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4 Roi'HESAY Place, 
EniNBrucii. May 1901. 


M.A., LL.D. 





M.A., LL.D. 





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The sketch of Professor MacGillivray's life and work 
wliich follows was at first written in the form, and with 
the brevity, of an article intended for a newspaper in 
connection with the movement, then begun, for the 
promotion of a JNIemorial of him ; but it was not so 
used, and was retained, altered, and added to from 
time to time, the result partly of suggestions from 
friends, most of them former pupils of the Professor, 
and partly of information which came to me from 
different sources at odd times. It is in no sense 
a " Life " of my eminent namesake — for such a work I 
am not competent — but merely an appreciative sketch 
in which I have tried to record, and to some extent 
illustrate, my own conception of his special pre-emi- 
nence as an ornithologist, and my warm admiration of 
his high qualities of mind and character, as these come 
out so prominently in connection with his life's work 
in the different spheres in Avhich his lot had been 
successively cast. 


4 Rothesay Place, 
Edinburgh, I5th May 19OI. 



I. Sketch of Professor MacGillivrav's Life and Work . 1 

II. Presentation of the Memorial Mural Tablet to the 

University of Aberdeen . . , .53 

III. E.xtracts from Professor MacGillivkay's Tribute to 

THE Memory of Dr. Barclay . . . .73 

IV. Journal of a Visit to Museums in Glasgow, Dublin, 

Liverpool, Bristol, and London by Professor Mac- 
GlLLIVRAY IN 1833 . . . . .81 

V. E.xtracts from Professor MacGillivray's Works ex- 
planatory of his System of Ornithological Classifi- 
cation ....... 134- 

VI. Extracts from his Works descriptive of Bird Life, of 
Personal Adventure for Scientific Investigation, or 
OF Picturesque Scenes, etc. — 

1. Night Excursion to the Wells of Dee . . 140 

2. Mountain Inspii-ation .... 145 

3. Flight of Bii-ds . . . . .146 

4. A Lover of Nature — Audubon . . .147 

5. A Tame Rock Dove . . . .148 

6. A Winter Bird Scene at the Mouth of the Almond 150 

7. On Clisheim in a Snow-Storm . . .151 

8. Crossbills Feeding . . . . .153 





9. The Raven in the Hebrides 

10. Scene on an April Day 

11. Some of Professor MacGilhvray's Friends 

12. The Song of the Blackbird 

13. The Song of the Thnish . 

1 4. The Carol of the Lark 

15. The Hen-Harrier . 

16. The Golden Plover 

17. The Common Ring-Plover 

18. The Sea- Pie 

19. Dunlins Feeding . 

20. The Common Snipe 

21. The Grey Heron . 

22. The Great Black-backed Gull 

23. God's Works 

24. Promise of a Bright Day . 

25. Lochnagar 

26. View from Invercauld Bridge 

27. The Raven— Poor Bird ! . 

28. Another Night Visit to the Sources of the 

29. Object of the Study of Nature 

30. The Scenery of Benabuird 

31. Aged Bircli Trees . 

32. The VV'ind in Beallach-bhui Forest 

33. Merry-making of Birds 

34. The Highland Moor 

35. Three Pine Trees . 

36. Ravens — Poor Fellows ! 

37. Home 

38. Scene at Torquay . 

Life's Work ended — 
" Conclusion " . 

Subscribers for the Memorial to Professor 

GiLLIVRAY ..... 






Professor MacGillivray's Golden Eagle . . Froiilixpiecc 

The Memorial Plate ... To face page 53 

The Monument .... „ 198 



The Memorial. 

It is upwards of forty-eight years since William 
MacGillivray, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Natural 
History and Lecturer on Botany in Marischal College 
and University, Aberdeen, son of William MacGillivray, 
a surgeon in the Army, died in his fifty-sixth year — 
having been born in Old Aberdeen in 1796. He was 
buried in the New Calton Burying- Ground, Edinburgh, 
where his wife and two children, who predeceased him, 
had previously been interred. Until nearly the close 
of last year there was not even a tombstone to show 
where the author of a History of British Birds and The 
Natural History of Deeside and Braemar lies, an over- 
sight resulting no doubt from the circumstance of all the 
members of his family having, either before his death or 
soon after, gone for permanent residence abroad. 

Nearly three years ago the attention of some of 
Professor MacGillivray's former students — all now well 
advanced in life — was called to the oversight which 




ill became the memory of so eminent a naturalist and 
so estimable a man. A meeting of several gentlemen 
who specially cherished his memory was held in Edin- 
burgh on 27th May 1898 ; and, with a view to promot- 
ing a suitable memorial of him, a committee was then 
appointed with full powers to follow out the object 
of the meeting and to devise and carry into effect 
such a scheme for a memorial as they might find to 
be practicable and most fitted for its purpose, with 
power to add to their number. The following gentle- 
men ultimately formed the committee : — 

The Rev. William Mair, D.D., Earlston. 

The Rev. Patrick Beaton, Paris, son-in-law of Professor 

J. A. Harvie Brown, Esq., of Dunipace. 

Professor J. Cossar Ewart, M.D., F.R.S., Edinburgh. 

The Rev. James Farquharson, D.D., 47 Mardale Crescent, 
Edinburgh (senior minister of Selkirk). 

Alexander Frasei', Esq., Wimmera, Bruntsfield Place, 

Principal Sir W. D. Geddes, LL.D., Aberdeen (now dead). 

Professor E. Ray Lankester, LL.D., F.R.S., Director of the 
Museum of Natural History, Kensington. 

William MacGillivi-ay, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh. 

The Rev. Alexander Mitchell, D.D., Dunfermline. 

The Rev. James Mitchell, D.D., South Leith. 

Emeritus - Professor Sir John Struthers, LL.D., Edinburgh 
(now dead). 

Professor J. W. H. Trail, F.R.S., Aberdeen. 

John Forbes White, Esq., LL.D., Dundee. 

Dr. JNIair was appointed chairman of the com- 


mittee, and Dr. Farquharson secretary and treasurer. 
Subscriptions were readily obtained from relations of 
Professor IMacGillivray, all now abroad, from former 
students in his classes and from others ; and the object 
for which the committee was appointed has now been 

The memorial is of a double character. A 
monument has been erected at MacGillivray's grave 
and a mural memorial tablet has been placed in 
Marischal College, Aberdeen. 

The monument consists of a large slab of Peter- 
head red granite with an lona cross in a setting of 
Celtic scroll work cut in the upper part of its face, 
while a bronze relief of an eagle has been inserted in 
the centre compartment of a Celtic arcade ornament 
on its lower part. The middle of the stone, which, 
with the cross, alone is polished, contains the following 
inscription : — " In memory of William MacGillivray, 
M.A., LL.D., born 1796, died 1852, author of a 
History of British Birds and other standard works 
in Natural Science ; Professor of Natural History and 
Lecturer on Botany in INIarischal College and Uni- 
versity from 1841 to 1852. Erected in 1900, together 
with a memorial brass in Marischal College, Aberdeen, 
by his relatives and surviving students, who affection- 
ately cherish his memory, and by others desirous of 
doing honour to his character as a man and to his 
eminence as a naturalist." The entire memorial — both 
stone and bronze — is a piece of fine artistic work, and 

1 See a list of the subscribers at the end of this volume. 


is in perfection of good taste. Nothing could be 
more appropriate as a memorial of the West Highland 
ornithologist. The monument was designed and 
executed by IMessrs. S. M'Glashen and Son, Edin- 
burgh, while the eagle was modelled and cast by Mr. 
D. W. Stevenson, R.S.A., from INIacGillivray's own 
very fine life-like drawing of the golden eagle now 
in the Natural History INIuseum, Kensington. The 
vitality and power of expression in the drawing have 
been rendered with success in the metal. The eagle 
forming the frontispiece to this volume is a zinco- 
colotype from a photograph of it. 

The tablet for INIarischal College was designed by 
Mr. C. R. Ashbee, architect, 37 Cheyne Walk, 
Chelsea, and was executed by the Guild of Handicraft, 
Limited, 16 Brook Street, London. 

It is a beautiful work of art, and is specially suitable 
for its position in INIarischal College as a memorial of 
the famous ornithologist and Professor of Natural 
History in that college. The inscription, in the same 
terms as that on the monument, and in an antique, 
picturesque and tasteful style of lettering, occupies 
the centre of the plate, while the borders are filled 
with natural history and botanical objects — all in 
conformity with nature — the birds especially being 
instinct with life, each exhibiting attitude and action 
characteristic of its species. The borders are in open 
work of beaten copper, partly bronzed and partly 
gilded, shown effectively against a background of pale 
red, while the whole of the remaining parts of the 


tablet, including its frame, Avith flat pilasters at the 
sides and the cornice, are of oak. Every detail of the 
work is beautifully finished ; and it is difficult to 
conceive a finer specimen of art of the kind, whether 
in design or in execution. 

An extremely interesting ceremonial took place in 
IMarischal College on 20th November last, when the 
tablet was formally unveiled and presented to the 
University by Dr. John Forbes White on behalf of 
the committee and subscribers. The University was 
represented by Principal Marshall Lang and several 
of the professors, while others interested in perpetuat- 
ing the memory of Professor MacGillivray, including 
a number of ladies, formed part of the company 

A report of the proceedings from the Abe?'deen 
Free Press forms a subsequent part of this memorial 
volume. Dr. White having been a distinguished 
student of Professor MacGillivray, and having in his 
Aberdeen University days been in intimate sympathetic 
relations with him, there was no one better fitted to 
discharge the duty which was put upon him, and none 
could have done it better. His address is everything 
that could have been desired for the occasion and is 
well worthy of being preserved in a permanent form. 

As time goes on the real value of Professor 
MacGillivray's work, and especially of his History 
of British Birds, continues to grow in the estima- 
tion of scientists ; while that delightful book has 
never ceased to be attractive to the general reader 


who is a lover of birds and a sympathetic observer of 
bird life. 

There has not yet been written any adequate 
account of MacGillivray's life and work; and, un- 
fortunately, the means of now writing such scarcely 
exist. It is known that from an early period he kept 
full and careful journals, by the aid of which a 
biography of great interest could have been prepared, 
but these were destroyed years ago, and their place, 
it is feared, cannot now be supplied from any other 
source. The following short sketch of his life and 
work has been prepared from such means as have been 
found to be yet readily available. 

His life history of fifty-six years may be divided into 
five successive periods, each of which has its peculiar 
interest — especially when regarded with reference to 
the outcome of his many undertakings. 

1. — His Childhood in Harris. 

The first period extends from the time when he 
left Aberdeen, three years old, for Harris, where his 
childhood was spent with two uncles, tenants of the 
farm of Northtown there, brothers of his father, who 
was then with his regiment, the Cameron Highlanders. 
He remained there attending the parish school at Obbe 
until he was eleven years of age, when he returned 
to Aberdeen for the advantages of further education, 
which was not obtainable in Harris. During these 


eight years in Harris he must have learned much 
which favoured the native bent of his mind towards 
the study of nature. The sea, the rocks, and the 
mountains in their ever -varying aspects, in summer 
and in winter, in sunshine and in storm, with their 
wild fowl in vast numbers, species succeeding species 
in constant movement in their respective seasons 
according to their habits and the necessities of their 
nature, were all fitted to minister to the growth of 
a mind which was naturally contemplative, and at the 
same time extremely observant, sympathetic with every 
form of life, and readily responsive to the grandeur and 
the beauties of Hebridean scenery. 

There is no written existing record as to how he 
passed those years, but that "the foundations of his 
mind " had then been laid, with promise of subsequent 
growth in the direction of its ultimate development, 
there can be no doubt. In a poem by him, more 
particularly referred to in a subsequent part of this 
sketch, he says : 

" The solitudes of nature were my school, 

And in the moaning voice of streams and winds, 
Without the aid of dull scholastic rule, 

I felt the tone which in the lone heart finds 
Its echo." 

2. — University Period in Aberdeen. 

The second period extends from the time of his 
return to Aberdeen, first for further school education 


and afterwards for his university course of study at 
King's College, which he entered when twelve years 
old, just one year before the death of his father, who 
was killed in the battle of Coruna in February 1809. 
After finishing his arts curriculum and taking his JM.A. 
degree there, he entered on the study of medicine. 
While pursuing his medical learning he began, in 1817, 
the study of zoology, his only guides, as he said, being 
Linnaeus and Pennant, while he knew no one who had 
any knowledge of the subject except a friend and 
fellow-student, William Craigie.' 

During this period of study at Aberdeen he was in 
the habit of spending his long summer holidays with 
his relations in Harris. His journeys to and fro, in so 
far as on the mainland, were always performed on foot ; 
and in his book on British birds he gives a very inter- 
esting and picturesque account of a walk on one occa- 
sion during the night from Blair AthoU on his way 
back from the West to the Wells of Dee, where he 
had arranged to meet William Craigie on the morning 
of the following day. Another very interesting excur- 
sion to the sources of the Dee, while on his way to the 
West in 1819, is narrated in his Natural History of 

During his holidays in Harris he devoted much of 
his time to teaching in the school at Obbe ; and a local 
tradition of him still is that he was a most attractive 
teacher, often directing the minds of his pupils to those 

1 William Craigie afterwards emigrated to Canada and settled in 
the town of Hamilton, Ontario. 


aspects of nature, both animate and inanimate, in which 
he was himself specially interested, dwelling much on 
the evidence of creative power and design, >vliich he 
found everywhere in nature. He also spent much lime 
in watching by night as well as by day the lives and 
habits of birds, often concealing himself for many hours 
continuously, now in some cave or rocky recess from 
which the endless varieties of swimming birds ccuild be 
most readily seen, and again in some temporary shelter 
erected by himself on the higher cliffs, from which the 
eagle, the osprey, the raven, and others could be closely 

He made many excursions, whenever opportunity 
occurred, with his congenial friend, William Craigie, 
" zealously striving," as he says in the preface to his 
Rapacious Birds of Great Britain, "to add to our 
common store of knowledge both in zoology and 
botany. Many pleasant and successful excursions we 
made together in quest of plants and animals on the 
romantic braes of the Don, the pebbly shores of the 
Dee, the rocks of the Cove, the sands of the seashore 
and the bleak moors of the interior." 

The fascination of their pursuits, he tells us, was 
such that after studying medicine for nearly five years 
— officiating part of the time as dissector to the 
lecturer on anatomy at IMarischal College — he resolved 
to relinquish it, and to devote himself exclusively to 
natural history. Under many difficulties he persevered, 
wandering far and wide over most parts of Scotland, 
and exploring "the desolate isles of the West," as he 


very appropriately calls the Outer Hebrides. On one 
occasion he tells us he walked from Aberdeen to 
London with his journal and Smith's Flora Britaimica 
on his back, for the purpose of seeing the country and 
visiting the British Museum. 

JNIacGillivray's study of medicine was begun in 
1814-15, as pupil to George Barclay, M,D., physician 
to the Aberdeen Infirmary and Lecturer on Surgery in 
King's and Marischal Colleges. Dr. Barclay was him- 
self then quite a young man — only about three years 
older than MacGillivray his pupil. He was a native of 
Aberdeenshire — youngest son of Charles Barclay, Esq., 
of Templeland, in the parish of Auchterless. He was 
inuch respected and trusted as a physician, and beloved 
by all who had relationships with him, whether profes- 
sionally or as friends. MacGillivray's attachment to 
him was deep and sincere ; and on his death, of typhus 
fever, on 20th December 1819, in the twenty-seventh 
year of his age, MacGillivray, then resident in Edin- 
burgh, wrote and printed " A Tribute to the Memory 
of a Friend ; being a Poem on the Death of George 
Barclay, M.D.," to which was prefixed a short accovmt 
of Dr. Barclay's life and character. In the poem he 
warmly expresses his feelings of attachment towards 
his deceased teacher and friend, and his warm sense of 
indebtedness to him. He had sent the poem to Mrs. 
Barclay in manuscript, accompanying it with a letter 
dated 4th March 1820, in which he writes: "The 
poem which accompanies this, such as it is, is the pure 
offering of feeling, and such as its title indicates. I 


could from my soul wish it better, not from selfish 
motives. I shall be happy if INIrs. Barclay think of it 
as her friends here do. But in subjecting it to her 
examination I expect the most unrestrained criticism. 
... I must not indulge in reflections — even though I 
should be deemed callous. My poem will speak my 

The poem is in the Spenserian stanza, the same as 
that which had been adopted by Dr. Beattie in his 
"Minstrel." Beattie ("Bard of the North," as he had 
been designated) was then a strong poetic influence in 
the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine. He was 
a native of Laurencekirk in Kincardineshire, became 
parish schoolmaster of Fordoun in the same county, 
and was afterwards, from 1769 to a few years before his 
death in 1803, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic 
in JNIarischal College and University, Aberdeen. The 
easy, smooth, flowing rhythm of his verse was very 
attractive to the ear, while the thought and sentiment 
of his poems were not unfrequently worthy of a more 
free and less formal poetic diction. Several of his best 
known poems were included in the Scotch school books 
which were most in use in IMacGillivray's early days. 
One of these {Masons Collection) was popular in the two 
counties even within the memory of the writer of this ; 
and the most familiarly known and best loved poem in 
it was undoubtedly " Beattie's Hermit." 

MacGillivray, in his sketch of the life of Dr. Barclay, 
says : " Beattie was among his favourite authors par- 
ticularly in poetry." The local predominance of 


Beattie's influence, and MacGilli\Tay's affectionate 
regard for his teacher and friendly guide, no doubt 
mainly account for the peculiar diction and style of his 
tributory poem. It is Beattie's " Minstrel " all through 
— quite the style of the early years of the latter half of 
the eighteenth century, in which human virtues and 
vices, with capital initial letters, were personified, while 
certain stereotyped euphonious Avords and phrases were 
constantly repeated whatever the subject of the poem 
might be, — all associated with strictest propriety of 
conduct, formal respectability in morals and religion, 
lone Philomelas in shady groves, powdered wigs, silver 
buckled shoes, etc. etc. Still, in MacGillivray's poem 
there is, notwithstanding the antiquated diction, which 
had been quite abandoned bv our best poets early 
in the nineteenth century, much real poetic feeling 
with absolute sincerity of purpose. Fine reflective 
thought also now and again breaks through the ancient 
mode of expression. This is well illustrated in several 
of those stanzas in which MacGillivray portrays the 
character of his deceased friend, and gives free expres- 
sion to his feelings towards him. As the poem extends 
to forty pages it is too long for being wholly included 
in this volume, but several of the more interesting 
stanzas are quoted from it as affording fair specimens of 
its general character, and as throwing light on some 
interesting features of the growing mind of the youthful 
writer — then only twenty-four years of age. One 
cannot help regretting, in reading these stanzas, that a 
young man of his early poetic promise should not have 


come within tiie influence of the unconventional style 
and imaginative power of Wordsworth, which enabled 
him to realise and to interpret to others the spiritual in 
nature as no one else had done. How much it might 
have added to INIacGillivray's appreciation of those 
aspects of nature which interested him most, while it 
would have led him to a deeper sense of the divine in 
nature— true and deep as that sense in him always was. 
It would probably also have tended towards greater free- 
dom from conventionalities, which must have hampered 
him more or less (unconsciously) in his search after 
truth, even in his own departments of science. But 
the early acquired predilection for the Beattie style of 
poetry, with the severity of the Edinburgh Review 
criticisms of the " Lake School " and of Wordsworth's 
poetry in particular, which then prejudiced so many 
minds against it, sufficiently accounts for the absence 
of the Wordsworth influence on his mind — intensely 
devoted to nature as he was. 

In one of the extracts from the memorial poem 
given further on in this volume the writer of it, re- 
ferring to Dr. Barclay's influence on him, says — 

" The name which hallows this rude sons 
Has been to me a blessing and a light 
To guide me on my weary way along," 

and again — 

" He saw my follies, and reprov'd them oft : 
Not in the galling tone of sullen speech. 
But as a friend, in accents firm though soft," 


while in another passage he says — 

" Friend to the friendless, he was all to mc 
That my fond heart could wish." 

Indeed, again and again throughout the poem his 
love and respect for Dr. Barclay is expressed with 
evidently unfeigned sincerity, although at times in 
language which may to the reader appear bordering on 
exaggeration — not unnatural in a youthful mind so 
deeply affected, but which to him was no exaggeration. 

The midnight scene in the Hebrides — the subject 
of the last of the poetic extracts given in this volume — 
is specially fine, although quite in the Beattie spirit and 
style — especially tlie last line, which suggests tiie effect 
of it as wooing " the contemplative mind to midnight's 

The poem is highly valued, and is carefully pre- 
served, by Dr. Barclay's still surviving son, JMr. George 
Barclay, of 17 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh. 

Mr. Barclay has a distinct recollection of his mother 
telling him of the first impression made on her by her 
husband's "wild Highland pupil," when as a young 
wife she went to Aberdeen in October 1816. No doubt 
MacGillivray had just then returned from his annual 
summer stay in Harris — his clothing and his person 
probably still betraying more or less the effects of his 
long pedestrian journey, in which there had been much 
scrambling over rocks, wading through marshes, and 
wandering among peat bogs in search of rare plants, or 
for observation of the habits of birds, which had 


attracted liis attention by tlie way. He not unnatur- 
ally, therefore, presented to Mrs. Barclay more the 
appearance of a somewhat primitive Hebridean Celt 
than of the Aberdeen medical student ; but the qualities 
of head and heart soon made him a welcome guest and 

3. — Edinburgh Period to 1831. 

The third period embraces the eleven or twelve 
years of his earlier residence in Edinburgh. He first 
went there, he says in the preface to his Rapdcioiis 
Birds of Great Britain, on the advice of a friend, to 
engage in " a kind of mineralogical speculation." The 
friend was probably Dr. Barclay, whose father-in-law, 
Mr, Walter Berry of Edinburgh, was much interested 
in mineralogy. INIacGillivray does not say what the 
nature of the speculation was, or how it resulted ; 
but he adds that he then attended the lectures of 
Professor Jamieson, who at that time occupied the 
Chair of Natural History in the University. He again 
returned to the Hebrides, where he occupied his time 
in " hammering gneiss rocks, gathering gulls' eggs, and 
shooting birds " ; but he got tired of that occupation, 
which, although congenial to him, and was daily add- 
ing to his knowledge of nature, afforded no means of 
present livelihood or prospect of it for the future. 
Besides having, on 29th September 1820, married Miss 
Marion MacCaskill of Harris (he being then twenty- 


four years of age and she seventeen), the necessity for 
some settled income must have become urgent. He 
therefore returned to Edinburgh, where he obtained the 
position of assistant and secretary to Professor Jamieson, 
under whom he undertook the charge of the Natural 
History JNIuseum there. Here he found abundant 
opportunity for continuing his study of natural history, 
and especially his favourite branch of it, ornithology, 
with the aid of the collection of specimens in the 
Museum, and subjects which came into his hands for 
dissection, or which he himself collected in the course 
of his excursions around Edinburgh and elsewhere. 

He occupied this position for several years, but 
desiring to have more leisure, as he explains in the 
preface to his book on Rapacious Birds, for prosecut- 
ing his investigations in the field, he resigned it, and 
resumed his wanderings, extending these more widely 
than before, mainly for the purpose of enlarging his 
knowledge of the habits and lives of his feathered 
favourites — supporting himself and his family, as he 
says, by his "labours in the closet." What those closet 
labours consisted of we have no precise information, 
but they were no doubt principally of the nature of 
contributions connected with natural history to scientific 
periodicals, compilations, and other miscellaneous liter- 
ary work. 


4. — Conservator of the Museum of the Edinburgh 
College of Surgeons, 1831 to 1841 — " History 
of British Birds "■ — Audubon. 

In 1831 he was unanimously chosen, without any 
influence being sought or used on his behalf, from 
amongst ten applicants for the position of Conservator 
of the INIuseum of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons, 
as successor to Dr. Knox; and thus began the J'ourth 
period of his life, which extended to 1841. The amount 
of work done by him during that period was marvel- 
lous, while on the results of it, and of the many years' 
previous preparation, his fame as an ornithologist 
mainly rests. 

During the ten years he occupied that position, his 
duties to the iNIuseum were discharged with the most 
conscientious care and with perfect scientific skill and 
intelligence. His first year's work was especially 
arduous and laborious, and it severely tested both his 
physical and his inental powers. When he entered on 
his duties on 17th September 1831, the numerous pre- 
parations belonging to the College were partly in the 
old museum in Surgeon Square and partly in two 
other separate buildings ; while their condition and 
arrangement were far from satisfactory. The existing 
handsome building was just then being completed from 
designs by Mr. Playfair, and it fell to MacGillivray to 
see the contents of the old buildings removed to the 
new one. He found the preparations in a very un- 



satisfactory condition — many of them badly prepared, 
badly put up, and badly arranged, while almost all were 
far from clean. He had them thoroughly cleaned 
and otherwise put into a satisfactory condition, and 
re-ari'anged the whole collection, re -labelling every 
article. The labelling of 4000 articles was of itself a 
most laborious undertaking, occupying many months. 
Almost all the labour, except the actual cleaning and 
the manual work of transport to the new hall, was 
done by his own hands. In one of his most interesting 
reports to the Curators — interesting as throwing light 
on the capacity and character of the man — he says that 
he must practically do all the work himself, " as no 
benefit would be derived from the interference of 
others." The labels in his own neat handwriting are 
still to be seen attached to many of the preparations 
which remain in the order in which they were left 
by him. 

During the year 1832 the removal and re-arrange- 
ment were completed ; and the College, it is believed, 
recognises to this day the work then done as of 
permanent value to the INIuseum — the system of 
arrangement adopted by MacGillivray being still 
adhered to. 

The work thus accomplished by MacGillivray 
was specially acknowledged by the College in terms 
that leave no room for doubt as to its efficiency and 
value, as appears from many of its minutes. In a 
minute, dated 2nd August 1832, it is recorded that 
" Mr. Wood said there could be but one opinion as 


to the general assiduity and talent Avhich had been 
shown by the Conservator in the very arduous task of 
removing and arranging the Museum, which he had 
performed so much to the satisfaction of the College. 
He therefore begged to move that the sum of £50, 
together witli the thanks of the College, be presented 
to the Conservator for the extra labour he had had in 
the matter." 

At the next meeting of the College (13th August 
1832), " Dr. Gairdner, President, in absence of Mr. 
Wood, proposed that his motion of 2nd August, re- 
garding a grant of money and vote of thanks to the 
Conservator, be approved, as he believed it was admitted 
on all hands that Mr. MacGillivray was most deserving 
of this mark of approbation from the College, especially 
as the motion proceeded from the Curators of the 
Museum, who were best acquainted with the nature and 
extent of his labours and with the manner in which he 
had performed his duties. The motion was unanimously 

The subsequent minutes of the College afford 
abundant evidence of the extremely satisfactory manner 
in which JNIacGillivray continued to discharge his duties 
as conservator during the remaining eight years of his 
tenure of that office, never grudging time or trouble 
in the discharge of these duties in the manner most 
conducive to the interests of the College and to the 
entire satisfaction of that body. 

His knowledge of comparative anatomy and of 
natural history the College recognised as being of 


special importance in connection with his duties in the 
Museum ; and by a minute of 21st JMarch 1833 they 
authorise him to absent himself from the INIuseum 
on Saturdays, " for the purpose of enabling him to go 
into the country and give demonstrations on natural 

A minute of 2nd August following bears that the 
Curators in their quarterly report to the College 
" desire to express their satisfaction with the state of 
the collection under their care and with the skill and 
attention by which the duties of the Conservator have 
been performed, and that it appeared to the Curators 
that, as he is at present engaged in preparing the cata- 
logue, considerable advantage would be derived from his 
being enabled to spend three or four weeks in London 
for the purpose of inspecting the museums there. Mr. 
Brown moved, agreeably to the recommendation inti- 
mated in the report of the Curators, that the Conser- 
vator be sent to London at the expense of the College 
for the purpose of examining the museums there with 
the view of preparing himself to adjust the catalogue 
of the ]\Iuseum belonging to this College, which motion 
was agreed to." 

The minute of 12th November contains the follow- 
ing passage from the Curators' report : — " It will be 
recollected that the College, with the view to the 
preparation of the catalogue, gave permission to the 
Conservator to inspect the museums in London. He 
visited previously the University and Andersonian 
Museums of Glasgow, the collections of natural 


history in Liverpool, and the Museums of Dublin and 
Bristol. In London he visited the various collections, 
taking such notes and drawings as may be of use in 
completing our own arrangements. He visited also the 
museum at Chatham. The Curators have every reason 
to be pleased with the industry and intelligence displayed 
by the Conservator in the tour which he has made." 

The College approved of the report and agreed 
that the Conservator should have the use of a clerk to 
assist him in making out the cataloffne. 

Fortunately JNIacGillivray's journal of his tour of 
inspection of the museums has been preserved, and it 
appears to be of so much interest as throwing light on 
some of the more remarkable features of his character 
that it is included in this volume — passages which 
are merely technical or without general interest being 
omitted. Three or four weeks was the time allowed him 
by the College for the inspection, and it will be seen 
that he inspected the museums in Glasgow, Liverpool, 
Dublin, Bristol, and London — numbering twenty-four 
in all — and that he accomplished the whole of that work, 
including his various journeys, from the time he left 
Edinburgh on 4th September until his return on 29th 
of that month (three weeks and four days), although 
there was then no railway to quicken his transit except 
on a visit from Liverpool to Manchester and back ; and 
it appears from the journal that he had gained all the 
information with regard to the different museums, the 
acquisition of which was the special object of his tour. 
The contents of the museums, the arrangement of the 


preparations, the mode in which they had been pre- 
served, labelled, etc., and their condition generally, 
were readily taken in by him in all their detail, as well 
as in their general features, and were noted for refer- 
ence in connection with his own work. He learned 
much that was of special interest to him, although 
apparently very little that was suggestive of improve- 
ment on his own ideas of museum classification and 
arrangement. Indeed he comments very unfavourably 
on the condition of some of the museums he had 
visited, while others drew from him warm approval. 

Besides his comments on the museums there is 
much in the journal of interest otherwise — his geological 
observations, his picturesque descriptions of scenery 
and of life, his general reflections, and his touches of 
humour, peculiarly characteristic of the man, all tend 
to enhance the value of the small ^IS. volume so neatly 
written in his own hand. 

The minutes of the College all through Mac- 
Gillivray's tenure of office in its INIuseum contain 
evidence of its entire confidence in him, and they 
repeatedly record its admiration and appreciation of his 
work. The Museum, during his ten years' charge of 
it, was kept in perfection of order and cleanliness, while 
much was added to it which enhanced its value. Every 
addition (not a few by MacGillivray himself) was at 
once put into the most perfect state of preservation, 
and was fitted into his scientific arrangement. Nothing 
was ever left out of order, and constant cleaning was 
rigidly carried out. 


From a minute of the College, dated 31st INIarch 
ISS^, it appears that INIacGillivray had then begun to 
give lectures on natural history, and he obtained special 
permission from the College to absent himself on 
Saturdays, " to admit of his giving these lectures and 
to have scientific excursions with his pupils." 

There is an interesting and amusing paragraph in a 
minute of the College of 2nd August 1834, in which it 
is stated that the Curators in their report to the 
College "agree to a sentiment expressed by the Con- 
servator that it has been noticed to him that low and 
vulgar persons can derive no benefit from visiting the 
Museum, but that it was obvious to him that such a 
collection is calculated to remove many of their pre- 
judices and that without information all men would be 
low enough. Besides, he added, such persons are the 
least disposed to handle anything." 

