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Volume I 



Copyright, 1905, 


DoDD, Mead & Company 

Published, November, IQO^ 




Presswork by 
Thh Uni\'ersity Press, Cambridge, U. S. A. 


The present volumes would not have been written had not the 
representatives of my English and American publishers assured 
me that they would probably interest a large number of readers. 

I had indeed promised to write some account of my early 
life for the information of my son and daughter, but this 
would have been of very limited scope, and would probably 
not have been printed. 

Having never kept a diary, except when abroad, nor pre- 
served any of the earlier letters of my friends, I at first thought 
that I had no materials for any full record of my life and expe- 
riences. But when I set to work in earnest to get together 
whatever scattered memoranda I could find, the numerous 
letters I possessed from men of considerable eminence, dating 
from my return home in 1862, together with a few of my own 
returned to me by some of my correspondents, I began to see 
that I had a fair amount of material, though I was very doubt- 
ful how far it would interest any considerable number of 

As several of my friends have assured me that a true record 
of a life, especially if sufficiently full as to illustrate develop- 
ment of character so far as that is due to environment, would 
be extremely interesting, I have kept this in mind, perhaps 
unduly, though I am not at all sure that m.y own conclusions 
on this point are correct. 

It is difficult to write such a record as mine (extending to 
the memories of nearly eighty years) without subjecting one- 
self to the charge of diffuseness or egotism, and I cannot 
hope to escape this altogether. But as my experiences have 
been certainly varied, if not exciting, I trust that the frequent 




change of scene and of occupation, together with the diversity 
of my interests and of the persons with whom I have been asso- 
ciated, may render this story of my Hfe less tedious than might 
have been anticipated. 

My thanks are due to those friends who have assisted me 
with facts or illustrations, and especially to Mrs. Arthur 
Waugh, who has been so kind as to make the very full Index 
to my book. 

September, 1905. 
Old Orchard^ Broadstone, 




My Relatives and Ancestors i 


Usk: My Earliest Memories 20 


Hertford: The Home of My Boyhood 30 

Hertford: My School Life . 46 


Hertford: My Home Life 63 


London Workers, Secularists and Owenites .... 79 

Bedfordshire: Surveying 105 

Bedfordshire: Turvey ^ p , .117 


Bedfordshire: Silsoe and Leighton Buzzard . . • . 128 





Kington and Radnorshire 139 


Brecknockshire 159 


Shropshire and Jack Mytton 169 

Glamorganshire • . 177 

First Literary Efforts 198 


Remarks on My Character at Twenty-one 223 


London and Leicester 229 

Residence at Neath 241 

The Journey to the Amazon 264 


"In Memoriam" • . . 290 


In London, and Voyage to Singapore 303 



The Malay Archipelago: Singapore, Malacca, Borneo . • 337 


Celebes, the Moluccas, New Guinea, Timor, Java, and 

Sumatra 356 

Life in London, 1862-1871 : Scientific and Literary Work . . 385 


Home Life: My Friends and Acquaintances: Sir Charles 

Lyell 409 


My Father. Age 35 Facing page 16 

{From a miniature) 

My Mother. Age 18 . . " 16 

{From a miniature) 

My Birthplace. Kensington Cottage, Usk ... " 22 
The Grammar School, Hertford " 48 

{From an engraving in Turner^ s '■'■History.'''' 1830) 

Llanbister, Radnorshire " 150 

{Pencil sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1840) 

A Lonely Chapel " 150 

{Pencil sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1840) 
The Beacons (Looking south) " 160 

{From a photograph by Mr. Symonds Neale) 

Plan of Summit of Beacons (Looking north) . . " 163 
Section through Summits of Beacons .... " 163 
Our Eccentric Neighbour at Devynock .... " 164 

{From a sketch by W. G. Wallace) 

" Maen Llia," Upper Vale of Neath " 166 

{From a photograph by Miss Neale) 

"Whittern" " 170 

{An outdoor sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1842) 

Samuel Osgood " i88 

{From a sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1843) 

In Derbyshire <' 236 

{Prom pencil sketch by A. R. Wallace. 1844) 

A Village near Leicester " 238 

{Pencil drawing by A. R. Wallace. 1844) 

Free Library, Neath " 246 

{Designed by A. R. Wallace. 1847) 

Ysgwd Gladys, Vale of Neath " 248 

"Maen Madoc," Upper Vale of Neath .... " 251 

{From three photographs by Miss Neale) 


Latin Inscription on " Maen Madoc" .... Facing page 251 

Porth-yr-Ogof, Vale of Neath " 252 

Alfred R. Wallace. 1848 « 266 

{From a daguerrotype) 

Fishes of the Rio Negro : 

{From drawings by A. R. Wallace) 

1. Cyxodon Scombroides. Fam. Characinid^ " 284 

(One-fourth natural size) 

2. Xiphostoma Lateristriga. Fam. Chara- 

CIXID^ " 284 

(One-third natural size) 

3. PiMELODus Holomelas. Fam. Silurid^ . . " 286 

(One-third natural size) 

4. Plecostomus Guacari. Fam. LoRiCARiiDiE . " 286 

(One-third natural size) 

5. Pterophyllum Scalara. Fam. Cichlid^ . " 288 

(One-third natural size) 

6. Cichlosoma Severum. Fam. Cichlid^ . . " 288 

(One-third natural size) 

H. E. Wallace. Age 8 " 290 

{From a pencil sketch by Miss Townsend) 

Herbert Edward Wallace. Age 20 " 290 

{From a silhouette) 

The Rio Negro " 320 

{From observations made in the years 1851 and by 
Alfred R. Wallace) 

Enlarged Map of the River Uaupes " 320 

Native House, Wokan, Aru Islands " 357 

(Where I lived two weeks in March, 1859) 

Map of the Malay Archipelago " 368 

My Faithful Malay Boy — All 1855-1862 ... " 382 

Alfred R. Wallace. 1869 " 386 

{From a photograph by Mr. Sims) 





Our family had but few relations, and I myself never saw a 
grandfather or grandmother, nor a true uncle, and but one aunt 
— my mother's only sister. The only cousins we ever had, so 
far as I know, were that sister's family of eight or nine, all 
but two of whom emigrated to South Australia in 1838. Of 
the two who remained in England, the daughter had married 
Mr. Burningham, and had only one child, a daughter, who 
has never married. The son, the Rev. Percy Wilson, had a 
family, none of whom, however, I have ever met, though I 
have recently had a visit from a son of another cousin, Alger- 
non, with whom I had a considerable correspondence. 

My father was practically an only son, an elder boy dying 
when three months old; and as his father died when he 
was a boy of twelve, and his mother when he was an infant, he 
had not much opportunity of hearing about the family history. 
I myself left home before I was fourteen, and only rarely 
visited my parents for short holidays, except once during my 
recovery from a dangerous illness, so that I also had little 
opportunity of learning anything of our ancestors on the 
paternal side, more especially as my father seldom spoke of 
his youth, and I as a boy felt no interest in his genealogy. 
Neither did my eldest brother William — with whom I lived 



till I was of age — ever speak on the subject. The little I 
have gleaned was from my sister Fanny and from a recent 
examination of tombstones and parish registers, and especially 
from an old Prayer-book (1723) which belonged to my grand- 
father Wallace, who had registered in it the dates of the births 
and baptisms of his two sons, while my father had continued 
the register to include his own family of nine children, of whom 
I am the only survivor. 

My paternal grandfather was married at Hanworth, Mid- 
dlesex, in 1765, and the parish register describes him as 
William Wallace, of Hanw^orth, bachelor, and his wife as 
Elizabeth Dilke, of Laleham, widow. Both are buried in 
Laleham churchyard, where I presume the former Mrs. Dilke 
had some family burial rights, as my grandfather's brother, 
George Wallace, is also buried there. The register at Han- 
worth contains no record of my father's birth, but the church 
itself shows that quite a small colony of Wallaces lived at 
Hanworth. On a long stone in the floor of the chancel is the 
name of James Wallace, Esq., who died February 7, 1778, 
aged eighty-seven years. He was therefore thirty-five years 
older than my grandfather, and may have been his uncle. 
Then follows Admiral Sir James Wallace, who died on March 
6, 1803, aged sixty-nine years; and Frances Sleigh, daughter 
of the above James Wallace, Esq., who died December 12, 
1820, aged sixty-nine years. 

Also, on a small stone in the floor of the nave, just outside 
the chancel, we find Mary Wallace, who died December 5, 
18 12, aged thirty-nine years. She may, therefore, not im- 
probably have been a daughter, or perhaps niece, of the 

Here, then, w^e have four Wallaces buried in the same 
church as that in which my grandfather was married, and of 
which place he was a resident at the time. As Hanworth is a 
very small place, the total population of the parish being only 
750 in 1840, it is hardly probable that my grandfather and 
the others met there accidentally. I conclude, therefore, that 
James Wallace was probably an uncle or cousin, and that all 


were in some way related. As there is no record of my 
father's birth at Hanworth, it is probable that his parents had 
left the place and gone to live either at Laleham or in London. 

How or why my grandfather came to live at Hanworth 
(probably with his brother George, who is also buried at 
Laleham), I can only conjecture from the following facts: 
Baron Vere of Hanworth is one of the titles of the Dukes of 
St. Albans since 1750, when Vere Beauclerc, third son of the 
first duke, was created baron, and his son became fifth Duke 
of St. Albans in 1787. It is to be presumed that the village 
and a good deal of the land was at that time the property of 
this family, though they appear to have parted with it not 
long afterwards, as a Mr. Perkins owned the park and rebuilt 
the church in 18 12. The St. Albans family have a tomb in 
the church. Now, my father's name was Thomas Vere Wal- 
lace, and it therefore seems probable that his father was a 
tenant of the first Baron Vere, and in his will he is styled 
"Victualler." He probably kept the inn on the estate. 

The only further scrap of information as to my father's 
family is derived from a remark he once made in my hearing, 
that his uncles at Stirling (I think he said) were very tall men. 
I myself was six feet when I was sixteen, and my eldest 
brother William was an inch taller, while my brother John 
and sister Fanny were both rather tall. My father and 
mother, however, were under rather than over middle height, 
and the remark about his tall uncles was to account for this 
abnormal height by showing that it was in the family. As 
all the Wallaces of Scotland are held to be various branches 
of the one family of the hero Sir William Wallace, we have 
always considered ourselves to be descended from that famous 
stock; and this view is supported by the fact that our family 
crest was said to be an ostrich's head with a horseshoe in its 
mouth, and this crest belongs, according to Burke's " Peerage," 
to Craigie- Wallace, one of the branches of the patriot's family. 

Of my mother's family I have somewhat fuller details, 
though not going any further back. Her father was John 



Greenell, of Hertford, who died there in 1824 at the age of 
79. He had two daughters, ]Martha, who married Thomas 
Wilson, Esq., a soHcitor, and agent for the Portman estate, 
and Mary Anne, my mother. Their mother died when the 
two girls were two and three years old. Mr. Greenell married 
a second time, and his widow lived till 1828, so that my elder 
brothers and sisters may have known her, but she was only 
their step-grandmother. Mr. Greenell had died four years 
earlier. Although he lived to such a comparatively recent 
period, I have not been able to ascertain what was his busi- 
ness. His father, however, my mother's grandfather, who 
died in 1797, aged 80, was for many years an alderman, and 
twice Mayor of Hertford (in 1773 and 1779), as stated in the 
records of the borough. He was buried in St. Andrew's 

There is also in the same churchyard a family tomb, in 
which my father and my sister Eliza are buried, but which 
belonged to a brother of my mother's grandfather, William 
Greenell, as shown by the following inscription : — 

"Under this tomb with his beloved wife are deposited the remains of 
William Greenell, 
A native of this parish, who resided 56 years in St. Marylebone, 
In the County of Middlesex, 
Where he acquired an ample fortune, 
With universal esteem and unblemished reputation. 
He died the 17th day of January, 1791, aged 71." 

There is also an inscription to his wife, Ann, who died a 
year earlier, and is described as the " wife and faithful friend 
of William Greenell, of Great Portland Street, Marylebone." 
As the tomb was not used for any other interment till my 
sister's death in 1832, it seems likely that William Greenell had 
no family, or that if he had they had all removed to other parts 
of England. 

My mother's mother was a Miss Hudson, whose cousin I 
remember as owner of the Town-mill in Hertford, and his 
daughters were my sister's playfellows and friends, but this 
family is now extinct so far as the town is concerned. A sis- 


ter of my grandfather Greenell married Mr. John Roberts, 
whose son Hved many years at Epsom, and this family is also 
extinct by the death of an only son in early manhood, and of 
an only daughter at an advanced age in 1890. 

Through the kindness of Mr. J. B. Wohlmann, late head- 
master of the Grammar School, I learned that in the parish 
registers of births, deaths, and marriages in Hertford, and also 
in Chauncey's " History and Antiquities of Hertfordshire " and 
in Clutterbuck's " History of Herts," there are considerable 
numbers of Greenells (the name being variously spelt, as Grin- 
ell, Greenhill, etc.), going back continuously to 1579. I 
possess an old seal with a coat-of-arms which belonged to my 
grandfather, and was believed to be those of the Greenell fam- 
ily — a cross on a shield with seven balls on the cross, and a 
leopard's head for a crest. The balls indicate the name, 
" Greenaille " being French for shot ; and the family were not 
improbably French refugees after the massacre of St. Bar- 
tholomew in 1572. 

My mother had several large oil-paintings of the Greenell 
ancestors which came to her from her sister, Mrs. Wilson, 
when the Wilsons went to South Australia. Being incon- 
veniently large for our small houses and our frequent re- 
movals, they were given to the Miss Roberts above mentioned, 
who had a large house at Epsom, and on her death they passed 
with the house to some relatives of her mother, who had no 
kinship whatever with the Greenells. One of these portraits 
was that of the great-uncle William Greenell, of Marylebone, 
who was an architect, and is represented with the design of 
some public building which, we were told, he had the honour 
of him.self showing to the king, George the Second or Third. 
He is shown as a young man, and I was said to resemble him, 
not only in features, but in a slight peculiarity in one eyebrow, 
which was indicated on the portrait. I wished to obtain a 
photograph of this portrait a few years ago, but the present 
owner refused to allow it to be copied, having, I fancy, some 
exaggerated idea of its value as a work of art. 

Other friends or relatives of the Greenell family were 



named Russell and Pugh, and are buried at Hertford. A 
large gentleman's mourning ring in memory of Richard Rus- 
sell, Esq., was given me by Miss Roberts, as, I presume, the 
person after whom I was given my second name, though prob- 
ably from an error in the register mine is always spelt with one 
1, and this peculiarity was impressed upon me in my childhood. 
Another ring is from Miss Pugh, a friend of my mother's, and, 
I believe, one of the Russell family. We also possess a very 
beautiful pastel miniature of Mrs. Frances Hodges, who was 
a Miss Russell, and who died in 1809, and is buried at All 
Saints, Flertford; but the precise relationship, if any, of the 
Russells to the Greenells I have not been able to ascertain. 

One other point may be here mentioned. There seems to 
have been some connection by marriage between the Wallace 
and Greenell families before my father's marriage, as shown by 
the fact that his elder brother, who died in infancy, was named 
William Greenell Wallace, and it seems not unlikely that his 
mother, Mrs. Dilke, had been a Miss Greenell before her first 

I will now say a few words about my father's early life, 
and the various family troubles which, though apparently very 
disadvantageous to his children, may yet have been on the 
whole, as is so often the case, benefits in disguise. 

My father, Thomas Vere Wallace, was twelve years old 
when his father died, but his stepmother lived twenty-one 
years after her husband, and I think it not improbable that 
she may have resided in Marylebone near William Greenell 
the architect, and that my father went to school there. The 
only thing I remember his telling us about his school was that 
his master dressed in the old fashion, and that he had a best 
suit entirely of yellow velvet. 

When my father left school he was articled to a firm of 
solicitors — Messrs. Ewington and Chilcot, Bond Court, Wal- 
brook, I think, as I find this name in an old note-book of my 
father's — and in 1792, when he had just come of age, he was 
duly sworn in as an Attomey-at-Law of the Court of King's 


Bench. He is described in the deed of admittance as of 
Lamb's, Conduit Street, where he probably lodged while pur- 
suing his legal studies, it being near the Inns of Court and at 
the same time almost in the country. He seems, however, 
never to have practised law, since he came into property which 
gave him an income of about £500 a year. This I heard from 
my sister Fanny. 

From this time, till he married, fifteen years later, he ap- 
pears to have lived quite idly, so far as being without any sys- 
tematic occupation, often going to Bath in the season, where 
he used to tell us he had met the celebrated Beau Brummell 
and other characters of the early years of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. An old note-book shows that he was fond of collecting 
epitaphs from the churchyards of the various places he visited ; 
among which are Brighton, Lowestoft, Bognor, Ryegate, 
Godalming, Sevenoaks, Chichester, etc. Most of these are 
commonplace reflections on the uncertainty of life or equally 
commonplace declarations of faith in the orthodox heaven, but 
here and there are more original efforts. This is one at Chi- 
chester on Henry Case, aged 28 — 

"Here lies a brave soldier whom all must applaud, 
Much hardship he suffer'd at home and abroad. 
But the hardest Engagement he ever was in 
Was the Battle of Self in the Conquest of Sin." 

In the following, at Woodford, Essex, the village poet has 
been severely practical: — 

"On William Mears, Plumber. 

"Farewell, old friend, for thou art gone 
To realms above, an honest Man. 
A plumber, painter, glazier, was your trade, 
And in sodering pipes none could you exceed. 
In Water-work you took great delight 
And had power to force it to any Height, 
But in Water-closets great was your skill, 
For each branch was subordinate to your will. 
But now your Glass is run — your work is done, 



And we scarcely can find such another man. 
Now mourn ye all, and your great loss deplore, 
For this useful man is gone for evermore." 

The following seems to be a heartfelt and worthy tribute 
to a good man — Mr. Mark Sanderson, of Chepstow, aged 

"Loving, belov'd, in all relations true, 
Exposed to follies, but subdued by few, 
Reader, reflect, and copy if you can 
The social virtues of this honest man." 

One more I will give, as it is at least original, from a 
tombstone at Lowestoft, Suffolk — 

" In memory of 
Charles Ward, 
Who died May, 1770, 
Aged 60. 

A dutiful Son, a loving Brother, and an affectionate Husband. 
This Stone is not erected by Susan his wife. She erected a Stone to 
John Salter her second Husband, forgetting the aft'ection of Charles 
Ward her first Husband." 

In some other old MSS. and note-books are a number of 
quotations in prose and verse, mostly from well-known writers 
and while not of any great interest, among them are a few that 
seem worth preserving. 

The following epitaph by a Dominican friar on Pope 
Clement the Fourth is remarkable for the ingenuity of the 
verse, which is equally good when the words and sense are in- 
verted : — 

" Laus tua, non tua fraus, virtus non copia rerum 
Scandere te fecit, hoc decus eximium, 
Pauperibus tua das, nunquam stat janua clausa, 
Fundere res quaeris, nec tua multiplicas. 
Conditio tua sit stabilis ! non tempore parvo 
Vivere te faciat, hie Deus omnipotens." 

{The same reversed.) 

" Omnipotens Deus hie faciat te vivere parvo 
Tempore! non stabilis sit tua conditio! 


Multiplicas tua nec quaeris res fundere clausa 
Janua stat, nunquam das tua pauperibus, 
Eximium decus hoc fecit te scandere rerum 
Copia, non virtus, fraus tua non tua Laus." 

My friend, Mr. Cornerford Casey, has kindly given me the 
following elegant translation of the above : — 

" Not by intrigue but merit, not by wealth 
But worth you rose. This is your title, this, 
That you bestowed your goods on those in need. 
Your hospitable door was never closed : 
More eager ever to alleviate 
The wants of others than to gather gain. 
May your prosperity be lasting, Pope! 
May God all-powerful grant you length of days ! " 

(The same read backwards.) 

" May God omnipotent remove you soon 
From earth! May your prosperity be short! 
You grasp at gain and shun expense : your door, 
Inhospitable Pope, stands ever shut. 
Naught to the poor you give: your power is due 
To wealth not worth: by intrigue you have risen." 

In faded ink and very old handwriting, probably my 
grandfather's, is the following charade, the answer to which is 
not given, but it is worth preserving for its style : — 

" My first's the proud but hapless Child of danger, 
Parent of highest honours and of woe; 
Too long my second to the brave a stranger 
Heaps useless laurels on the soldier's brow. 
My whole by dextrous artifice contrives 

To gain the prize by which he stands accurst, 
And plung'd in infamy when most he thrives, 
He gains my second whilst he gives my first." 

I myself believe the answer to be " cut-purse " — a Shake- 
spearean word in common use in the eighteenth century, and 
applying to all terms of the charade with great accuracy. But 
few of my friends think this solution good enough. 

The following is in my father's writing, and as it is com- 



paratively easy, I leave the answer to my young reader's ingen- 
uity : — 

"A Riddle. 

"O Doctor, Doctor, tell me can you cure 
Or say what 'tis I ail ? I'm feverish sure ! 
Sometimes I'm very hot, and sometimes warm. 
Sometimes again I'm cool, yet feel no harm. 
Part bird, part beast, and vegetable part. 
Cut, slash'd, and wounded, yet I feel no smart 
I have a skin, which though but thin and slender, 
Yet proves to me a powerful defender. 
When stript of that, so desperate is my case, 
I'm oft devoured in half an hour's space." 

One more enigma in my father's writing is interesting 
because founded on a custom common in my youth, but which 
has now wholly passed away. 

" Kitty, a fair but frozen maid, 

Kindled a flame I still deplore, 
The hood-wink'd Boy was called in aid 

So fatal to my suit before. 
Tell me, ye fair, this urchin's name 

Who still mankind annoys; 
Cupid and he are not the same. 
Though each can raise or quench a flame. 

And both are hood-wink'd boys." 

My sister told me (and from what followed it was pretty 
certainly the case) that while he remained a bachelor my 
father lived up to his income or very nearly so ; and from what 
we know of his after life did not imply any extravangance or 
luxurious habits, but simply that he enjoyed himself in London 
and the country, living at the best inns or boarding-houses, 
and taking part in the amusements of the period, as a fairly 
well-to-do, middle-class gentleman. 

After the marriage in 1807 he lived in Marylebone, and his 
ordinary household expenses, of course, increased ; and as by 
1810 he had two children and the prospects of a large family, 
he appears to have felt the necessity of increasing his income. 


Having neglected the law so long, and probably having 
a distaste for it, he apparently thought it quite hopeless to begin 
to practise as a solicitor, and being entirely devoid of business 
habits, allowed himself to be persuaded into undertaking one 
of the most risky of literary speculations, the starting of a 
new illustrated magazine, devoted apparently to art, antiquities, 
and general literature. A few numbers were issued, and I re- 
member, as a boy, seeing an elaborate engraving of the Port- 
land Vase, which was one of the illustrations ; and in those 
days before photography, when all had to be done by skilled 
artists and engravers, such illustrations were ruinously ex- 
pensive for a periodical brought out by a totally unknown man. 
Another of these illustrations is now before me, and well shows 
the costly nature of the work. It is on large paper, iij by 
8J inches to the outer line of the engraving, the margins having 
been cut off. It is headed Gallery of Antiquities, British Mu- 
seum, PI. L," and contains forty distinct copper-plate engrav- 
ings of parts of friezes, vases, busts, and full-length figures, of 
Greek or Roman art, all drawn to scale, and exquisitely en- 
graved in the best style of the period. The plate is stated at 
the foot to be " Published for the Proprietor, May ist, 1811," 
four years after my father's marriage. It shows that the work 
must have been of large quarto size, in no way of a popular 
character, and too costly to have any chance of commercial 
success. After a very few numbers were issued the whole 
thing came to grief, partly, it was said, by the defalcations of a 
manager or book-keeper, who appropriated the money ad- 
vanced by my father to pay for work and materials, and partly, 
no doubt, from the affair being in the hands of persons with- 
out the necessary business experience and literary capacity to 
make it a success. 

A few old letters are in my possession, from a Mr. E. A. 
Rendall to my father, written in 181 2 and 18 13, relating to the 
affair. They are dated from Bloomsbury Square and are ex- 
ceedingly long and verbose, so that it is hardly possible to ex- 
tract anything definite from them. They refer chiefly to the 
mode of winding up the business, and urging that the en- 
graved plates, etc., may be useful in a new undertaking. He 



proposes, in fact, to commence another magazine with a dif- 
ferent name, which he says will cost only sixty guineas a num- 
ber, and can be published at half a crown. He refers to the 
General Chronicle as if that were the title of the recently de- 
funct magazine, and he admits that my father may rightly 
consider himself an ill-used man, though wholly denying that 
he, Mr. Rendall, had any part in bringing about his misfortunes. 

The result was that my father had to bear almost the 
whole loss, and this considerably reduced his already too 
scanty income. Whether he made any other or what efforts 
to earn money I do not know, but he continued to live in Mary- 
lebone till 1816, a daughter Emma having been bom there in 
that year; but soon after he appears to have removed to St. 
George's, Southwark, in which parish my brother John was 
born in 1818. Shortly afterwards his affairs must have been 
getting worse, and he determined to move with his family of 
six children to some place where living was as cheap as pos- 
sible; and, probably from having introductions to some resi- 
dents there, fixed upon Usk, in Monmouthshire, where a suf- 
ficiently roomy cottage with a large garden was obtained, and 
where I was born on January 8, 1823. In such a remote dis- 
trict rents were no doubt very low and provisions of all kinds 
very cheap — probably not much more than half London prices. 
Here, so far as I remember, only one servant was kept, and my 
father did most of the garden work himself, and provided the 
family with all the vegetables and most of the fruit which was 
consumed. Poultry, meat, fish, and all kinds of dairy pro- 
duce were especially cheap ; my father taught the children him- 
self; the country around was picturesque and the situation 
healthy ; and, notwithstanding his reverse of fortune, I am in- 
clined to think that this was, perhaps, the happiest portion of 
my father's life. 

In the year 1828 my mother's mother-in-law, Mrs. Rebecca 
Greenell, died at Hertford, and I presume it was in conse- 
quence of this event that the family left Usk in that year, and 
lived at Hertford for the next nine or ten years, removing 
to Hoddesdon in 1837 or 1838, where my father died in 1843. 


These last fifteen years of his life were a period of great 
trouble and anxiety, his aflFairs becoming more and more in- 
volved, till at last the family became almost wholly dependent 
on my mother's small marriage settlement of less than a hun- 
dred a year, supplemented by his taking a few pupils and by 
a small salary which he received as librarian to a subscription 
library. While at Hoddesdon my sister Fanny got up a small 
boarding-school for young ladies in a roomy, old-fashioned 
house with a large garden, where my father passed the last 
few years of his life in comparative freedom from worry about 
money matters, because these had reached such a pitch that 
nothing worse was to be expected. 

During the latter part of. the time we lived at Hertford his 
troubles were great. He appears to have allowed a solicitor 
and friend whom he trusted to realize what remained of his 
property and invest it in ground-rents which would bring in a 
larger income, and at the same time be perfectly secure. For 
a few years the income from this property was duly paid him, 
then it was partially and afterwards wholly stopped. It ap- 
peared that the solicitor himself engaged in a large building 
speculation in London, which was certain to be ultimately of 
great value, but which he had not capital enough to complete. 
He therefore had to raise money, and did so by using funds en- 
trusted to him for other purposes, among them my father's 
small capital, in the absolute belief that it was quite as safe an 
investment as the ground-rents in which it was supposed to be 
invested. But, unfortunately, other creditors pressed upon 
him, and he was obliged to sacrifice the whole of the building 
estate at almost a nominal price. Out of the wreck of the so- 
licitor's fortune my father obtained a small portion of the 
money due, with promises to pay all at some future time ; and 
I recollect his having frequently to go to London by coach to 
interview the solicitor, and try to get some security for future 
payment. Among the property thus lost were some leg- 
acies from my mother's relations to her children, and the 
whole aflfair got into the hands of the lawyers, from whom 
small amounts were periodically received which helped to pro- 
vide us with bare necessaries. 



As a result of this series of misfortunes the children who 
reached their majority had little or nothing to start with in 
earning their own living, except a very ordinary education, and 
a more or less efficient training. The oldest son, William, was 
first articled to a firm of surveyors at Kington, Herefordshire, 
probably during the time we resided at Usk. He then spent 
a year or two in the office of an architect at Hertford, 
and finally a year in London with a large builder named Martin, 
then engaged in the erection of King's College, in order to be- 
come familiar with the practical details of building. He may 
be said, therefore, to have had a really good professional edu- 
cation. At first he got into general land-surveying work, 
which was at that time rather abundant, owing to the surveys 
and valuations required for carrying out the Commutation of 
Tithes Act of 1836, and also for the enclosures of commons 
which were then very frequent. During the time I was with 
him we were largely engaged in this kind of work in various 
parts of England and Wales, as will be seen later on ; but the 
payment for such work was by no means liberal, and owing to 
the frequent periods of idleness between one job and another, 
it was about as much as my brother could do to earn our living 
and travelling expenses. 

About the time I went to live with my brother my sister 
Fanny entered a French school at Lille to learn the language 
and to teach English, and I think she was a year there. On 
her return she started the school at Hoddesdon, but after my 
father's death in 1843 she obtained a position as a teacher in 
Columbia College, Georgia, U.S.A., then just established under 
the Bishop of Georgia ; and she only returned after my brother 
William's death in 1846, when the surviving members of the 
family in England were reunited, and lived together for two 
years in a cottage near Neath, in Glamorganshire. 

My brother John, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, was ap- 
prenticed, first to Mr. Martin and then to Mr. Webster, a Lon- 
don builder living in Albany Street, Regent's Park, where he 
became a thorough joiner and carpenter. He afterwards 
worked for a time for Cubitt and other large builders; then, 
when he came to Hve with mc at Neath, he learnt surveying 


and a little architecture. When I went to the Amazon, he 
took a small dairy-farm at too high a rent, and not making this 
pay, in 1849 he emigrated to California at the height of the first 
rush for gold, joined several mining camps, and was moder- 
ately successful. About five years later he came home, mar- 
ried Miss Webster, and returning to California, settled for 
some years at Columbia, a small mining town in Tuolumne 
County. He afterwards removed to Stockton, where he prac- 
tised as surveyor and water engineer till his death in 1895. 

My younger brother, Herbert, was first placed with a trunk 
maker in Regent Street, but not liking this business, after- 
wards came to Neath and entered the pattern-shops of the 
Neath Ironworks. After his brother John went to California 
he came out to me at Para, and after a year spent on the 
Amazon as far as Barra on the Rio Negro, he returned to Para 
on his way home, where he caught yellow fever, and died in a 
few days at the early age of twenty-two. He was the only 
member of our family who had a considerable gift of poesy, 
and was probably more fitted for a literary career than for any 
mechanical or professional occupation. 

It will thus be seen that we were all of us very much thrown 
on our own resources to make our way in life ; and as we all, 
I think, inherited from my father a certain amount of consti- 
tutional inactivity or laziness, the necessity for work that our 
circumstances entailed was certainly beneficial in developing 
whatever powers were latent in us ; and this is what I implied 
when I remarked that our father's loss of his property was per- 
haps a blessing in disguise. 

Of the five daughters, the first-born died when five months 
old; the next, Eliza, died of consumption at Hertford, aged 
twenty-two. Two others, Mary Anne and Emma, died at Usk 
at the ages of eight and six respectively; while Frances mar- 
ried Mr. Thomas Sims, a photographer, and died in London, 
aged eighty-one. 

On the whole, both the Wallaces and the Greenells seem to 
have been rather long-lived families when they reached man- 
hood or womanhood. The five ancestral Wallaces of whom I 
have records had an average age of seventy years, while the 



five Greenells had an average age of seventy-six. Of our own 
family, my brother John reached seventy-seven, and my sister 
Fanny eighty-one. My brother William owed his death to a 
railway journey by night in winter, from London to South 
Wales in the miserable accommodation then afforded to third- 
class passengers, which, increased by a damp bed at Bristol, 
brought on severe congestion of the lungs, from which he 
never recovered. 

I will now give a short account of my father's appearance 
and character. In a miniature of himself, painted just before 
his marriage, when he was thirty-five years old, he is repre- 
sented in a blue coat with gilt buttons, a white waistcoat, a 
thick white neck-cloth coming up to the chin and showing no 
collar, and a frilled shirt-front. This was probably his wed- 
ding-coat, and his usual costume, indicating the transition 
from the richly coloured semi-court dress of the earlier 
Georgian period to the plain black of our own day. He is 
shown as having a ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and carefully 
dressed and curled hair, which I think must have been pow- 
dered, or else in the transition from light brown to pure white. 
As I remember him from the age of fifty-five onwards, his 
hair was rather thin and quite white, and he was always clean- 
shaven as in the miniature. He continued to w^ear the frilled 
shirt and thick white neckties, but never wore any outer cloth- 
ing but black, of the cut we now term a dress-suit, but the coat 
double-breasted, and the whole rather loose fitting. He also 
wore large shoes and black cloth gaiters out-of-doors. This 
dress he nevered altered, having at first one new suit a year, 
but latterly I think only one every second or third year ; but he 
always had one for Sundays and visiting, which was kept in 
perfect order. The second was for ever}-day wear ; and when 
gardening or doing any other work likely to be injurious to his 
clothes, I think I remember him wearing a thin home-made hol- 
land jacket and a gardener's apron. 

In figure he was somewhat below the middle height. He 
was fairly active and fond of gardening and other country 
occupations, such as brewing beer and making grape or elder 


wine whenever he had the opportunity; and during some 
years at Hertford he rented a garden about half a mile away, 
in order to grow vegetables and have some wholesome exer- 
cise. He had had some injury to one of his ankles which 
often continued to trouble him, and gave him a slight lame- 
ness, and in consequence of this he never took very long 
walks. He was rather precise and regular in his habits, quiet 
and rather dignified in manners, and somewhat of what is 
termed a gentleman of the old school. Of course, he always 
wore a top-hat — a beaver hat as it was then called, before silk 
hats were invented — the only other headgear being sometimes 
a straw hat for use in the garden in summer. 

In character he was quiet and even-tempered, very religious 
in the orthodox Church-of-England way, and with such a 
reliance on Providence as almost to amount to fatalism. He 
was fond of reading, and through reading clubs or lending 
libraries we usually had some of the best books of travel or 
biography in the house. Some of these my father would 
read to us in the evening, and when Bowdler's edition of 
Shakespeare came out he obtained it, and often read a play 
to the assembled family. In this way I made my first 
acquaintance with Lear and Cordelia, with Malvolio and Sir 
Andrew Aguecheek, with the thrilling drama of the Mer- 
chant of Venice, with Hamlet, with Lady Macbeth, and other 
masterpieces. At one time my father wrote a good deal, 
and we were told it was a history of Hertford, or at other 
times some religious work; but they never got finished, and 
I do not think they would ever have been worth publishing, 
his character not leading him to do any such work with suffi- 
cient thoroughness. He dabbled a little in antiquities and 
in heraldry, but did nothing systematic, and though he had 
fair mental ability he possessed no special talent, either 
literary, artistic, or scientific. He sketched a little, but with 
a very weak and uncertain touch, and among his few scrap- 
and note-books that have been preserved, there is hardly 
anything original except one or two short poems in the 
usual didactic style of the period, but of no special merit. 
I will, however, give here the only two of these that my 



mother had preserved, and which are, no doubt, the best 
products of his pen. They were evidently both written 
at Usk. 

"UsK Bridge — A Simile. 

"As on this arched pile I lately strolled 
And viewed the tide that deep beneath it roU'd, 
Eastward impetuous rushed the foamy wave, 
Each quick ingulph'd — as mortals in the grave; 
All noisy, harsh, impetuous, was the roar. 
Like the world's bustle — and as quickly o'er. 
For when a few short steps I westward made 
The river here a different scene displayed, 
Its noisy roar seemed now a distant hum, 
Calm was the surface — and the stream was dumb. 
Silent though swift its course — and such I cried 
The life of man ! In youth swoll'n high with pride. 
The passions raging, noisy, foaming, bold, 
Like the rough stream a constant tumult hold. 
But when his steps turn towards the setting sun 
And more than half his wayward course is run. 
By age, and haply by religion's aid, 
His pride subdued, his passions too allay' d, 
With quiet pace — 3^et swiftly gliding, he 
Rolls to the ocean of Eternity ! " 

" On the Custom Observed in Wales of Dressing the 
Graves with Flowers on Palm Sunday. 

" The sounding bell from yon white turret calls 
The villagers within those sacred walls, 
And o'er the solemn precincts of the dead. 
Where lifts the church its grey time-honoured head. 
That place of rest where parents, children, sleep, 
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap 
Affection's hand hath gaily decked the ground 
And spring's sweet gifts profusely scatter'd round. 
Pleas'd memory still delights to linger here 
And many a cheek is moistened with a tear. 
The wife, the child, the parent, and the friend 
In soft regret by these sweet trophies bend. 
Nor let the selfish sneer, the proud upbraid, 
The tribute thus by love, by duty paid, 
In nature's purest sentiments its source. 


Here nature speaks with a resistless force. 
What though these flow'rets speedily decay 
Yet they our love, our tenderest thoughts display, 
Of friends departed a memorial sweet 
With which their relics thus we fondly greet, 
* Our minds revisit those we loved when here, 
Tho' lost to sight, to memory still they're dear.' " 

In consequence of this custom the Sunday before Easter 
was called in Wales " Flowering Sunday," and was looked 
forward to by most families as an event of special interest, 
and by children as quite a festival. It is always a pretty 
sight when even a grave here and there is nicely adorned 
with fresh flowers, but v^^hen a whole churchyard is so deco- 
rated, at least as regards all but the oldest tombs, it becomes 
really beautiful. The long procession during the morning of 
women and children carrying baskets of flowers, and coming 
in from various directions, often from many miles distant, 
adds greatly to the interest of the scene. This custom seems 
to be one of the expressions of the idealism and poetry char- 
acteristic of most Celtic peoples. 


usk: my earliest memories 

My earliest recollections are of myself as a little boy in short 
frocks and with bare arms and legs, playing with my brother 
and sisters, or sitting in my mother's lap or on a footstool 
listening to stories, of which some fairy-tales, especially 
" Jack the Giant-Killer," " Little Red Riding Hood," and 
Jack and the Beanstalk," seem to live in my memory ; and of 
a more realistic kind, " Sandford and Merton," which perhaps 
impressed me even more deeply than any. I clearly remem- 
ber the little house and the room we chiefly occupied, with a 
French window opening to the garden, a steep wooded bank 
on the right, the road, river, and distant low hills to the left. 
The house itself was built close under this bank, which 
was quite rocky in places, and a little back yard between the 
kitchen and a steep bit of rock has always been clearly 
pictured before me as being the scene of my earliest attempt 
to try an experiment, and its complete failure. ^sop's 
Fables " were often read to me, and that of the fox which was 
thirsty and found a pitcher with a little water in the bottom but 
with the opening too small for its mouth to reach it, and of the 
way in which it made the water rise to the top by dropping 
pebbles into it, puzzled me greatly. It seemed quite like magic. 
So one day, finding a jar or bucket standing in the yard, I de- 
termined to try and see this wonderful thing. I first with a 
mug poured some water in till it was about an inch or tw^o deep, 
and then collected all the small stones I could find and put into 
the water, but I could not see that the water rose up as I 
thought it ought to have done. Then I got my little spade and 
scraped up stones ofif the gravel path, and with it, of course, 



some of the soft gravel, but instead of the water rising, it 
merely turned to mud; and the more I put in the muddier it 
became, while there seemed to be even less water than before. 
At last I became tired and gave it up, and concluded that the 
story could not be true ; and I am afraid this rather made me 
disbelieve in experiments out of story-books. 

The river in front of our house was the Usk, a fine stream 
on which we often saw men fishing in coracles, the ancient 
form of boat made of strong wicker-work, somewhat the shape 
of the deeper half of a cockle-shell, and covered with bullock's 
hide. Each coracle held one man, and it could be easily carried 
to and from the river on the owner's back. In those days of 
scanty population and abundant fish the river was not pre- 
served, and a number of men got their living, or part of it, by 
supplying the towns with salmon and trout in their season. It 
is very interesting that this extremely ancient boat, which has 
been in use from pre-Roman times, and perhaps even from the 
Neolithic Age, should continue to be used on several of the 
Welsh rivers down to the present day. There is probably no 
other type of vessel now in existence which has remained un- 
changed for so long a period. 

But the chief attraction of the river to us children was the 
opportunity it afforded us for catching small fish, especially 
lampreys. A short distance from our house, towards the lit- 
tle village of Llanbadock, the rocky bank came close to the 
road, and a stone quarry had been opened to obtain stone, both 
for building and road-mending purposes. Here, occasionally, 
the rock was blasted, and sometimes we had the fearful delight 
of watching the explosion from a safe distance, and seeing a 
cloud of the smaller stones shoot up into the air. At some 
earlier period very large charges of powder must have been 
used, hurling great slabs of rock across the road into the river, 
where they lay, forming convenient piers and standing-places 
on its margin. Some of these slabs were eight or ten feet long 
"and nearly as wide ; and it was these that formed our favourite 
fishing-stations, where we sometimes found shoals of small 
lampreys, which could be scooped up in basins or old sauce- 
pans, and were then fried for our dinner or supper, to our 



great enjoyment. I think what we caught must have been the 
young fish, as my recollection of them is that they were like lit- 
tle eels, and not more than six or eight inches long, whereas 
the full-grown lampreys are from a foot and a half to nearly 
three feet long. 

The lamprey was a favourite dish with our ancestors, and is 
still considered a luxury in some districts, while in others it is 
rejected as disagreeable, and the living fish is thought to be 
even poisonous. This is, no doubt, partly owing to its wrig- 
gling, snake-like motions, and its curious sucking mouth, by 
which it sticks on the hand and frightens people so much that 
they throw it away instantly. But the Rev. J. G. Wood, in his 
very interesting " Natural History," tells us that he has caught 
thousands of them with his bare hands, and has often had six 
or seven at once sticking to his hand without causing the 
slightest pain or leaving the least mark. The quantity of these 
fish is so great in some rivers that they would supply a large 
amount of wholesome food w^ere there not such a prejudice 
against them. Since this period of my early childhood I do 
not think I have ever eaten or even seen a lamprey. 

At this time I must have been about four years old, as we 
left Usk when I was about five, or less. My brother John was 
four and a half years older, and I expect was the leader in 
most of our. games and explorations. My two sisters were 
five and seven years older than John, so that they would have 
been about thirteen and fifteen, which would appear to me 
quite grown up ; and this makes me think that my recollections 
must go back to the time when I was just over three, as I quite 
distinctly remember two, if not three, besides myself, standing 
on the flat stones and catching lampreys. 

There is also another incident in which I remember that my 
brother and at least one, if not two, of my sisters took part. 
Among the books read to us was " Sandford and Merton/' the 
only part of which that I distinctly remember is when the two 
boys got lost in a wood after dark, and while Merton could do 
nothing but cry at the idea of having to pass the night without 
supper or bed, the resourceful Sandford comforted him by 
promising that he should have both, and set him to gather 



sticks for a fire, which he lit with a tinder-box and match 
from his pocket. Then, when a large fire had been made, he 
produced some potatoes which he had picked up in a field on 
the way, and which he then roasted beautifully in the embers, 
and even produced from another pocket a pinch of salt in a 
screw of paper, so that the two boys had a very good supper. 
Then, collecting fern and dead leaves for a bed, and I think 
making a coverlet by taking off their two jackets, which made 
them quite comfortable while lying as close together as possible, 
they enjoyed a good night's sleep till daybreak, when they 
easily found their way home. 

This seemed so delightful that one day John provided him- 
self with the matchbox, salt,- and potatoes, and having climbed 
up the steep bank behind our house, as we often did, and passed 
over a field or two to the woods beyond, to my great delight a 
fire was made, and we also feasted on potatoes with salt, as 
Sandford and Merton had done. Of course we did not com- 
plete the imitation of the story by sleeping in the wood, which 
would have been too bold and dangerous an undertaking for 
our sisters to join in, even if my brother and I had wished to 
do so. 

Another vivid memory of these early years consists of oc- 
casional visits to Usk Castle. Some friends of our family 
lived in the house to which the ruins of the castle were at- 
tached, and we children were occasionally invited to tea, when 
a chief part of our entertainment was to ascend the old keep 
by the spiral stair, and walk round the top, which had a low 
parapet on the outer side, while on the inner we looked down 
to the bottom of the tower, which descended below the ground- 
level into an excavation said to have been the dungeon. The 
top of the walls was about three feet thick, and it was thus 
quite safe to walk round close to the parapet, though there was 
no protection on the inner edge but the few herbs and bushes 
that grew upon it. For many years this small fragment of a 
mediaeval castle served to illustrate for me the stories of 
knights and giants and prisoners immured in dark and dismal 
dungeons. In our friend's pretty grounds, where we often had 



tea, there was a summer-house with a table formed of a brick- 
built drum, with a circular slate slab on the top, and this pecu- 
liar construction seemed to us so appropriate that we named it 
the little castle, and it still remains a vivid memory. 

Our house was less than a quarter of a mile from the old 
bridge of three arches over the river Usk, by which we reached 
the town, which was and is entirely confined to the east side of 
the river, while we lived on the west. The w^alk there was a 
very pleasant one, with the clear, swift-flowing river on one 
side and the narrow side and wooded steep bank on the other ; 
while from the bridge itself there was a very beautiful view up 
the river-valley, of the mountains near Abergavenny, ten miles 
off, the conical sugar-loaf in the centre, the flat-topped mass of 
the Blorenge on the left, and the rocky ridge of the Skirrid to 
the right. These names were so constantly mentioned that 
they became quite familiar to me, as the beginning of the 
unknown land of Wales, which I also heard mentioned 

My eldest brother William was about eighteen when I was 
four, and was articled to Messrs. Sayce, a firm of land sur- 
veyors and estate agents at Kington, in Herefordshire. I have 
an indistinct recollection of his visiting us occasionally, and of 
his being looked up to as very clever, and as actually bringing 
out a little monthly magazine of literature, science, and local 
events, of which he brought copies to show us. I particularly 
remember one day his pointing out to the family that the re- 
flection of some hills in the river opposite us was sometimes 
visible and sometimes not, though on both occasions in equally 
calm and clear weather. He explained the cause of this in the 
magazine, illustrated by diagrams, as being due to changes of 
a few inches in the height of the water, but this, of course, I 
did not understand at the time. 

I may here mention a psychological peculiarity, no doubt 
common to a considerable proportion of children of the same 
age, that, during the whole period of my residence at Usk, I 
have no clear recollection, and can form no distinct mental 
image, of either my father or mother, brothers or sisters. I 


simply recollect that they existed, but my recollection is only 
a blurred image, and does not extend to any peculiarities of 
feature, form, or even of dress or habits. It is only at a 
considerably later period that I began to recollect them as 
distinct and well-marked individuals whose form and features 
could not be mistaken — as, in fact, being my father and 
mother, my brothers and sisters ; and the house and surround- 
ings in which I can thus first recollect, and in some degree 
visualize them, enable me to say that I must have been then 
at least eight years old. 

What makes this deficiency the more curious is that, during 
the very same period at which I cannot recall the personal 
appearance of the individuals with whom my life was most 
closely associated, I can recall all the main features and many 
of the details of my outdoor, and, to a less degree, of my in- 
door, surroundings. The form and colour of the house, the 
road, the river close below it, the bridge with the cottage near 
its foot, the manor fields between us and the bridge, 
the steep wooded bank at the back, the stone quarry and 
the very shape and position of the flat slabs on which we 
stood fishing, the cottages a little further on the road, the 
little church of Llanbadock and the stone stile into the church- 
yard, the fishermen and their coracles, the ruined castle, its 
winding stair and the delightful walk round its top — all come 
before me as I recall these earlier days with a distinctness 
strangely contrasted with the vague shadow figures of the 
human beings who were my constant associates in all these 
scenes. In the house, I recollect the arrangement of the 
rooms, the French window to the garden, and the blue-papered 
room in which I slept, but of the people always with me in 
those rooms, and even of the daily routine of our life, I remem- 
ber nothing at all. 

I cannot find any clear explanation of these facts in modern 
psychology, whereas they all become intelligible from the 
phrenological point of view. The shape of my head shows 
that I have form and individuality but moderately developed, 
while locality, ideality, colour, and comparison are decidedly 



Deficiency in the first two caused me to take little notice 
of the characteristic form and features of the separate in- 
dividualities which were most familiar to me, and from that 
very cause attracted less close attention ; while the greater 
activity of the latter group gave interest and attractiveness to 
the ever-changing combinations in outdoor scenery, while the 
varied opportunities for the exercise of the physical activities, 
and the delight in the endless variety of nature, which are so 
strong in early childhood, impressed these outdoor scenes and 
interests upon my memory. And throughout life the same 
limitations of observation and memory have been manifest. 
In a new locality it takes me a considerable time before I learn 
to recognize my various new acquaintances, individually; and, 
looking back on the varied scenes amid which I have lived at 
home and abroad, while numerous objects, localities, and events 
are recalled with some distinctness, the people I met, or, with 
few exceptions, those with whom I became fairly well ac- 
quainted, seem but blurred and indistinct images. 

In the year 1883, when, for the first time since my childhood, 
I revisited, with my wife and two children, the scenes of my 
infancy, I obtained a striking proof of the accuracy of my 
memory of those scenes and objects. Although the town of 
Usk had grown considerably on the north side, towards the 
railway, yet, to my surprise and delight, I found that no 
change whatever had occurred on our side of the river, where, 
between the bridge and Llanbadock, not a new house had been 
built, and our cottage and garden, the path up to the front 
door, and the steep, woody bank behind it, remained exactly 
as pictured in my memory. Even the quarry appeared to have 
been very little enlarged, and the great flat stones were still in 
the river, exactly as when I stood upon them, with my brother 
and sisters, sixty years before. The one change I noted here 
was that the well-remembered stone stile into the village 
churchyard had been replaced by a wooden one. We also 
visited the ruined castle, ascended the winding stair, and 
walked around the top wall, and everything seemed to me 
exactly as I knew it of old, and neither smaller nor larger than 
my memory had so long pictured it. The view of the Aber- 


gavenny mountains pleased and interested me as in child- 
hood, and the clear-flowing Usk seemed just as broad and as 
pleasant to the eye as my memory had always pictured it. 

There is one other fact connected with my mental nature 
which may be worth noticing here. This is an often-repeated 
dream, which occurred at this period of my life, and, so far 
as I can recall, then only. I seemed first to hear a distant 
beating or flapping sound, as of some creature with huge 
wings; the sound came nearer and nearer, till at last a deep 
thud was heard and the flapping ceased. I then seemed to 
feel that the creature was clinging with its wings outspread 
against the wall of the house just outside my window, and I 
waited in a kind of fearful expectation that it would come in- 
side. I usually awoke then, and all being still, went to sleep 

I think I can trace the origin of this dream. At a very 
early period of these recollections I was shown on the outside 
of a house, at or near Usk, a hatchment or funeral escutcheon 
— ^the coat-of-arms on a black lozenge-shaped ground often 
put up on the house of a deceased person of rank or of 
ancient lineage. At the time I only saw an unmeaning jumble 
of strange dragon-like forms surrounded with black, and I 
was told that it was there because somebody was dead; and 
when this curious dream came I at once associated it with the 
hatchment, and directly I heard the distant flapping of wings, 
I used to say to myself (in my dream), "The hatchment is 
coming ; I hope it will not get in." So far as I can remember, 
this was the only dream — at all events, the only vivid and 
impressive one — I had while living at Usk, and it came so 
often, and so exactly in the same form, as to become quite 
familiar to me. It was, in fact, the form my childish night- 
mare took at that period, and though I was always afraid of 
it, it was not nearly so distressing as many of the nightmares 
I have had since. 

I may here add another illustration of how vividly these 
scenes of my childhood remain in my memory. My father 
was very fond of Cowper's poems, and often used to read 
them aloud to us children. Two of these especially impressed 



themselves on my memory. That about the three kittens and 
the viper, ending with the lines — 

" With outstretched hoe I slew him at the door. 
And taught him never to come there no more ! " 

v^as perhaps the favourite, and whenever I heard it or read it 
in after years, the picture always in my mind was of the door- 
step of the Usk cottage with the kittens and the viper in the 
attitudes so picturesquely described. The other one was the 
fable of the sheep, who, on hearing some unaccustomed noise, 
rushed away to the edge of a pit, and debated whether it 
would be wise to jump into it to escape the unknown danger, 
but were persuaded by a wise old bell-wether that this would 
be foolish, he being represented as saying — 

"What! jump into the pit your lives to save, 
To save your lives leap into the grave ! " 

And as almost the only sheep I had seen close at hand were 
in the little narrow field between our house and the bridge, I 
always associated the scene with that field, although there 
was no pit of any kind in it. So, in after years, when I became 
fascinated by the poems of Hood, the beautiful and pathetic 
verses beginning — 

" I remember, I remember. 
The house where I was born, 
The little window where the sun 
Came peeping in each morn; 
He never came a wink too soon. 
Nor brought too long a day, 
But now I often wish the night 
Had borne my breath away," 

always brought to my mind the memory of the little blue- 
papered room at Usk, which faced somewhat east of south, 
and into which, therefore, the sun did " come peeping in each 
morn " — at least, during a large portion of the year. 

So far as I can remember or have heard, I had no illness 
of any kind at Usk, which was no doubt due to the free out- 


door life we lived there, spending a great part of the day in 
the large garden or by the riverside, or in the fields and 
woods around us. As will be seen later on, this immunity 
ceased as soon as we went to live in a town. I remember only 
one childish accident. The cook was taking away a frying- 
pan with a good deal of boiling fat in it, which for some reason 
I wanted to see, and, stretching out my arm over it, I suppose 
to show that I wanted it lowered down, my forearm went into 
the fat and was badly scalded. I mention this only for the 
purpose of calling attention to the fact that, although I vividly 
remember the incident, I cannot recall that I suffered the least 
pain, though I was told afterwards that it was really a severe 
burn. This, and other facts of a similar kind, make me think 
that young children suffer far less pain than adults from the 
same injuries. And this is quite in accordance with the pur- 
pose for which pain exists, which is to guard the body against 
injuries dangerous to life, and giving us the impulse to escape 
rapidly from any danger. But as infants cannot escape from 
fatal dangers, and do not even know what things are danger- 
ous and what not, only very slight sensations of pain are at 
first required, and such only are therefore developed, and 
these increase in intensity just in proportion as command over 
the muscles giving the power of rapid automatic movements 
become possible. The sensation of pain does not, probably, 
reach its maximum till the whole organism is fully developed 
in the adult individual. This is rather a comforting conclu- 
sion in view of the sufferings of so many infants needlessly 
massacred through the terrible defects of our vicious social 

I may add here a note as to my personal appearance at 
this age. I was exceedingly fair, and my long hair was of a 
very light flaxen tint, so that I was generally spoken of 
among the Welsh-speaking country people as the " little 



My recollections of our leaving Usk and of the journey to 
London are very faint, only one incident of it being clearly 
visualized — the crossing of the Severn at the Old Passage in 
an open ferry-boat. This is so very clear to me, possibly 
because it was the first time I had ever been in a boat. I 
remember sitting with my mother and sisters on a seat at 
one side of the boat, which seemed to me about as wide as a 
small room, of its leaning over so that we were close to the 
water, and especially of the great boom of the mainsail, when 
our course was changed, requiring us all to stoop our heads for 
it to swing over us. It was a little awful to me, and I think 
we were all glad when it was over and we were safe on land 
again. We must have travelled all day by coach from Usk 
to the Severn, then on to Bristol, then from Bristol to London. 
I think we must have started very early in the morning and 
have reached London late in the evening, as I do not remember 
staying a night on the way, and the stage then travelled at an 
average speed of ten miles an hour over good roads and in 
the summer time. The monotony of the journey probably 
tired me so that it left no impression; but besides the ferry- 
boat the only other incident I can clearly recall is our sleeping 
at an old inn in London, and our breakfast there the next 
morning. I rather think the inn was the Green Man, or some 
such name, in Holborn, and the one thing that lives in my 
memory is that in the morning my mother ordered coffee 
for breakfast, and said to the waiter, " Mind and make it 
good." The result of which injunction was that it was nearly 
black, and so strong that none of the party could drink it, till 
boiling water was brought for us to dilute it with. I, of 



course, had only milk and water, with perhaps a few drops of 
coffee as a special luxury. 

Of the next few months of my life I have also but slight 
recollections, confined to a few isolated facts or incidents. 
On leaving the inn we went to my aunt's at Dulwich. Mrs. 
Wilson was my mother's only sister, who had married a 
solicitor, who, besides having a good practice, was agent for 
Lord Portman's London property. I remember being much 
impressed with the large house, and especially with the beau- 
tiful grounds, with lawns, trees, and shrubs such as I had 
never seen before. There were here also a family of cousins, 
some about my own age, and the few days we stayed were 
very bright and enjoyable. . 

I rather think that my father, and perhaps my brother also, 
had left Usk a few days before us to make arrangements for 
the family at Hertford) and I think that I was taken to a 
children's school at Ongar, in Essex, kept by two ladies — the 
Misses Marsh. I think it was at this place, because my father 
had an old friend there, a Mr. Dyer, a clergyman. There 
were a number of little boys and girls here about my own 
age or younger, and what I chiefly remember is playing with 
them in the playgound, garden, and house. The playground 
was a gravel yard on one side of the house, and there we 
occasionally found what I here first heard called " thunder- 
bolts " — worn specimens of belemnites — fossils of the chalk 
formation. We all believed that they fell down during thun- 
derstorms. One rather exciting incident alone stands out 
clear in my memories of this place. There was a garden 
sloping down to a small pond in the centre, with rather steep 
banks and surrounded by shrubs and flower-beds. This was 
cut oflf from the house and yard by a low iron fence with a 
gate which was usually kept locked, and we were not allowed 
to play in it. But one day the gardener had left it open, and 
we all went in, and began pulling and pushing an old-fashioned 
stone roller. After a little while, as we were pushing it along 
a path which went down to the pond, it suddenly began to 
go quickly down hill, and as we could not stop it, and were 
afraid of being pulled into the water, we had to let go, and the 



roller rushed on, splashed into the pond, and disappeared. 
We were rather frightened, and were, of course, lectured on 
the narrow escape we had had from drowning ourselves. 
This is really all I recollect of my first experience of a board- 

My next recollections are of the town of Hertford, where 
we lived for eight or nine years, and where I had the whole 
of my school education. We had a small house, the first of 
a row of four at the beginning of St. Andrew's Street, and I 
must have been a little more than six years old when I first 
remember myself in this house, which had a very narrow yard 
at the back, and a dwarf wall, perhaps five feet high, between 
us and the adjoining house. The very first incident which I 
remember, which happened, I think, on the morning after my 
arrival, was of a boy about my own age looking over this 
wall, who at once inquired, " Hullo ! who are you ? " I told 
him that I had just come, and what my name was, and we at 
once made friends. The stand of a water-butt enabled me to 
get up and sit upon the wall, and by means of some similar 
convenience he could do the same, and we were thus able to 
sit side by side and talk, or get over the wall and play together 
when we liked. Thus began the friendship of George Silk 
and Alfred Wallace, which, with long intervals of absence 
at various periods, has continued to this day. 

The way in which we were brought together throughout 
our boyhood is very curious. While at Hertford I lived 
altogether in five different houses, and in three of these the 
Silk family lived next door to us, which involved not only 
each family having to move about the same time, but also 
that two houses adjoining each other should on each occasion 
have been vacant together, and that they should have been 
of the size required by each, which after the first was not the 
same, the Silk family being much the largest. When we 
moved to our second house, George's grandmother had an 
old house opposite to us, and we were thus again brought 
together. Besides this, for the greater part of the time we 
were schoolfellows at the Hertford Grammar School; and it 


is certainly a curious coincidence that this the earliest ac- 
quaintance of my childhood, my playmate and schoolfellow, 
should be the only one of all my schoolfellows who were also 
friends, that I have ever seen again or that, so far as I know, 
are now alive. 

The old town of Hertford, in which I passed the most 
impressionable years of my life, and where I first obtained a 
rudimentary acquaintance with my fellow-creatures and with 
nature, is, perhaps, on the whole, one of the most pleasantly 
situated county towns in England, although as a boy I did not 
know this, and did not appreciate the many advantages I 
enjoyed. Among its most <ielightful features are numerous 
rivers and streams in the immediately surrounding country, 
affording pleasant walks through flowery meads, many pic- 
turesque old mills, and a great variety of landscape. The 
river Lea, coming from the south-west, passes through the 
middle of the town, where the old town mill was situated in 
an open space called the Wash, which was no doubt liable to 
be flooded in early times. The miller was reputed to be one 
of the richest men in the town, yet we often saw him standing 
at the mill doors in his dusty miller's clothes as we passed on 
our way from school. He was a cousin of my mother's by 
marriage, and we children sometimes went to tea at his house^ 
and then, as a great treat, were shown all over the mill with 
all its strange wheels and whirling millstones, its queer little 
pockets, on moving leather belts, carrying the wheat up to the 
stones in a continual stream, the ever-rattling sieves and 
cloths which sifted out the bran and pollard, and the weird 
peep into the dark cavern where the great dripping water- 
wheel went on its perpetual round. Where the river passed 
under the bridge close by, we could clamber up and look over 
the parapet into the deep, clear water rushing over a dam, 
and also see where the stream that turned the wheel passed 
swiftly under a low arch, and this was a sight that never 
palled upon us, so that almost every fine day, as we passed 
this way home from school, we gave a few moments to gazing 
into this dark, deep water, almost always in shadow owing 



to high buildings on both sides of it, but affording a pleasant 
peep to fields and gardens beyond. 

After passing under the bridge, the river flowed on among 
houses and workshops, and was again dammed up to supply 
another mill about half a mile away, and to form the river 
Lea navigation. There was also, in my time, a small lateral 
stream carried oflP to pump water to the top of a wooden 
water-tower to supply part of the town, so that about half a 
mile from the middle of the town there were four distinct 
streams side by side, though not parallel, which I remember 
used to puzzle me very much as to their origin. In addition 
to these there was another quite distinct river, the Beane, 
which came from the north-west till it was only a furlong 
from the Lea at the town bridge, when it turned back to the 
north-east, and entered that river half a mile lower down, 
enclosing between the two streams the fine open space of 
about thirty acres called Hartham, which w^as sufficiently 
elevated to be always dry, and which was at once a common 
grazing field and general cricket and playground, the turf 
being very smooth and good, and seldom requiring to be 
rolled. The county cricket matches were played here, and it 
was considered to be a first-rate ground. 

