Birds," vols. i. 
and ii. ; " The Dictionary of Birds," and " Ootheca WoUeyana."] 



INDEX 



Ad AMI, Prof., 102 

Advent Bay, 84, 87 

Agassiz, Prof. Louis, 110 

Albemarle, William Charles, 4th Earl 

of, 1 
Aha impennis, 40 7iote, 41 note, 45 
Aldeburgh, 156 
Aldrovandi, U., 174 ; " Ornithologia," 

222 
Alert, H.M.S., 21 
Alkenhorn, 82, 91 
Allen, Grant, " Selborne," edited by, 

188-190 
Alston, E., 19, 127 
" Annals of Scottish Natural History," 

146 note 
Anser brachyrhynchus, 85, 86 
Anthus cervinus, 18 
Aphanapteryx, 53 
Apteryz, 308 

Arcedeckne, Andrew, 271 
Archangel, 47 

Arctic Expedition, German, 21 
— Regions, 47 

Argyll, Duke of, 143, 166, 175 note 
Aristotle, 173, 174, 230 
Aster, the, 280, 285, 287 
Athenceum, 124 
Atkinson, T. D., 99, 101 
Audubon, J. J., " American Ornith- 
ology," 7 
Auk, Great, or Gare-fowl, 27, 29, 30, 

36-39, 40-52, 282, 286, 304, 306; 

Little, 82, 86 
Austen, Roberts, 129 
Avocet, 222, 223 

Babington, Prof., 118, 237 

Baer, Von, 212 

Bahr, Dr. P. H., 210, 257 note, 314 

Bainbridge, Mr., 5 

Baird, Prof., Ill, 115, 118 

Baldamus, E., 74 

Balfour, Prof. Francis Maitland, 268; 
work on Comparative Embryology, 
103 ; death, 248, 251 note ; class 
in morphology, 252 



Balmat, Gideon, 17 

Barrett-Hamilton, Major G. E. H,, 
letters from A. Newton, 51, 204, 
216, 217, 219, 240, 249, 260, 261, 
288, 290, 313 

Barrington, Mr., 172, 192 

Bateson, William, 104, 126, 250 

Bear Island, 81, 91 

Bear-pie, 5 

Becker, Lydia, 128 

Bee -eater, the Indian, 7 

Bell, Prof. Thomas, " Selborne," edited 
bv, 186, 187 

Bell Sound, 81, 88 

Benson, A. C, 245, 258, 262, 267 

Berger, Andreas, 79 

Berlin Museum, 74 

Bewick, Thomas, " Land Birds " and 
" Water Birds," 199 

Biarritz, 305 

Bidwell, Edward, 44 

Birds : dialects in songs, 299 ; egg- 
collecting, 146-150, 158 ; geogra- 
phical distribution, 175, 185 ; migra- 
tion of, 160-175 ; nomenclature, 
215-217 ; protection of, 136-158 ; 
close-time, 139-141 ; Society, 151 

Birds of Aristophanes, 258-261 

Birkbeck, Sir Edward, 77 

Blackdyke Fen, 56 

Black-game, 57, 301, 302, 313 

Blackmore Museum, 311 

Blackwell, E. J., 17 

Blasius, 74 

Bloxworth, 275 

Bond, F., 47, 48 

Bonney, Prof. T. G., account of the 
Red Lions Club, 129 

Bonxie or Skua Gull, 145, 155 

Borrer, " Birds of Sussex," 289 

Bos primigenius, 254 

Bos well, James, " Life of Johnson," 
233 

Bothnia, Gulf of, 19 

Boyle, Willy, 259 

Bradshaw, Henry, 268 note, 292 

Brambling, 8 



326 



326 



INDEX 



Bramwell, Sir R, 129 

Brandon, 297, 312 

Braybrooke, Latimer, 9th Lord, 75 

note, 94, 262 
Breck, the, 4 
Bremerhaven, 279 
Bright, Mynors, 94 
British Association, 52, 61, 118, 122, 

127, 128, 136, 139, 156, 169, 185 
British Museum, Catalogues, 235 
British Ornithologists' Union, 43, 61, 