In a minute of 3rd August 1835 it is stated that 
the Curators reported that the catalogue was now 
completed, and that all the preparations then stood in 
the order of it, and it is added : " This work, so creditable 
to the College and so calculated to increase the useful- 
ness of it, has occupied so much of the Conservator's 
time and attention, and has been so materially advanced 
by his assiduity and by his judicious arrangements as to 
merit some species of acknowledgment on the part of 
the College, and with this view the Curators re- 
commend to the College to vote him a gratuity of 
twenty guineas, which was unanimously agreed to." 
In the minutes throughout the remaining six years 


there are frequent references to the condition of the 
Museum, which was always in the perfection of order 
and cleanliness, MacGillivray's predominating views 
as to museums being that the order should be 
strictly scientific, and that everything should be kept 
scrupulously clean. During his whole tenure of office 
he seems to have been allowed an almost autocratic 
privilege in having his views carried out, the result 
always being the entire satisfaction of the College. 

At last the termination of his career as Conservator 
of the Museum seems to have come about rather 
abruptly. It is recorded in a minute of the College of 
16th JNIarch 1841 that the President had received a 
letter from MacGillivray, informing him that he had 
heard from the Marquis of Normanby that he had been 
appointed to the professorship of " Civil and Natural 
History " in Marischal College, Aberdeen, and that he 
accordingly resigned the conservatorship of the Museum, 
as from the last day of April following, by which time 
he said he hoped it would be in perfect order for a 

The minute of the College of 21st April following 
bears that, on the motion of the President, Dr. Huie, 
seconded by Dr. Maclagan, the College " unanimously 
resolved to put on record the high sense which they 
entertain of the value and efficiency of Mr. JMacGilli- 
vray's services as Conservator of the Museum of the 
College for the last ten years, and to convey to him 
through their President their sincere congratulations 
on his appointment to the professorship of Civil and 


Natural History in Marischal College, together with 
their best wishes for his comfort and success in that 
new department of public duty." 

Thus ended MacGillivray's career in connection 
with the Edinburgh College of Surgeons, in the course 
of which he had shown in a marked degree those 
qualities which specially fitted him for the higher sphere 
of usefulness in connection with the science to which 
his heart, head, and time had been so zealously and so 
exclusively devoted for upwards of twenty years ; and 
then began the fifth and final period of his life's work. 

His name had already become famous as an orni- 
thologist by the publication of the first three volumes 
of his Hist or ij of British Birds ; but before referring 
specially to that final period, some account must be 
given of his other work during the ten years of his 
connection with the Museum. 

These museum duties — constant and arduous as they 
were, and much as they occupied his time and thought 
— formed but a part of the work accomplished by him 
during that fourth period of his life. Besides his lectures 
on natural history, many contributions to scientific 
periodicals, including the article "Ornithology" to the 
seventh edition of the Encydopcedia Britannica, the 
editing of the Edinburgh Journal of Natural History 
and Physical Science, from 1835 to 1840, the editing of 
new editions of several books on natural science, writing 
a condensation of Alexander Von Humboldt's travels, 
the lives of eminent zoologists. Descriptions of the 
Rapacious Birds of Great Britain, published in 1836, 


which he called his " first work," although he had pre- 
viously published many original papers, translations, 
and compilations, " all in the way of business," as he 
says. He also during the same period wrote a History 
of Biitish Quadrupeds for Jardin's Naturalist's Library, e 
Manuals of Botany, Geology, and Zoology, and the 
first, second, and third volumes of his History of 
British Birds — his " great work," as he himself calls it 
by anticipation in the preface to the Rapacious Bi7'ds, 
the remaining two volumes having been issued only 
shortly before his death in 1852. 

A further literary undertaking during this more 
than busy period had reference to Audubon's Ornitho- 
logical Biographies. He wrote the whole of the scien- 
tific part of that work, and a complete synopsis of it. 
In addition to all his writing, he was also occupied in 
making those most truthful and finely artistic drawings 
of British birds in water colour, now in the British 

The most important outcome, however, of the 
ten years' work consisted in the three volumes of the 
History of British Birds, to which the patronage of Her 
late Majesty had been graciously extended, and to whom 
the work was dedicated. 

The object which he sought specially to accomplish 
in the publication of that work is explained by him in 
the preface to the first volume as follows, viz. — " The 
object I had in view when, many years ago, I com- 
menced the observations recorded in this work was at 
some convenient season to lay before the public descrip- 


tions of the birds of Great Britain, more extended, and 
if possible more correct, than any previonsly offered ;" 
and in the preface to the Jiapacioi/.s- Birds he says: 
" OrnithoU)gy can be successfully prosecuted only by 
examining the internal structure, the external form, the 
actions and habits, the distribution and the various 
relations of the objects to which it refers ; " adding, " all 
arrangements of birds hitherto published are merely 
artificial, inasmuch as in their details reference is had 
only to one or a few sets of organs." He further says 
he had not written without full preparation, having been 
at work for twenty years accumulating facts by his own 
observations in many fields, by numerous communica- 
tions with other observers, by examination of many 
specimens, in museums and in his own possession, 
derived from various parts of the world, and by dissec- 
tion of such birds as were available to him. 

The publication of the History of British Birds 
formed the commencement of a new era in ornithology, 
and the result was to revolutionise to a great extent 
that branch of natural science. It was in accordance 
with the principles indicated in the above quotations 
that the book was written, and its value from a scientific 
point of view consists in its having been so. This work 
had the effect at the time of raising its author to the 
highest position in Britain as an ornithologist. In a 
subsequent part of this memorial volume several ex- 
tracts from MacGillivray's works are given, in which 
he fully explains and vindicates the principles on 
which his system of classification, entirely differing 


from the classification of previous ornithologists, was 

But since that time the advance in ornithology, in 
every aspect of it, has been enormous. INIany have 
followed the line of treatment initiated by MacGillivray, 
and most writers, since the publication of the Origin of 
Species, have gone much further, in the light of the 
principles of evolution and natural selection. Every 
organ and feature of the bird, both internal and external, 
has been made the subject of the most minute examina- 
tion, with results directly bearing on the principles of 
classification. These results and the present advanced 
stage of this most attractive branch of science are well 
and shortly explained in the recently published Structure 
and Classijication of Birds by Mr. Beddard. Still the 
origin of the movement and the direction it has taken 
are due to MacGillivray. 

He betrays oftener than once in his works a pro- 
phetic consciousness that, while he felt he was groping 
in the dark, the dawn of greater light was near ; but 
how far he would have been able to accept the prin- 
ciples of Darwin may be uncertain. His belief in the 
separate creation of each species, and in its permanency 
as so created, appears to have been strong, when the 
introduction to the first volume of his Historij of 
Briti.sli Birds was written. In it he says: " Species (done 
exist in nature," while " genera, families, orders, and all 
the mediate sections of a class must ever remain fluctu- 
ating ; " and that while species " are more or less allied 
to each other, they exist in an order conformable to the 


plan of their creation." His religious views, too, un- 
doubtedly deep and sincere, were quite in harmony 
with his views as to the creation of species. He 
saw God everywhere iji nature ; and as his scientific 
knowledge deepened and widened, the more did the 
Creative Mind reveal itself to him in intelligent adapta- 
tion and design for the accomplishment of specific ends. 
Everything, as it existed, was to him the direct result 
of an original forth-putting of Creative Power and 
design, while his reverence for that Power increased 
as his scientific knowledge extended and deepened. 
Although the form of his religious belief, like the form 
of his poetry, was very much that of the preceding 
century, its reality and intensity were of his time, and 
peculiarly his own individually. Would his restricted 
scientific views as to species, with his form of religious 
belief, have prevented him from accepting the Dar- 
winian theories of evolution and natural selection ? 
Would he have been able, with his ardent love of 
truth and his capacity for clear insight into nature, to 
accept the Darwinian theory of evolutionary progres- 
sive creation in place of the view that all things were 
made at a beginning out of nothing, each species, age 
after age, simply reproducing itself, although subject 
to much and constant variation within its specific 
limitations ? 

It is not improbable that he would have got entirely 
over the then existing wall of separation between the 
past and the present of all scientific systems. Indeed, 
notwithstanding his views as to species indicated in the 


above quotations, and his form of religious belief, there 
are passages in his 3fanual of Sotany, published three 
years after his first volume of British Birds, which 
appear to show that his views had been undergoing 
a change, as in that work he says : " There is nothing 
absolutely certain as to species," that " species often 
pass into each other by gradations which render it 
impossible to draw a line of demarcation, and thus 
all species are more or less arbitrary ; " while in his 
geological teaching he had quite abandoned those 
views as to creation which so hampered Hugh Miller 
to the last, and led to his fanciful theory of interpreta- 
tion of the first chapter of Genesis. In the epitome 
of his lectures as dictated to his class in Marischal 
College, he says : " Species have not changed during 
historical times," apparently implying that they may 
have changed during longer prehistoric periods ; and, 
again, in that epitome he says " the most perfected 
animals appear to have been created last," thus assuming 
that there had been successive creations — not one only, 
once for all. He was absolutely free from prejudice, 
always kept his eyes open, and constantly insisted on 
ascertained fact as the only legitimate basis of theory : 
while his love of truth and strict adherence to it formed, 
it may be said, the backbone of his life and of his work. 
He was eminently worthy of the Gaelic name he bore, 
" Gillivray " — servant of the truth ; and the publication 
of The Origin of Species would probably have been 
hailed by him as the rising of a new sun in the heaven 
of science, and as bringing the light for which he had 


been prophetically looking. He would probably have 
been able to see God's creative power in nature not less 
clearly and reverently than before — creative by a never- 
ceasing evolutionary process, a continual progressive 
unfolding of the essential being of all existences — an 
endless change and growth of organic form making 
cleai'er to him the full significance of those very prin- 
ciples of classification which he had already adopted, 
with a deeper insight into the facts of nature on which 
they rested, and Avhich, through the mind of Darwin, 
had come to the scientific mind of the age as a new 
and great revelation. 

But besides the scientific aspect of the Historij of 
Uritish Birds, that " great work " has other features 
which will always preserve its interest and attractive- 
ness to many readers who may be unable to enter 
intelligently into the author's scientific descriptions and 
deductions. The narratives of his excursions — often 
by night as well as by day ; the difficulties encountered 
— at times with no little danger, especially while 
scrambling among the rocks of the Outer Hebrides, 
or climbing the cliffs of Ben Macdhui ; his descriptions 
of scenery — now overpowering in its ruggedness and 
grandeur, and again tenderly soothing in its soft and 
varied beauty, amid which he wandered in the pursuit 
of knowledge of the habits and modes of life of his 
feathered friends, are often extremely fascinating, and 
all the more so when such scenes are enlivened by a 
solitary raven on its crag, or by a couple of sea eagles 
wheeling about on wing high above his hiding-place, 


or by flocks of sea birds of all varieties wandering over 
a flat sandy shore, with the sea far out on a bright 
sunny morning, in search of their early meal, or by a 
grey and yellow wagtail, as seen by him on the banks 
of the Braid Burn one summer day while walking along 
its course. " How pretty and pleasantly thou runnest," 
he writes, " along the sandy margin of the brook. The 
pattering of thy tiny feet can be heard only by fairy 
ears ; so light is thy tender frame, which vibrates as if 
thy joints were too delicate and thy muscles too sensi- 
tive for thee to fix them for a moment in rest. The 
gentle breeze, that scarce bends the young grass, curves 
the long feathers of thy tail, and the sudden blast sweeps 
thee away quivering and emitting thy shrill notes," etc. 
It concludes : " It is pleasant to me to gaze upon thee, 
thou marvellous epitome of mind and matter, so har- 
moniously organised." The passage is given at length 
in the latter part of this volume, and it will be seen 
how lovingly sympathetic it is throughout with the 
tiny creature, which for the time had completely 
drawn his affections towards it. 

But every feathered creature, from the most powerful 
and relentless bird of prey to the smallest and most 
harmless of the race, attracted his sympathy as he 
found it in its native habitat and congenial sur- 

Of the ravens at Loch Tulloch he says : " It is very 
pleasant to hear the ravens on the crags talking to each 
other in great variety of accents — one answering the 
call of another. Poor fellows ! if the glen were mine 


I would give strict orders not to molest them ; for next 
to the eagle — now altogether destroyed — the raven is 
the greatest ornament of such a scene." 

Indeed there was no bird to be found in all his 
wanderings which did not draw a warmth of sympathy 
from his kindly heart ; and there are many passages in 
his book on British birds, which, for picturesque beauty, 
poetic feeling, or tender sympathy with nature and 
every living creature that came under his observation, 
can scarcely be surpassed. Yet he never allowed his 
sympathetic feeling, or his appreciation of the pictur- 
esque to interfere with his proper work as a scientific 
ornithologist. To learn the facts about the habits and 
lives of living birds was the main object of his many 
wanderings ; and his power of imagination and sym 
pathetic susceptibility, in place of hinderhig, helped 
much, in his case, to the readier and clearer perception 
of those facts, and to his capacity for making them 
more vividly and attractively apparent to others — to 
the non-scientific as well as to the scientific. 

There is another feature of the writer's mind of 
much interest, which betrays itself in many passages 
of his "great work," as well as in his other works 
— that is an ever-present sense of the deep mystery 
of Nature and of the limits of his power of insight, 
however much he had been able to see more than 
others of his generation. He was intensely worshipful 
at Nature's shrine — all his best thought and feeling 
often rising into reverential awe, and his heart over- 
flowing with gratitude and thankfulness to the Author 



of all that beauty and glory which constituted for him 
its supreme and abiding interest. 

The illustrations in his History of British Birds, 
drawn by himself, and consisting principally of the 
heads and feet of birds, besides being scientifically 
accurate, are fine specimens of art, each being strik- 
ingly expressive of the character of the species of bird 
represented. As examples, nothing could be finer 
than the head of the golden eagle, or of the sea eagle, 
or of the raven, or the magpie. 

But these illustrations, good as they are, come far 
short of his water -coloured drawings of birds in the 
British Museum already referred to. They are beautiful 
works of art, executed with great delicacy and care — 
in expression, in attitude, and in their natural surround- 
ings, just as he had seen them with his own eyes. Yet 
they are little known outside the walls of the Natural 
History Department of the Museum. Modest as he 
habitually was, he did realise that there were things 
which he could do better than other people, and he 
spoke the simple truth when he said that, in his day, 
no one could draw a bird except Audubon and himself. 

But besides his work as conservator of the 
Surgeon's JNIuseum and all his own scientific and 
literary work, he undertook, as has been said, to aid 
Audubon in the preparation of his Ornithological 
Biographies for the press. He was introduced by 
Mr. James Wilson (Christopher North's brother) to 
Audubon when that eminent American ornithologist 
was arranging for the publication of his great work 


in Edinburgh in 1830. Audubon writes in his journal, 
recently published by his grand-daughter, Miss ]\Iarion 
R. Audubon : "I know I am a poor writer, that I 
scarcely can manage to scribble a tolerable English letter 
and not a much better one in French, though that is 
easier to me. I know I am not a scholar, but, mean- 
time, I am aware that no man living knows better 
than I do the habits of our birds ; no man living has 
studied them so much as I have done, and, with the 
assistance of my old journals and memorandum books, 
which were written on the spot, I can at least put 
down plain truths which may be useful and perhaps 
interesting, so I shall set to at once. I cannot, how- 
ever, give scientific descriptions and here must have 

Thus Audubon wrote on 16th October 1830 in 
his lodgings, 2G George Street, his residence during 
all the time he was in Edinburgh. 

The co-operation of Audubon and JNIacGillivray 
in the production of the Oniitliological Biogruphics is 
thus referred to by I\Ir. D. G. Elliot in an address 
to the New York Academy of Sciences on 16th 
April 1893. He says : " No better or more fortunate 
choice could have been made. Audubon worked 
incessantly, INIacGillivray keeping abreast of him ; 
and Mrs. Audubon rewrote the entire manuscript to 
send to America to secure the copyright." 

The late Dr. Coues, in his Key to JVoi'th American 
Birds, second edition, 1884, says of Audubon : "Vivid 
and ardent was his genius ; matchless he was, both in 


pen and pencil, in giving life and spirit to the beautiful 
objects he delineated with passionate love ; but there 
was a strong and patient worker by his side, William 
MacGillivray, the countryman of Wilson, destined to 
lend the strong Scotch fibre to the Audubonian 
epoch. The brilliant French - American naturalist 
was little of a scientist. Of his work, the magical 
beauties of form and colour and movement are all 
his ; his page is redolent of nature's fragrance ; but 
MacGillivray's are the bone and sinew, the hidden 
anatomical parts beneath the lovely form, the nomen- 
clature, the classification, in a word the technicalities 
of the science." 

INIrs. Audubon, writing from Edinburgh to her 
sons in America, says : " Nothing is heard but the 
steady movement of the pen ; your father is up and at 
work before dawn, and writes without ceasing all day. 
Mr. MacGillivray breakfasts at nine each morning, 
attending the JNIuseum four days in the week, has 
several works on hand besides ours, and is, moreover, 
engaged as a lecturer in a new seminary on botany 
and natural history. His own work progresses slowly 
but surely." The date of this letter does not appear, 
but it could not have been written during INIac- 
Gillivray's earlier years as conservator of the Museum, 
as he must then have been fully occupied more than 
four days a week with the arduous and anxious work 
connected with the removal and subsequent rearrange- 
ment of the museum contents. In 1833, and again in 
1834, he had, as already mentioned, obtained the 


permission of the College to absent himself from the 
Museum on Saturdays only. 

Audubon, in the introduction to the first volume 
of his Ornithological Biographies, published by Adam 
Black, Edinburgh, in 1831, says: "I feel pleasure in 
acknowledging the assistance I have received from a 
friend, INIr. William MacGillivray, who, being possessed 
of a liberal education and a strong taste for the study 
of the natural sciences, has aided me, not in drawing 
the figures of my illustrations, nor in writhig the book 
now in hand, although fully competent for both tasks, 
but in completing the scientific details and in smoothing 
down the asperities of my Ornithological Biogrcqjhies. 

Again, in the introduction to the fourth volume, 
published in November 1838, Audubon writes: "With 
reference to a vast number of specimens " — which had 
been sent him from America — " an account of the 
digestive organs and trachea of these, generally concise, 
but occasionally of considerable length, you will find 
under the articles to which they refer in the present 
volume. Their anatomical descriptions, as well as the 
sketches by which they are sometimes illustrated, have 
been executed by my learned friend, William Mac- 
Gillivray, who in the most agreeable manner consented 
to undertake the labour, by no means small, of such a 
task, and to whom those who are interested in the 
progress of ornithological science, as well as myself, 
must therefore feel indebted." There then follows a 
sentence in which he prophesies that the time is 
approaching when museums filled with stuffed skins 


wiU not be considered sufficient to afford a knowledge 
of birds, and when the student Avill not only go forth 
to observe the habits of birds but to procure specimens 
for careful dissection, thus showing the effect of 
MacGillivray's teaching and example on a man who, 
although he knew much of the habits, lives, and 
exterior of bii'ds, was " no scientist." 

Audubon, on finally departing for America, left his 
son Victor to finish the work of publication, and he 
wrote to him as follows : — " You have my journals, 
all necessary facts, and in yourself sufficient ability to 
finish the letter-press with the assistance of our worthy 
friend, John Bechman, as well as MacGillivray." 

From these quotations it is clear that Mac- 
Gillivray's part in the preparation of the OnnthologicaJ 
Biographies must have involved much anxious, laborious 
and constant work, requiring the greatest care and 
judgment, over a period of eight years, and that work 
must have added much to his other constantly en- 
grossing occupations. Yet nothing which came from 
his pen shows haste ; and everything he did was done 
with patience, with care and with accuracy. Care, 
patience, and accuracy were elements in his nature 
which no circumstances, however pressing, could 
counteract or overcome. 

His labours in connection with Audubon's work 
terminated in 1839, when the Synops-is, which was 
wholly prepared by him, was finished and published. 

MacGillivray, as appears from many passages in his 
British Birds, appreciated much the warm friendship 


of Audubon, and lie frequently acknowledges his in- 
debtedness to liim for information and specimens 
which were of great importance to him in coimection 
with his own work. 

His book on the liapacious Birds of Great Britain 
was dedicated to " John James Audubon, in admiration 
of his talents as an ornithologist, and in gratitude 
for many acts of friendship." Although the two 
men, as Dr. Coues says, were in most respects very 
unlike each other, they were both men of generous 
mind and warm heart, having common interests, 
with reference to which each was willingly helpful 
to the other, Audubon, no doubt, gaining most by 
the friendship, which greater gain was willingly 
and ungrudgingly conceded by MacGillivray to his 

INIacGillivray and his family then lived at No. 
1 Wharton Place, now no longer in existence, its 
site being occupied by part of the buildings of the 
Royal Infirmary. Their immediate neighbour was 
the late Mr. Eraser, the successor of Dr. Neill of 
Canonmills Lodge in his well-known, old-established 
printing business. The MacGillivray, the Audubon, 
and the Fraser families were on terms of close friend- 
ship with each other ; and Mr. Alexander Fraser, 
Wimmera, Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, lately of 
Canonmills Lodge, son of MacGillivray 's friend, who 
was then a boy, still remembers with pleasure the 
friendly meetings in one or other of the three family 
residences, and he specially mentions one such meeting 


in Audubon's rooms when John INIacGillivray (INIac- 
Gillivray's eldest son), carelessly flourishing a stick, 
broke a glass ease in which Audubon kept one of his 
ornithological treasures, to the great disappointment 
and annoyance of the naturalist. Mr. Eraser also 
relates how he, John MacGillivray, and John 
Audubon, then both lads like himself (afterwards 
eminent naturalists) were wont to go out on bird- 
shooting expeditions, when on one occasion they 
were caught in Ravelston Woods, rather roughly 
handled, and had their gun taken from them. 

5. — Professor of Natural History in Marischal 
College and University, Aberdeen, 1841 to 
1852 — " History of British Birds " Completed 
— "Natural History of Deeside and Brae- 
mar " — Death. 

As already mentioned, MacGillivray in 1841 entered 
on a new and extended sphere of eminent usefulness, as 
Professor of Natural History in INIarischal College, 
Aberdeen, a sphere for which he was specially qualified, 
and which was altogether congenial to him. Then 
began, as has been said, the. fifth period of his life. His 
chair included zoology, geology, and botany, this latter 
being a separate lectureship. All of these branches he 
had made subjects of special study, and had published, 
as mentioned before, a manual on each of them while 


he was in Edinburgli. His scientific many-sidedness 
fitted in well with the varied character of his work in 
his new position, while that position at the same time 
afforded him opportunities for still further self-develop- 
ment in accordance with the bent of his mind and in 
the lines of his varied previous extensive acquire- 

In Marischal College he found himself in direct 
contact with many young inquiring minds. To instruct 
and to guide these was henceforth to be the main 
business of his life. He devoted himself to this work 
with all his energies, mental and physical, and with 
a warmth of sympathetic interest rarely found in the 
occupants of a professorial chair. There was earnest- 
ness and reality in all he said and did — in his lectures, 
in his excursions into surrounding districts, frequently 
with his students in search of zoological or botanical 
specimens, or for examination of geological phenomena. 
These excursions often involved long and fatiguing 
walks, but his youthful companions, inspired by his 
spirit, always felt that what they had gained in 
knowledge from discoveries made under his guid- 
ance, in instruction then received or illustrated, or 
in pleasure from his kindly and courteous companion- 
ship, much more than compensated for the fatigues 

MacGillivray brought new life into Marischal 
College, while the specially interesting nature of his 
lectures and the attractiveness of his personality 
drew to his classes many students whose curriculum 


did not include the subjects of his teaching. Even 
brother professors, unable to resist his magnetic 
influence, were not unfrequently seen on the benches 
in front of him. The late Professor Blackie, 
then occupant of the Humanity Chair in Marischal 
College, actually enrolled himself as one of his 
students ! 

An example of IMacGillivray's wonderful aptitude 
for work connected with his chair, and of the rapidity, 
and at the same time careful accuracy, with which he 
was able to accomplish it, was the preparation and 
publication, within two years of his appointment, of 
his Histori) of the MoUuscn of the North -East of 
Scotland. That work includes, with very full descrip- 
tions, upwards of 300 species, all of which, except 
one, had, he says, been carefully examined by him- 
self, while he had gathered two - thirds of them 
with his own hands — about twenty being new to 

In the work of collecting he was aided by mem- 
bers of his own family, by students, and by friends 
resident in various parts of the adjoining districts, 
all of whom, inspired by him, were more than 
willing to contribute to his work any aid in their 

In his preface to that book he remarks : — " I present 
it " (the book) " with confidence to the public, because I 
am conscious of having produced it with great care, and 
because I think it will be useful." It was intended, 
he says, for his pupils and persons commencing the 


study of mollusca ; and on that account, he adds, 
he had made the descriptions fuller than usual, as 
he was anxious " to induce them to go beyond mere 
nomenclature and to make themselves acquainted 
with the structure and relations of the objects 

He further observes, with justifiable but modest 
pride and prophetic forecast, that it was the "first 
zoological work that has emanated from the University 
of which I am a member, and I cannot but look upon 
it as indicating the not distant dawn of an era destined, 
I trust, to produce investigations, the importance of 
which will tend to give our city a rank, certainly not 
yet acquired, among those distinguished for the cultiva- 
tion of Natural History." 

That prophecy has to a large extent been ful- 
filled, and there can be no doubt that it is mainly 
through his work and inspiring influence that it has 
been so. 

MacGillivray occupied his chair eleven years, dis- 
charging his duties with the energy, intelligence, and 
independence of view which formed so essential features 
of his character. In the course of his many excur- 
sions and otherwise he accumulated a large collection 
of zoological specimens, which he arranged into an 
excellent private museum, with the capacity for 
scientific order which was so natural to him. That 
museum was used by him to great advantage as illus- 
trative of his teaching, and it is now the property of 
the Aberdeen University. 


His students always held him in the greatest respect, 
and many of them were warmly devoted to him. He 
was accustomed to treat them as friends ; and one 
former student, recently referring to him, says : " I 
had a very great regard for him not only as an orni- 
thologist but as a man. He was exceedingly kroable 
and undoubtedly the first ornithologist in Europe, 
and we were all proud of his fame. One thing 
always made a great impression on me : he treated 
his class as men and gentlemen, and we recipro- 
cated his action. It was far otherwise with some 
of the professors." Another Aberdeen student of 
his day, but who was not in his class, lately a pro- 
fessor in a Canadian university, now dead, writes 
of him as follows: "He was about my own height" 
(rather below medium stature), " firm of step, erect 
of gait, as he trod the pavement of Broad Street or 
wound his way through the Gallowgate to the Old 
Town ; great of reputation among British birds, and 
tireless, pedestrianising with his class among the hills 
and heather of Deeside. He could walk the most 
active of them into limp helplessness, and remain as 
fresh as at the outside of the march." " Keep your 
knees bent as you climb a mountain. You thus avoid 
having to raise your body at each step," was his advice 
to another student who had accompanied him in hill 

Many others of his former students refer to him 
in similar terms of warm eulogy, those featvu'es of his 
character which appear to be most prominent in their 


memory being his eminence as a scientist, especially in 
ornithology ; the attractiveness of his lectures, with his 
happy mode of illustration ; his readiness to undertake 
any work, however arduous, in the interest of his science 
or his class, and his specially kind consideration of his 

In the words of the member of his class last men- 
tioned, '• his interest in the habits of his students was 
remarkable. If he saw a good student careless he would 
remonstrate with him privately ; while earnest atten- 
tion gained his favour. With his rapid power of obser- 
vation he could detect even a temporary lapse from 
diligence. His lectures were carefully written out, 
and he dictated an epitome of them once a week. 
Now and then he gave out a subject for an essay, say 
' The Sparrow,' and he indicated a preference for a 
paper bearing on its habits and life on the street and on 
the wing. As an examiner he was patient, tender, and 
gentle, unwilling to say an angry word. He would 
rather help out the hesitating student ; but it was 
easy to see that carelessness was an abomination to 

There appears to have been much in JNIacGillivray's 
considerate and kindly manner towards his students 
which strikingly accords with Dr. Barclay's treatment 
of him as his pupil. The two young men were evi- 
dently much alike in the essential features of their 
character, and in all probability the influence of the 
kind friend and dutiful teacher left an impress on 
MacGillivray's mind which time never effaced, and 


which more or less influenced for good his whole after 

In the autumn of 1850 he spent a holiday of about 
a month with his son Paul and his eldest daughter on 
a pedestrian excursion to the upper part of the valley 
of tlie Dee and Braemar, his main object, as he explains 
in his last written book, The Natural History of 
Deeside and Braemar, having been to examine the 
"geological structure of Braemar, its Alpine vegeta- 
tion, and to a certain extent its zoology." Full details 
of that excursion and of its results are given in that 
book, which, besides its scientific value, is in several 
respects the most interesting and fascinating of his 
works. There is an unpretending simplicity in its style, 
while not a page is without interest, resulting either 
from the attractiveness of the personality of the 
narrator, as it comes out in connection with every 
detail, however trivial in itself, or from the pleasant 
surprise at the unexpected discovery of some Alpine 
plant, or the observed effect of a mass of eruptive 
rock as specially bearing on the geological character of 
the district, or from a strikingly picturesque view, 
or from an incidental reflective thought associated with 
the aspect of an object or scene which had specially 
impressed him, in which he gives utterance to his 
deepest thoughts or breathes out his most tender 
feelings or his holiest aspirations. There are more of 
such passages in that book than in any of his other 
works within the same compass. His sense of awe in 
the presence of the Great Mystery of Nature appears 


to have been deepened. Religious thought had grown 
in him to greater maturity, and had come to dominate 
in a sense his science and his life, yet not so as to 
prevent him from seeing the facts of nature as he had 
always seen them or from drawing from them without 
bias the deductions which they appeared to him to 

In his preface to that book he says : " If the 
Valley of the Dee has many a time been traversed by 
the wise and the learned, the man of science and the 
man of wit, the poet, the painter, and the tourist, it is 
equally instructive to the naturalist, ivho onglit in his 
oivn to represent all" In his case the ideal 
naturalist was realised, for he did combine all these 
characteristics in himself. He was eminently the man 
of science ; he had the heart and the imagination of the 
poet and the painter, and he was the patient, plodding 
pedestrian tourist, easily accommodated with lodging 
and food wherever he went, — in his earlier days not 
unfrequently sleeping under the open canopy of heaven 
after supping on a piece of oatcake and a few mouthfuls 
of water from a spring. 

It would do injustice to most of the finer passages 
in the book to attempt to quote them partially, but one 
— a very touching one, near the end, can be so quoted 
without such risk : " The Divine Providence," he says, 
" has rendered my path pleasant to me in the rugged 
corrie, in the thick wood, and in the green valley ; has 
prepared friends to forward my views, to protect me 
under their hospitable roofs, and instruct me by their 


conversation ; has restored me to health and preserved 
it to me ; has enabled me to accomplish the purpose of 
my journey, and filled me with gratitude now that I 
approach its termination." 