Here, too, in the river Beane, which had a gentle stream 
with alternate deep holes and sandy shallows, suitable for 
boys of all ages, was our favourite bathing place, where 
not long after our coming to Hertford, I was very nearly 
being drowned. It was a place called Willowhole, where 
those who could swim a little would jump in, and in a few 
strokes in any direction reach shallower water. I and my 
brother John and several schoolfellows were going to bathe, 
and I, who had undressed first, was standing on the brink, 
w^hen one of my companions gave me a sudden push from 
behind, and I tumbled in and went under w^ater immediately. 
Coming to the surface half dazed, I splashed about and went 
under again, when my brother, who was four and a half years 
older, jumped in and pulled me out. I do not think I had 
actually lost consciousness, but I had swallowed a good deal 
of water, and I lay on the grass for some time before I got 


strength to dress, and by the time I got home I was quite 
well. It was, I think, the first year, if not the first time, I 
had ever bathed, and if my brother had not been there it is 
quite possible that I might have been drowned. This gave 
me such a fright that though I often bathed here afterwards, 
I always went in where the water was shallow, and did not 
learn to swim, however little, till several years later. 

Few small towns (it had then less than six thousand inhab- 
itants) have a more agreeable public playground than Hart- 
ham, with the level valley of the Lea stretching away to 
Ware on the east, the town itself just over the river on the 
south, while on the north, just across the river Beane, was a 
steep slope covered with scattered fir trees, and called the 
Warren, at the foot of which was a footpath leading to the 
picturesque little village and old church of Bengeo. This 
path along the Warren was a favourite walk of mine, either 
alone or with a playmate, where we could scramble up the 
bank, climb up some of the old trees, or sit comfortably upon 
one or two old stumpy yews, which had such twisted branches 
and stiff spreading foliage as to form delightful seats. This 
place was very little frequented, and our wanderings in it 
were never interfered with. 

In the other direction the river Beane, as already stated, 
flows down a picturesque valley from the north, but I do 
not remember walking much beyond Bengeo. A little way 
beyond Hartham, toward Ware, another small stream, the Rib, 
came from the north, with a mill-stream along the west side 
of Ware Park, but this also was quite unexplored by us. 
Just out of the town, to the south-west, the river Mimram 
joined the Lea. This came through the village of Herting- 
fordbury, about a mile off, and then through the fine park of 
Panshanger, about two miles long and containing about a 
thousand acres. This park was open to the public, and we 
occasionally went there to visit the great oak tree which was, 
I believe, one of the finest grown large oaks in the kingdom. 
It was one of the sights of the district. 

About three-quarters of a mile from the centre of the town, 
going along West Street, was a mill called Horn's Mill, which 



was a great attraction to me. It was an old-fashioned mill 
for grinding linseed, expressing the oil, and making oil-cake. 
The mill stood close by the roadside, and there were small low 
windows always open, through which we could look in at the 
fascinating processes as long as we liked. First, there were 
two great vertical millstones of very smooth red granite, 
which shone beautifully from the oil of the ground seeds. 
These were fixed on each side of a massive vertical wooden 
axis on a central iron axle, revolving slowly and silently, and 
crushing the linseed into a fine oily meal. A curved fender or 
scoop continually swept the meal back under the rollers with 
an eccentric motion, which was itself altogether new to us, 
and very fascinating ; and, combined with the two-fold motion 
of the huge revolving stones, and their beautiful glossy sur- 
faces, had an irresistible attraction for us which never palled. 

But this was only one part of this delightful kind of peep- 
show. A little way off an equally novel and still more com- 
plex operation was always going on, accompanied by strange 
noises always dear to the young. Looking in at other windows 
we saw numbers of workmen engaged in strange operations 
amid strange machinery, with its hum and whirl and reverber- 
ating noises. Close before us were long erections like shop 
counters, but not quite so high. Immediately above these, 
at a height of perhaps ten or twelve feet, a long cylindrical 
beam was continually revolving with fixed beams on each 
side of it, both higher up and lower down. At regular inter- 
vals along the counter were great upright wooden stampers 
shod with iron at the bottom. When not in action these were 
supported so that they were about two feet above the counter, 
and just below them was a square hole. As we looked on a 
man would take a small canvas sack about two feet long, fill 
it quite full of linseed meal from a large box by his side, 
place this bag in a strong cover of a kind of floorcloth with 
flaps going over the top and down each side. The sack of 
meal thus prepared would be then dropped into the hole, which 
it entered easily. Then a thin board of hard wood, tapered to 
the lower edge, was pushed down on one side of it, and out- 
side this again another wedge-shaped piece was inserted. 


The top of this was now just under the iron cap of the heavy 
pile or rammer, and on pulHng a rope, this was freed and 
dropped on the top of the wedge, which it forced halfway 
down. In a few seconds it was raised up again, and fell upon 
the wedge, driving it in a good deal further, and the third 
blow would send it down level with the top of the counter. 
Then when the rammer rose up, another rope was pulled, and 
it remained suspended; a turn of a handle enabled the first 
wedge to be drawn out and a much thicker one inserted, when, 
after two or three blows, this became so hard to drive that the 
rammer falling upon it made a dull sound and rebounded a 
little; and as the process went on the blows became sharper, 
and the pile would rebound two or three times like a billiard 
ball rebounding again and again from a stone floor, but in 
more rapid succession. This went on for hours, and when 
the process was finished, the meal in the sack had become so 
highly compressed that when taken out it was found to be 
converted into a compact oilcake. In this mill there were, I 
think, three or four counters parallel to each other, and on 
each, perhaps, six or eight stamps, and when all these were 
at work together, but rebounding at different rates and with 
different intensities of sound, the whole effect was very strange, 
and the din and reverberation almost deafening, but still at 
times somewhat musical. During this squeezing process the 
oil ran off below through suitable apertures, but was never 
seen by us. I believe these old stamping-mills are now all 
replaced by hydraulic presses, which get more oil out and 
leave the cake harder, but the process would be almost silent 
and far less picturesque. 

A very interesting and beautiful object connected with 
the water-supply of the neighbourhood was the New River 
Head or Chadwell Spring, the source of the original New 
River brought to London by Sir Hugh Myddleton. It is 
about two-thirds of the distance from Hertford to Ware, and 
is situated in a level meadow not far from the high-road, and 
about a quarter of a mile from the main river. As I knew it, 
it was a circular pond nearly a hundred feet in diameter, filled 



with the most crystal clear water, and very deep in the centre, 
where the springs were continually bubbling upward, keeping 
up a good stream which supplied a considerable part of the 
water in the New River. But its chief beauty was, that the 
centre was filled with great flocculent masses of green con- 
fervse, while the water in the centre appeared to have a blue 
tint, producing exquisite shades of blue and green in ever- 
varying gradations, which were exceedingly beautiful. In 
fact, only once have I seen another spring which equalled it 
in beauty, in the little island of Semau, near Timor, and that 
was by no means equal in colour-effects, but only in the depth 
and purity of the water and the fine rock-basins that contained 
it. I am informed that now this beautiful Chadwell Spring 
has been entirely destroyed by the boring of deep wells in the 
neighbourhood, which have drawn off the springs that sup- 
plied it, and that it is now little more than a mud-hole, the 
whole New River supply being drawn from the river Lea or 
pumped up from deep wells near Ware. Thus does our 
morbid civilization destroy the most beautiful works of nature. 
This spring was, I believe, unequalled in the whole kingdom 
for simple beauty. 

While the country to the north and west of the town was 
characterized by its numerous streams, mills, and rich mead- 
ows, that to the east and south was much higher and drier, 
rising gradually in low undulations to about four hundred feet 
and upwards at from four to five miles away. This district 
was all gravelly with a chalk subsoil, the chalk in many places 
coming up to the surface^, while in others it was only reached 
at a depth of ten or twenty feet. In the total absence of any 
instruction in nature-knowledge at that period, my impression, 
and that of most other boys, no doubt, was, that in some way 
chalk was the natural and universal substance of which the 
earth consisted, the only question being how deep you must 
go to reach it. All this country was thickly dotted with 
woods and coppices, with numbers of parks and old manor 
houses; and as there were abundance of lanes and footpaths, 
it offered greater attractions to us boys than the more culti- 


vated districts to the north and west. Walking along the 
London Road, in about a mile and a half we reached Hertford 
Heath at a height of three hundred feet above the sea, and 
half a mile further was Haileybury College, then a training 
college for the East India Company, now a public school. 
All around here the country was woody and picturesque; but 
our favourite walk, and that of the Grammar School boys, on 
fine half-holidays in summer, was to what we called the racing- 
field, a spot about two miles and" a half south of the town. As 
this walk is typical of many of the best features of this part 
of the town's surroundings, it may be briefly described. 

From the south-west corner of All Saints' Churchyard was 
a broad pathway bounded by hedges, called Queen's-bench 
Walk, near the top of which was a seat, whence there was a 
nice view over the town, and the story was that the seat had 
been put there for Queen Elizabeth, who admired the view. 
This led into a lane, and further on to an open footpath across 
a field to Dunkirk's Farm. In this field, about fifty yards to 
the left, was a spring of pure water carefully bricked round, 
and as springs were not by any means common, we seldom 
went this way without running down to it to take a drink of 
water and admire its purity and upward bubbling out of the 
earth. At Dunkirk's Farm we crossed the end of Morgan's 
Walk, a fine straight avenue of lofty elms (I think) about 
three-quarters of a mile long, terminating in a rather large 
house — Brickenden Bury. In after years, when I became 
acquainted with Hood as a serious writer, the scene of that 
wonderful poem which begins with the verse — 

"'Twas in a shady Avenue, 

Where lofty Elms abound — 
And from a tree 
There came to me 
A sad and solemn sound, 
That sometimes murmur'd overhead 
And sometimes underground" — 

was always associated with this Morgan's Walk of my boy-- 
hood, an association partly due to the fact that sometimes 



a woodman was at work felling trees not far off, and this 
recalled another verse — 

" The Woodman's heart is in his work. 
His axe is sharp and good : 
With sturdy arm and steady aim 
He smites the gaping wood; 
From distant rocks 
His lusty knocks 
Re-echo many a rood." 

Leaving the avenue we crossed a large field, descending into 
a lane in a hollow, whence a little further on a path led us 
along the outside of Bayfordbury Park, the old oak palings 
of which were well covered with lichen and ivy. Following 
this path about a mile further by hedges and little brooks and 
small woods, we came out into a sloping grass field of irregular 
shape and almost entirely surrounded by woods, while little 
streamlets, usually with high banks on one side and low 
banks of gravel heaps on the other, offered the most enticing 
places for jumping and for playing the exciting game of 
follow-my-leader. This we called the racing-field; why I 
never heard, as it was certainly not suited for horse-racing, 
though admirably adapted for boyish games and sports. 
When the boarders of the Grammar School came here, usually 
accompanied by some of the day-scholars and in charge of 
one of the masters, or ushers, as we then called them, this 
was the end of our walk, and we were all free to amuse our- 
selves as we liked till the hour fixed for our return. We then 
broke up into parties. Some lay down on the grass to rest 
or to read, some wandered into the woods bird-nesting, some 
played leap-frog or other games. Here again in after years 
when I read The Dream of Eugene Aram," I always asso- 
ciated it with our games in the racing field, although the 
place described was totally unlike it — 

"Like sportive deer they coursed about, 
And shouted as they ran — 
Turning to mirth all things of earth, 

As only boyhood can; 
But the Usher sat remote from all, 
A melancholy man." 


Our ushers were not melancholy men, but sometimes one of 
them would bring a book to read while we played, and this 
was sufficient to carry out the resemblance to the poem, and 
summon up to my imagination this charming spot whenever 
I read it. 

In one corner of this field there was a rather deep circular 
hole, from which chalk was brought up as a top-dressing for 
some of the poor gravel soil, and this was one of the instances 
which led me to the belief that chalk was always somewhere 
underground. In this field I was once told that a wonderful 
plant, the bee-orchis, was sometimes found, and my father 
used to talk of it as a great rarity. Once, during the time 
we lived at Hertford, some" one showed us the flower, and I 
remember looking at it as something so strange as to be 
almost uncanny, but as I never found one myself I did not 
think more of it. 

Just over the boundary wall of our school playground, 
and continuing along the side of the churchyard, and then 
across the fields for a long distance southward, was a dry, 
irregular ditch or channel cut in the gravel by flood-water 
after heavy rains. In places this would be very deep — six or 
eight feet or more, in others shallow, and in some places there 
were vertical drops where regular little waterfalls occurred 
after storms. The whole appearance of this channel was 
very strange and mysterious, as there was nothing like it 
anywhere else. We called it the Gulps or Gulphs, but it is 
now marked on the ordnance maps as Hag's Dell, showing 
that it was looked upon as a mysterious phenomenon by those 
who gave it the name. This also was a kind of playground, 
and we sometimes spent a whole afternoon wandering about 
it. In the neighbourhood of Morgan's Walk, however, there 
were many interesting spots, among others, some old hedge- 
rows which had been so undermined in a chalky slope as to 
form complete overhanging caves, one of which I and two of 
my companions made our own, and stored it with a few neces- 
saries, such as bits of candle, a tinder-box with flint-steel and 
matches, and a few provisions, such as potatoes, which we 
could roast in our fire, and play at being brigands. It was in 



a rather out-of-the-way spot, and quite concealed from ordi- 
nary passers-by, and during all the time that we frequented it 
we were never disturbed by visitors. 

Among the interesting places in the town itself were the 
castle and the Bluecoat School. The castle was a modern 
building in the castellated style, but it stood in spacious 
grounds of about four acres near the middle of the town, with 
the river flowing through a part of it, and with about two 
hundred yards of the old defensive wall still remaining in a 
very complete state. During a short period the family of 
some of our schoolfellows lived in the castle, and we occa- 
sionally went there to play with them, and enjoyed scrambling 
along the top of the old wall, which, having a parapet still 
left, was quite practicable and safe. The moat which for- 
merly surrounded it, and was connected with the river, had 
been long filled up and formed into gardens, which sloped 
down from the outside of the wall. The original castle was 
built by Edward the Elder to protect the town against the 

The Bluecoat School was a branch of the celebrated school 
of the same name, or more properly, Christ's Hospital, in 
London. It stood at the upper end of Fore Street, opposite 
where the London Road branched off. Enclosed by lofty 
iron railings and gates was an oblong playground, about four 
hundred feet long by a hundred feet wide, bounded on each 
side by low buildings, forming offices, schoolrooms and dormi- 
tories, while at the end were the large dining-hall and school- 
rooms, and in front, near the gates, the master's resi- 
dence. On the gate pillars stood two nearly life-size figures 
of boys in the costume of the school — long blue coat and 
yellow petticoat, with breeches and yellow stockings, a dress 
which was quite familiar to us. Occasionally we went to see 
the boys dine in the grand dining-hall, where the old-world 
style of everything was of great interest. At the ringing of 
an outside bell the boys, 250 in all, came in, and seated them- 
selves at the long rows of tables. Then one of the older boys 
mounted a sort of pulpit and read a long grace, followed by a 
hymn, in which the boys joined. Then the serving begaUj 


a number of the boys taking this duty by turns. Hot meat 
and vegetables were served on flat wooden platters instead of 
plates, and I used to pity the boys for not having any place 
for gravy, which to me was (and still is) the chief luxury of 
hot meat. What was still more amusing to us was that in 
place of mugs there were little wooden flagons with wooden 
hoops and handles, in which they had, I think, beer. If I 
remember rightly, during the meal the boy in the pulpit read 
a chapter from the Bible, and at the end there was another 
grace and hymn. All was carried out with great regularity 
and very little noise, and the crowds of brightly clad boys, 
who had red leather belts over their blue coats, and whose 
yellow stockings were well visible, together with the fine, 
lofty hall, had a very pleasing effect. 

Among the other features of interest in the town was All 
Saints' Church, adjoining the Grammar School. I used to 
wonder at what seemed to me a curious and rather dangerous 
plan of groups of four very slender pillars instead of one 
large one to support the arches on each side of the nave. 
I did not know then that these were characteristic of the 
Early English Gothic, but are not common in our churches. 
Another feature of this church was its peal of ten bells, which 
were not only uncommonly numerous, but were of very fine 
tones, so that when they were well rung, as they frequently 
were, they produced an exceedingly musical effect, which I 
have never heard equalled since. The church has since been 
burnt down and rebuilt, but whether the bells were saved I 
do not know. 

Very conspicuous was the square, ugly brick Town Hall 
and Market Place at the bottom of Fore Street. This had, 
however, a large clock-face projecting outwards and sup- 
ported by three or four pieces of wood which seemed to hold 
it quite detached from the building, and I used to wonder 
whether it was a huge watch with all the works inside it. 
What made this more curious (to me) was that it struck the 
hours and quarters on very loud and sweet-toned bells, which 
again I have never since heard surpassed. In this hall were 
the law-courts, where the Assizes were held, and to which I 



sometimes gained admittance, and heard a trial of some poor 
sheep-stealers, who in those days were Hable to transportation 
for life, in order to protect the landed interest, which then 
ruled the country. 

The elections for members of Parliament were at that time 
scenes of considerable show and excitement, and the members 
elected had to undergo the ceremony of being chaired, which 
consisted in being carried around the town on their supporters' 
shoulders seated in a chair highly decorated with rosettes 
and coloured ribbons. I well remember the election which 
took place after the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed, when 
Thomas Slingsby Buncombe was the Radical member, and 
was returned at the head of the poll. I saw him being chaired, 
and when he had been brought back to the door of his hotel, 
the chair was overturned, as was then the custom, and he had 
to jump out into his friends' arms to avoid an awkward fall. 
There was then a scramble for the ribbons and chair-coverings, 
which were carried away as trophies. 

To celebrate the great national event — the passing of the 
Reform Bill — a banquet was given in the main street to all 
who chose to attend. It was summer time, and fine weather, 
and we went to see the feast, which was enjoyed by almost all 
the poorer people of the town on rows of tables which filled 
the street for a long distance. 

In connection with the game of cricket, I may mention 
that in those days the players, whether professional or ama- 
teur, had none of the paraphernalia of padded leggings and 
gauntlets now worn; while a suit of white duck, with, an 
ordinary white or black top-hat, was the orthodox costume. 
This was the time when the practice of overhand bowling was 
just beginning, and there was much controversy as to whether 
or not it should be allow^ed. I once saw tried a curious bowl- 
ing machine which it was thought might advantageously take 
the place of the human bowler. It was called a catapult, 
and was on the principle of the old instrument used for throw- 
ing stones into besieged cities. It consisted of a strong" 
wooden frame about three feet high. On a cross-bar at 
top was a place for the ball, and this was struck by a knob 


on an upright arm, which was driven on to it by a powerful 
spring, something in the manner of a spring-trap. The up- 
right arm was pulled back and held by a catch, which was 
released by pulling a cord. By slight alterations in the posi- 
tion of the ball and the force of the spring, the ball could be 
made to pitch on any spot desired, and could thus be slightly 
changed each time, as is the case with a good bowler. It 
seemed to answer very well, and it was thought that it might 
be used for practice where good bowlers were not available, 
but it never came into general use, and is now, perhaps, wholly 



My recollections of life at our first house in St. Andrew's 
Street are very scanty. My father had about half a dozen 
small boys to teach, and we used to play together; but I 
think that when we had been there about a year or two, I 
went to the Grammar School with my brother John, and was 
at once set upon that most wearisome of tasks, the Latin 
grammar. It was soon after this that I had the first of the 
three serious illnesses which at different periods brought me 
within a few hours of death in the opinion of those around 
me. I know that it must have been after I went to the school 
by the way the illness began. We had school before break- 
fast, from half-past six to eight in summer, and as we had 
nearly half a mile to walk, it was necessary to be out of bed 
at six. One morning I got up and dj-essed as usual, went 
down the two flights of stairs, but when I got to the bottom 
I suddenly felt so weak and faint and curiously ill all over 
that I could go no further, so I had to lie down on the bottom 
step, and was found there shortly afterwards by the servant 
coming down to light the fire. That was the beginning of a 
severe attack of scarlet fever, and I remember little more but 
heat and horrid dreams till one evening when all the family 
came to look at me, and I had something given me to drink 
all night. I was told afterward that the doctor said this was 
the crisis, that I was to have port wine in teaspoonfuls at 
short intervals, and that if I was not dead before morning I 
might recover. 

For some weeks after this I lived a very enjoyable life in 
bed, having tea and toast, puddings, grapes, and other luxuries 



till I was well again. Then, before going back to Latin 
grammar and other studies of the period, a little incident or 
interlude occurred which I am unable to place at any other 
period. How it came about I do not at all remember, but a 
gentleman farmer from Norfolk must have come to see us 
about some business, possibly connected with my sister and 
her desired occupation as a governess, and seeing me, and 
perhaps hearing of my recent illness, offered to take me home 
with him for a visit to play with his boy of about my age, and 
to go to Cromer, where his wife, with her sister and son, 
were going for change of air. As it was thought that the 
change would do me good, and I was delighted at the idea 
of going to such a nice seaside place as Cromer, his offer was 
kindly accepted. As it happened we did not go to Cromer, 
but my visit was, so far as I remember, an enjoyable one. 
We went by coach to Ely, where we stayed the night at a 
large inn almost joining the cathedral. No doubt we had had 
dinner on the way, and I had tea on our arrival, but my host, 
whose name I cannot remember, dined with a large party of 
gentlemen — probably a farmers' dinner — about six o'clock, 
and he told me to walk about and see the shops or wait in 
the hall, and I should come in for dessert. So for more than 
an hour I wandered up and down the street near the hotel 
and past the great entrance to the cathedral. At last a serv- 
ant came and called me in, and my friend bade me sit beside 
him, and introduced me to the company as a real Wallace — 
" Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled," he added, I suppose to 
show what he meant. Then I had fruit of many kinds, in- 
cluding fine grapes, and a glass of wine, and after an hour 
more went to bed. 

In the morning, after breakfast, we started in a chaise 
which had been sent from my friend's home overnight to 
meet him, and we had a long drive to the farm, where we 
arrived early in the afternoon, and found dinner ready for us. 
There were, I think, two ladies, my friend's wife and her 
sister, a boy about my own age, and I think the lady's brother, 
who had come some miles on a pony to meet us, and rode 
back alongside of the carriage. 



Of this visit I remember very little except one or two inci- 
dents. On the very day of our arrival, I think about tea- 
time, soon after I and my boy-friend had come in, Mrs. 

became very excited, and then went off into violent hysterics, 
and was obliged to be taken upstairs to bed. Whether this 
had anything to do with putting off the visit to Cromer, or 
some other domestic affairs, I never heard. However, next 
day all was right again, and I was treated very kindly, as if 
to show that I had nothing to do with it. I recall the house 
as a rather long white building with green outside shutters, 
with a lawn and flower-beds in front, and a kitchen garden 
and large orchard on one side. In the fields around were 
some fine trees, and I think there was a pond or a stream 
near the house and a small village not far off. I and my 
companion played and roamed about where liked, but 
what most struck me was the fruit-gathering in the large 
orchard, which began the very day after our arrival. I had 
never seen so many apples before. They were piled in great 
heaps on the ground, while men and boys went up the trees 
with ladders and gathered those from the higher branches into 
baskets. Of course, my little friend knew the best trees, and 
we ate as many as we liked. Sometimes we went out for 
drives, or were taken to visit at houses near, or visitors came 
to tea; but how long I stayed there, or how I returned, I 
have no recollection, but the main features of the visit as 
here related have always remained clearly impressed upon my 

It may be well here to give a brief outline of my school life 
at Hertford and of the schoolmaster who taught me. The 
school itself was built in the year 1617, when the school was 
founded. It consisted of one large room, with a large square 
window at each end and two on each side. In the centre of 
one side was a roomy porch, and opposite to it a projecting 
portion, with a staircase leading to two rooms above the 
schoolroom and partly in the roof. The schoolroom was 
fairly lofty. Along the sides were what were termed porches 
— desks and seats against the wall with very solid, roughly 
carved ends of black oak, much cut with the initials of names 


of many generations of schoolboys. In the central space were 
two rows of desks with forms on each side. There was a 
master's desk at each end, and tv/o others on the sides, and 
two open fireplaces equidistant from the ends. Every boy 
had a desk, the sloping lid of which opened, to keep his school- 
books and anything else he liked, and between each pair of 
desks at the top was a leaden ink-pot, sunk in a hole in the 
middle rail of the desks. As we went to school even in win- 
ter at seven in the morning, and three days a week remained 
till five in the afternoon, some artificial light was necessary, 
and this was effected by the primitive method of every boy 
bringing his own candles or candle-ends with any kind of 
candlestick he liked. An empty ink-bottle was often used, 
or the candle was even stuck on to the desk with a little of 
its own grease. So that it enabled us to learn our lessons 
or do our sums, no one seemed to trouble about how we pro- 
vided the light. 

The school was reached by a path along the bottom of All 
Saints' Churchyard, and entered by a door in the wall which 
entirely surrounded the school playground and master's gar- 
den. Over this door was a Latin motto — 

" Inter umbras Academi studere delectat." 

This was appropriate, as the grounds were surrounded by 
trees, and at the north end of the main playground there were 
two very fine old elms, shown in the old engraving of the 
school here reproduced. 

The headmaster in my time was a rather irascible little 
man named Clement Henry Crutwell. He limped very much 
owing to one leg being shorter than the other, and the foot, I 
think, permanently drawn up at the instep, but he was very 
active, used no stick, and could walk along as quickly and 
apparently as easily as most people. He was usually called 
by the boys Old Cruttle or Old Clemmy, and when he over- 
heard these names used, which was not often, he would give 
us a short lecture on the impropriety and impoliteness of 
miscalling those in authority over us. He was a good master, 


inasmuch as he kept order in the school, and carried on the 
work of teaching about eighty boys by four masters, all in 
one room, with* great regularity and with no marked incon- 
venience. Whatever might be the noise and games going on 
when he was absent, the moment his step was heard on the 
porch silence and order at once reigned. 

Flogging with a cane was not uncommon for more serious 
offences, while for slighter ones he would box the ears pretty 
severely. If a boy did not obey his orders instantly, or 
repeated his offence soon afterwards, however trifling it might 
be, such as speaking to another boy or pinching him surrep- 
titiously, he often, without another word, came down from his 
desk and gave the offender a resounding box on the ear. On 
one occasion I well remember his coming down to a rather 
small boy, giving him a slap on one side of his head which 
knocked him down flat on the seat, and when he slowly rose 
up, giving him another, which knocked him down on the 
other side. Caning was performed in the usual old-fashioned 
way by laying the boy across the desk, his hands being held on 
one side and his feet on the other, while the master, pulling 
the boy's trousers tight with one hand, laid on the cane with 
great vigour with the other. Mr. Crutwell always caned the 
boys himself, but the other masters administered minor pun- 
ishments, such as slight ear-boxes, slapping the palm with a 
flat ruler, or rapping the knuckles with a round one. These 
punishments were usually deserved, though not always. A 
stupid boy, or one who had a bad verbal memory, was often 
punished for what was called invincible idleness when it was 
really congenital incapacity to learn what he took no interest 
in, or whlat often had no meaning for him. When the usual 
extra tasks or impositions failed with such a boy he was 
flogged, but I cannot remember whether in such cases his 
conduct was improved or whether he was given up as " a 
thoroughly lazy, bad boy, who was a disgrace to the school," 
and thereafter left to go his own way. Such boys were often 
very good playfellows, and the magisterial denunciations had 
Httle effect upon us. 

Mr. Crutwell was, I suppose, a fairly good classical scholar as 


he took the higher classes in Latin and Greek. I left school 
too young even to begin Greek, but the last year or two I was 
in the Latin class which was going through Virgil's "^neid " 
with him. The system was very bad. The eight or ten boys 
in the class had an hour to prepare the translation, and they 
all sat together in a group opposite each other and close to 
Mr. Crutwell's desk, but under pretence of work there were 
always two or three of the boys who were full of talk and 
gossip and school stories, which kept us all employed and 
amused till within about a quarter of an hour of the time for 
being called up, when some one would remark, " I say, let's 
do our translation; I don't know a word of it." Then the 
cleverest boy, or one who had already been through the book, 
would begin to translate, two or three others would have their 
dictionaries ready when he did not know the meaning of a 
word, and so we blundered through our forty or fifty lines. 
When we were called up, it was all a matter of chance whether 
we got through well or otherwise. If the master was in a 
good humour and the part we had to translate was especially 
interesting, he would help us on whenever we hesitated or 
blundered, and when we had got through the lesson, he would 
make a few remarks on the subject, and say, " Now I will read 
you the whole incident." He would then take out a trans- 
lation of the " Mneid " in verse by a relative of his own — an 
uncle, I think — and, beginning perhaps a page or two back, 
read us several pages, so that we could better appreciate what 
we had been trying to translate. I, for one, always enjoyed 
these readings, as the verse was clear and melodious, and 
gave an excellent idea of the poetry of the Latin writer. 
Sometimes our laziness and ignorance were found out, and 
we either had to stay in an hour and go over it again, or copy it 
out a dozen times, or some other stupid imposition. But as 
this only occurred now and then, of course it did not in 
the least affect our general mode of procedure when supposed 
to be learning our lesson. Mr. Crutwell read well, with a good 
emphasis and intonation, and I obtained a better idea of what 
Virgil really was from his readings than from the frag- 
mentary translations we scrambled through. 



The three assistant masters, then called ushers, were very- 
distinct characters. The English and writing master, who 
also taught French, was a handsome, fair young man named 
Fitzjohn. He was something of a dandy, wearing white duck 
trousers in the summer, and always having a bright-coloured 
stiff stock, which was the fashionable necktie of the day. 
Those being aw^^-steel-pen days he had to make and mend 
our quill pens, and always had a sharp penknife. He was 
consequently the authority among the boys on the different 
knife-makers and the best kind of hones for keeping them 
sharp; and when he declared, as I once heard him, that some 
knives required oil and others water on the stone to bring 
them to the proper edge, we marvelled at his knowledge. What 
raised him still higher in our estimation was that he was a 
fairly good cricketer, and, even more exciting, he was one of 
the County Yeomanry, and upon the days appointed for drill 
or inspection, when from his bedroom over the schoolroom he 
came down in his uniform with sword and spurs, and marched 
across the room, our admiration reached its height. Though 
rather contemptuous to the younger boys, he was, I think, a 
pretty fair teacher. I learnt French from him for about two 
or three years, and though he taught us nothing colloquially, 
and could not, I think, speak the language himself, yet I 
learned enough to read any easy French book, whereas my six 
years' grinding at Latin only resulted in a scanty knowledge 
of the vocabulary and grammar, leaving me quite unable to 
construe a page from a Latin author with any approach to 
accuracy. Of course this was partly due to the fact that one 
language is much more difficult than the other, but more to 
the method of instruction. Had half the time been devoted 
to teaching us simple colloquial Latin thoroughly, I feel sure 
it would have been far more useful to those who left school 
early, and who had no special talent for languages. The 
only use Latin has been to me has been the enabling me to 
understand the specific descriptions of birds and insects in 
that tongue, and also to appreciate the derivation from Latin 
of many of our common English words. If the remaining 
time had been spent in learning German, the result would 


have been far more useful, but I do not think this language 
was taught in the school. 

The second master, or head usher, was named Hill. He 
had the end desk opposite to Mr. Crutwell's, and was a rather 
hard man, who knocked the boys' knuckles with his ruler very 
severely. On one occasion I remember seeing a boy whose 
hand was not only black and swollen from blows, but had the 
skin cut, and was covered with blood. In this case I think 
a complaint was made by the boy's parents, and Mr. H. 
was informed privately that he must be more moderate in 
the future. I do not think I ever had any lessons with this 

The youngest of the ushers was named Godwin, and was 
a nephew of Mr. Crutwell. He was rather a large-limbed, 
dark young man of eighteen or twenty. He was very good 
natured, and was much liked by the boys, in whose games he 
often took part. He was, I believe, studying the higher classics 
with his uncle with the idea of going to the University, but 
I never heard what became of him afterwards. He taught 
generally in the school, but the only recollection I have of 
him as a teacher was in one special case: Shortly before I 
left the school, I and a few others were put to translate one 
of the works of Cicero, and we were to be heard the lesson by 
Godwin. We had none of us any experience of this author 
before, having translated only Ovid and Virgil. We sat 
down and worked away with our dictionaries till we knew 
the meanings, or some of the meanings, of most of the words, 
but, somewhow, could not fit them together to make sense. 
However, at last we thought we had got something of the 
meaning. We were called up, and the boy at the head of 
the class began his translation. When he got stuck Godwin 
asked the others if they could help him, and when we could 
not, he would tell us the meaning of some difficult word, and 
then tell the translator to go on. He went on bit by bit till 
we got to the end of a long sentence. Then Godwin asked 
us if we thought we had got it right. We said we didn't know. 
Then he said, " Let's see ; I will read it just as you have 
translated it." This he did, and then we could see that we 



had not made the least approach to anything that was in- 
telHgible. So we had to confess that we could only make 
nonsense of it. Then he began, and translated the whole 
passage correctly for us, using very nearly the same words as 
we had used, but arranging them in a very different order, 
and showing us that the very ideas involved and the whole 
construction of the sentence was totally different from any- 
thing we had imagined. He did all this in a good-humoured 
way, as if pitying our being put upon a task so much beyond 
us, and, so far as I now recollect, that was our last as well as 
our first attempt at translating Cicero. I felt, however, that 
if we had had Godwin for our Latin teacher from the beginning 
we should have had a much better chance of really learning 
the language, and, perhaps, getting to understand Cicero, and 
appreciate the beauty and force of his style. 

Next to Latin grammar the most painful subject I learned 
was geography, which ought to have been the most interesting. 
It consisted almost entirely in learning by heart the names of 
the chief towns, rivers, and mountains of the various countries 
from, I think, Pinnock's " School Geography," which gave the 
minimum of useful or interesting information. It was some- 
thing like learning the multiplication table both in the pain- 
fulness of the process and the permanence of the results. The 
incessant grinding in both, week after week, and year after 
year, resulted in my knowing both the product of any two 
numbers up to twelve, and the chief towns of any English 
county so thoroughly, that the result was automatic, and the 
name of Staffordshire brought into my memory Stafford, 
Litchfield, Leek, as surely and rapidly as eight times seven 
brought fifty-six. The labour and mental effort to one who 
like myself had little verbal memory was very painful, and 
though the result has been a somewhat useful acquisition 
during life, I cannot think but that the same amount of 
mental exertion wisely directed might have produced far 
greater and more generally useful results. When I had to 
learn the chief towns of the provinces of Poland, Russia, 
Asia Minor, and other parts of Western Asia, with their al- 
most unpronounceable names, I dreaded the approaching hour, 


as I was sure to be kept in for inability to repeat them, and 
it was sometimes only by several repetitions that I could attain 
even an approximate knowledge of them. No interesting 
facts were ever given in connection with these names, no 
accounts of the country by travellers were ever read, no good 
maps ever given us, nothing but the horrid stream of unin- 
telligible place-names, to be learned in their due order as 
belonging to a certain country. 

History was very little better, being largely a matter of 
learning by heart names and dates, and reading the very 
baldest account of the doings of kings and queens, of wars, 
rebellions, and conquests. Whatever little knowledge of history 
I have ever acquired has" been derived more from Shakes- 
peare's plays and from good historical novels than from any- 
thing I learned at school. 

At one period when the family was temporarily broken 
up, for some reason I do not remember, I was for about half 
a year a boarder in Mr. Crutwell's house, in company with 
twenty or thirty other boys; and I will here give the routine 
of a pretty good boarding-school at that period. 

Our breakfast at eight consisted of a mug of milk-and- 
water and a large and very thick slice of bread-and-butter. 
For the average boy this was as much as they could eat, a 
few could not eat so much, a few wanted more, and the former 
often gave their surplus to the latter. Any boy could have 
an egg or a slice of bacon cooked if he bought it himself or 
had it sent from home, but comparatively very few had such 
luxuries. Three times a week half the boys had a hot buttered 
roll instead of the bread-and-butter. These penny rolls were 
much larger than any I have seen in recent years, although 
this was in the corn-law days, and one of them was as much 
as any boy wanted. They were cut in two longitudinally 
and well buttered, and were served quite hot from the kitchen 
oven. Any boy who preferred it could have bread-and-butter 
instead, as a few did, and any bread-and-butter boy who had 
not much appetite could have a thin slice instead of a thick 
one by asking for it. 



For dinner at one o'clock we had hot joints of meat and 
vegetables for five days, hot meat-pies on Saturdays made of 
remnants, with some fresh mutton or beef to make gravy, 
well seasoned, but always with a peculiar flavour, which I 
think must have been caused by the meat having been slightly 
salted or pickled to keep it good. Of course the boys used 
to turn up their noses at this dinner, but the pie was really 
very good, with a good substantial crust and abundance of 
gravy. On Sundays we had a cold joint of meat, with hot 
fruit pies in the summer and plum-pudding in the winter, with 
usually some extra delicacy as custard or a salad. Every boy 
had half a pint of fairly good beer to drink, and any one who 
wished could have a second helping of meat, and there were 
always some who did so, though the first helping was very 

At half-past five, I think, w-e had milk-and-water and bread- 
and-butter as at breakfast, from seven to eight we prepared 
lessons for the next day, and at eight we had supper, con- 
sisting of bread-and-cheese and, I think, another mug of beer. 
The house where the masters lived and where w^e had our 
meals and slept was in Fore Street, and was about two 
hundred feet aw^ay from the school; and the large school- 
room was the only place we had to go to in wet weather, 
when not at meals, but as we were comparatively few in 
number, it answered our purpose very well. 

Occasionally ]\lr. Crutwell gave us a special treat on some 
public occasion or holiday. Once I remember he gave us all 
syllabub in his private garden, two cows being brought up 
for the occasion, and milked into a pail containing two or three 
bottles of wine and some sugar. Having been all regaled 
with this delicacy and plum cake, and having taken a walk 
round the garden, we retired to our playground rejoicing. 

Our regular games were cricket, baseball, leapfrog, high 
and long jumps, and, in the winter, turnpikes with hoops. 
This latter was a means of enabling those who had no hoops 
to get the use of them. They kept turnpikes, formed by two 
bricks or stones placed the width of the foot apart, and the 
hoop-driver had to pass through without touching. If the 


hoop touched he gave it up, and kept the turnpike in his 
place. When there were turnpikes every five or ten yards all 
round the playground and a dozen or more hoops following 
each other pretty closely, the game was not devoid of its little 
excitements. We never played football (so far as I remember), 
which at that time was by no means such a common game as 
it is now. Among the smaller amusements which were always 
much liked were marbles and pegtops. Marbles were either 
a game of skill or a form of gambling. In the latter game 
a small hole was made against a wall, and each player in 
turn asked for a hand of two or four or even a higher number 
from some other boy; then with an equal number of his 
own he tried to pitch them into the hole, and if all or any even 
number remained in he won the whole, while if the number 
was odd he lost them. When a boy had lost all his stock of 
marbles he bought a half-penny worth and went on playing, 
and in the end some would lose all the marbles they began with 
and several pence besides, while others would retire with their 
trouser-pockets almost bursting with marbles, and in addition 
several pence resulting from sales in their pockets. I well 
remember the excitement and fascination even of this very 
humble form of gambling play ; how we would keep on to the 
very last moment in hopes of retrieving our losses or adding 
to our gains, then rush home to dinner, and return as quickly 
as possible to play again before school began. It was really 
gambling, and though perhaps it could not have been wholly 
forbidden, it might have been discouraged and made the text 
for some important teaching on the immorality of gaining 
only by another's loss. But at that time such ideas had hardly 
arisen in the minds of teachers. 

Peg-tops, whipping-tops, and humming-tops were all more 
or less appreciated, but pegtops were decidedly the most 
popular, and at certain times a large number of the boys 
would have them. We used to pride ourselves on being able 
to make our tops keep up as long as possible, and often 
painted them in rings of bright colours, which showed beauti- 
fully while they were spinning. Those made of box-wood 
and of rather large size were preferred, as their weight, and 



the longer string that could be used, caused them to spin 
longer. The individuality of tops was rather curious, as some 
could only be made to spin by holding them with the peg 
upwards, others with it downwards, while others would spin 
when held m either position, and thrown almost anyhow. 
When tops were in fashion they might have been made the 
vehicle for very interesting teaching of mechanics, but that 
again was quite beyond the range of the ordinary school- 
master of the early part of the nineteenth century. 

During my last year's residence at Hertford an arrange- 
ment was made by which, I suppose, the fees paid for my 
schooling were remitted on condition that I assisted in the 
school. I was a good writer and reader, and while continuing 
my regular classes in Latin and algebra, I took the younger 
boys in reading and dictation, arithmetic and writing. Al- 
though I had no objection whatever to the work itself, the 
anomalous position it gave me in the school — there being a 
score of boys older than myself who were scholars only — was 
exceedingly distasteful. It led to many disagreeables, and 
subjected me to painful insinuations and annoying remarks. 
I was especially sensitive to what all boys dislike — the being 
placed in any exceptional position or having to do anything 
different from other boys, and not of my own choice. Every 
time I entered the schoolroom I felt ashamed, and whether I 
was engaged at my own lessons or occupied as a teacher, I 
was equally uncomfortable. I cannot now remember all the 
details of what was to me a constant humiliation, but I am 
sure it must have been a time of very real mental anguish 
from one result that persisted almost into middle life. For 
at least twenty years after I left school, and I think even 
longer, I was subject to frequently recurring dreams of still 
having to go to school in the hybrid position of pupil and 
teacher, aggravated by feeling myself taller, and at least a 
man, and yet suffering over again with increased intensity 
the shyness and sense of disgrace of my boyhood. In my 
dreams I hated to go; when I reached the schoolhouse I 
dreaded to open the door, especially if a few minutes late, 


for then all eyes would be upon me. The trouble of not 
always knowing what to do came upon me with exaggerated 
force, and I used to open my desk and fumble about among 
its contents so as to hide my face as long as possible. 

After some years the dream became still more painful by 
the thought occurring to me sometimes that I need not go, 
that I had really left school; and yet the next time the 
dream came I could not resist the impulse to go, however 
much I dreaded it. At last a phase came in which I seemed 
to have nothing to do at school, and my whole time there 
was spent in pretending to do something, such as mending 
pens or reading a school-book, all the while feeling that the 
boys were looking at me "and wondering what I was there 
for. Then would come a struggle not to go. I would say to 
myself that I was sure I had left school, that I had nothing 
to do there, that if I never went again nothing would happen ; 
yet for a long time I always did go again. Then for a time 
I would dream that it was close to the holidays, or that the 
next day was breaking-up, and that I had better not go at 
all. Then I would remember that my books and slate and 
others things were in my desk, and that I must take them 
away. And after this for some years I would still occasion- 
ally dream that I had to go on this last day to carry away my 
books and take formal leave of Mr. Crutwell. After having 
got to this point even, the dream reappeared, and I went over 
the last school-day again and again; and then the final stage 
came, in which I seemed to have the old impulse to go to 
school, even started on the way, and then remembered that I 
had really left, that I need never go any more, and with an 
infinite sense of relief turned back, and found myself in some 
quite different life. 

Now, the very long persistence of such a dream as this 
shows, I think, how deeply impressionable is the mind at this 
period of boyhood, and how very difficult it is to get rid of 
painful impressions which have been almost daily repeated. 
Whether or not this particular form of experience in my boy- 
hood produced any permanent effect on my character I cannot 
say, but the mere continuance of a painful dream for so many 



years is in itself an evil, and must almost certainly have had 
an injurious effect upon the bodily health. Even in my home- 
life I was subject to impressions of the same general nature, 
though far less severe. Many slight faults of conduct which 
had been long overlooked were often suddenly noticed, and I 
was ordered at once to change them. One such that I re- 
member was that I had been accustomed to use my spoon at 
table with my left hand, when I was one day told to use my 
right. No doubt I could have done this without much trouble, 
but I seemed to feel that to make such a change would be 
singular, would draw the attention of my brothers and sisters 
to me, and would be a kind of confession of ignorance or clum- 
siness which I could not make. I felt too much ashamed to do 
it. I put down my spoon and waited, and when I thought no 
one was looking, took it up again in the way forbidden. This 
was said to be obstinacy, but to me it seemed something else 
which I could hardly describe. However, the result was that 
I was sent away from the table up to my bedroom, and was 
ordered to have my meals there till I would " do as I was 
bid." I forget exactly how it ended, but I think I remained 
under this punishment several days, and that it was only under 
the kind persuasions and advice of my mother and sisters that 
I was at length allowed to come down ; and this was the most 
terrible ordeal of all, and when I actually took the spoon in 
my right hand, I felt more hurt and ashamed than when I was 
sent away from table. This is only an example of numbers of 
little things of a similar character, which were treated in the 
same rough and dogmatic manner, which was then almost 
universal, and was thought to be the only way of training 
children. How, exactly, to treat each case must depend upon 
circumstances, but I think that a little mild ridicule would 
have a better effect than compulsion. I might have been told 
that, although we did not much care about it, other people 
would think it very strange, and that we should then be 
ashamed because people would say that we did not knovs^ 
good manners. Or I might have been asked to practise it 
by myself, and try the experiment, using sometimes one hand 
and sometimes the other, till at last, when the holidays or my 


next birthday came, or I first had new clothes on, I was to 
complete the victory over myself by discarding the left-hand 
spoon altogether. 

One other case of this kind hurt me dreadfully at the time, 
because it exposed me to what I thought was the ridicule 
or contempt of the whole school. Like most other boys I was 
reckless about my clothes, leaning my elbows on the desk till 
a hole was worn in my jacket, and, worse still, when cleaning 
my slate using my cuff to rub it dry. Slate sponges attached 
by a string were unknown to our school in those days. As 
new clothes were too costly to be had very often, my mother 
determined to save a jacket just taken for school wear by 
making covers for the sleeves, which I was to wear in school. 
These were made of black calico, reaching from the cuff to the 
elbow, and though I protested that I could not wear them, 
that I should be looked upon as a guy and other equally valid 
reasons, they were one day put in my pocket, and I was 
told to put them on just before I entered the school. Of 
course I could not do it ; so I brought them back and told my 
mother. Then, after another day or two of trial, one morn- 
ing the dreaded thunderbolt fell upon me. On entering school 
I was called up to the master's desk, he produced the dreaded 
calico sleeves, and told me that my mother wished me to wear 
them to save my jacket, and told me to put them on. Of 
course I had to do so. They fitted very well, and felt quite 
comfortable, and I dare say did not look so very strange. I 
have no doubt also that most of the boys had a fellow-feeling 
for me, and thought it a shame to thus make me an exception 
to all the school. But to me it seemed a cruel disgrace, and 
I was miserable so long as I wore them. How long that was 
I cannot remember, but I do not think it was very long, per- 
haps a month or two, or till the beginning of the next holidays. 
But while it lasted it was, perhaps, the severest punishment I 
ever endured. 

In an article on the civilizations of China and Japan in 
The Independent Review (April, 1904), it is pointed out that 
the universal practice of " saving the face " of any kind of 
opponent rests upon the fundamental idea of the right of 


every individual to be treated with personal respect. With 
them this principle is taught from childhood, and pervades 
every class of society, while with us it was only recognized by 
the higher classes, and by them is rarely extended to inferiors 
or to children. The feeling that demands this recognition is 
certainly strong in many children, and those who have 
suffered under the failure of their elders to respect it, can 
well appreciate the agony of shame endured by the more 
civilized Eastern peoples, whose feelings are so often outraged 
by the total absence of all respect shown them by their 
European masters or conquerors. In thus recognizing the 
sanctity of this deepest of human feelings these people mani- 
fest a truer phase of civilization than we have attained to. 
Even savages often surpass us in this respect. They will often 
refuse to enter an empty house during the absence of the 
owner, even though something belonging to themselves may 
have been left in it ; and when asked to call one of their sleep- 
ing companions to start on a journey, they will be careful not 
to touch him, and will positively refuse to shake him rudely, 
as an Englishman would have no scruple in doing. 



As the period from the age of six to fourteen which I spent 
at Hertford was that of my whole home Hfe till I had a home 
of my own twenty-eight years later, and because it was in 
many ways more educational than the time I spent at school, 
I think it well to devote a separate chapter to a short account 
of it. 

During the year or two spent at the first house we occu- 
pied in St. Andrew's Street very little occurred to impress 
itself upon my memory, partly, I think, because I was too 
young and had several playfellows of my own age, and partly, 
perhaps, because the very small house and yard at the back 
offered few facilities for home amusements. There was also 
at that time too much inequality between myself and my 
brother John for us to become such constant companions as 
we were a little later. 

When we moved to the house beyond the Old Cross, 
nearly opposite to the lane leading to Hartham, the con- 
ditions were altogether more favourable. The house itself 
was a more commodious one, and besides a yard at one side, 
it had a small garden at the back with a flower border at 
each side, wliere I first became acquainted with some of our 
common garden flowers. The gable end of the house in the 
yard, facing nearly south, had few windows, and was covered 
over with an old vine which not only produced abundance of 
grapes, but enabled my father to make some gallons of wine 
from the thinnings. But the most interesting feature of the 
premises to us two boys was a small stable with a loft over 
it, which, not being used except to store garden-tools and odd 




lumber, we had practically to ourselves. The loft especially 
was most delightful to us. It was reached by steps formed 
by nailing battens across the upright framing of the stable, 
with a square opening in the floor above. It thus required a 
little practice to climb up and down easily and to get a 
safe landing at top, and doing this became so easy to us that 
we ran up and down it as easily as sailors run up the shrouds 
of a vessel. Then the loft itself, under the sloping roof, 
gloomy and nearly dark in the remote comers, was almost like 
a robber's cave, while a door opening to the outside by which 
hay could be pitched up out of a cart, afforded us plenty of 
light when we required it, together with the novel sensation 
and spice of danger afforded by an opening down to the floor, 
yet eight or nine feet above the ground. 

This place was our greatest delight, and almost all the 
hours of daylight we could spare from school and meals were 
spent in it. Here we accumulated all kinds of odds and ends 
that might be useful for our various games or occupations, 
and here we were able to hide many forbidden treasures such 
as gunpowder, with which we used to make wild-fires as well 
as more elaborate fireworks. John was of a more mechanical 
turn than myself, and he used to excel in making all the 
little toys and playthings in which boys then used to delight. 
I, of course, looked on admiringly, and helped him in any 
way I could. I also tried to imitate him, but only succeeded 
in some of the simpler operations. Our m.ost valuable guide 
was the " Boy's Own Book," which told us how to make num- 
bers of things boys never think of making now, partly because 
everything is made for them, and also because children get 
so many presents of elaborate or highly ornamented toys when 
very young, that by the time they are old enough to make 
anything for themselves they are quite blcLse, and can only be 
satisfied by still more elaborate and expensive playthings. I 
think it may be interesting to give a short enumeration of the 
things which at this time John and I used to make for our- 

I may mention first that, owing to the very straitened 
circumstances of the family during the whole of our life at 


Hertford, we were allowed an exceedingly scanty amount of 
pocket-money. Till I was ten years old or more I had only 
a penny a week regularly, while John may perhaps have had 
twopence, and it was very rarely that we got tips to the 
amount of the smaller silver coins. We were, therefore, 
obliged to save up for any little purchase required for our 
various occupations, as, for example, to procure the saltpetre 
and sulphur required for making fireworks ; the charcoal we 
could make ourselves, and obtain the iron filings from some 
friendly whitesmith. The simplest fireworks to make were 
squibs, and in these we were quite successful, following the 
receipt in the " Boy's Own Book." The cases we made before- 
hand with a little copy-book paper and paste. Crackers were 
much more difficult, and the home-made ones were apt to go 
off all at once instead of making the regular succession of 
bangs which the shop article seemed never to fail in doing. 
But by perseverance some fairly good ones were made, though 
they could never be thoroughly trusted. Roman candles we 
were also tolerably successful with, though only the smallest 
size were within our means; and we even tried to construct 
the beautiful revolving Catherine-wheels, but these again 
would often stop in the middle, and refuse either to revolve 
properly or to burn more than half way. 

In connection with fireworks, we were fond of making 
miniature cannon out of keys. For this purpose we begged 
of our friends any discarded -box or other keys with rather 
large barrels, and by filing a touch-hole, filing off the handle, 
and mounting them on block carriages, we were able to fire 
off salutes or startle our sister or the servant to our great satis- 
faction. When, later, by some exchange with a fellow school- 
boy or in any other way, we got possession of one of the 
small brass cannons made for toys, our joy was great; and I 
remember our immense admiration at one of these brass 
cannon, about six inches long, in the possession of a friend, 
which would go off with a bang as loud as that of a large 
pistol. We also derived great pleasure by loading one of our 
weapons to the very muzzle, pressing it down into the ground 
so that we could lay a train of powder to it about two feet 



long, and then escape to a safe distance, and see it jump up 
into the air with the force of the explosion. 

On the fifth of November we always had a holiday, and in 
the evening there was always in the playground a large bon- 
fire and a considerable display of fireworks by a professional, 
some of the wealthier of the boys' parents contributing the 
outlay. On these occasions almost all the day-scholars came, 
their pockets more or less filled with crackers and squibs, 
to occupy the time before the more elaborate fireworks. 
The masters were all present to help keep order and prevent 
accidents, and no boy was allowed to light squib or cracker 
till about seven o'clock, when Mr. Crutwell himself lighted 
the first squib, threw it in the air, and was immediately fol- 
lowed by the boys in every part of the playground, which soon 
presented a very animated scene. Many of the parents, rel- 
atives, and friends of the boys were also present, so that the 
playground was quite crowded, yet though the boys reck- 
lessly threw squibs and crackers in all directions, no accidents 
of any importance happened. Now and then a boy would 
have the squibs or crackers in his pocket exploded, but I do 
not remember any injury being done in that way. But shortly 
after I left, I think, a serious accident occurred, by which 
someone was permanently injured, and after that I believe the 
miscellaneous fireworks of the boys were no longer allowed. 

Among our favourite playthings were pop-guns and minia- 
ture spring-guns and pistols. Pop-guns were made of stout 
pieces of elder-wood, which, when the pith is pushed out 
has a perfectly smooth, glossy inner surface which made a 
better pop than those bought at the toy-shop. Many a 
pleasant walk we had to get good straight pieces of elder, 
which, when cut to the proper length and a suitable strong 
stick made to force out the pellets of well-chewed brown 
paper or tow, would shoot them out with a report almost 
equal to that of a small pistol. 

Far more elaborate and ingenious, however, were the spring- 
pistols which my brother made so well and finished so 
beautifully that he often sold them for a shilling or more, 
and thus obtained funds for the purchase of tools or materials. 


For the stocks he would beg odd bits of mahogany or walnut 
or oak from a cabinet-maker's shop, and carve them out care- 
fully with a pocket-knife to the exact shape of pistol or gun. 
The barrel was formed of a goose-quih or swan's-quill, care- 
fully fastened into the hollow of the stock with waxed thread, 
and about an inch of the hinder part of this had the upper 
half cut away to allow the spring to act. In the straight 
part near the bend of the stock a hole was cut for the trigger, 
which was held in its place by a stout pin passing through 
it on which it could turn. The only other article needed was 
a piece of strong watch or clock-spring, of which we could 
get several at a watchmaker's for a penny. The piece of 
watch-spring being broken off the right length and the ends 
filed to a smooth edge, was tied on to the stock between the 
barrel and the trigger, curving upwards, and one end fitting 
into a notch at the top of the trigger, while the other end was 
bent round so that the end fitted into a small notch in the open 
part of the quill at its hinder end. It was then cocked, and 
a pea or shot being placed in front of the spring, a slight 
pressure on the trigger would reloase it and cause it to drive 
out the shot or pea with considerable velocity. My brother 
used to take great delight in making these little pistols, shaping 
the stocks very accurately, rubbing them smooth with sand- 
paper, and then oiling or varnishing them; while every part 
was finished off with the greatest neatness. I do not think 
there was any boy in the school who made them better than 
he did, and very few equalled him. 

One of the most generally used articles of a boy's stock 
of playthings are balls, and as these are often lost and soon 
worn out we used to make them ourselves. An old bung cut 
nearly round formed the centre; this we surrounded with 
narrow strips of list, while for the outside we used coarse 
worsted thread tightly wound on, which formed a firm and 
elastic ball. We had two ways of covering the balls. One 
was to first quarter it tightly with fine string, and using this 
as a base, cover the whole with closely knitted string by 
means of a very simple loop-stitch. A much superior plan 
was to obtain from the tan-yard some partly tanned sac- 



shaped pieces of calf-skin which were of just the size required 
for a small-sized cricket-ball. These were stretched over the 
ball, stitched up closely on the one side, the joint rubbed 
down smooth, and by its partial contraction when drying, an 
excellent leather-covered ball was made, which at first was 
hairy outside, but this soon wore off. In this way, at a cost 
of about twopence or threepence, we had as good a ball as one 
which cost us a shilling to buy, and which served us well for 
our boyish games at cricket. 

Other house occupations which employed much of our 
spare time in wet weather and in winter were the making 
of cherry-stone chains and bread-seals. For the former we 
collected some hundreds of cherry-stones in the season. These, 
with much labour and scraping of fingers, were ground down 
on each side till only a ring of suitable thickness was left. 
The rings were then soaked in water for some days, which 
both cleaned and softened them, so that with a sharp pen- 
knife they could be cut through, and by carefully expanding 
them the next ring could be slipped in, the joint closing up 
so as to be scarcely, if at all, visible. When nicely cleaned, 
and if from stones of nearly uniform size, these chains made 
very pretty and useful watch-guards, or even necklaces for 
little girls of our acquaintance. 

Bread-seals were easier to make, and were more interesting 
in their results. In those ante-penny-postage days envelopes 
were unknown, as one of the rules of the post-office was 
that each letter must consist of a single sheet, any separate 
piece of paper either enclosed or outside constituting it a 
double letter with double postage. Almost every letter, there- 
fore, was sealed, and many of them had either coats-of-arms, 
crests, heads, or mottoes, so that besides the contents, which 
were, perhaps, only of importance to the recipient, the seal 
would often interest the whole family. In such a case we 
begged for the seal to be carefully cut round so that we might 
make a copy of it. To do this we required only a piece of 
the crumb of new bread, and with cleanly washed hands we 
worked this up with our fingers till it formed a compact stifiE 
mass. Before doing this, w^e begged a little bright water- 


colour, carmine or Prussian-blue, from our sisters, and also, 
I think, a very small portion of gum. When all was 
thoroughly incorporated so that the whole lump was quite 
uniform in colour and texture, we divided it into balls about 
the size of a large marble, and carefully pressed them on to the 
seals, at the same time squeezing the bread up between our 
fingers into a conical shape to form the upper part of the seal 
serving as a handle and suspender. Each seal was then care- 
fully put away to dry for some days, when it got sufficiently 
hard to be safely removed. It was then carefully trimmed 
round with a sharp pen-knife, and accurately shaped to re- 
semble the usual form of the gold or silver seals which most 
persons carried on their watch-chains to seal their letters. 
The seal itself would be perfectly reproduced with the glossy 
surface of the original, and when still more hardened by 
thoroughly drying, would make a beautiful impression in seal- 
ing-wax. In this way we used to get quite a collection of 
ornamental seals, which, if carefully preserved, would last 
for years. 

Almost all the above amusements and occupations were 
carried on in the stable and loft already described, during the 
two or three years we lived there. After that my brother 
John went to London, and was apprenticed to a builder to 
learn carpentry and joinery. When left alone at home, my 
younger brother being still too young for a playmate, I gave 
up most of these occupations, and began to develop a taste for 
reading. I still had one or two favourite companions with 
whom I used to go for long walks in the country round, 
amusing ourselves in gravel and chalk pits, jumping over 
streams, and cutting fantastic walking-sticks out of the woods ; 
but nothing afterwards seemed to make up for the quiet hours 
spent with my brother in the delightful privacy of the loft 
which we had all to ourselves. The nearest approach to it 
was about a year later when, for some family reason that I 
quite forget, I was left to board with Miss Davies at All 
Saints' Vicarage, then used as a post-office, a large rambling 
old house with a large garden, in which there was among other 



fruit an apple tree which bore delicious ribston-pippins, of 
which I was allowed to eat as many as I liked of the wind- 
falls. In this house there was a loft in the roof, which I was 
told was full of old furniture and other things, so I one day 
asked if I might go up into it. Miss Davies, who was very 
kind though melancholy, said I might. So I went up, and 
found all kinds of old broken or moth-eaten furniture, broken 
lamps, candlesticks, and all the refuse of a house where a 
family have lived for many years. But among these interesting 
things I hit upon two veritable treasures from my point of 
view. One was a very good, almost new, cricket-bat, of a 
size just suitable to me; and the other was still more sur- 
prising and attractive to me, being a very large, almost 
gigantic, box-wood pegtop, bigger than any I had seen. It 
seemed to me then almost incredible that such treasures could 
have been ranked as lumber, and purposely left in that old 
attic. I thought someone must surely have put them there 
for safety, and would soon come and claim them. I there- 
fore waited a few days till Miss Davies seemed rather more 
communicative than usual, when I said to her, I found some- 
thing very nice in the lumber-room." " Oh, indeed ; and what 
is it ? " said she. " I did not know there was anything nice 
there." " May I go and fetch them for you to see ? " said I ; 
and she said I might. So I rushed off, and brought down 
the top and the bat, and said, " I found these up there ; do 
you know whose they are?" She looked at them, and said, 

" They must have belonged to ," mentioning a name 

which I have forgotten. They have been there a good 
many years." Then, as I looked at them longingly, she said, 
" You can have them if you like " — as if they were not of the 
least value. I felt as if I had had a fortune left me. The 
top was the admiration of the whole school. No one had so 
large a top or had even seen one so large, yet I was quite 
able to spin it properly, my hands being rather large for my 
age. This occurred in the winter, and when the cricket 
season came, I equally enjoyed my bat, which at once ele- 
vated me to the rank of the few bigger boys who had bats of 
their own. 


But even these rapturous delights were not so enduring, 
and certainly not so educational, as those derived from making 
as well as possessing toys and playthings, and the year or 
two I spent with my brother in these pleasant occupations 
were certainly the most interesting and perhaps the most 
permanently useful of my whole early boyhood. They en- 
abled me to appreciate the pleasure and utility of doing for 
one's self everything that one is able to do, and this has been 
a constant source of healthy and enjoyable occupation during 
my whole life. It led, I have no doubt, to my brother being 
apprenticed to a carpenter and builder, where he became a 
first-rate workman; and from him later on I learnt to use 
the simpler tools. During my whole life I have kept a few 
such tools by me, and have always taken a pleasure in doing 
the various little repairs continually needed in a house and 
garden. I therefore look with compassion on the present 
generation of children and schoolboys who, from their earliest 
years, are overloaded with toys, so elaborately constructed 
and so highly finished that the very idea of making any toys 
for themselves seems absurd. And these purchased toys do 
not give anything like the enduring pleasure derived from 
the process of making and improving as well as afterwards 
using; while it leads to the great majority of men growing 
up without any idea of doing the simplest mechanical work 
required in their own homes. 

It was during our residence at this house near the Old 
Cross that, I think, my father enjoyed his life more than any- 
where else at Hertford. Not only had he a small piece of 
garden and the fine grape-vine already mentioned, but there 
was a roomy brew-house with a large copper, which enabled 
him to brew a barrel of beer as well as make elder-wine and 
grape-wine, bottle gooseberries, and other such work as he 
took great pleasure in doing. When here also, I think, he 
hired a small garden about half a mile off, where he could 
grow vegetables and small fruit, and where he spent a few 
hours of every fine day. And these various occupations were 
an additional source of interest and instruction to us boys. 