69 
Brodie, J., 119 
Browne, T., 229 
Browning, O., 107 
Buckland, Frank, 127, 202 
Buffon, G. L., 192, 229 
Bunting, Snow, 35, 39 
Burgess, Captain, 44 
Burwell Fen, 54, 254 
Bury Museum, 255 
Bustard, 4, 7, 31, 54-58, 137, 150, 

211, 305 
Butler, Samuel, "The Way of All 

Flesh," 98 
Buzzard, Rough-legged, 4, 13, 165 

Cabanis, 74 

Calvert, Mr,, 43, 44, 45, 46 

Cambridge, 7, 93, 96-99 ; Museum, 
46, 53, 108, 209, 254, 311 ; popula- 
tion, 96 ; Railway Station, 93, 94 ; 
University, 96 ; Magdalene College, 
10, 11, 93, 99-101 ; chapel, 99, 100, 
245-247 ; Professorship of Zoology 
and Comparative Anatomy, founded, 
133 

Cambridge, Duke of, 253 

Candler, Mr., 264 

Capercaillie, 7, 224-228, 301 

Carpenter, Dr., 127 

Carrion-hawk, 295 

Cavenham, 5 

Chafin, Mr., " Cranbourn Chase," 211 

Champley, Mr., 48 

Chandler, Dr., 187 

Chough, 275-277 

Clark, J. W., 254, 255, 296, 304 

Cleaver, Charles Pierrepont, 11 

Coal Bay, 82, 85, 91 

" Cob and Pen," 310 

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 190 

Collingwood, Dr., 119 

Colymbus Adamsi, 285 

Cordeaux, John, 138, 169 

Cornhill Magazine, 247, 258 

Cornwall, 278 

Coues, Elliott, 166 

County Councils, 151 



"Cowshed," 263 

" Crab," the dog, 9 

Crane, 13, 150, 167 ; nest of, 19 

Crotch, Duppa, 268 

Crotch, G. R., 268 

Crows, 302 

Cruises, 278-287 

Cuckow, 66, 164, 167, 174, 223, 243 

Curlew, Long-billed, 223 

Cuvier, L. C, 257 

Darwin, Chables, 122, 175 ; " Origin 
of Species," 102, 118; on natural 
Selection, 112, 115, 117; "Animals 
and Plants under Domestication," 
114, 124; letters from, 124, 294, 
295 

Darwin, Sir Francis, 268, 273 

" Darwinism, Early Days of," extract 
from, 114 note 

Decoy, origin of, 231 

D'Hamonville, Baron, 47, 48 

Dhuleep Singh, Prince, 56, 76, 102 

Dickinson, Lowes, portrait of A. New- 
ton, 289 

"Dictionary of Birds," 53, 59, 108, 
165, 167 note, 220, 238, 239, 272 

" Dictionary of National Biography," 
195 

Discovery, H.M.S., 22 

Diver, Red-throated, 87, 89 

Dodo, 52, 53 

Dogs, 9 

Draine, 229 

Draper, Prof., 119 

Drosier, R., " Account of an Ornith- 
ological Visit to Shetland and Ork- 
ney," 145 

Drummond, Lieut. -Col. H, M., President 
of the Ornithologists' Union, 61 

Drury, Rev. Drue, 12 

Drury Travelling Fellowship, 12, 73, 
95 ; expires, 75 

Du Chaillu, Paul B., 123 

Duck, decoy, 231 ; Eider, 82, 84 ; 
Longtailed, 80; Scaup, 209, 314; 
Tufted, 154, 210, 314; White- 
eyed, 315 

Ducks, 34 

Dufferin, Lord, 34 

Eagle-Clarke, W., 215 ; letters from 

A. Newton, 155, 161, 165, 167, 291 ; 

observations on migration of birds, 

170-173 
Eagle, Golden, 7, 148, 154, 158 ; Sea, 

18 
Eagles, 282 
Earth, rotundity of, 296 



INDEX 



327 



Edmunston family, 144 
Edwards, Thomas, 202 
Egg-blowing, 24 ; collecting, 146-160, 