It is believed, however, that although he felt at the 
time that he had benefited in health by the excursion, 
the fatigues to which he had subjected himself had been 
really detrimental to it. He became so ill a few weeks 
before the end of the College term of 1850-51 that he 
was obliged to relinquish his class duties for the 
remainder of that term, these having been undertaken for 
him by a former student, now the Rev. Dr. Farquharson, 
for the last forty -two years the much -esteemed (now 
senior) parish minister of Selkirk. JNIacGillivi-ay was un- 
able to enter on his class duties for the session 1851-52, 
and the same gentleman acted as his substitute again for 
the whole of that session. Accompanied by his eldest 
daughter, he went to Torquay for his health in the late 
autumn of 1851, and while there his wife died suddenly 
in Aberdeen in February 1852. On 8th March following, 
when still at Torquay, he published the fourth volume 
of his History of British Birds — just fourteen years after 
the issue of the third volume — and in the preface to it he 
makes the following very touching reference to his posi- 
tion at Torquay at the time : " As the wounded bird 
seeks some quiet retreat where, freed from the persecution 
of the pitiless fowler, it may pass the time of its anguish 
in forgetfulness of the world, so have I, assailed by 
disease, betaken myself to a sheltered nook where, 
unannoyed by the piercing blasts of the North Sea, I 


had been led to hope that my life might be protected 
beyond the most dangerous season of the year. It is 
thus that I issue from Devonshire the present volume, 
which, however, contains no observations of mine made 
there, the scenes of my labours being in distant parts of 
the country." 

The fifth and concluding volume of his " great work " 
was published on 31st July of the same year, after his 
return to Aberdeen, and on 8th September following 
he died in his residence in Crown Street of that 

The " Conclusion " at the end of that volume is 
calmly but deeply pathetic. In it the writer says : 
" I have been honest and sincere in my endeavour to 
promote the truth. With death apparently not distant 
before my eyes, I am pleased to think I have not 
countenanced error through fear or favour. Neither 
have I in any case modified my sentiments so as to 
endeavour thereby to conceal or palliate my faults." 
The " Conclusion," from beginning to end, forms a 
most touching "Finis" to all his life's labours. It 
shows that he fully realised, in quiet, self-possessed 
consciousness, that the end of his life's work was near ; 
and the great outstanding features of his mind — an 
unquenchable love of truth and profoundly reverential 
worship of the Creator of all that organic life which 
formed the subject of his untiring investigations — come 
prominently out in it. That conclusion is given fully 
as the final extract from his works in this volume, and 
it forms an appropriate ending to it. 



It is difficult now to realise what Professor Mac- 
Gillivray's loss to natural science then was felt to be 
— the loss of " the most eminent ornithologist in 
Europe," as he has been truly designated. The loss, 
too, of a man who was so devout, so generous, so self- 
denying, so warm-hearted, so painstaking, so energetic, 
and so conscientious in the discharge of duty and in 
the carrying out of any purpose to which he felt he 
had a call — who can tell what that was except those 
who had the privilege of personal relationship with him 
as scientists or as friends, or as members of his own 
bereaved family ! 

He had thirteen children, several of whom died in 
infancy or childhood. His two sons, John and Paul, 
became eminent in natural science. John was naturalist 
on three scientific exploring expeditions sent out by 
the Government, viz. (1) that of the Fly, commanded 
by Captain Blackwood, to Torres Straits and the 
Eastern Archipelago, to which he was appointed in 
1842, when he was only eighteen years of age, and from 
which he returned in 1846 ; (2) in the end of the same 
year the Rattlesnake expedition, under Captain Owen 
Stanley (Professor Huxley, then an assistant surgeon in 
the Royal Navy, being also of the staff) ; and on his return 
from that expedition in 1850 he wrote an account of it, 
which was published in 1852 ; and (3) later in that year 
he was appointed to the Herald expedition to the 
coasts of South America and the South Pacific, under 
Captain Denholm. He, however, left the Herald on 
its arrival at Sydney in 1855, and thereafter devoted 


his life to scientific explorations in Australia and the 
Pacific Islands. His constitution ultimately giving 
way from exposure and the fatiguing nature of his 
work, he died at Sydney in 18G7. It is said that he 
left journals of his expeditions and work of exploration, 
including amongst much else the results of special 
observation and study of the habits of the aborigines. 
These journals, the writer has heard, are still in exist- 
ence in Sydney, and there can be no doubt that there 
is much in them that would be of extreme interest to 
scientists as well as to many other readers. It is there- 
fore hoped, if they do exist, that they will yet be per- 
mitted to see the light of day. 

Paul also settled in Australia, and became an 
eminent surgeon, but latterly devoted himself almost 
entirely to natural science, and made a large collection 
of specimens, which is now in the Museum of Natural 
History, Melbourne. He died a few years ago, and a 
monument has been erected at Bendigo, his former 
residence, to his memory. A third son, who died early, 
also showed a strong predilection for natural science, 
and, had he lived, might, it was believed, have rivalled 
his two distinguished brothers. So that the love 
of natural science was strong in the blood of that 

Dr. Donald William MacGillivray, a younger 
brother of the Professor, followed the medical profes- 
sion. He was educated for it at the University of 
Edinburgh, living in family with his elder brother 
while attending the classes there. After taking his 


medical degree he returned permanently to the 
Hebrides. He at first settled for the practice of his 
profession and for farming in South Uist, but the late 
Mr. Gordon, the proprietor both of South Uist and the 
Island of Barra, who entertained a warm friendship 
for him, offered him the tenancy of the large and 
important farm of Eoligary in Barra, to which he 
removed, and there carried on extensive and successful 
farming for many years, at the same time giving the 
inhabitants of the island the benefit of his medical 
advice gratuitously. He was much trusted and highly 
respected by the islanders, and indeed by all who had 
the privilege of knowing him as a friend or otherwise ; 
and when he died at Eoligary in February 1886, in the 
seventy-seventh year of his age, he was much missed 
and sincerely mourned. He, like his eminent elder 
brother, was interested in the ornithology of the 
Hebrides, as is also one of his sons, Mr. AVilliam 
Lachlan INIacGillivray, now of Eoligary, who has a fine 
ornithological collection there, and has made not a few 
presentations of birds and eggs of special interest to 
the Edinburgh Natural History Museum. The natural 
history blood therefore appears to run in that branch of 
the MacGillivray family also. 



An interesting ceremony took place on Tuesday 20th 
November 1900, in the Natural History Class-room at 
Marischal College, when Mr. John F. White, LL.D., 
on behalf of the subscribers, presented to the Principal, 
as representing tlie University, a mural tablet to the 
memory of AViUiam MacGillivray, M.A., LL.D., 
Professor of Natural History and Lecturer on Botany 
in INlarischal College from 1841 to 1852. Amongst 
those present were Principal Marshall Lang, Mr. 
John F. White, LL.D., Dundee; Lord Provost 
Fleming, Professors Cowan, Pirie, Trail, Cash, Dove 
AVilson, Reid, M'William, Hamilton, Nicol, and 
Arthur Thomson ; Mr. A. W. Gibb, Lecturer on 
Geology; JMr. P. J. Anderson, Mr. D. R. Thom, 
Dr. Tait, Inverurie ; Rev. INIr. Johnstone, Belhelvie ; 
Dr. Poison, Mr. John Lyall Grant, Mr. James 
Duguid, advocate ; Mr. A. M. JM 'Donald, advocate ; 
Mr. T. A. W. A. Youngson, advocate ; Mr. Alexander 
Macfarlane, late Collector of Customs ; etc. 


Principal Lang said — Ladies and Gentlemen, — You 
know the object of our present assembly, and I shall 
at once ask Dr. Forbes White, whom we are glad to 
see amongst us to-day, to state the object of the meeting, 
and address us in regard to that object and to perform 
the duty that he shall, in his graceful Avay, perform. 

Di'. John F. White, who was received with 
applause, said — It is with some reluctance that I 
appear before you to-day to perform an important 
duty. The position I occupy should have been filled 
by the Rev. Dr. INIair of Earlston, Chairman of the 
JNIacGillivray Committee, and a distinguished graduate 
of our University, whom failing, by the Rev. Dr. 
Farquharson, late of Selkirk, the secretary and moving 
spirit of the movement, and the favourite pupil of 
Professor MacGillivray. But owing to the infirm 
health of both of these gentlemen, which I much regret, 
I have been asked to undertake the duty which they 
would have discharged much more eflSciently. I do 
so, however, with sincere pleasure, as it gives me 
the opportunity of expressing my life-long gratitude 
to an honoured teacher, one of the three professors 
to whom I owe most. Professor INIacGillivray was 
appointed to the Chair of Natural History in IMarischal 
College and University in 1841, and died in 1852. 
During the last two years of his tenure of oflRce his 
health broke down, so that his real work as professor 
was done in nine short years. Yet how much work 
did he crowd into this brief space of time ! In Avinter 


he lectured on natural history ; in summer on botany. 
He made researches on foot over the whole of the 
north-eastern district, making observations in every 
department of natural science. He completed his 
monumental work on the Historij of Britkh Bij'ds, 
with several text-books and biographies of eminent 
naturalists and other works, and last of all his 
Natural History of Deesidc — a goodly amount of hard, 
earnest work. He was buried in the New Calton 
Burying-Ground of Edinburgh, the city he loved so 
dearly, and in which he had done good work before 
coming to Aberdeen. Arthur Seat and Salisbury 
Crags seem to have been graven on his heart. It is 
somewhat discreditable to both cities that almost half 
a century has elapsed before any pubhc honour has 
been done to his memory. Yet this delay has not 
been without its advantages. Fifty years have con- 
firmed the impressions of his old students, and, further, 
have given us the approval of a younger race of 
naturalists. It is gratifying to us to know that none 
have taken a deeper interest in our movement than Pro- 
fessors Trail and Thomson, MacGillivray's successors 
in the University. Professor Trail has been untiring 
in his aid from the beginning. But still further, this 
long lapse of time has given a better perspective to 
MacGilhvray's position. We see him in larger pro- 
portions — we now know that he was more than a 
great naturalist and fine teacher. His last work, the 
Natural History of Deedcle, published by command of 
the Queen three years after his death, shows him to 


have been a profound lover of Nature in its largest 
sense. In clear, nervous prose it reveals a fine poetic 
vein. He uses his word-palette like a landscape 
painter. There are passages in this book which for 
splendid yet sober description will compare not un- 
favourably with some of the finest passages in Modern 
Painters, and it must be remembered that INIac- 
Gillivray's book was written, though not published, 
before Ruskin had surprised the world. Take, for 
instance, IMacGiUivray's splendid apostrophe to the 
upper reach of the Dee as seen from the old bridge 
at Invercauld, or his word-picture of the sunset over 
the moor of Glen-Gairn, or, again, for the effect of 
sound to which MacGilhvray was peculiarly sensitive, 
listen to a wind -storm raging among the pines of 
Beallach Bhui, or, greatest of all, to the echoing and 
re-echoing of the peals of thunder in the corries of 
Ben INIuick Dhui. In these numerous passages Mac- 
Gilhvray tells us that his descriptions were written in 
his note-book on the spot and at the moment, quick 
and vivid, thus showing his truly artistic spirit and 
his impressionable nature. In his drawings for the 
book we can see also how completely he combined 
his geological knowledge with a painter's feeling. In 
the very last words wliich flowed from his pen, at 
the close of his fine preface, he describes his ideal 
naturahst when he says — " If the Valley of the Dee 
has many a time been traversed by the wise and the 
learned, the man of science and the man of wit, the 
poet, the painter, and the tourist, it is equally in- 


structive to the naturalist, wlio ought in his own 
person to represent all these characters." Here, witli 
modest unconsciousness, JNIacGillivray describes him- 
self. It is on these lofty grounds — of his all-round 
completeness — that he claims our admiration to-day. 

But I must turn to MacGillivray's work in his 
class, and here I must notice how easily he attracted 
to his special subjects even those students whose bias 
lay rather towards classics and mathematics. For it 
was a noticeable fact that many of his best prizemen 
were not students of science, but of the other subjects. 
I do not know exactly whether it was owing to the 
magnetic influence of the earnest Professor, or whether 
it was that such students were attracted by the fresh 
study of Nature, hitherto to us a sealed book, but this 
I can say, that even the students of literature felt that 
there was no antagonism between the two pursuits, 
but rather that the one was complementary to the 
other. We felt that new powers were being awakened 
within us ; that the hitherto dormant faculties of 
observation, comparison, classification, and generalisa- 
tion were receiving a new stimulus. It is true that 
many of these students have drifted into other pursuits 
and lines of study, but the influence of MacGiUivray's 
methods and spirit abides indelible. They are 
applicable to art as well as to science, truth in both 
cases being the ultimate aim. 

MacGillivray's lectures were formal and precise, fuU 
of detail — perhaps overladen with detail, as I see from 
four thick volumes of notes taken by me in his class. 


But as he always illustrated by specimens, even these 
details were not felt burdensome. He was perhaps the 
last of the race of all-round naturalists, though he had 
the accuracy of a specialist in many departments. 
Ornithology was his favourite, his strongest subject, of 
which the best proof is to be found in his monumental 
work in five volumes on the History of Britisli Birch. 
He was also Lecturer on Botany, as well as Professor of 
Natural History, and his edition of Withering's Botany 
was practically a new work by MacGillivray. Though 
the botany class was not in the old curriculum, yet 
many arts students attended it, attracted by the per- 
sonality of the lecturer. He was an excellent miner- 
alogist, while his text-book on geology was abreast of 
the age. He was the first professor in the University 
to give a strictly scientific course of lectures on geology, 
a science which was then beginning to attract the atten- 
tion of theologians. The J^estigcs of Creation had 
appeared in the early forties, and clergymen attended 
MacGillivray's class in numbers to hear what science 
had to say in regard to the age and creation of the 
world. Professors came also ; among others Professor 
Blackie, always eager for knowledge, enrolled himself as 
a student. In my own year, the late Principal Pirie, 
then Professor Pirie of the Theological Faculty in 
Marischal College, was a regular attender, and he gave 
a prize for a special examination in geology. But 
MacGillivray's activity did not end here. His 3Ianual 
of the Mollusca of the North - Eastern Counties sent 
many classical and mathematical students twice or 


thrice weekly to the Fishers' Square, Footdee, to com- 
plete their collections and to search for tlie rare speci- 
mens to be found in the baskets of the deep - sea 
fishermen. When there Avas difficulty in identifying the 
specimen from the manual, it was taken to MacGillivray. 
It was at times like these that JNlacGillivray was seen 
at his best. Holding the specimen tenderly in his taper 
fingers, and applying to it a lens, he would descant on 
the difference or want of difference between a variety 
and a species. These were the half-hours in which 
Matthews Duncan, Thomas Keith, and Charles Murchi- 
son received their first lessons in science, long before 
they took to the study of medicine, in which they 
afterwards became famous. It was then that the Rev. 
Dr. James Farquharson acquired early that knowledge 
which enabled him, wlien he had just taken his INI. A. 
degree, to conduct for more than two years the classes 
of natural history and of botany during MacGillivray's 
last illness, and afterwards led him to take an active 
part in the work of the Berwickshire Naturahsts' Club 
during his forty years' residence in Selkirk. It was 
under this sort of stimulus that Dr. Thomas Jamieson 
of Ellon threw himself into the geological studies 
which have since made him the recognised authority m 
Scotland in regard to the alluvial deposits. It was 
ISIacGillivray that led Andrew Leith Adams, son of 
the great Banchory scholar, to devote himself when a 
surgeon in the army to prolonged studies in natural 
history, studies which led to his retirement from the 
army to occupy a chair in Queen's College, Cork. In 


this class-room there sat for many years the late Dr. 
Alex. Cruickshank, storing his mind with the secrets of 
the Nature he loved so well, the joy of his life. It is to 
these studies that the University and the city owe the 
munificent gift of our Botanic Gardens, presented by 
Miss Cruickshank in memory of her brother. I could 
give the names of many schoolmasters, such as James 
Anderson of Foveran, men who carried their love of 
natural science into their several parishes, studying the 
works of Nature themselves, and inculcating her lessons 
on their pupils. From such influences, carried further 
by MacGillivray's successors in the University, a wide- 
spread love of Nature has grown among working men, 
who in their various societies dignify their labours by 
such studies — a solace from hard manual toil. 

There are still some persons left in Aberdeen who 
can remember the personal appearance of the man. 
Under medium height, spare in form, shy and reserved 
in manner, he walked swiftly along the street, generally 
alone, with his head inclined downwards and his eyes 
bent towards the ground, wrapt in his own thoughts. 
Celt of the Celts, he was singularly courteous and 
polite, with fine quiet dignity, but when offended he 
could use sharp words which left their sting. He 
made few friends, but once made he clung to them 
with tenacity. His life was in his work and in his 
home. There can be no finer proof of the beauty of 
his life than that every member of his large family 
laboured with him and for him, both sons and daughters, 
attracted to the work by love and sympathy. John, 


the eldest son, became the naturalist on the Battlesnake 
in the scientific voyage in which Professor Huxley also 
served. Paul made his mark m the Flora q/' Aberdeen - 
shire, and afterwards in researches in Australia, where 
he died. While all the daughters assisted their father, 
special reference must be made to the two excellent 
pen-and-ink tail-pieces by Miss MacGillivray which 
adorn the " Deeside " volume. For delicacy and refine- 
ment they recall the work of Sir George Reid, P.R.S. A., 
and I can give them no higher praise. 

Had sufficient money been at our disposal, we 
should have adopted the suggestion of Sir John 
Struthers and founded a gold medal in JNIacGillivray's 
memory in the University. But, failing in this, we 
have had to content ourselves with a monument at his 
grave by ]Mr. JNI'Glashen of Edinburgh, in fine Peter- 
head granite, about 9 feet high. The design would have 
pleased MacGillivray. Near the foot is a good-sized 
golden eagle, the royal bird much loved by the orni- 
thologist, the extinction of which in the Scottish High- 
lands he deeply lamented. It fittingly suggests the 
lofty aspirations of INIacGillivray. The eagle is finely 
executed in bronze by Mr. D. W. Stevenson, R.S.A., 
from a splendid drawing of the bird by MacGiUivray 
himself, now the property of the British JMuseum. The 
monument is adorned with Celtic ornament, which 
befits the tombstone of our naturalist, who held that 
Gaelic was the most beautiful language in the world. 
In the centre is a fine lona cross, symbol of the earnest 
faith of the reverent MacGiUivray. The bronze tablet 


is made by "The Guild of Handicraft" of London, from 
the design of Mr. Ashbee, whose work is well known. 
It is adorned with artistic representations of some of the 
flowers and animals which were the friends of the man 
whose memory we wish to honour. The inscription 
reads — " In memory of William MacGillivray, M.A., 
LL.D., born 1796, died 1852. Author of a History of 
British Birds, and other standard works in natural 
science ; Professor of Natural History and Lecturer 
on Botany in IMarischal College and University from 
1841 to 1852. Erected in 1900, together with a monu- 
ment at his grave in New Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh, 
by his relatives and surviving students, who affection- 
ately cherish his memory, and by others desirous of 
doing honour to his character as a man and to his 
eminence as a naturalist." 

At this point Dr. White unveiled the tablet, and 
briefly outlined its artistic features. 

Dr. White, continuing, said — It is altogether a work 
designed in the spirit of the man whom we wish to 
honour, and we think and believe that in every respect 
it would have met with the approval of our friend. 
And now, Principal Lang, in the name of the sub- 
scribers, I hand over to your care this bronze tablet, 
to be set up in a fitting place in the University as a 
memorial of a great naturalist and distinguished pro- 
fessor. It represents also the hope of the subscribers 
that this tablet may stimulate future generations of 
students to follow in the footsteps of William Mac- 
Gillivray and emulate his virtues. 


Principal I^cang said — Dr. Forbes White, on behalf 
of the University, I accept with gratitude the custody 
of the tablet Avhich has been unveiled. I take it from 
you, for you assured me of this before I saw it, that 
both in its conception and in its execution this work 
reflects the highest credit upon the artist. But its 
merit is enhanced by its association with the name of 
one whose splendid service in Marischal College, whose 
devotion to natural science, and whose acknowledged 
eminence both as author and teacher have shed lustre 
on the annals of this ancient seat of learning. The 
biography to which you have so felicitously and tenderly 
alluded is inspiring, whilst it is also pathetic. Born in 
the old city of Bishops Elphinstone and Dunbar, the 
city whose presidium ct duke decus, next after the 
venerable Cathedral, is the Grey Crown of King's 
College — never did son of the north more admirably 
exemplify those quahties of persistency in purpose, of 
indomitable courage, of the surrender of the mere self- 
life to a selected aim, which have distinguished so many 
natives of the northern counties. What a picture is 
suggested in the tale of the young Aberdonian trudging 
on foot from Aberdeen to London, with a meagre 
supply of money in his pocket, a scanty wardrobe in 
his wallet — his wealth consisting, indeed, in his journal, 
in his copy of Smith's Flora Britannica, and in his own 
brave heart. The lad who could do that had in him the 
stuff of which heroes are made. And so, we follow 
him ascending rung by rung the ladder which, planted 
against the Hill of Difficulty, reaches to the place of 


Fame. He succeeded, and he deserved to succeed. 
He who left his own city, a young Aberdonian, without 
wealth and without friends, returned to Aberdeen the 
Professor of Natural History, with a name among the 
mighty men, and with a great career stretching before 
him. For eleven years he taught and laboured — 
observing, classifying, studying, and writing ; his the 
pen of the ready writer, and his the tongue ready like 
the pen. Eleven years only, and at fifty-six he was not. 
A long life was not his ; yet, if we count time by heart- 
throbs, by feelings, not by figures on a dial, how much 
and how worthily had he lived ! Some of his old 
students — two of them you have mentioned to-day — 
Dr. Mair and Dr. Farquharson — have been my warm 
friends ; and the enthusiasm with which they recall his 
magnetic personaUty, his luminous exposition, his walks 
and talks as he led them afield, and showed them the 
things of interest and beauty about the paths they trod, 
is in itself a testimony to the manner of man he was. 
It is strange, indeed, that for forty-eight years the grave 
in the New Calton Burying - Ground in Edinburgh 
should have been left unmarked except by the two 
letters, W. INI., on the low corner-stones. He did not 
need a monument. His voluminous works, placing him 
in the forefront of British naturalists, are a monument 
more enduring than bronze or even granite ; and 
there is a suggestion of him in every trill of the Uttle 
songsters which he loved, and whose ways and story he 
has so graphically unfolded. But why was it, we are 
tempted to ask, that those who knew him allowed nearly 


five decades to pass before tliey originated an effort to 
express in some form their veneration for his memory ? 
Well, is it not a striking evidence of the vitality of the 
affection with which his memory is cherished that you, 
sir, should, in the name of many besides, pay the 
eloquent tribute you have paid to him — and that we, 
many of us having no recollection whatever of him, 
associate ourselves with you in paying honour ungrudg- 
ingly and freely to the distinguished teacher, to the 
distinguished scientist, and to the man greatly beloved. 
It shall be the care of the University to guard the token 
of that honour which you have presented. And from 
the walls of this College it shall speak to generations to 
come of one whom all may follow in the love and 
service of truth ; and following whom, " all may have, 
if they dare choose, a glorious life or glorious grave." 

Professor Trail, who at the outset read a letter of 
apology for absence from INIr. Robert Walker, secretary 
of the University Court, said — I did not know Professor 
MacGillivray personally, but I have learned to know 
him in a way that, I think, perhaps not very many know 
him, through his works ; and through these I have 
learned to revere the man and to love his memory, and 
to join heart and soul in the movement that has been 
carried through so far. I regret that we have not been 
able to provide — I will not say a more fitting memorial, 
but one that would have appealed more directly to the 
students to encourage them to follow in his footsteps. 
They will find it difficult to emulate him. While still 



a student in tliis University, and after I had completed 
my medical curriculum, by Professor Nicol's wish I 
spent much time in the Natural History Museum, 
working over the collections of animals, many of which 
had been received unnamed, and required to be deter- 
mined and prepared for exhibition. I also went care- 
fully over the older collections, both of animals and of 
fossils, making good the damage sustained in the course 
of years. In this work I obtained a practical training 
of very great value, and was prepared to estimate the 
difficulty of carrying on such work with imperfect 
resources in books and other means of information, and 
while having to rely on one's own judgment. During 
my work I had occasion to become well acquainted 
with Professor MacGillivi-ay's collections preserved in 
the Museum. The neatness of his wi-iting and methods 
were conspicuous in all his work ; but admiration of 
this was soon followed by respect and honour as 1 came 
to know more fully the width and accuracy of that 
work. From his collections I turned to his writings, to 
find only still stronger reason for wonder that he could 
have found opportunity to write so much, and on so widely 
different sides of natural science. But still higher rose 
my respect for his talents as I realised that he was no 
mere compiler, but that all he wrote showed that he 
had learned in practical study what he sought to teach. 
Unwearied industry at the command of great talent 
alone could have enabled him to do so much and so 
well. His manuals on botany and on geology show 
that his knowledge of these sciences was not that of a 


mere amateur. They incidentally reveal that his beliefs 
on various questions were in accord with those now 
held rather than with tliose prevalent when he expressed 
them. For example, in his Manual of Bota)iy, issued 
in 1840, he says — "There is nothing absolutely certain 
as to species, much less as to the gi-oups into which they 
are disposed, as genera, families, orders, tribes, and the 
like. We merely agree to consider as species individual 
plants which closely resemble each other in the structure 
and form of their organs. Such species, however, often 
pass into each otiier by gradations, which render it 
impossible to draw a line of demarcation, and thus all 
species are more or less arbitrary. We know from 
observation that all assumed species undergo changes 
from climate, cultivation, and other influences ; and 
individuals exhibiting remarkable alterations we call 
collectively varieties ; but variety is a still more vague 
idea than species." He edited in one volume a reduced 
form of Withering's Boianij. That this service to 
British botany was considerable was proved by numerous 
editions of the book in this form, each of those issued 
before his death being revised by him. His interest in 
botany and geology are further shown by papers pub- 
lished in scientific journals, and by one of his latest 
works, the Natural History of Dees-kJc. But zoology 
was his favourite science ; and his books and papers on 
branches of zoology are many and valuable. All come 
fresh to the student as the work of a man that tells of 
what he saw in language remarkable in style as well as 
in accuracy. 


Throughout his writings one feels that he wrought 
his work not for fame or vainglory, but that that work 
was to iiim its own reward, and that he felt the power 
to perceive and in some measure to express the message 
to man that pervades the universe constrained him to 
communicate to others what meant so much to himself. 
In his writings one meets now and again a lament (the 
only one he makes, though for many years his life must 
have been a continued struggle with hardship and 
poverty), that so few will take the true and pure pleasure 
so freely offered to all, that so few think the study of 
the universe worth their attention or realise that through 
it they can learn more fully the power, wisdom, and 
goodness of the Creator of all. To him such study was 
a necessity of his very nature, as well as a privilege 
beyond price that he would fain have shared Avith all. 
He held that the whole world is holy and God's message 
is written everywhere — a message that he sought to aid 
all to interpret ; but one seems to hear from him the 
burden, " Ye will not come." The introduction to his 
Histoi-ij nf the Molluscous Animals of the Counties of 
Aberdeen, Kincardine, and Banff (a wonderful work 
to be the result of less than two years' search) gives a 
very vivid picture of his keen desire to advance the 
progress of scientific study, the best interests of education, 
and the honour of his University. No less does it show 
how he succeeded in enlisting the sympathies of his 
students and his pleasure in acknowledging their assist- 
ance. He speaks in it of " the pleasure of continually 
adding to one's knowledge, the sympathy of friends, the 


invigorating influence of the many ramblings required, 
and the dehght of aiding others in the same pursuits " 
as " amply sufficient to carry one through greater 
difficulties " than he had met with in the preparation of 
the book. He held strong views as to the claims of 
natural science to a place in education, and the need 
of freeing education from " the incubus of what would 
smother the mind that, if unrestrained, would inhale 
with delight the pure air of heaven." To him Nature- 
study in schools would have brought delight as the 
promise of a better state of education. I think that of 
him, as of few men, can be said — " Blessed are the pure 
in heart, for they shall see God." 

Professor J. Ai'thur Thomson said — After the 
admirable and appropriate words we have heard, I find 
it very difficult to add anything. Yet I am glad to use 
the opportunity kindly afforded me, and I wish to say 
three things. 

Without prejudicing an important question, may I 
say that just as gladly as the Principal has received 
this beautiful IMacGillivray memorial on behalf of the 
University, so gladly would I in turn become its sub- 
custodian in the Natural History Department. I venture 
to hope that it may not be removed many yards, if pos- 
sible not many feet, from the spot where we have seen it 
unveiled by Dr. White. A memorial should be appro- 
priate and beautiful — and this is both ; but it ought also 
to be a stimulus ; and surely it is in the precincts of this 
class-room that its powers of stimulus should be tested. 


Every one in Britain who cares much about birds 
does, in a real sense, know JNIacGiUivray, for he left a 
lasting mark upon ornithology. May I explain in a 
minute why one says so. It is because, until 1837, no 
one in Britain had seriously tried to found a classification, 
or natural system of birds except upon external char- 
acters ; while MacGillivray — a trained anatomist — got 
far beneath the surface and showed that a bird is not 
always, nor altogether, to be known by its feathers. IVIy 
own opinion is of little moment in matters ornithological, 
but let me quote a sentence from The Dictionary of 
Birds, in which Mr. Alfred Newton, rather an unsparing- 
critic, says — " After Willughby, MacGillivray was the 
greatest and most original ornithological genius save 
one (who did not live long enough to make his powers 
widely known) that this island has produced." It may 
be that the greatest merit of MacGillivray's " system of 
birds" was that it prompted a better one, yet we are 
here to-day respecting him because he tackled a big 
piece of work and did it well. 

But, as has been said, there are many other reasons 
—beyond all ornithology — why Ave seek to keep his 
memory green. He was a fine type of the open-air 
naturahst, before the days of microtomes (and how he 
pours scorn on the " pompous ornithologist " who does 
not know what it is to climb and stalk and watch) ; he 
was a fine type of the all-round naturalist, holding to no 
petty distinctions between this science and that, reahsing 
the unity of Nature and the unity of Science, showing, 
for instance, in his Natural History of Deeside, that 


botany and zoology, geology and meteorology, and 
human history besides, were grist to his scientific mill ; 
he was a fine type of the local naturalist, as keen as 
Dr. Trail is for regional surveys, or the study of local 
faunas and floras, for science, hke charity, begins at 

MacGillivray had a great interest in the history of 
natural history, and wrote an interesting book there- 
upon. It is curious that one of his successors, the late 
Professor Alleyne Nicholson, did likewise ; and that yet 
another has followed the same fascinating path. Some 
one has spoken of his independence, and of this and of 
his great good humour there is interesting evidence in 
a manuscript entitled The Tivo Or)iithologist.s in the 
library, where he relates a real or supposed quarrel with 
Audubon, for whom he apparently did more work than 
he ever got credit for. As one looks at the memorial 
one cannot help remembering that MacGillivray was in 
a way an artist both with pen and pencil. His style is 
delightful ; his handwriting must to many of us seem 
marvellous. It equals the memorial inscription in beauty, 
and excels it in legibility. 

But I had almost forgotten the most important thing 
I have to say. MacGillivray was one of a grand body 
of workers who raised natural history (as he says 
without personal reference) from a position of contempt 
to the highest dignity. What was their secret ? Was 
it not, in part at least, as JVIacGillivray says somewhere 
else, that Nature always reveals herself to those who 
approach her with huraiUty and with affection. 


Principal Lang said he thought they had had a very 
profitable, instructing, and stimulating afternoon, and 
before they parted he was sure that they would like to 
express their gratitude to Dr. Forbes White for coming 
from Dundee and for giving them his most interesting 
and beautiful address upon Professor MacGillivray. 

Dr. White said it had been a very great pleasure 
indeed to him to have had any share in that meeting. 
He was extremely glad, as one of IVIacGillivray's oldest 
pupils, to have had an opportunity of expressing his deep 
debt of gratitude to him. 