It was here, however, that our elder sister died of consump- 
tion in the year 1832, a little before she attained her twenty- 
second year. This was a severe loss to my father and mother, 
though I was not of an age to feel it much. I think it was 
soon afterwards that my remaining sister went to live at 
Hoddesdon, four miles away, as governess to two girls in a 
gentleman's family there. These girls were somewhere near 
my age, or a little older, and occasionally in the summer my 
brother and I were invited to dine and spend the afternoon 
with them, which we greatly enjoyed, as there was a large 
garden, and beyond it a large grass orchard full of apple 
and other fruit trees. We also enjoyed the walk there, and 
back in the evening, through the picturesque country I have 
already described. My sister lived in this family for two or 
three years, and was on terms of affection with the two girls 
till they were married. 

In the year 1834, I think, my sister went to a French 
school in Lille in order to perfect herself in conversation, in 
view of becoming a governess or keeping a school. But the 
following year the misfortune occurred that still further re- 
duced the family income. ^Ir. Wilson, w^ho had married 
my mother's only sister, was one of the executors of her 
father's will, and as he was a lawyer (the other executor 
being a clergyman), and his own wife and her sister were the 
only legatees, he naturally had the sole management of the 
property. Owing to a series of events which we were only 
very imperfectly acquainted with, he became bankrupt in this 
year, and his own wife and large family were at once reduced 
from a condition of comfort and even affluence to poverty, 
almost as great as our own. But we children also suffered, for 
legacies of i 100 each to my father's family, to be paid to us 
as we came of age, together with a considerable sum that had 
reverted to my mother on the death of her stepmother in 
1828, had remained in ]\Ir. Wilson's hands as trustee, and 
was all involved in the bankruptcy. He did all he possibly 
could for us, and ultimately, I believe, repaid a considerable 
part of the money, but while the legal proceedings were in 


progress, and they lasted full three years, it was necessary for 
us to reduce expenses as much as possible. We had to leave 
our comfortable house and garden, and for a time had the 
use of half the rambling old house near All Saints' Church 
already mentioned. 

Before this, I think, my brother John had gone to London 
to be apprenticed, and the family at home consisted only of 
myself and my younger brother Herbert till my sister returned 
from France. It must have been about this time that I was 
sent for a few months as a boarder at the Grammar School, as 
already stated ; but this whole period of my life is very indis- 
tinct. I am sure, however, that we moved to the next house 
in St. Andrew's Street early in 1836, because on May 15 of 
that year an annular eclipse of the sun occurred, visible in 
England, and I well remember the whole family coming out 
with smoked glasses into the narrow yard at the side of the 
house in order to see it. I was rather disappointed, as it only 
produced a peculiar gloom such as often occurs before a 
thunderstorm. While we were here a brewery was being 
built at the bottom of the yard, and while inspecting it and 
inquiring what the various tanks, boilers, etc., were for, I 
learnt that the word " water " was tabooed in a brewery ; that 
it must always be spoken of as " liquor," and any workman 
or outsider mentioning " water " is immediately fined or called 
upon to stand a gallon of beer, or more if he can afford it. 

At midsummer, I think, we again moved to a part of a 
house next to St. Andrew's Church, where we again had the 
Silk family for neighbours in the larger half of the house. 
They also had most of the garden, on the lawn of which was 
a fine old mulberry tree, which in the late summer was so 
laden with fruit that the ground was covered beneath it, and 
I and my friend George used to climb up into the tree, where 
we could gather the largest and ripest fruit and feast 

This was the last house we occupied in Hertford, the 
family moving to Hoddesdon some time in 1837, to a pretty 
but very small red-brick house called Rawdon Cottage, while 
I went to London and stayed at Mr. Webster's with my 



brother John, preparatory to going with my eldest brother 
William to learn land-surveying. 

During the time I lived in Hertford I was subject to in- 
fluences which did more for my real education than the mere 
verbal training I received at school. My father belonged 
to a book club, through which we had a constant stream of 
interesting books, many of which he used to read aloud in 
the evening. Among these I remember Mungo Park's travels 
and those of Denham and Clapperton in West Africa. We 
also had Hood's Comic Annual for successive years, and I 
well remember my delight with " The Pugsley Papers " and 
" A Tale of the Great Plague," while as we lived first at a 
No. I, I associated Hood's " Number One " with our house, 
and learnt the verses by heart when I was about seven years 
old. Ever since those early experiences I have been an 
admirer of Hood in all his various moods, from his inimitable 
mixture of pun and pathos in his " Sea Spell," to the exquisite 
poetry of " The Haunted House," " The Elm Tree," and 
" The Bridge of Sighs." 

We also had some good old standard works in the house, 
" Fairy Tales," " Gulliver's Travels," " Robinson Crusoe," and 
the " Pilgrim's Progress," all of which I read over again and 
again with constant pleasure. We also had " The Lady of 
the Lake," " The Vicar of Wakefield," and some others ; and 
among the books from the club I well remember my father 
reading to us Defoe's wonderful History of the Great 
Plague." We also had a few highly educational toys, among 
which were large dissected maps of England and of Europe, 
which we only had out as a special treat now and then, and 
which besides having the constant charm of a puzzle, gave us 
a better knowledge of topographical geography than all our 
school teaching, and also gave me that love of good maps which 
has continued with me throughout life. Another valuable 
toy was a model of a bridge in wood, the separate stones con- 
stituting the arch of which could be built up on a light centre, 
showing beautifully the principle of the arch, and how, when 
the keystone was inserted the centre supports could be re- 


moved and a considerable weight supported upon it. This 
also was a constant source of pleasure and instruction to us, 
and one that seems to be not now included among instruc- 
tive toys. 

I think it was soon after we went to the Old Cross house 
that my father became librarian to a fairly good proprietary 
town library, to which he went for three or four hours every 
afternoon to give out and receive books and keep everything 
in order. After my brother John left home and I lost my 
chief playmate and instructor, this library was a great resource 
for me, as it contained a large collection of all the standard 
novels of the day. Every wet Saturday afternoon I spent 
here; and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which were our four- 
o'clock days, I usually spent an hour there instead of stopping 
to play or going straight home. Sometimes I helped my father 
a little in arranging or getting down books, but I had most 
of the time for reading, squatting down on the floor in a 
corner, where I was quite out of the way. It was here that 
I read all Fenimore Cooper's novels, a great many of James's, 
and Harrison Ainsworth's " Rookwood," that fine highway- 
man's story containing a vivid account of Dick Turpin's ride 
to York. It was here, too, I read the earlier stories of Marryat 
and Bulwer, Godwin's " Caleb Williams," Warren's " Diary of 
a Physician," and such older works as " Don Quixote," 
Smollett's " Roderick Random," " Peregrine Pickle," and 
" Humphry Clinker," Fielding's " Tom Jones," and Miss Bur- 
ney's " Evelina." I also read, partially or completely, Milton's 
" Paradise Lost," Pope's " Iliad," Spenser's " Faerie Queene," 
and Dante's " Inferno," a good deal of Byron and Scott, some 
of the Spectator and Rambler, Southey's " Curse of Kehama," 
and, in fact, almost any book that I heard spoken of as cele- 
brated or interesting. At this time " Pickwick " was coming 
out in monthly parts, and I had the opportunity of reading bits 
of it, but I do not think I read it through till a considerably 
later period. I heard it a good deal talked about, and it 
occasioned quite an excitement among the masters in the 
Grammar School. Walton's " Angler " was a favourite of 



my father's, and I well remember a wood-cut illustration of 
Dove Dale with greatly exaggerated rocks and pinnacles, 
which made me long to see such a strange and picturesque 
spot — a longing which I only gratified about a dozen years 
ago, finding it more exquisitely beautiful than I had imagined 
it to be, even if not quite so fantastic. 

I may now say a few words about our home-life as regards 
meals and other small matters, because I think its simplicity 
was perhaps better for children than what is common now. 
Till we reached the age of ten or twelve we never had tea or 
coffee, our breakfast consisting of bread-and-milk and our 
tea of milk-and-water with bread-and-butter. Toast, cake, 
muffins, and such luxuries were only indulged in on festive 
occasions. At our one-o'clock dinner we began with pudding 
and finished with meat and vegetables. During this period 
we made our own bread, and good wholesome bread it was, 
made with brewer's yeast (which I often went for to the 
brewery), and sent to the nearest baker to be baked, as were 
most of our baked pies and puddings. Kitcheners were almost 
unknown then, and meat was roasted before the open fire with 
a clock-work jack, dripping-pan, and large tinned screen to 
reflect the heat and to warm plates and dishes. 

A few words about the cost of living will not be out of 
place here, and will serve to correct some erroneous ideas on 
the subject. Tea was about double the price it is now, but 
coffee and cocoa were about the same as at present; and 
these latter were commonly used for breakfast, while tea was 
only taken at tea, and then only by the older members of the 
family. Sugar was also more than twice as dear, but milk, 
eggs, and butter were all cheaper. Although this was in the 
corn-law days I doubt if our bread was any dearer than it is 
now, and it was certainly much better. It was ground in the 
mills of the town from wheat grown in the country round, and 
the large size of the penny rolls, which I have already men- 
tioned, shows that there cannot have been much difference 
of price to the retail buyer, who was then usually one or two 
steps nearer to the actual corn-grower than he is now. Meat 


also was cheaper than now. The price of the best beef was 
sixpence to sevenpence a pound; while mutton was seven- 
pence to eightpence for the best joints, but for ordinary parts 
much less. In the country gleaning was a universal practice, 
and numbers of cottagers thus got a portion of their bread; 
while a much larger proportion than now lived in the country 
and had large gardens or a few acres of land. My mother 
often took me with her when visiting such poor cottagers 
as were known to her, and my impression is that there was 
very little difference in the kind and degree of the rural pov- 
erty of that day and this ; and a few years later, as I shall show, 
the same may be said of the skilled mechanic. As a prime 
factor in this question, it must always be remembered that 
rent, both in villages and towns, was in most cases less than 
half what it is at present, and this more than compensated for 
the few cheaper articles of food and clothing to-day. 

My father and mother were old-fashioned religious people 
belonging to the Church of England, and, as a rule, we all 
went to church twice on Sundays, usually in the morning and 
evening. We also had to learn a collect every Sunday morn- 
ing, and were periodically examined in our catechism. On 
very wet evenings my father read us a chapter from the Bible 
and a sermon instead of the usual service. Among our friends, 
however, were some Dissenters, and a good many Quakers, 
who were very numerous in Hertford; and on rare occasions 
we were taken to one of their chapels instead of to church, 
and the variety alone made this quite a treat. We were 
generally advised when some " friend " was expected to speak, 
and it was on such occasions that we visited the Friends' 
Meeting-House, though I remember one occasion when, dur- 
ing the whole time of the meeting, there was complete silence. 
And when any brother or sister was " moved to speak," it 
was usually very dull and wearisome; and after having at- 
tended two or three times, and witnessed the novelty of the 
men and women sitting on opposite sides of the room, and there 
being no pulpit and no clergyman and no singing, we did not 
care to go again. But the Dissenters' chapel was always a 
welcome change, and we went there not unfrequently to the 



evening service. The extempore prayers, the frequent singing, 
and the usually more vigorous and exciting style of preaching 
was to me far preferable to the monotony of the Church serv- 
ice; and it was there only that, at one period of my life, I 
felt something of religious fervour, derived chiefly from the 
more picturesque and impassioned of the hymns. As, however, 
there was no sufficient basis of intelligible fact or connected 
reasoning to satisfy my intellect, this feeling soon left me, 
and has never returned. 

Among our Quaker friends were two or three to whose 
houses we were occasionally invited, and I remember being 
greatly impressed by the excessive cleanliness and neatness 
of everything about their houses and gardens, corresponding 
to the delicate colouring and simple style of their clothing. 
At that time every Quaker lady wore the plainest of dresses, 
but of the softest shades of brow^n or lilac, while the men all 
wore the plain cutaway coat with upright collar, also of some 
shade of brown, which, with the low broad-brimmed beaver hat 
of the best quality, gave them a very distinctive and old-world 
appearance. They also invariably used thee " and " thou " 
instead of " you " in ordinary conversation, which added to 
the conviction that they were a people apart, who had many 
habits and qualities that might well be imitated by their neigh- 
bours of other religious denominations. 



Having finally left school at Christmas, 1836, I think it was 
early in 1837 that I was sent to London to live at Mr, 
Webster's in Robert Street, Hampstead Road, where my 
brother John was apprenticed. My father and mother were 
then about to move to the srnall cottage at Hoddesdon, and 
it was convenient for me to be out of the way till my brother 
William could arrange to have me with him to learn land- 
surveying. As I shared my brother's bedroom and bed, I 
was no trouble, as I suppose I was boarded at a very low 
rate. As the few months I spent here at the most impres- 
sionable age had some influence in moulding my character, 
and also furnished me with information which I could have 
obtained in no other way, I devote the present chapter to 
giving a short account of it. 

Mr. Webster was a small master builder, who had a work- 
shop in a yard about five minutes' walk from the house, where 
he constantly employed eight or ten men preparing all the 
joinery work for the houses he built. At that time there were 
no great steam-factories for making doors and windows, work- 
ing mouldings, etc., everything being done by hand, except 
in the case of the large builders and contractors, who had 
planing and sawing-mills of their own. Here in the yard was 
a sawpit in which two men, the top- and bottom-sawyers, were 
always at work cutting up imported balks of timber into the 
sizes required, while another oldish man was at work day 
after day planing up floor-boards. In the shop itself windows 
and doors, cupboards, staircases, and other joiner's work was 
always going on, and the men employed all lived in the small 
streets surrounding the shop. The working hours were from 




six to half-past five, with one and a half hours out for meals, 
leaving a working day of ten hours. 

Having nothing else to do, I used to spend the greater part 
of my time in the shop, seeing the men work, doing little 
jobs occasionally, and listening to their conversation. These 
were no doubt an average sample of London mechanics, and 
were on the whole quite as respectable a set of men as any 
in a similar position to-day. I soon became quite at home 
in the shop, and got to know the peculiarities of each of the 
men. I heard their talk together, their jokes and chaff, their 
wishes and their ideas, and all those little touches of character 
which come out in the familiar intercourse of the workshop. 
My general impression is that there was very little swearing 
among them, much less than became common thirty years 
later, and perhaps about as much as among a similar class of 
men to-day. Neither was there much coarseness or indecency 
in their talk, far less indeed than I met with among pro- 
fessional young men a few years afterwards. One of the best 
of the workmen was a very loose character — a kind of 
Lothario or Don Juan by his own account — who would often 
talk about his adventures, and boast of them as the very 
essence of his life. He was a very good and amusing talker, 
and helped to make the time pass in the monotony of the 
shop; but occasionally, when he became too explicit or too 
boastful, the foreman, who was a rather serious though very 
agreeable man, would gently call him to order, and repudiate 
altogether his praises of the joys of immorality. But I never 
once heard such foul language as was not uncommonly used 
among themselves by young men of a much higher class and 
much more education. 

Of course, I heard incidentally a good deal about how 
they lived, and knew exactly what they earned, and I am 
thus enabled to correct some very erroneous statements which 
have been made of late years as to the condition of artisans 
in the early part of the nineteenth century, before the repeal 
of the corn-laws. Perhaps the most glaring and the most 
numerous of these errors are due to Sir Robert Giffen, who, 
being considered an official statistical authority, continues to 


be quoted to the present day as if his statements were to be 
absolutely relied on. More often quoted than any other of 
his writings is his " Progress of the Working Classes in the 
last Half Century," given as a Presidential Address to the 
Statistical Society in 1883, and issued as a pamphlet, price 
threepence, in 1884, at the request of several friends, including 
Mr. Gladstone, who styled it " a masterly paper." It would 
occupy a whole chapter to expose the errors and the fallacies 
that pervaded this paper, and I must therefore confine myself 
to two points only, that of the rise of wages and of the food 
of skilled artisans. 

Mr. Giffen gives the weekly wages of carpenters at Man- 
chester as 24s. fifty years ago .and 34^. in 1883, an increase of 
42 per cent., but he omits to give prices for London. In the 
Report of the Industrial Remuneration Conference, Mr. J. G. 
Hutchinson gives the wages at Greenwich in 1832 as 32^. 6d., 
and in 1876 as 39^-. Sd., a rise of only 22 per cent. Again, 
Mrs. Ellis, a Huddersfield pattern-weaver, told the conference 
that Mr. Giffen's statement in the same table, of the earnings 
of her fellow-workers, were grossly inaccurate. He gave 
them as 25^. a week against 16s. fifty years earlier, whereas 
they were only earning an average of 20^. in 1883. The 
wages where my brother worked were 30.^. a week for all the 
men employed. We see, therefore, that Mr. Giffen's general 
statement that wages have risen " in most cases from 50 to 
100 percent." is open to the gravest doubt; while even if it 
were nearly accurate, it would not by any means prove what 
he claims — that these workers are very much better off than 
they were fifty years earlier. He certainly saves himself, 
verbally, by terming it an " apparent rise," but he never 
attempts to get at the real rise, and throughout his argument 
hardly refers to this point again. Yet it is a most important 
one, on account of the fact which he notices, that, at the date 
of his paper as now, in all the building trades wages are 
reckoned and paid by the hour, instead of by the day as at the 
earlier period, when also men were rarely discharged except at 
the week end. Then, again, Mr. Giffen speaks of the shorter 
hours of work which from " one or two scattered notices " he 



estimates at nearly 20 per cent., and then adds, " The work- 
man gets from 50 to 100 per cent, more money for 20 per 
cent, less work; in round figures, he has gained from 70 to 
120 per cent, in fifty years in money return." What a con- 
clusion for a statistician, from a very limited comparison of 
wages obtained almost wholly from the masters, and from 
" one or two scattered notices " as regards hours of work ! 

But it is when he deals with the real value or purchasing 
power of this greatly exaggerated increase of wages that we 
find the grossest errors and the wildest declamation. After 
just remarking that " sugar and such articles " have decreased 
greatly in price, that clothing is also cheaper, and that though 
house-rent has gone up, " it cannot have gone up so much as 
to neutralize to any serious extent the great rise in the money 
wages of the workman," he admits that the increase in the 
price of meat is considerable. And then comes this amazing 
statement : The truth is, however, that meat fifty years ago 
was not an article of the workman's diet as it has since 
become. He had little more concern with its price than with 
the price of diamonds." 

I was so perfectly astounded at this statement that I at 
once made a few inquiries. A verv^ intelligent man, a printer 
in the city, gave me facts from his own observation. About 
the time referred to, his father kept a public-house in or near 
Greenwich, much frequented by mechanics and other work- 
men, who came there in considerable numbers to have their 
dinner. He assured me that almost without exception they 
had fresh meat, which they either brought ready cooked, or 
had purchased on their way to work and cooked in a fr\'ing- 
pan or gridiron at the kitchen fire, many of them bringing 
large chops or steaks of good quality. Remembering the 
cheapness of meat when I was a boy, and remembering also 
the well-to-do appearance of the carpenters in Mr. Webster's 
shop, I wrote to ask my brother how they lived during the 
twelve years he was in London, the last six working as a 
journeyman in large shops and living on journeyman's wages. 
His statement is as follows : 

" Having been personally associated with the workers in 


the building trade about half a century ago (from 1835 to 
1845), I ^^^^ qualified to describe the social condition of skilled 
mechanics at that period, more especially that of the car- 
penters and joiners. At that time every kind of work was 
done by hand, no machines except hand-tools were ever used, 
even boards of all thicknesses being sawn on the premises by 
hand labour out of thick planks from Northern Europe or 

" The wages of good workmen were 5^. a day of ten 
hours; and 6d. an hour was added or deducted for any vari- 
ation from that time. No wages were paid except for a fair 
amount of work, and if the work was temporarily suspended 
by rain or otherwise, no compensation was given or expected. 
All the joiner's work was done in shops, generally well lighted 
and with good sanitary conditions; nothing but the rough 
carpenter's work was done in buildings before the roof was 
on. Working hours were from 6 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., with an 
hour and a half out for breakfast and dinner. Men were paid 
weekly on Saturday evening, and were generally discharged 
at that time, and the last two hours and a half were allowed for 
grinding tools. 

" The best workmen were seldom discharged unless in very 
'dull times. At many shops men often worked for years with- 
out ever losing time except through sickness or accident; 
but, of course, these were the very best men. There were 
always some out of work, especially in winter or in times of 

" As regards their social condition, the skilled workman 
with his 30^. a week, if a single man of steady and frugal 
habits, could save half his wages and have proper food, 
lodging, and clothing suitable to his position. His furnished 
lodging of one room would cost a week, and his three meals 
a day, taken at the eating-houses and coffee-shops, would not 
cost more than 85-. a week ; his working clothes were cheap, 
and he would have one superior suit for Sundays and holidays. 
Of course, if he were of a gay disposition, he would spend 
more and save less, but that would not be the indispensable 
outlay of a working man. 



" In the case of a married man with a family, it would, of 
course, be more difficult to save money, but I have known 
men live well and respectably, bring up a family, and put by 
regularly for the expected ' rainy day,* and eventually build 
their own house, and start in business, in a small way at first, 
and become masters and gain a competence; but these are 
exceptional cases. 

''^The generality of carpenters and joiners with a family 
would live in lodgings of two or three rooms with their own 
furniture (much of which the man could make in his spare 
time in the evening), paying 5^. or 6s. a week, and with a 
careful and industrious wife could live well on their wages, 
clothe and educate their children, and still have something 
to put by. I have never kiwimi a carpenter in v/ork, whether 
married or single, that did not have a good dinner of meat 
and vegetables every day, and on Sundays something extra; 
they always had beer for dinner and often at their work about 
ten o'clock, and sometimes in the afternoon. 

" As near as I can recollect the prices of provisions were 
for meat from 6d. to 8J. a pound, bread yd. the four-pound 
loaf, butter lod., cheese M., and sugar 6d. to gd. The brick- 
layers had about the same vvages as the carpenters, but owing 
to lost time during bad weather, they were generally not so 
well off, or generally so well housed and fed, but I never 
heard or knew of any destitution or w^ant among them. Of 
the social condition of the plasterers, painters, and other house 
finishers I know less, but all appeared well satisfied with their 
condition, and, at all events, no general dissatisfaction was 

It is, I think, quite clear from this statement of my brother 
that the standard of comfort of the skilled artisan was as high 
fifty years ago as it is now, notwithstanding his somewhat 
lower wages and his working ten instead of nine hours a day. 
There being no railways and many more small employers, 
he seldom spent anything in going to and from his work; 
while, as access to the country was then easier, his holidays 
cost him less, with more enjoyment than going by rail to 


some place fifty miles away. It is also absolutely certain 
that the food of the workman was quite as good as it is now 
or even better, and that meat and beer formed regular articles 
of consumption by the average mechanic. 

Now, these almost incredible errors as to matters of fact 
teach us that Government officials are quite unfitted to deal 
with such questions as these, mainly because they know noth- 
ing at first hand of the lives of the workers and thus omit to 
take account of some of the most essential factors in the prob- 
lem at issue. 

Thus Mr. Giffen slurs over and minimizes the universal 
increase of rent. In the report already quoted, Miss Edith 
Simcox gives the results of two inquiries into the poorer dis- 
tricts of Westminster. A communication to the Statistical 
Society in 1840 showed that at that time somewhat less than 
a quarter of the wages went to pay rents; while a somewhat 
similar inquiry in 1884 by the Pall Mall Gazette showed that 
in another part of Westminster rents were on the average, 
for the same accommodation, nearly three times as much as 
those recorded forty years before. Combining these two re- 
sults, it is clear, that, even if workmen have smaller or fewer, 
rooms than at the earlier period, they must still pay nearly 
twice as much rent, and this enormous increase will absorb a 
large portion, and in some cases the whole of the increase in 

Another point which Mr. Giffen omits to notice and allow 
for is the fact, well known to all workmen who remember the 
earlier period, that the decreased cost of clothing is quite 
illusory; the badness of the materials, made for show rather 
than for wear, render them really dearer. At the early period 
referred to shoddy was not invented, and paper as part of the 
soles in workmen's boots was unknown. The corduroys and 
fustians then generally worn by mechanics would last twice 
or thrice as long as the cheaper articles now sold under the 
same name. Boots were then all good leather and hand- 
sewn, and though not so highly finished and a little dearer 
than the cheapest kinds now made, would outlast two or three 



pairs of the latter. At about the same period my strong sur- 
veying boots cost 14^. a pair, but were really better in quality 
than what I should pay 20s. for now. The general result was, 
that the workman's clothing cost him rather less then than they 
do at the present day. 

Another point Mr. Giffen overlooks which is of consider- 
able importance. In the earlier period referred to almost all 
workshops and factories were much smaller than they are 
now, and employed each a much smaller number of men, who 
were therefore able to live within about half a mile or less of 
their work. If they were sent to work at a distance they 
went in their master's time, or if by omnibus at their master's 
expense. Now, however, the hundreds of men in each large 
builder's or contractor's shops frequently live a mile or several 
miles away, and can only reach the shop when work begins 
either by a long and hurried walk or by paying tram or rail- 
way fare to shorten the distance. Under average circum- 
stances, having often to lose time waiting for train or tram, 
and having to walk at both ends from home to station and 
from station to work, each often half a mile or more, the loss 
of time morning and evening fully makes up for any shorten- 
ing of actual working hours, while the daily fares are a not 
unimportant deduction from the increased wages. Taking all 
these things into consideration, we see clearly how it was that 
the mechanic of the thirties and forties of the last centur}' was 
able to afford quite as much meat as his successor of to-day, 
and was, on the whole, quite as well off. 

As my brother was, at the time I am now speaking of, 
nearly nineteen and a very good workman, he had complete 
liberty in the evenings aften seven o'clock, the only limitation 
being that he was back about ten ; while on special occasions 
he was allowed to take the door-key. He often took me with 
him on fine evenings to some of the best business streets in 
London to enjoy the shops, and especially to see anything 
of particular interest exhibited in them. Among these objects 
was one of the earliest of the large plate-glass windows now 
so universal, which, though of quite moderate size, perhaps 


five feet high by four or five wide, was at that time a wonder. 
I also remember some curious clocks so constructed as to 
look like perpetual motion, which greatly interested and often 
puzzled us. But our evenings were most frequently spent at 
what was then termed a " Hall of Science," situated in John 
Street, Tottenham Court Road (now altered to Whitfield 
Street). It was really a kind of club or mechanics' institute 
for advanced thinkers among workmen, and especially for the 
followers of Robert Owen, the founder of the socialist move- 
ment in England. Here we sometimes heard lectures on 
Owen's doctrines, or on the principles of secularism or agnos- 
ticism, as it is now called; at other times we read papers or 
books, or played draughts, dominoes, or bagatelle, and coffee 
was also supplied to any who wished for it. It was here that 
I first made acquaintance with Owen's writings, and especially 
with the wonderful and beneficent work he had carried on 
for many years at New Lanark. I also received my first 
knowledge of the arguments of sceptics, and read among other 
books Paine's " Age of Reason." 

It must have been in one of the books or papers I read 
here that I met with what I dare say is a very old dilemma 
as to the origin of evil. It runs thus : " Is God able to pre- 
vent evil but not willing? Then he is not benevolent. Is 
he willing but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he 
both able and willing? Whence then is evil?" This struck 
me very much, and it seemed quite unanswerable, and when 
at home a year or two afterwards, I took the opportunity one 
day to repeat it to my father, rather expecting he would be 
very much shocked at my acquaintance with any such infidel 
literature. But he merely remarked that such problems were 
mysteries which the wisest cannot understand, and seemed 
disinclined to any discussion of the subject. This, of course, 
did not satisfy me, and if the argument did not really touch 
the question of the existence of God, it did seem to prove 
that the orthodox ideas as to His nature and powers cannot 
be accepted. 

I was also greatly impressed by a tract on " Consistency," 
written by Robert Dale Owen, the eldest son of Robert Owen, 



and as a writer superior in style and ability to his father. The 
chief subject of it was to exhibit the horrible doctrine of eternal 
punishment as then commonly taught from thousands of pul- 
pits by both the Church of England and Dissenters, and to 
argue that if those who taught and those who accepted such 
dogmas thoroughly believed them and realized their horror, 
all wordly pleasures and occupations would give way to the 
continual and strenuous effort to escape such a fate. I re- 
member one illustration quoted from a sermon, to enable per- 
sons to realize to some extent what eternal punishment 

After the most terrible description had been given of the un- 
imaginable torments of hell-fire, we were told to suppose that 
the whole earth was a mass of fine sand, and that at the end of 
a thousand years one single grain of this sand flew away into 
space. Then — we were told — let us try to imagine the slow 
procession of the ages, while grain by grain the earth dimin- 
ished, but still remained apparently as large as ever, — and still 
the torments went on. Then let us carry on the imagination 
through thousands of millions of millions of ages, till at last 
the globe could be seen to be a little smaller — and then on and 
on, and on for other and yet other myriads of ages, till after 
periods which to finite beings would seem almost infinite the 
last grain flew away, and the whole material of the globe 
was dissipated in space. And then, asked the preacher, is the 
sinner any nearer the end of his punishment? No! for his 
punishment is to be infinite, and after thousands of such globes 
had been in the same way dissipated, his torments are still 
to go on and on for ever! I myself had heard such horrible 
sermons as these in one of the churches in Hertford, and a 
lady we knew well had been so aflfected by them that she had 
tried to commit suicide. I therefore thoroughly agreed with 
Mr. Dale Owen's conclusion, that the orthodox religion of the 
day was degrading and hideous, and that the only true and 
wholly beneficial religion was that which inculcated the serv- 
ice of humanity, and whose only dogma was the brotherhood 
of man. Thus was laid the foundation of my religious 


Similarly, my introduction to advanced political views, 
founded on the philosophy of human nature, was due to the 
writings and teachings of Robert Owen and some of his 
disciples. His great fundamental principle on which all his 
teaching and all his practice were founded was that the charac- 
ter of every individual is formed for and not hy himself, first 
by heredity, which gives him his natural disposition with all 
its powers and tendencies, its good and bad qualities; and, 
secondly, by environment, including education and surround- 
ings from earliest infancy, which always modifies the original 
character for better or for worse. Of course, this was a theory 
of pure determinism, and was wholly opposed to the ordinary 
views, both of religious teachers and of governments, that, 
whatever the natural character, whatever the environment 
during childhood and youth, whatever the direct teaching, all 
men could be good if they like, all could act virtuously, all 
could obey the laws, and if they wilfully trangressed any of 
these laws or customs of their rulers and teachers, the only 
way to deal with them was to punish them, again and again, 
under the idea that they could thus be deterred from future 
transgression. The utter failure of this doctrine, which has 
been followed in practice during the whole period of human 
history, seems to have produced hardly any effect on our 
systems of criminal law or of general education; and though 
other writers have exposed the error, and are still exposing 
it, yet no one saw so clearly as Owen did how to put his 
views into practice; no one, perhaps, in private life has ever 
had such opportunities of carrying out his principles; no one 
has ever shown so much ingenuity, so much insight into 
character, so much organizing power; and no one has ever 
produced such striking results in the face of enormous diffi- 
culties as he produced during the twenty-six years of his 
management of New Lanark. 

Of course, it was objected that Owen's principles were 
erroneous and immoral because they wholly denied free-will, 
because he advocated the abolition of rewards and punish- 
ments as both unjust and unnecessary, and because, it was 
argued, to act on such a system would lead to a pandemonium 



of vice and crime. The reply to this is that, acting on the 
principle of absolute free-will, every government has alike 
failed to abolish, or even to any considerable degree to di- 
minish, discontent, misery, disease, vice, and crime; and that, 
on the other hand, Owen did, by acting on the principle of 
the formation of character enunciated by him, transform a dis- 
contented, unhealthy, vicious, and wholly antagonistic popula- 
tion of 2500 persons to an enthusiastically favourable, con- 
tented, happy, healthy, and comparatively moral community, 
without ever having recourse to any legal punishment what- 
ever, and without, so far as appears, discharging any individ- 
ual for robbery, idleness, or neglect of duty; and all this was 
effected while increasing the efficiency of the whole manufac- 
turing establishment, paying a liberal interest on the capital 
invested, and even producing a large annual surplus of profits 
which, in the four years 1809-13, averaged £40,000 a year, and 
only in the succeeding period, when the new shareholders 
agreed to limit their interest to 5 per cent, per annum, was this 
surplus devoted to education and the general well-being of 
the community. 

In view of such an astounding success as this, what is the 
use of quibbling about the exact amount of free-will human 
beings possess? Owen contended, and proved by a grand 
experiment, that environment greatly modifies character, that 
no character is so bad that it may not be greatly improved 
by a really good environment acting upon it from early in- 
fancy, and that society has the power of creating such an en- 
vironment. Now, the will is undoubtedly a function of the 
character of which it is the active and outward expression ; 
and if the character is enormously improved, the will, result- 
ing in actions whether mental or physical, is necessarily im- 
proved with it. To urge that the will is, and remains through 
life, absolutely uninfluenced by character, environment, or edu- 
cation; or to claim, on the other hand, that it is wholly and 
absolutely determined by them — seem to me to be propositions 
which are alike essentially unthinkable and also entirely op- 
posed to experience. To my mind both factors necessarily 
enter into the determination of conduct as well as into the 


development of character, and, for the purposes of social life 
and happiness, a partial determinism, as developed and prac- 
tised by Owen, is the only safe guide to action, because over 
it alone have we almost complete control. Heredity, through 
which it is now known that ancestral characteristics are con- 
tinually reappearing, gives that infinite diversity of character 
which is the very salt of social life ; by environment, including 
education, we can so modify and improve the character as to 
bring it into harmony with the possessor's actual surroundings, 
and thus fit him for performing some useful and enjoyable 
function in the great social organism. 

Although most people have heard of New Lanark, few 
have any idea of Owen's work there or of the means by which 
he gradually overcame opposition and achieved the most re- 
markable results. It will, therefore, not be out of place to 
give a short account of his methods as explained in his auto- 
biography; and it will also be advisable to give a very brief 
sketch of the early life of one of the most remarkable, most 
original, and, in many respects, most truly admirable charac- 
ters which has adorned the nineteenth century. 

Robert Owen was born in 1771, and brought up in Newtown, 
a small town in Montgomeryshire, North Wales. His father 
was a saddler by trade ; his mother a farmer's daughter. He 
was sent to the town school when about five years old, where 
the teaching was limited to what are now termed the three R.'s, 
and he learnt so quickly that when about seven years old the 
schoolmaster took him as an usher to teach the younger chil- 
dren, and for the next two years he learnt nothing more at 
school except how to teach. This, however, he appears to have 
taught himself to some purpose, as his after-life shows. At 
nine he entered the shop of a draper and haberdasher, a friend 
of his father's, where he went daily for a year, but taking his 
meals at home. • He was a great reader, and being well known 
to all the inhabitants, and evidently much liked and admired, 
he had free access to all the libraries in the place, including 
those of the clergyman, doctor, lawyer, etc., and he says that he 
generally read a volume every day. He also thought much 



about all that he read, and at one time, having read many re- 
ligious books, he wrote three sermons, which he afterwards 
destroyed. He also learnt dancing, of which he was very fond, 
and this led him to observe the characters of boys and girls, 
and also had an important influence on his views and practice 
of education. 

At the age of ten, at his own request, he went to London, 
where an elder brother was engaged in a saddler's shop. 
Through his father's introductions and the recommendation 
of the draper in Newtown, he soon obtained an engagement 
with a haberdasher at Stamford, who had a large business 
in the finest qualities of goods, which he supplied to all the 
nobility and gentry in the country round. The boy Owen 
was to have his board, lodging, and washing, no salary the 
first year, £8 the second, and £io the third, and he tells us that 
from the time of entering this house he supported himself, 
never applied for or received any pecuniary aid from his 
parents. Here he remained three years, and the hours of 
business being comparatively short, by getting up early he was 
able to read five hours a day. He also learnt here to dis- 
tinguish the different qualities of all the finest fabrics, which 
was of great use to him in after-life. 

He then returned to London, and after a visit to his family 
in Wales, entered a large ready-money shop on Old London 
Bridge, where he had £25 a year, but was at work for fifteen or 
sixteen hours a day ; so after a year he obtained another situa- 
tion in a large shop in Manchester at a salary of £40 a year. 
Here he remained till he was eighteen, and a circumstance oc- 
curred which changed the whole course of his life. 

A mechanic named Jones supplied the firm with wire frames 
for ladies' bonnets, of which large numbers were sold. He 
brought a supply weekly, and it was Owen's duty to receive 
them from him, and being an intelligent man, they had some 
conversation together. Jones was full of the wonderful im- 
provements then being made in machinery for cotton-spinning. 
He had seen some of these machines at work, and was sure 
he could make them and work them if he had a little capital. 
At last he persuaded Owen to lend him iioo (borrowed from 


his brother in London), for which he was to have half the 
profits of the work. Owen accordingly left his employer after 
due notice, and rented a suitable machine shop, in which about 
forty men were soon employed making the newly invented 
" mules " for spinning cotton. Jones superintended the work, 
and Owen kept the accounts, paid the men, and saw that regu- 
lar hours were worked, he being the first to enter and the last 
to leave the workshop. The " mules " were sold as quickly as 
made, and thus the small capital was made to serve ; but Owen 
soon saw that Jones had no business capacity, whereas Owen 
was, as he afterwards proved, one of the greatest organizers 
who ever lived. He, therefore, watched the work closely, 
learnt all he could about it, and when an offer was made by 
another person with some capital to buy him out, he gladly ac- 
cepted the offer which they made him, of six of the mule ma- 
chines, a reel, and a making-up machine with which to pack 
the skeins of yarn into bundles for sale. He, however, only 
received three mules with the two other machines, and imme- 
diately hired an empty building, set them up in one of the 
rooms, bought the cotton rovings, ready for spinning, and 
hired three men to work the machines. The finished yarn was 
spun in hanks of one hundred and forty yards each, the hanks 
made up into bundles of five pounds weight, and wrapped 
neatly in paper, all which work was done by himself, and he 
then sold it to the agent of some Glasgow manufacturers of 
British muslins, then quite a new business. In this way he 
found he could make a clear profit of £6 a week. 

A few months later he accidentally heard that a wealthy 
manufacturer, Mr. Drinkwater, had advertised for a manager 
for some new spinning-mills which he had just built and filled 
with the best machinery under the management of Mr. Lee, 
a civil engineer, who had unexpectedly left him, he himself 
knowing nothing of the business. Owen applied for the post, 
being then barely twenty years old, and looking younger. 
He asked £300 a year salary; and after a few inquiries as to 
character, seeing his little factory of three mules, and examin- 
ing his books, Mr. Drinkwater engaged him, and about a week 
afterwards he was called upon to take charge of a large fac- 



tory employing about five hundred workpeople. The former 
manager had left the day before, Mr. Drinkwater did not come 
to introduce him, and he was simply sent there as the new 
manager. His business was to purchase the raw material, 
to make the machines, for the mill was not nearly completed ; 
to manufacture the yarn, and to sell it; to keep the accounts, 
pay the wages, and take the whole responsibility of the first 
■fine cotton-spinning establishment by machinery that had ever 
been erected. Hitherto his life had been spent in retail shops, 
where he had learnt the qualities of various fabrics, and how 
to buy and sell, but till his short experience w^th Jones and 
with his three spinning-mules, he had never even seen any 
textile machinery or learnt anything about its construction. 

He describes how he suddenly found himself in the midst 
of five hundred men, women, and children, who were busily 
occupied with machinery, much of which he had scarcely seen, 
and never in their regular connection so as to manufacture 
from the raw cotton to the finished thread. We can well 
understand his feelings, and how he said to himself, " How 
came I here? And how is it possible I can manage these 
people and this business ? " His description of how he did 
manage it, without ever showing his complete ignorance ; how 
he not only superintended the completion of the mill and 
carried on the whole thing successfully, but in a very short 
time noticed imperfections in the thread, found out the defect 
in the machinery or in the mode of working that led to these 
imperfections, and then had these defects remedied; how the 
quality and selling value of the output steadily advanced ; how 
the organization of the whole mill was perfected, and yet the 
workpeople were satisfied with the various new rules and 
regulations he adopted; and how, during the four years he 
remained there, he continually improved the output; how his 
salary was raised by agreement to £500 a year, to be followed 
the next year by his becoming a partner with one-fourth share 
in the whole concern — is one of the most interesting and 
remarkable incidents in modern biographical literature. 

Owing to family arrangements Mr. Drinkwater wished 
Owen to withdraw from the partnership, but begged him to 


remain as manager, and name his own salary. This he de- 
cHned, soon found another offer, built new mills, and carried 
them on successfully for several years, till, in the year 1800, 
he became partner and sole manager of the New Lanark mills, 
and married the daughter of Mr. Dale, the former pro- 

Gradually, for many years, he had been elaborating his 
theory of human nature, and longing for an opportunity of 
putting his ideas in practice. And now he had got his oppor- 
tunity. He had an extensive factory and workshops, with a 
village of about two thousand inhabitants all employed in the 
works, which, with about two hundred acres of surrounding 
land, belonged to the company. The character of the workers 
at New Lanark is thus described by Mr. W. L. Sargant in his 
work " Robert Owen and his Social Philosophy," when describ- 
ing the establishment of the mills about fifteen years before 
Owen acquired them : " To obtain a supply of adult labourers 
a village was built round the works, and the houses were let at 
a low rent ; but the business was so unpopular that few, except 
the bad, the unemployed, and the destitute, would settle there. 
Even of such ragged labourers the numbers were insufficient ; 
and these, when they had learned their trade and become 
valuable, were self-willed and insubordinate." Besides these, 
there were about five hundred children, chiefly obtained from 
the w^orkhouses of Edinburgh and other large towns, who were 
apprenticed for seven years from the age of six to eight, and 
these were lodged and boarded in a large building erected for 
the purpose by the former owner, Mr. Dale, and was well 
managed. But these poor children had to work from six in 
the morning to seven in the evening (with an hour and three- 
quarters for meals) ; and it was only after this task was over 
that instruction began. The poor children hated their slavery ; 
many absconded ; some were stunted, and even dwarfed in 
stature; and when the apprenticeship expired at the ages of 
thirteen to fifteen, they commonly went off to Glasgow or Edin- 
burgh, with no natural guardians, and trained for swelling the 
mass of vice and misery in the towns. " The condition of the 
families who had immigrated to the village was also very la- 



mentable. The people lived almost without control in habits 
of vice, idleness, poverty, debt, and destitution. Some were 
drunk for weeks together. Thieving was general, and went 
on to a ruinous extent. . . . There was also a consider- 
able drawback to the comfort of the people in the high price 
and bad quality of the commodities supplied in the village." 

When Owen told his intimate friends who knew all these 
facts that he hoped to reform these people by a system of 
justice and kindness, and gradually to discontinue all punish- 
ment, they naturally laughed at him for a wild enthusiast ; 
yet he ultimately succeeded to such an extent that hardly any- 
one credited the accounts of it without personal inspection, 
and its fame spread over the w^hole civilized world. He had, 
besides the conditions already stated, two other great diffi- 
culties to overcome. The whole of the workers and overseers 
were strongly antagonistic to him as being an Englishman, 
whose speech they could hardly understand, and who, they 
believed, was sent to get more money for the owners and 
more work out of themselves. They, therefore, opposed all 
he did by every means that ingenuit}- could devise, and though 
he soon introduced more order and regularity in the work 
and improved the quality of the yarn produced, they saw in 
all this nothing but the acts of a tool of the mill-owners some- 
what cleverer, and therefore more to be dreaded, than those 
who had preceded him. An equally fierce opposition was made 
to any improvement in the condition of the houses and streets 
as to dirt, ventilation, drainage, etc. He vainly tried to as- 
sure the more intelligent of the overseers and workmen that his 
object was to improve their condition, to make them more 
healthy and happier and better off than they were. This was 
incredible to them, and for two years he made very little 

His second great difficulty was that his partners were busi- 
ness men, who expected him to carry on the works on ordinary 
business principles, so as to obtain for them at least as large 
returns as any other factories in the country. Generally, he 
was absolute and sole manager, but he knew that he could not 
make any large or extensive alterations till he had obtained a 


surplus revenue beyond what was expected. For the first two 
years he limited his improvements to the factory itself and its 
management, and to endeavours, mostly in vain, to obtain the 
confidence of the workers. 

One thing, however, he did for the benefit of the workers 
which had some effect in disarming their enmity and sus- 
picions. Instead of the retail shops where inferior articles were 
sold at credit for very high prices, he established stores and 
shops where every article of daily consumption was supplied 
at wholesale prices, adding only the cost of management. The 
result was that by paying ready money the people got far bet- 
ter quality at full 25 per cent, less than before; and the result 
soon became visible in their superior dress, improved health, 
and in the general comfort of their houses. 

But what at length satisfied them that their manager was 
really their friend was his conduct when a great temporary 
scarcity of cotton and its rapid rise in price caused most of the 
mills to be shut, and reduced the workers to the greatest dis- 
tress. But though Owen shut up the mills he continued to pay 
every worker full wages for the whole of the four months dur- 
ing which the scarcity lasted, employing them in thoroughly 
cleaning the mills and machinery, repairing the houses, etc. 
This cost £7000, which he paid on his own responsibility; but 
it so completely gained the confidence of the people that he was 
afterwards able to carry out improvements without serious 
obstruction. Being wholly opposed to infant labour, he al- 
lowed all arrangements with the guardians to expire, built a 
number of better houses, and thus obtained families of workers 
to take the place of the children ; but difficulties with the part- 
ners arose, the property was sold to a fresh set of partners, 
Owen being still the largest shareholder and manager, and a 
few years later again sold to Owen and a few of his personal 
friends, who agreed to allow him to manage the property, and 
to expend all profits above 5 per cent, for the benefit of the 
workers. Among his co-shareholders were Jeremy Bentham, 
with Joseph Foster and William Allen, well-known Quakers. 
It may be here stated that the property was purchased of Mr. 
Dale for £60,000, and was sold to Owen and his friends in 



1814 for ii 14,100. This great increase of value was due in 
part to the large profits made by cotton mills generally at this 
period, and partly to Owen's skilful management and judicious 

He was now at last able to carry out his plans for the edu- 
cation of the children, none of whom he would allow to enter 
the mills as workers till they were ten years old. He built 
handsome and roomy schools, playrooms and lecturerooms for 
infants from two to six, and for the older children from six to 
ten years old; and he obtained the best masters for the latter. 
The infant schools were superintended by himself, and 
managed by teachers he himself selected for their manifest 
love of children. His instructions to them were " that they 
were on no account ever to beat any one of the children, or 
to threaten them in any manner in word or action, or to 
use abusive terms, but were always to speak to them with a 
pleasant countenance, and in a kind manner and tone of voice ; 
that they should tell the infants and children that they must on 
all occasions do all they could to make their playfellows happy ; 
and that the older ones, from five to six years of age, should 
take especial care of the younger ones, and should assist to 
teach them to make each other happy." And these instructions, 
he assures us, were strictly followed by the man and woman 
he chose as infant-school master and mistress. 

No books were to be used ; but the children " were to be 
taught the uses and nature or qualities of the common things 
around them, by familiar conversation when the children's 
curiosity was excited so as to induce them to ask questions 
respecting them." The schoolrooms were furnished with 
paintings of natural objects, and the children were also taught 
dancing, singing, and military evolutions, which they greatly 
enjoyed. The children were never kept at any one occupa- 
tion or amusement till they were fatigued, and were taken 
much into the open air and into the surrounding country, 
where they were taught something about every natural object. 
Here we see all the essential features of the educational sys- 
tems of Pestalozzi and Froebel, worked out by his own ob- 
servations of child-nature from his own childhood onward, and 


put into practice on the first opportunity with a completeness 
and success that was most remarkable. 

He tells us that his numerous visitors, latterly numbering 
two thousand every year, were more amazed and delighted 
with the schools than with any other part of the establish- 
ment ; and that during the visit of " a lady of the highest 
rank of our own nobility — after inspecting the dancing, and 
music, and all the other lessons and exercises out-of-doors, 
of the infants and children in their playground, while at- 
tentively witnessing their kindness of manner to each other, 
their unaffected, unrestrained, joyous happiness, and remem- 
bering their efficiency in their indoor exercises — this lady said 
to me with tears in her eyes, * Mr. Owen, I would give any 
money if my children could be made like these.' And truly 
those who were trained from infancy through these schools 
were by far the most attractive, and the best and happiest 
human beings, I have ever seen. Their manner was unaffect- 
edly graceful, and, when spoken to by strangers, naturally 
polite, with great innocent simplicity. The total absence of 
all fear, and full confidence in and affection for their teachers, 
with the never-ceasing expression of perfect happiness, gave 
these children of working cotton-spinners a character for their 
age superior to any I have yet seen." It was also noted how 
this training improved the physical appearance of the children, 
and many visitors declared that they had never seen so many 
beautiful girls and boys as in the schools at New Lanark. 

The effect of his system on the adult workers was hardly less 
remarkable. To stop the continued pilfering of bobbins and 
other small articles used in the mills, he invented a system (un- 
fortunately not explained) by which the many thousands of 
these articles which passed from hand to hand daily were so 
recorded automatically that the loss of one by any particular 
worker could always be detected. In this way robbery, large 
or small, was always discovered, hut no one was ever punished 
for it. The certainty of discovery, "however, prevented its 
being attempted, and it very soon ceased altogether. 

Equally novel and ingenious was his method of avoiding 
the necessity for punishment, or even for a word of censure, 



for the many petty offences or infractions of rules that are 
inevitable in every large establis ment. Owen calls it " the 
silent monitor," but the workers called it the " telegraph." 
Each superintendent of a department had a character-book, 
in which the daily conduct of every worker was set down by 
marks for each of the ordinary offences, neglect of work, 
swearing, etc., which when summed up gave a result in four 
degrees — bad, indifferent, good, excellent. For every in- 
dividual there was a small wooden four-sided tally, the sides 
being coloured black, blue, yellow, and white, corresponding 
to the above degrees of conduct. This tally was fixed at each 
one's work-place, with the indicative colour outward, so that 
as Owen or his representative passed down the shops at any 
time during the day, he could note at a glance the conduct of 
each one during the preceding day, and thus get both a 
general and a detailed view of the behaviour of the workers. 
If anyone thought they were unfairly treated they could 
complain to him, but in hardly any cases did this happen. 
He tells us, " As I passed through all the rooms, and the 
workers obser\'ed me always to look at these telegraphs — and 
when black I merely looked at the person, and then at the 
colour — but never said a word to one of them by way of blame. 
At first," he says, a large proportion daily were black and 
blue, few yellow, and scarcely any white. Gradually the blacks 
were changed for blue, the blues for yellow, and the yellows 
for white. Soon after the adoption of this telegraph I could 
at once see by the expression of countenance what was the 
colour which was shown. As there were four colours there 
were four different expressions of countenance, most evident 
to me as I passed along the rooms. . . . Never perhaps in 
the history of the human race has so simple a device created 
in so short a period so much order, virtue, goodness, and hap- 
piness, out of so much ignorance, error, and misery. And for 
many years the permanent daily conduct of a very large ma- 
jorit}^ of those who were employed deserved, and had. No. I 
placed as their character on the books of the company." 

To show that Owen did not exaggerate the improved con- 
dition of New Lanark, it will be well to give the estimates 


of experienced and independent visitors. In 1819 the town 
of Leeds sent a deputation.; 'consisting of Mr. Edward Baines, 
Mr. Robert Oastler, and Mr. John Cawood, to report on the 
character and condition of the workers at New Lanark. 
They spent four days in a careful inspection and examination 
of the whole establishment, and the following are a few ex- 
tracts from their general report. Speaking first of the chil- 
dren in the schools, from two to ten years of age, they say, 
" They appear like one well-regulated family, united together 
by the ties of the closest affection. We heard no quarrels 
from the youngest to the eldest; and so strongly impressed 
are they with the conviction that to be happy themselves it is 
necessary to make those happy by whom they are surrounded, 
that they had no strife but in the offices of kindness." 

" The next class of the population in the Lanark estab- 
lishments consists of boys and girls between ten and seventeen 
years of age. These are all employed in the mill, and in the 
evening from seven to half-past eight o'clock they pursue their 
education. The deportment of these young people is very 
exemplary. In business they are regular and diligent, and 
in their manners they are mild and engaging." 

" In the adult inhabitants of New Lanark we saw much to 
commend. In general they appeared clean, healthy, and sober. 
Intoxication, the parent of so many vices and so much misery, 
is indeed almost unknown here. The consequence is that they 
are well clad, well fed, and their dwellings are inviting. 
. . . In this well-regulated colony, where almost everything 
is made that is wanted by either the manufactory or its in- 
habitants, no cursing or swearing is anywhere to be heard. 
There are no quarrelsome men or brawling women." 

Every visitor to New Lanark who published any account of 
his observations seems to have agreed as to the exceptional 
health, good conduct, and well-being of the entire population ; 
while residents in the vicinity, as well as the ruling authorities 
of the district, bore witness that vice and crime were almost 
wholly unknown. And it must be remembered that this was 
all effected upon the chance population found there, which 
was certainly no better if no worse than the usual lowest 



class of manufacturing operatives at that period. There ap- 
pears to have been not a single case of an individual or a 
family being expelled for bad conduct; so that we are com- 
pelled to trace the marvellous improvement that occurred en- 
tirely to the partial application of Owen's principles of human 
nature, most patiently and skilfully applied by himself. They 
were necessarily only a partial application, because a large 
number of the adults had not received the education and train- 
ing from infancy which was essential for producing their full 
beneficial results. Again, the whole establishment was a 
manufactory, the property of private capitalists, and the adult 
population suffered all the disadvantages of having to work 
for long hours at a monotonous employment and at low rates 
of wages, circumstances wholly antagonistic to any full and 
healthy and elevated existence. Owen used always to declare 
that the beneficial results at which all visitors were so much 
astonished were only one-tenth part of what could and would 
be produced if his principles were fully applied. If the 
labour of such a community, or of groups of such communi- 
ties, had been directed with equal skill to produce primarily the 
necessaries and comforts of life for its own inhabitants, with 
a surplus of such goods as they could produce most ad- 
vantageously for themselves, in order by their sale in the sur- 
rounding district to be able to supply themselves with such 
native or foreign products as they required, then each worker 
would have been able to enjoy the benefits of change of occupa- 
tion, always having some alternation of outdoor as well as in- 
door work ; the hours of labour might be greatly reduced, and 
all the refinements of life might have been procured and en- 
joyed by them. 

On considering the whole course of Owen's life, the one 
great error he committed was to give up the New Lanark 
property and management, and spend his large fortune in the 
endeavour to found communities in various countries of 
chance assemblages of adults, which his own principles should 
have shown him were doomed to failure. He always main- 
tained that a true system of education from infancy to man- 
hood was essential to the best formation of character. His 


infant schools had only been about ten years in existence, 
when, owing to some difficulties with his Quaker partners, who 
had always objected to the dancing and drill, he gave up the 
management into their hands. 

This was a weakness due to his amiable temper, which 
could not bear to be the cause of difference with his friends. 
Under the circumstances he might well have refused to give 
up an establishment which was wholly his own creation, and 
whose splendid success was unequalled in the world. He 
possessed nearly half the shares, and the profits were so large 
that he could soon have paid off the remainder, and become 
the sole owner. If they had absolutely refused to sell, he 
might have sold his interest and started another community 
on improved lines, to which it is almost certain the whole of 
the inhabitants of New Lanark would have voluntarily re- 
moved in order to be under his beneficent rule. He would 
thus have had all the advantages of not losing the young 
people he had so thoroughly trained, and might have gone on 
during his life extending the establishment till it became al- 
most wholly self-supporting, and ultimately, when the majority 
of the inhabitants had been trained from childhood under his 
supervision, self-governing also. Had he done this, his beau- 
tiful system of education, and the admirable social organiza- 
tion founded on his far-seeing and fundamentally true philoso- 
phy of human nature, might still have existed, as a beacon-light 
guiding us toward a better state of industrial organization. 
In that case we should not have now found ourselves, after 
another century of continuous increase of wealth and com- 
mand over nature, with a much greater mass of want and 
misery in our midst than when he first so clearly showed the 
means of abolishing them. 

Notwithstanding this one fatal error, an error due to the 
sensitive nobility of his character and to his optimistic belief 
in the power of truth to make its way against all adverse 
forces, Robert Owen will ever be remembered as one of the 
wisest, noblest, and most practical of philanthropists, as well 
as one of the best and most lovable of men. 

I have a recollection of having once heard him give a 



short address at this " Hall of Science," and that I was struck 
by his tall spare figure, very lofty head, and highly benevolent 
countenance and mode of speaking. Although later in life 
my very scanty knowledge of his work was not sufficient to 
prevent my adopting the individualist views of Herbert 
Spencer and of the political economists, I have always looked 
upon Owen as my first teacher in the philosophy of human 
nature and my first guide through the labyrinth of social 
science. He influenced my character more than I then knew, 
and now that I have read his life and most of his works, I am 
fully convinced that he was the greatest of social reformers 
and the real founder of modern Socialism. For these reasons 
I trust that my readers will not consider the space I have here 
devoted to an outline of his great work at New Lanark is 
more than the subject deserves. 

The preceding sketch of his life and work is founded upon 
his " Life " written by himself, and accompanied by such a 
mass of confirmatory reports and correspondence as to show 
that it can be thoroughly relied on. It has, however, long 
been out of print, and very few people have read it or even 
heard of it, and it is for this reason that I have given this 
brief outline of its contents. The fine obituary notice of 
Owen by his contemporary and friend, Mr. G. J. Holyoake, 
together with the book on his life and times by his fellow- 
worker, Lloyd Jones, show that I have in no way exaggerated 
either his character or his achievements. 



It was, I think, early in the summer of 1837 that I went 
with my brother WilHam into Bedfordshire to begin my edu- 
cation as a land-surveyor. The first work we had was to 
survey the parish of Higham Gobion for the commutation 
of the tithes. It was a small parish of about a thousand 
acres, with the church, vicarage, and a good farmhouse on the 
highest ground, and a few labourer's cottages scattered about, 
but nothing that could be called a village. The whole parish 
was one large farm; the land was almost all arable and the 
fields very large, so that it was a simple piece of work. We 
took up our quarters at the Coach and Horses public-house 
in the village of Barton-in-the-Clay, six miles north of Luton, 
on the coach-road to Bedford. We were nearly a mile from 
the nearest part of the parish, but it was the most convenient 
place we could get. 

An intelligent young labourer was hired to draw the chain 
in measuring, while I carried a flag or measuring-rod and 
stuck in pegs or cut triangular holes in the grass where re- 
quired, to form marks for future reference. We carried bill- 
hooks for cutting rods and pegs, as well as for clearing away 
branches that obstructed the view, and for cutting gaps in 
the hedges on the main lines of the survey, in order to lay 
them out perfectly straight. We started work after an early 
breakfast, and usually took with us a good supply of bread- 
and-cheese and half a gallon of beer, and about one o'clock 
sat down under the shelter of a hedge to enjoy our lunch- 
My brother was a great smoker, and always had his pipe after 
lunch (and often before breakfast), and, of course, the chain- 




bearer smoked too. It therefore occurred to me that I might 
as well learn the art, and for a few days tried a few whiffs. 
Then, going a little too far, I had such a violent attack of 
headache and vomiting that I was cured once and for ever 
from any desire to smoke, and although I afterwards lived for 
some years among Portuguese and Dutch, almost all of whom 
are smokers, I never felt any inclination to try again. 

Three miles north of Barton was the small village of Silsoe 
adjoining Wrest Park, the seat of Earl Cowper, whose agent, 
Mr. Brown, was known to my brother, and had, I think, ob- 
tained from him the parish survey we were engaged upon. A 
young gentleman three or four years older than myself who 
was, I think, a pupil of Mr. Brown's, was sent by him to learn 
a little land-surveying with us, and was a pleasant companion 
for me, especially as we were often left alone, when my 
brother was called away on other business, sometimes for a 
week at a time. Although the country north of Barton was 
rather flat and uninteresting, to the south it was very pictur- 
esque, as it was only about half a mile from the range of the 
North Downs, which, though only rising about three hundred 
feet above Barton, yet were very irregular, jutting out into fine 
promontories or rounded knolls with very steep sides and with 
valleys running up between them. The most charming of these 
valleys was the nearest to us, opening behind the church. It 
was narrow, with abundance of grass and bushes on the sides 
of a rapid-flowing streamlet, which, about a quarter of a mile 
further, had its source in a copious spring gushing out from the 
foot of the chalk-hill. On the west side of this valley the steep 
slope was thickly covered with hazel and other bushes, as well 
as a good many trees, forming a hanging wood full of wild 
flowers, and offering a delightful shade in the heat of the 
afternoon. About a mile to the east there was an extensive 
old British earthwork called Ravensburgh Castle, beyond 
which was another wooded valley; between these was a toler- 
ably level piece of upland where the villagers played cricket 
in the summer. 

My friend, whose name I forget (we will call him Mr. A.), 
was a small-sized but active young fellow, very good-looking, 


and quite the dandy in his dress. He was proud of his at- 
tractions, and made friends with any of the good-looking village 
girls who would talk to him. One day we met a pretty rosy- 
cheeked girl about his own age — a small farmer's daughter — 
and after a few words, seeing she was not disinclined for a 
chat, he walked back with her, and I went home. When he 
returned, he boasted openly of having got her to promise to 
meet him again, but the landlord advised him to be careful not 
to let her father see him. A day or two after, as we were 
passing near the place, he saw the girl again, and I walked 
slowly on. I soon heard loud voices, and, looking back, saw 
the girl's father, a big, formidable-looking man, threatening the 
young Lothario with his stick, and shouting out that if he 
caught him there again with his girl, he would break every bone 
in his body. When the young gentleman came back he was 
not the least abashed, but told us the whole story very much 
as it had happened, and rather glorying in his boldness in not 
running away from so big and enraged a man, and intimating 
that he had assuaged his anger by civil words, and had come 
away with flying colours. 

One day he and I went for a walk over the hills towards 
Hitchin, where on the ordnance map a small stream was 
named Roaring Meg, and we wanted to see why it was so 
called. We found a very steep and narrow valley something 
like that called the Devil's Dyke near Brighton ; but this was 
thickly wooded on both sides, and the little stream at the 
bottom, rushing over a pebbly bed, produced a roaring sound 
which could be heard at a considerable distance. This 
northern range of downs has the advantage over the south 
downs of having numerous springs and streams on both sides 
of it, and these are especially abundant around the ancient 
village of Toddington, five miles west of Barton, where the 
ordnance map shows about twenty springs, the sources of 
small streams, within a radius of two miles. 