158 
Eggs, identification, 207 ; sales of, 17 
Elveden, 1, 2, 3, 12, 56, 57 ; sale of, 76 
Enare, Lake, 18 
English essay prize, 11 
Evans, A. H., 268 
Evans, Henry, 50, 280 
Evans, Sir John, 129, 311 
Evans, William, 215 note, 217 note 
" Extermination," article on, 59 

Faber, 37, 39 

Fair Island, 27 

Falco peregrinus, 7 

Falcons, 33, 283 

" Family Club, the," 232 

Farish, Prof., 99 

Faroe Islands, 27 

Fawcett, Prof., 122 

FeUden, Col. H. W., 157 ; letters from 

A. Newton, 21, 47, 50, 127, 179, 205, 

211, 252, 287 
FeltweU Fen, 4 
Finland, 20 
Finsch, 217 

Fishes, migration of, 313 
Fitzroy, Admiral, 119 
FitzwilMam Museum, 96 
Flamingo, 304, 305 
Flannan Islands, 283 
Flint Jack, 311 
Flint-knapping, 312 
Flutter-bugs, 305 
Foula, 27 
Foxes, Blue, 110 
Francis, H. T., 233 
Francis, Dr. W., 62 
Fraser^s Magazine, 19 note 
Fringilla montifringilla, 8 note 
Frost, John, 98 
Froude, J. A., 256 
Fulmar, 27, 29, 82 
Funk Island, 52 
Furse, Charles, portrait of A. Newton, 

289 

Gadow, H., 209 

Gamekeepers, 314 

Game Laws, 60 

Gannets, 27, 383 

Gare-fowl or Great Auk, 27, 40 ; 

Skerry, 52 
" Gare-fowl and its Historians," 41 

note 
Garland, the, 278 
Gatke, Herr, 168, 278 



Geikie, Sir Archibald, 280 

Geneva, 2 

Geographical Distribution of Birds, 

175-185 
Geological Record, 179 
Germany, 74 
Gesner, C, 174, 222 
Gillaroo Trout, 117 
Gillies' Land, 90 
Glacier, Alfred Newton, 22 
Glowworm, s.s., 304, 306 
Gmelia, J, G., 167 
Godman, Fred, 42, 62 
Godman, Percy, 42, 62 
Goldsmith, O., " Animated Nature," 

192 
Goose, 39, 80, 85 
GorUla, 123 

Gossamer, meaning of the word, 190 
Goltland, 14 
Gould, John, 12, 42, 115, 133 ; " Bkds 

of Europe," 201 
Grakle, 69 note 
Grant, Sir A., 57 
Grant, John Peter, 154 
Greenwell, Canon, 297 
Grenville, Very Rev. the Hon. G. 

Neville, 94 
Grime's Graves, 297 
Grinnell Land, 22 
Grouse, 110, 176, 177 
" Gryse," 227, 228 
Guillemard, Dr. F. H. H., account of 

his friendship with A. Newton, 

265-274; "Ferdinand MageUan," 

308, 309 
Gull, Black-backed, 34, 39; Glaucous, 

32, 33, 34, 82 ; Iceland, 36 ; Ivory, 

82, 84, 87, 89, 91 ; White-winged, 39 
Giinther, Dr. Albert, 125 
Gurney, John Henry, 12, 26, 62, 64, 

158 
Gyrfalcon, 14 

Hammeefest, 17, 18, 19, 80, 92 

Hanbury, George, 5 

Haparanda, 19 

Hare's whistle, 313 

Harriers, 4 

Hart, Chichester, 22 

Hartert, E., 217 

Harting, J. E., 47, 55 ; letters from A. 
Newton, 48, 310; "White's Sel- 
borne," 57 ; member of the Com- 
mittee for the Protection of Birds, 
140 

Harvie-Brown, J. A., 19, 169, 204, 224, 
235 ; letters from A. Newton, 20, 
21, 51, 156, 157, 164, 165, 178, 203, 