EXTRACTS FROM a Tribute by Professor Mac- 


DATED 7th April 1820. 


My thoughts were gloomy, and I felt the wo 
Of human kind press with a leaden weight 

Upon my breast ; yet I could not forgo 
For aught of intellect that wilder'd state, 
For it had left my heart reckless of fate ; 

And when the light of love flash'd on my soul, 
Oh ! then I felt of Rapture's power the height. 

Equal to former gloom, and she was sole 
Directress of my feelings, wild without control. 


Enough of this — enough is said to show — 
Not that I am, forsooth, a wondrous wight 

Who trod a path apart from all below. 

And in the storm and lightning had delight. 

The whirlwind's rage, and deepest gloom of night ; 


But that the name which hallows this rude song 

Has been to me a blessing and a light 
To guide me on my weary way along, 
And lead to shady groves, their flowers to rest among. 


A shipwreck'd mariner upon the sea 

Of thought, scarce 'scap'd from the o'erwhelming 
That roU'd its mighty mass in frantic glee 

Along perdition's gulf — scarce 'scap'd this grave, 

I found me dash'd, and none at hand to save. 
On Doubt's dark slippery rocks : he saw my state. 

And brought relief ; and though I might not brave. 
As I had done, the wrathful scowl of Fate, 
He cheer d my soul, and rais'd my drooping head elate. 


Friend to the friendless, he was all to me 

That my fond heart could wish ; and though no 
His friendly smile may wake my bosom's glee, 
Yet shall his inemory live within its core, 
Unchang'd, 'mid feeling's change, the love I 
bore : — 
For what is death, that it should rase the name 

Which fond affection teaches to adore ? 
'Tis but the change of being, and the same 
Kind feeling which we bore still urges its strong claim. 



He saw my follies, and reprov'd them oft : 
Not in the galling tone of sullen speech, 

But as a friend, in accents firm though soft, 
Moulded alike to cherish and to teach, 
Seeming tluui order rather to beseech. 

My guide in Learning's arduous path, he cheer'd 
My drooping spirits ; then, as I Avould reach 

Each little stage, and still a new appear d, 
Though hard the task, 'twas by his care and love 


The magic world which I had fondly made. 
Each fancy-hammer'd link of that frail chain 

Which comprehended all, living and dead. 
Spiritual and of matter, of the brain 
The misty mould, incongruous and vain. 

He knew and smil'd : he smil'd perchance to see 
How the fantastic wreath the luckless swain 

With patient labour fram'd and cheering glee. 
Which ne'er with sober Reason's precepts might agree. 


But his, though 'twas the smile of irony, 
Had nought of malice : universal love 
And mild benevolence beam'd from his eye ; 


And his the feeling heart each pang could move 
That human nature knew ; " gentle as dove, 
As serpent wise." If innocence might e'er 

Be join'd to knowledge elsewhere than above, 
The union in his soul might well appear, 
O'er whose untimely fate I drop th' unbidden tear. 


Friend of my heart ! who that e'er knew thy worth 
Could hear unmov'd the melancholy tale ? 

There breathes not on this dark and dreary earth 
A human being whom I love so well — 
Save one * — and she, perchance, may sadly dwell 

On thy lamented doom. — We scarcely know 
How dear our friends, till the convulsive swell 

Which heaves the throbbing bosom sadly show 
That he for whom it rises mingled with its glow. 

1 This requires explanation. Having his mind entirely occupied 
with the idea of his departed friend, the author, at the time of com- 
posing this stanza, thought and felt that none could be dearer to his 
heart. This, however, it will readily be perceived, was rather a hallu- 
cination produced by feeling, than the result of a strict investigation 
of his affections. There are several whom he loves as well ; but few 
whom he loves more. There are no other passages which require 
explanation or modification to show that they are legitimate. This 
explanation is made, not for the purpose of showing the author's regard 
to truth : for opinion and appearances, he thinks, he can treat ■with 
great contempt and disregard ; but to prevent the possibility of 
fancying that exaggerations have been used in describing the character 
of his friend. 



Friend of my iieart ! hast thou for ever fled ? 

Ah ! fondly could my swelling heart believe 
That he wlio now is number'd with the dead, 

For whose harsh doom, though that of Heaven, I 


Yet breath'd : but liope no longer may deceive ; 
And slowly mouldering in the silent earth. 

The prey of death, now chill'd beyond reprieve, 
Is that once glowing breast of truth and worth. 
Which sympathis'd with sorrow, join'd in social mirth. 


Calm and compos'd, no passion's fiery sway 
Left its deep furrows on his beaming face ; 

Grave without gloom, and innocently gay. 

The smile upon his dimpling cheek would chase 
The frown of wisdom ; and although the trace 

Of thought upon his placid brow was seen, 

No harshness with it mix'd, but from the grace 

Which beam'd in every feature you might glean 
Knowledge of mind array'd in virtue's dazzling sheen. 


Rich were the treasures of his cultur'd mind ; 

For Learning there her various stores had pil'd, 
Glean'd from each mine of thought, drossless, refin'd. 


Select and pure, o'er which even virtue smil'd. 
Unhke the puffing pedant, he was mild ; 
And, conscious of his worth, he spurn'd the glare 

Which flippant Folly beams upon her child ; 
The sceptic scorner's chair he would not share, 
For virtue and religion claim'd his constant care. 


Social affection glow'd for all mankind 

AVithin that guileless breast ; and o'er his cheek 

And in his eye beam'd sympathy refin'd, 

Seeming, without the aid of speech, to speak 
A soul all gentleness, holy and meek ; 

And that diffusive love, thus clearly known, 
Concentrated, when he would fondly seek 

The charm of happiness among his own. 
The kindred souls who shar'd his heart, intensely shone. 


Ah ! little know'st thou, darling of his love ! 

Who oft hast met his fond parental smile 
With infant glee, which every smile could move. 

And climb'd with panting haste his knee the while. 

That he whose sorrows thou didst oft beguile. 
The other soui-ce of all thy infant joy. 

Who woke thy mirth with many a parent's wile. 
Shall never guide the footsteps of his boy. 
Nor on his youthful mind his anxious cares employ. 



Yet may tlie image of thy father's face, 

By JNIemory's pencil dash'd upon thy heart, 
In other years, when thou shalt fondly trace 

Each lineament, the joy of grief impart ; 

And on the wings of Fancy thou shalt dart, 
Beyond the farthest gleam of eartlily ray, 

To yonder mansions of the blest ; — then start 
To find thee guideless on life's wildering way. 
And call upon the God who is the orphan's stay. 


Alas, for her whom he has left behind ! 

What language may be found to speak her wo ! 
To paint the anguish of her wilder'd mind, 

Writhing in agony beneath the blow 

Of fate, which she was doom'd to undergo ? 
No, not the eagle eye of thought can pry 

Into that bleeding bosom's core to show 
Its chaos of despair, since burst the tie 
On which all hopes of earth-born happiness rely. 


A Copy of the following Lines having been found in Dr. Barclay's 
desk after his death, his friends have expressed a wish to have 
them printed, on account of the simile contained in them. For 
this reason, and not for any supposed intrinsic merit, they are 
subjoined ; and with the more propriety, that they were composed 
by the author of the foregoing pages. They form part of an 
unfinished poem ; and were suggested by a midnight walk on a 
.sandy beach of one of the remote Hebrides. 

The midnight hour, 
Solemn and still, but placid and serene ; 
Calm as the pale and lovely face of Virtue, 
When the glad spirit meditates her flight 
From her material mansion, and the voice 
Of Hope pours on the ear the melody of Heaven — 
The smooth expanse of ocean, when the wind, 
Wearied with blustering, sleeps upon its bosom ; 
The ripple of the wavelet on the shore. 
Scarce loud enough to break the calm profound ; 
The dim-discover'd mountains of the east, 
That overhang, in soften'd majesty. 
The deep — oh ! these have charms that well might woo 
The contemplative mind to Midnight's bower. 


JOURNAL OF A Visit to Museums in Glasgow, 
Liverpool, Dublin, Bristol, and London by 
Professor MacGillivray in 1833. 

Glasgow, Black Bull Inn, 

IVediiesday , 4:th September 1833. 

Having been ordered by the Royal College of Surgeons 
of Edinburgh to proceed to London, for the purpose of 
inspecting the anatomical, physiological, and patho- 
logical inuseums there, I left tlie metropolis of Scot- 
land at nine this morning, and after sitting four and a 
half hours on the top of a coach, arrived at Glasgow, the 
second city of that ancient kingdom. Finding myself 
somewhat benumbed by the cold, I took a stroll along 
the streets, and coming accidentally upon a large sand- 
stone quarry, examined it more geologorum. 

■ • • • • 

A little after three I went to the College for the 
purpose of visiting the Museum ; but after ringing and 
rapping for a considerable time at the door of the latter, 
was obhged to retrace my steps, when I learned that 
the keeper admitted no person after three. Here then 
is my first lesson in the matter of museums, namely, to 



admit no visitors after the hour of shutting ; for a hke 
reason, none before the regular hour of opening, and a 
fortiori none on shut days ! Glasgow, however, must 
not have the honour of dictating to Edinburgh ; and no 
man ought to follow an evil example. 

In the afternoon I crossed the Clyde by one of the 
bridges, walked out into the country, observed that oat 
stooks ai'e composed of twelve sheaves, wheat ones of 
fourteen ; looked at everything, especially the ladies, 
who were all desperately ugly ; recrossed the river, 
counted the steamers, and seeing some persons un- 
shipping a cargo of limestone, took a specimen ; traversed 
the city, walked into the Exchange, which to my taste 
is superior to any building in Edinburgh ; returned to 
the Black Bull, took tea, read newspapers, and finally 
arrived at my bedroom. 

On the way from Edinburgh to Glasgow I saw that 
the whole district consists of the coal formation, singu- 
larly broken up the greater part of the way by trap 
rocks, which consist in general of a dark blue greenstone. ! 
Between Upton Hall and Bathgate these trap rocks 
form remarkable hummocks or rounded prominences, 
the examination of which would probably be interesting. 
In the greater part of the route the Avails are of green- 
stone, as are most of the houses ; but towards Airdrie, 
and from that to Glasgow, they are of sandstone of 
various tints and textures, very seldom red, however. 
In the city itself the houses are of sandstone, which is 
generally very much inferior to that of Edinburgh in 
colour and quality, but still sufficiently good. 


Glasgow seems an immense receptacle of goods and 
provisions. I went out to look for a bookseller, and 
with difficulty found one — shop after shop interminably 
— cheese, butter, hams, hardware, tallow, haberdashery, 
drinkables, eatables, putonables, smokeables, snufFables, 
and a profusion of abominables, but, it would seem, 
very few readables, excepting bills respecting merchan- 
dise and steam navigation. However, it is a fine city, 
and doubtless as full of wickedness as fine cities 
usually are. 

Steam- Yacht " Ailsa Craig," 

On the Clyde somewhere below Greenock, 

Tfiinsdm/, 51k September 1833. 

Between nine and ten in the morning I called on 
Dr. Hannay, to whom I had a letter of introduction 
from Dr. William Thomson, and who engaged to meet 
me at the Andersonian Institution at one o'clock. I 
then proceeded to the College, whence I was, however, 
obliged to return, the INIuseum not being open. So I 
had recourse to Nature, as I often have had under more 
grievous disappointments, and betook myself to the 
margin of the city, where I observed, opposite to St. 
]Mungo's Church, a monument-crowded eminence, the 
inspection of which promised amusement, if not profit. 
The little valley or hollow at its base showed strata of 
sandstone precisely similar to those described as having 
been seen yesterday. The hill itself is to be laid out as 
a burial ground, and is named the New Cemetery or 
Necropolis. On ascending I was somewhat surprised to 
find it composed, excepting at the western base, of a 


rather large - grained greenstone, having dark green 
hornblende and reddish felspar as its components. On 
the south-eastern side is a very large quarry, which I 
afterwards visited. 

The monument on the summit of this hill, which 
was formerly named the Fir Park, is a statue of 
John Knox elevated on a Doric column. The pedestal 
bears the following inscription : — 

To testify gratitude for inestimable services in 
the cause of religion, education and civil liberty 

To awaken admiration 
of that integrity, disinterestedness and courage 

Which stood unshaken in the midst of trials 

And in the maintenance of the highest objects 


To cherish unceasing reverence for the principles and 

Blessings of that great Reformation 

By the influence of which our country, through the midst of 


Has risen to honour, prosperity, and happiness 

This monument is erected by voluntary contribution 

To the memory of 


The chief instrument, under God 

of the Reformation of Scotland 

On the XXII day of September MDCCCXXX 

He died rejoicing in the faith of the gospel at Edinburgh 

on the XXIV of November a.d. MDLXXII, in the sixty-seventh 

year of his age 

Well done, citizens of Glasgow, quoth I. Edin- 
burgh has four statues, and Glasgow has four. Let 


the world judge which of tlie cities has displayed most 
judgment and good taste. 

Charles II. John Knox. 

George IV. Watt. 

Lord Melville. Sir John Moore. 

Burns. William III. 

At twelve I at length obtained admission to the 
CoUeae Museum. 



In the front room are several stuffed skins of 
quadrupeds : a camelopard of rather small size, a 
zebra, a hyena, several species of deer and antelope, 
a lion and lioness, etc., most of them very ill-prepared, 
and in bad attitudes, with clumsy ununiform pedestals. 
They are, however, kept very clean, and have in 
general been good specimens. There are four recesses 
in the walls, filled with foreign birds and insects, ill- 
prepared and whimsically disposed. 

In the room to the right are coins, medals, snakes, 
quadrupeds, all without order. 

A collection of British birds, very clean and neat, 
but generally in bad attitudes. The beaks of two 
eagles were actually polished and varnished, and the 
legs and bills in general were painted, usually of tints un- 
like those of the parts in their natural state. The legs 
of birds ought never to be painted for obvious reasons. 

Minerah. — A very large and fine piece of Labrador 
felspar, polished. 

Left-hand room : birds and quadrupeds, fresh and 
in good condition, but generally ill-stuffed. 


The whole Museum is more disposed for show than 
use, and the most egregious want of method is' per- 
ceptible in all the rooms — I mean scientific method ; 
for the articles are well disposed for effect and the 
whole place has a rich and finished look, the furniture 
and materials being good, and in suflficient quantity. 

On the whole, I am much pleased with the Glasgow 
collection, but the materials, which are good, might be 
better arranged, and a great error common to most 
collections is that all sorts of things are gathered, and 
that they are laid out for show and not for use. 

Dr. Hannay could not meet me at the Andersonian 
Institution, but sent a young gentleman, whom I 
found exceedingly obliging and polite, and who intro- 
duced me to ]Mr. Scoular, who is a keen zoologist. 
The collection there is contained in a large circular 
dome-roofed apartment, well lighted, and having a 
gallery. It consists of fragments of everything under 
the moon : — rocks, minerals, skeletons, fossils, skulls, 
stuiFed quadrupeds, birds and fishes, reptiles in spirits, 
coins, antique pottery, plaster casts, human crania, 
skeletons of mammalia, etc. 

The skeletons are horrible. There is one of a small 
elephant out of all proportion — all the rest are bad. 
All the birds and quadrupeds and fishes are ill-stuffed 
— yea, every one of them — at least I did not see one 
that was good. They are ill -arranged too. The 
people here may have science, for anything that I 


know to the contrary, but they have no taste, no, not 
a particle. A dome is not a good phice for a museum. 
Galleries are better. Nothing can be got to fill up the 
central space, unless one should erect a pyramid of 
elephants, megatheria, giraffes, and crocodiles. 

There are materials for a good display, however. 
The zoological specimens are excellent, the minerals 
tolerable, the shells poor. 

Dr. Hannay's friend then took me to the small 
room containing Dr. Hunter's anatomical and patho- 
logical collection — filth, dirt, and abomination; a few 
skeletons of quadrupeds, some skulls, and two or three 
hundred preparations in bottles, all disgustingly dirty 
and disorderly. A young Hibernian showed the 
wonders, himself not the least, yet a good sort of a lad, 
and smartly attired. I hope I shall not see many 
collections like them, otherwise I shall renounce the 
calling, and betake myself to geognosy, where, if there 
be confusion, it is confusion with design, or to botany, 
where all is beauty. 

Liverpool Harbour, " Ailsa Craig," 
Friday, Saturday, September, 1 a.m. 

We arrived here ten minutes ago. When I got up 
in the morning Ave were off Portpatrick. The land to 
the Mull of Galloway was rather low, bare, and un- 
interesting. The rocks along the water apparently 
trranite along the whole coast. 

From Air Point to Ramsay in the Isle of Man the 
land low and sandy. The banks vary in height to 80 or 


100 feet, the highest eminence about 150. The highest 
mountain of the range, forming the elevated ground of 
the island, seems to be about 2000 feet high. I imagine 
it to be composed of slate. To the next point the 
rocks along the shore are of slate, probably clay slate. 

Angel Inn, Castle Street, 
Liverpool, Saturday. 

I left Glasgow by the " Ailsa Craig " steam-yacht at 
half-past four on Thursday. At Greenock some goods 
were to be taken in, and in the meantime I visited Dr. 
Turner and my old friend his wife. The evening 
passed right merrily on the Clyde, and at six in the 
morning, when we emerged from our dormitories, we 
found ourselves opposite Portpatrick. The sun shone 
gloriously all day ; the sea was so smooth that it almost 
resembled the face of a plate of glass. When we 
reached the coast of Man, there was not a ripple on 
it, a circumstance which the captain remarked he had 
never seen before. The sun set gloriously, like a ball 
of fire, and in due time we had a clear firmament 
studded with stars. Jupiter blazed in the south-east, and 
the moon rose red like a volcanic fire over the Lanca- 
shire land, while the water, agitated by the paddles of 
the vessel, flashed and sparkled with phosphoric light. 
As we approached the mouth of the INIersey we passed 
a multitude of vessels, and took on board a pilot. The 
lights blazed over the smooth waters like meteors, and 
by their guidance we arrived in one of the docks at one 
this morning. At two I went to bed, and at six got up 


again ; but a drowsy man must necessarily be a dull 
writer, and so I proceed to extract my carcase from its 

Dublin, Tuexdai/, \Olh Sepiember 1833. 

On Saturday I visited various parts of Liverpool, 
examined the docks and the geology of the neighbour- 
hood, and, finding myself near the railway station, went 
to it and took a seat for Manchester at twelve. We 
arrived there at half-past two, after numerous stoppages 
by the way, for the purpose of discharging and taking 
in passengers. At Manchester I remained only half an 
hour, in tlie course of which I merely observed that the 
country belonged to the coal formation and new red 
sandstone, which is also the case along tlie whole of the 
railway. The journey back to Liverpool was performed 
in an hour and a half J^ine sections of the new red 
stone are presented along the course of the railway ; 
and there are numerous quarries about Liverpool of the 
same formation. 

On Sunday I heard a very excellent sermon in one 
of the chapels of the Wesleyan Methodists, and walked 
over a great portion of the western district of the town. 
The streets are generally narrow, and very irregularly 
planned ; the houses of brick, and by no means remark- 
able for beauty. Most of the churches are of sandstone, 
red or grey, but several are of brick. As to these 
matters, however, they may be seen in the Straiiger m 
Liverpool and elsewhere. 


On Monday before ten I called on Dr. INIackintyre, 
to whom I had a letter from Dr. W. Thomson, and who 
gave me an order for the Zoological Gardens. He in- 
formed me that there are no anatomical or pathological 
collections in Liverpool, and that, being engaged, he 
could not at present accompany me anywhere. So I went 
to the Royal Institution, where I met with Dr. iNIurray 
and his brother, the former being engaged in delivering 
a course of lectures on geology. These gentlemen, 
with great kindness, showed me the INIuseum, which is 
contained in a singularly ill-disposed suite of apartments. 
The disposition, however, is worse as to effect than as to 
the distribution of the articles. There is an extensive 
collection of rocks and minerals, generally ])retty good, 
the former deficient in character and uniformity. They 
are placed in square trays or boxes and are arranged in 
glazed tables, but they are by no means neatly disposed. 
The fossils are numerous and generally good. Quad- 
rupeds, iU-stufi^ed — birds, wretched. There is not one 
specimen in a characteristic attitude, but they are pretty 
numerous. A painting by ^iudubon of the wild turkey, 
good. A portrait of Dr. Traill, not more Uke than it 
should be. Ancient paintings from Roscoe's collection ; 
cast of antique statues ; Ognia and Elgin marbles. 

I am of opinion that the College of Surgeons of 
Edinburgh ought by all means to obtain casts of the 
Apollo Belvidere, Diana, Venus de IVIedicis, and a few 
others as specimens of the perfect form of the human 
body. There are a few Florentine wax casts ; a con- 
siderable collection of skeletons and skulls of mammalia 


and birds, fine corals, shells, etc. This, as usual, is an 
omnium gatherum museum. I say decidedly that 
everything is ill-arranged, the cases ill-constructed, the 
ticketing bad. 

I then walked to the Zoological Gardens, which, 
although not extensive, are very prettily arrayed ; and 
this kind of museum is assuredly much superior in every 
respect to a collection of stuffed animals — not that the 
latter can be dispensed with either. 

At six left Liverpool by the Commerce Steam Packet 
for Dublin. The cabin passengers were in general of a 
cast much inferior to those of the " Ailsa Craig." The 
latter had an excellent library consisting of fifty or sixty 
volumes, including two Bibles. The former had only a 
volume of the Spectator, with cards and a backgammon 
table. The accommodation inferior, as well as everything 
else. The deck crowded with ragged Hibernians of both 
sexes, returning from the harvest. The weather was 
beautiful until twelve at night, when we were off the 
Point of Anglesey, and when I retired to my berth — 
Jupiter, numberless stars, aurora borealis, phosphorescent 
sea, etc., ships sailing towards the Mersey. There was 
a breeze and a good deal of rain after this. We landed 
at half-past ten at Kingstown, seven miles from Dublin, 
and I arrived at the latter city in a filthy car driven by 
a ragged and blackguard-looking Irishman. 

The country about Kingstown is of granite, of which 
great quantities were lying at the harbour for exportation. 
The splendid public edifices at Dublin are of the same 


material, but most of the private liouses are of brick. 
The buildings and streets are much superior to those of 
Liverpool, and the Bank, University, and other places are 
magnificent ; the streets, however, are not very cleanly, 
nor are the roads at all good, and the lower orders of the 
people are villainous in aspect, and disgustingly filthy 
and ragged. 

I arrived in Dublin about twelve, and after taking a 
cup of coffee proceeded to the College, and thereafter 
to the College of Surgeons, where I found Dr. Houston, 
Conservator of the Museum. 

The building is splendid, and has a fine situation in 
Stephen's Green. 

The hall is a fine room, with an arched roof, of an 
oblong form. 

The hall of the Museum is about ninety feet long 
and forty-five feet broad — that is by estimate. It is 
hghted solely from the roof, and has a gallery all round. 
The space below the gallery, which is too broad, is very 
dark. The skeletons are arranged in glass boxes or cases, 
on the floor, and on shelves, under the gallery, the 
central part of the floor being unoccupied save by a 
miserable glazed table, containing skulls and calculi. 
There is a considerable number of skeletons, but almost 
all most uningeniously articulated, and in the most 
preposterous attitudes. About six are excellent, how- 
ever, viz. a horse, an alpaca, a nylghau, a lion, and one 
or two more skeletons of grampus, good. In this 
department almost everything is in the most wretched 


Fine skeleton of boa and pike ; a few tolerable corals ; 
three very fine human skeletons — male and female 
European and male negro. 

■ • • ■ • 

The preparations are on the whole pretty well put 
up ; but there is a most decided want of taste in the 
distribution of the articles, which, however, are placed in 
good order as to their nature — but science and taste 
must go together in museums. 

It is a fine light room ; but for a museum decidedly 
inferior to that of the Edinburgh College — excepting in 
respect to light. 

Things in general very dirfi/. Dr. Houston scolding 
his assistant — but in fact the place is not yet arranged. 

Fine fossil horns and bones of the Irish elk among 
rubbish, in a lumber room ! 

Dr. Houston says the members of the Edinburgh 
College of Surgeons are continually praising their 
museum, but for his part he leaves to strangers the 
praise which the Dublin Museum deserves. All I 
could say in its praise I said, namely that the apartment 
is light and elegant. 

Dublin after all is a splendid city. The Irish dialect 
is detestable — to my ear. The people have a peculiar 
aspect, physically and morally bad. The lower orders 
have a decided taste for ragged great coats. 

Wednesday, Wih September 1833. 

Went to Dr. Houston's at eight, to breakfast. Met 
Dr. Evanson, a very pleasant person, who asked me the 


name of a plant which some one had recommended as a 
diuretic. It was Polygonum aviculare. I told him the 
whole family to which it belongs is astringent. About 
ten I accompanied Dr. Houston to a Surgical Hospital, 
and afterwards strolled through the city, taking care to 
visit the filthiest parts, which, on the whole, are not 
nearly so bad as I expected to find them. 

At two I visited Dr. Evanson, who drove me out in 
his car, along with a friend, to the Phoenix Park, the 
Zoological Gardens, and a limestone quarry about four 
miles out of town. The gardens are of considerable 
extent and in a good position, being on rather high 
ground, with an adjoining hoUow and pond fringed 
with Typha minor and other plants. They are laid 
out with much less taste than the Liverpool animals, 
and contain a smaller number of species. The 
collection, however, is good, and infinitely superior 
to a museum of five times the number. These 
collections will in time teach zoological painters the 
characteristic attitudes of animals, of which Audubon 
and myself are the only persons who have succeeded 
in attempting to afford an idea, in so far as regards 
birds. As to stuffed animals, they are altogether, 
entirely, and wholly absurd. I have not seen ten 
quadrupeds nor five hundred birds that were even 
tolerable. It is a difficult task to put up a skeleton 
of a quadruped, and still more to stuff the skin of one. 
Fools, who do not know the difficulty, readily find 
faults with the performance, and often see faults where 


there are none. The quadruped skeletons of the 
Edinbiui;li College of Surgeons are on the whole well 
put up, but hardly one of them is perfect. The lioness 
is good — so is the elephant — and so are several 
others. Altogether they are a hundred times better 
than those of the Glasgow College, the Andersonian 
Institution, the Liverpool Institution, and the Dublin 
College of Surgeons. So far good. But if the Edin- 
burgh collection were mine, and I had hands enough, 
and money enough to set them agoing, I could make 
it worthy of the nineteenth century. One of the 
members told me that the plachig of bottles on a shelf 
is nothing. Truly, old one ! any person Avith but one 
eye might discover that, although it is not everything, 
it is yet something which may be desperately mis- 

Museums with too many managers must be mis- 
managed. ^Vho ever heard of any great exploit 
emanating from ten heads, although ten thousand 
hands may have executed it. Did a journal with /rco 
editors ever prosper ? Could two Audubons have drawn 
the " Birds of America." If the ordination of the 
Museum should go contrary to my ideas, let it go to — 
the condition in which it was when I received it. I 
never seriously desired the appointment, never called 
on a member for his vote, did not even inquire when 
the election was to be, and do not now know who 
voted for or against me. Having undertaken the 
task, however, I am now interested in it ; but, my 
boys, thwart a little, and you shall see that I can 


do without you, just as well as you can do with- 
out me. 

But, more seriously, I have never been so happy 
in any office, and that just because I have found the 
members gentlemanly, considerate, and kind — with few 
exceptions — two individuals only — and of these only 
one hollow. However, hollow or whole, no matter. I 
thank God that I am what I am ; that although I 
have, and have good reason to have, a very low 
opinion of myself, I have yet been endowed with 
faculties the exercise of which will enable me, with 
the guidance and protection of God, to procure a 
proper share of the things that belong to this life. 
As to the next, I have confidence in God, that, having 
begun. He will accomplish. 

So, as I was saying, the Dubhn Zoological Garden 
is good, although it might be better. 

The district around DubUn, ct infra, is of a 
geological formation, which, for want of data, I am 
unable to determine. 


Was out at eight and walked along the southern 
canal, where I observed abundance of Poa aquatica 
and Lycopus Eurajjcei/s; togetlier Avith other more 
common plants. At nine went to Dr. Evanson's 
to breakfast, where I met a number of medical 
gentlemen, together with Pat Doran, the mineral 
dealer. One of these gentlemen. Dr. John Hart, 


took me to the hall of the Dublin Society, chiefly 
to see the splendid specimen of Cervus megaccros. 
It is indeed a magnificent skeleton. There is a very 
extensive collection of rocks and minerals, occupy- 
ing several apartments, but not well arranged, and 
numerous specimens in all the departments of zoology, 
together with Etruscan vases, antiquities, casts of 
statues, and various other articles. The disposition 
of the collections is bad, and the rooms are not veiy 
well adapted for the purpose, although they are by no 
means bad. I saw Gieseke's working room, his Green- 
land curiosities, and other articles. About twelve I 
set out in a car, accompanied by two of the gentlemen 
and Mrs. Doran, and, traversing the city, proceeded 
northward about seven miles, until we came to the 
Portmarnock Sands. 

• • • • • 

At Bell Doyne dined— returned to Dublin by six, 
after a very pleasant ride. There were races to-day 
near Howth, and the roads were crowded with cars and 
other vehicles. 

At seven called on Mr. Houston, but did not find 
him in, and at the College of Surgeons to meet Mr. 
Beauchamp (proud. Beecham), but did not see him, 
and in the neighbourhood on Dr. Evanson, who kept 
me some hours and sent out for some of his friends. 
I have not experienced more kindness anywhere than 
I have here, more especially from Dr. Evanson, who is 
a fine, frank, gentlemanly, rather dashing fellow. 

On Friday was out by seven, took a place in the 



Steam Packet for Bristol and was on board before eight, 
soon after which we started. It was at this time a dull 
rainy morning with a light breeze, which, however, 
presently increased to a gale, so that we were obliged 
to get into Kingstown Harbour, about seven miles 
from Dublin. It continued to blow furiously, but 
having abated somewhat, we ventured out again, and 
proceeded along the coast for several hours, when the 
captain, judging it impossible to make way against the 
wind and tide, ordered the vessel to be put round, and 
soon after we anchored in our former station. It blew 
furiously, with very heavy rain, until daybreak, when it 
began to moderate. At six we again set out and 
coasted along to Wicklow Head. The weather was 
fine, and the sea not so high as might have been 
expected. At seven we were off St. David's Head, 
and by nine were fairly in the Bristol Channel. The 
sea was high, and the vessel rolled at a fine rate, 
so that almost all the passengers were desperately 
sick, including two captains of the Royal Navy. I 
escaped, however, by keeping in a recumbent posture 
the greater part of the time. When I got up in the 
morning we were in the mouth of the Severn, and after 
passing up the beautiful river Avon, we landed at 
Bristol about eight. The scenery along this river is 
singularly splendid. I was delighted with the fine 
sections of stratified rocks, and the lovely woodland 
scenery interspersed with fields and villages. 


Gloucester Hotel, Clifton, Bristol, 

Siindai/ evenifig, \5th September 1833. 