It was while living at Barton that I obtained my first 
information that there was such a science as geology, and 
that chalk was not everywhere found under the surface, as I 
had hitherto supposed. My brother, like most land surveyors, 



was something of a geologist, and he showed me the fossil 
oysters of the genus Gryphaea and the Belemnites, which we 
had hitherto called " thunderbolts," and several other fossils 
which were abundant in the chalk and gravel around Barton. 
While here I acquired the rudiments of surveying and map- 
ping, as well as calculating areas on the map by the rules of 
trigonometry. This I found very interesting work, and it 
was rendered more so by a large volume belonging to my 
brother, giving an account of the great Trigonometrical Sur- 
vey of England, with all the angles and the calculated lengths 
of the sides of the triangles formed by the different stations 
on hilltops, and by the various church spires and other con- 
spicuous objects. The church spires of Barton and Higham 
Gobion had been thus used, and the distance between them 
accurately given; and as the line from one to the other ran 
diagonally across the middle of the parish we were survey- 
ing, this was made our chief base-line, and the distance as 
measured found to agree very closely with that given in the 
survey. This volume was eagerly read by me, as it gave an 
account of all the instruments used, including the great theod- 
olite, three feet in diameter, for measuring the angles of the 
larger triangles formed by distant mountain tops, often twenty 
or thirty miles apart, and in a few cases more than a hundred 
miles; the accurate measurement of the base-lines by steel 
chains laid in wooden troughs, and carefully tightened by 
exactly the same weight passing over a pulley, while the ends 
were adjusted by means of microscopes; the exact tempera- 
ture being also taken by several thermometers in order to allow 
for contraction or expansion of the chains; and by all these 
refinements several base-lines of seven or eight miles in length 
were measured with extreme accuracy in distant parts of the 
country. These base-lines were tested by repeated measure- 
ments in opposite directions, which were found to differ only 
by about an inch, so that the mean of all the measurements 
was probably correct to less than half that amount. 

These bases were connected by the system of triangulation 
already referred to, the angles at all the stations being taken 
with the best available instruments and often repeated by 


different observers, while allowance had also to be made for 
height above the sea-level, to which all the distances had to be 
reduced. In this way, starting from any one base, the lengths 
of the sides of all the triangles were calculated, and ultimately 
the length of the other bases ; and if there had been absolutely 
no error in any of the measurements of base-lines or of angles, 
the length of a base obtained by calculation would be the same 
as that by direct measurement. The results obtained showed 
a quite marvellous accuracy. Starting from the base meas- 
ured on Salisbury Plain, the length of another base on the 
shore of Lough Foyle in the north of Ireland was calculated 
through the whole series of triangles connecting them, and 
this calculated length was found to differ from the measured 
length by only five inches and a fraction. The distance be- 
tween these two base-lines is about three hundred and sixty 

These wonderfully accurate measurements and calculations 
impressed me greatly, and with my practical work at survey- 
ing and learning the use of that beautiful little instrument, the 
pocket-sextant, opened my mind to the uses and practical 
applications of mathematics, of which at school I had been 
taught nothing whatever, although I had learnt some Euclid 
and algebra. This glimmer of light made me want to know 
more, and I obtained some of the cheap elementary books 
published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowl- 
edge. The first I got were on Mechanics and on Optics, 
and for some years I puzzled over these by myself, trying such 
simple experiments as I could, and gradually arriving at clear 
conceptions of the chief laws of elementary mechanics and of 
optical instruments. I thus laid the foundation for that inter- 
est in physical science and acquaintance with its general prin- 
ciples which have remained with me throughout my life. 

It was here, too, that during my solitary rambles I first 
began to feel the influence of nature and to wish to know 
more of the various flowers, shrubs, and trees I daily met 
with, but of which for the most part I did not even know the 
English names. At that time I hardly realized that there 



was such a science as systematic botany, that every flower 
and every meanest and most insignificant weed had been 
accurately described and classified, and that there was any 
kind of system or order in the endless variety of plants and 
animals which I knew existed. This wish to know the names 
of wild plants, to be able even to speak of them, and to learn 
anything that was known about them, had arisen from a 
chance remark I had overhead about a year before. A lady, 
who was governess in a Quaker family we knew at Hertford, 
was talking to some friends in the street when I and my 
father met them, and stayed a few minutes to greet them. I 
then heard the lady say, " We found quite a rarity the other 
day — ^the Monotropa; it had not been found here before." 
This I pondered over, and wondered what the Monotropa was. 
All my father could tell me was that it was a rare plant; and 
I thought how nice it must be to know the names of rare 
plants when you found them. However, as I did not even 
know there were books that described every British plant, 
and as my brother appeared to take no interest in native plants 
or animals, except as fossils, nothing came of this desire for 
knowledge till a few years later. 

Barton was a rather large straggling village of the old- 
fashioned, self-contained type, with a variety of small trades- 
men and mechanics, many of whom lived in their own free- 
hold or leasehold houses with fair-sized gardens. Our landlord 
was a young man fairly educated and intelligent. One of his 
brothers was a tailor, and made such good clothes that my 
brother remarked upon the excellent cut and finish of a suit 
worn by our host. Their eldest brother lived in a very good 
old roomy cottage in the village, and was, I think, a wheel- 
wright, and I was sometimes asked to tea there, and found 
them very nice people, and there was a rather elderly unmar- 
ried sister w^ho was very talkative and satirical. Most of the 
villagers, and some of the farmers around, used to come to 
the house we lived in, and among them was a painter and 
glazier, who was married while I was there, and who was sub- 
jected to good-humoured banter when he came to the house 


soon afterwards. These, with the necessary blacksmith and 
carpenter, with a general shop or two and a fair number of 
labourers, made up a little community, most of whom seemed 
fairly well off. 

Our landlord was a Radical, and took a newspaper called 
The Constitutional, which was published at Birmingham, and 
contained a great deal of very interesting matter. This was 
about the time when the dean and chapter refused to allow a 
monument to be erected to Byron in Westminster Abbey, 
which excited much indignation among his admirers. One of 
these wrote some lines on the subject which struck me as being 
so worthy of the occasion that I learnt them by heart, and by 
constant repetition (on sleepless nights) have never forgotten 
them. They were printed in the newspapers without a signa- 
ture, and I have never been able to learn who was the author 
of them. I give them here to show the kind of poetry I 
admired then and still enjoy: 

"Away with epitaph and sculptured bust! 
Leave these to decorate the mouldering dust 
Of him who needs such substitutes for fame — 
The chisel's pomp to deck a worthless name. 
Away with these! A Byron needs them not; 
Nature herself selects a deathless spot, 
A nation's heart: the Poet cannot die, 
His epitaph is Immortality. 
What are earth's mansions to a tomb like this? 
When time hath swept into forgetfulness 
Wealth-blazoned halls and gorgeous cemeteries. 
The mouldering Abbey with its sculptured lies, 
His name, emblazoned in the wild, the free. 
The deep, the beautiful of earth, shall be 
A household word with millions. Dark and wild 
His song at times, his spirit was the child 
Of burning passion. Yet when he awoke 
From his dark hours of bondage, when he broke 
His cage and seized his harp, did he not make 
A peal of matchless melody and shake 
The very earth with joy? Still thrills the heart 
Of man at those sweet notes ; scared despots start 
To curse them from their thrones; they pierce the cell 
And cheer the captive in his chains; they tell 



Lessons of life to struggling liberty. 

Death mars the man but spares his memory, 

Nor tears one laurel from his wreath of fame. 

How many glorious thoughts of his we claim 

Our heritage for ever; beacon lights 

To guide the barque of freedom through the nights 

Of tyranny and woe, when not a star 

Of hope looks down to glad the mariner: 

Thoughts which must ever haunt us, like some dream 

Of childhood which we ne'er forget, a gleam 

Of sunshine flashing o'er life's troubled stream ! " 

The last eight lines of this poem formed a passage charac- 
terized by deep feeling and poetic beauty of a high order. 
My brother was an admirer of Byron, and he used to say 
that his description of Satan, in the " Vision of Judgment," 
was finer than anything in Milton. This poem, which is 
essentially a satirical parody of Southey's poem with the 
same title, yet contains some grand passages on behalf of 
political and religious liberty. The lines my brother thought 
so fine (and I agree with him) are the following: 

"But bringing up the rear of this bright host 

A Spirit of a different aspect waved 
His wings, like thunder-clouds above some coast 

Whose barren beach with frequent wrecks is paved; 
His brow was like the deep when tempest-tost; 

Fierce and unfathomable thoughts engraved 
Eternal wrath on his immortal face, 

And where he gazed a gloom pervaded space." 

Those who only know Byron by his more romantic or 
pathetic poems, and who may think the panegyric of the 
anonymous writer in The Constitutional ^ to be overdrawn, 
should read " The Age of Bronze," which is pervaded through- 
out with the detestation of war, with admiration of those who 

1 This newspaper — The Constitutional — appears to have existed 
only two years. The Daily News, referring to a sale of Thackeray 
rarities last year, states that he contributed several articles to that 
paper as Paris correspondent, and that, in consequence, a set of the 
paper sold in 1899 for two hundred guineas. A friend informs me 
that it does not exist in the Bodleian Library. 


fought only for freedom, and with scorn and contempt for 
the majority of EngHsh landlords, who subordinated all ideas 
of justice or humanity to the keeping up of their rents. Even 
if it stood alone, this one poem would justify the poet as an 
upholder of the rights of man and as a truly ethical 

Returning from this digression to the villagers who came 
within my range at the little tavern where we lodged, I had 
an opportunity of seeing a good deal of drunkenness, inevitably 
brought on by the fact that only in the public-house could 
anyone with enforced leisure have the opportunity of meeting 
friends and acquaintances and of hearing whatever news was 
to be had. Sometimes a labourer out of work, and having 
perhaps a week's wages in his pocket, would have a pint of 
beer in the morning, and while waiting alone for someone to 
come in, would, of course, require another to pass away the 
time; and sometimes, if a young unmarried man, he would 
remain quietly drinking beer the whole day long. On one 
such occasion the landlord told me that a man had consumed 
twenty-two pints of beer during the day. At that time there 
was no temperance party, no body of people who thought 
drinking intoxicants altogether wrong; while deliberately aid- 
ing a man to get drunk was often a mere amusement. My 
brother was a great smoker but a small drinker, and he used 
to say that as he neither drank nor expectorated while smok- 
ing it did him no harm — a view which seems very doubtful. 
He was, however, accustomed to take a glass of spirits and 
water in the evening, and usually kept a gallon jar of gin in a 
cupboard by the fireplace, not only for his own use, but to 
have something besides beer to offer any friend who called. 
He had several acquaintances at Silsoe, the architect of the 
mansion then being built for Earl Cowper being an old friend 
of about his own age, a Mr. Clephan. One day, I remember, 
a young farmer whose acquaintance we had made while survey- 
ing gave us a call, and my brother hospitably invited him to 
take a glass of gin, which he accepted. He was rather a weak 
young man and had already drunk a good deal of beer, and 



soon became talkative, and as my brother asked him to take 
more gin, he did so, and at last he became quite incoherent 
and so troublesome, though perfectly good-natured, that we 
had to ask the landlord to take charge of him till he was 
able to go home. But his speech and actions were so ludicrous 
that all present were kept in a roar of laughter, and every- 
body seemed to think it an excellent and quite harmless bit 
of fun. 

When I was alone at Barton I used frequently to sit in 
the tap-room with the tradesmen and labourers for a little 
conversation or to hear their songs or ballads, which I have 
never had such an opportunity of hearing elsewhere. Some 
of these were coarse, but not as a rule more so than among 
men of a much higher class, while purely sentimental songs 
or old ballads were very frequent, and were quite as much 
appreciated. I regret that I did not write down all that I 
heard here, but at that time I did not know that there would 
be any purpose in doing so, and I cannot remember the actual 
words of any of them. One that was occasionally sung was 
the old Masonic Hymn, beginning : 

"Come all you freemasons that dwell around the globe, 
That wear the badge of innocence, I mean the royal robe, 
Which Noah he did wear when in the ark he stood, 
When the world was destroyed by a deluging flood " — 

but I think it was never sung in its complete form. The 
well-known poacher's song with its musical refrain : 

"Oh! 'tis my delight of a shiny night, in the season of the year," 

was also rather a favourite; but there was one ballad about 
Bonaparte which was often called for, but of which I can 
remember nothing but a line beginning — 

"Then up spoke young Napoleon." 

It was a really good ballad, describing some incidents in 
Napoleon's early life, and was remarkable as treating him 


from quite a heroic point of view, so different from the 
enormous mass of gross and stupid caricature and abuse 
which prevailed during the epoch of his miHtary successes 
throughout Europe. 

As there was no work of importance after the maps and 
reference books of the parish we had been surveying had been 
completed and delivered, and winter was approaching, I went 
home for a short holiday. My father and mother and my 
younger brother were then living in Hoddesdon, and as there 
was no direct conveyance I made the journey on foot. It was, 
I think, the end of November, and as the distance was about 
thirty miles, and I was not very strong, I took two days, 
sleeping on the way at a roadside public-house. I went 
through Hitchin and Stevenage, and near the former place 
passed a quarry of a reddish chalk almost as hard as marble, 
which was used for building. This surprised me, as I had 
hitherto only seen the soft varieties of chalk, and had been 
accustomed to look upon it as more earth than stone. The 
only other thing that greatly interested me was a little beyond 
Stevenage, where, on a grassy strip by the roadside, were six 
ancient barrows or tumuli, which I carefully inspected; and 
whenever I have since travelled by the Great Northern Rail- 
way, I have looked out for these six tumuli, near to which the 
line passes. 

Where I slept the night I forget, but its results were long 
remembered, for I was given a bed which I presume had 
been occupied by some tramp, and I found that I had brought 
away with me two different kinds of body-lice, one of which 
took me a long time and the application of special ointments 
to get rid of. This was the only time in my life that I 
suffered from these noisome insects. 

After a few weeks at home at Hoddesdon, I went back to 
Barton, where we had some work till after Christmas. On 
New Year's Day, 1838, the first section of the London and 
Birmingham Railway was opened to Tring, and I and my 
brother took advantage of it to go up to London, where he 



had some business. We stayed at a quiet hotel in Lamb's 
Conduit Street, and the next day I walked to Hoddesdon for 
a short holiday. My brother while in London obtained the 
survey for tithe commutation of a parish in Bedfordshire, 
where I was to meet him on the 14th or 15th of January, at 
the village of Turvey, eight miles beyond Bedford. 



I HAD first to go back to Barton to pay a few bills and pack 
up the books, instruments, etc., we had left there to be sent 
by carrier's waggon. I therefore left home on the 12th, and 
I think walked back to Barton, and the next day did what 
was required, took leave of my friends there, and on the 
morning of the 14th, after an early breakfast^ started to walk 
to Turvey through Bedford, a distance of about twenty miles. 

The reason I am able, without any diary, note, or letter 
to refer to, to fix the date of this particular walk, is rather a 
curious one. While I was at home, or shortly before, a new 
almanack had appeared, which professed to predict the 
weather on every day of the year, on scientific principles, and 
the first week was said to be wonderfully correct. I was so 
much interested in this, and talked so much about it^ that 
my mother procured it for me just before I left home as a 
New Year's present. It was called " Murphy's Weather 
Almanack," and was published, I think, at a shilling. The 
first three days were marked " Fair, frost," and the next three 
" Change." This was, I believe, nearly correct, but how near 
I cannot remember. The next fortnight, however, impressed 
itself upon my memory, partly because I had the book and 
marked it day by day, and partly on account of the remarkable 
weather and its exact fulfilment. From the 7th to the 13th 
every day was set down as " Fair, frost/' and so it was. Then 
came the 14th, marked " Change ;" then again " Fair, frost," 
every day to the 20th, which was marked " Lowest tempera- 
ture ; " after which the indications were change, followed by 

Now, as the 14th was the day of my walk to Bedford and 


ii8 MY LIFE 

Turvey, I was rather anxious, and when I got up in the 
morning and saw that the sky was clear, I thought the 
alamanack was wrong, and was glad of it; but as soon as I 
began my journey I found the air milder and the roads de- 
cidedly softer than the day before, and this soon increased, 
till by midday there was a regular thaw, which made the roads 
quite soft, but as there had been no snow, not disagreeably 
wet. I had, therefore, a very pleasant walk. I dined at Bed- 
ford, and reached Turvey before dark. 

For the next six days we were at work laying out the main 
lines for the survey of the parish, cutting hedges, ranging 
flags, ascertaining boundaries, and beginning the actual meas- 
urements, and every day the frost continued exactly as pre- 
dicted by Murphy, culminating in the greatest cold on the 
20th, after which there was a break. 

I may here state that the rest of the year was very inaccu- 
rate, though there were certain striking coincidences. The 
hottest day was nearly, or quite, correct. In August nine 
days consecutively were exactly as predicted, and in Decem- 
ber the very mild weather and fine Christmas Day was correct. 

But the perfect accuracy of the fourteen consecutive days 
with the break on one day of an otherwise continuous frost, 
and that day being fixed on my memory by the circumstance 
of my having then to walk twenty miles, forced me to the 
conclusion that there must have been " something in it " — 
that this could not have been attained by pure guess-work, 
even once in a year, and though the most striking, it was not 
by any means the only success. My copy of the almanack 
disappeared half a century ago, but wishing to refresh my 
memory of the circumstances, and to fix definitely the year 
and day of my journey, I applied to the Meteorological So- 
ciety to lend me the almanack, if they possessed it. They very 
courteously obliged me, sending me the five years, 1838 to 
1842, all that ever appeared, bound together. I then found 
that my memory of the weather for a week before and after 
my walk had been quite correct and as I have stated here, and 
I also had the advantage of examining the succeeding years, 
with notes of the actual weather in a considerable proportion 


of the days entered in a space left for the purpose by the 
owner of this copy. The place of observation, however, is 
not given, and it is obvious that, as the weather is usually very 
different in widely separated parts of the country, only those 
features of it can have any chance of being predicted which 
are common to the greater part of our island, and are per- 
sistent for a considerable period. Looking over these records 
from this point of view, I find the following points worthy of 
notice : 

In 1839 the lowest winter temperature was predicted for 
January 9, and this was correct. 

In 1840 sixteen days of frost were predicted in February; 
eleven of these are noted, and- all are on the right days. In 
March only seven days' rain were predicted, and it is noted as 
a very dry month throughout. April was predicted to be a 
mild and fine month, and it was so, though the days of rain, 
etc., did not agree. In May the prediction was two days' rain, 
thirteen days changeable, the rest fair. Rain was noted on 
nine days, the rest being fine and mild. June was about 
equally correct. In the winter frost was predicted for the 
last two weeks of the year, which was correct. 

In 1841 March was predicted to be a fine, dry, and mild 
month, which was correct. There was nothing very marked 
in the rest of the year. 

In 1842 frost was predicted for several days at the end of 
January and the first week in February, which was correct. 
April was foretold to have only four days' rain, and the 
remark of the observer is, " A very dry month." May was to 
have five days' rain and three changeable, and it is noted as 
having had " rain on nine days," and as being " a very fine 
month." In August rain was announced for six days only, 
and the remark is, " Splendid August weather." Then at the 
end came a great failure, for the last half of December was 
predicted to be fine and frosty, but turned out to be " very 
mild and rainy." 

Thus ended the " Weather Almanack," and I am not aware 
whether the writer ever disclosed the exact method by which 
he arrived at his predictions. In each of the issues he had a 



somewhat lengthy introduction, the first of which purported 
to explain the principles of his system. But it was so exceed- 
ingly general and vague that it seemed more intended to con- 
ceal than to explain. It appears to me almost certain that the 
author must have had access to some old weather records for 
a long succession of years, and finding that very similar 
weather occurred at each recurring lunar cycle of nineteen 
years, he simply predicted day by day what the weather had 
been nineteen years before. This method has been recently 
applied by means of a longer cycle, which leads to a more ac- 
curate correspondence of the positions of the sun and moon, 
and has been said to produce very striking results. If that 
was really his method, his successes, though very partial, were 
yet, I think, sufficient to prove that the larger and more lasting 
phases of the weather in our latitudes are to a considerable 
extent dependent on the relative positions of the moon and 
sun, and that the moon really is, as has been so long and so 
generally believed, one of the factors in determining our very 
eccentric weather phenomena. 

Another curious little personal incident connected with this 
winter's frost may here be noted. One day I was out on the 
frozen meadows across the river Ouse, assisting in marking 
out one of our main lines which had to cross the windings of 
the river, when I saw a pleasant-looking young man coming 
towards me carrying a double-barrelled gun. When he was 
a few yards off, two very large birds, looking like wild geese, 
came flying towards us, and as they passed overhead at a 
moderate height, he threw up his gun, fired both barrels, and 
brought them both to the ground. Of course I went up to 
look at them, and found they were a fine pair of wild swans, 
the male being about five feet long from beak to end of tail. 
"That was a good shot," I remarked; to which he replied, 
" Oh ! you can't miss them, they are as big as a barn door." 
Afterwards I found that this was young Mr. Higgins, of 
Turvey Abbey, his father being one of the principal land- 
owners in the parish ; and in making out the reference books 
which gave the owners of all the separate farms, etc., we found 



that he himself owned some property, and that his name was 
H. H. Higgins. This interested me, because one of my school- 
fellow's initials had been H. H. H., his name being Henry 
Holman Hogsflesh, and I thought it curious that I should so 
soon again come across another H. H. H., and this made me 
remember the name of Mr. Higgins, which I might otherwise 
have totally forgotten. 

More than half a century later (in November, 1889), I 
was invited to Liverpool to give some lectures, and some 
time before the date fixed upon I received a very kind letter 
from the Rev. H. H. Higgins, inviting me to dine with him 
on my arrival, and offering to assist me in every way he could. 
I declined the invitation, but told him what hotel I was going 
to, and said that I should be glad to see him. His letter re- 
called to me my acquaintance at Turvey, but I did not see how 
a Liverpool clergyman could have any close relationship to a 
wealthy Bedfordshire landowner. I found Mr. Higgins at 
the station with a carriage ready, and he told me that, as I 
did not wish to go out to dinner, he and some friends had 
taken the liberty of ordering a dinner at my hotel, and hoped 
I would dine with them. He was as pleasant as an old friend, 
and of course I accepted. He was a short, rubicund, exceed- 
ingly good-humoured and benevolent-looking man, apparently 
some years older than myself, and looking very like what 
young Mr. Higgins of Turvey might have grown into. 
He somehow reminded me of Chaucer's description of a 
priest : 

"A little round, fat, oily man of God 
Was one I chiefly marked among the fry, 
He had a rogueish twinkle in his eye " — 

except that he could hardly be described as round, or fat, but 
simply " jolly " in person as in manner. So when his friends 
left about an hour after dinner, I asked him, if he had no 
engagement, to stay a little longer, as I wished to find out the 
mystery. He was an enthusiastic naturalist, and we talked 
of many things, and the conversation turning on the land 
question, he remarked that he was perhaps one of the poorest 



landowners in England, for that he was heir to a considerable 
landed estate from which he never received anything, and 
probably never should, owing to family circumstances, which 
he stated. I then asked him if he knew a place called Turvey, 
in Bedfordshire, to which he replied, " I ought to know it, 
for I was born there, and my father owned the estate there 
to which I am heir." I then felt pretty sure of my man, and 
asked him if he remembered, during a very hard frost about 
fifty years ago, shooting a pair of wild swans at Turvey. 
" Why, of course I do," said he. " But how do you know it ? " 
" Because I was there at the time and saw you shoot them. 
Do not you remember a thin, tall lad who came up to you and 
said, ' That was a good shot,' and you replied, ' Oh ! you can't 
miss them, they are as big as a barn door ' ? " " No," he said, 
" I don't remember you at all, but that is just what I should 
have said." His delight was great, for his story of how he 
shot the two wild swans was not credited even by his own 
family, and he made me promise to go to his house after the 
lecture on the next night, and prove to them that he had not 
been romancing. And when I went, I was duly introduced 
to his grown-up sons and daughters as one who had been 
present at the shooting of the swans, which I had been the 
first to mention. That was a proud moment for the Rev. H. 
H. Higgins, and a very pleasant one to myself. 

Let us now return to Turvey and my experiences there. 
We lived at the chief inn in the place — perhaps the only one 
except some small beer-shops — called The Tinker of Turvey. 
The painted sign was a man with a staff, a woman, and a dog, 
and we were told in the village that the tinker meant was 
John Bunyan. But recent inquiry by a friend both in Bedford 
and at Turvey shows that this is perhaps a mistake. In a 
little book, " Turvey and the Mordaunts," by G. F. W. Munby, 
Rector of Turvey, and Thomas Wright (of Olney), we are 
told that there is a very rare pamphlet in the British Museum, 
entitled, The Tincker of Turvey, his merry pastime from 
Billingsgate to Gravesend. The Barge being freighted with 
mirth, and mann'd with Trotter the tincker, Yerker a cobbler. 
Thumper a smith, and other merry fellows, every one of them 


telling his tale " (dated, London, 1630, 4to). There is a verse 
on the signboard as follows: — 

"The Tinker of Turvey, his dog, and his staff. 
Old Nell with her Budget will make a man laugh." 

This may, perhaps, be taken from the old pamphlet, which 
certainly proves that " The Tinker of Turvey " was a charac- 
ter known before Bunyan's time, and as the tales told by the 
tinker and his companions are said to be exceedingly coarse, 
they were probably well known in country places, and the 
name would seem appropriate for an inn in the village named. 
It is possible, however, that the sign may have been first 
painted at a later date, and as Bunyan would no doubt have 
been well known at Turvey, as at other villages round Bed- 
ford, where he was accustomed to preach, he may have been 
represented or caricatured as the Tinker of Turvey on the 

In this inn we had the use of a large room on the ground- 
floor, also used as a dining-room for the rare visitors requiring 
that meal, and in the evening as a farmers' room, where two 
or three often dropped in for an hour or two, while once a week 
there was a regular farmers' club, at which from half a dozen 
to a dozen usually attended. While at Barton I had become 
well acquainted with the labourers, mechanics, and small vil- 
lage shopkeepers; I here had an equal opportunity of observ- 
ing how well-to-do farmers occupied their leisure. These 
seemed to be rather a serious class, whose conversation was 
slow, and devoted mainly to their own business, especially 
as to the condition of their sheep, how their " tegs" were 
getting on, or of a fat sheep being cast — ^that is, turned over 
on its back, and vainly struggling to get up again, when, if 
not seen and helped, they sometimes died. Most of the time 
was spent in silent smoking or sipping their glasses of ale or 
of spirits and water. Sometimes the talk would be of hunting, 
or even of the county races when anyone was present who 
had horses good enough to run. On one evening I heard an 
agricultural problem solved by an expert, and it is the only 



piece of definite information I ever heard given on these occa- 
sions. A young farmer was complaining of the poor crop of 
wheat he had got from one of his best fields, and he said he 
could not make it out. One of the large farmers, who was 
looked up to as an authority, asked, " What did you do to the 
field?" "Well," said the young man, "I ploughed it" (a 
pause) ; " I ploughed it twice." " Ah ! " said the expert, 
" that's where you lost your crop." The rest looked approval. 
Some said, " That's it ;" others said, " Ah ! " The young man 
said nothing, but looked gloomy. Evidently the oracle had 
spoken, and nothing more was to be said; but I have often 
wondered since if that really was the cause of the bad crop of 
wheat. There seem to be so many other things to be taken 
account of — the kind of seed used ; the mode of sowing, 
whether broadcast or drilled ; the quantity and kind of manure 
used; the condition of the soil as regards moisture, freedom 
from weeds, and many other matters; — all, one would think, 
equally important with the mere difference between one or 
two ploughings. I should have liked to have asked about this 
at the time, but I was too shy and afraid of exposing my 

The farmers here were very proud of their mutton, and 
one with whom we were especially friendly told us one day 
about a fine sheep he had killed the previous year — five years 
old, I think he said — and that he had kept one of the legs of 
mutton six months in his cellar, which was large and very 
cool. He assured us that it was perfectly sweet, and that he 
invited several of his friends to dinner, and they all agreed 
that they had never eaten such fine mutton in their lives. At 
the time I hardly believed this, holding the usual opinion 
that meat necessarily putrefied, but I have no doubt now that 
he was speaking the truth, and that much of our meat would 
be greatly improved in quality if we had suitable places in 
which to store it for a few weeks or months before cooking. 

Soon after we came to Turvey a young gentleman from 
Bedford came to us to learn a little surveying. He was, I 
think, the son of an auctioneer or estate agent, and was about 
eighteen or twenty years old. As my brother was occasion- 



ally away for several days at a time when we sometimes had 
nothing to go on with, he would amuse himself fishing, of 
which he was very fond. Sometimes I went with him, but I 
usually preferred walking about the country, though I cannot 
remember that I had at this time any special interest in doing 
so. He often caught some large, coarse fish, such as bream 
or pike, which were the commonest fish in the river, but were 
hardly worth eating. Towards the latter part of our survey 
in the spring months, my brother left us a portion of the work 
to do by ourselves when he was away for a week or two, and 
as we worked very hard, and seldom got home before six in 
the evening, we had an unusally good appetite for our even- 
ing meal, and sometimes astonished our hosts. One occasion 
of this kind I have never forgotten. They had provided for 
our dinner a sparerib of young pork — a very delicate dish but 
not very substantial — with potatoes. My friend first cut the 
joint in half, about three or four ribs in each, and said to me, 
I know you like fat ; if I cut off this lean piece, will you 
have the rest?" I joyfully assented, as I was very fond of 
the picking on the bones. We soon finished our portions, and 
then he cut the lean off the rest of the joint, gave me the ribs, 
and we very soon left nothing but the cleaned-picked bones, 
half of which I put on his plate so that it might not be thought 
that I had eaten the whole joint myself. The servant looked 
astonished at the empty dish when she brought us in a rather 
small apple-pudding. This was cut in two, and was hardly 
as much as we should have liked ; and when the servant saw 
another empty dish she smiled, and told us that some people 
had been waiting for the rest of the pork and pudding, and 
now had nothing for dinner; at which we smiled, and asked 
for bread-and-cheese to finish with. 

When at home and spending the larger part of every day 
in the schoolroom, I had never liked fat, which often made 
me ill. But exercise for about ten hours every day in the 
open air had improved my digestion and my general health 
so that I could eat most kinds of fat, and have been very fond 
of it during my whole life. 

During our stay here we made the acquaintance of some 



pleasant people, and on Sundays we were often asked out to 
tea, which I should have enjoyed more than I did had it not 
been for my excessive shyness, which was at this time aggra- 
vated by the fact that I was growing very rapidly, and my 
clothes, besides being rather shabby, were somewhat too small 
for me. Another drawback was that our residence at any 
place was too short to become really at home with these 
passing friends. I was therefore left mostly to the compan- 
ionship of our own temporary pupil, and he, like the majority 
of the young men I met at this period of my life, was by no 
means an edifying acquaintance. Sporting newspapers, which 
were then far grosser than they are now, were, so far as I 
remember, his chief reading, and he had a stock of songs and 
recitations of the lowest and most vicious type, with which he 
used occasionally to entertain me and any chance acquaint- 
ances. There was one paper which I used very frequently to 
see about this time, and which I think must have been taken at 
most of the country inns we frequented. It was called, if I 
remember rightly. The Satirist, and was full of the very gross- 
est anecdotes of well-known public characters, trials for the 
most disgraceful offences reported in all their details, and full 
accounts of prize-fights, which were then very common. It 
was a paper of a character totally unknown now, and as it no 
doubt reflected the ideas and pandered to the tastes of a very 
considerable portion of the public in all classes of society, it 
is not very surprising that most of the young men of the 
middle classes that came across my path should have been 
rather disreputable in conversation, though, perhaps, not 
always so in character. 

But, notwithstanding that I was continually thrown into 
such society from the time I left school, I do not think it 
produced the least bad effect upon my character or habits in 
after-life. This was partly owing to natural disposition, 
which was reflective and imaginative, but more perhaps to the 
quiet and order of my home, where I never heard a rude word 
or an offensive expression. The effect of this was intensified 
by my extreme shyness, which made it impossible for me to 
use words or discuss subjects which were altogether foreign 


to my home-life, as a result of which I have never been able 
to use an oath, although I have frequently felt those impulses 
and passions which in many people can only find adequate 
expression in such language. This, I think, is a rather strik- 
ing example of the effects of home influence during childhood, 
and of that kind of education on which Robert Owen depended 
for the general improvement of character and habits. 



It was some time in May or June of 1838 that we left Turvey 
for Silsoe, where my brother had some temporary work. I 
walked there, starting very early — I think about four or five 
in the morning; and a few miles from the village a fine fox 
jumped over a bank into the road a few yards in front of me, 
trotted quietly over, and disappeared into a field or copse on 
the other side. Never before or since have I seen a wild fox 
so near or had such a good view of one. I breakfasted at 
Bedford, and then walked to Silsoe. 

This very small village is an appanage of Wrest Park, the 
seat of Earl de Grey, and is about halfway between Luton 
and Bedford. It consisted of a large inn with a considerable 
posting business, a few small houses, cottages, and one or two 
shops, and, like most such villages, it is no larger to-day than 
it was then. We boarded at the inn kept by a Mr. Carter, 
whose wife and two daughters, nice, well-educated people, 
took an active part in the management. At this time it was 
very full of visitors in consequence of the work of building a 
fine new mansion then in progress and nearing completion. 
The architect and his clerk of the works were usually there, 
as was Mr. Brown, a nephew of the agent, and the lively 
young gentleman, Mr. A., who had been with us at Barton. 
Besides these, there were others who came for short periods, 
among whom I particularly remember a grave middle-aged 
man in black, whose conversation with my brother showed 
literary tastes and good education which caused me to be 
much surprised when I learned that he was there solely to 
make the working drawings for the handrails of the principal 
staircase, and to superintend their proper execution. I re- 



member hearing this gentleman speaking in praise of James 
Silk Buckingham as one of the most remarkable men and 
prolific writers of the day. Some six years later, I think, I 
heard a lecture in London by J. S. Buckingham on some of 
his travels, and the impression made upon me then was, and 
still is, that he was the best lecturer I ever heard, the most 
fluent and interesting speaker. 

Our work here was mainly copying maps or making sur- 
veys connected with the estate, and for this purpose we had 
the use of a small empty house nearly opposite the inn, where 
a large drawing-table and a few chairs and stools were all the 
furniture we required. Here we used sometimes to sit of a 
summer's evening with one or two friends for privacy and 
quiet conversation, Mr. Clephan,. the architect, and his clerk 
being our most frequent companions. My brother supplied 
them with gin-and-water and pipes, and I sat by reading a 
book or listening to their discourse. Sometimes they would 
tell each other stories of odd incidents they had met with, or 
discuss problems in philosophy, science, or politics. When 
jovially inclined, the architect's clerk would sing songs, many 
of which were of such an outrageously gross character that 
my brother would beg him to be more cautious so as not to 
injure the morals of youth. At one time, when Mr. Clephan 
was away, there was a fire at a farm quite near us which 
burnt some stacks and outbuildings, and caused considerable 
excitement in the village. We only heard of it early in the 
morning, when the local fire-engine had at length succeeded 
in putting it out. My brother wrote an account of this to 
Mr. Clephan, with humorous descriptions of the sayings and 
doings of the chief village characters, and, in reference to 
what we saw when it was nearly all over, he said, " It could 
best be described in a well-known line from the Latin gram- 
mar, * Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens cui lumen 
ademptum,' which might be freely rendered, * a horrid shape- 
less mass whose glim the engines dowse." He used to show 
me any letters he thought might interest me, and this " free 
translation " took my schoolboy fancy so that it has stuck in 
my memory. 



One day, having to drive over to Dunstable on some busi- 
ness, my brother took me with him. When there, we walked 
out to a deep cutting through the chalk about a mile to the 
north-west, where the road was being improved by further 
excavation to make the ascent easier. This was the great 
mail-coach road to Birmingham and Holyhead, and although 
the railway from London to Birmingham was then making 
and partly finished, nobody seemed to imagine that in twelve 
years more a railway would be opened the whole distance, 
and, so far as the mails and all through traffic were concerned, 
all such costly improvement of the high-roads would be quite 

My brother had some conversation with the engineer who 
was inspecting the work, and took a lump of chalk home with 
him to ascertain its specific gravity, as to which there was 
some difference of opinion. While taking luncheon at the 
hotel we met a gentleman of about my brother's age, who 
turned out to be a surveyor, and who was also interested in 
engineering and science generally; and after luncheon they 
borrowed a small pair of scales and a large jug of water, and 
by suspending the chalk by a thread below the scale-pan, they 
weighed it in water, having first weighed it dry in the ordinary 
way, and the weight in air, divided by the difference between 
the weights in air and water, gives the specific gravity suffi- 
ciently near for ordinary purposes. This little experiment 
interested me greatly, and made me wish to know something 
about mechanics and physics. Mr. Matthews lived at Leigh- 
ton Buzzard, where he carried on the business of watch-and- 
clock maker as well as that of engineer and surveyor. He 
had undertaken the survey of the parish of Soulbury, but 
having too much other work to attend to, he was looking out 
for someone to take it off his hands. This matter was soon 
agreed upon, and a few weeks afterward we left Silsoe to 
begin the work. 

The village of Soulbury is a very small one, though the 
parish is rather large. It is only three miles from Leighton, 
and we obtained accommodation in the school-house, a rather 
large red-brick house, situated at the further end of the vil- 


lage, where three roads met. It was occupied only by the 
schoolmaster and his sister, who kept house for him, so we had 
the advantage of a little society in a rather lonely place. 
They were both young people and fairly educated, but, as I 
thought even then, rather commonplace. The chief business 
of the village girls hereabouts was straw-plaiting, which they 
did sitting at their cottage doors, or walking about in the 
garden or in the lanes near, which therefore did not interfere 
with their getting fresh air and healthy exercise, as do all 
forms of factory work. Now, owing to cheap imported plait, 
the only work is in hat and bonnet-sewing, which involves 
indoor work, and is therefore less healthy as a constant occu- 

The district was rather an interesting one. The parish 
was crossed about its centre by the small river Ouzel, a 
tributary of the Ouse, bordered by flat verdant meadows, 
beyond which the ground rose on both sides into low hills, 
which to the north-east reached five hundred feet above the 
sea, and being of a sand formation, were covered with heaths 
and woods of fir trees. Parallel with the river was the Grand 
Junction Canal, which at that time carried all the heavy goods 
from the manufacturing districts of the Midlands to London. 
Following the same general direction, but about half a mile 
west on higher ground, the London and Birmingham Railway 
was in course of construction, a good deal of the earthwork 
being completed, most of the bridges built or building, and 
the whole country enlivened by the work going on. 

At the same time the canal had been improved at great 
cost to enable it to carry the increased trade that had been 
caused by the rapid growth of London and the prosperity 
of agriculture during the early portion of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. About thirty miles further on the watershed between 
the river-basins of the Ouse and Severn had to be crossed, a 
district of small rainfall and scanty streams, from which the 
iwhole supply of the canal, both for its locks as well as for 
evaporation and leakage, had to be drawn. Whenever there 
was a deficiency of water here to float the barges and fill the 
locks, traffic was checked until the canal filled again ; and this 



had become so serious that, for a considerable portion of the 
canal, it had been found necessary to erect steam-engines to 
pump up the water at every lock from the lower to the higher 
level. Sometimes there were two, three, or more locks close 
together, and in these cases a more powerful engine was 
erected to pump the water the greater height. Up to this 
time I had never seen a steam-engine, and therefore took the 
greatest interest in examining these both at rest and at work. 
They had been all erected by the celebrated firm of Boulton 
and Watt, and were all of the low-pressure type then in use, 
with large cylinders, overhead beam, and parallel motion, but 
each one having its special features, the purport of which was 
explained to me by my brother, and gave me my first insight 
into some of the more important applications of the sciences 
of mechanics and physics. 

Of course at that time nobody foresaw .the rapid develop- 
ment of railways all over the country, or imagined that they 
could ever compete with canals in carrying heavy goods. 
Yet within two years after the completion of the line to 
Birmingham, the traffic of the canal had decreased to 1,000,000 
tons, while it was 1,100,000 tons in 1837. Afterwards it 
began slowly to rise again, and had reached 1,627,000 tons 
in 1900, an exceedingly small increase as compared with that 
of the railway. And this increase is wholly due to local 
traffic between places adjacent to the canal. 

In the northern part of the parish, which extends nearly 
to the village of Great Brickhill, were some curious dry valleys 
with flat bottoms, and sides clothed with fir woods, a kind of 
country I had not yet seen, and which impressed me as showing 
some connection between the geological formation of the 
country and its physical features, though it was many years 
later when, by reading Lyell's " Principles of Geology," I 
first understood why it should be so. Another interesting 
feature of the place, which no one then saw the significance 
of, was a large mass of hard conglomerate rock, or pudding- 
stone, which lay in the centre of the spot where the three 
roads met in front of the house where we lodged. It was 
roughly about a yard in diameter and about the same height, 


and had probably at some remote period determined the posi- 
tion of the village and the meeting-point of the three roads. 
Being a kind of rock quite different from any found in that 
part of England, it was probably associated with some legend 
in early time, but it is in all probability a relic of the ice-age, 
and was brought by the glacier or ice-sheet that at one time 
extended over all midland England as far as the Thames 
valley. But at this time not a single British geologist knew 
anything about a glacial epoch, it being two years later, in 
1840, when Louis Agassiz showed Dr. Buckland such striking 
indications of ice-action in Scotland as to convince him of the 
reality of such a development of glaciers in our own country 
at a very recent period. 

When we had completed our field-work, we moved into 
Leighton Buzzard, and lodged in the house of a tin~and- 
copper smith in the middle of the town, where we completed 
the mapping and other work of the survey. Our landlord 
was a little active man with black hair and eyes and dark 
complexion. He told us that whenever his trade was slack 
he could make small tin mugs at a penny each and earn a fair 
living, as there .was an inexhaustible demand for them. He 
was a very intelligent man, and he made the same objection 
to the success of the railway that had been made by many 
mechanics and engineers before him. This was, that the 
hold of the engine on the rails would not be sufficient to draw 
heavy trucks or carriages — that, in fact, the wheels would 
whizz round instead of going on, as they do sometimes now 
when starting a heavy train on greasy rails. He and others 
did not allow sufficiently for the weight of modern engines, 
which gives such pressure on the wheels as to produce ample 
friction or adhesion between iron and iron, though apparently 
smooth and slippery. This question used to be discussed in 
the old Mechanics' Magazine, and it was again and again 
declared that, however powerful engines were made, they 
would be unable to draw very heavy loads on account of the 
want of adhesion; and all kinds of suggestions were made to 
remedy this supposed difficulty, such as sprinkling sand in 



front of the wheels, making the tires rough Hke files, etc., all 
of which were found to be quite unnecessary, owing to the 
apparently unforeseen fact that as engines became more power- 
ful they became heavier. 

On the heath about a mile and a half north of Leighton 
there was a tumulus, and I was very anxious to know if there 
was anybody or thing buried under it. The whitesmith was 
equally interested, and he agreed to go with me some morning 
very early when we should not be likely to be interfered with. 
So we started one morning about five, with a couple of spades, 
and began digging straight down in the middle of the tumulus. 
It was light sandy soil, easy to move, and we dug a good large 
hole till we got down about five feet deep, which was the 
height of the barrow, and then, having found nothing whatever 
for our trouble, we filled the hole up again, laid on the turf 
and got back to breakfast, very tired, but glad to have done it, 
even though we had found nothing. 

Having finished our plans of Soulbury, and made the three 
copies needed with their books of reference, with some other 
odd work, my brother took me up to London on Christmas 
Eve, travelling by coach to Berkhampstead, and thence on to 
London by the railway, which had been just opened. We 
went third class for economy, in open trucks identical with 
modern goods trucks, except that they had hinged doors, but 
with no seats whatever, so that anyone tired of standing must 
sit upon the floor. Luckily it was mild weather, and the 
train did not go more than fifteen or twenty miles an hour, 
yet even at that pace the wind was very disagreeable. The 
next day we went home to Hoddesdon for a holiday. It had 
been settled that, as no more surveying work was in view, I 
should go back to Leighton to Mr. Matthews for a few months 
to see if I should like to learn the watch and clock-making 
business as well as surveying and general engineering; and as 
there seemed to be nothing else available I did so. 

Mr. William Matthews was a man of about thirty. He 
had been married two years, and had a little girl under a year 


old. Both he and Mrs. Matthews were pleasant people, and 
I felt that I should be comfortable with them. He had been 
partly educated under Mr. Bevan, a civil engineer of some 
reputation, who had made experiments on the strength of 
materials, the holding power of glue and nails, etc, and had 
invented an improved slide-rule. My brother had one of 
these rules, which we found very useful in testing the areas 
of fields, which at that time we obtained by calculating the 
triangles into which each field was divided. To check these 
calculations we used the slide-rule, which at once showed if 
there were any error of importance in the result. This inter- 
ested me, and I became expert in its use, and it also led me to 
the comprehension of the nature of logarithms, and of their 
use in various calculations. Mr. Matthews had also charge 
of the town gas-works, which involved some knowledge of 
practical chemistry, and a good deal of mechanical work. I 
spent about nine months in his house, and during that time 
learnt to take an ordinary watch to pieces, clean it properly, 
and put it together again, and the same with a clock; to do 
small repairs to jewelry ; and to make some attempts at engrav- 
ing initials on silver. I also saw the general routine of gas 
manufacture; but hardly any surveying, which was the work 
I liked best. I was, therefore, very glad when circumstances, 
not connected with myself, put an end to the arrange- 

Mr. Matthews received the offer of a partnership on very 
favourable terms in an old-established wholesale watchmaking 
firm in the city of London. Although he would have much 
preferred the more varied interests of a country life, he could 
not give up the certainty of a good income with prospect of 
increase, and thus be able to provide for his wife and family. 
Fortunately, about the same time my brother had engaged to 
go to Kington, in Herefordshire, to assist the Messrs. Sayce, 
with whom he had been articled, and who had a large busi- 
ness in the surrounding districts. 

A younger brother of Mr. Matthews, who was an amateur 
chemist, was to take over the management of the gas-works, 
and this led to a thorough overhauling of the whole plant, 



including the mains and street lamps, so that everything should 
be handed over in good working order; and though I had 
generally to mind the shop while the master was away, I heard 
every detail discussed in the evening, and sometimes went out 
with them after closing hours, to examine some street lamp 
or house connection that showed indication of a leak or 
water stoppage. Before quitting this episode in my early life, 
I may just note that in after years we became almost neigh- 
bours, first in North-West London, and afterwards at Godal- 
ming, and kept up a neighbourly friendship for many 

A son, William Matthews, jun., was brought up to watch- 
making, with the prospect of succeeding his father as head 
of the London firm; but the business was distasteful to him, 
and when he came of age he entered the office of a building 
surveyor. But the strain of London life, and an insatiable 
love of work when work was to be had, undermined his health 
and he died in middle age. Mr. Matthew^s himself was also 
an example of an intelligent man with considerable ability 
entirely lost in the narrow round of a small old-fashioned city 
business, which absorbed all his energies, and, combined with 
the habit of excessive snuff-taking, affected both his mental 
faculties and his physical health. I am, therefore, thankful 
that circumstances allowed me to continue in the more varied, 
more interesting, and more healthful occupation of a land- 

This may be considered the first of several turning-points 
of my life, at which, by circumstances beyond my own con- 
trol, I have been insensibly directed into the course best 
adapted to develop my special mental and physical activities. 
It was the death at this particular period of the senior partner 
in the city watchmaking firm, and his having offered to Mr. 
Matthews the opportunity of being his successor on exceed- 
ingly advantageous terms, that prevented me from becoming 
a mechanical tradesman in a country town, by which my life 
would almost certainly have been shortened and my mental 
development stunted by the monotony of my occupation. If 
I had completed the year with Mr. Matthews, I should have 


been formally apprenticed to him ; and if he had gone into the 
city business afterwards, I should either have been passed 
over to his successor at Leighton, or my training would have 
been completed in London. This latter, though perhaps bet- 
ter financially, would have been far worse for me mentally 
and physically, since this wholesale business was the most 
monotonous and mechanical possible, as I learned some years 
afterwards when I visited the London office. To my surprise 
I then found that the business, which brought in a clear profit 
of about ii200 a year, had no factory, no machinery, no sign 
of watchmaking except in a very small room behind the office, 
where a single workman examined and tested the various 
portions of the watches as they were brought in by outside 
piece-workers, the whole business being thus carried on in 
two small rooms in Bunhill Row. The movements of the 
watches dealt in were purchased in Coventry, where the various 
kinds in general use were designed, the separate parts cast, 
machine-cut, and filed to their proper gauges, and put together. 
The mainsprings and balance-springs, chains, hands, dials, 
and cases were usually purchased separately; and for each 
class of watch a fitter was employed, whos ^ business it was to 
put the parts together, find out any small defects, and correct 
them by hand, while any larger defect in any particular part 
was sent back to the workman or manufacturer responsible 
for it. The man at the office made a final examination of the 
completed watches, tested their performance, corrected any 
minute defect that was discoverable, and finally, in consulta- 
tion with one of the firm, determined the grade or quality of 
the watch and the consequent price. What I should have 
learnt there would have been how to fit a watch together, how 
to test it for definite defects, how to judge of the design and 
workmanship, how to keep accounts, pay the workmen, and 
probably to act as a traveller for the firm. But even if my 
health would have stood the office-work I should never have 
succeeded as a man of business, for which I am not fitted by 
nature. I rather think that this particular firm was the last 
which carried on business in so old-fashioned a way, as the 
good-will was, I believe, sold some thirty years later, when 

138 MY LIFE 

Mr. Matthews retired. My short experience as a shopboy 
and watchmaker, and the association with a man of Mr. 
Matthews's extensive knowledge in certain departments of 
mechanics and engineering, no doubt helped in the all-round 
development of my character, although I did not learn any- 
thing of much practical use in my after-life. 



In the autumn of 1839 my brother came to Leighton to take 
me away, and in a day or two we started for Herefordshire, 
going by the recently opened railroad to Birmingham, where 
we visited an old friend of my brother's, a schoolmaster, whose 
name I forget, and who I remember showed us with some 
pride how his school was warmed by hot-water pipes, then 
somewhat unusual. We then went on by coach through Wor- 
cester to Kington, a small town of about two thousand in- 
habitants, only two miles from the boundary of Radnor- 
shire. It is pleasantly situated in a hilly country, and has a 
small stream flowing through it. Just beyond the county 
boundary, on the road to Old and New Radnor, there is an 
isolated craggy hill called the Stanner Rocks, which, being 
a very hard kind of basalt very good for road-metal, was 
being continually cut away for that purpose. It was covered 
with scrubby wood, and was the most picturesque object in 
the immediately surrounding country. 

We obtained board and lodging at the house of a gun- 
maker, Mr. Samuel Wright, a jolly little man, who reminded 
me of the portrait of the immortal Mr. Pickwick, and who, on 
account of his rotundity, was commonly known in the town as 
Alderman Wright. Mrs. Wright was, on the contrary, very 
thin and angular. They were equally different in their char- 
acters; he was very slow of speech, but very fond of telling 
stories of his early life, usually very commonplace, and told in 
such a way as to be dreadfully wearisome. After every few 
words he would stop, to let them sink in, then utter a few more 
with another stop, and all mixed up with so many " says I's " 
and " says he's," and " that's to say's," and little digressions 
about other people, that it was usually impossible to make out 



what he was driving at. Mrs. Wright, on the other hand, was 
a great and rather voluble talker, and she would often inter- 
pose with, " Now, Samiwell, you don't tell that right," and, of 
course, that would only lengthen out the story. She was a very 
active woman, a great scrubber and cleaner, and unusually 
fond of fresh air; but these good qualities were sometimes 
inconvenient, as we all sat in a small room behind the shop, 
which had three or four doors in it, which we usually found 
open, and had to shut every time we came in. There was, 
in fact, such a constant draught in this room that I jokingly 
suggested a small windmill being put up, which might be 
used to grind coffee, but she always said that it was the 
warmest room in the house. Mr. Wright also seemed to 
enjoy fresh air and water to an unusual degree in those days, 
for early every morning, winter and summer, he would come 
down undressed into his little back yard, and there pour cold 
water all over his body, then scrub himself with a rough 
towel, put on his underclothing, and return upstairs to finish 
his toilet. But Mrs. Wright was an excellent cook, and 
gave us very good meals, and the alderman was very good- 
natured, let me look on while he cleaned and repaired guns, 
and once, when I went with some friends to shoot young 
rooks, he lent me an excellent double-barrelled gun for the 
occasion; and these good qualities made up for the little 
eccentricities of both of them, who, though so different in 
some respects, were evidently very attached to each other, 
and never quarrelled. Mrs. Wright used to be fond of saying 
how dreadful it would be if Samiwell should die first after 
they had lived together so many years. 

Our employers, two brothers, were also well-contrasted 
characters. The elder, Mr. Morris Sayce, was a rather tall, 
grey-haired man of serious aspect and rather silent and un- 
communicative manner. He, I believe, devoted himself 
chiefly to valuations and estate agency. The younger partner, 
Mr. William Sayce, was a small, active, dark-haired man, 
rather talkative and fond of a joke, and as he attended to the 
surveying business, we saw most of him, and found him a 
pleasant superior. Both were married and had families of 


grown-up sons and daughters. They were very hospitable, 
and we were several times invited to dine or to evening 
parties at their houses, where we met some of the chief people 
in the town. 

The offices were situated in a small house in a rather nar- 
row street, the ground-floor being occupied by the partners* 
private office and a clerk's room, while a large room above 
was the chief map-drawing room, containing a large table 
ten or twelve feet long by five or six wide, used for mounting 
drawing paper on canvas for large maps, with some smaller 
tables and desks, while other rooms were used chiefly for 
writing or store-room.s. There were a good many employes 
besides ourselves. The chief draughtsman and head of the 
office in the absence of the principals was named Stephen 
Pugh, a thorough Welshman in appearance and speech, and 
a very pleasant and good-natured man, rather fond of poetry 
and general literature. The next marked character was a 
rather tall Irishman, a surveyor, who had the unconscious 
humour of his race, and was besides looked upon as somewhat 
of a philosopher. One evening, I remember, after work was 
over at the office, he undertook to give us an address on 
Human Nature or some such subject, which consisted of a 
rather prosy exposition of the ideas of Aristotle and the 
mediaeval schoolmen on human physiology, without the least 
conception of the science of the subject at the time he was 
speaking. There were also a copying clerk, and two or three 
articled pupils, one or two about my own age, who helped to 
keep the office lively. In a solitary letter, accidentally pre- 
served, written at this time to my earliest friend, George Silk, 
I find the following passage which well expresses the pleasure 
I felt in getting back to land-surveying: 

I think you would like land-surveying, about half in- 
doors and half outdoors work. It is delightful on a fine 
summer's day to be (literally) cutting all over the country, 
following the chain and admiring the beauties of nature, 
breathing the fresh and pure air on the hills, or in the noontide 
heat enjoying our luncheon of bread-and-cheese in a pleasant 
valley by the side of a rippling brook. Sometimes, indeed, it 

142 MY LIFE 

is not quite so pleasant on a cold winter's day to find yourself 
on the top of a bare hill, not a house within a mile, and 
the wind and sleet chilling you to the bone. But it is all 
made up for in the evening; and those who are in the house 
all day can have no idea of the pleasure there is in sitting 
down to a good dinner and feeling hungry enough to eat plates, 
dishes, and all." 

Although he was at least ten years older than myself, 
Stephen Pugh was my most congenial friend in the office. 
When I was away surveying, and for a year or two after we 
had left Kington altogether, he and I used to correspond, and 
often wrote rhymed letters, which were, of course, very poor 
doggerel. I have, however, always kept in my memory a 
portion of one of Pugh's letters, partly perhaps on account of 
its extravagant flattery of my attempts at verse, though I 
always knew that I had no poetic faculty whatever. The 
letter began by describing what each one in the office was 
doing just as work was over one evening, with characteristic 
remarks on the idiosyncrasy of each ; it then went on : 

"The board was covered o'er with canvas white, 
And looked Llyn Glwdy on a moonlight night, 

When to my hand there came what could be better 
Than your poetic, wise, and humorous letter. 
Like that good angel mentioned by Saint John 
Who ope'd seven seals, I quickly opened one, 
And glancing o'er the page found to my joy 
Spontaneous poetry without alloy. 
The youth, cried I, who built this lofty rhyme 
Will be remembered to the end of time, 
And countless generations yet unborn 
Will read his verse upon a summer's morn, 
And think of him in that peculiar way 
We think of Byron in the present day," etc. 

Some time during the winter I went alone to correct an 
old map of the parish of New Radnor. This required no 
regular surveying, but only the insertion of any new roads, 
buildings, or divisions of fields, and taking out any that had 
been cleared away. As these changes are not numerous and 


the new fences were almost always straight lines, it was easy 
to mark on the map the two ends of such fences by measur- 
ing from the nearest fixed point with a ten or fifteen-link 
measuring-rod, and then drawing them in upon the plan. 
Sometimes the direction was checked by taking an angle 
with the pocket sextant at one or both ends, where one of 
these could not be seen from the other. As the whole plan 
was far too large to be taken into the field, tracings were 
made of portions about half a mile square, which were 
mounted on stiff paper or linen, and folded up in a loose 
cover for easy reference. In this way a whole parish of 
several thousand acres could be examined and corrected in 
a week or two, especially in a country like Wales, where, 
from a few elevated points, large tracts could be distinctly 
seen spread out below, and any difference from the old map 
be easily detected. I liked this kind of work very much, 
as I have always been partial to a certain amount of solitude, 
and am especially fond of rambling over a country new 
to me. 

New Radnor, though formerly a town of some importance, 
was then, and I believe is still, a mere village, and a poor one, 
Presteign being the county town. It is situated on the 
southern border of Radnor Forest, a tract of bare mountains 
about twenty square miles in extent, the highest point being 
a little over two thousand feet above the sea. Over a good 
deal of this country I wandered for about a week, and enjoyed 
my work very much. One day, when I had a little time to 
spare, I went a mile or two out of my way to see a rather 
celebrated waterfall, called Water-break-its-neck. I de- 
scended into the valley and walked down it, as I knew the fall 
was on one side of it in a small lateral valley, but owing to 
the glare of the afternoon sun, I did not see the opening 
in the shadow, and came down to the end of the valley. 
But I determined to see it, so turned back as fast as I 
could, and soon found it just out of sight, owing to a curve 
of the lateral valley. It must be a fine fall when the stream is 
full, as it then probably shoots out clear of the rock. But 
when I saw it there was only a film of water covering the 



surface of the rock from top to bottom. This surface is 
formed by the regular weathering of slaty beds in fine layers ; 
the upper part curves downward, but the lower half is very 
nearly or quite vertical and of considerable width, and the 
whole fall, as seen from near the foot of it, is perhaps sixty 
feet high. In the valley above this fall is another somewhat 
more irregular, but I had not time to see this, as it was getting 
dark when I turned homewards. 

The little inn at which I stayed was very quiet and com- 
fortable. The landlord and his wife were both quiet and 
refined-looking people, not the least like the ordinary type 
of innkeepers. In the evening I sat with them in a parlour 
where friends and a superior class of visitors only were 
admitted ; and while I was there the district exciseman lodged 
in the house while making his rounds among the surrounding 
villages. He was a brisk and intelligent man, and was in no 
way treated as an enemy, but rather as a confidential friend. 
One evening when he and the host with myself were alone 
together, something brought up the names of Heloise and 
Abelard, whereupon the exciseman told us the whole story 
of these unfortunate lovers in a way that showed he was well 
acquainted with their correspondence, from which he quoted 
some of the more interesting passages, apparently verbatim, 
and with sympathetic intonation. This is the only occasion 
on which I have heard the subject dealt with in conversation, 
or, in fact, any similar subject in a village inn and between 
landlord and exciseman. 

Early the next year, I think about February, my brother 
and I went to do some surveying at Rhaidr-Gwy (now more 
commonly called Rhayader), a small town in Radnorshire on 
the Upper Wye, and only fifteen miles from its source in the 
Plynlymmon range. A young man from Carmarthenshire 
came to us here to learn surveying. He was one of the very 
loose young men with whom I was often associated, and I 
think as regards the filthiness of his language and of the 
stories with which he used frequently to regale us he sur- 


passed all. However, he was in other respects a pleasant 
companion, being quite unconscious that his conversation was 
not appreciated, and to him I probably owe my life. One 
day, I think on a Sunday afternoon, we were walking together 
up a rocky and boggy valley, which extended some miles to 
the west of the town. As we were strolling along, picking our 
way among the rocks and bog, I inadvertently stepped upon 
one of those small bog eyeholes which abound in such places, 
and are very dangerous, being often deep enough to swallow 
up a man, or even a horse. One leg went in suddenly up to 
the hip, and I fell down, but fortunately with my other leg 
stretched out upon the surface. I was, however, in such a 
position that I could not rise, and had I been alone my efforts 
to extricate myself might easily have drawn my whole body 
into the bog, as I could feel no bottom to it. But my com- 
panion easily pulled me out, and we walked home, and thought 
little of it. It had, however, been a hard frost for some time, 
and the mud was ice-cold, and after a few days I developed a 
bad cough with loss of appetite and weakness. The local doctor, 
John Henry Heaton by name, was a friend of ours, and he gave 
me some medicine, but it did no good, and I got worse and 
worse, with no special pain, but with a disgust of food, and 
for more than a week I ate nothing but perhaps a small biscuit 
each day soaked in tea without milk, though always before 
and since I greatly disliked tea without milk. At length the 
doctor got frightened, and told my brother that he could do 
nothing for me, and that he could not be answerable for my 
life. He added that he knew but one man who could save me, 
a former teacher of his. Dr. Ramage, who was the only man 
who could cure serious lung disease, though he was consid- 
ered a quack by his fellow practitioners. 

As I got no better, a few days later we started for London. 
I think sleeping at Birmingham on the way. On going to 
Dr. Ramage, who tested my lungs, etc., he told my brother 
that he was just in time, for that in a week more he could 
probably not have saved me, as I had an extensive abscess 
of the lungs. His treatment was very simple but most effec- 
tive, and was the forerunner of that rational treatment by 



which it is now known that most lung diseases are curable. 
He ordered me to go home to Hoddesdon immediately, to 
apply half a dozen leeches to my chest at a place he marked 
with ink, and to take a bitter medicine he prescribed to give 
me an appetite; but these were only preliminaries. The 
essential thing was the use of a small bone breathing-tube, 
which he told us where to buy, and which I was to use three 
times a day for as many minutes as I could without fatigue; 
that I was to eat and drink anything I fancied, be kept 
warm, but when the weather was mild sit out-of-doors. I 
was to come back to him in a week. 

The effect of his treatment was immediate. I at once 
began to eat, and though I could not breathe through the 
tube for more than a minute at first, I was soon enabled to 
increase it to three and then to five minutes. It was con- 
structed with a valve so that the air entered freely, but passed 
out slowly so that it was kept in the lungs for a few seconds 
at each inspiration. When I paid my second visit to Dr. 
Ramage, he told me that I was getting on well, and need not 
come to him again, that I was to continue using the breath- 
ing-tube for five minutes three or four times a day. He also 
strongly advised me, now I saw the effect of deep and regular 
breathing, to practise breathing in the same way without the 
tube, and especially to do so when at leisure, when lying 
down, or leaning back in an easy-chair, and to be sure to fill 
my lungs well and breathe out slowly. " The natural food 
of the lungs," he said, " is fresh air. If people knew this, and 
acted upon it, there would be no consumption, no lung dis- 
ease." I have never forgotten this. I have practised it all 
my life (at intervals), and do so still, and I am sure that I 
owe my life to Dr. Ramage's treatment and advice. 