328 



INDEX 



211, 218, 219, 225, 22!), 232, 240, 
243, 249, 282, 299, 301, 311, 312; 
" Fauna of the Moray Basin," 
202 ; " The Capcrcaillie in Scotland," 
226 ; " Fauna of Scotland," 236 ; 
yacht, 285 ; " Song of the Shear- 
water," 285 

Hawker, Colonel, 4 

Hawks Club, 7 note 

Hebrides, 286 

Heligoland, 278 

Henslow, Prof., 11, 119 

Herbert, Auberon, 141 

Hcsperornis, 179 

HewitBon, W. C, 65, 244 

Hibernation of birds, 166 

Hickling, 150, 152 

Hilton, Arthur, Light Green, 272 

Hjaldalin. Herr, 31 

Hobby, 307 

Hceno, 18 

Holarctic Region, 181, 182 

Holt, Alice, 58 

Holt-White, Rashleigh, letters from 
A. Newton, 188, 198, 240, 241 ; 
" Life and Letters of Gilbert White," 
191, 194, 196 

Hooker, Sir Joseph, 30, 112 

Hooper, 6, 18, 223 

Homer, Rev. Joseph, 10 

Horrebow, 233 

Houghton, Richard Monckton, 1st 
Baron, 1 

Hudleston, W. H., 14 ; nickname, 
211. See Simpson 

Humming-birds, 23 

Humphrey, Prof., 134 

Hunter, John, 46, 212, 257 

Huxley, Prof. T. H., 46, 119, 122, 123, 
128, 132, 184, 204, 215, 244 

Ibis or Avis, 62, 63-69, 120, 205, 207 ; 

motto, 65 
Ice Sound, 90 

Iceland, 27-39, 110 ; Falcon, 30 
" Iceland, No Snakes in," story, 233 
Ichthyornis, 179 
Irby, Colonel, 305, 306, 307 

Jack-Snipb, 13 
Jamaica, 54 
James I., King, 2 
Jardine, Sir WUUam, 12 
Jay, Siberian, 13, 14, 17 
JefFeries, Richard, 203 
Jenyns, Mr., 7 
Jesse, Edward, 264 
Jorgensen, 30 
Jourdain, F. C. R., 159 note 



Kalm, 166 

Keblavik, 35 

Keppel, Viscount, 2 

Kingsley, Rev. Charles, 123 ; letters 

from, 134, 255, 256, 296; "Water 

Babies," 256 
Kinnear, N. B., 209, 251 
Kiowroo, story of, 293 
Kirkuvogr, 30, 32 
Kittiwake, 7, 137-139 
Kiwi, 308 

Knoblock, Ludwig, 71, 78, 85, 92, 293 
Knot, 21, 38 
Knubley, F., 242, 268 

Lagopus rupestris, 176, 177 

Lamarck, J. B., 110 

Lapland, 15, 17-19 

Larks or Chats, 111, 118 ; Crested, 116 

Lausanne Museum, 45 

Lava streams, 34 

Lawson, Capt. J. A., 128 ; " Wanderings 

in New Guinea," 128 note 
Leadbeater, Mr., 43, 47 
Lepierre, Dr., 45 
Les Delices, 2 
Life, Origin of, 179 
Lilford, Lord, 46 272; letters from 

A. Newton, 56, 187, 204, 235, 252, 

259, 289, 301, 303, 307; letters to 

him, 304-307 
Lindsay, " History," 226 
Linnean Society, 44, 112 
Linnaeus, C, " Systema Naturae," 215 
Linota montium, 7 
Lions, Red, Club, 129 ; telegrams, 130- 

133 
Lister, J. J., 292 
Lister, Lord, 257 
Loch Roagh, 283 
Lochiel, 154 
Lofoten Islands, 18, 78 
Lophopsittacus, 53 
Lorange, Dr., 82, 84 
LoweU, J. R., 193 
Lubbock, Sir John, 119, 128 
Lubbock, John, 119 
Lumby, Rev. Canon J. Rawson, 230 
Lundy Island, 278 
Lydekker, Richard, 268, 273 
Lyell, Sir Charles, 110, 112 
Lyngen Fjord, 19 