Here I am in the coffee-room of the Gloucester 
Hotel, wliere everytliing is at this moment very quiet, 
although the voices of some fellows tippling in a neigh- 
bouring apartment are making their way through the 
wall. I have finished three cups of tea and half a 
muffin. Opposite sits a tall Englishman^ — I know he is 
one, although I took no note of his speech. He has 
taken half an hour to his coffee and eatables, ten 
minutes to smacking his lips, five to picking his teeth, 
and as many more to humming, haing, or grunting, and 
is at present inspecting a newspaper. At another table 
is anotiier person, Avho is similarly occupied — save the 
smacking, picking, and grunting. At a cabinet is a 
fourth looking for a book, and at a table is a fifth read- 
ing the Times, or basking in the rays of the True 
Si/ II. What a difference between this and the coffee- 
house of the Northumberland buildings in Dublin, 
where, while I was discussing my beefsteak and subse- 
quent half-pint of vinum flavum and cup of tea, three 
Scottish men were quarrelling most obstreperously, one 
having given to another the lie direct. The affair 
ended in nothing, however, for the parties were evi- 
dently not gentlciiicn. The Irishmen present were 
peeping over the upper margin of their newspapers, and 
the eyes of all the waiters were directed towards the 
vulgar disputants. I do not exactly know how it is, 
but I do dislike Ireland and its inhabitants, and when 


I arrived here to-day, I felt as if I had got among old 
friends. I was at least in the same island. The scenery 
here is truly English — an undulated country, highly 
cultivated, intersected by hedgerows, and interspersed 
with clumps of wood. As to the fissure, evidently pro- 
duced by the disruption of the limestone strata, in 
which the Avon flows over its tortuous and muddy bed, 
it is only to be seen when you come close upon it. 
The views along this river are exceedingly beautiful, St. 
Vincent's rocks rising to a height of from one to three 
hundred feet. So far as I have observed, they seem to 
belong to the carboniferous limestone deposit, and are 
highly inclined. A conglomerate of the magnesian 
limestone lies over this deposit, in a hollow below St. 
Vincent's rocks. 

Gloucester Hotel, Monday, l6t/i September 1833. 

Rose at seven and walked down the river side, along 
the base of the chffs which belong to the mountain 
limestone formation. I observed a very considerable 
number of plants unknown to me. 

Returned to the inn and took breakfast. To-day 
again the large Englishman. Two classes of men eat 
deliberately, and smack as they eat — the gluttonous and 
the dyspeptic, the former fond of eating for the pleasure 
which it gives them, the latter eating more than they 
are disposed to eat for the sake of the supposed benefit. 
This man is stout, healthy, and firm. He smacks, 
smiles at his meals, seems to have his whole soul in the 


matter, eats and drinks deliberately, hums now and then 
to clear his throat, etc. Hogs smack at a great rate 
while eating. Smack, smack, smack — a most gentle- 
manly man too, vn lionime superbe. I would not live 
within hearing of that fellow for £200 a year in addition, 
and I feel tempted to wish I had one good crack at his 
chops. The glutton took half an hour to it too — chup, 
chup, chup. 

The principal object of my visit to Bristol having 
been the inspection of the Museum of the Institution, I 
now went to that " elegant building," as it is called in 
the Bristol Guide, and introducing myself as myself to 
the keeper, obtained permission to examine and inspect. 
Nay, the good fellow accompanied me through the 
whole, showed and explained everything, and afterwards 
demonstrated the geology of the district from a hill top. 

The collections are badly distributed in small rooms, 
the principal apartments being employed for other 
purposes — as reading-room, library, lecture-room, etc. ; 
but they are extensive and valuable. Rocks, simple 
minerals, and fossils — tine specimens, capable of forming 
a very beautiful series, at present partially arranged ; 
stuffed quadrupeds and birds, a considerable number, 
prepared in the usual style ; some skeletons, good — a 
splendid one of a turtle — numerous skulls, magnificent 
Egyptian mummies, and all sorts of things, including a 
very beautiful " marble statue of Eve at the fountain," 
by E. H. Baily, R.A., purchased from that artist by the 
Institution for 600 guineas. There is a bad flaw in the 
right thigh, and two patches, one on the back ; the 


other on the right elbow. But overlook these defects 
in the stone, and if you do not consider the statue 
superior to many of the very finest antiques. For my 
part, I would rather have it than the whole INIuseum 
together, although the latter is doubtless convertible 
into more money, and more useful to the bargain. 

The Institution has only existed a few years, and 
yet the collection is already very extensive. Every 
collection that I see makes me regret the more our 
want of a decent series illustrative of comparative 
anatomy. The series of skulls of mammalia which we 
have is extremely contemptible ; and we are equally 
deficient hi most of the other departments. The collec- 
tion ought to be extended or obliterated. As it is, it is 
in my opinion a disgrace to the College. 

The keeper is certainly a very nice fellow, totally 
destitute of all affectation or assumption, apparently 
possessed of very considerable knowledge in geology. 

After packing my movables, including myself, into 
an omnibus, which was large enough for its contents, 
seeing it contained only one individual, I proceeded 
towards Bristol, where I ascended a stage-coach bound 
for London. Soon after we were on our way to Bath, 
through which we passed in the dusk. The night was 
clear and rather cold, but towards three in the morning 
it began to rain, and continued wet until we arrived in 
London, which event took place between seven and 
eight. I was set down, quite benumbed, about eight 
at the George Inn, Aldermansbury, not far from St. 


Paul's. So I made a partial shifting, a rude shaving, 
and a good breakfasting, and thereafter saUied forth. 
St. Paul's I had seen before ; it did not excite much 
wonder. Strolling along I got to Waterloo Bridge, and 
inspected Hungerford IMarket, which latter afforded me 
a good deal of amusement. Soon after I went to the 
British Museum, which is at present shut upon its 
proprietors, tlie public. Howe^'er I had a letter to 
JNIaster Grey, and he being absent I presented it to his 
brother. He gave me permission to walk in, and when 
disengaged from Professor Lichtenstein of Berlin, then 
on a visit, showed me all the apartments in succession. 
It is unnecessary to describe this splendid and extensive 
museum, as there is a catalogue of it published. How- 
ever, 1 have taken some notes. 

IMontagu's collection of British birds, which is fine 
on account of its extent, but does not contain ten well- 
stuffed specimens. When are we to see some improve- 
ment in this art ? Surely it were better to give an artist 
twenty shillings for a fine specimen than five for a bad one. 
Every stufFer has a way of his own in which he prepares 
all birds. In Edinburgh, Black John, and Carfrae, and 
Gibson have each a peculiar mode — every species has 
the same attitude. The late Mr. Wilson was a good 
stuffer of grouse, but he stuffed all birds in precisely the 
same style. The pervading style of Montagu's birds is 
distortion. There is not, so far as I have observed, one 
faultless specimen among them. Good collection of 
eggs. Montagu's shells in glazed tables — pretty good. 


and fine, but not extraordinary. Mr. Nicol in Edin- 
burgh has a much finer collection. 

General collection of birds and shells. The former not 
remarkable for its extent, and miserable as to stuffing. 

The splendid gallery behind is lighted from the 
roof, as are the two last rooms. The floor is of oak, 
the roof on the same plan as that of the IMuseum of the 
Edinburgh College of Surgeons, and having the same 
defects. The floor is already damaged by water. Who 
copied ? or did both copy ? The architects who have 
no genius make Grecian buildings. 

There is another smacking Englishman in the coffee- 
room, and I am tormented by him. Smack, smack, 
smack ! He is a sulky cur, too, and the waiter cannot 
please him. I almost wish he had a piece of album 
grocum in his cheek. But to proceed. 

Two rows of tables — glazed, with minerals — very 
splendid, and beautifully arranged, although not yet 
properly named. They are laid on cotton, which covers 
a board, having a raised black margin. Now, it is 
pleasant to look at such an arrangement, although there 
are persons who care very little about the matter, and 
who would as readily put on their coat with the back 

before, provided it lay easily. Dr. is of this 

character, and a member of the College of Surgeons. 

Comparatively few of the articles in the Museum are 
yet named. The shells are generally placed on dispro- 
portionately large cards, and might with advantage be 
made to occupy less than half the space. 

As to Cook's curiosities, and all the Hindoo, 


Egyptian, and Grecian statues and fragments, I leave 
them to the curious in these matters. I can consider 
the Eve of the Bristol Institution superior to the whole. 

I had letters to certain persons, and began to search 
for them, but found them not. How^ever, I got my old 
and very excellent friend Dr. Grant, with whom I 
dined. We had a long crack. He complains desper- 
ately of the affairs of his college, his whole income for 
the last year not having exceeded £120. 

It rained furiously as I was going home, and I did 
not find my way Avithout some difficulty. London is an 
ugly wilderness. " My own romantic town " is the 
best I have seen after all. 

The Portland or Barberini vase in the British 
Museum is much inferior to the model of it by 
Wedgewood in the Edinburgh University Museum. 
It is of blue glass, with white opaque figures. The 
model mentioned has a black opaque ground ; that of 
the Liverpool Institution has a blue ground. 

The hall for the Royal Library, 300 feet in length, 
is splendid. Two scoundrels in the room in which I 
write are damning and blaspheming, so I must leave 
them to their meditations. 

Wednesday, l&th September 1833. 
Having had no sleep on the way from Bristol to 
London, I remained in bed till near nine. After break- 
fast I went out, took a tortuous direction through the 
city, and arrived at Dr. Grant's, 10 Seymour Place, 
North, Euston Square. 


Dr. Grant accompanied me to the London Uni- 
versity in Gower Street. 

Saw his own collection of comparative anatomy 
and zoology, which is contained in his lectin-e-room, and 
although consisting of a considerable number of articles, 
is not by any means fine, and certainly is not neatly 
kept or weU arranged. 

The collection of materia medica is in all respects 

The anatomical and pathological collection of the 
University is in a square room of moderate size, with 
a gallery. 

• • • • • 

The preparations are very beautiful. The heads of 
the bottles are very neatly secured and painted in the 
usual way. The ticketing and numbering neat. Every- 
thing in excellent order, and cleanly. The whole has a 
finished and beautiful appearance. 

The room containing the apparatus for the natural 
philosophy class is also very neatly fitted up with large 
glazed cases, and the collection is excellent. 

We went next to King's College, which forms the 
east wing to Somerset House, but the JNIuseum was shut. 

Went then to the Geological Society, in the A'icinity. 
Models, casts, and specimens of various kinds. The 
principal part of the collection is arranged in presses 
fitted up with draw^ers. There is nothing particularly 
remarkable about them, excepting two circumstances. 


1st. As geological and mineralogical specimens are 
liable to be much injured by dust, those contained in the 
drawers are secured by means of four sheets of paper 
fastened along the sides of each drawer and laid over the 
specimens in succession. 

The method has several inconveniences. The 
articles cannot be inspected without taking out the 
drawer and laying it on a table. Then there are four 
awkward flaps of paper appended to each draAver. It 
would be much better to cover it with calico stretched 
upon a frame exactly fitting. 

2nd. Each drawer in front has a small brass frame 
for the general label, which slips into it. The drawers 
in the Museum of the Edinburgh University are fur- 
nished with similar appendages. 

Then we visited the Museum of the Zoological 
Society in Bruton Street. The house is too small and 
inconvenient, and the Society are meditating a removal. 

First room, small — square. Glazed cases, about 8 
feet high, and 2^ deep. Movable shelves, supported by 
small square bars. 

In this room is a fine collection of mammaUa, the 
best stuffed that I have seen — extremely crowded. 
Dugong, camelopard and skeleton ; oran outan, red, 
adult, and young — several black ones, etc. Skulls, horns, 
tortoises, snakes, etc., on the walls. Shells on a glazed 
table, arranged on cards of oak covered with paper. 

Second room upstairs. Birds in very neat 
mahogany glazed cases. Shells movable. 


I did not succeed in finding the College of Surgeons, 
and coming upon Park Crescent and Square, I visited 
the Colosseum in the Regent's Park. The Panorama 
of London, for the exhibition of which this building was 
erected, struck me as being the grandest feat of art which 
I have seen. The deception was to me quite perfect. 
The saloon for works of art 1 found also higlily interest- 
ing. The other appendages, viz. the conservatories, 
caverns, and Swiss cottage, were very pretty and amusing. 
The" African Glen," containing stuffed animals,! thought 
inferior to everything else, although interesting to a 

I then visited the Zoological Gardens on the north 
side of the Park. They are laid out with great taste, 
and contain a very large collection of animals disposed 
in suitable habitacles. If I had time, I should find it 
very instructive to study the attitudes of the animals, 
especially the birds. To the zoological painter collections 
of living animals must prove of the greatest importance. 
It is in fact utterly absurd to draw from stuffed skins. 

Thursday, 19th September 1833. 

Went in the first place to the Excise Office, where 
I found my old friends Mr. Murray and INIr. Linning, 
both of Edinburgh. JNIr. Linning urged me to remove 
to his house, and remain a week or so in town, to see 
the museums more leisurely. I then went to Lincoln's 
Inn Fields, and delivered my letter of introduction to Mr. 
Clift, who informed me that the Museum was shut, and 


that although I miglit have a glance of it to-day, I should 
have a better opportunity of seeing it to-morrow. So 1 
crossed the river by Waterloo Bridge, walked through part 
of Surrey, and came upon St. Thomas's Hospital, where 
I was informed that the Museum could not be .seen. 

At Guy's Hospital I did not find Dr. Hodgkin, to 
whom I had a letter, but introduced myself to the 
keepers, and was allowed to inspect the museums. 

The anatomical and pathological collections are 
principally contained in an oblong elevated apartment, 
lighted from the roof. 

On the floor a skeleton of the hippopotamus ; another 
of the elephant — both fine, but the latter small. 

Four tables — on one of which are wax models of the 
brain, neck, face, thorax, etc., extremely beautiful. 

On the other three tables a most beautiful series of 
wax models illustrative of cutaneous diseases in glass 
shades and bottles. 

I then visited the Museum of Comparative Anatomy, 
and the Obstetrical Museum, which are kept in the 
rooms of two small dwelling-houses, by no means adapted 
to such a purpose. 

Skeletons of quadrupeds, birds, etc., in general very 
good, and beautifully prepared. The artificial cartilages 
of the ribs are very beautifully made, painted white — 
splendid skeleton of a snake about eight feet long. This 
collection, however, is not extensive. 

The obstetrical collection consists of models and 


On the whole, the collections are in excellent con- 
dition, the materials are of the best quality, and the 
models and casts are splendid. The apartments might 
be better adapted to the purpose of a museum ; but the 
collection may safely be called one of the finest in 

After visiting Guy's Hospital, I repaired to Mr. 
Linning's, where I dined, in company Avith Mr. Murray 
and a Dr. Campbell, Miss Linning and Master Linning. 
We had a very pleasant evening of it. On returning to 
the city, along with Mr. INIurray, I went to his lodgings, 
where I remained nearly two hours, and had a long crack. 

Friday, 20th September 1833. 

Called on Mr. Stanley, 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields. 
Then went to the Museum of the Royal College of 
Surgeons — otherwise called the Hunterian Museum. 
Saw Mr. Clift, who began to describe certain objects, 
but finding him much too prolix, I took a convenient 
opportunity of slipping away, and examined for myself. 

This splendid collection presents an example of a 
museum overstocked, there being materials for furnish- 
ing three apartments of the same size. 

Some of the stuffed animals, skeletons, bones, and 
horns, horribly dirty. The walls and roof also dingy 
with dust. 

• • • • • 

It is impossible to offer any detailed description of 
the INIuseum, for which reference must be made to the 


printed catalogue. It is a magnificent collection, and 
the room is fine ; but everything is so crowded that there 
is more appearance of confusion than of regularity, and 
there is more dirt everywhere than there ought to be. 

Excepting the Museum of Guy's Hospital, that of 
the London University, and that of the Glasgow College, 
I have seen none approaching to our own in cleanliness. 

After leaving the Hunterian Museum, went to INIr. 
Linning's, where I dined. Returned as usual to the 
George Inn, Aldermansbury, in the coiFee-room of which 
I now am, absolutely smoking with perspiration, caused 
by three cups of tea, and an atmospheric temperature 
of eighty degrees. 

Saturday, 0.111' September 1833. 

Having been entrusted with three letters for Sir 
James MacGregor, I proceeded after nine to Berkley 
Street, which I reached about twelve, after having strolled 
about in the Park and elsewhere. He had not yet 
arrived at the oflSce, so I left the letters and my card 
for him, and returned towards " the City." By the way 
left a letter at Mr. Gould's, Broad Street, Golden Square. 
He is a celebrated preparer of objects of natural history ; 
but he being out, I had no opportunity of seeing him. 
Some of his performances, however, I had seen in the 
Zoological Society's collection, and they are highly 
creditable. After this, I examined the IMuseum of 
King's College, which is open to the public every day 
excepting Wednesday. It is contained in two rooms — 
a large and a smaller. These apartments are well adapted 


for the purpose. They are plam, without the encum- 
brance of ornamental columns, pilasters, and all the 
rubbish that usually disjigures museums, and are lighted 
from the side, which is obviously the best mode of 

The anatomical and pathological preparations are 
good, and being fresh and neatly put up, look exceed- 
ingly well. There are a few good skeletons of animals, 
and a number of excellent casts and models of 
cutaneous diseases, etc. These models are inferior 
only to those of Guy's Hospital, if indeed they be so. 
The person who makes them is INlr. W. Tuson, anatomical 
modeller. Kings College. The stands of the skeletons 
are tolerable, but as usual they are deficient in uni- 
formity. I have seen none at all approaching to our 
own in neatness and just proportion. 

I had a note from Mr. Stanley to Mr. Partridge, 
and that gentleman, the curator, and the modeller 
were very attentive to me. The numbering is on 
the lower part of the bottles : black figures on a 
white ground. 

On leaving King's College I went to the Excise 
Office, whence Mr. Linning accompanied me to 
Bartholomew's Hospital, where I found Mr. Stanley, 
and had the remarkables pointed out by the keeper 
of the Museum. 

It is small for such an establishment, in a single 
oblong apartment lighted from the roof. There is 
a narrow gallery. The cases are open, run along the 


wall, liave movable shelves, and are of convenient 
height, especially those of the gallery, which are about 
7 feet in height. The collection is confined to human 
anatomy and pathology — the latter below, the former 
in the gallery. The anatomical series is not extensive. 
The preparations are put up in the usual manner, and 
with the ordinary degree of neatness. Some of the 
bottles, containing objects whose colours are liable 
to fade, are enclosed in a movable cylinder of blue 
pasteboard. This is the only place in which I have 
seen this contrivance employed. 

• • • • • 

After inspecting this museum, and visiting the dis- 
secting room, etc., I accompanied Mr. Linning to Lloyd 
Street, where I dined, and whence I returned after eight. 

Under existing circumstances it is impossible to 
examine objects in series. Were a person disposed to 
study healthy and diseased structure from preparations, 
he would find ample opportunities in the museums here, 
and in the department of comparative anatomy. The 
Museum of the College of Surgeons would alone furnish 
objects, the proper inspection of which would take many 

With respect to the osseous system of animals, 
there is certainly a most extensive series in the 
different museums taken together. This is also the 
case with respect to teeth, horns, hoofs and claws. 
The Hunterian collection exhibits all the other organs 
in series more or less complete. 



As to zoology, properly so called, there are also 
abundant materials. 

Mammalia, between the Zoological Society's collec- 
tion, the British Museum, and the Hunterian — a very 
extensive series. 

Birds in the Zoological Society, British Museum, etc. 

Reptiles in abundance. 

Fishes less complete, all the other departments in 
one degree or other. 

After all there cannot be a perfect naturalist who 
has not studied long in the metropolis ; but study 
there will not of itself make a naturalist. Yet museums 
are evidently indispensable. 

I have seen no good collection of insects, but there 
are many private ones in London. 

In mineralogy the British Museum is almost com- 
plete ; but one cannot study this science without being 
allowed to handle the specimens. 

For the geologist, the Geological Society's collec- 
tion and the organic remains in the British Museum 
and elsewhere. 

Sunday, Z2nd September 1833. 

Having slept too long, I was not out in time to go 
to the Scotch Church, near the Regent's Park, where 
I had engaged to meet IMr. Linning, so I went to 
St. Paul's. The interior of this building, I think, must 
strike a stranger more than its exterior. After morn- 
ing service I crossed the river by Southwark Bridge, 


on which I found Mr. Murray peripatising. I pro- 
ceeded eastward with the view of taking a walk into 
the country, it being a beautiful day, but an omnibus 
coming up, I went upo)i it, and was conveyed to 
Greenwich, of which I visited the magnificent hospital, 
saw some of the old boys at their dinner, entered the 
painted hall of King William's building, inspected the 
representations of naval heroes and battles, and listened 
for a few minutes to tiie demonstrations of a respect- 
able-looking personage with a long white rod, until 
he began to show that " now, the four corners of that 
great square represents the helements," when 1 marched 
out, entered the park, ascended the hill of the 
observatory, and after a pleasant walk among the fine 
trees, emerged into Blackheath. I then proceeded 
along the road, over Shooters' Hill, and down its 
eastern side, until I had arrived within two miles of 
Dartford, when a coach came up, and I got upon it. 
We arrived at Chatham about six. 

In the whole course of this ride I had abundant 
opportunity of seeing what I had never seen before, 
a chalk district. Immense excavations have been 
made, and the road in many places has been cut deep 
into the deposit, exposing the strata of chalk, inter- 
spersed with black flint, and nearly horizontal. 

Beautiful views of the Thames, covered with 
shipping, occurred at intervals ; and at Rochester the 
scenery is fine, the Medway, the splendid old castle, the 
city, the ships in the river, the chalk chffs, and other 
interesting objects presenting themselves in succession. 


The diluvium on Blackheath and elsewhere consists 
of sand and pebbles of black flint, which are used for 
making the roads. The country is very beautiful, flat, 
or gently undulated, and more profusely wooded than 
I should have expected. About Chatham the ground 
is more undulated, but the chalk strata are still nearly 
horizontal, the valleys having apparently been pro- 
duced by diluvial excavation. The houses in the 
towns and villages are built of brick, but are neat, and 
the people everywhere seemed in the most prosperous 
condition, even the labourers being remarkably well 
clothed and "looking like their meat," as people say 
in Scotland. I was surprised at the great number of 
very elegantly -formed and graceful young women. 
The features of the inhabitants are more regular and 
less weathered (as a geologist would say) than those 
in any part of Scotland. The men are, on the whole, 
stout and independent-looking. They are not lumpish 
either, as in Lancashire and elsewhere, but rather active. 

I have not met with an instance of incivility since 1 
entered England ; but I have the same to say of Scotland 
and Ireland — although sometimes, particularly by clerks 
in offices or shops, one is answered by a single word. 

From half-past ten, when I went to bed, to near 
five, I was tormented by bugs, which bit in all 
directions : right and left, over tlie face, neck, arms, 
back, and legs, not even sparing the crown of the 
head. As I had no oil, which is a specific, I was 
obliged to use the tallow of the candle to rub the 
bitten parts. 


Moiidtii/, '2,'J/y/ September l.S.'i.S. 

After breakfast I called on INIr. Dadd, apothecary, 
to whom I had a letter from Mr. Hay, and proceeded 
to Fort Pitt, where I found Dr. Clark, to whom I had 
a letter from Dr. William Thomson. He introduced 
me to Di'. IMacCrae, Curator of the JNIuseum, who 
forthwith accompanied me to it. It is contained in 
two apartments of the ordinary form, fitted up with 
cases ranged along the walls. The preparations are 
good, and minute and accurate cases are kept of those 
made from specimens obtained in the hospital. There 
is a very extensive series of national skulls, of which I 
am informed there are many duplicates, which may be 
given in exchange. 

The cases are rather high, but on the whole tiiis 
museum is in good order, although not very extensive. 

Mr. Robert Jameson, Professor .Jameson's nephew, 
now made his appearance, and accompanied me to the 
Natural History Museum, of which he has temporary 
charge. It is also contained in two apartments, fitted 
with open and glazed cases along the walls, having fixed 

There are also glazed tables on the floor. The 
collection, although not extensive, is very good. Tlie 
arrangement is not perliaps the best. The birds are kept 
as skins merely, which is a good enough way. A good 
collection of reptiles ; and in general more or less in 
every department. 


I tlien accompanied ]Mr. Jameson to the dockyard 
at Chatham, ascended a 74-gunship hi process of 
building, examined the chalk section on Chatham Hill, 
looked into the Chatham Museum, went round Fort 
Pitt, took some i-efreshment, and proceeded in an 
omnibus to 

The INIuseum. It is a general collection ; but the 
most remarkable objects in it are the fossils of the chalk 
formation. It is small, and contained in a narrow and 
shabby-looking apartment. There is a good collection 
of birds, so far as it goes, contained in glazed cases or 

The weather continued tine. I had lost the regular 
conveyance ; but getting into a small omnibus I pro- 
ceeded to Gravesend, where I had not remained ten 
minutes when an opportunity occurred of getting to 
London, and at ten o'clock I was set down at Charing 
Cross. So I presently got to the George Inn, supped 
with a Cornish gentleman of very pleasing manners, 
wrote part of my notes, and after some annoyance from a 
drunken party bawling in an adjoining room, fell asleep. 

It may now be proper to make a general review of 
my proceedings in London, and a prospectus of what is 
to be done. 

I have visited : — 

Museums of the London University- 
Anatomical Museum of King's College. 
British Museum. 
Museum of Zoological Society. 


Museum of Geological Society. 

Zoological Society's (iardeiifs. 

Museum of the Collcfre of Surgeons. 

Anatomical, Pathological, Obstetrical, and Natural History 

Museums of Guy's Hospital. 
Anatomical and Pathological Museums of Bartholomew's Hospital. 
Colosseum and African Glen. 

Pathological and Natural History Museums at Fort Pitt, Chatham. 
IMuseum of the Chatham Institution. 

1 have called on : — 

Dr. Grant. i\Ir. Stanley. Mr. Clift. 

Mr. Owen — not in town. Mr. Gould — not in town. 

Dr. Hodgkin — not at home. Sir James MacGregor — not at home. 
Mr. Linning. Mr. Muiray. 

The following business to be transacted : — 

To see the Museum of St. Thomas's Hospital. 
To see Mr. Heaviside's Museum. 
To see the Museum of the Linnean Society. 
To call with letters on : — 

Dr. Carswell. Dr. Tweedie. Mr. Scott. Dr. Hodgkin. 

Tuesdat/, 2Uh September 18.S.3. 

Went to Dr. Hodgkin, 9 New Broad Street, who 
advised me to make another visit to Guy's Hospital 
to-morrow, and gave me a letter to one of the surgeons 
of St. Thomas's Hospital, JNIr. MacMurdo, and to the 
proprietor of Heaviside's Museum, so I went to 
MacMurdo's, but, not finding him, left my letter with 
his wife. I then went to Heaviside's Museum, but the 
old boy was busy, and rather pettish, and could not 


show it. I then travelled westward, called at Dr. 
Tweedie's, 30 INIontague Place, Russell Square, but did 
not find him, and so left my letter with IMrs. Tweedie. 
Then went to Dr. Carswell's with a letter from Dr. 
Thomson — found him and delivered my letter. Then 
went to JMr. Linning's, wliere 1 dined. In the evening 
wrote a letter, and arranged my affairs. 

Notes respecting the Museum of the Edinburgh 
College of Surgeons : — 

1st. Department of Hcalflnj Anatomy. — To be kept 
distinct from that of comparative anatomy, which, 
however, is to be arranged parallel to it, on the opposite 
side of tlie same apartment. 

The arrangement for the present may be that which 
is adopted, viz. bones, ligaments, muscles, brain and 
nerves, blood vessels, pulmonary organs, digestive, etc. ; 
but a more correct arrangement would be : — 

Brain and Nerves. Organs of Secretion. 

Organs of Sense. Organs of Locomotion. 

Organs of Circulation. Organs of Generation. 

Organs of Nutrition. Organs of Lactation. 

The fact, however, is that one may begin at any 
point in the animal economy ; and whatever method is 
best calculated for demonstrating the structure of the 
perfect body is the best for the arrangement of an 
anatomical collection. 

The cases being of two kinds, viz. glazed presses 
and open shelves, a separation of preparations, accord- 
ing as they are dry or wet, is necessary. This is a 


desperate evil in a museum, and is productive of great 

In an anatomical museum the cases ought to 
be all glazed, 8 feet high, elevated half a foot from 
the floor, 2 feet deep, and furnished Avith movable 

Such a museum should be in the form of one or 
more rooms, hi the upper flat of a building, 12 feet iiigh, 
20 feet broad, lighted from the roof, Avith low, flat, glazed 
tables along the middle of the floor. 

Architectural decoration ought not by any means to 
be admitted. The style should be perfectly simple. 

Such a museum might be polygonal. 

In our Museum the exposed ticketing should be 
suspended, tlie cards smaller than they are at present, 
the articles numbered, the divisions lettered. 

2nd. Department of Comparative Anatomy. — As the 
cases are precisely the same as those for the department 
of human anatomy, disorder cannot be avoided. The 
same disposition as to the preparations should be 
followed ; but the articles should be arranged according 
to the classes to which they belong, the subdivisions 
being the same as the divisions in human anatomy. 

A museum for comparative anatomy ought to be 
very difl^erently constructed from one for human 
anatomy, as the case fitted for the skeleton of a man 
is not adapted for that of an elephant or a mouse. 

Such a museum must be of larger dimensions, 
elevated, and lighted from the roof as well as the 


3rd. Pathology. — The pathological series answers 
very well for the galleries of our Museum. It was the 
opinion of one of the members that it ought to have 
been placed below ; but he has lived long enough to 
confess his error. There is the same defect, of dissimilar 
cases, productive of disorder, which cannot be avoided. 

Preparations and casts should be equally included in 
the series ; but, as many of the latter are too large for 
the cases, they may be kept apart in a room devoted for 
that purpose. 

The calculi must be placed in glazed tables, and the 
floor ought to be considered as general receptacle for 
exordinals belonging to any of all the three series. 

The catalogue must be regularly made out, accord- 
ing to the organs or diseases, and not according to the 
cases, shelving, or tables, though the latter must always 
be referred to at every article. 

The system of ticketing must be as follows : — 
The exposed tickets uniform as to size and writing, 
numbered to correspond with the numbers of the articles, 
varnished, of a neat oblong form, suspended over the 

The tickets within the glazed cases to be of the same 
size, suspended if possible ; if not, to be supported by a 
small piece of wood with a groove, painted white. 

Every museum ought to have a library containing 
such books as are necessary for reference or illustration. 
It ought to be ivell and neatly arranged, kept re- 
markably clean, and free of all smells, as of varnish, 
turpentine, camphor, and especially putrefaction. 


It ought to have the proper number of hands, and 
the keepers and assistants should not be ovcrpciid, nor 
yet too scantily supplied, otherwise they become 

Wednexdai/, 2'U/i Seploiilicr 1S3C>. 

In the morning made inquiries respecting coaches to 
Edinburgh, and in Gracechurch Street bouglit four 
ounces of entomological pins for JNIr. INIaclagan, price 
8s. 9d. Crossed the Thames by London Bridge, and 
introduced myself at the Museum of St. Thomas's 

Presently after a gentleman came up to me. and 
very politely offered to show me anything remarkable. 
He accompanied me through the whole collection, and 
afterwards showed me the room containing the library 
and preparations illustrative of materia medica. 

Mr. Edward W. Nordblad, Curator, St. Thomas's 

The preparations illustrative of comparative ana- 
tomy are in general poor ; many of them are decayed, 
and the collection is decidedly contemptible. In the 
other departments the preparations are in general good, 
but the objects are ill-arranged, frequently crowded ; in 
other cases the reverse. The casts, bones, etc., are 
very dirty, and everything bears the appearance of an 
old institution as much in need of a radical reform as a 
Scotch burgh. It seems astonishing that the principle 
of emulation should not operate here, the Museum of 


the neighbouring and rival institutions being compara- 
tively so splendid. 