In about two months I was well again, and went back to 
Kington, and after a little office-work my brother and I went 
to the little village of Llanbister, near the middle of Radnor- 
shire, the nearest towns being Builth, in Breconshire, and 
Newtown, in Montgomeryshire, both more than twelve miles 
distant. This was a very large parish, being fifteen miles 


long, but I think we could only have corrected the old map 
or we should have been longer there than we really were. 
Here, also, we had a young gentleman with us for a month 
or two to practise surveying. He was, I think a Welshman, 
and a pleasant and tolerably respectable young man, but he 
had one dreadful habit — excessive smoking. I have never 
met a person so much a slave to the habit, and even if I had 
had any inclination to try it again after my first failure, his 
example would have cured me. 

He prided himself on being a kind of champion smoker, 
and assured us that he had once, for a wager, smoked a good- 
sized china teapot full of tobacco through the spout. He 
smoked several pipes of very strong tobacco during the day, 
beginning directly after breakfast, and any idle moments 
were occupied by smoking. The village being an excessively 
small one, and the population of the parish very scattered, 
there was only one public-house, where we were living, and 
the landlady went every week to market to lay in a stock of 
necessaries, including tobacco. One market day our friend 
found himself without tobacco, and on asking for some, was 
told there was none till the mistress came home in the even- 
ing. He was in despair; went to the only little village shop, 
but they did not keep it; to the two or three houses in the 
village, but none was to be found. He was the picture of 
misery all day; he could eat no dinner; he wandered about, 
saliva dropping from his mouth, and looking as if he were 
insane. The tobacco did not come till about seven in the 
evening. His relief was great and instantaneous, and after a 
pipe he was able to eat some supper. Had the tobacco not 
come he declared he would have died, and I believe he would 
have had a serious illness. This terrible slavery to the 
smoking habit gave the final blow to my disinclination to 
tobacco, which has been rendered more easy to me by my 
generally good appetite and my thorough enjoyment of 
appetizing food and drinks. Of the latter, I took beer and 
wine in moderation during the first fifty years of my life, 
after which period I became practically a total abstainer for 
special hygienic reasons ; and my own experience and observa- 



tion has led me to the conclusion that alcoholic drinks, taken 
constantly, are especially injurious in old age and shorten the 
lives of many persons. 

It was during this early period of my life that, on two 
occasions only, I exceeded the limits of moderation, and 
both were due to my youthful shyness and dislike of appear- 
ing singular in society. One of these was at a dinner at Mr. 
Sayce's, where the wine-drinking was especially prolonged, 
and when at last we left the table, I felt my head dizzy and 
my steps a little uncertain. The other was at Rhayader at a 
time when my brother was away, and Dr. Heaton and another 
friend were dining at the inn together with myself. At 
dinner the doctor ordered a bottle of port wine and filled my 
glass with the others. After dinner, the bottle being emptied, 
the doctor said, " One bottle is a very small allowance for 
three. Let's have another." Of course, the friend agreed, and 
I said nothing, and was too shy to make an excuse and leave 
the table. Of this bottle I tried, weakly, to refuse any share, 
but the doctor insisted on giving me half a glass each round; 
and when this bottle was empty, he ordered another, saying, 
" That's only one each," and I was compelled to have some 
of that too, but I drank as little as I could, and again felt 
very dizzy and uncomfortable. Before going the doctor said 
to the waiter, " We've had three bottles of port ; charge one 
to each of us." Of course, I dare not say a word ; and when 
our bill came in, and my brother saw the bottle of port wine 
charged which he had not ordered, he asked for an explana- 
tion, and when I told him the circumstances, he evidently 
thought I had done very wrong, but said nothing more about 
it, knowing, perhaps, the difficulties of a shy lad in the society 
of men. This little circumstance, perhaps more than any- 
thing else, led to my never again taking more wine than 
I felt inclined to take, and that was usually two or three 
glasses only. 

Before we left Llanbister my cousin, Percy Wilson, who 
was preparing for ordination after taking his degree at 
Oxford, came to stay a short time with us, and partly to see 
again the estate of Abbey-Cwm-Hir, which his father had 


purchased in the days of his prosperity and which was only 
a few miles distant, being, in fact, an adjoining parish. I 
and he walked over to see it one day, and found it to be 
situated in a lonely wild valley bounded by lofty and rather 
picturesque mountains. It was a small country house built 
by my uncle, partly from the heaped-up ruins of the ancient 
Cistercian monastery, the lower portion of the church still 
remaining, the walls having the remains of clustered columns 
attached to them. It would have made a charming summer 
residence in a few years, when the shrubs and trees had 
grown, and the whole surroundings had been somewhat 
modified by judicious planting, especially as Mr. Wilson had 
purchased, I believe, the entire estate, comprising the greater 
part of the parish, and including the whole valley and its 
surrounding mountains. 

Two pencil sketches by my brother, made in a surveyor's 
field-book while at this place, have been preserved and are 
here copied, as examples of his delicacy of touch and power 
of giving artistic effect to the simplest objects. The upper 
one is the village taken from the house we lodged in showing 
the low church at the end of the street, and the queer little 
house just opposite us, occupied then by the village shoemaker, 
but showing some architectural pretensions as compared with 
the usual cottages in a small Welsh village. The lower one is 
a small and lonely chapel in a remote part of the parish, to 
which the local builder has given character, while the dreary 
surroundings are well indicated in the sketch. 

When we had finished at Llanbister, we went about ten 
miles south to a piece of work that was new to me — the 
making of a survey and plans for the enclosure of common 
lands. This was at Llandrindod Wells, where there was 
then a large extent of moor and mountain surrounded by 
scattered cottages with their gardens and small fields, which, 
with their common rights, enabled the occupants to keep 
a horse, cow, or a few sheep, and thus make a living. All 
this was now to be taken away from them, and the whole 
of this open land divided among the landowners of the 


parish or manor in proportion to the size or value of their 
estates. To those that had much, much was to be given, 
while from the poor their rights were taken away; for 
though nominally those that owned a little land had some 
compensation, it was so small as to be of no use to them in 
comparison with the grazing rights they before possessed. 
In the case of all cottagers who were tenants or leaseholders, 
it was simple robbery, as they had no compensation whatever, 
and were left wholly dependent on farmers for employment. 
And this was all done — as similar enclosures are almost 
always done — under false pretences. The " General Enclosure 
Act " states in its preamble, " Whereas it is expedient to 
facilitate the enclosure and improvement of commons and 
other lands now subject to the rights of property which 
obstruct cultivation and the productive employment of labour, 
be it enacted," etc. But in hundreds of cases, when the 
commons, heaths, and mountains have been partitioned out 
among the landowners, the land remains as little cultivated 
as before. It is either thrown into adjacent farms as rough 
pasture at a nominal rent, or is used for game-coverts, and 
often continues in this waste and unproductive state for half 
a century or more, till any portions of it are required for 
railroads, or for building upon, when a price equal to that of 
the best land in the district is often demanded and obtained. 
I know of thousands of acres in many parts of the south of 
England to which these remarks will apply, and if this is not 
obtaining land under false pretences — a legalized robber)- of 
the poor for the aggrandizement of the rich, who were the 
law-makers — words have no meaning. 

In this particular case the same course has been pursued. 
While writing these pages a friend was staying at Llandrindod 
for his wife's health, and I took the opportunity of asking him 
what was the present condition of the land more than sixty 
years after its inclosure. He informs me that, by inquiries 
among old inhabitants, he finds that at the time nothing 
whatever was done except to enclose the portions allotted 
to each landlord with turf banks or other rough fencing; and 
that to this day almost all the great boggy moor, with the 

(Pencil sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1840) 


mountain slopes and summits, have not been improved in any 
way, either by draining, cultivation, or planting, but is still 
wild, rough pasture. But about thirty years after the en- 
closure the railway from Shrewsbury through South Wales 
passed through the place, and immediately afterwards a few 
villas and boarding-houses were built, and some of the enclosed 
land was sold at building prices. This has gone on year by 
year, and though the resident population is still only about 
2000, it is said that 10,000 visitors (more or less) come every 
summer, and the chief increase of houses has been for their 
accommodation. My friend tells me that, except close to the 
village and railway, the whole country which was enclosed — 
many hundreds of acres — is still bare and uncultivated, with 
hardly any animals to be seen upon it. Milk is scanty and 
poor, and the only butter is Cornish or Australian, so that 
the enclosure has not led to the supply of the simplest 
agricultural needs of the population. Even the piece of 
common that was reserved for the use of the inhabitants is 
now used for golf-links ! 

Here, then, as in so many other cases, the express purpose 
for which alone the legislature permitted the enclosure has 
not been fulfilled, and in equity the whole of the land, and the 
whole money proceeds of the sale of such portions as have 
been built upon, should revert to the public. The prices now 
realized by this almost worthless land, agriculturally, are enor- 
mous. In or near the village it sells for £1500 an acre, or even 
more, while quite outside these limits it is from £300 to £400. 
All this value is the creation of the community, and it has 
only been diverted to the pockets of private persons by false 
pretences. And to carry out this cruel robbery, how many of 
the poor have suffered? how many families have been reduced 
from comfort to penury, or have been forced to emigrate to 
the overcrowded towns and cities, while the old have been 
driven to the workhouse, have become law-created paupers? 

In regard to this fundamental question of land ownership 
people are so blinded by custom and by the fact that it is 
sanctioned by the law, that it may be well for a moment to set 
these entirely on one side, and consider what would have 


been the proper, the equitable, and the most beneficial mode 
of dealing with our common and waste lands at the time of 
the last general Enclosure Act in the early years of the reign 
of Queen Victoria. Considering, then, that these unenclosed 
wastes were the last remnant of our country's land over which 
we, the public, had any opportunity of free passage to breathe 
pure air and enjoy the beauties of nature; considering that 
these wastes, although almost worthless agriculturally, were 
of especial value to the poor of the parishes or manors in 
which they were situated, not only giving them pasture for 
their few domestic animals, but in some cases peat for fuel 
and loppings of trees for fences or garden sticks ; considering 
that an acre or two of such land, when enclosed and cultivated, 
would give them, in return for the labour of themselves and 
their families during spare hours, a considerable portion of 
their subsistence, would enable them to create a home from 
which they could not be ejected by the will of any landlord 
or employer, and would thus raise them at once to a con- 
dition of comparative independence and security, abolishing 
the terrible spectre of the workhouse for their old age, which 
now haunts the peasant or labourer throughout life, and is 
the fundamental cause of that exodus to the towns about 
which so much nonsense is talked; considering, further, that 
just in proportion as men rise in the social scale, these various 
uses of the waste lands become less and less vitally important, 
till, when we arrive at the country squire and great landowner, 
the only use of the enclosed common or moor is either to be 
used as a breeding ground for game, or to add to some of his 
farms a few acres of land at an almost nominal rent — con- 
sidering all these circumstances, and further, that those who 
perform what is fundamentally the most important and the 
most beneficial of all work, the production of food, should 
be able to obtain at least the necessaries of life by that 
work, and secure a comfortable old age by their own fireside 
— how would any lover of his country think that such lands 
ought to be dealt with in the best interests of the whole 
community ? 

Surely, that the very first thing to be done should be to 


provide that all workers upon the land, either directly or in- 
directly, should have plots of from one to five acres, in pro- 
portion to the amount of such waste and the needs of the 
inhabitants. The land thus allotted to be held by them in 
perpetuity, from the local authority, at a low rent such as any 
farmer would give for it as an addition to his farm. In 
cases where the amount of common land was very great in 
proportion to the population, some of the most suitable land 
might be reserved for a common pasture, for wood or fuel, 
or for recreation, and the remainder allotted to applicants from 
adjacent parishes where there was no common land. 

If it is asked, how are the various landowners and owners 
of manorial rights to be compensated? there are two answers, 
either of which is sufficient. The first is, that they would be 
fully compensated by the increased well-being of the com- 
munity around them. Whenever such secure holdings have 
been given by private owners — as in the cases of Lord Tolle- 
mache and Lord Carrington — pauperism has been abolished, 
and even poverty of any kind greatly diminished. And as 
landlords pay rates, and diminished rates mean increased 
value of farm land, and, therefore, increased rents, the land- 
lords would be more than compensated even in money's 
worth. Again, where it has been fairly tried, the surrounding 
large farmers, though at first violently opposed to such small 
holdings on the ground that they would make the labourers 
too independent, ultimately acknowledge that it greatly benefits 
them because it surrounds them with a permanent population 
o( good and experienced labourers, who are always ready at 
hay and harvest time to work for good wages, and thus save 
crops and secure them in the best condition when they might 
otherwise be deteriorated by delay, or totally lost for want of 
labour at the critical moment during a wet summer. Such a 
constant supply of labour benefits every farmer, abolishes 
to a large extent agricultural depression, and thus secures 
payment of the landlord's rents — again increasing the money 
value of his property. 

And if, notwithstanding these demonstrated benefits, 
landlords still claim their pound of flesh, the money value of 



public land, which only laws made by their own class have 
given them, we will make our counterclaim for the land- 
tax at 4^. in the pound, " on the full annual value," as 
solemnly agreed by Parliament when the various services 
due from landlords to the crown were abolished and the tax 
fixed at what was then considered a very low rate, in lieu of 
them. The last valuation made was in 1692, and, notwith- 
standing the continual increase in land values from that time, 
as well as the continual decrease in the purchasing power of 
money, the land-tax continued to be paid on that absurdly 
low valuation, which in the reign of George III. was made 
permanent. The arrears of land-tax now equitably due will 
amount to more than the value of all the agricultural land 
of our country at the present time, and as when public rights 
are in question there is no time limit, existing landlords 
would do well not to be too clamorous for their alleged 
rights of property, since it may turn out that those " rights " 
do not exist. 

Another thing that should be attended to in all such 
enclosures of waste land is the preservation for the people at 
large of rights of way over it in various directions, both to 
afford ample means of enjoying the beauties of nature and 
also to give pedestrians short cuts to villages, hamlets, or 
railway stations. One of the greatest blessings that might be 
easily attained if the land were resumed by the people to be 
held for the common good, would be the establishment of 
ample footpaths along every railway in the kingdom, with 
sufficient bridges or subways for safe crossing; and also 
(and more especially) along the banks of every river or 
brook, such paths to be diverted around any dwelling-house 
that may have gardens extending to the water's edge, all such 
paths to be made and kept in repair by the District Councils. 
Under the present system old paths are often closed, but we 
never hear of new ones being made, yet such are now more 
than ever necessary when most of our roads are rendered 
dangerous by motor-cars and cycles, and exceedingly dis- 
agreeable and unhealthy to pedestrians by the clouds of gritty 
dust continually raised by these vehicles. 


Returning now to the question of the rights of the people 
at large to a share in their native land, I would further point 
out that the enclosure of commons is only one of many acts 
of robbery that have been perpetrated by or for the landlords. 
If we go back no further than the reign of Henry VIII. we 
have the whole vast properties of the abbeys and monasteries 
confiscated by the king, and mostly given away to personal 
friends or powerful nobles, without any regard whatever to 
the rights of the poor. Most of these institutions took the 
place of our colleges, schools, and workhouses. The poor 
were relieved by them, and they served as a refuge for the 
wanderer and the fugitive. No provision was made for the 
fulfilment of these duties by the new owners, and the poor 
and needy were thus plundered and oppressed. Under the 
same king and his successors all the accumulated wealth of 
the parish churches, in gold and silver vessels, in costly 
vestments often adorned with jewels, in paintings by great 
masters, and in illuminated missals which were often priceless 
works of art, were systematically plundered, court favourites 
obtaining orders to sequestrate all such " popish ornaments," 
in a certain number of cases keeping the produce for them- 
selves, while in others they were sold for the king's benefit. 
The property thus stolen the Rev. A. Jessopp estimates to 
have been many times greater than the value of all the abbeys 
and monasteries of the kingdom! 

If we consider the nature of this long series of acts of 
plunder of the people's land and other property, we find in 
it every circumstance tending to aggravate the crime. It was 
robbery of the poor by the rich. It was robbery of the weak 
and helpless by the strong. And it had this worst feature 
that distinguishes robbery from mere confiscation — ^the plunder 
was divided among the robbers themselves. Yet again, it 
was a form of robbery specially forbidden by the religion of 
the robbers — a religion for which they professed the deepest 
reverence and of which they .considered themselves the special 
defenders. They read in what they called The Word of 
God, " Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay 
field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed 



alone in the midst of the earth ! " Yet this is what they were, 
and are, constantly striving for, not by purchase only, but by 
open or secret robbery. Again, they read in their holy book, 
" The land shall not be sold for ever : for the land is Mine 
and at every fiftieth year all land was to return to the family 
that had sold it, so that no one could keep land beyond the 
year of jubilee, the reason being that no man or family should 
be permanently impoverished by the misdeeds of his ancestors. 
But this part of the law they never obey. 

This all-embracing system of land-robbery, for which 
nothing is too great and nothing too small; which has 
absorbed meadow and forest, moor and mountain; which has 
appropriated most of our rivers and lakes and the fish that 
live in them; which often claims the very seashore and 
rocky coasts of our island home, fencing them off from the 
wayfarer who seeks the solace of their health-giving air and 
wild beauty, while making the peasant pay for his seaweed 
manure and the fisherman for his bait of shell-fish; which 
has desolated whole counties to replace men by sheep or 
cattle, and has destroyed fields and cottages to make a wilder- 
ness for deer and grouse; which has stolen the commons 
and filched the roadside wastes, which has driven the labour- 
ing poor into the cities, and has thus been the primary and 
chief cause of the lifelong misery, disease, and early death 
of thousands who might have lived lives of honest toil and 
comparative well-being had they been permitted free access 
to land in their native villages — it is the advocates and bene- 
ficiaries of this inhuman system who, when a partial restitu- 
tion of their unholy gains is proposed, are the loudest in 
their cries of " robbery " ! 

But all the robber>% all the spoliation, all the legal and 
illegal filching, has been on their side, and they still hold the 
stolen property. Th^y made laws to legalize their actions, 
and, some day, we, the people, will make laws which will not 
only legalize, but justify our process of restitution. It will 
justify it, because, unlike their laws, which always took from 
the poor to give to the rich — to the very class which made 
the laws — ours will only take from the superfluity of the rich. 


not to give to the poor or to any individuals, but to so 
administer as to enable every man to live by honest w^ork, to 
restore to the whole people their birthright in their native 
soil, and to relieve all alike from a heavy burden of unneces- 
sary and unjust taxation. This will be the true statesmanship 
of the future, and it will be justified alike by equity, by ethics, 
and by religion. 

In the few preceding pages I have expressed the opinions 
which have been gradually formed as the result of the 
experience and study of my whole life. My first work on the 
subject was entitled "Land Nationalization: its Necessity and 
its Aims," and was published in the year 1882 ; and this, 
together with the various essays. in the second volume of my 
" Studies Scientific and Social," published in 1900, may be 
taken as expressing the views I now hold, and as pointing 
out some of the fundamental conditions which I believe to be 
essential for the well-being of society. 

But at the time of which I am now writing such ideas never 
entered my head. I certainly thought it a pity to enclose 
a wild, picturesque, boggy, and barren moor, but I took it 
for granted that there was some right and reason in it, instead 
of being, as it certainly was, both unjust, unwise, and cruel. 
But the surveying was interesting work, as every trickling 
stream, every tree, every mass of rock or boggy waterhole, 
had to be marked on the map in its true relative position, 
as well as the various footpaths or rough cart-roads that 
crossed the common in various directions. 

At that time the medicinal springs, though they had been 
used from the time of the Romans, were only visited by a 
few Welsh or west of England people, and there was little 
accommodation for visitors, except in the small hotel where 
we lodged. One of our great luxuries here was the Welsh 
mutton fed on the neighbouring mountains, so small that a 
hind-quarter weighed only seven or eight pounds, but which, 
when hung a few days or a week, was most delicious eating. 
I agree with George Borrow in his praise of this dish. In 
his " Wild Wales " he says, " As for the leg of mutton it was 



truly wonderful ; nothing so good had I ever tasted in the 
shape of a leg of mutton. The leg of mutton of Wales beats 
the leg of mutton of any other country, and I had never 
tasted a Welsh leg of mutton before. Certainly I shall never 
forget that first Welsh leg of mutton which I tasted, rich but 
delicate, replete with juices derived from the aromatic herbs 
of the noble Berwyn mountain, cooked to a turn, and weigh- 
ing just four pounds." Well done, George Borrow! You 
had a good taste in ale and mutton, and were not afraid to 
acknowledge it. 



It was in the summer or early autumn of 1841 that we left 
Kington for the survey of a parish a few miles beyond the 
town of Brecon. As there was no coach communication, 
and the distance was only about thirty miles, we determined 
to walk, and having sent our luggage by coach or waggon, 
we started about sunrise, and after two hours' walking stopped 
at a nice-looking roadside public-house for breakfast. Our 
meal consisted of a large basin of bread-and-milk with half 
a pint of good ale in it, and sugar to taste, which had been 
recommended to my brother as the best thing to walk on. 
I certainly enjoyed it very much. We then walked on 
through the little town of Hay, and soon after midday had 
dinner at a village inn and a good rest, as the day was very 
hot and the roads hilly. In the afternoon I became very 
tired, and while we were still some miles from Brecon, I felt 
quite exhausted with the heat and fatigue. At length I 
became so faint that I had to lie down in the road to prevent 
myself from losing consciousness and falling down. How- 
ever, with the aid of repeated rests I struggled on, and we 
reached Brecon when it was nearly dark. 

The next morning I felt all right again, and as we started 
for our destination I was delighted with the grand view of 
the double-headed Beacons, the highest mountain in South 
Wales, which, though five miles away, seem to rise up abruptly 
into the clouds as viewed down the street by which we entered 
the town. On leaving the town we crossed a bridge over the 
little rocky stream, the Honddu, which here enters the Usk, 
and gives the Welsh name to the town of Brecon — Aber- 
honddu — aber meaning the confluence or meeting of waters. 




So, Aberystwith, which has retained its Welsh name, is situ- 
ated where the Httle river Ystwith enters the sea. While 
living in Radnorshire, where hardly any Welsh is spoken, I 
had begun to take an interest in the picturesque names which 
primitive people always give to localities. The first of these 
to which my attention was called by my brother was Llan- 
fihangel-nant-Melan, a village about ten miles west of King- 
ton, the name meaning " the Church of St. Michael on 
Melan's brook." So, Abbey-cum-hir is the Abbey in the 
long valley; while the celebrated Vale of Llangollen is, 
according to George Borrow, named after Collen, an ancient 
British hero who became Abbot of Glastonbury, but after- 
wards retired into the valley named after him. 

Our road lay along the north side of the valley of the Usk, 
but at some distance from the river, through a very pic- 
turesque country, crossing many small rivers, often looking 
down upon the river Usk, which I took special interest in 
as my native stream, here approaching its source, and with 
frequent views of the Beacons when nearer hills did not 
intervene to block the view. After a pleasant walk of about 
six miles we reached the tiny village of Trallong, the parish 
we had to survey, and obtained lodgings in the house of a 
shoemaker, where we were very comfortable for some months. 
The house was pleasantly situated about two hundred and 
fifty feet above the river, with an uninterrupted view to the 
south-east over woody hills of moderate height to the fine 
range of the Great Forest, culminating in the double peaks of 
the Beacons, which were seen here fully separated with the 
narrow ridge connecting them. At sunset they were often 
beautifully tinted, and my brother made a charming little 
water-colour sketch of them, which, with most of his best 
sketches, were placed in an album by my sister, and this was 
stolen or lost while she was moving in London. 

The family here were rather interesting. The father, a 
middle-aged man, could not speak a word of English. His 
grown-up sons, who helped in the shoemaking, spoke but 
little. The wife, however, a delicate woman and a great 
invalid, though having to do all the work of the household, 



spoke English very well, and told us that she preferred it to 
Welsh, because it was less tiring, the Welsh having so many 
gutturals and sounds which require an effort to pronounce 
correctly. There were also two little girls who went to the 
village school, and who spoke English beautifully as com- 
pared with our village children, because they had learnt it 
from the schoolmaster and their mother. Of course, the 
whole conversation in the house was in Welsh, and I picked 
up a few common words and phrases, and could understand 
others, though, owing to my deficiency in linguistic faculty, I 
never learnt to speak the language. 

The schoolmaster was an intelligent and well-educated man, 
and he often called in the evening to have a little conver- 
sation with my brother. But almost the only special fact 
I remember about him was his passion for cold water. Every 
morning of his life he walked to the river half a mile off to 
take a dip before breakfast, and in some frosty days in winter 
I often saw him returning when he had had to break the ice 
at the river's edge. 

I looked daily at the Beacons with longing eyes, and on a 
fine autumn day one of the shoemaker's sons with a friend or 
two and myself started off to make the ascent. Though less 
than six miles from us in a straight line, we had to take a 
rather circuitous course over a range of hills, and then up to 
the head of a broad valley, which took us within a mile of the 
summit, making the distance about ten miles. But the day 
was gloriously fine, the country beautiful, and the view from 
the top very grand ; while the summit itself was so curious as 
greatly to surprise me, though I did not fully appreciate 
its very instructive teaching till some years later, after I 
had ascended many other mountains, had studied Lyell's 
" Principles of Geology," and had fully grasped the modern 
views on sub-aerial denudation. As Breknockshire is com- 
paratively little known, and few English tourists make the 
ascent of the Beacons, a short account of them will be both 
interesting and instructive. 

The northern face of the mountain is very rocky and pre- 



cipitous, while on the southern and western sides easy slopes 
reach almost to the summit. The last few yards is, however, 
rather steep, and at the very top there is a thick layer of peat, 
which overhangs the rock a little. On surmounting this on 
the west side the visitor finds himself in a nearly flat triangular 
space, perhaps three or four acres in extent, bounded on the 
north by a very steep rocky slope, and on the other sides 
by steep but not difficult grass slopes. To the northeast he 
sees the chief summit about a quarter of a mile distant and 
nearly fifty feet higher, while connecting the two is a narrow 
ridge or saddle-back, which descends about a hundred feet in 
a regular curve, and then rises again, giving an easy access to 
the higher peak. The top of this ridge is only a foot or two 
wide and very steep on the northern slope, but the southern 
slope is less precipitous, and about a hundred yards down it 
there is a small spring where the visitor can get deliciously 
cold and pure water. The north-eastern summit is also 
triangular, a little larger than the other, and bounded by a 
very dangerous precipice on the side towards Brecon, where 
there is a nearly vertical slope of craggy rock for three or four 
hundred feet and a very steep rocky slope for a thousand, 
so that a fall is almost certainly fatal, and several such acci- 
dents have occurred, especially when parties of young men 
from Brecon make a holiday picnic to the summit. 

What strikes the observant eye as especially interesting 
is the circumstance that these two triangular patches, forming 
the culminating points of South Wales, both slope to the 
southwest, and by stooping down on either of them, and 
looking towards the other, we find that their surfaces corre- 
spond so closely in direction and amount of slope, that they 
impress one at once as being really portions of one con- 
tinuous mountain summit. This becomes more certain when 
we look at the whole mountain mass, of which they form a 
part, known as the " Fforest Fawr," or great forest of Breck- 
nock. This extends about twenty miles from east to west and 
ten or twelve miles from north to south ; and in every part of 
it the chief summits are from 2000 to 2500 feet high, while 
near its western end, about twelve miles from the Beacons, is 


the second highest summit, Van Voel, reaching 2632 feet. 
Most of these mountains have rounded summits which are 
smooth and covered with grassy or sedgy vegetation, but 
many of them have some craggy slopes or precipices on their 
northern faces. 

Almost the whole of this region is of the Old Red Sand- 
stone formation, which here consists of nearly horizontal 
strata with a moderate dip to the south; and the whole of 
the very numerous valleys with generally smooth and 
gradually sloping sides which everywhere intersect it, must 
be all due to sub-aerial denudation — that is, to rain, frost, and 
snow — the debris due to which is carried away by the brooks 
and rivers. The geologist looks upon the rounded summits of 
these mountains as indications of an extensive gently undu- 
lating plateau, which had been slowly raised above the surface 
of the lakes or inland seas in which they had been deposited, 
and subjected to so little disturbance that the strata remain 
in a nearly horizontal position. When from the summit of 
any of these higher mountains we look over the wide parallel 
or radiating valleys with the rounded grassy ridges, and con- 
sider that the whole of the material that once filled all these 
valleys to the level of the mountain-top has been washed away 
day by day and year by year, by the very same agencies that 
after heavy rain now render turbid every brooklet, stream, 
and river, usually so clear and limpid, we obtain an excellent 
illustration of how nature works in moulding the earth's 
surface by a process so slow as to be to us almost imper- 

This process of denudation is rendered especially clear to 
us by the singular formation of the twin summits of the Brecon 
Beacons. Here we are able, as it were, to catch nature at 
work. Owing to the rare occurrence of a nearly equal rate 
of denudation in four or five directions around this highest 
part of the original plateau, we have remaining for our 
inspection two little triangular patches of the original peat- 
covered surface joined together by the narrow saddle, as 
shown in the sketches opposite, showing a plan of the summits 
and a section through them to explain how accurately the two 



coincide in their slope with that of the original plateau. 
Every year the frost loosens the rock on the northern pre- 
cipices, every heavy rain washes down earth from the ridge, 
while the gentler showers and mists penetrate the soil to the 
rock surface, which they slowly decompose. Thus, year by 
year, the flat portion of the summits becomes smaller, and a 
few thousand years will probably suffice to eat them away 
altogether, and leave rocky peaks more like that of Snowdon. 
The formation, as we now find it, is, in my experience, unique 
— that is, a mountain-top presenting two small patches of 
almost level ground, evidently being the last remnant of the 
great rolling plateau, out of which the whole range has been 
excavated. Double-headed mountains are by no means 
uncommon, but they are usually peaked or irregular, and 
carved out of inclined or twisted strata. The peculiarity of 
the Beacons consists in the strata being nearly horizontal and 
undisturbed, while the rock formation is not such as usually 
to break away into vertical precipices. The original surface 
must have had a very easy slope, while there were no meteoro- 
logical conditions leading to great inequalities of weathering. 
The thick covering of peat has also aided in the result by 
preserving the original surface from being scored into gullies, 
and thus more rapidly denuded. 

After we had completed most of our work at Trallong we 
had to go further up the valley to Devynock. This is an 
enormous parish of more than twenty thousand acres, divided 
into four townships or chapelries, the two eastern of which, 
Maescar and Senni, we had to survey. In these mountain 
districts, however, we only surveyed those small portions 
where the new roads or new enclosures had been made, 
the older maps being accepted as sufficiently accurate for 
the large unenclosed areas of mountain land. We first went 
to Senni Bridge, where both districts terminate in the Usk 
valley ; but after a short time I went to stay in a little public- 
house at Senni in the midst of my work, while my brother 
stayed at Devynock or at Trallong, which latter was quite as 
near for half the work. 

(From a sketch by W. G. Wallace) 


On the other side of the river Usk there was a fine wooded 
rocky slope in which paths had been made near and above 
the river by some former resident owner, and this was a 
favourite walk on holidays. In the farmhouse adjacent a 
relative of the owner, a middle-aged man, who was apparently 
on the verge between eccentricity and madness, lived in retire- 
ment, and we heard a good deal of his strange ways, though 
they said he was quite harmless. He used to walk about a 
good deal with a pipe in his mouth and dressed in a game- 
keeper style, and he always stopped to make some remark, 
and then walked on without waiting for an answer. My 
brother made a rough pen-and-ink sketch of him, which has 
fortunately been preserved, and which is here reproduced, as 
it well represents his appearance and manner when meeting 
anyone. Some of his sayings were not only wild, but exceed- 
ingly coarse, others merely abrupt and strange. One day he 
would say, " Where's your pipe ? Don't smoke ? Then go 
home and begin if you want to be happy." Another time 
something like this, " Who are you ? Come to look after 
me? They say I'm mad, but I ain't. I'm here to enjoy 
myself. Do as I like." One time when he met my brother, 
after some such rigmarole as the above, he ended with, 
" Shave your head and keep your toe-nails cut, and you'll be 
all right." 

When I went up to Senni Street (Heol Senni, as it is 
called in Welsh) I greatly enjoyed wandering over the pretty 
valley which extended a long way into the mountains, flowing 
over nearly level meadows and with an unusually twisted 
course. This I found was so erroneously mapped, the 
numerous bends having been inserted at random as if of no 
importance, that I had to survey its course afresh. Above 
the village there were several lateral tributaries descending 
in deep woody dingles, often very picturesque, and these 
had usually one or more waterfalls in their course, or deep 
rocky chasms; and as these came upon me unexpectedly, and 
I had seen very few like them in Radnorshire, they were more 
especially attractive to me. 


One Sunday afternoon I walked up the valley and over 
a mountain-ridge to the head waters of the Llia river, one of 
the tributaries of the river Neath, to see an ancient stone, 
named Maen Llia on the ordnance map. I was much pleased 
to find a huge erect slab of old red sandstone nearly twelve 
feet high, a photograph of which I am able to give through 
the kindness of Miss Florence Neale of Penarth. These 
strange relics of antiquity have always greatly interested me, 
and this being the first I had ever seen, produced an impres- 
sion which is still clear and vivid. 

The people here were all thoroughly Welsh, but the land- 
lord of the inn, and a young man who lived with him, spoke 
English fairly well. Like most of the Welsh the landlord 
was very musical, and in the evenings he used to teach his 
little girl, about five years old, to sing, first exercising her in 
the notes, and then singing a Welsh hymn, which she followed 
with a tremendously powerful voice for so small a child. 
Her father was very proud of her, and said she would make 
a fine singer when she grew up. 

While here, and also at Trallong, I went sometimes to 
church or chapel in order to hear the Welsh sermons, and 
also the Welsh Bible well read, and I w^as greatly struck 
with the grand sound of the language and the eloquence and 
earnestness of the preachers. The characteristic letters of 
the language are the guttural ch, the dd pronounced soft 
as " udh," the // pronounced 11th." If the reader will 
endeavour to sound these letters he will have some idea of 
the effect of such passages as the following, when clearly 
and emphatically pronounced;. " Brenhin Brenhinoedd, ac 
Arglwydd Arglwyddi " ("King of Kings and Lord of 
Lords "). Again, Ac a ymddiddanodd a mi, gan ddywedyd. 
Tyred, mi a ddangosaf i ti briodasferch " ("And talked with 
me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride"). 
These are passages from Revelation, but the following verse 
from the Psalms is still grander and more impressive: — 

" Cyn g^vneuthur y mynyddoedd, a Uunio o honot y ddaear 
a'r byd; ti hefyd wyt Dduw, o dragywyddoldeb hyd drag>^- 
wyddoldeb " ("Before the mountains were brought forth, or 

(From a photograph by Miss Neale) 


ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from 
everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God"). 

The Welsh clergy are usually good readers and energetic 
preachers, and seem to enjoy doing full justice to their rich 
and expressive language, and even without being able to 
follow their meaning it is a pleasure to listen to them. 

Among the numerous Englishmen who visit Wales for busi- 
ness or pleasure, few are aware to what an extent this ancient 
British form of speech is still in use among the people, how 
many are still unable to speak English, and what an amount 
of poetry and legend their language contains. Some account 
of this literature is to be found in that very interesting book, 
George Borrow's " Wild Wales," and he claims for Dafydd 
ap Gwilym, a contemporary of our Chaucer, the position of 
"the greatest poetical genius that has appeared in Europe 
since the revival of literature." At the present day there are 
no less than twenty wxekly newspapers and about the same 
number of monthly magazines published in the Welsh lan- 
guage, besides one quarterly and two bi-monthly reviews. 
Abstracts of the principal Acts of Parliament and Parlia- 
mentary papers are translated into Welsh, and one book- 
seller, Messrs. Hughes and Son, of Wrexham, issue a list of 
more than three hundred Welsh books mostly published by 
themselves. Another indication of the wide use of the Welsh 
language and of the general education of the people, is the 
fact that the British and Foreign Bible Society now sell 
annually about 18,000 Bibles, 22,000 Testaments, and 10,000 
special portions (as the Psalms, the Gospels, etc.) ; while the 
total sale of the Welsh Scriptures during the last century has 
been millions. Considering that the total population of 
Wales is only about millions, that two counties, Pembroke- 
shire and Radnorshire, do not speak Welsh, and that the 
great seaports and the mining districts contain large numbers 
of English and foreign workmen, we have ample proof that 
the Welsh are still a distinct nation with a peculiar language, 
literature, and history, and that the claim which they are 
now making for home rule, along with the other great sub- , 
divisions of the British Islands, is thoroughly justified. 


Our two other indigenous Celtic languages, Gaelic and 
Irish, or Erse, appear to have a far less vigorous literary 
existence. I am informed by the Secretary of the National 
Bible Society of Scotland that about three thousand Bibles 
and a little more than two thousand Testaments are sold 
yearly. The number of people who habitually speak Gaelic 
is, however, less than a quarter of a million, and the language 
seems to be kept up in a literary sense more by a few educated 
students and enthusiasts than to supply the needs of the 

The Irish language is a form of Gaelic closely allied to 
that of Scotland, and there are still nearly a million people 
able to speak it, though only about one-tenth of that number 
use it exclusively. Owing to the prevalence of the Roman 
Catholic religion among the peasantry, very few copies of 
the Irish version of the Bible and Testament are now sold, 
and although the ancient literature was exceedingly rich and 
varied, any modern representative of it can hardly be said to 
exist. The strong vitality of the Welsh language as above 
sketched is therefore a very interesting feature of our country, 
and as it is undoubtedly suited to the genius of the people 
among whom it has survived, there seems to be no valid 
objection to its perpetuation. The familiar use of two 
languages does not appear to be in itself any disadvantage, 
while being able to appreciate and enjoy the literature of 
both must be a distinct addition to the pure intellectual 
pleasures of those who use them. 



After having- finished our work in Brecknockshire we 
returned to Kington for a few months, doing office-work and 
odd jobs of surveying in the surrounding country. Among 
these what most interested me was the country around Lud- 
low, in Shropshire, where there are beautiful valleys enclosed 
by steep low hills, often luxuriantly wooded, and watered by 
rapid streams of pure and sparkling water. I had by this 
time acquired some little knowledge of geology, and was 
interested in again being in an Old Red Sandstone country, 
which formation I had become well acquainted with in 
Brecknockshire, and which is so different from the Upper 
Silurian shales so prevalent in Radnorshire. In this country 
we were near the boundary of the two formations, and there 
were also occasional patches of limestone, and at every bit of 
rock that appeared during our work I used to stop a few 
moments to examine closely, and see which of the formations 
it belonged to. This was easily decided by the physical 
character of the rocks, which, though both varied consider- 
ably, had yet certain marked characteristics that distinguished 

One day we were at work in a park near a country house 
named " Whittern," and my brother took a pencil sketch of it 
in his field-book. Just as he was finishing it the owner came 
out and talked with him, and seeing he was something of an 
artist, went to the house and brought out a portfolio of 
drawings in sepia, by his daughter, of views in the park and 
in the surrounding country. These seemed to me exceed- 
ingly well done and effective, and, of course, my brother 
praised them, but, as I thought, only moderately, and as 




" very good work for an amateur." I reproduce his sketch 
on a reduced scale as showing his deHcacy of touch even in 
hasty out-of-door work, though, owing to the old yellowish 
paper, the pencil marks come out very faint in the process 

While travelling by coach or staying at country inns in 
Shropshire, we used to hear a good deal of talk about Jack 
Mytton, of Halston, who had died a few years before, and 
whose wild exploits were notorious all over the west of 
England. He was a country gentleman of very old family, 
and had inherited a landed estate bringing in about £10,000 
a year, while having been a minor for eighteen years, there 
was an accumulation of £60,000 when he came of age. In a 
few years he spent all these savings, and continued to live 
at such a rate that he had frequently to raise money. All 
the grand oaks for which his estates were celebrated were 
cut down, and it is said produced £70,000. About half his 
property was entailed, but the other half was sold at various 
times, and must have realized a very large amount; while 
in the last years of his life, which he spent either in prison 
for debt or in France, all the fine collection of pictures, many 
by the old masters, and the whole contents of his family 
mansion were sold, but did not suffice to pay his debts or 
prevent his dying in prison. From the account given by his 
intimate friend and biographer the total amount thus wasted 
in about fifteen years could not have been much less than half 
a million, but from the scanty details in his " Life " it seems 
clear that he could not really have expended anything like 
this amount, but that his extreme good nature and utter reck- 
lessness as to money led to his being robbed and plundered 
in various ways by the numerous unscrupulous persons who 
always congregate about such a character. 

For those who have not read the account of his wasted 
life one or two examples illustrative of his character may 
be here given. Once, before he was of age, when dining out 
in the country, he had driven over in a gig with a pair of 
horses tandem — his favorite style. On some of the party 
expressing the opinion that this was a very dangerous mode 


of driving, Mytton at once offered to bet the whole party 
£25 each that he would then and there drive his tandem 
across country to the turnpike road half a mile off, having 
to cross on the way a sunk fence three yards wide, a broad 
deep drain, and two stiff quickset hedges with ditches on the 
further side. All accepted the bet. It was a moonlight 
night, but twelve men with lanthorns accompanied the party 
in case of accidents. He got into and out of the sunk fence 
(I suppose what we call a Ha-ha) in safety, went at the 
drain at such a pace that both horses and gig cleared it, 
the jerk throwing Mytton on to the wheeler's back, from 
which he climbed up to his seat, drove on, and through the 
next two fences with apparent ease into the turnpike road 
without serious injury, thus winning this extraordinary 

He was as reckless of other person's lives and limbs as he 
was of his own, upsetting one friend purposely because he 
had just said that he had never been upset in his life, and 
jumping the leader over a turnpike gate to see whether he 
would take " timber," the gig being, of course, smashed, and 
Mytton with his friend being thrown out, but, strange to say, 
both uninjured. 

He was a man of tremendous physical strength, and with a 
constitution that appeared able to withstand anything till he 
ruined it by excessive drinking. He was so devoted to sport 
of some kind or other that nothing came amiss to him, riding 
his horse upstairs, riding a bear into his drawing-room, crawl- 
ing after wild ducks on the snow and ice stripped to his shirt, 
or shooting rats with a rifle. Several of these stories we 
heard told by the people we met, but there were many others 
of a nature which could not be printed, and which referred to 
the latter part of his life, when his wife had left him, and he 
had entered on that downhill course of reckless dissipation 
that culminated in his ruin and death. 

Never was there a more glaring example of a man of 
exceptional physical and mental qualities being ruined by the 
inheritance of great wealth and by a life of pleasure and 
excitement. Brought up from childhood on a great estate 



which he soon learnt would be his own; surrounded by 
servants and flatterers, by horses and dogs, and seeing that 
hunting, racing, and shooting were the chief interests and 
occupations of those around him; with an intense vitality 
and superb physique, — who can wonder at his after career? 
At school he was allowed £400 a year, and it is said spent 
iSoo — alone enough to demoralize any youth of his dis- 
position; and as a natural sequence he was expelled, first 
from Westminster and then from Harrow. He was then 
placed with a private tutor for a year. He entered at both 
Universities but matriculated at neither; and when nineteen 
became a comet in the 7th Hussars, which he joined in 
France with the army of occupation after Waterloo. He 
quitted the army when of age, and settled at Halston. 

Such having been his early life it would seem almost impos- 
sible that he could have profited much by his very fragmentary 
education; yet his biographer assures us that he had a fair 
amount of classical knowledge, and throughout life would 
quote Greek and Latin authors with surprising readiness, 
and, moreover, would quote them correctly, and always knew 
when he made a mistake, repeating the passage again and 
again till he had it correct. Several, examples are given 
when, in his later years, he quoted passages from Sophocles 
and Homer to illustrate his own domestic and personal mis- 
fortunes. But besides these literary tastes he was a man 
remarkable for many lovable characteristics and especially 
for a real sympathy for the feelings of others. After being 
arrested at Calais on bills he had accepted in favour of a 
person with whom he had had some dealings, as soon as he 
was released from prison by his solicitor paying the debt, he 
called upon his former creditor, not to upbraid him, but to 
walk with him arm-in-arm through the town, in order that the 
affair might not injure the creditor's character, he being a 
professional man. As his biographer says, few finer instances 
of generosity and good feeling are on record. It was this 
aspect of his character that led to his being so universally 
loved that three thousand persons attended his funeral, with 
every mark of respect. 


Here was a man whose qualities both of mind and body- 
might have rendered him a good citizen, a happy man, and a 
cause of happiness to all around him, but whose nature was 
perverted by bad education and a wholly vicious environment. 
And such examples come before us continuously, exciting 
little attention and no serious thought. A few years back we 
had the champion plunger, who got rid of near a million in a 
very short time; and within the last few years we have had 
in the bankruptcy court a young nobleman of historic lineage 
and great estates; also, a youth just come into a fortune of 
ii2,ooo, who, while an undergraduate at Oxford, gave £5000 
for four race-horses, which he had never seen, on the word of 
the seller about whom he knew nothing, spent over a thousand 
in training them, and in another year or two had got rid of 
the last of his thousands besides incurring a considerable 
amount of debt. But nobody seems to think that the great 
number of such cases always occurring, and which are 
probably increasing with the increasing numbers of great 
fortunes, really indicates a thoroughly rotten social system. 

How often we hear the remark upon such cases, " He is 
nobody's enemy but his own." But this is totally untrue, 
and every such spendthrift is really a worse enemy of society 
than the professional burglar, because he lives in the midst 
of an ever-widening circle of parasites and dependents, whose 
idleness, vice, and profligacy are the direct creation of his 
misspent wealth. He is not only vicious himself, but he is a 
cause of vice in others. Perhaps worse even than the vice is 
the fact that among his host of dependents are many quite 
honest people, who live by the salaries they receive from him 
or the dealings they have with him, and the self-interest of 
these leads them to look leniently upon the whole system 
which gives them a livelihood. Innumerable vested interests 
thus grow up around all such great estates, and the more 
wastefully the owner spends his income the better it seems to 
be for all the tradesmen and mechanics in the district. But 
the fundamental evil is the kind of sanctity we attach to 
property, however accumulated and however spent. Hence 
no real reform is ever suggested; and those who go to the 



root of the matter and see that the evil is in the very fact of 
inheritance itself, are scouted as socialists or something worse. 
The inability of ordinary political and social writers to follow 
out a principle is well shown in this matter. It is only a few 
years since Mr. Benjamin Kidd attracted much attention to 
the principle of " equality of opportunity " as the true basis 
of social reform, and many of the more advanced political 
writers at once accepted it as a sound principle and one that 
should be a guide for our future progress. Herbert Spencer, 
too, in his volume on " Justice," lays down the same principle, 
stating, as " the law of social justice " that " each individual 
ought to receive the benefits and evils of his own nature and 
consequent conduct; neither being prevented from having 
whatever good his actions normally bring him, nor allowed to 
shoulder ofiP on to other persons whatever ill is brought to 
him by his actions." This, too, has, so far as I am aware 
never been criticised or objected to as unsound, and, in fact, 
the arguments by which it is supported are unanswerable. 
Yet no one among our politicians or ethical wTiters has openly 
adopted these principles as a guide for conduct in legislation, 
or has even seen to what they inevitably lead. Stranger still, 
neither Mr. Kidd nor Herbert Spencer followed out their 
own principle to its logical conclusion, which is, the absolute 
condemnation of unequal inheritance. Herbert Spencer even 
declares himself in favour of inheritance as a necessary 
corollary of the right of property rightfully acquired; and he 
devotes a chapter to " The Rights of Gift and Bequest." 
But he apparently did not see, and did not discuss the effect 
of this in neutralizing his " law of social justice," which it 
does absolutely. I have myself fully shown this in a chapter 
on " True Individualism : the Essential Preliminary of a Real 
Social Advance " in my " Studies Scientific and Social." 

It is in consequence of not going to the root of the matter, 
and not following an admitted principle to its logical conclu- 
sion, that the idea prevails that it is only the misuse of wealth 
that produces evil results. But a little consideration will 
show us that it is the inheritance of wealth that is wrong 
in itself, and that it necessarily produces evil. For if it is 


right, it implies that inequality of opportunity is right, and 
that " the law of social justice " as laid down by Herbert 
Spencer is not a just law. It implies that it is right for one 
set of individuals, thousands or millions in number, to be able 
to pass their whole lives without contributing anything to the 
well-being of the community of which they form a part, but 
on the contrary keeping hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of 
their fellow men and women wholly engaged in ministering 
to their wants, their luxuries, and their amusements. Taken 
as a whole, the people who thus live are no better in their 
nature — ph3'Sical, moral, or intellectual — than other thousands 
who, having received no such inheritance of accumulated 
wealth, spend their whole lives in labour, often under exhaust- 
ing, unhealthful, and life-shortening conditions, to produce the 
luxuries and enjoyments of others, but of which they them- 
selves rarely or more often never partake. Even leaving out 
of consideration the absolute vices due to wealth on the one 
hand and to poverty on the other, and supposing both classes 
to pass fairly moral lives, who can doubt that both are 
injured morally, and that both are actually, though often 
unconsciously, the causes of ever-widening spheres of de- 
moralization around them? If there is one set of people 
who are tempted by their necessities to prey upon the rich, 
there is a perhaps more extensive class who are in the same 
way driven to prey upon the poor. And it is the very 
system that produces and encourages these terrible inequali- 
ties that has also led to the almost incredible result, that 
the ever-increasing power of man over the forces of nature, 
especially during the last hundred years, while rendering 
easily possible the production of all the necessaries, comforts, 
enjoyments, and wholesome luxuries of life for every indi- 
vidual, have yet, as John Stuart Mill declared, " not 
diminished the toil of any worker," but even, as there is 
ample evidence to prove, has greatly increased the total mass 
of human misery and want in every civilized country in the 

And yet our rulers and our teachers — the legislature, the 
press, and the pulpit alike — shut their eyes to all this terrible 



demoralization in our midst, while devoting all their energies 
to increasing our already superfluous and injurious wealth- 
accumulations, and in compelling other peoples, against their 
will, to submit to our ignorant and often disastrous rule. As 
the great Russian teacher has well said, " They will do any- 
thing rather than get off the people's backs." And we, who 
adopt the principles of those great thinkers whom all delight 
to honour — Ruskin and Spencer — and urge the adoption of 
" equality of opportunity " — of equal education, equal nurture, 
an equal start in life — for all (implying the abolition of all 
inequality of inheritance) as the one Great Reform which 
will alone render all other reforms — all general social advance 
— possible, are either quietly ignored as idle dreamers, or 
openly declared to be " enemies of society." 

These few remarks and ideas have been suggested to me 
by the life and death of Jack Mytton, and I trust that some 
of my readers may follow them up for the good of humanity. 



It was late in the autumn of 1841 that we finally bade adieu 
to Kington and the wild but not very picturesque Radnor- 
shire mountains for the more varied and interesting country 
of Glamorgan. I have no distinct recollection of our journey, 
but I believe it was by coach through Hay and Brecon to 
Merthyr Tydvil, and thence by chaise to Neath. One solitary 
example of the rhyming letters I used to write has been 
preserved, giving my younger brother Herbert an account of 
our journey, of the country, and of our work, of which, 
though very poor doggerel, a sample may be given. After a 
few references to family matters, I proceed to description. 

"From Kington to this place we came 
By many a spot of ancient fame, 

But now of small renown, 
O'er many a mountain dark and drear, 
And vales whose groves the parting year 

Had tinged with mellow brown; 
And as the morning sun arose 
New beauties round us to disclose, 

We reached fair Brecon town; 
Then crossed the Usk, my native stream, 

A river clear and bright, 
Which showed a fair and much-lov'd scene 

Unto my lingering sight." 

We had to go to Glamorganshire to partially survey and 
make a corrected map of the parish of Cadoxton-juxta- 
Neath, which occupies the whole northern side of the Neath 
valley from opposite the town of Neath to the boundary of 
the county at Pont-Nedd-Fychan, a distance of nearly fifteen 




miles, with a width varying from two to three miles, the 
boundary running for the most part along the crest of the 
mountains that bound the valley on the northwest. We 
lodged and boarded at a farmhouse called Bryn-coch (Red 
Hill), situated on a rising ground about two miles north of 
the town. The farmer, David Rees, a rather rough, stout 
Welshman, was also bailiff of the Duffryn estate. His wife 
could not speak a word of English, but his two daughters 
spoke it very well, with the pretty rather formal style of 
those who have first learnt it at school. Here we stayed more 
than a year, living plainly but very well, and enjoying the 
luxuries of home-made bread, fresh butter and eggs, 
unlimited milk and cream, with cheese made from a mixture of 
cow's and sheep's milk, having a special flavour, which I soon 
got very fond of. In this part of Wales it is the custom to 
milk the ewes chiefly for the purpose of making this cheese, 
which is very much esteemed. Another delicacy we first 
became acquainted with here was the true Welsh flummery, 
called here sucan blawd " (steeped meal), in other places 
" Llumruwd " (sour sediment), whence our English word 
" flummery." It is formed of the husks of the oatmeal 
roughly sifted out, soaked in water till it becomes sour, then 
strained and boiled, when it forms a pale brown sub-gelatinous 
mass, usually eaten with abundance of new milk. It is a very 
delicious and very nourishing food, and frequently forms 
the supper in farmhouses. Most people get very fond of it, 
and there is no dish known to English cookery that is at all 
like it ; but I believe the Scotch " sowens " is a similar or 
identical preparation. This dish, with thin oatmeal cakes, 
home-made cheese, bacon, and sometimes hung beef, with 
potatoes and greens, and abundance of good milk, form the 
usual diet of the Welsh peasantry, and is certainly a very 
wholesome and nourishing combination. We, however, had 
also two other kinds of bread, both excellent, especially when 
made from new wheat. One was the ordinary huge loaves 
of farmhouse bread, the other what was called backstone 
bread — large flat cakes about a foot in diameter and an inch 
thick, baked over the fire on a large circular iron plate 


(formerly on a stone or slate, hence the name "bakestone " 
or " backstone "). This is excellent, either split open and 
buttered when hot, or the next day cut edgeways into slices 
of bread-and-butter, a delicacy fit for any lady's afternoon 

A little rocky stream bordered by trees and bushes ran 
through the farm, and was one of my favourite haunts. 
There was one little sequestered pool about twenty feet long 
into which the water fell over a ledge about a foot high. 
This pool was seven or eight feet deep, but shallowed at the 
further end, and thus formed a delightful bathing-place. 
Ever since my early escape from drowning at Hertford, I 
had been rather shy of the water, and had not learned to 
swim; but here the distance was so short that I determined 
to try, and soon got to enjoy it so much that every fine warm 
day I used to go and plunge head first off my ledge and swim 
in five or six strokes to the shallow water. In this very 
limited sphere of action I gained some amount of confidence 
in the water, and afterwards should probably have been able 
to swim a dozen or twenty yards, so as to reach the bank of 
a moderate-sized river, or sustain myself till some neighbour- 
ing boat came to my assistance. But I have never needed 
even this moderate amount of effort to save my life, and 
have never had either the opportunity or inclination to 
become a practised swimmer. This was partly due to a 
physical deficiency which I was unable to overcome. My 
legs are unusually long for my height, and the bones are 
unusually large. The result is that they persistently sink 
in the water, bringing me into a nearly vertical position, and 
their weight renders it almost impossible to keep my mouth 
above water. This is the case even in salt water, and being 
also rather deficient in strength of muscle, I became disin- 
clined to practise what I felt to be beyond my powers. 

The parish being so extensive we had to stay at many 
different points for convenience of the survey, and one of 
these was about five miles up the Dulais valley, where we 
stayed at a small beershop in the hamlet of Crynant. I was 
often here alone for weeks together, and saw a good deal of 

i8o MY LIFE 

the labourers and farmers, few of whom could speak any 
English. The landlady here brewed her own beer in very 
primitive fashion in a large iron pot or cauldron in the wash- 
house, and had it ready for sale in a few days — a rather thick 
and sweetish liquor, but very palatable. The malt and hops 
were bought in small quantities as wanted, and brewing took 
place weekly, or even oftener, when there was a brisk demand. 

In my bedroom there was a very large old oak chest, 
which I had not taken the trouble to look in, and one morn- 
ing very early I heard my door open very slowly and quietly. 
I wondered what was coming. A man came in, cautiously 
looking to see if I was asleep. I wondered if he was a robber 
or a murderer, but lay quite still. He moved very slowly to 
the big chest, lifted the lid, put in his arm, groped about a 
little, and then drew out a large piece of hung beef! The 
chest contained a large quantity bedded in oatmeal. My mind 
was relieved, and I slept on till breakfast time. 

A young Englishman who was a servant in a gentleman's 
house near used to come to the beershop occasionally, and 
would sometimes give me local information or interpret for 
me with the landlady when no one else was at home. He 
seemed to speak Welsh quite fluently, yet to my great aston- 
ishment he told me he had only been in Wales three or 
four months, and could not read or write. He said he picked 
up the language by constantly talking to the people, and I 
have noticed elsewhere that persons who are thus illiterate 
learn languages by ear w^ith great rapidity. It no doubt 
arises from the fact that, having no other mental occupations 
and no means of acquiring information but through conversa- 
tion, their whole mental capacities are concentrated on the 
one object of learning to speak to the people. Some natural 
faculty of verbal memory must no doubt exist, but when this 
is present in even a moderate degree the results are often 
very striking. Somewhat analogous cases are those of teach- 
ing the deaf and dumb the gesture language, lip-reading, and 
even articulate speech which they cannot themselves hear, 
and the still more marvellous cases of Laura Bridgeman 
and Helen Keller, in which was added blindness, so that 


the sense of touch was alone available for receiving ideas. 
The effect in developing the mind and enabling the sufferers 
to live full, contented, and even happy lives has been most 
marvellous, and gives us a wonderful example of the capacity 
of the mind for receiving the most abstract ideas through one 
sense alone. Such persons, without proper training, would 
be in danger of becoming idiotic or insane from the absence 
of all materials on which to exercise the larger portion of 
their higher mental faculties. It is observed that, when first 
being taught the connection of arbitrary signs with objects, 
they are docile but apathetic, not in the least understanding 
the purport of the training. But after a time, when they 
perceive they are acquiring a means of communicating their 
own wishes and even ideas to others, and receiving ideas 
and knowledge of the outer world from them, their whole 
nature seems transformed, and the acquisition and extension 
of this knowledge becomes the great object and the great 
pleasure of their lives. It seems to occupy all their thoughts 
and employ all their faculties, and they make an amount of 
progress which astonishes their teachers and seems quite 
incredible to persons ordinarily constituted. It gives them, 
in fact, what everyone needs, some useful or enjoyable occu- 
pation for body and mind, and is almost equivalent to 
furnishing them with the faculties they have lost. A similar 
explanation may be given of the comparatively rapid acquisi- 
tion by the deaf and dumb of those difficult arts — lip- 
reading by watching the motion of the lips and face of the 
speaker, and intelligible speech by imitating the motions 
during speech of the lips, tongue, and larynx by using a 
combination of vision and touch. These give them new 
means of communication with their fellows, and their whole 
mental powers are therefore devoted to their acquisition. It 
is a new employment for their minds, equivalent to a new 
and very interesting game for children, and under such con- 
ditions learning becomes one of their greatest pleasures. 
The same principle applies to the rapid acquisition of a new 
language by the illiterate. Being debarred from reading and 
writing, all their intellectual pleasures depend upon converse 


with their fellows, and thus their thoughts and wishes are 
intensely and continuously directed to the acquisition of the 
means of doing so. 

A mile further up the valley was a small gentleman's house 
with about a hundred and fifty acres of land attached, owned 
and occupied by a Mr. Worthington, his wife and wife's sister. 
They had, I believe, come there not long before from Devon- 
shire, and being refined and educated people, we were glad 
to make their acquaintance, and soon became very friendly. 
Mr. Worthington was a tall and rather handsome man 
between fifty and sixty; while his wife was perhaps fifteen 
or twenty years younger, rather under middle size and very 
quiet and agreeable ; while her sister was younger, smaller, 
and more lively. They lent us books and magazines, and we 
often went there to spend the evening. I do not think our 
friend knew much about farming, but he had a kind of 
working bailiff and two or three labourers to cultivate the 
land, which, however, was mostly pasture. The place is called 
Gelli-duch-lithe, the meaning of which is obscure. " The 
grove and the wet moor" is not inappropriate, and seems 
more likely than any connection with " llaeth " (milk), which 
implies good land or rich pastures, which were decidedly 

Mr. Worthington was an eccentric but interesting man. He 
played the violin beautifully, and when in the humour would 
walk about the long sitting-room playing and talking at 
intervals. He discussed all kinds of subjects, mostly personal, 
and he was, I think, the most openly egotistical man I ever 
met, and I have met many. After playing a piece that was 
one of his favourites, he would say to my brother, " Was not 
that fine, Mr. Wallace? There are not many amateurs could 
play in that style, are there? — or professionals either," he 
would sometimes add. And after telling some anecdote in 
which he was the principal personage, he would often finish 
up with, "Don't I deserve praise for that, Mr. Wallace?" 
On one occasion, I remember, after telling us of how he 
befriended a poor girl and resisted temptation, he concluded 


with, " Was not that a noble act, Mr. Wallace ? " to which we, 
as visitors, were, of course, bound to assent with as much 
appearance of conviction as we could manage to express. 
These things were a little trying, but he carried them off so 
well, so evidently believed them himself, and spoke in so 
earnest and dignified a manner, that had we been more inti- 
mate, and could have permitted ourselves to laugh openly at 
his more extravagant outbursts, we should have had a more 
thorough enjoyment of his society. 

Of course, such an appreciation of his own merits led to 
his taking the blackest view of all who opposed him, and thus 
led to what was in the nature of a tragedy for his wife as well 
as for himself, and one in which we had to bear our part. 
His property was bounded on one side by the little river 
Dulais, which wound about in a narrow belt of level pasture, 
and in places appeared to have changed its course, leaving 
dry channels, which were occasionally filled during floods. It 
was to one of these further channels that our friend claimed 
that his property extended, founding his belief on the evidence 
of some old people who remembered the river flowing in this 
channel, some of whom also declared that the cattle and sheep 
belonging to Gelli used to graze there. He would talk for 
hours about it, maintaining that the old water-line was always 

the boundary, and that the adjoining landlord. Lord , 

was trying to rob him by the power of his wealth and influ- 
ence. The whole of the little pieces of land in dispute did not 
amount to more than half an acre and were not worth more 
than a few pounds, and his own lawyer tried to persuade him 
that the issue was very doubtful, and that even if he won, the 
bits of land were not worth either the cost or the worry. But 
nothing would stop him, and by his orders an act of trespass 
was committed on the land to which he thus formally laid 
claim, and after much correspondence an action was com- 
menced against him by Lord 's lawyers. Then we were 

employed to make a plan of the pieces claimed, and the case 
came on for trial at the Cardiff Assizes. 