Macmillah's Magazine, 115 note, 117, 

191 note 
Magdalene College, Cambridge, 11. See 

Cambridge 
Magnussen, Eric, 31, 33, 37 
Magpie, 207 



INDEX 



329 



Malmgren, 79, 80, 85 

Manatee, 254 

Manning, Cardinal, 128 

Manx Cats, 212 

March, Lord, 5 

Marsham, Robert, 186 

Mascarene Islands, 52 

Mauritius, 52 

Maxwell, Sir Herbert, 146, 152, 153 

MoArthur, Mr., 224 

McLauchlan, Dr., 224 

Meade- Waldo, E. G. B., 53 

Meal Sack, 29, 36, 37 

Mendelism, 104, 125 

Merganser, Hooded, 26 

Meyer, Dr., 69 

Migration of birds, 160-175 

Milnes, Elizabeth, marriage, 1. See 

Newton 
Milnes, Richard Monckton, 1. See 

Houghton 
Milnes, Richard Slater, 1 
Mistletoe, derivation of, 230 
Mistletoe-Thrush, 229, 307 
Mittel Hook, 87 
Mivart, Prof., 128 
Moore, Mr., 45 
Morphology, 102, 252 
Morris, F. O., "On the Permanence of 

Species," 118 
Muggeridge, Ernest, 268 
Mulso, John, 188, 197 
Muonio River, 19 
Muonioniska, 13, 14, 293 
Muoniovara, 92 
Murray, John, 196 
Musk Ox, 21 

Napoleon I., Emperor, 102 

Napoleon III., Emperor, 128 

Nares Expedition, 21 

Natural History journals, 242 ; re- 
views on, 243 

Nature, 156, 161, 163 

Nearctic Region, 181, 182 

Neville, Rev. the Hon. Latimer. 75, 
94, 262. See Braybrooke 

Neville-GrenviUe, George, 12 

Newcomes, Mr. and Mrs., 5 

Newman, Mr., 243 

Newton, Alfred, birth at Geneva, 2 ; 
accident, 4, 86, 169, 270, 279, 290 ; 
pet-name, 6 ; drawing, 8 ; dogs, 
9 ; at Magdalene CoUege, Cambridge, 
11, 76, 93, 95, 99 ; elected to the 
Drury Travelling Fellowship, 12, 
73, 95 ; journey to Lapland, 17 ; 
at St. Croix, 23 ; in America, 24 ; 
" Suggestions for Forming Collec- 



tions of Birds' Eggs," 24 ; journey 
to Iceland, 27-32, 110; lessons in 
Icelandic, 32 ; at Kirkjuvogr, 32- 
39 ; purchases a Great Auk's egg, 
42 ; collection of eggs, 46 ; cruises, 
50, 278-287 ; researches on the 
Dodo, 52-54 ; the Great Bustard, 
54-59 ; on the extinction of animals, 
59 ; Secretary of the Ornithologists' 
Union, 61 ; criticisms on the IMs, 
64 ; editor of it, 66 ; work on the 
" Ootheca Wolleyana," 71, 209, 290 ; 
at Copenhagen, 73 ; Germany, 74 ; 
decides against taking holy orders, 
75, 102 ; elected Professor of Zoo- 
logy, 75 note, 133, 250 ; death of 
his father, 76 ; at Spitzbergen, 77- 
92 ; lectures, 104, 250, 265 ; " Zoo- 
logy," 105 ; Sunday evenings, 
105-107, 261, 265; political views, 
107, 244, 271 ; chairman of the 
Board of Biology and Geology, 107 ; 
"Dictionary of Birds," 108, 220, 
239, 272 ; characteristics, 109, 248, 
259, 264 ; on Darwin's views, 112- 

124 ; on the principles of Mendelism, 

125 ; member of the Committee of 
the British Association, 126 ; " The 
Zoological Aspect of Game Laws," 
136 ; on the protection of birds, 
140-159 ; egg-collecting, 146-150, 
152, 158; migration of birds, 160- 
175 ; geographical distribution, 175- 
185 ; address at the British Associa- 
tion, 183-185 ; accuracy, 207, 238 ; 
edits the " History of British Birds," 
213; memory, 231, 232; library, 
232 ; correspondence, 234 ; humour, 
237, 264 ; method of writing, 
238-241, simplicity of style, 241 ; 
opposition to changes in the College 
Chapel, 245-247 ; appearance, 258, 
288 ; rooms in College, 261-265 ; 
pipes, 269; death, 273, 292; at 
Bloxworth, 275 ; death of his brother, 
Edward, 287 ; portraits, 289 ; hon- 
ours, 289 ; medals, 290 ; ilhiess, 291 