The curator informed me that there are too few 
hands employed — himself, an assistant, and a person for 
cleaning ; whereas in Guy's there are the curator, an 
assistant, another person for cleaning and drudgery, a 
man for preparing skeletons, and a modeller who does 
nothing else. In the Edinburgh Museum there is a 
conservator, who does all the work, or pays for having it 
done. This also needs reform, seeing the establishment 
is more extensive than either St. Thomas's or Guy's. 

Some people make a mighty blowing, and look as if 
they had discovered a mare's nest when they find a 
preparation from which the spirit has partially evapor- 
ated. Let them learn that in the INIuseum of St. 
Thomas's Hospital, in the county of Surrey, there lies 
the half of a human body dissected, together with a 
brain, enclosed in an air-tight glass case, with about one 
inch of spirits in the bottom. The vapour is sufficient 
to keep the articles in perfect preservation. The fact, 
however, has long been known to me. 

As 1 have already remarked, it is of little importance 
what arrangement is adopted, provided it be simple, 
perspicuous, withy«u primary divisions. 

Leaving St. Thomas's I recrossed the river by 
London Bridge, carrying with me specimens of the 
oolite of which the old London Bridge was built. 1 
then went in search of Mr. Scott, my publisher. 


Well, in the first place, as he is newly set up, his 
name is not in the Directory, so 1 went to the old 
establishment of Dove, with wliom he was in Piccadilly, 
No. 178. The shop untenanted. Called at next door. 
The people there knew nothing of Scott, but directed 
me for Dove, to A^'^igmore Street, where again I was 
directed to Bartlett's Buildings. When I came to the 
end of Oxford Street, where they were said to be, 
nobody knew anything of them. One person said he 
iiad seen such a place, but could not tell where. Being 
in the neighbourhood of Soho Square, I entered it, and 
found in a corner the Linnean Society's Rooms — 5 
o'clock^shut. However, the servant showed me them. 
The apartments are not suitable, being those of a 
common dwelling-house. The collections consist of — 
the Linnean herbarium. Sir James Smitli's herbarium, 
an East India collection of plants, birds of New 
Holland, various quadrupeds and birds, and other 
objects. The plants are fastened upon strong bluish- 
white paper of large size. There is also a good library. 
The hall for meetings rather shabby. Entomological 
collection well. I then returned toAvards St. I'aul's, 
and went to 31 Poultry, which was tenanted by a book- 
seller from Banff* a JMr. Cowie, to whom I was intro- 
duced by Dr. Barclay eleven years ago. He is dead, 
his wife married to his successor in trade, who retains 
the name, in this manner — Cowie and Co. By the by, 
I saw in Gracechurch Street to-day a curious instance 
of this kind, viz. Stone, late Flint. A person in the shop 
gave me Scott's direction, viz. — Scott and Webster, 3G 


Charterhouse Square, nr. West Smithfield. By this time, 
however, it was rather late, and I was rather fatigued, 
so I thought I should rather return to Aldermansbury. 
In a letter from Edinburgh I am directed to get 
from J. Simpson, stock manufacturer, 106 Strand, South 
Side, a military stock, purchased by Kenneth MacCas- 
kill, assistant surgeon, 1st Foot, on 10th September. 
I have reached the Strand ; but in 106 is a person 
named Whitelsock, and in 106 are Widow Dyke and 
Son, quill manufacturers to His Majesty ; and Simpson 
I find nowhere. However, I have done my duty. 
There remain for me now — 

To see Heaviside's Museum. 

To deliver Mr. Coleman's letter. 

To see Mr. Scott. 

To call on Mr. Linning. 

To visit Mr. MacCulloch. 

To pack up my movables. 

To pay my debts. 

To take a seat in or on a coach, and to leave London. 

It seems a little strange to a stranger that in London 
nobody knows anybody, excepting those that it especially 
concerns him to know. This is true Irish, but at 
bottom correct. In Edinburgh everybody knows every- 
body with whom he has nothing to do, and his neigh- 
bour's affairs are of much interest to him, especially if 
he has no business with them. In Scotland a man is 
nothing unless he has a long string of ancestors, in 
England nothing unless he has a long purse. A 
Londoner does not inquire respecting the man who 


occupied his shop last year, nor does he care wlio lives 
next door to him — and why should he ? He cannot 
direct a stranger beyond the street in which he resides, 
and confesses that he has not seen the interior of St. 
Paul's or the Colosseum. He cannot tell whence comes 
the stone with which the street is paved, or how the 
bricks are made of which his house is built. He is not 
aware of the rapid decomposition of the oolite of which 
tlie public buildings are formed, nor does he consider 
that while streets in London are thrown down and re- 
built every fifty years, those of Aberdeen last for 
centuries. London to him is the world, and all beyond 
is extramundane. Now all this, and much more, arises 
simply from circumstances ; and Dr. MacCulloch, who 
accuses the Hebridians of want of skill in aoriculture, 
speaks as foolishly as I should do were I to accuse the 
Londoners of want of observation, 


The principal business transacted to-day was the 
inspection of the Museum of J\Ir. Langstaff, surgeon, 
Basinghall Street. It is contained in a small building 
at the back of his house, and in two apartments of the 
latter. He says there are upwards of 7000 articles. 
The pathological collection is excellent and, according 
to his account, the case of every preparation is 
accurately detailed. In comparative anatomy there 
is a very considerable series. He has also a great 
number of reptiles and insects in good condition. 
The morbid structures are excellent. The skeletons 


are not numerous, nor are they kept in good con- 
dition. Skulls of mammifera rather numerous, but 
not remarkably fine. There is a good series of 
national skulls. Mr. Langstaff is disposed to part 
with his collection. He says he does not exactly 
know its value, but thinks it may be worth from 
£6000 to £7000. I imagine, speaking vaguely, that 
it may be wortli £'2000. It seems to be more 
extensive than the Bell collection purchased by the 
Edinburgh College of Surgeons ; but unless the 
articles were laid out so as to be properly seen, one 
cannot judge with accuracy. 

CAnLisLE, Sntiirddi/ night. 

On Tlun-sday evening, at a quarter from six, I left 
London by coach, said to be for Edinburgh, after pay- 
ing £4 : Is. for transportation, and proceeded in the 
direction of Manchester, where I arrived at four on 
the afternoon of Friday. The night was exceedingly 
beautiful, the temperature being moderate, the 
atmospheric current gentle, the moon bright, and 
the stars scintillating in their usual manner. I saw 
three falling stars, one of them nearly as large as 
Jupiter. From three to six in the morning, however, 
the cold was so great that I was almost benumbed. 
A moonlight ride in England is pleasant enough. 
The numerous pretty towns and villages through 
which we passed, the gentle character of the scenery, 
the placidity of the night, the sense of security, and 
the rapidity of motion, conspired to render the transit 


agreeable. The celerity with which the change of 
horses was effected was admirable, but nothing of 
any importance occiu'red on the journey. The country 
was flat, or very slightly undulated, until we came 
to Derbyshire, where hills of considerable elevation 
presented themselves. The white mist that covered 
the lowest grounds along our course seemed at a 
little distance like a sheet of water, for which I at 
first took it. The first light of the morning sun 
showed the herbage covered with hoar frost. A short 
delay caused by a refractory horse, which had to be 
changed, enabled the passengers to get out and walk 
about a mile, which had a good effect in restoring our 
limbs to their natural state. At the Royal Hotel 
in Manchester I had a most refreshing sleep of 
eight hours' continuance, after which I was awakened 
by the pain of some bug-bites on the neck and 

We left Manchester at half-past five, and arrived 
here at nine. It rained more or less heavily the whole 
day, but the temperature was mild, and I experienced 
very little inconvenience. The first part of our 
journey was not interesting, the country being flat, 
and disfigured by brick towns and manufactories ; but a 
change soon came over the scene, and from Lancaster 
to this place the country is hilly and even moun- 
tainous. The geological phenomena observed were 
interesting, although, of course, imperfectly observed. 
During the night, from London to Derby, I could 
only see that the country was secondary, consisting 



of clays and lias. In Derbyshire I saw amygdaloid, 
carboniferous limestone, millstone - grit, and other 
secondary rocks. To-day the rocks seen were 
carboniferous limestone, sandstones of several forma- 
tions, a splendid mountain of the first secondary 
limestone beyond Kendal, mountains of a kind of 
slate intermediate between clay slate and compact 
felspar. With respect to botany, I could not mark 
inuch of any importance. Inula dysenterica, Sang^ui- 
sorba officinalis, Convolvulus sepium, etc. 

Between Kendal and Shap is a track of high 
ground, covered with peat and heather, as wild as 
any that I have seen in the Highlands or Hebrides. 


At Carlisle I slept nearly four hours. It had 
rained heavily during the night, and when I arose 
at four, it still continued. Breakfast was on the 
table in the coffee-room, and after appropriating to 
myself a moderate quantity of it, I ascended the 
Edinburgh mail, to which I had transferred myself 
by paying 7d. additional. The distance to Edinburgh 
is 96 miles, and we arrrived there at half-past three. 
At the head of the Solway Firth the land is alluvial 
and almost perfectly flat, enclosed by hedges, generally 
without trees in them, contrary to the English 
practice. On coming to the Esk we passed for several 
iniles along that river, crossing and recrossing it 
several times. The scenery was perfectly Scottish — 
that is to say, the fields large, the trees left to assume 


their natural forms, the hedges trim, the houses built 
of stone, the heights covered with trees, tlie hills bare 
and heathy. The river tumbled, and rushed, and shot 
silently along, or curled into eddies as it proceeded in 
its winding course between its lofty banks, which were 
often precipitous, and generally covered with trees 
and shrubs. Nothing half so beautiful occurred 
between London and Scotland. At length the road 
left the river and passed by one of its tributaries, until 
we ascended far among the high green hills of transi- 
tion slate, covered here and there with brown fern. 
After passing through a long, narrow, bare glen, we 
entered another, the streamlet of which flowed east- 
wards to join the Tweed. Cultivation increased as 
we proceeded, the country became more wooded, and 
as we approached Hawick, the valley opened. From 
that place to Selkirk the ground is high and bleak, 
but partially cultivated. The rock was everywhere 
greywacke and slate. From Selkirk to Galashiels the 
road passes along the bottom of the valley of the 
united Yarrow and Ettrick streams — Abbotsford on 
the south side of the Tweed — Melrose obscurely seen 
at a distance. The valley of the Gala is not remark- 
able, excepting towards its lower part, where it is 
wooded and partially cultivated. The hills are stony 
and bare, and although in many places cultivation 
extends far up the secondary valleys, the ground is 
scarcely anywhere sheltered by hedges or trees, which 
would certainly be of decided advantage. From this 
to the neighbourhood of Dalkeith the ground is high, 


heathy, destitute of wood, and but slightly cultivated. 
There is, however, a very extensive tract of good, 
slightly sloping ground on the edge of the hilly 
district that is capable of yielding crops or woods. 
As you come over the ridge, you see in succes- 
sion the Fifeshire Lomonds, the Pentland Hills, and 
Arthur's Seat. I observed that beyond Dalkeith the 
roads are repaired with a blue limestone, seemingly 
of the carboniferous series, but presenting appear- 
ances differing considerably from any variety that I 
have seen. 

The Museums which I have visited are the 
following : — 

Museum of the Glasgow University. 

Museum of the Andersonian Institution, Glasgow. 

Museum of the Liverpool Institution. 

Museum of the Dublin College of Surgeons. 

Museum of the Dublin Society. 

Museum of the Bristol Institution. 

Museum of the London College of Surgeons. 

Museum of Guy's Hospital. 

Museum of St. Thomas's Hospital. 

Museum of Bartholomew's Hospital. 

Museum of King's College, London. 

Comparative Anatomy and Natural History Museum, London 

Anatomical and Pathological Museum, London University. 
Materia Medica Collection, London University. 
Comparative Anatomy and Natural History Museum, Guy's 

Obstetrical Museum, Guy's Hospital. 


British Museum. 

Museum of the Zoological Society. 

Museum of the Liimean Society. 

Museum of the Geological Society. 

Mr. LangstafTs (Heaviside's) Museum. 

Anatomical and Pathological Museum, Fort Pitt, Chatham. 

Natural History Museum, Fort Pitt, Chatham. 

Museum of the Chatham Institution. 


EXTRACTS FROM Professor MacGillivray's 
Works explanatory of his System of Orni- 
thological Classification as differing from 
those of other Ornithologists. 

The object which I had in view when, many years ago, 
I commenced the observations recorded in this work 
was at some convenient season to lay before the public 
descriptions of the birds of Great Britain, more extended, 
and if possible more correct, than any previously offered. 
To accomplish so ambitious a purpose, I judged it neces- 
sary to direct my attention to the living objects them- 
selves, rather than to their skins in collections or their 
portraits in books ; to follow them in their haunts, 
observe their manners, procure unmutilated specimens, 
carefully examine all their parts, and thus be enabled to 
bring forward facts that had been entirely overlooked, 
and place others in a light in which they had not pre- 
viously been viewed. Short specific characters, slight 
descriptions or notices, and measurements of parts, I 
could easily have obtained by visiting museums and 


consulting books ; but tlie elaboration of a detailed 
account of the species, such as is to be found in the 
following pages, could obviously be accomplished only 
by much labour of a different kind. — British Birds, 
vol. i., Preface. 

In again presenting to the pubhc some of the results 
of my long-continued examination of the habits and 
structure of the birds of Great Britain, I may be per- 
mitted to offer a few retrospective remarks. The 
introduction to the first volume contains, among other 
matter, a description of the skeleton, the organs of 
flight, .and the digestive apparatus of birds, rendered 
necessary by the neglect of anatomy evinced by our 
most esteemed ornithological writers, who in their 
treatises have either expressly maintained, or practically 
shown it to be their opinion that the inspection of the 
external parts is a sufficient guide to zoological know- 
ledge. In avoiding this error, as I cannot but esteem 
it, I have not fallen into the opposite one of considering 
an acquaintance with the internal structure of animals 
alone necessary to their historian, but have entered 
into details as to external form, and the texture and 
colours of the cutaneous system, much more extended, 
and, if my efforts have been successful, not less accurate, 
than those which I have met with in any of the works 
alluded to, and have presented numerous facts relative 
to the habits and economy of the different species. 


The varieties exhibited in the mode of flying, the 
differences of manners, the dispersion and migi'ation of 
birds, were introduced to notice in chapters intervening 
between the methodical descriptions of the orders under 
which I thought it expedient to arrange the species. 
In recaUing these circumstances to mind, my object is 
simply to connect the past with the present, and direct 
the attention of the reader to the continuity of plan 
and similarity of execution exhibited by the two 
volumes ; not certainly to boast of my performances, 
which I am convinced require not a little of that kind 
of indulgence which the candid and considerate critic is 
always ready to apply to the productions of an artist 
who honestly and earnestly, although not always success- 
fully, strives to represent Nature as she appears to him. 
In the present work, as in others, and in all my 
papers published in various journals, I have endeavoured 
to adapt the style to the subject, rendering it compact 
and precise when engaged with technical descriptions, 
copious and florid when treating of the actions and 
haunts of birds, abrupt or continuous, direct or discur- 
sive, harsh or harmonious, according to the varying 
circumstances of the case. My aim has been to amuse 
as well as to instruct, to engage the affections as well as 
to enlighten the understanding, to induce the traveller 
on the road to science to make occasional excursions, 
tending to raise his spirits, and to show to the public 
that ornithology is not necessarily so repulsive as 
some of its votaries represent it. — Britisli Birds, vol ii., 



Several keen observers of birds have, to my sure 
knowledge, received from the information conveyed in 
tliese volumes an impulse which will effectually prevent 
them from ever perverting Nature by forcing her into 
quinary or ternary arrangements, or from dwindling 
into mere describers of skins, and indiscriininating com- 
pilers of correct, doubtful, and erroneous observations. 
Of such pupils I am proud, and if my exultation should 
be held as an indication of vanity, I cannot help it, for 
1 am constrained to speak the truth. Should any man 
conceive himself injured thereby, I hope he may con- 
sider that in matters of science there ought to be perfect 
freedom of thought, and that a very obscure individual 
like myself may sometimes fall upon truths subversive 
of theories invented by men of the highest intellect. — 
Biitish Binls, vol. iii.. Preface. 


It seems difficult to conjecture why the vultures 
should be, properly speaking, destitute of inferior larynx. 
What is there in their voice or respiration that renders 
an inferior laryngeal muscle, or a division of the last 
tracheal ring, inexpedient ? Such questions tend to 
show that much remains to be studied in the anatomy 
and physiology of birds. 

Observations like these may appear unnecessary to 


the persons who view birds merely as composed of skin 
and feathers ; but to them I now cease from addressing 
myself They will gradually disappear from the earth, 
and their place will be occupied by men who will study 
birds as organic beings. The attempt which I have 
made to establish a rational method of study in this 
most interesting department of science, however feeble 
it may be, will yet form, I am well persuaded, the com- 
mencement of a new era among my countrymen, whom 
I hope yet to see perfecting my favourite study to such 
a degree as to render these volumes antiquated and 
effete. For my own part, I am well pleased to think 
that my labours, however little appreciated by such of 
my contemporaries as evidently conceive themselves to 
be the sole depositaries of ornithological knowedge, will 
be productive of beneficial results, inasmuch as they will 
stimulate to increased exertion some of those young and 
ardent naturalists who, to my certain knowledge, have 
derived pleasure from even the rude attempt at observa- 
tion of so humble an individual as myself. — British 
Birds, vol. iii. p. 159. 

Each of our many ornithologists, real and pretended, 
has a method of his own : one confining himself to short 
technical descriptions as most useful to students ; 
another detailing more especially the habits of the 
birds as more amusing to general readers ; a third view- 
ing them in relation to human feelings and passion ; a 


fourtli convertine" science into romance, and crivinff no 
key to the discrimination of the species, bringing his 
little knowledge of the phenomena under the dominion 
of imagination, and copiously intermingling his patch- 
work of truth and error with scraps of poetry. The 
plan of this work is very different from that of any of 
these, and is not by any means calculated to amuse the 
reader who desires nothing more than pleasant anec- 
dotes or fanciful combinations, or him who merely 
wishes to know a species by name. It contains the 
only full and detailed technical descriptions hitherto 
given in this country. The habits of the species are 
treated of with equal extension in every case where I 
have been enabled to study them advantageously. The 
internal structure has been explained in so far as I have 
thought it expedient to endeavour to bring it into view, 
and in particular the alimentary organs, as determining 
and illustrating the habits, have been carefully attended 
to. If imagination has sometimes been permitted to 
interfere, it has only been in disposing ascertained facts 
so as to present an agreeable picture, or to render them 
easily intelligible by placing them in relation to each 
other. — Britisli Birds, vol. v., Preface. 


EXTRACTS FKOM Professor MacGillivray's 
Works descriptive of Bird Life, of 
Personal Adventure for Scientific In- 
vestigation, OR of Picturesque Scenes, etc. 

1. — A Night Excursion to the Wells of Dee. 

It is pleasant to hear the bold challenge of the gor- 
cock at early dawn on the wild moor remote from 
human habitation, where, however, few ornithologists 
have ever listened to it. I remember with delight 
the cheering influence of its cry on a cold morning 
in September, when, wet to the knees, and with a 
sprained ankle, I had passed the night in a peat bog 
in the midst of the Grampians, between the sources 
of the Tummel and the Dee. Many years ago, when 
I was of opinion, as I still am, that there is little 
pleasure in passing through life dry - shod and ever 
comfortable, I was returning to Aberdeen from a 
botanical excursion through the Hebrides and the 
south of Scotland. At Blair AthoU I was directed to a 
road that leads over the hill, and which I was informed 


was much sliorter than the highway. By it I pro- 
ceeded until I reached Blair I^odge, where I obtained 
some refreshment, of which I stood greatly in need. 
The good woman very benevolently exerted herself 
to persuade me to remain all night, the hills being, as 
she said, bleak and dreary, entirely destitute of every- 
thing that could afford pleasure to a traveller, and even 
without human habitation, the nearest house being 
fifteen miles north. It was now six o'clock, and I was 
certain of being benighted, but I had promised to be 
at the source of the Dee by noon of next day, and all 
the dragons of darkness could not have prevented me 
from at least striving to fulfil my engagement. They 
had never heard of the spring in question, nor even 
of the river ; no Cairngorm could be seen, and a 
woman just arrived from the Spey informed me that 
I should be under the necessity of going through 
Badenoch before I could get to it. I placed more 
confidence in my travelling map. All, however, shook 
their heads when I disclosed my plan, which was to 
proceed eastward, cross a stream, get to the summit 
of a ridge of mountains, and so forth, until I should 
reach the first burn of the Dee, where I expected 
to find my friend Craigie. It was sunset when I 
got to the top of the first hill, whence I struck 
directly east, judging by the place where the sun 
disappeared behind the rugged and desolate mountains. 
After traversing a mile of boggy heath, I found myself 
put out of my course by a long, deep, rocky valley or 
ravine which I was obliged to double, and before I 


had accomplished this night fell. I travelled on, 
however, about two miles farther, and coming upon 
another but smaller valley, in which I was apprehensive 
of breaking my neck if I should venture through it, I 
sat down by a rock, weary, and covered with perspira- 
tion. Rest is pleasant, even in such a place as this ; 
and when I had experienced a little of its sweets, I 
resolved to take up my abode there for the night. 
So, thrusting my stick into the peat between me and 
the ravine below, I extended myself on the ground and 
presently fell into a reverie, reviewed my life, gave 
vent to the sorrow of my soul in a thousand reflections 
on the folly of my conduct, and ended with resolving 
to amend ! Around me were the black masses of the 
granite hills rising to heaven like the giant barriers 
of an enchanted land ; above, the cloudless sky, 
spangled with stars ; beneath, a cold bed of wet turf ; 
within, a human spirit tortured with wild imaginings 
and the pangs of a sprained foot. " In such a place, 
at such a time," and in such a mood, what are the 
vanities of the world, the pomp of power, the pride 
of renown, and even the pleasures of bird-nesting! 
Having in a short time become keenly sensible that 
a great portion of vital heat had oozed out of me, I 
looked out for a warmer situation ; but, alas, with little 
success ; for although I pulled some stunted heath and 
white moss, with which I covered my feet, and laid me 
down by another crag that afforded more shelter, I 
could not sleep. After a while, having experienced a 
fit of shivering, I got up to gather more heath, with 


which I formed a sort of bed and lay down again. 
But even heath was not to be obtained in sufficient 
quantity, so that for a covering I was obhged to bury 
myself in moss and turf, with the soil adhering. At 
long, long length, the sky began to brighten in what 
I supposed to be the north-east, and I was anxiously 
looking for the approach of morn, when gradually the 
pale unwelcome moon rose over a distant hill. It was 
piercing cold, and I perceived that a strolling naturalist, 
however fervid his temperament, could hardly, if 
scantily clad, feel comfortable even among moss, in 
a bog of the Grampians. A^^hat a blessing a jug of 
hot water would have been to such a stomach as mine, 
aching with emptiness, and nothing, not even tripe-dc- 
roclic, to be got to thrust into it. However, morning 
actually came at last, and I started up to renew my 
journey. It was now that I got a view of my lodging, 
which was an amphitheatre formed of bare craggy 
hills, covered with fragments of stone and white moss 
and separated by patches of peat bog. Not a house 
was to be seen, nor a sheep, nor even a tree, nor so 
much as a blade of green grass. Not a vestige of life 
can be found here, thought I ; but I was reproved by 
a cry that startled me. The scarlet crest and bright 
eye of a moor-cock were suddenly protruded from a 
tuft of heather, and I heard with delight the well-known 
kok, kok of the " blessed bird," as the Highlanders 
call him. It was a good omen ; the night and dulness 
had fled, and I limped along as cheerily as I could. 
]\Iy half-frozen blood soon regained its proper tempera- 


ture ; ere long I reached the base of the rocky 
ridge, and after passing some hills, traversing a long 
valley, and ascending a mountain of considerable 
height, I took out my map, and looking eastward 
below me, saw, to my great satisfaction, a rivulet 
running for several miles directly in the course 
marked. I was assured that this stream, whether the 
source or not, ran into the Dee, as it proceeded east- 
ward, and therefore I directed my steps toward it. 
But here, too, a scene occurred which gave me great 
pleasure. Some low croaking sounds came from 
among the stones around me, and presently after a 
splendid flock of grey ptarmigans, about fifty in 
number, rose into the air and whirred past me on their 
way to the opposite eminence. On the brow of the 
hill I found two large fountains, the sources of the 
stream below, of each of which I drank a mouthful, 
and proceeded. ]My friend, however, was not to be 
seen ; but it was too early ; and so to pass the time I 
explored another of the sources of the rivulet that rose 
farther up in the glen. But at length the scene be- 
came too dreary to be endured : desolate mountains, on 
whose rugged sides lay patches of snow that the 
summer's suns had failed to melt ; wild glens, scantily 
covered with coarse grass, heath, and lichens ; dark 
brown streams gushing among crags and blocks, un- 
enlivened even by a clump of stunted willows : and I 
followed the rivulet, judging that it would lead to the 
river, and the river to the sea. For seven long miles I 
trudged along, faint enough, as you may suppose, hav- 


ing obtained no refreshment for eighteen honrs, except- 
ing two mouthfuls of cold water ; so that even the 
multitudes of grouse that sprung up around me ceased 
to give much pleasure, although I had never before 
started so many, even with a dog, in a space of equal 
extent. At one o'clock, however, I came to a hut, 
tenanted by a person named MacHardy, who, express- 
ing his concern at my having been out all night, 
treated me to a glass of whisky and some bread and 
milk. At this place, Dubrach, stood three half- blasted 
firs, and about a mile and a half farther down I came 
upon a wood, the first that I had seen since I left 
Blair. The silver Dee now rolled pleasantly along the 
wooded valley, and in the evening I reached Castleton 
of Braemar, where, while seated in the inn, at a little 
round table, reading Zimmerman on Solitude, which, to 
my great joy, I had found there, and sipping my tea, 
I heard a rap at the door. " Come in," said I ; it was 
my best friend, with whom I spent a happy evening, 
in which, I believe, little mention was made of 
ptarmigans, grey or brown. — British Birch, vol i. 
pp. 175-179. 

2. — Mountain Inspiration. 

It is delightful to wander far away from the haunts 
and even the solitary huts of men, and, ascending the 
steep mountain, seat one's self on the ruinous cairn that 
crowns its summit, where, amid the grey stones, the 
ptarmigan gleans its Alpine food. There, communing 



with his own heart, in the wilderness, the lover of Nature 
cannot fail to look up to Nature's God. I beheve it in 
fact impossible, in such a situation, on the height of 
Ben-na-muic-dhui or Ben Nevis, for example, not to be 
sensible, not merely of the existence but also of the 
presence of a Divinity. In that sacred temple, of which 
the everlasting hills are the pillars, and the blue vault 
of heaven the dome, he must be a fiend indeed who 
could harbour an unholy thought. But, to know himself, 
one must go there alone. Accompanied by his fellows, 
he may see all of external Nature that he could see in 
solitude, but the hidden things of his own heart will not 
be brought to light. To me the ascent of a lofty 
mountain has always induced a frame of mind similar 
to that inspired by entering a temple ; and I cannot but 
look upon it as a gross profanation to enact in the midst 
of the sublimities of creation a convivial scene, such as 
is usually got up by parties from our large towns, who 
seem to have no higher aim in climbing to the top of 
Ben Lomond or Ben Ledi than to feast there upon cold 
chicken and " mountain dew," and toss as many stones 
as they can find over the precipices. — British Birds, vol. 
i. p. 204. 

3. — Flight of Birds. 

The folly of chasing sparrows depends upon the 
object you have in view. If the divine wisdom and 
power have been exercised in creating them, and the 
good providence of God displayed in caring for them, 


it cannot be foolish in us to study their habits, provided 
we look upon them with relation to the author of their 
being. However, let us go on : they have flown, and 
you see that they move about in flocks, that is, are 
gregarious at this season, as many species of small birds 
are in winter, the lark, for examj^le, linnets, and buntings. 
Before us are some birds in the hedge, chaffinches, which, 
as you observe, fly in a manner somewhat different from 
that of the sparrows. Then, the rooks, which you see 
high in the air, moving steadily and sedately along, with 
regularly-timed beats of their expanded wings, and now, 
as if seized with some sudden panic, or impelled by some 
frolicsome propensity, dashing down headlong, crossing 
each other, whirUng and undulating : how difi^erent is 
their flight from that of those wood pigeons, which 
advance with rapidity, moving their wings witli quick 
strokes, and making the air whistle as they glide along ; 
while the two white gulls, with their outstretched, long, 
arched wings, float buoyantly in the clear sky, bending 
gently to either side, as they advance from the sea. — 
British Birds, vol. i. p. 238. 

4. — A LovEK OF Nature — Audubon. 

We are all school-boys, or at least scholars, and when 
we forget that we are so, we become fools. If we go to 
the school of Nature, and study God's providence, we 
can be better employed only when in the school of 
revelation we study God's grace. Let us ever retain 


our school-boy feelings, so long as they are innocent. 
There is a freshness of heart manifest in every real lover 
of Nature — a delightful feeling, gratifying not to one's 
self only, but to his companions. When it is gone, and 
the frost of worldly wisdom has chilled the affections, 
the naturalist becomes a pompous, pedantic, stiff-necked, 
cold-blooded thing, from which you shrink back un- 
wittingly. I have the pleasure of being familiar with 
an ornithologist who has spent thirty years in study, 
who has ransacked the steaming swamps of Louisiana, 
traversed the tangled and trackless woods of the Missouri, 
ascended the flowery heights of the Alleghanies, and 
clambered among the desolate crags of cold and misty 
Labrador ; who has observed, and shot and drawn, and 
described the birds of half a continent. Well, what 
then ? Has this man the grave and solemn croak of 
that carrion-crow, or the pertness and impudence of that 
pilfering jackdaw. No, I have seen him chasing tom-tits 
with all the glee of a truant school-boy, and have heard 
him communicate his knowledge with the fervour and 
feeling of a warm-hearted soul, as he is. — British Birds, 
vol. i. p. 239. 

5. — A Tame Rock Dove. 

The boys in the Outer Hebrides often attempt to 
rear young doves, but their cares are seldom continued 
long enough. They introduce the food, dry barley grain, 
by the side of the mouth, which occasions inflammation 


and sAvelling of the basal margins of the mandibles. 
When a boy, I had a young rock dove, which I fed for 
some time in this manner, until the bill became ttmiid 
and sore, when, in consequence of advice from a friend, 
I took a mouthful of barley and water, and introduced 
the pigeon's bill, when the bird soon satisfied itself, 
flapping its wings gently and uttering a low cry all the 
while. It grew up vigorously, shed the yellow down-tips 
of its feathers, and began to fly about. Towards the 
middle of autumn it renewed its plumage, and assumed 
the bright and beautiful tints of the adult male. When- 
ever I escaped from the detested pages of Virgil and 
Horace, the pigeon was sure to fly to me, and sometimes 
alighted on my head or shoulder, directing its bill towards 
my mouth, and flapping its wings. Nor did it ever fly 
off" with the wild pigeons, which almost every day fed 
near the house, although it had no companions of its 
own species. At length some fatal whim induced it to 
make an excursion to a village about a mile distant, 
when it alighted on the roof of a hut and the boys pelted 
it dead with stones. Long and true was my sorrow for 
my lost companion ; the remembrance of it will probably 
continue as long as life. I have since mourned the loss 
of a far dearer dove. They were gentle and lovely 
beings ; but while the one has been blended with the 
elements, the other remains " hid with Christ in God," 
and for it I "mourn not as those who have no hope." — 
Brith-h Binh; vol. i. pp. 275, 276. 