The partner of the London solicitor came down for the 
case and engaged one of the most popular barristers, the best 


having been secured by the other side. Our friend was per- 
suaded not to be present, and I was engaged to attend and 
take full notes of the proceedings, which I copied out in the 
evening and sent off to him. I stayed at a hotel with the 
lawyer, and the town being wery crowded, we shared the same 
bedroom and had our meals together. He was by no means 
sanguine of success, and the first day's proceedings made him 
less so, as the other side stated that they had documents 
that proved their case, and intimated that the defendant knew 
it. The first day was Friday or Saturday, and we returned 
to Gelli till the Monday, and in the interval there occurred a 
scene. The lawyer felt confident that his client had not pro- 
duced all the deeds he possessed relating to the estate, and 
insisted on being shown every single document or he would 
give up the case. Very reluctantly they were produced, and 
after a close examination one was found which had a map 
of the farm showing the boundary as claimed by the other 
side. The lawyer was a little man and lame, while Mr. 
Worthington was tall, erect, and defiant; but the former 
stood up, and, holding the document in his hand, blazed out 
against his client. " Mr. Worthington," he said, " you have 
behaved scandalously, foolishly, almost like a madman. You 
have deceived your own lawyer, and put him in the wrong. 
You have denied the possession of documents which you knew 
were dead against your claim. Had we known of the exist- 
ence of this deed we would never have defended your case, 
and if I were acting for myself alone I would throw it up 

instantly. But Mr. , my partner, is an old friend of 

yourself and your family, and to save you from open disgrace 
the case must go on to the end. But I tell you now, you will 
lose it, and you deserve to lose it, for you have not acted 
honourably or even honestly." 

All this was said with the greatest fire and energy, and Mr. 
Worthington was, for the first time in my experience, com- 
pletely cowed. He vainly tried to interpose a word, to dis- 
claim knowledge of the importance of this deed, etc., but the 
lawyer shook his fist at him, and thoroughly silenced him. 
Finally, he told him that he should now act without consulting 


him, and if Mr. Worthington interfered in any way he would 
throw up the case. 

It turned out as the lawyer expected. The other side had 
deeds showing the same boundary as that which Mr. Worth- 
ington had concealed. Our evidence as to possession was 
weak. Our counsel appealed to the jury for a poor man 
struggling for his rights against the power of wealth. But 
the judge summed up against us on the evidence, and the 
other side won. Mr. Worthington had insisted upon hearing 
his counsel's speech, which evidently gave him hopes, and 
when the verdict was given he was overwhelmed, looked 
altogether dazed, and I thought he would have a fit. But 
we got him at once out of court, went back to the inn, and 
as soon as possible drove home together. As soon as he 
recovered himself somewhat, he exclaimed, " My counsel was 
a noble fellow, he upheld the right; but we had an unjust 
judge, Mr. Wallace." I forgot to mention that Mr. Worth- 
ington wore a brown curly wig, which I had at first taken 
for his natural hair, and when he was much excited he would 
suddenly snatch it off his head, when he looked rather 
ludicrous. The costs which he had to pay were very heavy, 
and he had to sell Gelli to pay them, and soon afterwards left 
the district to return to Devonshire. I fancy he had before 
lost a good deal of property, and this last misfortune was 
almost ruin. After they left I do not think we ever heard of 
them again, though my brother may have done so. 

After living about a year at Bryn-coch we moved a little 
nearer the town to the other side of the Clydach river, and 
lodged with an old colliery surveyor, Samuel Osgood, in the 
employment of Mr. Price, of the Neath Abbey Iron Works. 
The house was an old but roomy cottage, and we had a large 
bedroom and a room downstairs for an office and living room, 
while Mr. Osgood had another, and there was also a roomy 
kitchen. A tramway from some collieries to the works ran in 
front of the house at a little distance, and we had a good view 
of the town and up the vale of Neath. Behind us rose the 
Drymau Mountain, nearly seven hundred feet above us, the 



level top of which was frequented by peewits, and whose steep 
slopes were covered with trees and bushes. Here we lived 
till I left Neath a year later, and were on the whole very 
comfortable, though our first experience was a rather trying 
one. The bedroom we occupied had been unused for years, 
and though it had been cleaned for our use we found that 
every part of it, bedstead, floor, and walls, in every crack and 
cranny, harboured the Cimex lectularius, or bedbug, which 
attacked us by hundreds, and altogether banished sleep. This 
required prompt and thorough measures, and my brother at 
once took them. I was sent to the town for some ounces of 
corrosive sublimate; the old wooden bedstead was taken to 
pieces, and, with the chairs, tables, drawers, etc., taken out- 
side. The poison was dissolved in a large pailful of water, 
and with this solution by means of a whitewasher's brush the 
whole of the floor was thoroughly soaked, so that the poison 
might penetrate every crevice, while the walls and ceiling 
were also washed over. The bedstead and furniture were all 
treated in the same way, and everything put back in its place 
by the evening. We did all the work ourselves, with the 
assistance of Mrs. Osgood and a servant girl, and so effectual 
was the treatment that for nearly a year that we lived there 
we were wholly unmolested by insect enemies. 

Mr. and Mrs. Osgood were both natives of the ancient 
town of Bideford, Devon, which they continually referred to 
as the standard of both manners and morality, to the great 
disadvantage of the Welsh. They were both old, perhaps 
between sixty and seventy, and thought old fashions were the 
best. Mr. Osgood was an old-fashioned surveyor, and was 
also a pretty good mechanic. He prided himself upon his 
work, upon his plans of the colliery workings, and especially 
upon his drawings, which were all copies from prints, usually 
very common ones, but which he looked upon as works of 
high art. Among these, he was especially proud of a horse, 
in copying which in pen and ink he had so exaggerated the 
muscular development that it looked as if the skin had been 
taken off to exhibit the separate muscles for anatomical teach- 
ing. It was a powerful-looking horse in the attitude of a 


high-stepper, but so exaggerated and badly drawn as to be 
almost ludicrous. It was framed and hung in his room, and 
he always called visitors' attention to it, and told them that 
Mr. Price, the owner of the collieries, had said that he could 
never get a horse like that one, as if this were the highest 
commendation possible of his work. 

About that time the method of measuring the acreage of 
fields on maps by means of tracing-paper divided into squares 
of one chain each, with a beam-compass to sum up each line 
of squares, had recently come into use by surveyors ; and Mr. 
Osgood amused himself by making a number of these com- 
passes of various kinds of wood nicely finished and well 
polished, rather as examples of his skill than for any use he 
had for them, though he occasionally sold them to some of 
the local surveyors. He had these all suspended vertically 
on the wall instead of horizontally, as they are usually placed, 
and as they look best. While we were one day admiring the 
workmanship of an addition to the series, he remarked, " I 
dare say you don't know why I hang them up that way; 
very few people do." Of course, we acknowledged we did 
not know. " Well," said he, " it is very important. The air 
presses with a weight of fifteen pounds on every square inch, 
and if I hung them up level the pressure in the middle would 
very soon bend them, and they would be spoilt." My brother 
knew it was no good to try and show him his error, so merely 
said, " Yes, that's a very good idea of yours," and left the old 
man in the happy belief that he was quite scientific in his 
methods. My brother took a sketch of him enjoying his pipe 
and glass of toddy of an evening, which was a very good 
likeness, and which is here reproduced. 

After we had completed the survey and maps of Cadoxton, 
which occupied us about six months, we had not much to do 
except small pieces of work of various kinds. One of these 
was to make a survey and take soundings of the river between 
the bridge and the sea, a distance of three or four miles, for a 
proposed scheme of improving the navigation, making docks, 
etc., which was partly carried out some years later. We also 


had a little architectural and engineering work, in designing 
and superintending the erection of warehouses with powerful 
cranes, which gave me some insight into practical building. 
To assist in making working drawings and specifications, my 
brother had purchased a well-known work, Bartholomew's 
" Specifications for Practical Architecture." This book, 
though mainly on a very dry and technical subject, contained 
an introduction on the principles of Gothic architecture which 
gave me ideas upon the subject of the greatest interest and 
value, and which have enabled me often to form an inde- 
pendent judgment on modern imitations of Gothic or of any 
other styles. Bartholomew was an enthusiast for Gothic, 
which he maintained was the only true and scientific system 
of architectural construction in existence. He showed how 
all the most striking and ornamental features of Gothic archi- 
tecture are essential to the stability of a large stone-built 
structure — the lofty nave with its clerestory windows and 
arched roof; the lateral aisles at a lower level, also with 
arched roofs; the outer thrust of these arches supported by 
deep buttresses on the ground, with arched or flying but- 
tresses above; and these again rendered more secure by 
being weighted down with rows of pinnacles, which add so 
much to the beauty of Gothic buildings. He rendered his 
argument more clear by giving a generalized cross-section of 
a cathedral, and drawing within the buttresses the figure of a 
man, with outstretched arms pushing against the upper arches 
to resist their outward thrust, and being kept more steady by 
a heavy load upon his head and shoulders representing the 
pinnacle. This section and figure illuminated the whole con- 
struction of the masterpieces of the old architects so clearly 
and forcibly, and though I have not seen the book since, I 
have never forgotten it. It has furnished me with a standard 
by which to judge all architecture, and has guided my taste 
in such a small matter as the use of stone slabs over window 
openings in brick buildings, thus concealing the structural 
brick arch, and using stone as a beam, a purpose for which 
iron or wood are better suited. It also made me a very 
severe critic of modern imitations of Gothic in which we often 

(i-rom a sketch by W. G. Wallace. 1843) 


see buttresses and pinnacles for ornament alone, when the 
roof is wholly of wood and there is no outward thrust to be 
guarded against ; while in some cases we see useless gargoyles, 
which in the old buildings stretched out to carry the water 
clear of the walls, but which are still sometimes imitated 
when the water is carried into drains by iron gutters and 
water pipes. I also learnt to appreciate the beautiful tracery 
of the large circular or pointed windows, whose harmonies 
and well-balanced curves and infinitely varied designs are a 
delight to the eye; while in most modern structures the 
attempts at imitating them are deplorable failures, being 
usually clumsy, unbalanced, and monotonous. One of the 
very few modern Gothic buildings in which the architect has 
caught the spirit of the old work is Barry's Houses of Parlia- 
ment, which, whether in general effect or in its beautifully 
designed details, is a delight to the true lover of Gothic 
architecture. My brother had seen the exhibition of the com- 
peting designs, and he used always to speak of the unmis- 
takable superiority of Barry over all the others. 

Among our few intellectual friends here was the late 
Mr. Charles Hayward, a member of the Society of Friends 
(commonly called Quakers), as were Mr. Price of Neath 
Abbey, and our temporary landlord, Mr. Osgood. Mr. Hay- 
ward had a bookseller's shop in the town combined with that 
of a chemist and druggist, but he himself lived in a pretty 
cottage about half a mile out of the town, where he had two 
or three acres of land, kept a cow, and experimented in agri- 
culture on a small scale ; while his partner, Mr. Hunt, lived at 
the shop. A year or two later these gentlemen gave up the 
business and took a farm from Mr. Talbot of Margam Abbey, 
w^hich they farmed successfully for some years, their chemical 
knowledge enabling them to purchase refuse materials from 
some of the manufacturers in the district which served as 
valuable manures. Later, Mr. Hayward took a larger farm 
near Dartmouth, where I had the pleasure of visiting him 
after my return from the East. A good many years later, 
when I lived at Godalming, he was again my neighbour, as 
after the death of his wife he came to live with his nephew, 



C. F. Hayward, Esq., a well-known London architect, who 
had a country house close by my cottage. Mr. Hayward 
began life with nothing but a good education, industry, and 
a love of knowledge. He is an example of the possibility 
of success in farming without early training and with very 
scanty capital. Of course, the period was a good one for 
farmers, but it was not everyone who could have made even 
a bare living under such unfavourable conditions. After he 
came to live at Godalming, when over seventy years of age, he 
began to exercise his hitherto dormant faculty of water- 
colour drawing. For this he made most of his own colours 
from natural pigments, earthy or vegetable, and executed a 
number of bold and effective landscapes, showing that if he 
had had early training he might have excelled in this beautiful 
art. Mr. Hayward was among my oldest and most esteemed 

During the larger portion of my residence at Neath we 
had very little to do, and my brother was often away, either 
seeking employment or engaged upon small matters of busi- 
ness in various parts of the country. I was thus left a good 
deal to my own devices, and having no friends of my own 
age I occupied myself with various pursuits in which I had 
begun to take an interest. Having learnt the use of the 
sextant in surveying, and my brother having a book on 
Nautical Astronomy, I practised a few of the simpler observa- 
tions. Among these were determining the meridian by equal 
altitudes of the sun, and also by the pole-star at its upper or 
lower culmination; finding the latitude by the meridian 
altitude of the sun, or of some of the principal stars; and 
making a rude sundial by erecting a gnomon towards the 
pole. For these simple calculations I had Hannay and 
Dietrichsen's Almanac, a copious publication which gave 
all the important data in the Nautical Almanac, besides 
much other interesting matter, useful for the astronomical 
amateur or the ordinary navigator. I also tried to make a 
telescope by purchasing a lens of about two feet focus at an 
optician's in Swansea, fixing it in a paper tube and using the 


eye-piece of a small opera glass. With it I was able to 
observe the moon and Jupiter's satellites, and some of the 
larger star-clusters; but, of course, very imperfectly. Yet it 
served to increase my interest in astronomy, and to induce 
me to study with some care the various methods of construc- 
tion of the more important astronomical instruments; and 
it also led me throughout my life to be deeply interested in 
the grand onward march of astronomical discovery. 

But what occupied me chiefly and became more and more 
the solace and delight of my lonely rambles among the moors 
and mountains, was my first introduction to the variety, the 
beauty, and the mystery of nature as manifested in the vege- 
table kingdom. 

I have already mentioned the chance remark which gave me 
the wish to know something about wild flowers, but nothing 
came of it till 1841, when I heard of and obtained a shilling 
paper-covered book published by the Society for the Diffu- 
sion of Useful Knowledge, the title of which I forget, but 
which contained an outline of the structure of plants and a 
short description of their various parts and organs; and also 
a good description of about a dozen of the most common of 
the natural orders of British plants. Among these were the 
Cruciferse, Caryophyllese, Leguminosse, Rosaceae, Umbelliferae, 
Compositae, Scrophularinese, Labiat82, Orchidese, and Glum- 
acese. This little book was a revelation to me, and for a year 
was my constant companion. On Sundays I would stroll in 
the fields and woods, learning the various parts and organs 
of any flowers I could gather, and then trying how many of 
them belonged to any of the orders described in my book. 
Great was my delight when I found that I could identify a 
Crucifer, an Umbellifer, and a Labiate; and as one after an- 
other the different orders were recognized, I began to realize 
for the first time the order that underlies all the variety of 
nature. When my brother was away and there was no work 
to do, I would spend the greater part of the day wandering 
over the hills or by the streams gathering flowers, and either 
determining their position from my book, or coming to the 
conclusion that they belonged to other orders of which I knew 



nothing, and as time went on I found that there were a very 
large number of these, including many of our most beautiful 
and curious flowers, and I felt that I must get some other 
book by which I could learn something about these also. But 
I knew of no suitable book, I did not even know that any 
British floras existed, and having no one to help me I was 
obliged to look among the advertisements of scientific or edu- 
cational publications that came in my way. At length, soon 
after we came to Neath, David Rees happened to bring in 
an old number of the Gardener's Chronicle, which I read with 
much interest, and as I found in it advertisements and re- 
views of books, I asked him to bring some more copies, which 
he did, and I found in one of them a notice of the fourth 
edition of Lindley's " Elements of Botany," which, as it was 
said to contain descriptions of all the natural orders, illus- 
trated by numerous excellent woodcuts, I thought would be 
just the thing to help me on. The price, 10s. 6d., rather 
frightened me, as I was always very short of cash; but hap- 
pening to have so much in my possession, and feeling that I 
must have some book to go on with, I ordered it at Mr. Hay- 
ward's shop. 

When at length it arrived, I opened it with great expecta- 
tions, which were, however, largely disappointed, for although 
the larger part of the book was devoted to systematical botany, 
and all the natural orders were well and clearly described, 
yet there was hardly any reference to British plants — not a 
single genus was described, it was not even stated which 
orders contained any British species and which were wholly 
foreign, nor was any indication given of their general distri- 
bution or whether they comprised numerous or few genera 
or species. The inclusion of all the natural orders and the 
excellent woodcuts illustrating many of them, and showing 
the systematic characters by dissections of the flowers and 
fruits, were, however, very useful, and enabled me at once 
to classify a number of plants which had hitherto puzzled me. 
Still, it was most unsatisfactory not to be able to learn the 
names of any of the plants I was observing, so one day I 
asked Mr. Hayward if he knew of any book that would help 


me. To my great delight he said he had Loudon's " Encyclo- 
paedia of Plants," which contained all the British plants, and he 
would lend it to me, and I could copy the characters of the 
British species. 

I therefore took it home to Bryn-coch, and for some weeks 
spent all my leisure time in first examining it carefully, find- 
ing that I could make out both the genus and the species of 
many plants by the very condensed but clear descriptions, 
and I therefore copied out the characters of every British 
species there given. As Lindley's volume had rather broad 
margins, I found room for all the orders which contained 
only a moderate number of species, and copied the larger 
orders on sheets of thin paper, which I interleaved at the 
proper places. Having at length completed this work for 
all the flowering plants and ferns, and also the genera of 
mosses and the main divisions of the lichens and fungi, I 
took back the volume of Loudon, and set to work with 
increased ardour to make out all the species of plants I could 
find. This was very interesting and quite a new experience 
for me, and though in some cases I could not decide to which 
of two or three species my plant belonged, yet a considerable 
number could be determined without any doubt whatever. 

This also gave me a general interest in plants, and a cata- 
logue published by a great nurseryman in Bristol, which David 
Rees got from the gardener, was eagerly read, especially 
when I found it contained a number of tropical orchids of 
whose wonderful variety and beauty I had obtained some idea 
from the woodcuts in Loudon's Encyclopaedia. The first 
epiphytal orchid I ever saw was at a flower show in Swansea, 
where Mr. J. Dillwyn Llewellyn exhibited a plant of Epiden- 
drum fragrans, one of the less attractive kinds, but which yet 
caused in me a thrill of enjoyment which no other plant in 
the show produced. My interest in this wonderful order of 
plants was further enchanced by reading in the Gardeners 
Chronicle an article by Dr. Lindley on one of the London 
flower shows, where there was a good display of orchids, in 
which, after enumerating a number of the species, he added, 
" and Dendrobium Devonianum, too delicate and beautiful for 



a flower of earth." This and other references to and descrip- 
tions of them gave them, in my mind, a weird and mysterious 
charm, which was extended even to our native species, and 
which, I believe, had its share in producing that longing for 
the tropics which a few years later was satisfied in the equa- 
torial forests of the Amazon. 

But I soon found that by merely identifying the plants I 
found in my walks I lost much time in gathering the same 
species several times, and even then not being always quite 
sure that I had found the same plant before. I therefore 
began to form a herbarium, collecting good specimens and 
drying them carefully between drying papers and a couple 
of boards weighted with books or stones. My brother, how- 
ever, did not approve of my devotion to this study, even though 
I had absolutely nothing else to do, nor did he suggest any 
way in which I could employ my leisure more profitably. He 
said very little to me on the subject beyond a casual remark, 
but a letter from my mother showed me that he thought I 
was wasting my time. Neither he nor I could foresee that it 
would have any effect on my future life, and I myself only 
looked upon it as an intensely interesting occupation for time 
that would be otherwise wasted. Even when we were busy 
I had Sundays perfectly free, and used then to take long 
walks over the mountains with my collecting box, which I 
brought home full of treasures. I first named the species as 
nearly as I could do so, and then laid them out to be pressed 
and dried. At such times I experienced the joy which every 
discovery of a new form of life gives to the lover of nature, 
almost equal to those raptures which I afterwards felt at 
every capture of new butterflies on the Amazon, or at the 
constant stream of new species of birds, beetles, and butter- 
flies in Borneo, the Moluccas, and the Aru Islands. 

It must be remembered that my ignorance of plants at this 
time was extreme. I knew the wild rose, bramble, hawthorn, 
buttercup, poppy, daisy, and foxglove, and a very few others 
equally common and popular, and this was all. I knew noth- 
ing whatever as to genera and species, nor of the large num- 
bers of distinct forms related to each other and grouped into 


natural orders. My delight, therefore, was great when I was 
now able to identify the charming little eyebright, the strange- 
looking cow-wheat and louse-wort, the handsome mullein and 
the pretty creeping toad-flax, and to find that all of them, as 
well as the lordly foxglove, formed parts of one great natural 
order, and that under all their superficial diversity of form 
there was a similarity of structure which, when once clearly 
understood, enabled me to locate each fresh species with 
greater ease. The Crucifers, the Pea tribe, the Umbelliferse, 
the Compositse, and the Labiates offered great difficulties, 
and it was only after repeated efforts that I was able to name 
with certainty a few of the species, after which each addi- 
tional discovery became a little less difficult, though the time 
I gave to the study before I left England was not sufficient 
for me to acquaint myself with more than a moderate pro- 
portion of the names of the species I collected. 

Now, I have some reason to believe that this was the turn- 
ing-point of my life, the tide that carried me on, not to for- 
tune, but to whatever reputation I have acquired, and which 
has certainly been to me a never-failing source of much 
health of body and supreme mental enjoyment. If my 
brother had had constant work for me so that I never had an 
idle day, and if I had continued to be similarly employed 
after I became of age, I should most probably have become 
entirely absorbed in my profession, which, in its various de- 
partments, I always found extremely interesting, and should 
therefore not have felt the need of any other occupation or 

I know now, though I was ignorant of it at the time, that 
my brother's life was a very anxious one, that the difficulty 
of finding remunerative work was very great, and that he 
was often hard pressed to earn enough to keep us both in the 
very humble way in which we lived. He never alluded to 
this that I can remember, nor did I ever hear how much our 
board and lodging cost him, nor ever saw him make the 
weekly or monthly payments. During the seven years I was 
with him I hardly ever had more than a few shillings for 



personal expenses ; but every year or two, when I went home, 
what new clothes were absolutely necessary were provided 
for me, with perhaps ten shillings or a pound as pocket money 
till my next visit, and this, I think, was partly or wholly paid 
out of the small legacy left me by my grandfather. This 
seemed very hard at the time, but I now see clearly that even 
this was useful to me, and was really an important factor in 
moulding my character and determining my work in life. 
Had my father been a moderately rich man and had he supplied 
me with a good wardrobe and ample pocket-money ; had my 
brother obtained a partnership in some firm in a populous 
town or city, or had he established himself in his profession, I 
might never have turned to nature as the solace and enjoy- 
ment of my solitary hours, my whole life would have been 
differently shaped, and though I should, no doubt, have given 
some attention to science, it seems very unlikely that I should 
have ever undertaken what at that time seemed rather a wild 
scheme, a journey to the almost unknown forests of the Ama- 
zon in order to observe nature and make a living by collecting. 

All this may have been pure chance, as I long thought it 
was, but of late years I am more inclined to Hamlet's belief, 
when he said — 

" There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will." 

Of course I do not adopt the view that each man's life, m all 
its details, is guided by the Deity for His special ends. That 
would be, indeed, to make us all conscious automata, puppets 
in the hands of an all-powerful destiny. But, as I shall show 
later on, I have good reasons for the belief that, just as our 
own personal influence and expressed or unseen guidance is 
a factor in the life and conduct of our children, and even of 
some of our friends and acquaintances, so we are surrounded 
by a host of unseen friends and relatives who have gone 
before us, and who have certain limited powers of influencing, 
and even, in particular cases, almost of determining, the 
actions of living persons, and may thus in a great variety of 
indirect ways modify the circumstances and character of any 


one or more individuals in whom they are specially interested. 
But a great number of these occurrences in everyone's life 
are apparently what we term chance, and even if all are so, 
the conclusion I wish to lay stress upon is not af¥ected. It is, 
that many of the conditions and circumstances that constitute 
our environment, though at the time they may seem unfortu- 
nate or even unjust, yet are often more truly beneficial than 
those which we should consider more favourable. Some- 
times they only aid in the formation of character; sometimes 
they also lead to action which gives scope for the use of what 
might have been dormant or unused faculties (as, I think, 
has occurred in my own case) ; but much more frequently 
they seem to us wholly injurious, leading to a life of misery 
or crime, and turning what in themselves are good faculties 
to evil purposes. When this occurs in any large number of 
cases, as it certainly does with us now, we may be sure that it 
is the system of society that is at fault, and the most strenuous 
efforts of all who see this should be devoted, not to the mere 
temporary alleviation of the evils due to it, but to the gradual 
modification of the system itself. This is my present view. 
At the time of which I am now writing, I had not begun 
even to think of these matters, although facts which I now 
see to be of great importance in connection with them were 
being slowly accumulated for use in after years. 



It was during the time that I was most occupied out of 
doors with the observation and collection of plants that I 
began to write down, more or less systematically, my ideas 
on various subjects that interested me. Three of these early 
attempts have been preserved and are now before me. They 
all bear dates of the autumn or winter of 1843, when I was 
between nineteen and twenty years of age. 

One of these is a rough sketch of a popular lecture on 
Botany, addressed to an audience supposed to be as ignorant 
as I was myself when I began to observe our native flowers. 
I was led to write it, partly on account of the difficulties I 
myself had felt in obtaining the kind of information I required, 
but chiefly on account of a lecture I had attended at Neath 
by a local botanist of some repute, and which seemed to me 
so meagre, so uninteresting, and so utterly unlike what such 
a lecture ought to be, that I wanted to try if I could not do 
something better. The lecture in question consisted in an 
enumeration of the whole series of the " Linnaean Classes and 
Orders," stating their characters and naming a few of the 
plants comprised in each. It was illustrated by a series of 
coloured figures on cards about the size of ordinary playing 
cards, which the lecturer held up one after the other to show 
what he was talking about. The Linnaean system was upheld 
as being far the most useful as a means of determining the 
names of plants, and the natural system was treated as quite 
useless for beginners, and only suited for experienced 

All this was so entirely opposed to views I had already 
formed, that I devoted a large portion of my lecture to the 



question of classification in general, showing that any classifi- 
cation, however artificial, was better than none, and that 
Linnaeus made a great advance when he substituted generic 
and specific names for the short Latin descriptions of species 
before used, and by classifying all known plants by means of 
a few well-marked and easily observed characters. I then 
showed how and why this classification was only occasionally, 
and as it were accidentally, a natural one; that in a vast 
number of cases it grouped together plants which were 
essentially unlike each other ; and that for all purposes, except 
the naming of species, it was both useless and inconvenient. 
I then showed what the natural system of classification really 
was, what it aimed at, and the much greater interest it gave 
to the study of botany. I explained the principles on which 
the various natural orders were founded, and showed how 
often they gave us a clue to the properties of large groups 
of species, and enabled us to detect real affinities under very 
diverse external forms. 

I concluded by passing in review some of the best marked 
orders as illustrating these various features. Although 
crudely written and containing some errors, I still think it 
would serve as a useful lecture to an audience generally 
ignorant of the whole subject, such as the young mechanics 
of a manufacturing town. Its chief interest to me now is, 
that it shows my early bent towards classification, not the 
highly elaborate type that seeks to divide and subdivide under 
different headings with technical names, rendering the whole 
scheme difficult to comprehend, and being in most cases a 
hindrance rather than an aid to the learner, but a simple and 
intelligible classification which recognizes and defines all great 
natural groups, and does not needlessly multiply them on 
account of minute technical differences. It has always 
seemed to me that the natural orders of flowering plants 
afford one of the best, if not the very best, example of such 
a classification. 

It is this attraction to classification, not as a metaphysically 
complete system, but as an aid to the comprehension of a 
subject, which is, I think, one of the chief causes of the sue- 



cess of my books, in almost all of which I have aimed at a 
simple and intelligible rather than a strictly logical arrange- 
ment of the subject-matter. 

Another lecture, the draft for which I prepared pretty 
fully, was on a rather wider subject — The Advantages of 
Varied Knowledge — in opposition to the idea that it was better 
to learn one subject thoroughly than to know something of 
many subjects. In the case of a business or profession, some- 
thing may be said for the latter view, but I treated it as a 
purely personal matter which led to the cultivation of a 
variety of faculties, and gave pleasurable occupation through- 
out life. A few extracts may, perhaps, be permitted from 
this early attempt. Speaking of a general acquaintance with 
history, biography, art, and science, I say, " There is an 
intrinsic value to ourselves in these varied branches of knowl- 
edge, so much indescribable pleasure in their possession, so 
much do they add to the enjoyment of every moment of our 
existence, that it is impossible to estimate their value, and we 
would hardly accept boundless wealth, at the cost, if it were 
possible, of their irrecoverable loss. And if it is thus we feel 
as to our general store of mental acquirement, still more do 
we appreciate the value of any particular branch of study we 
may ardently pursue. What pleasure would remain for the 
enthusiastic artist were he forbidden to gaze upon the face 
of nature, and transfer her loveliest scenes to his canvas? or 
for the poet were the means denied him to rescue from 
oblivion the passing visions of his imagination ? or to the chem- 
ist were he snatched from his laboratory ere some novel ex- 
periment were concluded, or some ardently pursued theory 
confirmed? or to any of us were we compelled to forego 
some intellectual pursuit that was bound up with our every 
thought? And here we see the advantage possessed by him 
whose studies have been in various directions, and who at 
different times has had many different pursuits, for whatever 
may happen, he will always find something in his surround- 
ings to interest and instruct him." 

And further on, as illustrations of the interest in common 


things conferred by a knowledge of the elementary laws of 
physical science, I remark — 

" Many who marvel at the rolling thunder care not to 
inquire what causes the sound which is heard when a tightly- 
fitting cork is quickly drawn from a bottle, or when a whip is 
cracked, or a pistol fired ; and while they are struck with awe 
and admiration at the dazzling lightning, look upon the 
sparks drawn from a cat's back on a frosty evening and the 
slight crackle that accompanies them as being fit only to 
amuse a child; yet in each case the cause of the trifling and 
of the grand phenomena are the same. He who has extended 
his inquiries into the varied phenomena of nature learns to 
despise no fact, however small, and to consider the most 
apparently insignificant and cornmon occurrences as much in 
need of explanation as those of a grander and more imposing 
character. He sees in every dewdrop trembling on the grass 
causes at work analogous to those which have produced the 
spherical figure of the earth and planets ; and in the beautiful 
forms of cr}^stallization on his window-panes on a frosty 
morning he recognizes the action of laws which may also 
have a part in the production of the similar forms of plants 
and of many of the lower animal types. Thus the simplest 
facts of everyday life have to him an inner meaning, and he 
sees that they depend upon the same general laws as those 
that are at work in the grandest phenomena of nature." 

I then pass in review the chief arts and sciences, showing 
their inter-relations and unsolved problems; and in remark- 
ing on the Daguerreotype, then the only mode of photographic 
portraiture, I make a suggestion that, though very simple, 
has not yet been carried out. It is as follows: — 

" It would be a curious and interesting thing to have a series 
of portraits taken of a person each successive year. These 
would show the gradual changes from childhood to old age 
in a very striking manner ; and if a number of such series 
from different individuals were obtained, and a brief outline 
given of their lives during each preceding year, we should 
have materials not merely for the curious to gaze at, but 
which might elucidate the problem of how far the mind reacts 



upon the countenance. We should see the effects of pain or 
pleasure, of idleness or activity, of dissipation or study, and 
thus watch the action of the various passions of the mind in 
modifying the form of the body, and particularly the expres- 
sion of the features." 

Now that photography is so widespread and so greatly 
improved, it is rather curious that nothing of this kind has 
been done. Some of our numerous scientific societies might 
offer to take such photographs of any of their members who 
would agree to be taken regularly, and would undertake to 
have one or two of their children similarly taken till they 
came of age, and also to prepare a very short record each 
year of the main events or occupations of their lives. If this 
were widely done in every part of the country, a most inter- 
esting and instructive collection of those series which were 
most complete would be obtained. I have given the con- 
cluding passage of the lecture as it appears in the rough draft, 
which never got rewritten. 

" Can we believe that we are fulfilling the purpose of our 
existence while so many of the wonders and beauties of the 
creation remain unnoticed around us? While so much of 
the mystery which man has been able to penetrate, however 
imperfectly, is still all dark to us? While so many of the 
laws which govern the universe and which influence our lives 
are, by us, unknown and uncared for? And this not because 
we want the power, but the will, to acquaint ourselves with 
them. Can we think it right that, with the key to so much 
that we ought to know, and that we should be the better for 
knowing, in our possession, we seek not to open the door, but 
allow this great store of mental wealth to lie unused, pro- 
ducing no return for us, while our highest powers and capa- 
cities rust for want of use? 

" It is true that man is still, as he always has been, subject 
to error; his judgments are often incorrect, his beliefs false, 
his opinions changeable from age to age. But experience of 
error is his best guide to truth, often dearly bought, and, 
therefore, the more to be relied upon. And what is it but 
the accumulated experience of past ages that serves us as a 


beacon light to warn us from error, to guide us in the way 
of truth. How little should we know had the knowledge 
acquired by each preceding age died with it! How blindly 
should we grope our way in the same obscurity as did our 
ancestors, pursue the same phantoms, make the same fatal 
blunders, encounter the same perils, in order to purchase the 
same truths whicH had been already acquired by the same 
process, and lost again and again in bygone ages! But the 
wonder-working press prevents this loss ; truths once acquired 
are treasured up by it for posterity, and each succeeding gen- 
eration adds something to the stock of acquired knowledge, 
so that our acquaintance with the works of nature is ever 
increasing, the range of our inquiries is extended each age, 
the power of mind over matter becomes, year by year, more 
complete. Yet our horizon ever widens, the limits to our 
advance seem more distant than ever, and there seems noth- 
ing too noble, too exalted, too marvellous, for the ever-in- 
creasing knowledge of future generations to attain to. 

" Is it not fitting that, as intellectual beings with such high 
powers, we should each of us acquire a knowledge of what 
past generations have taught us, so that, should the oppor- 
tunity occur, we may be able to add somewhat, however small, 
to the fund of instruction for posterity ? Shall we not then 
feel the satisfaction of having done all in our power to improve 
by culture those higher faculties that distinguish us from the 
brutes, that none of the talents with which we may have been 
gifted have been suffered to lie altogther idle? And, lastly, 
can any reflecting mind have a doubt that, by improving to 
the utmost the nobler faculties of our nature in this world, 
we shall be the better fitted to enter upon and enjoy whatever 
new state of being the future may have in store for us ? " 

These platitudes are of no particular interest, except as 
showing the bent of my mind at that period, and as indicating 
a disposition for discursive reading and study, which has been 
a great advantage to myself and which has enabled me to 
write on a variety of subjects without committing any very 
grievous blunders (so far as my critics have pointed out), and 
with, I hope, some little profit to my readers. 



The only other subject on which I attempted to write at 
this time was on the manners and customs of the Welsh 
peasantry as they had come under my personal observation 
in Brecknockshire and Glamorganshire. I have already de- 
scribed how I came to take some interest in agriculture 
while surveying in Bedfordshire, and the adjacent counties, 
and this interest was increased by a careful study of Sir 
Humphry Davy's " Lectures on Agricultural Chemistry, " 
which I met with soon afterwards. I was, therefore, the 
better able to compare the high class farming of the home 
counties with that of the ignorant Welshmen, under all the 
disadvantages of a poor soil and adverse climate, of distant 
markets, and the almost entire absence of what the English 
farmer would consider capital. 

Having lived for more than a year on an average Welsh 
farm at Bryn-coch, while we had often lodged with small 
farmers and labourers, or at public-houses whose landlords 
almost always farmed a little land, I got to know a good deal 
about their ways, and adding to this my own observation of 
the kind of land they had to farm, and the difficulties under 
which they laboured, I felt inclined to write a short account 
of them in the hope that I might perhaps get it accepted by 
some magazine as being sufficiently interesting for publica- 
tion. I wrote it out fairly with this intention, and two years 
afterwards, when in London, I took it to the editor of a maga- 
zine (I forget which) who promised to look over it. He 
returned it in a few days with the remark that it seemed 
more suited for an agricultural journal than for a popular 
magazine. I made no other offer of it, and as it was my 
first serious attempt at writing, though I am afraid it is rather 
dull, I present it to my readers as one of the landmarks in 
my literary career. I may add that I have recently visited 
the Upper Vale of Neath, and renewed my acquaintance with 
its picturesque scenery. The chief differences that I saw are 
that some of the smaller farm houses and cottages are in ruins, 
and that the farms seem to be somewhat larger. Where the 
ground is fairly level the mowing machine is now used, but in 
the condition of the farm-yards and the style of the houses I 


see no advance whatever. Some of the old customs have 
vanished, for I was unable to obtain any flummery, and on my 
inquiry for bake-stone bread I found that it was now rarely 
made. A cake was, however, prepared specially for me, but 
being made of white American flour it had not the flavour of 
that which I used so much to enjoy made from the brown 
flour of home-grown wheat. 


Introductory Remarks 

In the following pages I have endeavoured to give a correct idea of 
the habits, manners, and mode of life of the Welsh hill farmer, a class 
which, on account of the late Rebecca disturbances, has excited much 
interest. Having spent some years in Radnorshire, Brecknockshire, 
Glamorganshire, and other parts of South Wales, and been frequently 
in the dwellings of the farmers and country people, and had many 
opportunities of observing their customs and manners, all that I here 
mention is from my own observation, or obtained by conversation with 
the parties. I have taken Glamorganshire as the locality of most of 
what I describe, as I am best acquainted with that part and the borders 
of Carmarthenshire, where the recent disturbances have been most 

Whenever there is any great difference in neighbouring counties, I 
have noticed it. I may here observe that in Radnorshire the Welsh 
manners are in a great measure lost with the language, which is entirely 
English, spoken with more purity than in many parts of England, with 
the exception of those parts bordering Cardiganshire and Brecknock- 
shire, where the Welsh is still used among the old people, the River 
Wye, which is the boundary of the latter county and Radnorshire, in 
its course between Rhayader Gwy and the Hay, also separates the two 
languages. On the Radnorshire side of the river you will find in nine 
houses out of ten English commonly spoken, while directly you have 
crossed the river, there is as great or a still greater preponderance of 
Welsh. In the country a few miles round the seaport town of Swansea 
most of the peculiarities I shall mention may be seen to advantage. In 
the east and south-eastern parts of Glamorganshire, called the Vale of 
Glamorgan, the appearance of the country and the inhabitants is much 
more like those of England. The land is very good and fertile, agri- 



culture is much attended to and practised on much better principles. 
This part, therefore (the neighbourhood of the towns of Cowbridge 
and Cardiff), is excepted from the following remarks. 

The South- Wales Farmer: His Modes of Agriculture, 
Domestic Life, Customs, and Character. 

The generality of mountain farms in Glamorganshire and most other 
parts of South Wales are small, though they may appear large when 
the number of acres only is considered, a large proportion being fre- 
quently rough mountain land. On the average they consist of from 
twenty to fifty acres of arable land in fields of from four to six, and 
rarely so much as ten acres ; the same quantity of rough, boggy, bushy, 
rushy pasture, and perhaps as much, or twice as much, short-hay 
meadow, which term will be explained hereafter; and from fifty to 
five hundred acres of rough mountain pasture, on which sheep and 
cattle are turned to pick up their living as they can. 

Their system of farming is as poor as the land they cultivate. In it 
we see all the results of carelessness, prejudice, and complete ignor- 
ance. We see the principle of doing as well as those who went before 
them, and no better, in full operation; the good old system which 
teaches us not to suppose ourselves capable of improving on the wis- 
dom of our forefathers, and which has made the early polished nations 
of the East so inferior in every respect to us, whose reclamation from 
barbarism is ephemeral compared with their long period of almost 
stationary civilization. The Welshman, when you recommend any 
improvement in his operations, will tell you, like the Chinaman, that 
it is an " old custom," and that what did for his forefathers is good 
enough for him. But let us see if the farmer is so bad as this mode of 
doing his business may be supposed to make him. In his farmyard we 
find the buildings with broken and gaping doors, and the floors of the 
roughest pitching. In one corner is a putrid pond, the overflowings of 
which empty themselves into the brook below. Into this all the drain- 
ings from the dungheaps in the upper part of the yard run, and thus, 
by evaporation in summer and the running into the brook in winter, 
full one-half of the small quantity of manure he can obtain (from his 
cattle spending the greater part of their time on the mountain and in 
wet bushy pastures) is lost. 

The management of his arable land is dreadfully wasteful and 
injurious. Of green crops (except potatoes can be so called) he has 
not the slightest idea, and if he takes no more than three grain crops 
off the land in succession, he thinks he does very well; five being not 
uncommon. The first and principal crop is wheat, on which he bestows 
all the manure he can muster, with a good quantity of lime. He thus 


gets a pretty good crop. The next year he gets a crop of barley with- 
out any manure whatever, and after that a crop of oats, unmanured. 
He then leaves the field fallow till the others have been treated in the 
same manner, and then returns to serve it thus cruelly again ; first, how- 
ever, getting his potato crop before his wheat. Some, after the third 
crop (oats), manure the land as well as they can, and sow barley with 
clover, which they mow and feed off the second year, and then let it 
remain as pasture for some time; others, again, have three crops of 
oats in succession after the wheat and barley, and thus render the 
land utterly useless for many years. 

In this manner the best crops of wheat they can get with abundance 
of manure, on land above the average quality, is about twenty bushels 
per acre — ten bushels is, however, more general, and sometimes only 
seven or eight are obtained. 

The rough pastures on which the cattle get their living and waste 
their manure a great part of the time consist chiefly of various species 
of rushes and sedges, a few coarse grasses, and gorse and fern on the 
drier parts. They are frequently, too, covered with brambles, dwarf 
willows, and alders. 

The "short-hay meadows," as they are called, are a class of lands 
entirely unknown in most parts of England; I shall, therefore, en- 
deavour to describe them. 

They consist of large undulating tracts of lands on the lower slopes 
of the mountains, covered during autumn, winter, and spring with a 
very short brownish yellow wet turf. In May, June, and July the 
various plants forming this turf spring up, and at the end of summer 
are mown, and form " short-hay " ; and well it deserves the name, for 
it is frequently almost impossible to take it up with a hayfork, in 
which case it is raked up and gathered by armfuls into the cars. The 
produce varies from two to six hundredweight per acre; four may be 
about the average, or five acres of land to produce a ton of hay. Dur- 
ing the rest of the year it is almost good for nothing. It is astonish- 
ing how such stuff can be worth the labour of mowing and making it 
into hay. An English farmer would certainly not do it, but the poor 
Welshman has no choice; he must either cut his short-hay or have no 
food for his cattle in the winter; so he sets to, and sweeps away with 
his scythe a breadth which would astonish an English mower. 

The soil which produces these meadows is a poor yellow clay rest- 
ing on the rock; on the surface of the clay is a stratum of peaty 
vegetable matter, sometimes of considerable thickness though more 
generally only a few inches, which collects and retains the moisture 
in a most remarkable manner, so that though the ground should have 
a very steep slope the water seems to saturate and cling to it like a 
sponge, so much so that after a considerable period of dry weather, 
when, from the burnt appearance of the surface, you would imagine 



it to be perfectly free from moisture, if you venture to kneel or lie 
down upon it you will almost instantly be wetted to the skin. 

The plants which compose these barren slopes are a few grasses, 
among which are the sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) 
and the crested hair grass (Kceleria cristata), several Cyperacese — 
species of carex or sedge which form a large proportion, and the 
feathery cotton grass (Eriophorum vaginatiim) . The toad-rush (/«»- 
cus bufonius) is frequently very plentiful, and many other plants of 
the same kind. Several rare or interesting British plants are here 
found often in great profusion. The Lancashire asphodel (Narthe- 
cium ossifragum) often covers acres with its delicate yellow and red 
blossoms. The spotted orchis (O. maculata) is almost universally 
present. The butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) is also found here, and 
the beautiful little pimpernel (Anagallis tenella). The louseworts 
(Pendicularis sylvatica and P. palustris), the melancholy thistle (Cin- 
cus heterophylliis), and the beautiful blue milkwort {Poly gala vul- 
garis), and many others, are generally exceedingly plentiful, and 
afford much gratification to the botanist and lover of nature. 

The number of sheep kept on these farms is about one to each 
acre of mountain, where they live the greater part of the year, being 
only brought down to the pastures in the winter, and again turned on 
the mountain with their lambs in the spring. One hundred acres of 
pasture and " short-hay meadow " will support from thirty to forty 
cattle, ten or a dozen calves and oxen being sold each year. 

The farmers are almost invariably yearly tenants, consequently 
little improvement is made even in parts which could be much bettered 
by draining. The landlord likes to buy more land with his spare 
capital (if he has any) rather than improve these miserable farms, 
and the tenant is too poor to lay out money, or if he has it will not 
risk his being obliged to leave the farm or pay higher rent in return 
for his permanently improving another person's land. 

The hedges and gates are seldom in sufficiently good repair to keep 
out cattle, and can hardly be made to keep out mountain sheep, who 
set them completely at defiance, nothing less than a six-foot stone 
wall, and not always that, serving to confine them. The farmer con- 
sequently spends a good deal of his time in driving them out of his 
young clover (when he has any) or his wheat. He is also constantly 
engaged in disputes, and not infrequently litigation, with his neigh- 
bours, on account of the mutual trespasses of their stock. 

The Welshman is by no means sharp-sighted when his cattle are 
enjoying themselves in a neighbour's field, especially when the master 
is from home, otherwise the fear of the " pound " will make him with- 
draw them after a short time. 

On almost every farm water is very plentiful, often far too much 
so, and it is sometimes run over a meadow, but in such a manner as 


to lose one-half of the advantage which might be derived from it. The 
farmer is contented with merely cutting two or three gaps in the 
watercourse at the top, from which the water flows over the field as 
it best can, scarcely wetting some parts and making complete pools in 

Weeding he considers quite an unnecessary refinement, fit only for 
those who have plenty of money to waste upon their fancies — except 
now and then, when the weeds have acquired an alarming preponder- 
ance over the crop, he perhaps sets feebly to work to extract the more 
prominent after they have arrived at maturity and the mischief is 
done. His potatoes are overrun with persicarias, docks, and spurges; 
his wheat and barley with corn cockle, corn scabious, and knapweed, 
and his pastures with thistles, elecampine, etc., all in the greatest abun- 
dance. If you ask him why he leaves his land in such a disgraceful 
state, and try to impress upon him how much better crops he would 
have if he cleared it, he will tell you that he does not think they do 
much harm, and that if he cleaned them this year, there would be as 
many as ever next year, and, above all, that he can't afiford it, asking 
you where he is to get money to pay people for doing it. 

The poultry, geese, ducks, and fowls are little attended to, being 
left to pick up their living as well as they can. Geese are fattened by 
being turned into the corn stubble, the others are generally killed from 
the yard. The fowls, having no proper places to lay in, are not very 
profitable with regard to eggs, which have to be hunted for and dis- 
covered in all sorts of places. This applies more particularly to Gla- 
morganshire, which is in a great measure supplied with eggs and 
poultry from Carmarthenshire, or " Sir Gaer " (pronounced there 
gar) as it is called in Welsh, where they manage them much better. 

If there happens to be in the neighbourhood anyone who farms on 
the improved English system, has a proper course of crops, with tur- 
nips, etc., folds his sheep, and manages things in a tidy manner, it is 
impossible to make the Welshman believe that such a way of going 
on pays ; he will persist that the man is losing money by it all the time, 
and that he only keeps it on because he is ashamed to confess the fail- 
ure of his new method. Even should the person go on for many years, 
to all appearance prosperously and in everybody else's eyes making 
money by his farm, still the Welshman will declare that he has some 
other source from which he draws to purchase his dear-bought farm- 
ing amusement, and that the time will come when he will be obliged 
to give it up ; and though you tell him that the greater part of the land 
in England is farmed in that manner, and ask him whether he thinks 
they can all be foolish enough to go on losing money year after year, 
he is still incredulous, says that he knows " the nature of farming," and 
that such work as that can never pay. While the ignorance which causes 
this incredulity exists, it is evidently a difficult task to improve him. 



Domestic Life, Customs, etc. 

The house is a tiled, white-washed edifice, in the crevices of which 
wall rue, common spleenwort, and yarrow manage generally to vege- 
tate, not\vithstanding their (at the very least) annual coat of lime. It 
consists on the ground floor of a rather large and very dark room, 
which serves as kitchen and dining-room for the family, and a rather 
better one used as a parlour on high days or when visitors call; this 
latter frequently serves as the bedroom of the master and mistress. 
The kitchen, which is the theatre of the Welsh farmer's domestic life, 
has either a clay floor or one of very uneven stone paving, and the 
ceiling is in many cases composed of merely the floor boards of the 
room above, through the chinks of which everything going on aloft 
can be very conveniently heard and much seen. The single window is 
a small and low one, and this is rendered almost useless by the dirti- 
ness of the glass, some window drapery, a Bible, hymn book and some 
old newspapers on the sill, and a sickly-looking geranium or myrtle, 
which seems a miracle of vital tenacity in that dark and smoky 
atmosphere. On one side may be discerned an oak sideboard bril- 
liantly polished, on the upper part of which are rows of willow pattern 
plates and dishes, in one corner an open cupboard filled with common 
gaudily-coloured china, and in the other a tall clock with a handsome 
oak case. Suspended from the ceiling is a serious impediment to up- 
right walking in the shape of a bacon rack, on which is, perhaps, a 
small supply of that article and some dried beef, also some dried herbs 
in paper, a large collection of walking sticks, and an old gun. In the 
chimney opening a coal fire in an iron grate takes the place of the open 
hearth and smoky peat of Radnorshire and other parts. A long sub- 
stantial oak table, extending along the room under the window, an 
old armchair or two, a form or bench and two or three stools, com- 
plete the furniture of the apartment. From the rack before mentioned 
is generally suspended a piece of rennet for making cheese, and over 
the mantelpiece is probably a toasting-fork, one brass and two tin can- 
dlesticks, and a milk strainer with a hole in the bottom of it; on the 
dresser, too, will be perceived a brush and comb which serve for the 
use of the whole family, and which you may apply to your own head 
(if you feel so inclined) without any fear of giving offence. 

Upstairs the furniture is simple enough : two or three plain beds in 
each room with straw mattresses and home-made blankets, sheets 
being entirely unknown or despised; a huge oak chest full of oatmeal, 
dried beef, etc., with perhaps a chest of drawers to contain the ward- 
robe; a small looking-glass which distorts the gazer's face into a 
mockery of humanity; and a plentiful supply of fleas, are all worth 
noticing. Though the pigs are not introduced into the family quite so 


familiarly as in Ireland, the fowls seem to take their place. It is noth- 
ing uncommon for them to penetrate even upstairs; for we were once 
ourselves much puzzled to account for the singular phenomenon of 
finding an egg upon the bed, which happened twice or we might have 
thought it put there by accident. It was subsequently explained to us 
that some persons thought it lucky for the fowls to lay there: the 
abundance of fleas was no longer a mystery. The bed in the parlour 
before mentioned serves, besides its ostensible use, as a secret cup- 
board, where delicacies may be secured from the junior members of 
the family. I have been informed by an acquaintance whose veracity I 
can rely on (and indeed I should otherwise find no difficulty in believ- 
ing it) that one day, being asked to take some bread and cheese in a 
respectable farmhouse, the wheat bread (a luxury) was procured from 
some mysterious part of the bed, either between the blankets or under 
the mattress, which my informant could not exactly ascertain. The 
only assistants in the labours of the farm, besides the sons and daugh- 
ters, is generally a female servant, whose duties are multifarious and 
laborious, including driving the horses while ploughing and in haytime, 
and much other out-of-door work. If you enter the house in the 
morning, you will probably see a huge brass pan on the fire filled with 
curdled milk for making cheese. Into this the mistress dips her red 
and not particularly clean arm up to the elbow, stirring it round most 
vigorously. Meals seem to be prepared solely for the men, as you sel- 
dom see the women sit down to table with them. They will either wait 
till the others have done or take their dinner on their laps by the fire. 
The breakfast consists of hasty-pudding or oatmeal porridge, or cheese 
with thin oatmeal cakes or barley bread, which are plentifully supplied 
at all meals, and a basin of milk for each person; for dinner there is 
perhaps the same, with the addition of a huge dish of potatoes, which 
they frequently break into their basin of milk or eat with their cheese; 
and for supper, often milk with flummery or " siccan " (pronounced 
shiccan). As this is a peculiar and favourite Welsh dish, I will de- 
scribe its composition. The oat bran with some of the meal left in it 
is soaked for several days in water till the acetous fermentation com- 
mences; it is then strained off, producing a thin, starchy liquid. When 
wanted for use this is boiled, and soon becomes nearly of the consist- 
ence and texture of blancmange, of a fine light brown colour and a 
peculiar acid taste which, though at first disagreeable to most persons, 
becomes quite pleasant with use. This is a dish in high repute with all 
real Welshmen. Each person is provided with a basin of new milk, 
cold, and a spoon, and a large dish of hot flummery is set on the table, 
each person helping himself to as much as he likes (and that is often 
a great deal), putting it in his basin of milk; and it is, I have no doubt, 
very wholesome and nourishing food. I must mention that the women, 
both in the morning and evening (and frequently at dinner too), treat 



themselves to a cup of tea, which is as universal a necessary among 
the fair sex here as in other parts of the kingdom. They prefer it, too, 
without milk, which they say takes away the taste, and as it is gener- 
ally made very weak, that may be the case. Once or twice a week a 
piece of bacon or dry beef is added to dinner or supper, more as a 
relish to get down the potatoes than as being any food in itself. The 
beef in particular is so very high-dried and hard as almost to defy the 
carver's most strenuous efforts. The flavour is, nevertheless, at times 
very fine when the palate gets used to it, though the appearance is far 
from inviting, being about the colour and not far from the hardness 
of the black oak table. They generally keep it in a large chest in oat- 
meal (which was before mentioned). Often, when lodging at a little 
country inn, have we, when just awake in the morning, seen one of 
the children come stealthily into the room, open the lid of the huge 
chest, climb over the edge of it, and, diving down, almost disappear 
in its recesses, whence, after sundry efforts and strainings, he has 
reappeared, dragging forth a piece of the aforesaid black beef, which 
is obtained thus early that it may be soaked a few hours before boiling, 
to render it more submissive to the knife. 

From the foregoing particulars it will be seen that these people live 
almost entirely on vegetable food. When a cow or a pig is killed, for 
a day or two they luxuriate on fresh meat; but this is the exception, 
not the rule. Herrings, too, they are fond of as a relish, as well as 
cockles and other indigestible food; but neither these nor the beef and 
bacon can be considered to be the staple food of the peasantry, which 
is, in one form or another, potatoes, oatmeal, bread, cheese, and milk. 

The great consumption of oatmeal produces, as might be expected, 
cutaneous diseases, though, generally speaking, the people are tolerably 
healthy. They have a great horror of the doctor, whom they never send 
for but when they think there is some great danger. So long as the 
patient is free from pain they think all is right. They have not the 
slightest idea of what an invalid ought to eat. If gruel is ordered, they 
make a lumpy oatmeal pudding, to which, however, the sick man will 
frequently prefer bread and cheese. When they have gone on in this 
way till the unhappy individual is in the greatest danger and the med- 
ical attendant insists upon his directions being attended to, they un- 
willingly submit; and if the patient dies, they then impute it entirely 
to the doctor, and vow they will never call him in to kill people again. 

As in most rural districts, by constant inter-marriages every family 
has a host of relations in the surrounding country. All consider it their 
duty to attend a funeral, and almost every person acquainted with the 
deceased attends as a mark of respect. Consequently the funerals are 
very large, often two or three hundred persons, and when the corpse 
has to be carried a distance, most of them come on horseback, which, 
with the varied colours of the women's dresses and the solemn sounds 


of a hymn from a hundred voices, as they wend their way along some 
lonely mountain road, has a most picturesque and interesting effect. 
This large company generally meet at the house, where provisions are 
ready for all who choose to partake of them. The well-known beau- 
tiful custom of adorning the graves with flowers and evergreens is 
much practised. 

When a birth takes place in a family all the neighbours and rela- 
tions call within a few days to inquire after the health of the mother 
and child, and take a cup of tea or bread and cheese, and everyone 
brings some present, either a pound of sugar, quarter pound of tea, 
or a shilling or more in money, as they think best. This is expected to 
be returned when the givers are in a similar situation. 

The " bidding," which is a somewhat similar custom at a marriage, 
is not quite so general, though it is still much used in Carmathenshire. 
When a young couple are married they send notice to all their friends, 
that "on a day named they intend to have a 'bidding,' at which they 
request their company, with any donations they may think proper, which 
will be punctually returned when they are called upon on a similar 
occasion." At such biddings £20 or £30 are frequently collected, and 
sometimes much more, and as from various causes they are not called 
upon to return more than one-half, they get half the sum clear, and a 
loan without interest of the other half to commence life with. 

The national dress or costume of the men (if ever they had any) is 
not now in use; that of the women, however, is still very peculiar. 
Both use principally home-made articles, spinning their own wool and 
sending it to the factory to be made into flannel or cloth. They also 
dye the wool black themselves, using in the operation the contents of 
certain well-known domestic utensils, which is kept stewing over the 
fire some days, emitting a most unsavoury odour, which, however, they 
assert to be very wholesome. The men generally wear a square cut 
coat of home-made pepper-and-salt coloured cloth, waistcoat and 
breeches or trousers of the same, and a round low-crowned hat; or 
occasionally fustian trousers and gay flannel waistcoat with bright 
metal buttons, coloured neckerchief, home-knit stockings of black 
sheep's wool, and lace-up boots. Shirts of checked coarse flannel — 
cotton shirts and sheets being considered equally luxurious. One of 
the most striking parts of the women's dress is the black beaver hat, 
which is almost universally worn and is both picturesque and becom- 
ing. It is made with a very high crown, narrowing towards the top, 
and a broad, perfectly flat brim, thus differing entirely from any man's 
hat. They frequently give thirty shillings for one of these hats, and 
make them last the greater part of their lives. The body dress consists 
of what they call a bedgown, or betcown, as it is pronounced, which 
is a dress made quite plain, entirely open in front (like a gentleman's 
dressing gown), with sleeves a little short of the elbow. A necessary 



accompaniment to this is an apron, which ties it up round the waist. 
The bedgown is invariably formed of what they call flannel, which is 
a stuff formed by a mixture of wool, cotton, and sometimes a little 
silk. It is often striped black or dark blue, or brown and white, with 
alternate broad and narrow stripes, or red and black, but more fre- 
quently a plaid of several colours, the red and black being wool, the 
white or blue cotton, and often a narrow yellow stripe of silk, made 
in plaid patterns of every variety of size and colour. The apron is 
almost always black-and-white plaid, the only variety being in the 
form and size of the pattern, and has a pretty effect by relieving the 
gay colours of the other part of the dress. They in general wear no 
stays, and this, with the constant habit of carrying burdens on the 
head, produces almost invariably an upright carriage and good figure, 
though rather inclined to the corpulency of Dutch beauties. On their 
necks they usually wear a gay silk kerchief or flannel shawl, a neat 
white cap under the hat; laced boots and black worsted stockings com- 
plete their attire. In Carmarthenshire a jacket with sleeves is fre- 
quently worn by the women, in other respects their dress does not 
much differ from what I have described. 

The women and girls carry (as before mentioned) great loads upon 
their heads, fifty or sixty pounds weight, and often much more. Large 
pitchers (like Grecian urns) of water or milk are often carried for long 
distances on uneven roads, with both hands full at the same time. 
They may be often seen turning round their heads to speak to an 
acquaintance and tripping along with the greatest unconcern, but never 
upsetting the pitcher. The women are almost invariably stout and 
healthy looking, notwithstanding their hard work and poor living. 
These circumstances, however, make them look much older than they 
really are. The girls are often exceedingly pretty when about fifteen 
to twenty, but after that, hard work and exposure make their features 
coarse, so that a girl of five-and-twenty would often be taken for nearer 

All, but especially the young ones, ride most fearlessly, and at 
fairs they may be seen by dozens racing like steeple-chasers. 

Many of these farmers are freeholders, cultivating their own land 
and living on the produce; but they are generally little, if any, better 
off than the tenants, leaving the land in the same manner, thus show- 
ing that it is not altogether want of leases and good landlords that 
makes them so, but the complete ignorance in which they pass their 

All that I have hitherto said refers solely to the poorer class, 
known as hill farmers. In the valleys and near the town where the 
land is better, there are frequently better educated farmers, who assim- 
ilate more to the English in their agricultural operations, mode of 
living, and dress. 


In all the mining districts, too, there is another class — the colliers 
and furnacemen, smiths, etc., who are as different from the farmers in 
everything as one set of men can be from another. When times are 
good their wages are such as to afford them many luxuries which the 
poor farmer considers far too extravagant. Instead of living on vege- 
table diet with cheese and buttermilk, they luxuriate on flesh and fowl, 
and often on game too, of their own procuring. But in their dress is 
the greatest difference. The farmer is almost always dressed the same, 
except that on Sundays and market-day it is newer. But the difference 
between the collier or furnaceman at his work — when he is half naked, 
begrimed from head to foot, labouring either in the bowels of the earth 
or among roaring fires, and looking more like demon than man — and on 
holidays dressed in a suit of clothes that would not disgrace an English 
gentleman, is most remarkable. It is nothing uncommon to see these 
men dressed in coat and trousers of Une black cloth, elegant waistcoat, 
fine shirt, beaver hat, Wellington boots, and a fine silk handkerchief in 
his pocket ; and instead of being ridiculous, as the clumsy farmer would 
be in such a dress, wearing it with a quiet, unconcerned, and gentle- 
manly air. The men at the large works, such as Merthyr Tydfil, are 
more gaudy in their dress, and betray themselves much more quickly 
than the colliers of many other districts. 

It is an undoubted fact, too, that the persons engaged in the col- 
lieries and iron works are far more intellectual than the farmers, and 
pay more attention to their own and their children's education. Many 
of them indeed are well informed on most subjects, and in every respect 
much more highly civilized than the farmer. 

The wages which these men get — in good times £2 or £3 per week — 
prevents them, with moderate care, from being ever in any great dis- 
tress. They likewise always live well, which the poor farmer does not, 
and though many of them have a bit of land and all a potato ground, 
the turnpike grievances, poor-rates, and tithes do not affect them as 
compared with the farmers, to whom they are a grievous burden, mak- 
ing the scanty living with which they are contented hard to be obtained. 

Their rents, too, continue the same as when their produce sold for 
much more and the above-mentioned taxes were not near so heavy. 
The consequence is that the poor farmer works from morning to night 
after his own fashion, lives in a manner which the poorest English 
labourer would grumble at, and as his reward, perhaps, has his goods 
and stock sold by his landlord to pay the exorbitant rent, averaging 8s. 
or los. per acre for such land as I have described. 

Language, Character, etc. 

The Welsh farmer is a veritable Welshman. He can speak English 
but very imperfectly, and has an abhorrence of all Saxon manners and 



innovations. He is frequently unable to read or write, but can some- 
times con over his Welsh Bible, and make out an unintelligible bill ; and 
if in addition he can read a little English and knows the four first rules 
of arithmetic, he may be considered a well-educated man. The women 
almost invariably neither read nor write, and can scarcely ever under- 
stand two words of English. They fully make up for this, however, by 
a double share of volubility and animation in the use of their own lan- 
guage, and their shrill clear voices are indications of good health, and 
are not unpleasant. The choleric disposition usually ascribed to the 
Welsh is, I think, not quite correct. Words do not often lead to blows, 
as they take a joke or a satirical expression very good humouredly, and 
return it very readily. Fighting is much more rarely resorted to than in 
England, and it is, perhaps, the energy and excitement with which they 
discuss even common topics of conversation that has given rise to the 
misconception. They have a ready and peculiar wit, something akin to 
the Irish, but more frequently expressed so distantly and allegorically 
as to be unintelligible to one who does not understand their modes of 
thought and peculiarities of idioms, which latter no less than the former 
they retain even when they converse in English. They are very proud 
of their language, on the beauty and expression of which they will 
sometimes dilate with much animation, concluding with a triumphant 
assertion that theirs is a language, while the English is none, but 
merely a way of speaking. 