Newton, C. M., 254 

Newton, Sir Edward, 2, 5, 62, 161, 234 ; 
pet-name, 6 ; letters from Alfred, 
9, 23, 61, 77, 80, 120, 202, 218, 280, 
297 ; Assistant Colonial Secretary of 
Mauritius, 52, 287 ; Lieut. -Governor 
of Jamaica, 54, 288 ; death, 287 

Newton, Elizabeth, 1 

Newton, Francis Rodes, 23 ; at Copen- 
hagen, 73 

Newton, Major-General Horace Parker, 
1 



330 



INDEX 



Newton, Robert Milnes, 1 

Newton, Samuel, 1 

Newton, William, 1 

Newton, William Samuel, 1 

Nordenskjold, 85 

" Norfolk Travelling Fellowship," 12, 

95 
North Cape, 18 

Oahu Island, 310 

Oban, 284 

Oeland, 14 

Okapi, 232 

Olaus Magnus, 167, 174 

Old Lodge, 105 

" Ootheca WoUeyana," 17, 18 rwle, 

45, 49, 71, 209, 290 
Orkneys, 282, 280 
Ornithologists' Union, 61 
Ornithology, 7, 05, 205, 220, 221, 

253, 254 
Oronsay, 282 
Osprey, 165, 158 

Otis- arahs, 57 ; tarda, 7, 300 ; tetrax, 7 
Ovibos, 21 

Owen, R., 40, 122, 123, 124, 133 
Owls, 59, 301, 304 
Ox, Extinct, 254, 255 
Oyster-catcher, 164 

Paget, Stephen, 102 

Paljearctic Region, 71, 181, 182 

Palmen, Prof., 167 

Papa Westray, 50, 51, 52, 286 

Pamell, E. K., " Magdalene College," 

12 note 
Pattrick, F., 251 
Payne-GaUway, Sir R., 231 
Pennant, Thomas, 225 
Pentire, 275 
Pei)ysian Library, 95 
Perkins, J., 253 
Perowne, Teddy, 245 
Petchora, 14, 20 
Pets, 9 

Phalarope, 18, 30, 38, 39, 82, 89, 180 
Philosophical Society, 7 
Phoca barbata, 87, 88 ; grmvlandica, 89 
Pine Grosbeak, 14, 17 
Pintail, 231 

Pipit, Red-throated, 18 
Pliny, 173, 174, 232 
Pochard, 315 
Positivism, 244 
Potter, Mr., 237 
Prinds Gustav, the, 92 
Prior, Edward, 268 
Ptarmigan, 170-178 
Punnett, R. C, 126 



QUACKENBOSH, Dr., 128 
Quagga, 127 
Quatrepages, Jean, 124 
Qvalo, 177 

Raven, V., 94 

Ravens, 4, 35 

Ray Club, 311 

Ray, John, 200 

Razor-bill, 49, 52 

Red Lions Club, 129 

Redpolls, 7, 108 

Redwing, 35 

Reindeer, 80, 84 

Reykjanes, 31, 32, 38, 40 

Rhinoceros, White, 254 

Rhynchcea, 294 

Rolleston, Prof. G,, 248 note 

Rona, 283 

Rooks, 303 ; shooting, 303 

Round Island, 90 

Rowley, G. D., 00 

Royal Society, 07, 68 

Ruff, 150 

Russell, G. L., 47 

Russell, Jack, 306 

Ryk Island, 90 

Safe Haven, 90 

St. Croix, Birds of, 23, 63 

St. Kilda, 281 

Salmon, Mr., 42 

Salvin, Osbert, 42, 62, 64, 201 ; editor 
of the Ibis, 66 

Sandpiper, Broad-billed, 13 ; Curlew, 
20 ; Purple, 35, 36, 38 

Sandwich Islands, 310 ; Committee, 64 

Saroe, 73 - r^-"^- ■ -< i..,>JU.-.^> I;'. 21? 