6. — A Winter Bird Scene at the Mouth of 
THE Almond. 

The tide is out, and on the muddy flat at the mouth 
of the Almond you observe vast collections of rooks and 
gulls. Small flocks of ducks are swimming about in the 
stream, and groups of sandpipers are diligently probing 
the mud along its edges. Far away, at a safe distance, 
are many curlews and oyster-catchers. But see, scattered 
all over the sand, running with a half-hopping motion, 
and as they rise on wing displaying the white of their 
wings and tail, the beautiful snow buntings. At the 
edge of the water stand in a fixed and watchful posture 
a pair of herons ; and, out at sea, are seen here and there 
a few dark-coloured birds, which may be cormorants or 
ducks. A flight of sandpipers is a beautiful sight ; there 
they wheel around the distant point, and advance over 
the margin of the water ; swiftly and silently they glide 
along ; now, all inclining their bodies to one side, present 
to view their under surface, glistening in the sunshine ; 
again, bending to the other side, they have changed 
their colour to dusky grey ; a shot is fired, and they 
plunge with an abrupt turn, curve aside, ascend with a 
ghding flight, and aU, uttering shrill cries, fly over the 
stream to settle on the shore that stretches out towards 
Barnbogle ruins. I have seen the sand fords of the 
Hebrides in autumn, when those birds descend with their 
broods from the moors, almost completely covered with 
them and the golden plovers. 


AVliat interest one could find in merely describing 
the skins of these birds in his closet, it is somewhat 
difficult to imagine ; nor is it obvious that the examina- 
tion of their structure, without any reference to their 
habits, is a mucii more rational occupation. The mere 
closet-naturalist, and the mere anatomist, find little to 
interest them in such a sight as this ; and the mere 
field-naturalist, however delighted vv'ith it, cannot enjoy 
that true pleasure which results from a knowledge of the 
adaptation of means to ends, by which all these species 
have their peculiar spheres of action determined. — British 
Birds, vol. i. pp. 301, 302. 

7. — On Clisheim in a Snow-Storm. 

Having in October 1817, as I find by one of my 
note-books, left Borve in Harris, in company with the 
Reverend Mr. Alexander Macleod, minister of the Forest 
district, I crossed the sand ford and hills of Luskentir 
to the little Bay of Kindibig, where we lodged with a 
farmer, who next day ferried us over Loch Tarbert to a 
place called Urga. We remained there for a night, and 
then continued our journey, proceeding up along, craggy, 
and bleak valley, in which is a very dark-coloured lake, 
famous for a goblin -beast which is seen upon it in summer 
in the form of a black mass having three humps. The 
wind was exceedingly keen, the hail came in great 
showers, and the summits of the mountains were covered 
with snow. I left the parson a little above Marig, a 


creek on Loch Seaforth, in which was his dreary-looking 
habitation, and having resolved to ascend the highest 
hill, in order to witness a Hebridian snow-storm in all 
its glory, I proceeded towards Clisheim, the height of 
which is estimated at somewhat more than three thousand 
feet. In despite of hail and snow, and the furious whirl- 
winds or eddying blasts that swept the mountain at 
intervals, I made my way, though not without labour, 
to the summit ; and Avell was I recompensed, for there 
I enjoyed a very sublime spectacle. I was on the highest 
pinnacle of that range of islands denominated the Outer 
Hebrides or Long Island, perched, like a ptarmigan, on 
a craggy and precipitous ridge. The islands of Uist, 
Harris, and Lewis lay, as it were, at my feet. Toward 
the east and south, in the extreme distance, appeared 
the mountains of the counties of Ross and Inverness, 
with the pointed hiUs and craggy capes and sloping 
plains of Skye. Westward, a long series of summits, 
commencing with that on which I stood, and forming a 
broad ridge, intercepted transversely by deep valleys, 
extended for several miles. They appeared to be much 
lower than the mountain on which I was, and resembled 
heaps of sand formed by pouring it from a vessel. The 
snow lay rather deep on them all, and the whirlwinds 
that swept along their ridges, scattering it in spiral flakes, 
presented an indescribably beautiful and sublime appear- 
ance. I was enveloped in one, but it did not prove very 
boisterous. The Atlantic was covered with huge clouds, 
that advanced in disorderly groups, nearly on a level 
with my position, but the waving streams of snow and 


hail that poured from them left no trace on the stormy 
waters. Toward the north lay the dreary flats of Lewis, 
covered with lakes and flanked with the Park and Uia; 
mountains. Having gazed upon the splendid scene until 
nearly frozen, I descended with considerable difficulty 
into a deep valley, where I encountered a fall of snow 
so dense as to render me apprehensive of being smothered 
by it. I felt too, for the first time perhaps, the benumbing 
effects of cold, my feet and fingers having become almost 
senseless, and a feeling of faintness having crept over me. 
However, by walking and running I soon recovered heat 
enough, and after passing the deep glen of Langadale, 
ascended an eminence in a kind of pass between two 
mountains, whence I discovered tokens of cultivation at 
the distance of three or four miles. — British Birds, vol. 
1. pp. 306, 307. 

8. — Crossbills Feeding. 

In the autumn of 1821, when walking from Aber- 
deen to Elgin, by the way of Glenlivet and along the 
Spey, I had the pleasure of observing, near the influx of 
a tributary of that river, a flock of several hundreds of 
crossbills busily engaged in shelling the seeds of the 
berries which hung in clusters on a clump of rowan 
trees. So intent were they on satisfying their hunger 
that they seemed not to take the least heed of me, and 
as I had not a gun I was content with gazing on them, 
without offering them any molestation. They clung to 
the twigs in all sorts of positions, and went through the 


operation of feeding in a quiet and business-like manner, 
each attending to his own affairs without interfering 
with his neighbours. It was indeed a pleasant sight to 
see how the httle creatures fluttered among the twigs, 
all in continued action, like so many bees on a cluster 
of flowers in sunshine after rain. Their brilhant colours, 
so much more gaudy than those of our common birds, 
seemed to convert the rude scenery around into that of 
some far distant land, where the redbird sports among 
the magnolia flowers. — British Birds, vol. i. p. 425. 

9. — The Raven in the Hebrides. 

The character of the raven accords well with the 
desolate aspect of the rugged glens of the Hebridian 
moors. He and the eagle are the fit inhabitants of 
those grim rocks ; the red grouse, the plover, and its 
page, of those browni and scarred heaths ; the ptarmigan 
of those craggy and tempest-beaten summits. The red- 
throated diver and the merganser, beautiful as they are, 
fail to give beauty to those pools of dark -brown water, 
edged with peat banks, and unadorned with sylvan 
verdure. Even the water-lily, with its splendid white 
flowers, floating on the deep bog, reflects no glory on 
the surrounding scenery, but selfishly draws all your 
regards to itself. There, on the rifted crag, let the 
dark raven croak to his mate, while we search for the 
species in distant parts of the land. — British Birds, vol. 
i. p. 509. 


10. — Scene on an April Day. 

It is a lovely April day. All over the pale blue 
sky are scattered fleecy tufts of white vapour, buds of 
beauty are bursting from the earth, and the distant 
waterfall fills the valley with its soothing murmur. How 
delightful the scenery of these wild hills, where from 
the rift of the lichen-crusted crag juts out the rowan, 
whose elegantly pinnated foliage is fast unfolding ; 
where, scattered along the broken steep, are seen the 
white-stemmed birches, with their drooping twigs and 
glistening leaflets ; while the hillocks are crowned with 
blossomed furze ; and the smooth waters of the 
deep lake send back the wooded banks and the 
heath-clad heights ! 

High overhead wheels in wanton mazes the joyous 
snipe, piping its singular song, and anon drumming on 
tremulous wing, as it shoots aslant. The shrill scream 
of the curlew is responded to by the wail of the lap- 
wing and the melancholy whistle of the golden plover. 
Already have these birds desposited their eggs on the 
moor, in which they have scraped a slight hollow for 
the purpose of receiving them. Should you come upon 
one of their nests, you will admire the arrangement of 
its four pear-shaped and spotted eggs, the narrow ends 
of which meet in the centre. Among the tufts of furze 
and sloe hops the lively ring ouzel, newly arrived from 
the warmer region in which it has passed the winter ; 
and by the pebbly margin of the pool flits the delicate 


sandpiper, whose body is continually vibrating as if on 
a pivot. 

It is the busy season of Nature. What myriads of 
flowers are silently expanding, what rills of vegetable 
juices are ascending the stems of the topmost twigs, 
what mighty preparations, without confusion or bustle, 
are making to secure an abundant produce of fruit and 
seed for the support of animal life ! How beautiful the 
brooding mystery of that happy raven, seated on her 
nest to impart vital warmth to her newly-fledged young, 
while her mate croaks in joy on the projecting crag, 
ready to sally forth and drive away the prowling hawk 
that may chance to come near his ancient seat, the castle 
of his sires ! For weeks might one wander among those 
wooded glens, finding each hour some fresh object to 
excite admiration, and warm his bosom with the glow 
of gratitude toward the Supreme Power which out of 
nothing has called all these wonders into being. But 
at present we are mere strolling naturalists, bent on 
collecting nests and eggs. — British Birds, vol. i. pp. 
616, 617. 

11, — Some of Professor MacGillivray's Friends. 

I remember. Mr. Weir is an enthusiast, a lover of 
Nature, and, although a Conservative and a trapper of 
birds, a Christian and a scholar. I forgot him when I 
boasted of having fought my way with my own claymore. 
You shall see presently how efficient his aid has been. 


Other friends too, still dearer, I overlooked, especially 
him who now, in some Canadian wilderness, is making 
room for himself and his family, beset perhaps with 
murderous rebels and renegades, my best and most 
beloved friend, William Craigie ; and him too, of sultry 
Louisiana, the wanderer of the wild woods, the warm- 
hearted and generous Audubon ; and many more, some 
of whom I shall have occasion to mention, but above 
all, one who will presently welcome us, for here. No. 1 
Wharton Place, we end our digression for the present. 
— British Birds, vol. ii. p. 13. 

12. — The Song of the Blackbird. 

Although the blackbird sings at all times of the day, 
it is more especially in the mornings and evenings that 
it pours forth its delightful melodies, which, simple as 
they are, I am unable to describe in a more effective 
manner than by characterising them as loud, rich, mellow, 
and much surpassing in effect those of any other native 
bird, excepting the nightingale, song thrush, black-cap, 
and garden warbler. I have heard individuals singing 
most fervently in the midst of a heavy thunder storm, 
when the rain was falling thickly, and the lightning 
flashing at an alarming rate ; and both this species and 
the song thrush seem to regard the summer rains with 

The sweet strain, loud, but mellowed by distance, 
comes upon the ear, inspiring pleasant thoughts, and 


banishing care and sorrow. The bird has evidently 
learned his part by long practice, for he sings sedately 
and in the full consciousness of superiority. Ceasing at 
intervals, he renews the strain, varying it so that although 
you can trace an occasional repetition of notes, the staves 
are precisely the same. You may sit an hour or longer, 
and yet the song will be continued ; and in the neigh- 
bouring gardens many rival songsters will sometimes 
raise their voices at once, or delight you with alternate 
strains. And now, what is the purpose of all this melody ? 
We can only conjecture that it is the expression of the 
perfect happiness which the creature is enjoying, when, 
uncarked by care, conscious of security, and aware of 
the presence of his mate, he instinctively pours forth 
his soul in joy and gratitude and love. He does not 
sing to amuse his mate, as many have supposed, for he 
often sings in winter, when he is not yet mated ; nor 
does he sing to beguile his solitude, for now he is not 
solitary ; but he sings because all his wants are satisfied, 
his whole frame glowing with health, and because his 
Maker has gifted him with the power of uttering sweet 
sounds. — British Birds, vol. ii. pp. 89, 90. 

13. — The Song of the Thrush. 

The song thrush is associated in my memory with 
the Hebrides, where it is perhaps more abundant than 
in most parts of Britain. There, in the calm summer 
evening, such as for placid beauty far exceeds any that 


I have elsewhere seen, when the glorious sun is drawing 
towards the horizon, and shedding a broad glare of ruddy 
light over the smooth surface of the ocean ; when the 
scattered sheep, accompanied by their frolicsome lamb- 
kins, are quietly browsing on the hills ; when the 
broad-winged eagle is seen skimming along the mountain 
ridge, as he wends his way toward his eyry on the far 
promontory ; when no sound comes on the ear save at 
intervals the faint murmur of the waves rushing into the 
caverns and rising against the faces of the cliffs ; when 
the western breeze, stealing over the flowery pastures, 
carries with it the perfume of the wild thyme and white 
clover ; the song of the thrush is poured forth from the 
summit of some granite block, shaggy with grey lichens, 
and returns in softer and sweeter modulations from the 
sides of the heathy mountains. There may be wilder, 
louder, and more marvellous songs, and the mocking 
bird may be singing the requiem of the Red Indian of 
the Ohio, or cheering the heart of his ruthless oppressor, 
the white man of many inventions ; but to me it is 
all-sufficient, for it enters into the soul, melts the heart 
into tenderness, diffuses a holy calm, and connects the 
peace of earth with the transcendent happiness of heaven. 
In other places the song of the thrush may be lively and 
cheery ; here, in the ocean-girt solitude, it is gentle and 
soothing ; by its magic influence it smoothes the ruffled 
surface of the sea of human feelings, as it floats over it 
at intervals with its varied swells and cadences, like the 
perfumed wavelets of the summer wind. — British Birds, 
vol. ii. pp. 130, 131. 


14. — The Carol of the Lark. 

The mellow song of the merle or mavis is apt to 
inspire melancholy, especially if heard in a sequestered 
valley toward the close of day, and the feelings 
which it excites have perhaps as much of a depressing 
as of a soothing tendency ; but the carol of the lark, 
like the lively fife, excites pure cheerfulness, and might 
with propriety be prescribed as an antidote of dulness. 
It is not merely music that we look for in the song of 
birds, but variety, and the expression of passions, feel- 
ings, and wants. Were all our warblers to tune their 
throats according to rule, we should become sickly and 
sentimental, fill the valleys with sighs, and groan from 
the mountain tops ; but the loud war-whoop of the 
eagle, the harsh scream of the heron, and the croak of 
the raven, are antidotes to the bewitching melody of 
the black-cap and nightingale. I have endeavoured to 
trace a repetition at regular intervals in the strains of 
the lark ; but its modulations seem to have no rule. In 
confinement this bird sings every whit as well as when 
at large ; and when rapidly perambulating the square 
bit of faded turf in its cage, it enacts its part with 
apparently as much delight as when mounting " to- 
wards heaven's gate." — British Birds, vol. ii. p. 170. 

15. — The Hen-Harrier. 

Having examined the form, and somewhat of the 
structure of the hen-harrier, we are prepared for the 


exliibition of its faculties. Kneel down here, then, 
among the long broom, and let us watch the pair that 
have just made their appearance on the shoulder of the 
hill. Leave these beautiful flowerets to the inspection 
of that lank-sided botanist, who drags himself slowly 
along, with a huge tin cannister on his back, and eyes 
ever bent on the ground. Should he wander hither- 
ward, he will be delighted to cull the lovely tufts of 
maiden-pinks that surround us ; but wc look heaven- 
ward, like the astronomers. 

How beautifully they glide along, in their circling 
flight, with gentle flaps of their expanded Avings, float- 
ing, as it were, in the air, their half-spread tails inclined 
from side to side, as they balance themselves, or alter 
their course ! Now they are near enough to enable us 
to distinguish the male from the female. They seem 
to be hunting in concert, and their search is keen, for 
they fly at times so low as almost to touch the bushes, 
and never rise higher than thirty feet. The grey bird 
hovers, fixing himself in air like the kestrel ; now he 
stoops, but recovers himself. A hare breaks from the 
cover, but they follow her not, though, doubtless, were 
they to spy her yoimg one, it would not escape so well. 
The female now hovers for a fcAV seconds, gradually 
sinks for a short space, ascends, turns a little to one 
side, closes her wings, and comes to the ground. She 
has secured her prey, for she remains concealed among 
the furze, while the male shoots away, flying at the 
height of three or four yards, sweeps along the haw- 
thorn hedge, bounds over it to the other side, turns 



away to skim over the sedgy pool, where he hovers a 
short while. He now enters upon the grass field, when 
a partridge springs off, and he pursues it with a rapid, 
gliding flight like that of the sparrow-hawk ; but they 
have turned to the right, and the wood conceals them 
from our view. In the meantime the female has sjirung 
up, and advances, keenly inspecting the ground, and so 
heedless of our presence that she passes within twenty 
yards of us. Away she speeds, and in passing the pool 
again stoops, but recovers herself, and, rising in a beauti- 
ful curve, bounds over the plantation, and is out of 
sight— British Birds, vol. iii. pp. 371, 372. 

16. — The Golden Plover. 

Many a time and oft, in the days of my youth, when 
the cares of life were few and the spirits expansile, and 
often, too, in later years, when I had made a tem])oiary 
escape to the wilderness to breathe an atmosphere im- 
tainted by the effluvia of cities, and ponder in silence 
on the wonders of creative power, have I stood on the 
high moor and listened to the mellow notes of the 
plover, that seemed to come from the grey slopes of the 
neighbouring hills. Except the soft note of the ring- 
plover, I know none so pleasing from the grallatorial 
tribes. Amid the wild scenery of the rugged hills and 
sedgy valleys, it comes gently and soothingly on the 
ear, and you feel, without being altogether conscious of 
its power, that it soothes the troubled mind, as water 


cools the burning brow. How unlike the shriek of the 
heron — but why should we think of it, for it reminds us 
of the cracked and creaking voice of some village bel- 
dame of the Saxon race. The clear, gentle tones of 
the Celtic maiden could not be more pleasant to any 
one, or perhaps much more welcome to her lover, than 
the summer note of the golden jjlover to the lover of 
birds and of Nature. As you listen to it, now distant, 
now nearer and near, and see the birds with short flights 
approaching as if to greet you, though in reality with 
more fear than confidence, with anxiety and apprehen- 
sion, the bright sunshine that glances on their jetty 
breasts is faintly obscured by the white vapours that 
have crept up from the western valley, and presently all 
around us is suffused with an opaline light, into the con- 
fines of which abird is dimly seen to advance, then another, 
and a third. Who could represent the scene on canvas 
or card ? — a hollow hemisphere of white shining mist, 
on which are depicted two dark human figures, their 
heads surrounded with a radiant halo, and these black- 
breasted golden plovers, magnified to twice their natural 
size, and gazing upon us, each from its mossy tuft. It 
is as if two mortals had a conference on the heath with 
three celestial messengers — and so they have. Pre- 
sently a breeze rolls away the mist, and discloses a 
number of those watchful sentinels, each on his mound 
of faded moss, and all emitting their mellow cries the 
moment we offer to advance. They are males, whose 
mates are brooding over their eggs, or leading their 
down -clad and toddling chicks among the, to them, 


pleasant peat-bogs that intervene between the high 
banks, clad with luxuriant heath, not yet recovered 
from the effects of the winter frosts, and little nieadoAvs 
of cotton-grass, white as the snow-wreaths that lie on 
the distant hill. How prettily they run over the grey 
moss and lichens, their little feet twinkling and their 
full, bright, and soft eyes gleaming, as they commence 
their attempts to entice us away from their chosen 
retreats. In the midst of them alight some tiny things, 
black-breasted too, Avith reddish backs and black nebs 
and neat pointed wings, which they stretch right up, 
and then fold by their sides. These are plovers' pages, 
which also have their nests on the moor. The mist 
rolls slowly away, and is ascending in downy flakes the 
steep side of the corrie, whence comes suddenly on the 
ear the loud scream of the curlew — pleasing too, but to 
the deer startling. The fewer of these birds on the 
moors after the 12th of August, the better for the 
deer-stalker ; but that day is far distant. — British 
Birds vol. iv. p. 97. 

17. — Common Ring-Plover. 

Were I to describe the manners of this gentle 
creature under the influence of the delightful emotions 
which the view of it has often excited in me, I should 
probably appear to the grave admirer of Nature an 
enthusiast, or an imitator of other men's musings. 
Well, let him think as he lists ; but yet lives there 


tlie mail, calling himself an ornithologist, who, quietly 
strolling along the bright sandy beach just left bare 
by the retiring tide, and aroused from his pleasing 
reveries by the mellow whistle of the ring-plover, 
would not gaze with delight on the pleasant little 
thing that speeds away before him with twinkling 
feet, now stops, pipes its clear cry, runs, spreads its 
beautiful wings, glides close over the sand, and alights 
on some not distant tuft. What are primaries and 
secondaries, ccecums and duodenums, types and 
analogies, squares or circles, to him who thus watches 
the living bird ? There is the broad blue sea, on that 
hand the green pasture, under foot and around the 
pure sand, above the sunny sky. Frown not upon 
the cheerfulness of Nature ; shout aloud, run, leap, 
make the sand lark thy playmate. Why mayest thou 
not be drunk with draughts of pure ether ? Are the 
gambols of a merry naturalist less innocent than the 
mad freaks, the bowlings, the ravings of sapient men 
assembled to deliberate about corn-laws, or party 
zealots upholding their creed by palpably demonstrat- 
ing their total want of charity ? — British Birds, vol. iv. 
p. 119. 

18.— The Sea-Pie. 

Should one consider the sea-pie the most beautiful 
of our native birds, I should not much censure his 
taste. When by the silver Dee, gliding, rapidly along, 
amidst corn-fields, pastures, and fragrant birch-woods, 


you hear a loud and shrill cry, and, turning about, see 
a pair winging their flight up the country, their glossy 
black and pure white plumage contrasting strongly 
with everything around, and their long vermilion 
beaks giving them a strange and foreign aspect, they 
never fail to rivet your gaze. Equally attractive are 
they when running about on some grassy meadow, 
picking up an insect or a slug, then standing, and 
again advancing with quick, short steps, prettily 
tripping it among the gowans ; then emitting their 
loud alarm-cries, and flying oft' to a more distant place, 
or alighting on a pebbly beach. No creature but man 
seems to molest them ; but of his advances they are 
always suspicious, as good need they have to be. — 
British Birds, vol. iv. p. 158. 

19. — Dunlins Feeding. 

I, on the 9th of September 1840, walked to 
Musselburgh, where I was informed that the sandpipers 
were very abundant ; and, having betaken myself to 
the mouth of the Esk soon after the tide had turned, 
was gratified by the sight of a great luunber of 
dunlins and ring-plovers. In the first place I met 
with two flocks reposing, the one among some thin 
herbage, composed chiefly of Glaux rna7'itima ; the 
other on a slightly elevated part of the sand, just above 
water -mark. Individuals of both species were inter- 
mingled, all lying flat on the ground, and in a crouch- 


ing attitude, with tiie neck drawn in. 'lluis. as I 
have elsewhere observed, these birds repose during tlie 
period of high water in unfrequented places along the 
shore, and generally, especially if there be a strong 
wind, in a decumbent posture. On my approaching 
them, they dispersed, and began to search for food. 
Presently straggling bands flew in from a distance and 
alighted on the shore. The dunlins on such occasions 
come gliding on outspread wings, which in alighting 
they extend and elevate a little. They then run a 
few steps, and stand a short time, or at once commence 
their search. These bands were remarkably intent on 
seeking for food, so that I was allowed to walk up to 
about fifteen paces from one of them. In this flock 
of about fifteen, two limped, apparently having had 
one of their legs damaged by shot, yet they seemed 
scarcely less active than the rest. Being in a muddy 
place, which probably afforded a good supply of food, 
they did not run much, but yet moved quickly about, 
with their legs a little bent, the body horizontal, the 
head a little declined, and the bill directed forwards 
toward the ground at an angle of about forty-five 
degrees. I observed that they seemed in general 
merely to touch the surface, but also sometimes to 
introduce their bill into the mud for about a fourth of 
its length ; but this always with a rapid tapping and 
somewhat wriggling movement, and not by thrusting 
it in sedately. This flock having flown away, I 
observed another of about twelve individuals alight at 
a little distance on the other side of the mill-stream. 


Being very intent on tapping the mud, they allowed 
me to approach within ten paces, so that I could see 
them very distinctly. I was surprised to hear from 
them a very gentle warble, which was composed of 
feeble notes somewhat resembling the syllables pee- 
pee-pee, continually repeated, and with more frequency 
when the individuals came very near each other. 
These notes could not be heard at a greater distance 
than twenty yards, and would thus be entirely lost to 
the casual observer. All at once I heard a singular 
noise, which might be likened to a cough, shrill and 
feeble as it was, and presently found that it came from 
one which, having picked up something too large for its 
gullet, stood endeavouring to swallow it by repeated 
jerks, at each of which it emitted a sharp wheezing or 
hissing sound. The rest paid no attention to the 
distressed bird, which in about three minutes got the 
morsel down, and resumed its search. While thus 
busily employed, and quite regardless of me, although 
so near that I could see their little dusky eyes, and dis- 
tinguish by its tints one individual from another, a sand- 
piper, Totanus hypoleucos, came silently gliding over 
them at the height of not more than three feet. It was 
beautiful to see how they all rose simultaneously on wing 
to the height of from two to four feet, and, finding that 
they had no cause of alarm, immediately re-alight. I now 
struck my note-book against my hand, when they all 
rose, but alighted about five yards off, and three of them 
came within ten paces of me. As nothing more was 
to be seen, I examined the marks made by them in 


the mud. Although it was soft, very few footmarks 
were left ; but the place was covered with numberless 
small holes made by their bills, and forming little 
groups, as if made by the individual birds separately. 
Of these impressions very many were mere hollows 
not larger than those on a thimble, and not half a 
twelfth of an inch deep ; others scarcely perceptible, 
while a few were larger, extended to a depth of two- 
twelfths ; and here and there one or two to the depth 
of nearly half an inch. On scraj)ing the mud I could 
perceive no worms or shells. It is thus clear that 
they search by gently tapping, and it appears that 
they discover the object of their search rather by tiie 
kind of resistance which it yields than by touch like 
that of the human skin. — British Birds, vol. iv. 
p. 210. 

20. — The Common Snipe. 

Beautiful are those green woods that hang upon the 
craggy sides of the fern-clad hills, where the heath-fowl 
threads its way among the tufts of brown heath, and the 
cuckoo sings his ever -pleasing notes as he balances 
himself on the grey stone, vibrating his fan -like tail. 
Now I listen to the simple song of the mountain 
blackbird, warbled by the quiet lake that spreads its 
glittering bosom to the sun, winding far away among 
the mountains, amid whose rocky glens wander the wild 
deer, tossing their antlered heads on high as they snuff 
the breeze tainted with the odour of the slow -paced 


shepherd and his faithful dog. In that recess formed 
by two moss-clad slabs of mica-slate, the lively wren 
jerks up its little tail, and chits its merry note, as it 
recalls its straggling young ones that have wandered 
among the bushes. From the sedgy slope, sprinkled 
with white cotton-grass, comes the shrill cry of the 
solitary curlew ; and there, high over the heath, wings 
his meandering way the joyous snipe, giddy with excess 
of unalloyed happiness. 

There another has sprung from among the yellow 
flowered marigolds that profusely cover the marsh. 
Upwards slantingly, on rapidly vibrating wings, he 
shoots, uttering the while his shrill two -noted cry. 
Tissick, tissick, quoth the snipe, as he leaves the bog. 
Now in silence he wends his way, until at length, 
having reached the height of perhaps a thousand feet, he 
zigzags along, emitting a louder and shriller cry of zoo- 
zee, zoo-zee, zoo-zee, which over, varying his action, he 
descends on quivering pinions, curving toward the earth 
with surprising speed, while from the rapid beats of his 
wing the tremulous air gives to the ear what at first 
seems the voice of distant thunder. This noise some 
have likened to the bleating of a goat at a distance on 
the hillside, and thus have named our bird the air-goat 
and air-bleater. The sound, I think, is evidently 
produced by the rapid action of the wings, which, during 
its continuance, are seen to be in tremulous motion. It 
comes on the ear soon after the bird commences its 
descent, and ceases when, having gained the lowest part 
of the curve, it recovers itself, and ascends with a 


different and ordinary motion of its wings. I have never 
heard it under any other circumstances. Were it pro- 
duced by the voice, it might be emitted when tlie bird 
is on the ground, or during its ordinary flight ; but 
should one liear it on the moor, he will invariably find 
that it proceeds from on high. In this manner the snipe 
may continue to amuse itself for, perhaps, an hour or 
more ; and sometimes, in the clear sky, one may trace 
it until at length it mounts so high as to be no longer 

This drumming noise of the snipe commences in 
April and is continued through the summer. It is 
altogether a solitary act, although several individuals 
may often be heard at the same time, and may be an 
expression of the happiness of the bird, or an intimation 
of its presence to its mate while sitting upon her eggs. 
We have no means of ascertaining its object, nor has it 
been determined whether it be performed by the male 
only, or by the female also. When the bird has gone 
through his evolutions, he descends, often with astonish- 
ing velocity, on partially extended and apparently 
motionless wings, diminishes his speed a little as he 
approaches the ground obliquely, and alights abruptly. 
— British Birds; vol. iv. p. 371. 

21. — The Grey Heron. 

Far away through the green valley winds the silver 
Tweed, now rolling its waters over the white pebbles, 


then gliding placidly between banks covered with fresh 
herbage and gaudy florets of many hues. The hum of 
the wild bee draws your eye toward those beautiful tufts 
of purple trefoil ; the weet-weet, ever vibrating its body 
as if delicately balanced on its slim legs, runs along the 
sunny beach, spreads out its pointed wings, and skims 
over the pool. There, in the water, nearly up to the 
knees, is the heron, patiently waiting an opportunity of 
seizing some giddy trout. Those ducklings that swim 
so beautifully, and dive with such marvellous quickness, 
he seems to eye with hungry glance ; but their watchful 
protectress is in the midst of them. That wary old 
water-rat is equally safe, as he nibbles the grass at the 
mouth of his hole, and at intervals trims his whiskers 
with his little paws. In short, go where you will, in 
summer or in winter, to the shores of the sea or the far 
inland lake, the source of the estuary of the hill-born 
streams, you may here and there find a solitary heron. 
— British Birds, vol. iv. p. 445. 

22. — The Great Black-Backed Gull. 

It is a lovely night in June ; the moon slowly emerges 
from behind the distant mountains, the northern horizon 
is still red with the glare of the departed sun, the winds 
have sunk to rest, and no sound is heard save the faint 
murmur of the waves that clash over the distant reefs. 
Yet, hark ! the terns are abroad, and their shrill cries 
come faintly on the ear, from the far-off" sand-point, 


where, no doubt, they are engaged with a shoal of 
launces. Listen again ! The oyster-catchers intermingle 
their clamorous and curiously modulated cries ; and now, 
louder than all, is clearly heard the call of the black- 
backed gull, faintly seen in the dim light. Here is one 
of his breeding-places, a turf-crowned crag, torn, as it 
were, from the rocks, and forming an inlet inaccessible 
to human feet. Creeping stealthily among the crags, 
we faintly perceive the birds as they sit on their nests ; 
but some of them have observed us. All spring on their 
feet, and a few launch into the air, uttering loud cries, 
which alarm the birds around. It is vain, you perceive, 
to try to surprise them by night or by day. Wander 
as long as you will in these places, what more can you 
see? Perhaps a more acute observer may. — British 
Birds, vol. V. p. 534. 

23.— God's Wokks. 