The language, though at times guttural, is, when well spoken, both 
melodious and impressive. There are many changes in the first letters 
of words, for the sake of euphony, depending on what happens to pre- 
cede them ; m and b, for instance, are often changed into / (pronounced 
v), as melin or felin, a mill; mel or fel, honey. The gender is often 
changed in the same manner, as bach (masculine), fach (feminine), 
small; mawr (m.), fawr (f.), great. The mode of making the plural 
is to an Englishman rather singular, a syllable being taken off instead 
of being added, as is usually the case with us, as plentyn, a child ; plant, 
children; mochyn, a pig; moch, pigs. But in other cases a syllable or 
letter is added. 

Their preachers or public speakers have much influence over them. 
During a discourse there is the most breathless attention, and at the 
pauses a universal thrill of approbation. Allegory is their chief spe- 
cialty, and seems to give the hearers the greatest pleasure, and the 
language appears well fitted for giving it its full effect. 

As might be expected from their ignorance, they are exceedingly 
superstitious, which is rather increased than diminished in those who 
are able to read by their confining their studies almost wholly to the 
Bible. The forms their superstitions take are in general much the same 
as in Scotland, Ireland, and other remote parts of the kingdom. 
Witches and wizards and white witches, as they are called, are firmly 


believed in, and their powers much dreaded. There is a witch within a 
mile of where I am now writing who, according to report, has per- 
formed many wonders. One man who had offended her she witched 
so that he could not rise from his bed for several years, but was at 
last cured by inviting the witch to tea and making friends with her. 
Another case was of a man driving his pig to market when the witch 
passed by. The pig instantly refused to move, sat up on its hind legs 
against the hedge in such a manner as no pig was ever seen to do 
before, and, as it could not be persuaded to walk, was carried home, 
where it soon died. These and dozens of other similar stories are 
vouched for by eye-witnesses, one of whom told me this. A still more 
extraordinary instance of the woman's supernatural powers must be 
mentioned. She is supposed to have the power of changing herself 
into different shapes at pleasure, that of a hare seeming to be with her, 
as with many other witches, the favourite one, as if they delighted in 
the persecution that harmless animal generally meets with. It is related 
that one day, being pursued by men and dogs in this shape, the pur- 
suers came to a coal mine the steam engine of which was in full work, 
bringing up coal. The witch-hare jumped on to the woodwork which 
supports the chains, when immediately they refused to move, the engine 
stopped, pumps, everything remained motionless, and amid the general 
surprise the witch escaped. But the pit could never be worked again, 
the pumps and the engine were taken away, and the ruins of the engine 
house and parts of the other machinery are now pointed out as an 
undoubted and visible proof of the witch's power. 

The witch, being aware of her power over the minds of the people, 
makes use of it for her own advantage, borrowing her neighbours' 
horses and farming implements, which they dare not refuse her. 

But the most characteristic and general superstition of this part of 
the country is the " corpse candle." This is seen in various shapes and 
heard in various sounds ; the normal form, from which it takes its name, 
being, however, a lighted candle, which is supposed to foretell death, by 
going from the house in which the person dies along the road where the 
coffin will be carried to the place of burial. It is only a few of the most 
hardy and best educated who dare to call in question the reality of this 
fearful omen, and the evidence in support of it is of such a startling and 
voluminous character, that did we not remember the trials and burn- 
ings and tortures for witchcraft and demonianism, and all the other 
forms of superstition in England but a few years ago, it would almost 
overpower our common sense. 

I will mention a few cases which have been told me by the persons 
who were witnesses of them, leaving out the hundreds of more marvel- 
lous ones which are everywhere to be heard secondhand. 

A respectable woman, in a house where we lodged, assured us that 
on the evening before one of her children died, she saw a lighted candle 



moving along about three feet from th-e ground from the foot of the 
stairs, across the room towards her, that it came close up to her apron 
and then vanished, and that it was as distinct and plainly visible as the 
other candles which were in the room. 

Another case is of a collier who, going one morning into the pit 
before any of the other men were at work, heard the coal waggons 
coming along, although he knew there could be no one then at work. 
He stood still at the side of the passage, the waggons came along drawn 
by horses as usual, a man he knew walking in front and another at the 
side, and the dead body of one of his fellow workmen was in one of the 
waggons. In the course of the day he related what he had seen to some 
of the workmen (one of whom told me the story), declaring his belief 
that the man whose body he had seen would meet with an accident 
before long. About a year afterwards the man was killed by an accident 
in the pit. The two men seen were near him, and brought him out in 
the waggon, and their being obliged to stop at the particular place and 
every other circumstance happened exactly as had been described. This 
is as the story was told me by a man who declares he heard the prophecy 
and saw the fulfilment a year afterwards. When such stories are told 
and believed, it is, of course, useless arguing against the absurdity of it. 
They naturally say they must believe their own senses, and they are not 
sufficiently educated to appreciate any general argument you may put to 
them. There seems to be no fixed time within which the death should 
follow the "candle" (as all these appearances are called), and there- 
fore when a person sees or thinks he sees anything at night, he sets it 
down as corpse candle, and by the time he gets home the fright has 
enlarged it into something marvellously supernatural, and the first 
corpse that happens to be carried that way is considered to be the fulfil- 
ment of it. 

There is a general belief that if the person who meets a candle im- 
mediately lies down on his back, he will see the funeral procession with 
every person that will be present, and the corpse with the candle in his 
hand. There are many strongly authenticated instances of this. One 
man, on lying down in this manner, saw that it was himself who carried 
the candle in his hand. He went home, went to bed, never rose from it, 
but died in a week. These and numberless other stories of a similar 
character foster the belief in these uneducated people; indeed, it is so 
general that you can hardly meet a person but can tell you of several 
marvellous things he has seen himself, besides hundreds vouched for by 
his neighbours. 

They have an account of the origin of this warning in the story of an 
ancient Welsh bishop, who, while being burnt to death by the Catholics, 
declared that if his religion was true, a candle should precede every 
death in the Diocese of St. Davids, going along the exact road the 
coffin would be carried. They are very incredulous when you tell 


them that these corpse candles are in great repute in Radnorshire, which 
is not in the Diocese of St. Davids, and that there are the same appear- 
ances under a different name in Ireland. 

A celebrated astrologer or conjurer, as he is called in Carmarthen- 
shire, is a living proof of the superstition of the Welsh. This man has 
printed cards, openly professing to cast nativities, etc., of one of which 
the following is a literal copy: 

" Nativities Calculated, 

"In which are given the general transactions of the native through 
life, viz. Description (without seeing the person), temper, disposition, 
fortunate or unfortunate in their general pursuits. Honour, Riches, 
Journeys and Voyages, success therein, and what places best to travel to 
or reside in; Friends and Enemies, Trade or Profession best to follow 
and whether fortunate in speculations, viz. Lottery, dealing in foreign 
markets, &c., &c., &c. 

" Of Marriage, if to marry : — The description, temper and disposi- 
tion of the person; from whence, rich or poor, happy or unhappy in 
marriage, &c., &c., &c. Of children, whether fortunate or not, &c., 
&c., &c. 

" Deducted from the influence of the Sun and Moon with the Plan- 
etary Orbs at the time of birth. 

" Also judgment and general issue in sickness, disease, &c. By 
Henry Harries. 

"All letters addressed to him or his father, Mr. John Harries, 
Surgeon, Cwrtycadno, must be post paid or will not be received." 

He is, however, most generally consulted when money, horses, sheep, 
etc., are stolen. He then, without inquiring the time of birth or any 
other particulars, and without consulting the stars, pretends to know 
who they are and what they come for. He is, however, generally not 
at home, and his wife then treats them well, and holds them in conver- 
sation till he returns, when he immediately gives them some particulars 
of the neighbourhood they live in, and pretends to describe the person 
who stole the goods and the house he lives in, etc., and endeavours to 
frighten the thief by giving out that he will mark him so that everybody 
shall know him. In some few cases this succeeds, the person, fearful of 
the great conjurer's power, returns the goods, and the conjurer then 
gets great credit. In other cases he manages to tell them something 
which they cannot tell how he became aware of, and then even if noth- 
ing more is heard of the goods, he still keeps up his fame. Two cases 
have come under my own observation, in which the parties have gone, 
in one case forty, the other sixty miles, to consult this man about some 
stolen money; and though in neither case was the desired end obtained, 
they were told so much about themselves that they felt sure he must 



have obtained his knowledge by supernatural means. They accord- 
ingly spread his name abroad as a wonderful man, who knew a great 
deal more than other people. The name of his house, " Cwrt y cadno," 
is very appropriate, as it means in English " The Fox's Court." 

Besides these and numberless other instances of almost universal 
belief in supernatural agency, their superstition as well as their ignor- 
ance is further shown by their ascribing to our most harmless reptiles 
powers of inflicting deadly injury. The toad, newt, lizard, and snake 
are, they imagine, virulently poisonous, and they look on with horror, 
and will hardly trust their eyes, should they see them handled with 
impunity. The barking of dogs at night, hooting of owls, or any un- 
usual noise, dreams, etc., etc., are here, as in many parts of England, 
regarded as dark omens of our future destiny, mysterious warnings sent 
to draw aside the veil of futurity and reveal to us, though obscurely, 
impending danger, disease or death. 

Reckoned by the usual standards on these subjects, the religion of 
the lower orders of Welshmen may be said to be high in the scale, while 
their morality is decidedly low. This may appear as a contradiction to 
some persons, but those who are at all acquainted with mankind well 
know that, however luxuriantly religion in its outward forms and influ- 
ence on the tongue may flourish in an uncultivated soil, it is by no 
means necessarily accompanied by an equal growth of morality. The 
former, like the flower of the field, springs spontaneously, or with but 
little care ; the latter, like the useful grain, only by laborious cultivation 
and the careful eradication of useless or noxious weeds. 

If the number of chapels and prayer-meetings, the constant attend- 
ance on them, and the fervour of the congregation can be accounted as 
signs of religion, it is here. Besides the regular services on the Sab- 
bath and on other days, prayer-meetings are held early in the morning 
and late at night in different cottages by turns, where the uneducated 
agriculturist or collier breathes forth an extemporary prayer. The 
Established Church is very rarely well attended. There is not enough 
of an exciting character or of originality in the service to allure them, 
and the preacher is too frequently an Englishman who speaks the native 
tongue, but as a foreigner. 

Their preachers, while they should teach their congregation moral 
duties, boldly decry their vices, and inculcate the commandments and 
the duty of doing to others as we would they should do unto us, here, 
as is too frequently the case throughout the kingdom, dwell almost 
entirely on the mystical doctrine of the atonement — a doctrine certainly 
not intelligible to persons in a state of complete ignorance, and which, 
by teaching them that they are not to rely on their own good deeds, has 
the effect of entirely breaking away the connection between their religion 
and the duties of their everyday life, and of causing them to imagine 


that the animal excitement which makes them groan and shriek and 
leap like madmen in the place of worship, is the true religion which will 
conduce to their happiness here, and lead them to heavenly joys in a 
world to come. 

Among the youth of both sexes, however, the chapel and prayer- 
meeting is considered more in the light of a " trysting " place than as a 
place of worship, and this is one reason of the full attendance espe- 
cially at the evening services. And as the meetings are necessarily in a 
thinly populated country, often distant, the journey, generally performed 
on horseback, affords opportunities for converse not to be neglected. 

Thus it will not be wondered at, even by those who affirm the con- 
nection between religion and morality, that the latter is, as I said before, 
at a very low ebb. Cheating of all kinds, when it can be done without 
being found out, and all the lesser crimes are plentiful enough. The 
notoriety which Welsh juries and Welsh witnesses have obtained (not 
unjustly) shows how little they scruple to break their word or oath. 
Having to give their evidence through the medium of an interpreter 
gives them the advantage in court, as the counsel's voice and manner 
have not so much effect upon them. They are, many of them, very good 
witnesses as far as sticking firmly to the story they have been instructed 
in goes, and returning the witticisms of the learned counsel so as often 
to afford much mirth. To an honest jury a Welsh case is often very 
puzzling, on account of its being hardly possible to get a single fact 
but what is sworn against by an equal number of witnesses of the 
opposite side; but to a Welsh jury, who have generally decided on 
their verdict before the trial commences, it does not present any 
serious difficulty. 

The morals and manners of the females, as might be expected from 
entire ignorance, are very loose, and perhaps in the majority of cases a 
child is born before the marriage takes place. 

But let us not hide the poor Welshman's virtues while we expose 
his faults. Many of the latter arise from his desire to defend his fellow 
countrymen from what he considers unfair or unjust persecution, and 
many others from what he cannot himself prevent — his ignorance. He 
is hospitable even to the Saxon, his fire, jug of milk, and bread and 
cheese being always at your service. He works hard and lives poorly. 
He bears misfortune and injury long before he complains. The late 
Rebecca disturbances, however, show that he may be roused, and his 
ignorance oi other effectual measures should be his excuse for the illegal 
and forcible means he took to obtain redress — means which, moreover, 
have been justified by success. It is to be hoped that he will not have 
again to resort to such outrages as the only way to compel his rulers to 
do him justice. 

A broader system of education is much needed in the Principality. 
Almost all the schools, it is true, teach the English language, but the 



child finds the difficulty of acquiring even the first rudiments of educa- 
tion much increased by his being taught them in an unfamiliar tongue of 
which he has perhaps only picked up a few commonplace expressions. 
In arithmetic, the new language presents a greater difficulty, the method 
of enumerating being different from their own; in fact, many Welsh 
children who have been to school cannot answer a simple question in 
arithmetic till they have first translated it into Welsh. Unless, there- 
fore, they happen to be thrown among English people or are more than 
usually well instructed, they get on but little with anything more than 
speaking English, which those who have been to school generally do very 
well. Whatever else they have learnt is soon lost for want of practice. 
It would be very useful to translate some of the more useful elementary 
works in the different branches of knowledge into Welsh, and sell them 
as cheaply as possible. The few little Welsh books to be had (and they 
are very few) are eagerly purchased and read with great pleasure, show- 
ing that if the means of acquiring knowledge are offered him, the 
Welshman will not refuse them. 

I will now conclude this brief account of the inhabitants of so inter- 
esting a part of our island, a part of which will well repay the trouble 
of a visit, as much for its lovely vales, noble mountains, and foaming 
cascades, as for the old customs and still older language of the in- 
habitants of the little white-washed cottages which enliven its sunny 
vales and barren mountain slopes. 



In April, 1843, father died at Hoddesdon, at the age of 
seventy-two, and was buried in the family vault in St. 
Andrew's churchyard, Hertford. As my sister's school was 
not paying very well, and it was necessary to economize as 
much as possible, the house was given up early the following 
year, my mother took an engagement as housekeeper in a 
gentleman's family at Isleworth, and my sister obtained a post 
as teacher at an episcopal college, then just founded by the 
Bishop of Georgia (Dr. Elliott), at Montpelier Springs, seven- 
teen miles from Macon, and left England in August, 1844. 
In the following year, at the invitation of the parents of 
some of the pupils, she removed to Robinson, near Mont- 
gomery, Alabama, as mistress of a private school much needed 
in the district; and she remained there till she returned to 
England in 1846. 

Shortly before I came of age in January, 1844, my brother 
told me that as he had no work in prospect it was necessary 
that I should leave him and look out for myself ; so I deter- 
mined to go up to London and endeavour to obtain some 

As the period of my home and school life and subsequent 
tutelage under my brother now came to an end, and I had 
for the future to make my own way in the world, this affords 
a suitable occasion for a brief review of the chief point in my 
character, which may now be considered to have been fairly 
determined, although some portions of it had not yet had 
opportunity for full development. I do not think that at this 
time I could be said to have shown special superiority in any 
of the higher mental faculties, but I possessed a strong desire 




to know the causes of things, a great love of beauty m form 
and colour, and a considerable but not excessive desire for 
order and arrangement in whatever I had to do. If I had 
one distinct mental faculty more prominent than another, it 
was the power of correct reasoning from a review of the 
known facts in any case to the causes or laws which produced 
them, and also in detecting fallacies in the reasoning of other 
persons. This power has greatly helped me in all my writ- 
ings, especially those on natural history and sociology. The 
determination of the direction in which I should use these 
powers was due to my possession in a high degree of the two 
mental qualities usually termed emotional or moral, an intense 
appreciation of the beauty, harmony, and variety in nature and 
in all natural phenomena, and an equally strong passion for 
justice as between man and man — an abhorrence of all 
tyranny, all compulsion, all unnecessary interference with the 
liberty of others. These characteristics, combined with cer- 
tain favourable conditions, some of which have already been 
referred to, have determined the direction of the pursuits and 
inquiries in which I have spent a large portion of my life. 

It will be well to state here certain marked deficiencies in 
my mental equipment which have also had a share in deter- 
mining the direction of my special activities. My greatest, 
though not perhaps most important, defect is my inability to 
perceive the niceties of melody and harmony in music; in 
common language, I have no ear for music. But as I have 
a fair appreciation of time, expression, and general effect, I 
am deeply affected by grand, pathetic, or religious music, and 
can at once tell when the heart and soul of the musician is in 
his performance, though any number of technical errors, 
false notes, or disharmonies would pass unnoticed. Another 
and more serious defect is in verbal memory, which, combined 
with the inability to reproduce vocal sounds, has rendered 
the acquirement of all foreign languages very difficult and 
distasteful. This, with my very imperfect school training, 
added to my shyness and want of confidence, must have 
caused me to appear a very dull, ignorant, and uneducated 
person to numbers of chance acquaintances. This deficiency 


has also put me at a great disadvantage as a public speaker. 
I can rarely find the right word or expression to enforce or 
illustrate my argument, and constantly feel the same diffi- 
culty in private conversation. In writing it is not so injur- 
ious, for when I have time for deliberate thought I can gen- 
erally express myself with tolerable clearness and accuracy. 
I think, too, that the absence of the flow of words which so 
many writers possess has caused me to avoid that extreme 
diffuseness and verbosity which is so great a fault in many 
scientific and philosophical works. 

Another important defect is in the power of rapidly seeing 
analogies or hidden resemblances and incongruities, a defi- 
ciency which, in combination with that of language, has pro- 
duced the total absence of wit or humour, paradox or bril- 
liancy, in my writings, although no one can enjoy and admire 
these qualities more than I do. The rhythm and pathos, as 
well as the inimitable puns of Hood, were the delight of my 
youth, as are the more recondite and fantastic humour of 
Mark Twain and Lewis Carroll in my old age. The faculty 
which gives to its possessor wit or humour is also essential 
to the high mathematician, who is almost always witty or 
poetical as well ; and I was therefore debarred from any hope 
of success in this direction; while my very limited power of 
drawing or perception of the intricacies of form were equally 
antagonistic to much progress as an artist or a geometrician. 

Other deficiencies of great influence in my life have been 
my want of assertiveness and of physical courage, which, com- 
bined with delicacy of the nervous system and of bodily con- 
stitution, and a general disinclination to much exertion, 
physical or mental, have caused that shyness, reticence, and 
love of solitude which, though often misunderstood and lead- 
ing to unpleasant results, have, perhaps, on the whole, been 
beneficial to me. They have helped to give me those long 
periods, both at home and abroad, when, alone and surrounded 
only by wild nature and uncultured man, I could ponder at 
leisure on the various matters that interested me. Thus was 
induced a receptiveness of mind which enabled me at differ- 
ent times to utilize what appeared to me as sudden intuitions 



— flashes of light leading to a solution of some problem which 
was then before me; and these flashes would often come to 
me when, pen in hand, I was engaged in writing on a subject 
on which I had no intention or expectation of saying anything 

There is one other point in which most of my scientific 
friends and readers will hold that I am deficient, but which 
in a popular writer on science may be considered to be an 
advantage. It is, that though fond of order and systematic 
arrangement of all the parts of a subject, and especially of an 
argument, I am yet, through my want of the language-fac- 
ulty, very much disinclined to use technical terms wherever 
they can be avoided. This is especially the case when a sub- 
ject is elaborately divided up under various subordinate 
groups and sub-groups, each with a quite new technical name. 
This often seems to me more confusing than enlightening, 
and when other writers introduce different terms of their own, 
or use them in a somewhat different sense, or still further 
sub-divide the groups, the complication becomes too great for 
the non-specialist to follow. 

Before leaving the sketch of my mental nature at the 
threshold of my uncontrolled life, I may properly say a few 
words on the position I had arrived at in regard to the great 
question of religious belief. I have already shown that my 
early home training was in a thoroughly religious but by no 
means rigid family, where, however, no religious doubts were 
ever expressed, and where the word " atheist " was used with 
bated breath as pertaining to a being too debased almost for 
human society. The only regular teaching I received was to 
say or hear a formal prayer before going to bed, hearing 
grace before and after dinner, and learning a collect every 
Sunday morning, the latter certainly one of the most stupid 
ways of inculcating religion ever conceived. On Sunday 
evenings, if we did not go to church or chapel, my father 
would read some old sermon, and when we did go we were 
asked on our return what was the text. The only books 
allowed to be read on Sundays were the " Pilgrim's Progress " 


or Paradise Lost," or some religious tracts or moral tales, 
or the more interesting parts of the Bible were read by my 
mother, or we read ourselves about Esther and Mordecai or 
Bel and the Dragon, which were as good as any story book. 
But all this made little impression upon me, as it never dealt 
sufficiently with the mystery, the greatness, the ideal and 
emotional aspects of religion, which only appealed to me 
occasionally in some of the grander psalms and hymns, or 
through the words of some preacher more impassioned than 

As might have been expected, therefore, what little religious 
belief I had very quickly vanished under the influence of 
philosophical or scientific scepticism. This came first upon 
me when I spent a month or two in London with my brother 
John, as already related in my sixth chapter; and during the 
seven years I lived with my brother William, though the 
subject of religion was not often mentioned, there was a per- 
vading spirit of scepticism, or free-thought as it was then 
called, which strengthened and confirmed my doubts as to 
the truth or value of all ordinary religious teaching. 

He occasionally borrowed interesting books which I usually 
read. One of these was an old edition of Rabelais' works, 
which both interested and greatly amused me; but that which 
bears most upon the present subject was a reprint of lectures 
on Strauss' " Life of Jesus," which had not then been trans- 
lated into English. These lectures were, I think, delivered 
by some Unitarian minister or writer, and they gave an admir- 
able and most interesting summary of the whole work. The 
now well-known argument, that all the miracles related in the 
Gospels were mere myths, which in periods of ignorance and 
credulity always grow up around all great men, and especially 
around all great moral teachers when the actual witnesses of 
his career are gone and his disciples begin to write about him, 
was set forth with great skill. This argument appeared con- 
clusive to my brother and some of his friends with whom he 
discussed it, and, of course, in my then frame of mind it 
seemed equally conclusive to me, and helped to complete the 
destruction of whatever religious beliefs still lingered in my 



mind. It was not till many years afterwards that I saw^ 
reason to doubt this whole argument, and to perceive that it 
was based upon pure assumptions which were not in accord- 
ance with admitted historical facts. 

My brother never went to church himself, but for the first 
few years I was with him he sent me once every Sunday ; but, 
of course, the only effect of this was to deepen my spirit of 
scepticism, as I found no attempt in any of the clergymen to 
reason on any of the fundamental questions at the root of the 
Christian and every other religion. Many of our acquaint- 
ances were either church or chapel-goers, but usually as a 
matter of form and convention, and, on the whole, religion 
seemed to have no influence whatever on their conduct or 
conversation. The majority, especially of the younger men, 
were either professors of religion who thought or cared noth- 
ing about it, or were open sceptics and scorners. 

In addition to these influences my growing taste for various 
branches of physical science and my increasing love of 
nature disinclined me more and more for either the observ- 
ances or the doctrines of orthodox religion, so that by the 
time I came of age I was absolutely non-religious, I cared and 
thought nothing about it, and could be best described by the 
modern term " agnostic." 

The next four years of my life were also of great import- 
ance both in determining the direction of my activity, and in 
laying the foundation for my study of the special subjects 
through which I have obtained most admiration or notoriety. 
This period will be dealt with in another chapter, as it proved 
to be that which, through a series of what may be termed 
happy accidents, laid the foundation for everything of import- 
ance that succeeded them. 



As I came of age in January, 1844, and there was nothing 
doing at Neath, I left my brother about the middle of Decem- 
ber so as to spend the Christmas with my mother and sister 
at Hoddesdon, after which I returned to London, sharing my 
brother John's lodging till I could find some employment. 
At that time the tithe-commutation surveys were nearly all 
completed, and the rush of railway work had not begun ; sur- 
veying was consequently very slack. As my brother Wil- 
liam, who had a large acquaintance among surveyors and 
engineers all over the south of England, could not find 
employment, except some very small local business, I felt 
it to be quite useless for me to seek for similar work. I 
therefore determined to try for some post in a school to teach 
English, surveying, elemetary drawing, etc. Through some 
school agency I heard of two vacancies that might possibly 
suit. The first required, in addition to English, junior Latin 
and algebra. Though I had not looked at a Latin book since 
I left school, I thought I might possibly manage; and as 
to algebra, I could do simple equations, and had once been 
able to do quadratics, and felt sure I could keep ahead of 
beginners. So with some trepidation I went to interview the 
master, a rather grave but kindly clergyman. I told him my 
position, and what I had been doing since I left school. He 
asked me if I could translate Virgil, at which I hesitated, but 
told him I had been through most of it at school. So he 
brought out the book and gave me a passage to translate, 
which, of course, I was quite unable to do properly. Then 
he set me a simple equation, which I worked easily. Then a 
quadratic, at which I stuck. So he politely remarked that I 


230 MY LIFE 

required a few months' hard work to be fitted for his school, 
and wished me good-morning. 

My next attempt was more hopeful, as drawing, surveying, 
and mapping were required. Here, again, I rhet a clergy- 
man, but a younger man, and more easy and friendly in his 
manner. I had taken with me a small coloured map I had 
made at Neath to serve as a specimen, and also one or two 
pencil sketches. These seemed to satisfy him, and as I was 
only wanted to take the junior classes in English reading, 
writing, and arithmetic, teach a very few boys surveying, 
and beginners in drawing, he agreed to engage me. I was 
to live in the house, preside over the evening preparation of 
the boarders (about twenty in number) and to have, I think, 
thirty or forty pounds a year, with which I was quite satisfied. 
I was to begin work in about a fortnight. My employer was 
the Rev. Abraham Hill, headmaster of the Collegiate School 
at Leicester. 

I stayed at the school a little more than a year, and should 
probably have remained some years longer, and perhaps even 
have been a junior school assistant all my life, but for a quite 
unexpected event — the death of my brother William. I was 
very comfortable at the school, owing to the kindness of Mr. 
and Mrs. Hill, and of the opportunities afforded me for read- 
ing, study, and the observation of nature. In my duties I 
got on fairly well, as the boys were mostly well-behaved, 
though of course, my ignorance and shyness led to some un- 
pleasantness. The first evening I sat with the boys at their 
work, one of the older ones came to me to ask me to explain 
a difficult passage to him in some classic — I forget which — 
evidently to test my knowledge or ignorance. So I declined 
even to look at it, and told him that I taught English only, 
and that for all other information they were to go to Mr. 
Hill himself. On another occasion the classical assistant 
master asked me to take the lowest class in Greek for him, 
and I was obliged to tell him I did not even know the Greek 
alphabet. But these little unpleasantnesses once got over did 
not recur. There were two assistant masters in the school, 
both pleasant men, but as they did not live in the house I did 


not see a great deal of them. In drawing, I had only begin- 
ners ; but I soon found I had to improve myself, so I sketched 
a good deal, but could never acquire the freedom of touch 
of my brother William, and before I left, one of my scholars 
drew very nearly, if not quite, as well as I did. 

I had a very comfortable bedroom, where a fire was lit 
every afternoon in winter, so that with the exception of one 
hour with the boys and half an hour at supper with Mr. and 
Mrs. Hill, my time after four or five in the afternoon was my 
own. After a few weeks, finding I knew a little Latin, I had 
to take the very lowest class, and even that required some 
preparation in the evening. Mr. Hill was a good mathe- 
matician, having been a rather high Cambridge wrangler, 
and finding I was desirous of learning a little more algebra, 
oflfered to assist me. He lent me Hind's algebra, which I 
worked all through successfully, and this was followed by the 
same author's trigonometry, which I also went through, with 
occasional struggles. Then I attacked the Differential 
Calculus, and worked through that; but I could never fully 
grasp the essential principle of it. Finally, I began the 
Integral Calculus, and here I found myself at the end of my 
tether. I learnt some of the simpler processes, but very soon 
got baffled, and felt that I wanted some faculty necessary for 
seeing my way through what seemed to me an almost track- 
less labyrinth. Whether, under Mr. Hill's instruction, I 
should ultimately have been able to overcome these difficul- 
ties I cannot positively say, but I have good reason to believe 
that I never should have done so. Briefly stated, just as no 
amount of teaching or practice would ever have made me a 
good musician, so, however much time and study I gave to 
the subject, I could never have become a good mathemati- 
cian. Whether all this work did me any good or not, I am 
rather doubtful. My after-life being directed to altogther 
different studies, I never had occasion to use my newly 
acquired knowledge, and soon forgot most of the processes. 
But it gave me an interest in mathematics which I have never 
lost; and I rarely come across a mathematical investigation 
without looking through it and trying to follow the reason- 

232 MY LIFE 

ing, though I soon get lost in the formulae. Still, the ever- 
growing complexity of the higher mathematics has a kind of 
fascination for me as exhibiting powers of the human mind 
so very far above my own. 

There was in Leicester a very good town library, to which 
I had access on paying a small subscription, and as I had 
time for several hours' reading daily, I took full advantage of 
it. Among the works I read here, which influenced my 
future, were Humboldt's " Personal Narrative of Travels in 
South America," which was, I think, the first book that gave 
me a desire to visit the tropics. I also read here Prescott's 

History of the Conquests of Mexico and Peru," Robertson's 
" History of Charles V." and his " History of America," and 
a number of other standard works. But perhaps the most 
important book I read was Malthus's " Principles of Popula- 
tion," which I greatly admired for its masterly summary of 
facts and logical induction to conclusions. It was the first 
work I had yet read treating any of the problems of philo- 
sophical biology, and its main principles remained with me 
as a permanent possession, and twenty years later gave me 
the long-sought clue to the effective agent in the evolution of 
organic species. 

It was at Leicester that I was first introduced to a subject 
which I had at that time never heard of, but which has played 
an important part in my mental growth — psychical research, 
as it is now termed. Some time in 1844 Mr. Spencer Hall 
gave some lectures on mesmerism illustrated by experiments, 
which I, as well as a few of the older boys, attended. I was 
greatly interested and astonished at the phenomena exhibited, 
in some cases with persons who volunteered from the audi- 
ence ; and I was also impressed by the manner of the lecturer, 
which was not at all that of the showman or the conjurer. 
At the conclusion of the course he assured us that most per- 
sons possessed in some degree the power of mesmerising others, 
and that by trying with a few of our younger friends or 
acquaintances, and simply doing what we had seen him do, we 


should probably succeed. He also showed us how to distin- 
guish between the genuine mesmeric trance and any attempt 
to imitate it. 

In consequence of this statement, one or two of the elder 
boys tried to mesmerise some of the younger ones, and in a 
short time succeeded; and they asked me to see their experi- 
ments. I found that they could produce the trance state, 
which had all the appearance of being genuine, and also a 
cataleptic rigidity of the limbs by passes and by suggestion, 
' both in the trance and afterwards in the normal waking state. 
This led me to try myself in the privacy of my own room, 
and I succeeded after one or two attempts in mesmerising 
three boys from twelve to sixteen years of age, while on others 
within the same ages I could produce no effect, or an exceed- 
ingly slight one. During the trance they seemed in a state 
of semi-torpor, with apparently no volition. They would 
remain perfectly quiescent so long as I did not notice them, 
but would at once answer any questions or do anything I 
told them. On the two boys with whom I continued to ex- 
periment for some time, I could produce catalepsy of any 
limb or the whole body, and in this state they could do things 
which they could not, and certainly would not have done in 
their normal state. For example, on the rigid outstretched 
arm I would hang an ordinary chair at the wrist, and the 
boy would hold it there for several minutes, while I sat down 
and wrote a short letter for instance, without any complaint, 
or making any remark when I took it off. I never left it 
more than five minutes because I was afraid that some injury 
might be caused by it. I soon found that this rigidity could 
be produced in those who had been mesmerised by sugges- 
tion only, and in this way often fixed them in any position, 
notwithstanding their efforts to change it. One experiment 
was to place a shilling on the table in front of a boy, and then 
say to him, Now, you can't touch that shilling." He would 
at once move his hand towards it, but when halfway it would 
seem to stick fast, and all his efforts could not bring it nearer, 
though he was promised the shilling if he could take it. 

Every phenomenon of suggestion I had seen at the lecture, 



and many others, I could produce with this boy. Giving him 
a glass of water and telling him it was wine or brandy, he 
would drink it, and soon show all the signs of intoxication, 
while if I told him his shirt was on fire he would instantly 
strip himself naked to get it off. I also found that he had 
community of sensation with myself when in the trance. If 
I held his hand he tasted whatever I put in my mouth, and 
the same thing occurred if one or two persons intervened 
between him and myself ; and if another person put sub- 
stances at random into my mouth, or pinched or pricked me 
in various parts of the body, however secretly, he instantly 
felt the same sensation, would describe it, and put his hand 
to the spot where he felt the pain. 

In like manner any sense could be temporarily paralyzed 
so that a light could be flashed on his eyes or a pistol fired 
behind his head without his showing the slightest sign of 
having seen or heard anything. More curious still was the 
taking away the memory so completely that he could not tell 
his own name, and would adopt any name that was suggested 
to him, and perhaps remark how stupid he was to have for- 
gotten it; and this might be repeated several times with dif- 
ferent names, all of which he would implicitly accept. Then, 
on saying to him, " Now you remember your own name again ; 
what is it ? " an inimitable look of relief would pass over his 

countenance, and he would say, " Why, P , of course," in 

a way that carried complete conviction. 

But perhaps the most interesting group of phenomena to 
me were those termed phreno-mesmerism. I had read, when 
with my brother, George Combe's " Constitution of Man," with 
which I had been greatly interested, and afterwards one of 
the writer's works on Phrenology, and at the lecture I had 
seen some of the effects of exciting the phrenological organs 
by touching the corresponding parts of the patient's head. 
But as I had no book containing a chart of the organs, I 
bought a small phrenological bust to help me in determining 
the positions. 

Having my patient in the trance, and standing close to him, 


with the bust on my table behind him, I touched successively 
several of the organs, the position of vi^hich it was easy to de- 
termine. After a few seconds he would change his attitude 
and the expression of his face in correspondence with the 
organ excited. In most cases the effect was unmistakable, 
and superior to that which the most finished actor could give 
to a character exhibiting the same passion or emotion. 

At this very time the excitement caused by painless surgical 
operations during the mesmeric trance was at its full height, 
as I have described in my " Wonderful Century " (chapter 
xxi.), and I had read a good deal about these, and also about 
the supposed excitement of the phrenological organs, and the 
theory that these latter were caused by mental suggestion 
from the operator to the patient, or what is now termed telepa- 
thy. But as the manifestations often occurred in a different 
form from what I expected, I felt sure that this theory was not 
correct. One day I intended to touch a particular organ, and 
the effect on the patient was quite different from what I 
expected, and looking at the bust while my finger was still on 
the boy's head, I found that I was not touching the part I 
supposed, but an adjacent part, and that the effect exactly 
corresponded to the organ touched and not to the organ I 
thought I had touched, completely disproving the theory of 
suggestion. I then tried several experiments by looking away 
from the boy's head while I put my finger on it at random, 
when I always found that the effect produced corresponded to 
that indicated by the bust. I thus established, to my own 
satisfaction, the fact that a real effect was produced on the 
actions and speech of a mesmeric patient by the operator 
touching various parts of the head ; that the effect corresponded 
with the natural expression of the emotion due to the phreno- 
logical organ situated at that part — as combativeness, acquisi- 
tiveness, fear, veneration, wonder, tune, and many others; 
and that it was in no way caused by the will or suggestion of 
the operator. 

As soon as I found that these experiments were successful 
I informed Mr. Hill, who made no objection to my continuing 
them, and several times came to see them. He was so much 



interested that one evening he invited two or three friends 
who were interested in the subject, and with my best patient 
I showed most of the phenomena. At the suggestion of one 
of the visitors I told the boy he was a jockey, and was to get 
on his horse and be sure to win the race. Without another 
word from me he went through the motions of getting on 
horseback, of riding at a gallop, and after a minute or two he 
got excited, spoke to his horse, appeared to use his spurs, 
shake the reins, then suddenly remain quiet, as if he had 
passed the wanning-post ; and the gentleman who had sug- 
gested the experiment declared that his whole motions, expres- 
sions, and attitudes were those of a jockey riding a race. At 
that time I myself had never seen a race. The importance 
of these experiments to me was that they convince me, once 
for all, that the antecedently incredible may nevertheless be 
true; and, further, that the accusations of imposture by scien- 
tific men should have no w^eight whatever against the detailed 
observations and statements of other men, presumably as sane 
and sensible as their opponents, who had witnessed and tested 
the phenomena, as I had done myself in the case of some of 
them. At that time lectures on this subject were frequent, 
and during the holidays, which I generally spent in London 
with my brother, we took every opportunity of attending these 
lectures and witnessing as many experiments as possible. 
Knowing by my own experience that it is quite unnecessary 
to resort to trickery to produce the phenomena, I was relieved 
from that haunting idea of imposture which possesses most 
people who first see them, and which seems to blind most 
medical and scientific men to such an extent as to render them 
unable to investigate the subject fairly, or to arrive at any 
trustworthy conclusions in regard to it. 

How I was introduced to Henry Walter Bates I do not 
exactly remember, but I rather think I heard him mentioned 
as an enthusiastic entomologist, and met him. at the library. 
I found that his specialty was beetle collecting, though he also 
had a good set of British butterflies. Of the former I had 
scarcely heard, but as I already knew the fascinations of plant 
life I was quite prepared to take an interest in any other 


department of nature. He asked me to see his collection, and 
I was amazed to find the great number and variety of beetles, 
their many strange forms and often beautiful markings or 
colouring, and was even more surprised when I found that 
almost all I saw had been collected around Leicester, and that 
there were still many more to be discovered. If I had been 
asked before how many different kinds of beetles were to be 
found in any small district near a town, I should probably 
have guessed fifty or at the outside a hundred, and thought 
that a very liberal allowance. But I now learnt that many 
hundreds could easily be collected, and that there were proba- 
bly a thousand different kinds within ten miles of the town. 
He also showed me a thick volume containing descriptions of 
more than three thousand species inhabiting the British Isles. 
I also learnt from him in what an infinite variety of places 
beetles may be found, while some may be collected all the 
year round, so I at once determined to begin collecting, as I 
did not find a great many new plants about Leicester. I 
therefore obtained a collecting bottle, pins, and a store-box; 
and in order to learn their names and classification I obtained, 
at wholesale price through Mr. Hill's bookseller, Stephen's 
" Manual of British Coleoptera," which henceforth for some 
years gave me almost as much pleasure as Lindley's Botany, 
with my MS. descriptions, had already done. 

This new pursuit gave a fresh interest to my Wednesday 
and Saturday afternoon walks into the country, when two or 
three of the boys often accompanied me. The most delight- 
ful of all our walks was to Bradgate Park, about five miles 
from the town, a wild, neglected park with the ruins of a 
mansion, and many fine trees and woods and ferny or bushy 
slopes. Sometimes the whole school went for a picnic, the 
park at that time being quite open, and we hardly ever met 
anyone. After we got out of the town there was a wide 
grassy lane that led to it, which itself was a delightful walk 
and was a good collecting ground for both plants and insects. 
For variety we had the meadows along the course of the little 
river Soar, which were very pleasant in spring and summer. 
Twice during the summer the whole of the boarders w^ere 

238 MY LIFE 

taken for a long day's excursion. The first time we went to 
Kenilworth Castle, about thirty miles distant, driving in coaches 
by pleasant country roads, and passing through Coventry. 
Towards the autumn we had a much longer excursion, partly 
by coach and partly by canal boat, to a very picturesque coun- 
try with wooded hills and limestone cliffs, rural villages, and 
an isolated hill, from the top of which we had a very fine and 
extensive view. I think it must have been in Derbyshire, near 
Wirksworth, as there is a long canal tunnel on the way there. 
One of the rough out-of-door sketches made on this occasion 
is reproduced here on a reduced scale, as well as a more fin- 
ished drawing of some village, perhaps near Leicester, as they 
may possibly enable some reader to recognize the localities, 
and also serve to show the limits of my power as an artist. 

At midsummer there was the usual prize-giving, accom- 
panied by recitation; and to introduce a little variety I wrote 
a prologue, in somewhat boyish style, to be spoken by a chubby 
boy about twelve years old; and it took me a good deal of 
trouble to drill him into appropriate emphasis and action. It 
went off very well, and as it was to some extent a programme 
as well as a prologue, I give here as much of it as I can 


With Greek and Latin, French, and other stuff, 

And Euclid too, and Algebra enough, 

For this half-year I'm glad to say we've done, 

And the long looked-for hour at length is come 

That brings before us this superb array 

Of company to grace our holiday. 

We bid you welcome ! and hope each may find 

Something we've chosen suited to his mind; 

Our bill of fare contains some curious dishes 

To satisfy your various tastes and wishes. 

And first, to show our classic lore, we'll speak 

What Sophocles composed in sounding Greek, 

Repeat the words his olden heroes said. 

And from their graves call back the mighty dead. 

Then in Rome's Senate we will bid you stand, 

The Conscript Fathers ranged on either hand 


When Cicero th' expectant silence broke, 

And cruel Verres trembled while he spoke. 

In modern Rome's soft language we'll rehearse 

Immortal Tasso's never-dying verse : 

In German we've a name you all know well, 

The brave, the free, the patriot, William Tell; 

And then, for fear all this dry stuff they'll tire on, 

To please the ladies we've a piece from Byron, 

Next, we've the one-legged goose — that rara avis. 

Whose history will be told by Master Davis, 

And Monsieur Tonson's griefs we're sure will call 

A little hearty laughter from you all. 

With a few concluding lines which I cannot remember. 

Just before the Christmas holidays (or perhaps on the fifth 
of November) I wrote a slight serio-comic play, the subject 
being " Guy Faux." While .following history pretty closely 
as to the chief characters and events, I purposely introduced a 
number of anachronisms, as umbrellas, macintoshes, lucifer 
matches, half-farthings then just issued. I also made use of 
some modern slang, and concluded with a somewhat mock- 
heroic speech by the judge when sentencing the criminal. 
The boys acted their parts very well, and the performance was 
quite a success. 

Early in the following year (February, 1846) I received 
the totally unexpected news of the death of my brother 
William at Neath. He had been in London to give evidence 
before a committee on the South Wales Railway Bill, and 
returning at night caught a severe cold by being chilled in a 
wretched third class carriage, succeeded by a damp bed at 
Bristol. This brought on congestion of the lungs, to which 
he speedily succumbed. I and my brother John went down to 
Neath to the funeral, and as William had died without a will, 
we had to take out letters of administration. Finding from 
my brother's papers that he had obtained a small local business, 
and that there was railway work in prospect, I determined to 
take his place, and at once asked permission of Mr. Hill to be 
allowed to leave at Easter. 

My year spent at Leicester had been in many ways useful 
to me, and had also a determining influence on my whole 



future life. It satisfied me that I had no vocation for teaching, 
for though I performed my duties I beUeve quite to Mr. Hill's 
satisfaction, I felt myself out of place, partly because I knew 
no subject — with the one exception of surveying — sufficiently 
well to be able to teach it properly, but mainly because a com- 
pletely subordinate position was distasteful to me, although I 
could not have had a more considerate employer than Mr. 
Hill. The time and opportunity I had for reading was a 
great advantage to me, and gave me an enduring love of good 
literature. I also had the opportunity of hearing almost every 
Sunday one of the most impressive and eloquent preachers 
I have ever met with — Dr. John Brown, I think, was his name. 
He was one of the few Church of England clergymen who 
preached extempore, and he did it admirably, so that it was a 
continual pleasure to listen to him. But I was too firmly con- 
vinced of the incredibility of large portions of the Bible, and of 
the absence of sense or reason in many of the doctrines of 
orthodox religion to be influenced by any such preaching, 
however eloquent. My return to some form of religious belief 
was to come much later, and from a quite different source. 

But, as already stated, the events which formed a turning- 
point in my life were, firsts my acquaintance with. Bates, and 
through him deriving a taste for the wonders of insect-life, 
opening to me a new aspect of nature, and later on finding in 
him a companion without whom I might have never ventured 
on my journey to the Amazon. The other and equally im- 
portant circumstance was my reading Malthus, without which 
work I should probably not have hit upon the theory of natural 
selection and obtained full credit for its independent discovery. 
My year spent at Leicester must, therefore, be considered as 
perhaps the most important in my early life. 



At Easter I bade farewell to Leicester and went to Neath 
with my brother John, in order to wind up our brother 
William's affairs. We found from his books that a consid- 
erable amount was owing to him for work done during the 
past year or two, and we duly made out accounts of all these 
and sent them in to the respective parties. Some were paid at 
once, others we had to write again for and had some trouble 
to get paid. Others, again, were disputed as being an extrav- 
agant charge for the work done, and v/e had to put them in a 
lawyer's hands to get settled. One gentleman, whose account 
was a few pounds, declared he had paid it, and asked us to call 
on him. We did so, and, instead of producing the receipt as 
we expected, he was jocose about it, asked us what kind of 
business men we were to want him to pay twice; and when 
we explained that it was not shown so in my brother's books, 
and asked to look at the receipt, he coolly replied, " Oh, I 
never keep receipts ; never kept a receipt in my life, and never 
was asked to pay a bill twice till now ! " In vain we urged 
that we were bound as trustees for the rest of the family to 
collect all debts shown by my brother's books to be due to 
him, and if he did not pay it, we should have to lose the amount 
ourselves. He still maintained that he had paid it, that he 
remembered it distinctly, and that he was not going to pay it 
twice. At last we were obliged to tell him that if he did not 
pay it we must put it in the hands of a lawyer to take what 
steps he thought necessary ; then he gave way, and said, " Oh, 
if you are going to law about such a trifle, I suppose I must 
pay it again ! " and, counting out the money, added, " There 
it is; but I paid it before, so give me a receipt this time," 
apparently considering himself a very injured man. This 




little experience annoyed me much, and, with others of the 
same nature later on, so disgusted me with business as to form 
one of the reasons which induced me to go abroad. 

When we had wound up William's affairs as well as we 
could, my brother John returned to London, and I was left to 
see if any work was to be had, and in the mean time devoted 
myself to collecting butterflies and beetles. While at Leices- 
ter I had been altogether out of the business world, and do 
not remember even looking at a newspaper, or I might have 
heard something of the great railway mania which that year 
reached its culmination. I now first heard rumours of it, and 
someone told me of a civil engineer in Swansea who wanted 
all the surveyors he could get, and that they all had two 
guineas a day, and often more. This I could hardly credit, 
but I wrote to the gentleman, who soon after called on me, 
and asked me if I could do levelling. I told him I could, and 
had a very good level and levelling staves. After some little 
conversation he told me he wanted a line of levels up the 
Vale of Neath to Merthyr Tydfil for a proposed railway, with 
cross levels at frequent intervals, and that he would give me 
two guineas a day, and all expenses of chain and staff men, 
hotels, etc. He gave me all necessary instructions, and said 
he would send a surveyor to map the route at the same time. 
This was, I think, about mid-summer, and I was hard at work 
till the autumn, and enjoyed myself immensely. It took me 
up the south-east side of the valley, of which I knew very little, 
along pleasant lanes and paths through woods and by streams, 
and up one of the wildest and most picturesque little glens 
I have ever explored. Here we had to climb over huge rocks 
as big as houses, ascend cascades, and take cross-levels up 
steep banks and precipices all densely wooded. It was sur- 
veying under difficulties, and excessively interesting. After 
the first rough levels were taken and the survey made, the 
engineers were able to mark out the line provisionally, and I 
then went over the actual line to enable the sections to be 
drawn as required by the Parliamentary Standing Orders. 

In the autumn I had to go to London to help finish the 
plans and reference books for Parliament. There were about 


a dozen surveyors, draughtsmen, and clerks in a big hotel in 
the Haymarket, where we had a large room upstairs for work, 
and each of us ordered what we pleased for our meals in the 
coffee-room. Towards the end of November we had to work 
very late, often till past midnight, and for the last few days 
of the month we literally worked all night to get everything 

In this year of wild speculation it is said that plans and 
sections for 1263 new railways were duly deposited, having a 
proposed capital of £563,000,000, and the sum required to be 
deposited at the Board of Trade was so much larger than the 
total amount of gold in the Bank of England and notes in 
circulation at the time, that the public got frightened, a panic 
ensued, shares in the new lines which had been at a high 
premium fell almost to nothing, and even the established lines 
were greatly depreciated. Many of the lines were proposed 
merely for speculation, or to be bought off by opposing lines 
which had a better chance of success. The line we were at 
work on was a branch of the Great Western and South Wales 
Railway then making, and was for the purpose of bringing the 
coal and iron of Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding district 
to Swansea, then the chief port of South Wales. But we had 
a competitor along the whole of our route in a great line 
from Swansea to Yarmouth, by way of Merthyr, Hereford, 
Worcester, and across the midland agricultural counties, 
called, I think, the East and West Junction Railway, which 
sounded grand, but which had no chance of passing. It 
competed, however, with several other lines, and I heard that 
many of these agreed to make up a sum to buy off its opposi- 
tion. Not one-tenth of the lines proposed that year were ever 
made, and the money wasted upon surveyors, engineers, and 
law expenses must have amounted to millions. 

Finding it rather dull at Neath living by myself, I per- 
suaded my brother to give up his work in London as a jour- 
neyman carpenter and join me, thinking that, with his practical 
experience and my general knowledge, we might be able to do 
architectural, building, and engineering work, as well as sur- 
veying, and in time get up a profitable business. We returned 



together early in January, and continued to board and lodge 
with Mr. Sims in the main street, where I had been very 
comfortable, till the autumn, when, hearing that my sister 
would probably be home from America the following summer, 
and my mother wishing to live with us, we took a small cottage 
close to Llantwit Church, and less than a mile from the middle 
of the town. It had a nice little garden and yard, with fowl- 
house, shed, etc., going down to the Neath Canal, immediately 
beyond which was the river Neath, with a pretty view across 
the valley to Cadoxton and the fine Drumau Mountain. 

Having the canal close at hand and the river beyond, and 
then another canal to Swansea, made us long for a small 
boat, and not having much to do, my brother determined to 
build one, so light that it could easily be drawn or carried 
from the canal to the river, and so give access to Swansea. 
It was made as small and light as possible to carry two or, at 
most, three persons. When finished, we tried it with much 
anxiety and found it rather unstable, but with a little ballast 
at the bottom and care in moving, it did very well, and was 
very easy to row. One day I persuaded my mother to let me 
row her to Swansea, where we made a few purchases; and 
then came back quite safely till within about a mile of home, 
when, passing under a bridge, my mother put her hand out to 
keep the boat from touching, and leaning over a little too 
much, the side went under water, and upset us both. As the 
water was only about two or three feet deep we escaped with 
a thorough wetting. The boat was soon bailed dry, and then 
I rowed on to Neath Bridge, where my mother got out and 
walked home, and did not trust herself in our boat again, 
though I and my brother had many pleasant excursions. 

Our chief work in 1846 was the survey of the parish of 
Llantwit-juxta-Neath, in which we lived. The agent of the 
Gnoll Estate had undertaken the valuation for the tithe com- 
mutation, and arranged with me to do the survey and make 
the map and the necessary copies. When all was finished 
and the valuation made, I was told that I must collect . the 
payment from the various farmers in the parish, who would 
afterwards deduct it from their rent. This was a disagreeable 


business, as many of the farmers were very poor; some could 
not speak English, and could not be made to understand what 
it was all about; others positively refused to pay; and the 
separate amounts were often so small that it was not worth 
going to law about them, so that several were never paid at all, 
and others not for a year afterwards. This was another of 
the things that disgusted me with business, and made me more 
than ever disposed to give it all up if I could but get anything 
else to do. 

We also had a little building and architectural work. A 
lady wanted us to design a cottage for her, with six or seven 
rooms, I think, for £200. Building with the native stone 
was cheap in the country, but still, what she wanted was 
impossible, and at last she agreed to go £250, and with some 
difficulty we managed to get one built for her for this amount. 
We also sent in a design for a new Town Hall for Swansea, 
which was beyond our powers, both of design and draughts- 
manship; and as there were several established architects 
among the competitors, our very plain building and poor 
drawings had no chance. But shortly afterwards a building 
was required at Neath for a Mechanics' Institute, for which 
£600 was available. It was to be in a narrow side street, 
and to consist of two rooms only, a reading room and library 
below, and a room above for classes and lectures. We were 
asked to draw the plans and supervise the execution, which 
we did, and I think the total cost did not exceed the sum 
named by more than £50. It was, of course, very plain, but 
the whole was of local stone, with door and window-quoins^ 
cornice, etc., hammer-dressed; and the pediments over the 
door and windows, arched doorway, and base of squared 
blocks gave the whole a decidedly architectural appearance. 
It is now used as a free library, and through the kindness of 
Miss Florence Neale, of Penarth, I am enabled to give a 
photographic reproduction of it. 

This reminds me that the Mechanics' Institution was, I 
think, established by Mr. William Jevons, a retired merchant 
or manufacturer of Liverpool, and the uncle of William Stan- 
ley Jevons, the well-known writer on Logic and Political 



Economy. Mr. Jevons was the author of a work on " Sys- 
tematic MoraHty," very systematic and very correct, but as 
dr>' as its title. He had a good Hbrary, and was supposed in 
Neath to be a man of almost universal knowledge. I think 
my brother William had become acquainted with him after I 
left Neath, as he attended the funeral, and I and John spent 
the evening with him. When I came to live in Neath after 
my brother's death, I often saw him and occasionally visited 
him, and I think borrowed books, and the following winter, 
finding I was interested in science generally, he asked me to 
give some familiar lectures or lessons to the mechanics of 
Neath, who then met, I think, in one of the schoolrooms. I 
was quite afraid of undertaking this, and tried all I could to 
escape, but Mr. Jevons was very persistent, assured me that 
they knew actually nothing of science, and that the very sim- 
plest things, with a few diagrams and experiments, would be 
sure to interest them. At last I reluctantly consented, and 
begun with very short and simple talks on the facts and laws 
of mechanics, the principle of the lever, pulley, screw, etc., 
falling bodies and projectiles, the pendulum, etc. 

I got on fairly well at first, but on the second or third occa- 
sion I was trying to explain something which required a 
rather complex argument which I thought I knew perfectly, 
when, in the middle of it, I seemed to lose myself and could 
not think of the next step. After a minute's dead silence, 
]\Ir. Jevons, who sat by me, said gently — " Never mind that 
now. Go on to the next subject." I did so, but after a few 
minutes, what I had forgotten became clear to me, and I 
returned to it, and went over it with success. I gave these 
lessons for two winters, going through the elementary por- 
tions of physics ; and after a week in Paris in 1847, ^ gave to 
the same audience a general account of the city, with special 
reference to its architecture, museums, and gardens, showing 
that it was often true that they did these things better in 
France." ^ 

1 In 1895 I received a letter from Cardiff, from one of the work- 
men who attended the Neath Mechanics' Institution, asking if the 
author of " Island Life," the " Malay Archipelago," and other books is 

(Designed by A. R. Wallace. 1847) 


There was also in Neath a Philosophical Society with a 
small library and reading room, in connection with which 
occasional lectures were given. Sir G. B. Airy, the Astrono- 
mer Royal, gave a lecture there on the return of Halley's 
Comet shortly before we came to Neath. He recommended 
them to purchase a good telescope of moderate size and have 
it properly mounted, so as to be able to observe all the more 
remarkable astronomical phenomena. A telescope was actually 
obtained with, I think, a four- or five-inch object glass, and 
as there was no good position for it available, a kind of square 
tower was built attached to the library, high enough to obtain 
a clear view, on the top of which it was proposed to use the 
telescope. But the funds for a proper mounting and observa- 
tory roof not being forthcoming, the telescope was hardly 
ever used, owing to the time and trouble always required to 
carry upstairs and prepare for observation any astronomical 
telescope above the very smallest size. 

During the two summers that I and my brother John lived 
at Neath we spent a good deal of our leisure time in wandering 
about this beautiful district, on my part in search of insects, 
while my brother always had his eyes open for any uncommon 
bird or reptile. One day when I was insect hunting on 
Crymlyn Burrows, a stretch of very interesting sand-hills, 
rock, and bog near the sea, and very rich in curious plants, 
he came upon several young vipers basking on a rock. They 
were about eight or nine inches long. As they were quite still, 
he thought he could catch one by the neck, and endeavoured 
to do so, but the little creature turned round suddenly, bit his 
finger, and escaped. He immediately sucked out the poison, 
but his whole hand swelled considerably, and was very pain- 
ful. Owing, however, to the small size of the animal the 

the same Mr. Alfred Wallace who taught in the evening science classes 
to the Neath Abbey artificers. He writes — " I have often had a desire 
to know, as I benefited more while in your class — if you are the same 
Mr. A. Wallace — than I ever was taught at school. I have often wished 
I knew how to thank you for the good I and others received from your 
teaching. — (Signed) Matthew Jones." 



swelling soon passed off, and left no bad eftects. Another 
day, towards the autumn, we found the rather uncommon 
black viper in a wood a few miles from Xeath. This he 
caught with a forked stick, to which he then tied it firmly by 
the neck, and put it in his coat pocket. Meeting a labourer 
on the way, he pulled it out of his pocket, wriggling and 
twisting around the stick and his hand, and asked the man if 
he knew what it was, holding it towards him. The man's 
alarm was ludicrous. Of course, he declared it to be deadly, 
and for once was right, and he added that he would not carry 
such a thing in his pocket for anything we could give him. 

Though I have by no means a very wide acquaintance with 
the mountain districts of Britain, yet I know Wales pretty 
well; have visited the best parts of the lake district; in Scot- 
land have been to Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, and Loch 
Tay; have climbed Ben Lawers, and roamed through Glen 
Clova in search of rare plants; but I cannot call to mind 
a single valley that in the same extent of country comprises 
so much beautiful and picturesque scenery, and so many 
interesting special features, as the Vale of Neath. The town 
itself is beautifully situated, with the fine wooded and rock- 
girt Drumau Mountain to the west, while immediately to the 
east are well-wooded heights crowned by Gnoll House, and 
to the south-east, three miles away, a high rounded hill, up 
which a chimney has been carried from the Cwm Avon copper- 
works in the valley beyond, the smoke from which gives the 
hill much the appearance of an active volcano. To the south- 
west the view extends down the valley to Swansea Bay, while 
to the north-east stretches the Vale of Neath itself, nearly 
straight for twelve miles, the river winding in a level fertile 
valley about a quarter to half a mile wide, bounded on each 
side by abrupt hills, whose lower slopes are finely wooded^ 
and backed by mountains from fifteen hundred to eighteen 
hundred feet high. The view up this valley is delightful, its 
sides being varied with a few houses peeping out from the 
woods, abundance of lateral valleys and ravines, with here 
and there the glint of falling water, while its generally straight 
direction affords fine perspective effects, sometimes fading in 


the distance into a warm yellow haze, at others affording a 
view of the distant mountain ranges beyond. 

At twelve miles from the town we come to the little village 
of Pont-nedd-fychan (the bridge of the little Neath river), 
where we enter upon a quite distinct type of scenery, dependent 
on our passing out of the South Wales coal basin, crossing 
the hard rock-belt of the millstone grit, succeeded by the pic- 
turesque crags of the mountain limestone, and then entering 
on the extensive formation of the Old Red Sandstone. The 
river here divides first into two, and a little further on into 
four branches, each in a deep ravine with wooded slopes or 
precipices, above which is an undulating hilly and rocky coun- 
try backed by the range of the great forest of Brecon, with its 
series of isolated summits or vans, more than two thousand 
feet high, and culminating in the remarkable twin summits of 
the Brecknock Beacons, which reach over twenty-nine hun- 
dred feet. Within a four-mile walk of Pont-nedd-fychan 
there are six or eight picturesque waterfalls or cascades, one 
of the most interesting, named Ysgwd Gladys, being a minia- 
ture of Niagara, inasmuch as it falls over an overhanging rock, 
so that it is easy to walk across behind it. A photograph of 
this fall is given here. Another, Ysgwd Einon Gam, is much 
higher, while five miles to the west, near Capel Coelbren, is 
one of the finest waterfalls in Wales, being surpassed only, 
so far as I know, by the celebrated falls above Llanrhaiadr in 
the Berwyn Mountains. From the open moor it drops sud- 
denly about ninety feet into a deep ravine, with vertical preci- 
pices wooded at the top all round. In summer the stream is 
small, but after heavy rains it must be a very fine sight, as it 
falls unbroken into a deep pool below, and then flows away 
down a thickly-wooded glen to the river Tawe. 

Within a mile of Pont-nedd-fychan is the Dinas rock, a 
tongue of mountain limestone jutting out across the millstone 
grit, and forming fine precipices, one of which was called the 
Bwa-maen, or bow rock, from its being apparently bent 
double. Lower down there are also some curious waving 
lines of apparent stratification, but on a recent examination I 
am inclined to think that these are really glacial groovings 

250 MY LIFE 

caused by the ice coming down from Hirwain, right against 
these ravines and precipices, and being thus heaped up and 
obHged to flow away at right angles to its former course. 

But the most remarkable and interesting of the natural 
phenomena of the upper valley is Porth-yr-Ogof (the gate- 
way of the cavern), where the river Mellte runs for a quarter 
of a mile underground. The entrance is under a fine arch 
of limestone rock overhung with trees, as shown in the accom- 
panying photograph. The outlet is more irregular and less 
lofty, and is also less easily accessible; but the valley just 
below has wooded banks, open glades, and fantastic rocks 
near the cave, forming one of the most charmingly picturesque 
spots imaginable. It is also very interesting to walk over the 
underground river along a hollow strewn with masses of rock, 
and with here and there irregular funnels, where the water 
can be heard and in one place seen. The whole place is very 
instructive, as showing us how many of the narrow limestone 
gorges, bounded by irregular perpendicular rocks with no 
sign of water-wear, have been formed. Caves abound in all 
limestone regions, owing to the dissolving power of rain-water 
penetrating the fissures of the rock, and finding outlets often 
at a distance of many miles and then gushing forth in a copious 
spring. Where a range of such caverns lies along an ancient 
valley, and are not very far below the surface, they in time 
fall in, and, partially blocking up the drainage, cause the 
caverns to be filled up and still further enlarged. In time 
the fallen portion is dissolved and worn away, other portions 
fall in, and in course of ages an open valley is formed, 
bounded by precipices with fractured surfaces, and giving 
the idea of their being rent open by some tremendous convul- 
sion of nature — a favourite expression of the old geologists. 