Sassen Bay, 87 

Saunders, Howard, 145 ; " History 
of British Birds," edited by, 214 

Scales, Mr., 48 

Sclater, Dr. P. L., 46, 52, 62, 65, 69, 70, 
74, 123, 133, 215; editor of the 
Ornithologist Journal, 61 ; secre- 
tary to the Zoological Society, 63 ; 
mistaken for Louis Napoleon, 128 ; 
member of the Willughby Society, 
201 

Scoter, Velvet, 18, 27 

Sea Birds' Protection Bill, 140 

Sea-Fowl, 137-139 

Seals, 80, 83, 86, 89, 284 

Sedgwick, Adam, 103, 1 10, 208, 273 

Seebohm, Henry, 204-206, 306 

Selborne, 199 

Semmolinr, the 78, 81, 87, 88, 90 

Sharp, Dr., 268 



INDEX 



331 



Sharpe, Dr. Richard Bowdler, " Sel- 

borne " edited by, 190 
" Shearwater, Song of the," 285 
Shiantelle, the, 285 
Shiants, 287 
ShiUey Sound, 284 
Shipley, Dr. A. E., 75, 250 
Shooting, 3 
Shore Loch, 14 
Shrike, the Red-backed, 10 
Simpson, A. C, 119 
Simpson, W. Hudleston, 17, 18, 46. 

See Hudleston 
Skeat, Prof. W. W., 190, 311 ; letters 

from, 220-222, 223, 230 
Skeat, W. W., 249 
Skibotn, 19 

Skua, 14, 18, 27, 30, 39, 143-145, 155 
Smew, 208 
Smith, Rev. A. C, 22, 64, 65, 199, 214, 

244, 279, 302 
Smith, Sir Andrew, 201 
Smith, Robertson, 272 
Snoehaetten, 42 
Snow Bunting, 20 
Snowy Owl, 14 
Solitaire, 52 
Southwell, Thomas, letters from A. 

Newton, 23, 40, 157, 196, 213, 229, 

231, 238, 241, 243 
Spitzbergen. 16, 64, 77 
Spoonbill, 150, 156 
Stamford, Earl of, 197 
StaweU, Lord, 58 
Stedman, " Surinamy," 221 
Steeple Ashton, 12 
Stephens, Darrell, 275 
Sterna Caspica, 305 
Stetchworth, 6 
Steven's Auctions, 16 
Stint Temminck's, 13, 18 
Stor Fjord, 81. 89 
Stork, 167 
Straedmaes, 89 
Strickland, Miss, 75 

Strickland, Mrs., letters from A. New- 
ton, 75, 127, 215, 237, 244, 251, 255 
Strix uralensis, 59 
Stubbs, Rt. Rev., Bishop of Oxford, 

66, 119, 120, 256 note 
Subspecies, 218 
Suleskerry, 283 
SuUana, the yacht, 77, 90 
Surgeon's HaU, 45, 48 
Sutton, Manners, 79, 82 
SwaUow, 196 
Swan, 309 ; Australian, 295 ; Bewick's 

20, 21 
Swan book, 310 



Tana River, 18 

Taylor, E. C, 62, 64 

Tegetmeier, W. B., 169, 201, 290 

Temple, Dr., 120 

Terns, 86, 89, 156, 285 

Thackeray, W. M., 271 

Thirion, M., 53 

Thorshaven, 28 

Thousand Islands, 89, 90 

Tit, Bearded, 296 

Titmouse, Bearded, 150 ; Crested, 154 

" Titmousen," 301 

Trampe, Count, 30 

Trinomials, 217, 271 

Tristram, Canon Henry Baker, 46, 
52, 62, 64, 119, 128, 165, 235, 278, 
301 ; letters from A. Newton, 25, 