Let us then humble ourselves, that in contemplating 
God's works, we may ever see Him in the midst of them. 
If, in this temper, we traverse the valley of the Dee, 
and ascend the mountains from which the sources of 
that beautiful river gush forth, even if we discover little 
that may be of interest to science, we shall find much 
that may benefit our spiritual nature. And what would 
it profit a man were he to solve half the mysteries of 
external Nature, and yet be ignorant of the higher 
relations of his own being ? Strange adventures, perils 


among rocks and floods, wonderful discoveries, or 
magnificent theories, cannot be expected from a quiet 
journey to be made in one pair of shoes, with no other 
weapon than a hammer. — Natural History of Deesule, 
p. 23. 

24. — Promise of a Bright Day. 

The dawn of this 7th of August gave promise of 
a bright day. How beautiful is the quiet valley as it 
basks in the sunshine. The corn-fields, some nearly 
ready for the sickle, others yet green, are spread out 
by the margin of the river, which glides along in its 
winding course, emitting a pleasing murmur, except- 
inii Avhich the ear catches no sound ; for the air is 
still, and even the hair-grass waves not its slender 
panicle. The cattle are feeding on the after-grass ; 
here and there a peasant is seen in the fields, or near 
the few cottages scattered over the valley ; but other- 
wise all is very still, and in the gentle beauty of the 
scene one hardly sees a place for human wickedness. 
If it is not a paradise we gaze upon, it is a scene 
well fitted to remind us of how much happiness our 
earthly habitation might yield were it always illumin- 
ated by a sense of the Divine presence. — Natural 
History of Deesidc, p. 49. 


Still onward, amidst woods and mountains, and 
here and there fields, yielding the staple food of the 


Scot. Let us again look southward, " o'er moors and 
mosses mony," to the never-tiring glories of Lochnagar, 
which is now much nearer to us than when we first saw 
it. Like Edinburgh, it may be viewed with interest from 
any station. For my part, I could gaze a quarter of 
an hour on either every day of the year without getting 
tired. There, proudly pre-eminent over all around, 
just as it settled when it was heaved up from the 
abyss, it stands in solenm grandeur, its ridges wreathed 
in white vapour. I^ochnagar has more dignity than 
any of t)ur hills, except Ben Nevis. — Natural History 
of Deeside, p. 55. 

26. — View from Invercauld Bridge. 

At length we stand on the lofty mid-arch of Inver- 
cauld Bridge. Before we pass on, let us pause once 
more — not because we are weary of travel or of the 
world. Here the bed of the Dee is obliquely inter- 
cepted by a broken ridge of slaty rock, passing from 
south-west to north-east. The stream is broken by 
it into a succession of little falls and rapids, and then 
glides away over its stony bed to wind afar amidst 
pine-clad hills. Beautiful scene ! I almost weep when 
I look upon thee ; for tears flow from the pure 
fountain of happiness as well as from the troubled 
springs of sorrow. How unlike, in thy quiet loveli- 
ness, to the fierce rudeness of human nature ! Not a 
living creature is to be seen but a lad whipping the 


water. The western sun shines in full splendour in 
a sky unobscured, although scattered flakes of white 
vapour glide slowly eastward in its upper region. 
Long shadows are projected from the tall pines, while 
the hill-tops, purpled with flowering heath, or grey 
with lichen-crusted stones, are lighted with the blaze. 
Far away up the wooded glens is still seen the scarred 
ridge of Lochnagar. Not a breath stirs the tiny leaf 
of the birch, nor a sound is heard but from the waters. 
Ouaht not he to whom Providence has allotted all 
this to be happy ? The scene is mine and thine ; 
but happiness comes not from without. Yet, O 
Invercauld ! thou hast a patrimony of beauty. May 
it long be enjoyed by thee and thine. I see iu)thing 
wanting but scattered homes of happy tenants, and 
little patches of yellow corn, and cows feeding by the 
river, and sheep on the hills. — Natural History of 
Dees-ide, p. 56. 

27. — The Raven — Poor Bird ! 

It is now beginning to get dusky. The croak 
of the raven seems to warn us of the approach 
of night. Poor bird ! he has little cause to harbour 
friendly feelings towards us ; for fearful has been 
the persecution which he and his race have suffered, 
if not at our hands, yet at those of our kindred. 
Very seldom now is a raven to be met with, even 
in this wild tract of mountain and glen : gamekeepers 


and sheep -farmers, with guns and traps, have left 
but a very scanty residue of a once prosperous 
and respectable race. The same inconsiderate 
selfishness which has cleared Van Dieman's Land 
of its aboriginal population has destroyed our magni- 
ficent eagles and sagacious ravens. It is indeed a 
rare pleasure to hear the barking and yelping of that 
distant bird which from the red crags to the right 
calls aloud to his mate, perched behind us on that 
rugged ridge. — Natural History of Deeside, p. 83. 

28. — Another Night Visit to the Sources of 
THE Dee. 

In September 1819 a poor student of King's 
College, Aberdeen, ascended to the sources of the Dee 
on his way to Kingussie and Fort William. From 
his journal I make the following extract : — " About 
three or four miles above the Linn, the Dee is joined 
by a river equal in size, namely the GeauUy, the source 
of which I had explored in 1816, when I came across 
the mountains from Blair Atholl. Hitherto I had 
travelled in a westerly direction, but now proceeded 
northward, following the river. There are no houses 
beyond the junction mentioned. About a mile above 
it, I came in sight of a most magnificent rock, with a 
mountain peak behind it of greater elevation. When 
I reached this rock, I learned by the light scarlet 
colour of the clouds on the ridges that the sun was 



setting. Passing the rock, I entered a valley bounded 
on both sides by very lofty and rugged mountains, 
and terminating in a vast mass, towering above the 
whole. Before I reached the upper end of this 
magnificent, though wild and desolate valley, night 
fell. About this time I saw a deer not far from me. 
Near the upper end of the valley the stream which 
I had followed separated into two. It was with great 
difficulty that I clambered to this part to see which 
was the largest, that I might follow it. Having 
ascertained that the largest stream came from a valley 
which branched off at a right angle from the extremity 
of the main one, I entered this valley and proceeded 
about three-quarters of a mile. It was by this time 
completely dark, and I determined to rest myself." 

The narrative goes on to state that the night was 
passed here, in a sheltered place, but with little sleep, 
some shivering, and many melancholy thoughts : — 
" About midnight I looked up and saw the moon and 
some stars. They were at times obscured by masses 
of vapour, which rolled along the summits of the 
mountains. I had now a better view of my situation. 
I was near the upper end of a high valley, completely 
surrounded by enormous masses of rock. Behind me, 
my face being towards the mouth of the valley, there 
rose at its upper end a high mountain involved in 
clouds ; on the right hand was another, in the form 
of a pyramidal rock, and, contiguous with it, a peak 
of less elevation ; on the left hand, a high ridge 
running from the mountain in the north-west, and 


terminating at the mouth of the valley in a dark 
conical mass ; and, straight before me, in the south-east, 
at the distance of nearly a mile, another vast mountain. 
The summits of all w^ere at times enveloped in clouds. 
The wind, which blew from the west, was not keen, 
and the night was such as, in comfortable circum- 
stances, might be called warm. Yet on awakening 
from my slumber I felt chilly, and soon after began 
to shiver. I then rose, and gathered a few large stones 
and a good deal of grass and short heath, with which 
I formed a somewhat snug sort of couch. Unloosing 
my pack, I took a night-cap and a pair of stockings 
from it, which I applied to their proper use, for my 
feet had been wetted in crossing a brook, and my 
hat alone did not keep my head warm after the per- 
spiration it had undergone. Then, eating a little of my 
scanty store of barley bread, and drinking two or three 
cupfuls of water from a neighbouring rill, I lay down, 
put heather and my knapsack over my feet, placed 
myself in an easy posture, and fell asleep. 

" I awoke fresh, but weak, about sunrise. The 
stream which I had followed here divided into two, 
and I chose the largest. It led me to a magnificent 
corrie, in the form of a deep hollow scooped out of 
the great ridge, on the left of the glen, as described, 
but now on my right hand in ascending it. The sides 
of this corrie were formed of sloping rocks of vast 
height. The rivulet came tumbling down the centre 
in the form of a cataract. Here the rocks were most 
abrupt ; but I had determined to proceed, at least to 


attempt the ascent. Before I reached the base of the 
rocks, I felt very weak, and was obhged to halt every 
now and then. However, I proceeded, and at length, 
being well accustomed to rock-climbing, found my- 
self on the very summit of this vast mass of rock. It 
was covered with mist, Avhich rolled rapidly along the 
ridges. The sun now and then appeared through it. 
The view through the corrie, which I had just ascended, 
was delightful — dreadful it might have been to some 
— the whole glen, the deep corrie just beneath, with 
its fearful rocks, the opposite mountains with an Alpine 
lake before me. The scene was truly sublime, and I 
contemplated it with great delight. 

" I had now reached the rounded summit of the ridge, 
and proceeding along the streamlet, which was the prin- 
cipal object of my research, I traced it to two fovni tains 
and several smaller springs. I took a glassful from 
each of the larger, and drank it to the health of 
my friends. Near these fountains, which were 
among coarse granite sand, I saw a covey of ptarmi- 
gans, and a small bird, which I took for Alan da 
prate?isis. The only pha^nogamous plants which grew 
on the summit of the mountain were Silene acaulis 
and Salix herbacea, both in abundance, the former 
still in flower. 

" Descending on the northern side of the mountain, 
I came upon a precipitous corrie, down which I did not 
venture, and farther on found myself on a precipice, 
from which I had a view of a deep valley, with a lake 
and a stream, ending in a plain partially covered with 


fir. The view from this phice was vast, and I thought I 
distinguislied the sea ; but of this I was not certain, as 
the mist obscured the view at times. In my descent I 
saw a considerable number of ptarmigans, and some 
specimens of crystalhsed quartz, though not very fine. 
On the northern side of the mountain some Alpine 
lakes occurred, in which I could not find anything but 
Sparganium nutans, and a few poor specimens of Caltha 
jmliist/'is, which plant I also saw in the rivulets. Hold- 
ing still a northerly direction, I crossed a broken plain, 
and ascended a gentle acclivity, at the end of which I 
found a larger plain, which I also crossed. At the end 
of this plain I came to an opening which led into a deep 
valley, bounded by rocks and rapid gravelly slopes. 
Descending by this valley, which I found very long 
and very rugged, into a plain which led to a stream of 
considerable size, and evidently a tributary of the Spey, 
I at length reached the low ground, and directed myself 

Not knowing by name a single one of the localities 
mentioned in the above narrative, I had not been aware 
of my having passed up Glen Dee to the base of Ben- 
na-muic-dhui, and slept in the Glen of the Garrachory. 
But the journey of 1850, performed under circumstances 
in some respects more favourable, has shown me that I 
had in 1819 visited the so-called sources of the Dee on 
the ridge of Braeriach, and crossed the range to the 
valley of the Spey. The description above given, brief 
and without ornament, is perfectly correct and quite 
intelligible. IMy condition at that time was very 


different from my present state ; but the lapse of thirty 
years has iiot diminished my enthusiasm, nor in the least 
impaired my faculties, physical or mental. — Natural 
History of Deeside, p. 99. 

29. — Object of the Study of Nature. 

Our objects in examining the stone, the rock, the 
lichen, the moss, the flower, the fruit, the insect, the 
bird, or the quadruped, is to exercise our faculties by 
learning how beautifully, and with what wisdom all 
things have been constructed, how wonderfully they are 
formed with relation to each other, and how manifestly 
they display a power of which we could form no con- 
ception were we not to attend to its working as 
exhibited by them. It is true, we cannot fully com- 
prehend the complicated relations of the most common 
objects, much less understand the ordination of the 
universe, or even of our own world ; but we labour in 
hope ; we are studying — some of us, no doubt, very 
superficially, others more profoundly — the works of the 
Deity ; and the more progress we make, the more we 
glorify Him by an intelligent, not a vague, admiration. 
There are some who aim at the knowledge of general 
laws, some who seek simple facts. Both parties will 
find enough to engage their faculties, and neither will 
do the work of the other efficiently. There is no reason 
why one should despise the other. Contempt of any- 
thing but vice indicates an unsound mind, a defective 


judgment, an ignorance of the relations which men have 
to each other and to their Creator, an undue self- 
estimation, and a contempt of the rights of other men. 
He who measures the orbit of a comet has not, there- 
fore, higher fiiculties than he who examines the cyto- 
blast of a fungus ; and there is ftu- more to be seen by 
us in a beetle than in a planet ; upon that granite 
mountain opposite, at the distance of nine or ten miles, 
than in the sun and in the moon and the stars. — 
Natural History of Deeside, p. 120. 

30. — The Scenery of Benabuird. 

On reaching the summit, I found it to be a long, 
broad, rounded ridge, covered with stones, some of 
which were rounded, others angular. Here were a few 
mosses and a considerable quantity of Carex rigida. 
The scene which here presented itself was exceedingly 
striking and impressive. All around, mountains 
appeared behind mountains, with their rocks, ridges, 
and valleys. A solemn stillness prevailed ; nor was a 
living creature to be seen ; the clouds rolled their dusky 
wreaths along the ridges. The beams of the setting 
sun darted here and there through the clouds, which 
exhibited a hundred ever - varying shades. In one 
direction a vast livid mass hung over the ridges of a 
mountain, its lower fringed margin beautifully tinged 
with deep crimson. In another place the white vapour 
which clung to the summits of the mountains assumed, 


where opposed to the sunbeams, a roseate hue of the 
greatest delicacy. From a small lake in a rocky corrie, 
five or six miles distant, a white streamlet poured down 
an Alpine valley bounded by precipitous crags. In the 
west, through an opening of the clouds, was seen a 
range of lofty mountains, rising behind each other, the 
most distant being probably fifty miles off. To the 
west and north - west the mountains continued un- 
diminished in size as far as the eye could reach, but to 
the east they rapidly diminished. The desolate ranges 
of Braemar have a solemn grandeur independently of 
atmospheric drapery, but partially enveloped in massy 
clouds, or overhung with a wavy curtain of gorgeously 
tinted vapour, their glories are superbly enhanced. 
But by degrees the purple and burnished gold and 
roseate hues faded away into dull bluish grey, dimness 
crept over the mountains, and my home was eight miles 
distant. — Natural History of Deeside, p. 124. 

31. — Aged Birch Trees. 

In ascending a valley towards the higher grounds, 
and after passing through a birch wood, you come upon 
scattered trees, having an aged aspect, and stunted 
dimensions. Some are yet vigorous in their old age ; 
others, gnarled and knotted, with torn and ragged bark, 
partially denuded and decayed wood and thinly -clad 
branches. Many vicissitudes have these aged denizens 
of the forest seen : sunshine and gloom, calm and 


tempest ; the enlivening heat of summer and the 
cramping frosts of winter have come over them — how 
often one cannot tell. In the midst of them has the 
half-savase Celt of the olden time shot his arrow into 
the stately stag ; and but yesterday has the smooth- 
faced and trimly-clad Saxon sent from his rifle, as he 
leant against one of their trunks, the whizzing messenger 
of death to the herd that reposed in peace upon the 
mossy knoll. Farther on, many trees lie prostrate on 
the hillside among a scattered group of melancholy 
survivors ; and yet farther up the valley the ground is 
covered with trunks, erect, but decayed, broken down, 
shaggy with moss and lichen, rotten to the core, and 
crumbling under the action of the weather. Said I not 
well, that trees harmonise with human feelings ? He 
who for the hundredth time could pass by such a scene 
and not experience its depressing effect must have a 
heart unfit for any gentle emotion. A trumpet could 
not more forcibly proclaim the inevitable death of all 
organic being than do these lifeless and silent monu- 
ments of ruin. — Natural History of Deeside, p. 169. 

32. — The Wind in the Beallach-bhui 


Once more in the Beallach-bhui forest, I seat myself 
on a mossy bank and gaze around. I am in the middle 
of a seeming amphitheatre of hills, formed of ranges 
extending from Craig Clunie, on the right, up to the 


crags of Lochnaneun, on the shoulder of Lochnagar, 
and a ridge descending, on the left, from that mountain 
down to the Dee. Beyond the river, northward, is seen 
the rugged and partly wooded face of a brown hill, 
forming a kind of corrie, and a pine wood extending 
from it. But that all on that side may be excluded 
from the scene, we turn from it. 

There is a sprinkling of birch in the lower parts of 
the forest, and here and there along the hills ; but pines, 
stately and solemn, rear their columnar stems around, 
some of giant stature, but the greater number of ordinary 
size ; all, however, healthy and vigorous. Here, in the 
wood, the sunbeams glance upon us ; for there is no 
continuous obscuration of the sky by the foliage ; but 
far up the valley, and along the hills, the trees seem 
crowded into masses of dark verdure. The breezes, as 
they sweep over the woods, sound like the noise of the 
ocean- wave, as they dash upon a distant rock. Suddenly 
a rushing sound is heard coming from afar. It advances, 
and, as it passes by, resembles the roar of a mighty flood. 
A blast from the mountain -pass has swept over the 
forest, bending the stiff tops of the lofty pines. Were 
a hurricane, or even a winter tempest, to invade the 
valley, rending off" the massy limbs, and prostrating the 
old trunks, the scene would be terrific. We may fancy, 
too, the magnificence of a protracted thunder-storm — 
impenetrable gloom over all the forests, lightnings 
blazing, and thunders crashing ; but I have never found 
imaginary scenes so instructive as real occurrences, and 
that chiefly because they are radically unreal, and one 


knows them to be so. The wind has ceased, and the 
forest rests in solemn stiUness. You can see far away 
into the forest, between the stems, which are destitute 
of branches to a great height. Here the ground is 
covered with luxuriant tufts of heather in full bloom ; 
there the stones are coated with moss and lichens ; and 
on that low knoll the continuous verdure is due to the 
yet fresh leaves of the J^accinium myrtiUus. — Natural 
History of Deeside, p. 178. 

33. — Merry-Making of Birds, 

The sun sent a gleam of light through the Pass of 
Ballater into the plain, and illumined the hill-tops on 
the western side, while their shadows spread far over 
the fields. The hill along the base of which I walked 
is covered with pines, and, partly, opposite the village, 
with birches. Great numbers of chaffinches flew along 
from tree to tree, apparently enjoying the sunshine, 
occasionally chasing each other, and engaging in mimic 
conflicts. I was drawn into the wood by hearing a 
singular chorus of many shrill voices in the trees, and, 
looking up, observed a multitude of little birds of several 
species frisking about in great glee. Most of them 
were coal-tits, ringlets, blue tits, and willow-wrens ; but 
there were also many chaffinches, and some common 
linnets. Great numbers of ringlets occurred in other 
parts of the wood. I was amused with the movements 
of a pair of coal-tits, which separated from the rest, and 


betook themselves to an excavation in the dihivium, 
from the turf margin of which there hung a number of 
slender tree-roots. One of the tits flew in among them, 
frisked from one to another, clung to a long filament, 
and appeared to enjoy the motion, as it swayed back- 
wards and forwards. The other bird then joined it, and 
they seemed content for a while to amuse themselves 
apart from their companions. There was a general 
merry-making among the little birds. They seemed, 
after the labours of the day, old and young together, to 
indulge in frolic before retiring to rest. 

Many species of mammalia, birds, and fishes, evi- 
dently pass a portion of their time in sport. Young 
animals are especially addicted to romping, as may be 
seen in foals, calves, and especially lambs and kids, as 
well as puppies and kittens. The same is observed in 
birds, wild and domestic, in hawks, rooks, finches, and 
poultry. No birds are more gracefully sportive than 
ducks of all kinds are on the water. Not the gentle 
only, but also the ferocious, enjoy themselves in this 
manner. Eagles and ravens I have often seen wheeling 
and gliding through the air in sport, while they gave 
expression to their delight in loud and modulated cries. 
— Natural History of Deeside, p. 184. 

34. — The Highland Moor. 

Leaning against a cairn constructed of angular stones 
of grey porphyry, supplied by a heap close at hand, I 


survey an extensive tract of mountain and moor. The 
sun, shining clear in a cloudless pale blue sky, gives 
some warmth to my right side, while a breeze from the 
north-east comes whirling at times round the cairn, 
chilling me with its piercing blasts. It is the 4th of 
September, near sunset. I stand in the midst of a 
region which might be thought one of stillness and 
desolation, were it not that symptoms of human life are 
seen in five little patches of cultivated land, and a group 
of black huts in a hollow, from one to two miles distant. 
Yet the range of vision is not less than fifty miles in one 
dii-ection. Just behind me are the summits of a hill 
range, not more than a mile distant, beyond which 
nothing is to be seen ; and therefore I have turned my 
back upon them. To the left is a rounded hill, running 
doAvn into a smooth ridge, over a depression in which 
are seen the hills beyond Ballater, topped by the conical 
summit of the more distant Mount Keen, singularly 
white in the pale rays of the western sun. Low ranges 
extend from it, until there rises, in the south, the massive 
form of Lochnagar — both its corries conspicuously dis- 
played ; the western illuminated, the eastern in deep 
impenetrable shade, veiled by a filmy grey vapour. A 
most beautiful undulated ridgy descent leads the eye to 
the Glen Ballater mountains, the Beallach-bhui, and the 
Braemar hills as far as the upper part of Glen Ey. The 
great mountain stands conspicuous in its massy breadth 
and towering height, as if upheaved beyond its ordinary 
elevation. At its base, near Loch Muic, is a large 
rounded hill ; but elsewhere, all down to the Dee, the 


ground seems low, presenting only some undulations, 
which, although really of some considerable height, are 
scarcely noticeable from our present station. On this 
side of the Dee, the position of which is known only by 
recollection, is a range of low hills, undulated in its 
outline, but high enough to prevent us from seeing 
those hills that seemed mountains to us as we traversed 
the valley. Where the Braemar mingle with the AthoU 
ranges in the extreme distance, the horizon is next 
bounded by a roundish hill, only about five miles distant. 
Then Ben Aun rising behind, with its long unwaved, 
but curiously knobbed ridge, leads us to the blaze of 
the western sun, just passing behind the broad head of 
the Bho-dhoun, which, at only the distance of two miles, 
seems continuous with the hill on which we stand. The 
long shadows cast upon the grey and brown moors by 
the many prominences of the Lochnagar group have a 
singular and rather perplexing effect ; for they give the 
well-known tract an aspect different from any under 
which we have contemplated it, whether in the sunshine 
of noontide, the diffused light of a cloudy day, or when 
the summits, involved in vapours, hid themselves from 
our view, and the bases of the mountains seemed more 
massy than they ever do when their entire forms are 

But now, over the ridge of Ben Aun, creeps a thin 
and flaky mass of vapour, glowing on its northern side 
with a roseate tint ; purplish rays diverge from behind 
the brown hill to our right ; the white summit of Mona- 
Chuine has assumed a roseate hue, and Lochnagar is 


tinged with a pale purplish blue. Beautifully delicate 
are the tints of the few fleecy cloudlets that rise in the 
north-west ; but the setting sun assumes no imposing 
glory, and as he passes on seems to smile a gentle good- 
night on the brown moors of Glen Gairn. 

The red grouse call to each other on the hill-side ; 
here, a solitary grey hare bounds quietly among the 
short heather, stops to listen and look around, then 
pursues its way ; some hooded crows, that have been 
prowling about, are flying down the little valley ; dimness 
envelops the low grounds, then the bases of the hills, 
creeping upwards, slowly, imperceptibly, but surely, like 
age and time, ever moving onward, and involving all 
things in darkness. There is now no sound but the 
sighing of the breeze ; and as we descend over the long 
smooth declivity, clad with thick heather, we pause not 
to listen to the hum of distant waterfalls, or the shriek 
of the white owl, for no torrents rush over these moors, 
nor ruined towers rise on the brown hills, where the 
gor-cock {Lagopus .scoticus), escaped from the gun of 
the unpitying sportsman, crouches with the remnant of 
his family. — Natural History of Deeside, pp. 207, 208. 

35. — Three Pine Trees. 

Three stunted trees among rubbish have a most 
singular effect. One can hardly believe his eyes when 
they tell him they are pines. How came they there ? 
What is their purpose ? Why are there not more of 


them ? How old are they ? Very easy it is to ask 
questions which nobody can answer. A fourth tree 
has grown there also, but it lies overthrown, unbarked, 
and rotting. Their bent and rugged trunks indicate 
poverty and old age. JNIany storms of wind and rain 
have burst upon them ; the sun has blazed fiercely 
upon their tufted foliage, and the parched crags have 
sent back his rays upon their spreading branches. 
The snows of winter have pressed them down, and 
the sapless soil has refused them nourishment in 
summer ; their kindred have perished one by one ; the 
last of their brethren lies prostrate beside them ; they 
are the remnants of a once numerous and prosperous 
race, and when they perish there will be no monument 
but this passing notice to indicate that they once 
were. — Natural History of Deeside, p. 239. 

36. — Ravens — Poor Fellows ! 

The path leads along the base of the furrowed and 
stony declivities, which are of granite, coarse and 
reddish, like that of the opposite side. All along this 
passage it was very pleasant to hear the ravens, in 
the crags of the opposite side, talking to each other 
in a great variety of accents, one answering the call of 
another. Poor fellows ! if the glen were mine I would 
give strict orders not to molest them ; for, next to 
the eagle, now altogether destroyed, the raven is the 
greatest ornament of such a scene. They continued 


croaking, barking, yelping at a great rate imtil I had 
passed tiie end of the rock. — Natural Hintorif of 
Deeside, p. 252. 

37.— Home. 

But it is now getting toward six o'clock, and, as my 
resting-place is a good way off, it is time to proceed. 
When I ascended the valley of the Dee, in the end 
of July, the woods rejoiced in the warm breezes, and 
spread their green foliage to the sun. Now, in the 
middle of September, they seem preparing for the 
winter ; their discoloured and sapless leaves, smitten 
by the night-frosts and seared by the drought, show 
no gladness, but speak of decay — beautiful in its 
gradations, like the passage of the aged Christian to 
the grave, and very pleasing to the sobered and con- 
templative mind. I have this year seen these woods 
of Crathes, when their twigs bore nothing but buds, 
when their tender leaves were unfolding, when their 
foliage covered them as a mantle ; and now, in passing, 
I observe them streaked and patched with the yellow 
tints of autumn. Winter will again strip them of all 
their vesture ; but they " will hear the voice of spring 
and flourish green again." So shall we, whose life is 

An easterly wind, not cold and penetrating, brings 
up the clouds successively from the Celtic sea. But 
scarcely any rain falls, and at intervals the moon is 



seen dimly defined tln-ougli the grey vapour. Farmers 
are returning in carts and gigs from the market, 
it being Friday ; but otherwise the road is dull, it 
being much less frequented at any time than that on 
the north side. 

Not an inn nor a shop could I find anywhere, and 
having neither eaten nor drunk since twelve o'clock, 
I resolved, on reaching Maryculter, to make applica- 
tion for tea and bread, the favourite food of sedentary 
people, and assuredly the most invigorating of all to 
the wearied pedestrian. How much refreshed I felt 
after an hour's rest and a plentiful meal, any one 
may understand Avho has an elastic temperament. 
The milestones which I had been counting were no 
longer consulted ; and as little of the well-known 
scenery was visible under the faint light of the moon, 
veiled by the grey vapours, I mused on many things 
as I walked quickly along. 

The Divine Providence has rendered my path 
pleasant to me in the rugged corrie, in the thick 
wood, and in the green valley ; has prepared friends 
to forward my views, to protect me under their 
hospitable roofs and instruct me by their conversation ; 
has restored me to health, and preserved it to me ; 
has enabled me to accomplish the purpose of my 
journey, and filled me with gratitude now that I 
approach its termination. 

Kind reader 1 it is time to bid thee " Good-night." 
— Natural History of Deeside, p. 305. 


38. — Scene at Torquay. 

It is well that the observations from which these 
descriptions have been prepared were made many 
years ago, Avhen I was full of enthusiasm, and enjoyed 
the blessings of health and freedom from engrossing 
public duties ; for I am persuaded that now I should 
be in some respects less qualified for the task, more, 
however, from the failure of physical than of mental 
power. Here, on the rocky promontory, I shiver in 
the breeze which, to my companion, is but cool and 
bracing. The east wind ruffles the sea, and impels 
the little waves to the shores of the beautiful bay, 
which present alternate cliffs of red sandstone and 
beaches of yellow sand, backed by undulated heights 
and gentle acclivities, slowly rising to the not distant 
liorizon, fields and woods, with villages and scattered 
villas forming — not wild nor altogether tame — a pleas- 
ing landscape which, in its summer and autumn 
garniture of grass and corn, and sylvan verdure, 
orchard blossom and fruit, tangled fence -bank and 
furze-clad common, will be beautiful indeed to the 
lover of Nature. Then the balmy breezes from the 
west and south will waft health to the reviving 
invalid. At present the cold vernal gales sweep along 
the channel, conveying to its haven the extended 
fleet of boats that render Brixham, on the opposite 
horn of the bay, one of the most celebrated of the 
southern fishing-stations of England. High over the 


waters, here and there, a solitary gull slowly advances 
against the breeze, or shoots athwart, or with a beautiful 
gliding motion sweeps down the aerial current. At 
the entrance to Torquay are assembled many birds of 
the same kind which, by their hovering near the 
surface, their varied evolutions and mingling cries, 
indicate a shoal, probably of atherines or sprats. On 
that little pyramidal rock, projecting from the water, 
repose two dusky cormorants ; and, far away, in the 
direction of Portland Island, a gannet, well known by 
its peculiar flight, winnows its exploring way, and 
plunges headlong into the deep. But neither time 
nor place are favourable to the observation of the 
wading tribes, although the country around supplies 
the greater number of those found in Britain. — British 
Birds, vol. iv. p. viii. 



I HAVE finished one of tlie many difficult and laborious 
tasks which I had imposed u])on myself. Twelve 
years have elapsed since tlie first three volumes of 
this work were issued to the public, and I had 
scarcely hoped to see its completion, when I was 
most unexpectedly encouraged to revise the manu- 
script of the two remaining volumes, containing the 
wading and swimming birds, of which the history, 
in so far as I am acquainted with it, is now given on 
the same plan as that adopted for the land birds. 
Commenced in hope, and carried on with zeal, though 
ended in sorrow and sickness, I can look upon my 
work without much regard to the opinions which 
contemporary writers may form of it. assured that 
what is useful in it will not be forgotten, and knowing 
that already it has had a beneficial effect on many of 
the present, and will more powerfully influence the 
next, generation of our home-ornithologists. I had 



been led to tliink that I liad occasionally been some- 
what rude, or at least blunt, in my criticisms ; but I 
do not perceive wherein I have much erred in that 
respect, and I feel no inclination to apologise. I have 
been honest and sincere in my endeavours to promote 
the truth. With death, apparently not distant, before 
my eyes, I am pleased to think that I have not 
countenanced error through fear or favour. Neither 
have I in any case modified my sentiments so as to 
endeavour thereby to conceal or palliate my faults. 
Though I might have accomplished more, I am 
thankful for having been permitted to add very con- 
siderably to the knowledge previously obtained of a 
A'ery pleasant subject. If I have not very frequently 
indulged in reflections on the power, wisdom, and 
goodness of God, as suggested by even my imperfect 
understanding of His Avonderful works, it is not be- 
cause I have not ever been sensible of the relation 
between the Creator and His creatures, nor because 
my chief enjoyment, when wandering among the hills 
and valleys, exploring the rugged shores of the ocean, 
or searching the cultivated fields, has not been in a 
sense of His presence. " To Him who alone doeth 
great Avonders " be all glory and praise. Reader, 
farewell ! — British Birds, vol. v., " Conclusion." 

" Scrfaant of ffiot, inell Uont " 

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