42, 67, 75, 77, 133, 142, 236, 250, 
258, 287, 309; member of the 
B.O.U., 67 ; ilhiess, 68, 235 ; papers 
on the Ornithology of Northern 
Africa, 68 ; the " Sacred Ibis," or 
the " Great Gun of Durham," 69 ; 
collection of birds and eggs, 69, 111 ; 
nickname, 121 ; member of the Com- 
mittee for the Protection of Birds, 
140 

Tromso, 92 

Trondhjem, 17, 80 

Tuck, Mr., letter from A. Newton, 156 

Tunstall, " Omithologia Britannica," 

201 
Turner, 201 
Turnstone, 35, 36, 38 
TyndaU, Prof., 129 

United Service Institution Museum, 

43, 44, 45 
United States, 24 
Upcher, H. M., 55 
Uria burnnichi, 91 
Ushant, lighthouse at, 170 
Ussher, R., 51 



Vadso, 18 

Valhalla, the, 53 

Van Voorst, Mr., 213 

Varanger, 14, 18 

Vesalius, 212 

Vidal, Captain, 44 

Vines, Prof., 107 

Vipers, swallowing young, 212 

Vole, 219 

Voltaire, 2 note 

Waddington, Mr, and Mrs. 5 
Wagstaff, Dr., 79 
Wagtail, White, 35, 39 



332 



INDEX 



Walker, Mr., school, (> 

Wallace, A. K, 112, 115, 181, 182, 184 ; 

" The Geographical Distribution of 

Animals," 175 ; letter from, 290 
Walsingham, Lord, 7(> ; letters from 

A. Newton, 143-145, 150; on the 

Bill for the protection of birds' eggs, 

146, 153 
Warter, E., 94 
" Wasp," the dog, 9 
Waterhouse, AKred, 97, 98 
Waxwing, 14, 17, 313 
West Indies, 22 
Westerland, 14 note 
Whales, 82, 87, 90 
Wheatly, Henry B., edition of Pepyg, 

188 
Whimbrel, 69, 221 
Whittaker, T., " Tunisia," 68 ; " Birds 

of Nottinghamshire," 200 
White, Benjamin, 186 
White, Gilbert, 57, 168, 240 ; editions 

of " Selborne," 186-191 ; style of 

writing, 193 ; " Life and Letters," 

194-196 ; birth-place, 199 
White, John, 187 
White, Thomas, 186 
Whooper, 223 
" Who's Who," 280 
Wild Bird?, Bill for the Protection of 

140-143, 149, 152 
Willughby, Francis, 200, 221 
Willoughby Society, 201 
Wilmot, Mr., 47 
Wolf, Joseph, 63, 263, 267 
WoUaston, A. F. R., 236 



Wollaston, T- Vernon, 60 ; " Variation 
of Species," 117 

Wolley, Rev. John, 13 

Wollev, John. 12, 46, 47, 62, 63, 71, 
72, *76, 117, 200, 208; career, 13; 
ornithological discoveries, 13-15; 
bird-hunting in Lapland, 15 ; sales 
of eggs, 17 ; at Vadso, 18 ; Muo- 
niovara, 19 ; journey to Iceland, 
27-32, 1 10 ; lessons in Icelandic, 
32 ; at Kirkjuvogr, 32-39 ; " Re- 
searches 'on the Garo-fowl or Great 
Auk," 40 ; death, 41, 70 ; zoological 
collection, 70 ; " Egg-book," 70 ; 
letter from, 293 

Wolmer Forest, 58 

Woodall, Mr., 278 

Woodcock, 165, 180, 302 

Woodpecker, Great Black, 211, 212 

Wren, Golden-crested, 170 

Wryneck, 10 

Yarrell, William, 12, 42, 47, 48, 
199 ; " British Birds," 213 

ZOEQA, Geiee, 31, 34 

Zoological Record, 124, 125 

Zoological Regions, 183 

Zoological Society, 54, 63, 124, 125, 

144, 154, 204 
" Zoological Aspect of Game Laws," 

136 
Zoologist, 64, 138 

Zoology, Museum of, m Cambridge, 108 
Zoology, teaching of, 251 ; text-book, 

105 



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