I have already (in chap, xi.) described one of the curious 
" standing stones " near the source of the Llia river, but there 
is a still more interesting example about a mile and a half 
north-west of Ystrad-fellte, where the old Roman road — the 
Saru Helen — crosses over the ridge between the Nedd and 
the Llia valleys. This is a tall, narrow stone, roughly quadri- 
lateral, on one of the faces of which there is a rudely inscribed 


Latin inscription, as seen in the photograph, and in a copy of 
the letters given opposite. It reads as follows: — 


meaning [The body] of Dervacus the son of Justus lies here. 
It will be seen that the letters D, A, and I in Dervaci, and the 
T and I in Justi are inverted or reversed, probably indicating 
that the cutting was done by an illiterate workman, who 
placed them as most convenient when working on an erect 
stone. The stone itself is probably British, and was util- 
ized as a memorial of a Roman soldier who died near the 

One of our mq^t memorable excursions was in June, 1846, 
when I and my brother spent the night in this water-cave. 
I wanted to go again to the top of the Beacons to see if I 
could find any rare beetles there, and also to show my brother 
the waterfalls and other beauties of the upper valley. Start- 
ing after an early breakfast we walked to Pont-nedd-fychan, 
and then turned up the western branch to the Rocking Stone, 
a large boulder of millstone-grit resting on a nearly level sur- 
face, but which by succession of pushes with one hand can 
be made to rock considerably. It was here that I obtained 
one of the most beautiful British beetles, Trichms fasciatus, 
the only time I ever captured it. We then went on to the 
Gladys and Einon Gam falls ; then, turning back, followed up 
the river Nedd for some miles, crossed over to the cavern 
and then on to Ystrad-fellte, where we had supper and spent 
the night, having walked leisurely about eighteen or twenty 

The next morning early we proceeded up the valley to the 
highest farm on the Dringarth, then struck across the moun- 
tain to the road from Hirwain to Brecon, which we followed 
to the bridge over the Taff, and then turned off towards the 
Beacons, the weather being perfect. It was a delightful walk, 
on a gradual slope of fifteen hundred feet in a mile and a half, 
with a little steeper bit at the end, and the small overhanging 
cap of peat at the summit, as already described in chapter xi. 
I searched over it for beetles, which were, however, very 

252 MY LIFE 

scarce, and we then walked along the ridge to the second 
and higher triangular summit, peeped with nervous dread on 
my part over the almost perpendicular precipice towards 
Brecon^ noted the exact correspondence in slope of the two 
peat summits, and then back to the ridge and a little way 
down the southern slope to where a tiny spring trickles out — 
the highest source of the river Taff — and there, lying on the 
soft mountain turf, enjoyed our lunch and the distant view 
over the valley and mountain to the faint haze of the British 
Channel. We then returned to the western summit, took a 
final view of the grand panorama around us, and bade fare- 
well to the beautiful mountain, the summit of which neither 
of us visited again, though I have since been very near it. 
We took nearly the same route back, had a substantial tea at 
the little inn at Ystrad-fellte, and then, about seven o'clock, 
walked down to the cave to prepare our quarters for the 
night. I think we had both of us at this time determined, 
if possible, to go abroad into more or less wild countries, and 
we wanted for once to try sleeping out-of-doors, with no 
shelter or bed but what nature provided. 

Just inside the entrance of the cave there are slopes of 
water-worn rock and quantities of large pebbles and boulders, 
and here it was quite dry, while farther in, where there were 
patches of smaller stones and sand, it was much colder and 
quite damp, so our choice of a bed was limited to rock or 
boulders. We first chose a place for a fire, and then searched 
for sufficient dead or dry wood to last us the night. This 
took us a good while, and it was getting dusk before we lit 
our fire. We then sat down, enjoying the flicker of the flame 
on the roof of the cavern, the glimmer of the stars through 
the trees outside, and the gentle murmur of the little river 
beside us. After a scanty supper we tried to find a place 
where we could sleep with the minimum of discomfort, but 
with very little success. We had only our usual thin summer 
clothing, and had nothing whatever with us but a small 
satchel, which served as a pillow. As the cave faces north 
the rock>^ floor had not been warmed by the sun, and struck 
cold through our thin clothing, and we turned about in vain 


for places where we could fit ourselves into hollows without 
feeling the harsh contact of our bones with the rock or peb- 
bles. I found it almost impossible to lie still for half an hour 
without seeking a more comfortable position, but the change 
brought little relief. Being midsummer, there were no dead 
leaves to be had, and we had no tool with which to cut suffi- 
cient branches to make a bed. But I think we had determined 
purposely to make no preparation, but to camp out just as 
if we had come accidentally to the place in an unknown 
country, and had been compelled to sleep there. But very 
little sleep was to be had, and while in health I have never 
passed a more uncomfortable night. Luckily it was not a 
long one, and before sunrise we left our gloomy bedroom, 
walked up to the main road to get into the sunshine, descended 
into the Nedd valley and strolled along, enjoying the fresh 
morning air and warm sun till we neared Pont-nedd-fychan, 
when, finding a suitable pool, we took a delightful and refresh- 
ing bath, dried our bodies in the sun, and then walked on to 
the little inn, where we enjoyed our ample dish of eggs and 
bacon, with tea, and brown bread-and-butter. We then 
walked slowly on, collecting and exploring by paths and lanes 
and through shady woods on the south bank of the river, till 
we reached our lodgings at Neath, having thoroughly enjoyed 
our little excursion. 

A few months later one of our walks had a rather serious 
sequel. We started after breakfast one fine Sunday morning 
for a walk up the Dulais valley, returning by Pont-ar-dawe, 
and about four in the afternoon found ourselves near my 
old lodgings at Bryn-coch. We accordingly went in and, of 
course, were asked to stay to tea, which was just being got 
ready. The Misses Rees, with their usual hospitality, made 
a huge plate of buttered toast with their home-made bread, 
which was very substantial, and, being very hungry after our 
long walk, we made a hearty meal of it. My brother felt no 
ill effects from this, but in my case it brought on a severe 
attack of inflammation of the stomach and bowels, which 
kept me in bed some weeks, and taught me not to overtax my 
usually good digestion. 



During my residence at Xeath I kept up some correspon- 
dence with H. W. Bates, chiefly on insect collecting. We 
exchanged specimens, and, I think, in the summer of 1847, 
he came on a week's visit, which we spent chiefly in beetle- 
collecting and in discussing various matters, and it must have 
been at this time that we talked over a proposed collecting 
journey to the tropics, but had not then decided where to go. 
'^^T. Bates' widow having kindly returned to me such of my 
letters as he had preserved, I find in them some references to 
the subjects in which I was then interested. I will, therefore, 
here give a few extracts from them. 

In a letter written November 9, I finish by asking : " Have 
you read ' Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,' or is 
it out of your line?" And in my next letter (December 28), 
having had Bates' reply to the question, I say : " I have rather a 
more favourable opinion of the ' Vestiges ' than you appear to 
have. I do not consider it a hasty generalization, but rather as 
an ingenious hypothesis strongly supported by some striking 
facts and analogies, but which remains to be proved by more 
facts and the additional light which more research may throw 
upon the problem. It furnishes a subject for every observer of 
nature to attend to; every fact he observes will make either 
for or against it, and it thus serves both as an incitement to 
the collection of facts, and an object to which they can be 
applied when collected. }^Iany eminent writers support the 
theory of the progressive developm.ent of animals and plants. 
There is a very philosophical work bearing directly on the 
question — Lawrence's * Lectures on Man ' — delivered before 
the Royal College of Surgeons, now published in a cheap form. 
The great object of these ' Lectures ' is to illustrate the differ- 
ent races of mankind, and the manner in which they probably 
originated, and he arrives at the conclusion (as also does 
Pritchard in his work on the * Physical History of Alan ') that 
the varieties of the human race have not been produced by 
any external causes, but are due to the development of certain 
distinctive peculiarities in some individuals which have there- 
after become propagated through an entire race. Now, I 
should say that a permanent peculiarity not produced by 



external causes is a characteristic of ' species ' and not of mere 
* variety/ and thus, if the theory of the ' Vestiges ' is accepted, 
the Negro, the Red Indian, and the European are distinct 
species of the genus Homo. 

" An animal which differs from another by some decided 
and permanent character, however slight, which difference is 
undiminished by propagation and unchanged by climate and 
external circumstances, is universally held to be a distinct 
species; while one which is not regularly transmitted so as to 
form a distinct race, but is occasionally reproduced from the 
parent stock (like Albinoes), is generally, if the difference is 
not very considerable, classed as a variety. But I would 
class both these as distinct species, and I would only consider 
those to be varieties w^hose differences are produced by external 
causes, and which, therefore, are not propagated as distinct 
races. ... As a further support to the ' Vestiges,' I have 
heard that in his * Cosmos ' the venerable Humboldt supports 
its views in almost every particular, not excepting those relat- 
ing to animal and vegetable life. This work I have a great 
desire to read, but fear I shall not have an opportunity at 
present. Read Lawrence's work; it is well worth it." 

This long quotation, containing some very crude ideas, 
would not have been worth giving except for showing that at 
this early period, only about four years after I had begun to 
take any interest in natural history, I was already speculating 
upon the origin of species, and taking note of everything 
bearing upon it that came in my way. It also serves to show 
the books I was reading about this time, as well as my appre- 
ciation of the " Vestiges," a book which, in my opinion, has 
always been undervalued, and which when it first appeared 
was almost as much abused, and for very much the same 
reasons, as was Darwin's " Origin of Species," fifteen years 

In a letter dated April 11, 1846, there occur the following 
remarks on two books about which there has been little differ- 
ence of opinion, and whose authors I had at that time no 
expectation of ever calling my friends. " I was much pleased 
to find that you so well appreciated Lyell. I first read Dar- 



win's ' Journal ' three or four years ago, and have lately 
re-read it. As the Journal of a scientific traveller, it is second 
only to Humboldt's ' Personal Narrative ' — as a work of 
general interest, perhaps superior to it. He is an ardent 
admirer and most able supporter of Mr. Lyell's views. His 
style of writing I very much admire, so free from all labour, 
affectation, or egotism, and yet so full of interest and original 
thought. ... I quite envy you, who have friends near you 
attached to the same pursuits. I know not a single person 
in this little town who studies any one branch of natural his- • 
tory, so that I am quite alone in this respect." My references 
to Darwin's " Journal " and to Humboldt's " Personal Narra- 
tive " indicate, I believe, the two works to whose inspira- 
tion I owe my determination to visit the tropics as a col- 

In September, 1847, sister returned home from Alabama, 
and from that time till I left for Para, in the following year, 
we lived together at Llantwit Cottage. To commemorate her 
return she invited my brother and me to go to Paris for a 
week, partly induced by the fact that everywhere in America 
she was asked about it, while we were very glad to have her 
as an interpreter. The last letter to Bates before our South 
American voyage is occupied chiefly with an account of this 
visit, a comparison of Paris with London, and especially an 
account of the museums at the Jardin des Plantes as compared 
v/ith the British Museum. Towards the end of this long letter 
the following passages are the only ones that relate to the 
development of my views. After referring to a day spent in 
the insect-room at the British Museum on my way home, and 
the overwhelming numbers of the beetles and butterflies I was 
able to look over, I add : " I begin to feel rather dissatisfied 
with a mere local collection; little is to be learnt by it. I 
should like to take some one family to study thoroughly, 
principally with a view to the theory of the origin of species. 
By that means I am strongly of opinion that some definite 
results might be arrived at." And at the very end of the 
letter I say : " There is a work published by the Ray Society 
I should much like to see, Oken's ' Elements of Physio- 


philosophy.' There is a review of it in the Athenceum. It 
contains some remarkable views on my favourite subject — 
the variations, arrangements, distribution, etc., of species." 

These extracts from my early letters to Bates suf¥ice to 
show that the great problem of the origin of species was 
already distinctly formulated in my mind ; that I was not 
satisfied with the more or less vague solutions at that time 
offered; that I believed the conception of evolution through 
natural law so clearly formulated in the " Vestiges " to be, so 
far as it went, a true one; and that I firmly believed that a 
full and careful study of the facts of nature would ultimately 
lead to a solution of the mystery. 

There is one other subject on which I obtained conclusive 
evidence while living at Neath, which may here be briefly 
noticed. I have already described how at Leicester I became 
convinced of the genuineness " of the phenomena of mes- 
merism, and was able thoroughly to test them myself. I also 
was able to make experiments which satisfied me of the truth 
of phrenology, and had read sufficient to enable me to under- 
stand its general principles. But during my early residence 
at Neath after my brother's death, I heard two lectures on 
the subject, and in both cases I had my character delineated 
with such accuracy as to render it certain that the positions 
of all the mental organs had been very precisely determined. 
It must be understood that the lecturers were both strangers, 
and that they each gave only a single lecture on their way 
to more important centres. In each case I received a large 
printed sheet, with the organs and their functions stated, and 
a number placed opposite to each to indicate its comparative 
size. In addition to this, there was a written delineation of 
character, but in each case it only professed to be a sketch, 
as I could not then afford the higher fee for a full written 
development of character. As these two documents have 
fortunately been preserved and are now before me, it will be 
interesting to see how closely the main features of my 
character were stated by these two itinerant lecturers about 
sixty years ago. 

I will take first that of Mr. Edwin Thomas Hicks, who 


called himself " Professor of Phrenology'," and whose delinea- 
tion was the less detailed of the two. It is as follows: — 

" The intellectual faculties are very well combined in your 
head, you will manifest a good deal of perception, and will 
pay great attention to facts, but as soon as facts are presented 
you begin to reason and theorize upon them; you will be 
constantly searching for causes, and will form your judgment 
from the analogy which one fact bears to another. You have 
a good development of number and order, will therefore be a 
good calculator, will excel in mathematics, and will be very 
systematic in your arrangements and plans. You possess a 
good deal of firmness in what you consider to be right, but 
you want self-confidence. You are cautious in acting and 
speaking, quick in temper, but kind and good in disposition." 

The above estimate, although partial, and dealing almost 
entirely with the intellectual faculties, is yet wonderfully 
accurate if we consider that it is founded upon a necessarily 
hasty examination, and a comparison of the proportionate 
development of the thirty-seven distinct organs which the 
examiner recognized. It is not generally known that even 
when the size or development of each organ is accurately 
given the determination of the resulting character is not a 
simple matter, as it depends upon a very careful study of the 
infinitely varied combinations of the organs, the result of 
which is sometimes very different from what might be antici- 
pated. A good phrenologist has to make, first, a very 
accurate determination of the comparative as well as the 
absolute size of all the organs, and then a careful estimate of 
the probable result of the special combination of organs in 
each case; and in both there will be a certain amount of 
difference even between equally well-trained observers, while 
in special details there may be a considerable difference in the 
final estimate, especially when the two observers are not equal 
in knowledge and experience. 

The first sentence in the estimate is wonderfully accurate 
and comprehensive, since it gives in very few words the 
exact combination of faculties which have been the effec- 


tive agents in all the work I have done, and which have 
given me whatever reputation in science, literature, and 
thought which I possess. It is the result of the organs of 
comparison, causality, and order, with firmness, acquisitive- 
ness, concentrativeness, constructiveness, and wonder, all 
above the average, but none of them excessively developed, 
combined with a moderate faculty of language, which enables 
me to express my ideas and conclusions in writing, though 
but imperfectly in speech. I feel, myself, how curiously and 
persistently these faculties have acted in various combinations 
to determine my tastes, disposition, and actions. Thus, my 
organ of order is large enough to make me wish to have 
everything around me in its place, but not sufficient to enable 
me to keep them so, among the multiplicity of interests and 
occupations which my more active intellectual faculties lead 
me to indulge in. 

The next sentence is also fairly accurate, as at school I 
always found arithmetic easy, but Mr. Hicks did not, perhaps, 
know that my rather small organ of wit would prevent my 
ever " excelling " in mathematics. That I am " systematic 
in my arrangements and plans " is, however, quite correct. 
My want of self-confidence has already been stated in my own 
estimate of my character; and the last sentence is also fairly 
precise and accurate. 

Among the other organs not referred to in the written 
character, there are a few worth noting. Inhabitiveness, 
giving attachment to place, is among my smaller faculties, 
while Locality, giving power of remembering places and the 
desire to travel, is noted as being one of the largest. Indi- 
viduality, giving power of remembering names and dates, is 
rather small, while Time is given as the smallest of all, in 
both cases strictly corresponding with the amount of each 
faculty I possess. Again, Veneration is among the smallest 
indicated, and is shown in my character by my disregard for 
mere authority or rank, its place being taken by Ideality and 
Wonder, both marked as well developed, and which lead to 
my intense delight in the grand, the beautiful, or the mysteri- 
ous in nature or in art. 



Coming now to the estimate of the other lecturer, Mr. 
James Quilter Rumball, an M.R.C.S. and author of some 
medical works, we have a more detailed and careful " Phreno- 
logical Development," founded on the comparative sizes of 
thirty-nine organs. It is as follows, only omitting a few words 
at the end, which are of a purely private and personal nature. 

(a) There is some delicacy in the nervous system, and 
consequent sensitiveness which unfits it for any very long- 
continued exertion ; but this may be overcome by a strong 
will. There is some tendency to indigestion; this requires air 
and exercise. 

"(b) The power of fixing the attention is very good 
indeed, and there is very considerable perceptive power, so 
that this gentleman should learn easily and remember well, 
notwithstanding verbal memory is but moderate. Concen- 
trativeness is the chief organ upon which all the memories 
depend, and this is undoubtedly large. 

"(c) He has some vanity, and more ambition. He may 
occasionally exhibit a want of self-confidence ; but general 
opinion ascribes to him too much. In this, opinion is wrong: 
he knows that he has not enough; he may assume it, but it 
will sit ill. 

" (d) If Wit were larger he would be a good Mathe- 
matician; but without it, however clear and analytical the 
mind may be, it wants' breadth and depth, and so I do not 
put down his mathematical talents as first-rate, although 
Number is good, the same must be said of his classical 
abiHties — good, but not first-rate. 

"(e) He has some love for music from his Ideality, but I 
do not find a good ear, or sufficient time; he has, however, 
mechanical ability sufficient to produce enough of both, 
especially for the flute, if he so choose. 

"(f) As an artist, he would excel if his vision were 
perfect: he has every necessary faculty, even to Imitation. 

"(g) He is fond of argument, and not easily convinced; he 
would exhibit physical courage if called upon; and although 
he loves money — as who does not? — so far from there being 
any evidence of greediness, he is benevolent and liberal, but 


probably not extravagant. This part of his disposition is, 
however, so evenly balanced that there is not likely to be 
much peculiarity. 

" (/j) His domestic affections are his best. Conscientious- 
ness ought to be one more, but I do not see what will try it. 

" J. Q. RUMBALL." 

I will make a few remarks on this estimate, referring to 
the lettered paragraphs: (a) This is more medical than 
phrenological, but it is strikingly accurate. So long as I was 
at school I suffered from indigestion; but my after life, 
largely spent in the open air, has almost entirely removed 
this slight constitutional failing, (b) A very accurate state- 
ment, (c) This is strikingly correct, (d) I have already 
shown how my experience at Leicester exactly accorded 
with this estimate, (e) This also is an exact statement 
of my relation to music. (/) Here I think Mr. Rumball 
has gone somewhat beyond his own detailed estimate of 
the development of my organs of Weight, Form, and Size, 
which are put at only a little above the average. The posi- 
tion of these organs over the frontal sinus renders their 
estimate very difficult, and I am inclined to think they are 
really a little below rather than above the average. At the 
same time I did draw a little without any teaching worth the 
name, and I have a high appreciation of good design, and 
especially of the artistic touch, so that if my attention had 
been wholly devoted to the study and practice of art, I may 
possibly have succeeded. But my occupations and tastes led 
me in other directions, while the progress of photography 
rendered sketching less and less necessary. 

(g) The first statement here is not only correct, but it is 
really the main feature of my intellectual character. I can 
hardly write with ease, unless I am seeking to prove some- 
thing. Mere narrative is distasteful to me. The remainder 
of the section calls for no special observation. 

(h) I will only remark that the defect here pointed out 
does undoubtedly exist, and it has been of some use to me to 
know it. 



On the whole, it appears to me that these two expositions 
of my character, the result of a very rapid examination of the 
form of my head by two perfect strangers, made in public 
among, perhaps, a dozen others, all waiting at the end of 
an evening lecture, are so curiously exact in so many dis- 
tinct points as to demonstrate a large amount of truth — 
both in the principle and in the details — of the method by 
which they were produced. A short account of the evidence 
in support of Phrenolog}^ is given in my " Wonderful 
Century" (chapter xx.), and those who are interested in the 
subject will there see that the supposed " localization of 
motor areas," by Professor Ferrier and others, which are 
usually stated to be a disproof of the science, are really one 
of its supports, the movements produced being merely those 
which express the emotions due to the excitation of the 
phrenological organ excited. When I touched the organ of 
Veneration in one of my boy patients at Leicester he fell 
upon his knees, closed his palms together, and gazed upwards, 
with the facial expression of a saint in the ecstasy of adora- 
tion. Here are very definite movements of a great number 
of the muscles of the whole body, and some of the movements 
observed by Professor Ferrier were almost as complex, and 
almost as clearly due to the physical expression of a famihar 
and powerful emotion. 

I will here briefly record a few family events which suc- 
ceeded my departure from England early in 1848. My 
brother, not having enough surveying or other work to live 
upon, took a small house and a few acres of good pasture land 
near the town, in order to keep cows and supply milk. This 
he tried for a year, my mother and sister living with him, 
doing the house work, while he carried the milk daily into 
the town in a small pony-cart. But the rent was too high, 
and it did not pay; so in the spring of 1849 he gave it up 
and sailed for California in April, soon after the discoveries 
of gold there and when San Francisco was a city of huts and 
tents, and he lived there till his death in 1895, having only 
once visited England, in the winter of 1850-51, in order to 


marry the only daughter of his former employer, Mr. 

Shortly after this my sister married Mr. Thomas Sims, 
eldest son of the Mr. Sims with whom I and my brother had 
lodged in Neath. He had taught himself the then unde- 
veloped art of photography, and he and his wife settled first in 
Weston-super-Mare, and afterwards came to London, where 
I lived with them in Upper Albany Street, after my return 
from the Amazon. 



What decided our going to Para and the Amazon rather 
than to any other part of the tropics was the publication in 
1847, Murray's Home and Colonial Library, of " A 
Voyage up the Amazon," by Mr. W. H. Edwards. This little 
book was so clearly and brightly written, described so well the 
beauty and the grandeur of tropical vegetation, and gave 
such a pleasing account of the people, their kindness and 
hospitality to strangers, and especially of the English and 
American merchants in Para, while expenses of living and 
of travelling were both very moderate, that Bates and myself 
at once agreed that this was the very place for us to go to 
if there was any chance of paying our expenses by the sale 
of our duplicate collections. I think we read the book in 
the latter part of the year (or very early in 1848), and we 
immediately communicated with Mr. Edward Doubleday, 
who had charge of the butterflies at the British Museum, 
for his advice upon the matter. He assured us that the 
whole of northern Brazil was very little known, that some 
small collections they had recently had from Para and 
Pernambuco contained many rarities and some new species, 
and that if we collected all orders of insects, as well as land- 
shells, birds, and mammals, there was no doubt we could 
easily pay our expenses. Thus encouraged, we determined to 
go to Para, and began to make all the necessary arrange- 
ments. We found that by sailing in early spring we should 
reach Para at the beginning of the dry season, which is both 
the most agreeable for new-comers and the best for making 
collections. We arranged, therefore, to meet in London 



towards the end of March to study the collections at the 
British Museum, make purchases of books, collecting appa- 
ratus, and outfit, arrange with an agent to receive and dispose 
of our collections, and make inquiries as to our passage. 

By a curious coincidence we found that Mr. Edwards, 
whose book had determined us to go to the Amazon, was in 
London exhibiting a very fine ivory crucifix of Italian work- 
manship. We called upon him in a street out of Regent 
Street, and we had an interesting talk about the country. 
He kindly gave us letters of introduction to some of his 
American friends in Para, among others, to Mr. Leavens at 
the Saw Mills, with whom we went on our short expedition 
up the Tocantins river. We also saw the crucifix, which was 
certainly a very fine work of art, carved out of an unusually 
large mass of ivory. Mr. Edwards, who, though a little older 
than myself, is still alive, writes to me (October 23, 1904) that 
the crucifix was the work of a monk of St. Nicholas, Genoa, 
and was purchased by Mr. C. Edwards Lester, United States 
consul in that city. A brother of our Mr. Edwards purchased 
it for ten thousand dollars, and exhibited it successfully in 
many American cities. He died, however, in 1847, 
was necessary to sell it, our Mr. Edwards, who was his execu- 
tor, brought it to London, and was exhibiting it with the 
object of finding a purchaser. But the Louis Philippe revolu- 
tion in France occurred just at the time he arrived in London, 
and caused such disturbances and excitement throughout 
Europe as to be very unfavourable for the disposal of works 
of art, and he was obliged to take it back to America. In a 
year or two it was sold to the Catholics, and he thinks it is 
now in one of their churches at Cleveland, Ohio. Nearly 
forty years later I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Edwards 
at his residence in Coalburgh, West Virginia, as will be 
referred to in its proper place. 

Among the interesting visits we paid while in London 
was one to Dr. Horsfield at the India Museum, who showed 
us the cases in which he had brought home his large col- 
lection of butterflies from Java. These were stout, oblong 



boxes, about three feet long by two feet wide and two feet 
deep. Inside these were vertical grooves, about two inches 
apart, to hold the boards corked on both sides, on which the 
insects were pinned. The advantages were that a large number 
of specimens were packed in a small space, and at much 
less cost than in store boxes, while any insects which should 
accidentally get loose would fall to the bottom, where a small 
vacant space was left, and do no injury to other specimens. 
It seemed such an excellent plan that we had a case made 
like it, and sent home our first collections in it; but though 
it answered its purpose it was very inconvenient, and quite 
unsuited to a travelling collector. We therefore returned to 
the old style of store box, which we got made in the country, 
while a very good substitute for cork was found in some of 
the very soft woods, or in slices of the midribs of palms. 

We were fortunate in finding an excellent and trustworthy 
agent in Mr. Samuel Stevens, an enthusiastic collector of 
British Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, and brother of Mr. J. C. 
Stevens, the well-known natural history auctioneer, of King 
Street, Covent Garden. He continued to act as my agent 
during my whole residence abroad, sparing no pains to dispose 
of my duplicates to the best advantage, taking charge of my 
private collections, insuring each collection as its dispatch was 
advised, keeping me supplied wath cash, and with such stores 
as I required, and, above all, writing me fully as to the prog- 
ress of the sale of each collection, what striking novelties 
it contained, and giving me general information on the 
progress of other collectors and on matters of general scientific 
interest. During the whole period of our business relations, 
extending over more than fifteen years, I cannot remember 
that we ever had the least disagreement about any matter 

Mr. Bates' parents having kindly invited me to spend a 
week with them before we sailed, we left London early in 
April for Leicester, where I was very hospitably entertained, 
and had an opportunity of visiting some of my old friends. I 
also practised shooting and skinning birds ; and as the ship 
we were to sail in was somewhat delayed, I spent some days 

(From a daguerreotype) 


in the wild district of Charnwood Forest, which I had often 
wished to visit. At length, everything being ready, and our 
date of sailing being fixed for April 20, we left Leicester by 
coach a few days before that date, and stayed, I think, at 
Bakewell, in order to visit Chatsworth and see the palm and 
orchid houses, then the finest in England. The next day we 
went on to Liverpool, where we arrived late, after a cold and 
rather miserable journey outside a stage-coach. 

The next morning we called upon Mr. J. G. Smith, the 
gentleman who had collected butterflies at Pernambuco and 
Para, at his office, and he invited us to dine with him in the 
evening, when he showed us his collection, and gave us much 
information about the country, the people, and the beauties 
of nature. During the day we got our luggage on board, 
saw our berths, and other accommodation, which was of the 
scantiest, and heard that the ship was to sail the next day. 
In the morning, after breakfast at our inn, we made a few 
final purchases, received a letter of introduction to the con- 
signee of the vessels, and bade farewell to our native land. 

At that time there were very few steamships, and most of 
the ocean trade was still carried on in sailing vessels. Ours 
was one of the smallest, being a barque of 192 tons, named 
the Mischief, and said to be a very fast sailer. We were told 
that she was ranked A i at Lloyds, and that we might there- 
fore be quite sure that she was thoroughly seaworthy. We 
were the only passengers, and were to have our meals with 
the captain and mate, both youngish men, but of whom, owing 
to my deficient individuality, I have not the slightest recol- 
lection. Soon after we got out to sea the wind rose and 
increased to a gale in the Bay of Biscay, with waves that 
flooded our decks, washed away part of our bulwarks, and 
was very near swamping us altogether. All this time I was 
in my berth prostrate with sea-sickness, and it was only, I 
think, on the sixth day, when the weather had become fine 
and the sea smooth, that I was able to go on deck just as we 
had a distant sight of Madeira. Shortly afterwards we got 
into the region of the trade-wind, and had fine, bright weather 
all the rest of the voyage. We passed through part of the 



celebrated Sargasso Sea, where the surface is covered with 
long stretches of floating sea-weed, not brought there by 
storms from the distant shore, but living and growing where 
it is found, and supporting great numbers of small fish, crabs, 
mollusca, and innumerable low forms of marine life. And 
when we left this behind us, the exquisite blue of the water 
by day and the vivid phosphorescence often seen at night 
were a constant delight, while our little barque, with every 
sail set, and going steadily along day and night about ten 
knots an hour, was itself a thing of beauty and a perpetual 

At length the water began to lose its blue colour, becom- 
ing first greenish, then olive, and finally olive-yellow, and 
one morning we saw on the horizon the long, low line of 
the land, and on the next, when we came on deck before 
sunrise, found ourselves anchored opposite the city of 
Para, twenty-nine days after leaving Liverpool. From this 
date till I landed at Deal, in October, 1852, my adventures 
and experiences are given in my book, " A Narrative of 
Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro," a cheap edition of 
which is comprised in the Minerva Library of Famous 

In order that no large gap may occur in these memories 
of my life, I will give here a general outline of my travels, 
with such incidental remarks or recollections as may occur to 
me. To begin with, I will give a short description of my 
impressions written to my old friend and schoolfellow, Mr. 
George Silk, about a fortnight after our arrival, to supplement 
the more detailed but less impulsive account in my published 

" We have been staying for near a fortnight at the country 
house (called here Rosinha) of Mr. ^Miller, the consignee of 
the vessel and the captain's brother, about half a mile out of 
the city. We have just taken a house ourselves rather nearer 
the woods, and to-morrow expect to be in it. We have an 
old nigger who cooks for us. The city of Para is a curious, 
outlandish looking place, the best part of it very like 
Boulogne, the streets narrow and horribly rough — no pave- 


ment. The public buildings handsome, but out of repair or 
even ruinous. The squares and public places covered v^^ith 
grass and weeds like an English common. Palm trees of 
many different kinds, bananas and plantains abundant in all 
the gardens, and orange trees innumerable, most of the roads 
out of the city being bordered on each side with them. 
Bananas and oranges are delicious. I eat them at almost 
every meal. Beef is the only meat to be constantly had, not 
very good, but cheap — 2|d a pound. Coffee grows wild all 
about the city, yet it is imported for use, the people are so 
lazy. Every shade of colour is seen here in the people from 
white to yellow, brown, and black — negroes, Indians, Bra- 
zilians, and Europeans, with every intermediate mixture. The 
Brazilians and Portuguese are very polite, and have all the 
appearance of civilization. Naked nigger children abound in 
the streets. 

" Within a mile of the city all around is the forest, extend- 
ing uninterruptedly many hundreds and even, in some 
directions, thousands of miles into the interior. The climate 
is beautiful. We are now at the commencement of the dry 
season. It rains generally for an hour or two every evening, 
though not always. Before sunrise the thermometer is about 
75°, in the afternoon 85° to 87°, the highest I have yet noted. 
This is hot, but by no means oppressive. I enjoy it as much 
as the finest summer weather in England. We have been 
principally collecting insects at present. The variety is 
immense; we have already got about four hundred distinct 

In fulfilment of a promise I made before I left Neath, I 
wrote a letter to the members of the Mechanics' Institution, 
after I had been nine months in the country, and as my 
mother preserved a copy of it, I will give the more important 
parts of it here. After a few preliminary observations, I 
proceed thus: — 

" Previous to leaving England I had read many books of 
travels in hot countries, I had dwelt so much on the enthusi- 
astic descriptions most naturalists give of the surpassing 



beauty of tropical vegetation, and of the strange forms and 
brilliant colours of the animal world, that I had wrought 
myself up to a fever-heat of expectation, and it is not to be 
wondered at that my early impressions were those of disap- 
pointment. On my first walk into the forest I looked about, 
expecting to see monkeys as plentiful as at the Zoological 
Gardens, with humming-birds and parrots in profusion. But 
for several days I did not see a single monkey, and hardly a 
bird of any kind, and I began to think that these and other 
productions of the South American forests are much scarcer 
than they are represented to be by travellers. But I soon 
found that these creatures were plentiful enough when I knew 
where and how to look for them, and that the number of 
different kinds of all the groups of animals is wonderfully 
great. The special interest of this country to the naturalist 
is, that while there appears at first to be so few of the higher 
forms of life, there is in reality an inexhaustible variety of 
almost all animals. I almost think that in a single walk you 
may sometimes see more quadrupeds, birds, and even some 
groups of insects in England than here. But when seeking 
after them day after day, the immense variety of strange 
forms and beautiful colours is really astonishing. There are, 
for instance, few places in England where during one summer 
more than thirty different kinds of butterflies can be collected ; 
but here, in about two months, we obtained more than four 
hundred distinct species, many of extraordinary size, or of 
the most brilliant colours. 

" There is, however, one natural feature of this country, the 
interest and grandeur of which may be fully appreciated in a 
single walk : it is the ' virgin forest.' Here no one who has 
any feeling of the magnificent and the sublime can be 
disappointed ; the sombre shade, scarce illumined by a single 
direct ray even of the tropical sun, the enormous size and 
height of the trees, most of which rise like huge columns a 
hundred feet or more without throwing out a single branch, 
the strange buttresses around the base of some, the spiny or 
furrowed stems of others, the curious and even extraordinary 
creepers and climbers which wind around them, hanging in 


long festoons from branch to branch, sometimes curling and 
twisting on the ground like great serpents, then mounting to 
the very tops of the trees, thence throwing down roots and 
fibres which hang waving in the air, or twisting round each 
other form ropes and cables of every variety of size and 
often of the most perfect regularity. These, and many other 
novel features — the parasitic plants growing on the trunks and 
branches, the wonderful variety of the foliage, the strange 
fruits and seeds that lie rotting on the ground — taken alto- 
gether surpass description, and produce feelings in the 
beholder of admiration and awe. It is here, too, that the 
rarest birds, the most lovely insects, and the most interesting 
mammals and reptiles are to be found. Here lurk the 
jaguar and the boa-constrictor, and here amid the densest 
shade the bell-bird tolls his peal. But I must leave these 
details and return to some more general description. 

" The whole country for some hundreds of miles around 
Para is almost level, and seems to be elevated on the average 
about thirty or forty feet above the river, the only slopes 
being where streams occur, which flow in very shallow and 
often scarcely perceptible valleys. The great island of 
Mara jo, opposite Para, is equally flat, and the smaller island 
of Mexiana (pronounced Mishiana), which is about forty 
miles long, is even more so, there not being, I believe, a rise 
or fall of ten feet over the whole of it. Up the river Tocan- 
tins, however, about one hundred and fifty miles southwest of 
Para, the land begins to rise. At about a hundred miles 
from its mouth the bed of the river becomes rocky and the 
country undulating, with hills four or five hundred feet high, 
entirely covered with forest except at a few places on the 
banks where some patches of open grass land occur, probably 
the site of old cultivation and kept open by the grazing of 

" The whole of the Para district is wonderfully intersected 
by streams, and the country being so flat, there are frequently 
cross-channels connecting them together. Up all these the 
tide flows, and on their banks all the villages, estates, and 
native huts are situated. There is probably no country in 



the world that affords such facilities for internal communica- 
tion by water. 

" The climate of Para cannot be spoken of too highly. 
The temperature is wonderfully uniform, the average daily 
variation of the thermometer being only 12° F. The lowest 
temperature at night is about 74°, the highest in the day 
about 86°, but with occasional extremes of 70° and 90°. 
Though I have been constantly out at all times of the day, 
and often exposed to the vertical sun, I have never suffered 
any ill effects from the heat, or even experienced so much 
inconvenience from it as I have often done during a hot sum- 
mer at home. There are two principal divisions of the year 
into wet and dry seasons, called here winter and summer. 
The wet season is from January to June, during which 
time it rains more or less every day, but seldom the whole 
day, the mornings usually being fine. The dry season is by 
no means what it is in some parts of the world; it still rains 
every two or three days, and it is a rare thing for more than 
a week to pass without a showxr, so that vegetation is never 
dried up, and a constant succession of fruits and flowers and 
luxuriant foliage prevails throughout the year. Notwith- 
standing the amount of water everywhere. Para is very 
healthful. The English and Americans who have lived here 
the longest look the healthiest. As for myself, I have enjoyed 
the most perfect health and spirits without the necessity for 
nearly so many precautions as are required at home. 

" The vegetable productions of the country around Para are 
very numerous and interesting. There are upwards of 
thirty different kinds of palms, and in almost every case the 
leaves, stems, or fruits are useful to man. One elegant species, 
the stem of which, though not thicker than a man's arm, 
rises to a height of sixty or eighty feet, produces a small 
blackish fruit, from which a creamy preparation is made, of 
which everybody becomes very fond, and which forms a large 
part of the subsistence of the natives. From the fibres of one 
kind ropes are made, which are in general use for the cables 
of native vessels, as they are almost indestructible in water. 
The houses of the Indians are often entirely built of various 


parts of palm-trees, the stems forming posts and rafters, while 
the leaf-stalks, often twenty feet long, placed side by side and 
pegged together, make walls and partitions. Not a particle 
of iron is needed, the various parts of the roofs being fastened 
together with the lianas or forest-ropes already described, 
while, as both stem and leaf-stalks split perfectly straight no 
tools whatever are needed besides the heavy bush-knife which 
every countryman carries. 

" The calabash tree supplies excellent basins, while gourds 
of various sizes and shapes are formed into spoons, cups, and 
bottles; and cooking-pots of rough earthenware are made 
everywhere. Almost every kind of food, and almost all the 
necessaries of life, can be here grown with ease, such as coffee 
and cocoa, sugar, cotton, farina from the mandioca plant 
(the universal bread of the country), with vegetables and 
fruits in inexhaustible variety. The chief articles of export 
from Para are india-rubber, brazil-nuts, and piassaba (the 
coarse stiff fibre of a palm, used for making brooms for street- 
sweeping), as well as sarsaparilla, balsam-capivi, and a few 
other drugs. Oranges, bananas, pine-apples, and water- 
melons are very plentiful, while custard-apples, mangoes, 
cashews, and several other fruits abound in their season. All 
are very cheap, as may be judged by the fact that a bushel 
basket of delicious oranges may be purchased for sixpence or 
a shilling. 

" Coming to the animal world, a forest country is often 
disappointing because so few of the larger animals can be seen, 
though some of them may be often heard, especially at night. 
The m.onkeys are in every way the most interesting, and are 
the most frequently to be met with. A large proportion of 
American monkeys have prehensile tails, which are so power- 
ful in some of the species that they can hang their whole 
weight upon it and swing about in the air with only a few 
inches of the tip twisted round a branch. If disturbed in 
such a position they swing themselves off, catching hold of 
boughs hand over hand, and rapidly disappear. They live 
entirely in the tree-tops, hardly ever descending to the ground, 
and in this region of forests they can travel hundreds of 



miles without requiring to do so, so that they are almost as 
independent of the earth as are the swifts and the humming- 
birds. They vary in size from the little marmosets, not so 
large as a squirrel, up to the howling monkeys the size of a 
large shepherd's dog. Of what are commonly termed wild 
beasts the jaguar or onga (somewhat similar to a leopard, but 
stouter) is the most powerful and dangerous, and is very 
destructive to horses and cattle. The puma (often called the 
American lion), though equally large, is much less dangerous. 
Tapirs, agoutis, armadillos, and sloths are not uncommon, but 
are very rarely seen. Birds are very abundant, and many 
are exceedingly beautiful. Macaws, parrots, toucans, trogons, 
chatterers, and tanagers, are all common, and often of the 
most gorgeous colours, while the lovely little humming-birds, 
though not so numerous as in the mountain districts, are to 
be seen in every garden. In the islands of Mexiana and 
Marajo, those splendid birds the scarlet ibis and the roseate 
spoonbill abound, together with great numbers of storks, 
herons, ducks, divers, and other aquatic birds ; while in the 
forests of the mainland the fine crested curassows and the 
elegant trumpeters are among the larger ground-feeders. 

" Lizards swarm everywhere in a variety of strange forms 
— the curious geckos, which can walk about the ceilings by 
means of suckers on their toes ; the large iguanas, which cling 
to branches by their prehensile tails, and whose flesh is a 
delicacy ; and the large ground lizards, three or four feet long. 
Frogs of all kinds abound, and some of the little tree frogs 
are so gaily coloured as to be quite pretty. The rivers are 
full of turtles of many kinds, one of the largest being very 
plentiful and as delicate eating as the well-known marine 
turtle of City feasts. Snakes, though not often seen, are 
really very numerous, but comparatively few are poisonous. 

" Fish abound in all the rivers, and many of them are of the 
very finest quality. One very large fish, called the pirarucu, 
is three or four feet long, and when slightly salted and 
dried in the sun can be kept for any time, and takes the 
place of salt cod, kippered haddocks, and red herrings in 


" The inhabitants of Para, as of all Brazil, consist of three 
distinct races: The Portuguese and their descendants with a 
few other Europeans, the native Indians, and the Negroes 
together with a considerable number of mixed descent. The 
Indians in and near Para are all * tame Indians,' being 
Roman Catholics in religion and speaking Portuguese, though 
many speak also the Lingoa-Geral or common Indian 
language. They are the chief boatmen, fishermen, hunters, 
and cultivators in the country, while many of them work as 
labourers or mechanics in the towns. The negroes were 
originally all slaves, but a large number are now free, some 
having purchased their freedom, while others have been freed 
by their owners by gift or by will. Most of the sugar and 
cocoa plantations are worked partly by slave and partly by 
hired labour. The negroes, here as elsewhere, are an exceed- 
ingly talkative and contented race, as honest as can be 
expected under the circumstances, and when well treated 
exceedingly faithful and trustworthy. Generally they are not 
hard-worked, and are treated with comparative kindness and 

The people of all races are universally polite, and are 
generally temperate and peaceful. The streets of Para are 
more free from drunkenness and quarrels than any town of 
like size in England or Wales ; yet in the time of Portuguese 
rule there were some fearful insurrections, brought on by 
oppressive government. But now, foreigners of all sorts can 
live in perfect safety, and on excellent terms with the native 
residents and officials, though, of course, they have to conform 
to the customs of the country, and obey all the laws and 
regulations, which latter are sometimes inconvenient and 

Shortly after writing this letter I went on a collecting 
expedition up the river Guama, and soon after my return, in 
July, 1849, younger brother Herbert came out to join me 
in order to see if he had sufficient taste for natural history to 
become a good collector. I had decided to start up the 
Amazon as soon as I could find an opportunity, and after 



a month in the suburbs of Para we left in a small empty boat 
returning to Santarem, where we intended to stay for some 
time. Dr. Richard Spruce, the now well-known traveller and 
botanist, came out in the same ship with my brother, and was 
accompanied by a young Englishman, Mr. King, as an 
assistant and pupil in botany; and as Dr. Spruce was a well- 
educated man, a most ardent botanist, and of very pleasing 
manners and witty conversation, we very much enjoyed the 
short time we were together. My brother was the only one 
of our family who had some natural capacity as a verse-writer, 
and I will therefore supplement my rather dry descriptions by 
some bright verses he sent home, giving his impressions of 
Para and the voyage to Santarem, which occupied twenty- 
eight days, the distance being about seven hundred miles. 

" From Para to Santarem. 

"Well! here we are at anchor 

In the river of Para; 
We have left the rolling ocean 

Behind us and afar; 
Our weary voyage is over, 

Sea-sickness is no more, 
The boat has come to fetch us 

So let us go on shore. 
How strange to us the aspect 

This southern city wears ! 
The ebon niggers grinning, 

The Indians selling wares ; 
The lasses darkly delicate, 

With eyes that ever kill, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

**The streets are green and pleasant. 

The natives clad in white ; 
We miss the noise of coaches, 

But miss it with delight. 
The hairy sheep is biting 

The grass between the stones, 
And many a pig is grunting 

In half familiar tones ; 


And through the green janellas i 

(Which we should like to raise) 
Dark eyes of the senhoras 

Upon the strangers gaze. 
The many foreign faces, 

The lingo stranger still, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

"We stroll about the suburbs, 

Beneath the mango groves. 
Where friends appoint their meetings 

And lovers seek their loves; 
Where fruit and doce vendors, 

With many a varied cry, 
Invite the evening stroller 

Their luxuries to buy. 
Here soars the lofty cocoa. 

Here feathery palm-trees rise, 
And the green broad-leaved banana 

Swells forth 'neath sunny skies. 
The cooling water-melon. 

The wild pine by the rill, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

" Once more upon the waters, 

Adieu to thee, Para, 
Adieu, kind friends, whose latticed homes 

Are fading now afar. 
We sail 'mid lovely islands. 

Where man has seldom trod, 
Where the wild deer and the on^a 

Are owners of the sod ; 
By forests high and gloomy. 

Where never a ray of sun 
Can pierce its way to enter 

Those shades so thick and dun, 
The cry of parrots overhead, 

The toucan with his bill, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

1 Venetian shutters in place of sashes. 


"And now upon the Amazon, 

The waters rush and roar — 
The noble river that flows between 

A league from shore to shore; 
Our little bark speeds gallantly, 

The porpoise, rising, blows, 
The gull darts downward rapidly 

At a fish beneath our bows. 
The far-off roar of the onga. 

The cry of the whip-poor-will — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

By many an Indian cottage, 

By many a village green, 
Where naked little urchins 

Are fishing in the stream, 
With days of sunny pleasure, 

But, oh, with weary nights. 
For here upon the Amazon 

The dread mosquito bites — 
Inflames the blood with fever. 

And murders gentle sleep. 
Till, weary grown and peevish. 

We've half a mind to weep ! 
But still, although they torture. 

We know they cannot kill, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil. 

"And now the wave around us 

Has changed its muddy hue, 
For we are on the Tapajoz, 

And Santarem's in view ; 
Fair Santarem, whose sandy beach 

Slopes down into the wave, 
Where mothers wash their garments. 

And their happy children lave. 
Now comes the welcome greeting, 

The warm embrace of friends, 
And here, then, for a season, 

The toil of voyaging ends. 
The silent Indian sentry, 

The mud fort on the hill, — 
All breathe to us in whispers 

That we are in Brazil." 


We remained at Santarem about three months, including 
a visit to Monte Alegre, a village on the opposite or north 
side of the river, where we had heard there were some very- 
interesting caves, and where we found the great water-lily, 
the Victoria regia, growing abundantly in a backwater of the 
Amazon. Santarem and Monte Alegre both differ from 
almost all the rest of the places on the banks of the Amazon 
in being open country, with rocky hills dotted all over with 
low trees and shrubs, and with only isolated patches of forest 
for many miles round. This peculiarity of vegetation was 
accompanied by an equal peculiarity of insect life, especially 
in the butterflies, which were almost all different from any I 
had found at Para, and many of them wonderfully beautiful. 
Here I first obtained evidence of the great river limiting the 
range of species. At Santarem I found a lovely butterfly 
about the size of our largest peacocks or red-admirals, but 
entirely of different shades of the most exquisite sky-blue of 
a velvety texture (Callithea sapphirina) , while on the oppo- 
site side of the river was a closely allied species of an almost 
indigo-blue colour, and with different markings underneath. 
Dr. Spruce assured me that, though he had studied all the 
known plants of the Amazon before leaving England, he felt 
quite puzzled when collecting at Santarem, because almost 
every shrub and tree he found there proved to be a new 

We greatly enjoyed our short residence at Santarem, both 
on account of the delightful climate, the abundance of good 
milk, which we could get nowhere else after leaving Para, and 
for the pleasant friends we met there. The following descrip- 
tive verses by my brother may therefore appropriately follow 
here : — 

" A Description of Santarem. 

" I stand within a city, 

A city strangely small; 
'Tis not at all like Liverpool, 

Like London, not at all. 
The blue waves of the Tapajoz 

Are rippling at its feet, 



Where anchored lie the light canoes— 

A Lilliputian fleet. 
The scream of parrots overhead. 

The cry of the whip-poor-will, 
All tell me you're in England, 

And I am in Brazil. 

" I wander through the city, 

Where everything is new: 
The grinning, white-toothed negroes, 

The pigs of varied hue ; 
The naked little children, 

With skins of every dye, 
Some black, some brown, some lighter, 

Some white as you or 1. 
A dozen such in family. 

With bellies all to fill, 
Would be no joke in England; 

'Tis nothing in Brazil ! " 

Then follow his farewell verses, well expressing the regret 
we both felt at leaving it. I may just note here that his refer- 
ence to " blue pig " is not imagination only. Among the 
quantities of pigs that roamed about the city and suburbs 
(really little more than a large straggling village) was one 
whose nearly black skin was seen in certain lights to be dis- 
tinctly blue ; and to have found the real " blue pig," which 
under the name of the "Blue Boar " is a not uncommon inn- 
sign at home, greatly delighted my brother. 

" Farewell to Santarem. 

" My skiff is waiting on the shore. 
And on the wave is my canoe; 
Ye citizens of Santarem, 

To each and all, adieu! 
The hour has come to bid, with grief, 
Adieu to milk and tender beef. 

"Adieu, the fort upon the hill. 

And yon cathedral's domes. 
Like guardian giants gazing down 

Upon thy lowly homes ; 
Ye naked children, all adieu, 
And thou strange pig with skin of blue 1 


" Farewell, the forest's deep recess, 
Where Sol can never come ; 
Farewell, the campo's sandy plain. 

The lizards in the sun. 
To water-melons cool, adieu ; 
And farewell, old black cook, to you. 

"Adieu, thy shores, broad Tapajoz, 

Within thy heaven-dyed wave, 
At noonday's silent, sultry hour 

I've joy'd to plunge and lave. 
Adieu ! to-morrow's noonday sun, 
I'll bathe in yellow Amazon." 

On reaching the city of Barra at the mouth of the Rio 
Negro we found a strange and even now unaccountable 
poverty both in insects and birds, although there was fine 
virgin forest within a walk, with roads and paths and fine 
rocky streams. All seemed barren and lifeless as compared 
with the wonderful productiveness of Para. It was, therefore, 
necessary to seek other localities in search of rarities. I 
accordingly went a three days' journey up the Rio Negro to 
obtain specimens of the umbrella-bird, one of the most 
remarkable birds of these regions, my brother going in 
another direction to see what he could discover. 

After a month I returned to Barra, and after some months 
of almost constant wet weather went to a plantation on the 
Amazon above Barra for two months, where I made a toler- 
able collection, while my brother went to Serpa, lower down 
on the Amazon; and on returning I prepared for my long 
intended voyage to the Upper Rio Negro in hopes of getting 
into a new and more productive country. As soon as a 
much overdue vessel had arrived, bringing letters and remit- 
tances from England, I was ready to start for a journey of 
unknown duration. After a year's experience it was now 
clear that my brother was not fitted to become a good 
natural-history collector, as he took little interest in birds 
or insects, and without enthusiasm in the pursuit he would 
not have been likely to succeed. We therefore arranged that 
he should stay at or near Bara for a few months of the dry 



season, make what collections he could, then return to Para 
on his way home. I left him what money I could spare, and 
as he was now well acquainted with the country, and could, 
if absolutely necessary, get an advance from our agents at 
Para, I had little doubt that he would get home without 
difficulty. But I never saw him again. When he reached 
Para, towards the end of May, 1 851, he at once took a passage 
to England in a ship to leave early in June, but before it 
sailed he was seized with yellow fever, then prevalent in the 
town, and though at first seeming to get better, died a few 
days afterwards. Mr. Bates was at Para at the time, pre- 
paring for his second long journey up the Amazon. He was 
with him when he was taken ill, and did all he could in getting 
medical assistance and helping to nurse him. But just when 
my brother was at his worst, two days before his death, he 
was himself attacked with the same disease, which rendered 
him absolutely helpless for ten days, though, being of a 
stronger and more hardened constitution, he finally recovered. 
Mr. Miller, the Vice-consul, with whom I and Bates had 
stayed when we arrived at Para, was with my brother when he 
died. This gentleman had severe b)rain-fever not long after- 
wards, and also died; but he told Mr. Bates that a few hours 
before my brother's death he had said that " it was sad to die 
so young." In one of his last letters home he had spoken 
quite cheerfully, saying, " When I arrive in England I have 
my plans, which I can better tell than write." And then 
referring to his brother John's emigration to California, and 
some idea that he, Herbert, might go there too, he says, " I 
do not like the California scheme for many reasons. I should 
like to have seen John's first letter. No doubt he is sure to 
get on. I wish I was a little less poetical ; but, as I am what 
I am, I must try and do the best for myself I can." I rather 
think he had the idea of getting some literary work to do, per- 
haps on a country newspaper or magazine, and it is not 
unlikely that that was what he was best fitted for. 

I may here briefly explain why he had no regular employ- 
ment to fall back upon. Owing to the fact that I left home 
when I was fourteen (he being then only seven and a half), 


and that when I happened to be at home afterwards he was 
often away at school, I really knew very little of him till he 
came to me at Para. Until I left school he had been taught 
at home by my father, and afterwards went for a year or two 
to a cheap boarding school in Essex. As it was necessary 
for him to learn something, he was placed with a portmanteau 
and bag-maker in Regent Street, where he was at first a mere 
shop-boy, and as he showed little aptitude for learning the 
trade, and was not treated very kindly by his master, he was 
rather miserable, and was taken away after a year. My 
brother William then got him into the pattern-shop at the 
Neath Abbey Iron Works soon after I had gone to Leicester. 
There he remained, lodging near the works, and when we 
went to live at Neath, spending his Sundays with us. At this 
time he took to writing verses, and especially enigmas in the 
style of W. Mackworth Praed, and these appeared almost 
weekly in some of the local papers. But he evidently had no 
inclination or taste for mechanical work, and though he 
spent, I think, about four years in the pattern-shops he never 
became a good workman ; and as he saw no prospect of ever 
earning more than a bare subsistence as a mechanic, and 
perhaps not even that, he gladly came out to me, when he 
had just completed his twentieth year. His misfortune was 
that he had no thorough school training, no faculty for or 
love of mechanical work, and was not possessed of sufficient 
energy to overcome these deficiencies of nature and nurture. 

The remainder of my South American travels consisted of 
two voyages up the Rio Negro. On the first I went beyond 
the boundaries of Brazil, and crossed by a road in the forest 
to one of the tributaries of the Orinoko. Returning thence 
I visited a village up a small branch of the Rio Negro, where 
there is an isolated rocky mountain, the haunt of the beautiful 
Cock of the Rock; afterwards going up the Uaupes as far as 
the second cataract at Juaurite. I then returned with my 
collections to Barra, having determined to go much farther 
up the Uaupes in order to obtain, if possible, the white 
umbrella bird which I had been positively assured was 



found there ; and also in the hopes of finding some new and 
better collecting ground near the Andes. These journeys 
were made, but the second was cut short by delays and the 
wet season. My health also had suffered so much by a 
succession of fevers and dysentery that I did not consider it 
prudent to stay longer in the country. 

Although during the last two journeys in the Rio Negro 
and Orinoko districts I had made large miscellaneous 
collections, and especially of articles of native workmanship, 
I never found any locality at all comparable with Para as a 
collecting ground. The numerous places I visited along 
more than a thousand miles of river, all alike had that 
poverty of insect and bird-Hfe w^hich characterized Barra 
itself, a poverty which is not altogether explicable. The 
enormous difficulties and delays of travel made it impossible 
to be at the right place at the right season; while the 
excessive wetness of the climate rendered the loss of the only 
month or two of fine weather irreparable for the whole year. 
The comparative scantiness of native population at all the 
towns of the Rio Negro, the small amount of cultivation, the 
scarcity of roads through the forest, and the want of any 
guide from the experience of previous collectors, combined to 
render my numerous journeys in this almost totally unknown 
region comparatively unproductive in birds and insects. As 
it happened (owing to Custom House formalities at Barra), 
the whole of my collections during the last two voyages were 
with me on the ship that was burnt, and were thus totally 
lost. On the whole, I am inclined to think that the best 
places now available for a collector in the country I visited 
are at the San Jeronym and Juarite falls on the River 
Uaupes, and at Javita, on a tributary of the Orinoko, if the 
whole of the dryest months could be spent there. So far as 
I have heard, no English traveller has to this day ascended 
the Uaupes river so far as I did, and no collector has stayed 
any time at Javita, or has even passed through it. There is, 
therefore, an almost unknown district still waiting for explora- 
tion by some competent naturalist. 

One letter I wrote from Guia on the Upper Rio Negro, 

(One-fourth nat^^ral size) 

(One-third natural size) 


three months after my arrival there, has been preserved, and 
from it I extract the following passage: — 

" I have been spending a month with some Indians three 
days' journey up a narrow stream (called the Cobati River). 
From there we went half a day's journey through the forest 
to a rocky mountain where the celebrated ' Gallos de Serra ' 
(Cocks of the Rock) breed. But we were very unfortunate, 
for though I had with me ten hunters and we remained nine 
days at the Serra, suffering many inconveniences (having 
only taken farina and salt with us), I only got a dozen 
gallos, whereas I had expected in less time to have secured 
fifty. Insects, there were none at all; and other good birds 
excessively rare. 

" My canoe is now getting ready for a further journey up 
to near the sources of the Rio Negro in Venezuela, where I 
have reason to believe I shall find insects more plentiful, and 
at least as many birds as here. On my return from there 
I shall take a voyage up the great river Uaupes, and another 
up the Isanna, not so much for my collections, which I do 
not expect to be very profitable there, but because I am so 
much interested in the country and the people that I am 
determined to see and know more of it and them than any 
other European traveller. If I do not get profit, I hope at 
least to get some credit as an industrious and persevering 

I then go on to describe the materials I was collecting for 
books on the palms and on the fishes of these regions, and 
also for a book on the physical history of the Amazon valley. 
Only the " Palms " were published, but I give here a few 
copies of the drawings I made of about two hundred species 
of Rio Negro fishes, which I had hoped to increase to double 
that number had I remained in the country. 

The two first figures {Cynodon scombroides and Xiphos- 
toma lateristriga) belong to the family Characinidse, a group 
which abounds in the fresh waters of tropical America and 
Africa, where it replaces the carps (Cyprinidse) of Europe 
and the Old World generally, though not very closely allied to 



them. Many of the species are very like some of our com- 
monest river-fish, such as gudgeons, dace, roach, tench, and 
bream, and I have drawings of no less than sixty-five species 
of the family. They are all, I believe, eatable, but are not 
held to be fishes of the best quality. 

The next figure (Pimelodus holomclas) is an example of 
the family Siluridae, which is found in the fresh waters of all 
parts of the world. The cat-fishes of North America and 
the sturgeons of Eastern Europe belong to it. I obtained 
thirty-four species on the Rio Negro, many being of a large 
size. They are generally bottom-feeding fishes and are 
greatly esteemed, the flesh being very fat and rich, quite 
beyond any of our English fishes. 

The next figure (Plecostomus gitacari) is one of the 
Loricarudae, which are allied to the Siluridae, but characterized 
by hard bony scales or plates, and dangerous bony spines to 
the dorsal and pectoral fins. Many are of very strange and 
repulsive forms, and though eatable are not esteemed. I 
obtained seven species of these curious fishes. 

The remaining two figures serve to illustrate the family 
Cichlidae, one of the most abundant and characteristic groups 
of South American fishes. All are of moderate size, and feed 
partially or entirely on vegetable substances, especially fruits 
which grow on the river-banks and when ripe fall into the 
water. They are caught with fruits as a bait, and the fisher- 
man gently lashes the water with his rod so as to imitate 
the sound of falling fruit, thus attracting the fish. Some of 
these are the most delicious fish in the world, both delicate 
and fat, to such an extent that the water they are boiled in 
is always served at table in basins, and is a very delicious 
broth, quite different to any meat broth and equal to the 
best. It is more like a very rich chicken broth than any- 
thing else. I obtained twenty-two species of this family of 
fishes, the little Pterophyllum scalaris, called the butterfly 
fish, being one of the most fantastic of fresh-water fishes. 
The other, Cichlosoma severum, is one of the best for the 

I have presented my collection of fish drawings to the 

(One-third natural size) 

(One-third natural size) 


British Museum of Natural History, and I am indebted to 
Mr. C. Tate Regan, who has charge of this department, for 
giving me the names of the species represented. In a paper 
read before the Zoological Society in August, 1905, he states 
that he has named about a hundred species, and that a large 
portion of the remainder are probably new species, showing 
how incomplete is our knowledge of the fishes of the Amazon 
and its tributaries. 

Looking back over my four years' wanderings in the Ama- 
zon valley, there seem to me to be three great features 
which especially impressed me, and which fully equalled or 
even surpassed my expectations of them. The first was the 
virgin forest, everywhere grand, often beautiful and even sub- 
lime. Its wonderful variety with a more general uniformity 
never palled. Standing under one of its great buttressed 
trees — itself a marvel of nature — and looking carefully 
around, noting the various columnar trunks rising like lofty 
pillars, one soon perceives that hardly two of these are aUke. 
The shape of the trunks, their colour and texture, the nature 
of their bark, their mode of branching and the character of 
the foliage far overhead, or of the fruits or flowers lying on 
the ground, have an individuality which shows that they are 
all distinct species differing from one another as our oak, elm, 
beech, ash, lime, and sycamore differ. This extraordinary 
variety of the species is a general though not universal 
characteristic of tropical forests, but seems to be nowhere so 
marked a feature as in the great forest regions which encircle 
the globe for a few degrees on each side of the equator. An 
equatorial forest is a kind of natural arboretum where speci- 
mens of an immense number of species are brought together 
by nature. The western half of the island of Java affords an 
example of such a forest-region which has been well-explored, 
botanically; and although almost all the fertile plains have 
been cleared for cultivation, and the forests cover only a 
small proportion of the country, the number of distinct 
species of forest-trees is said to be over fifteen hundred. 
Now the whole island is only about as large as Ireland, and 



has a population of over twenty millions ; and as the eastern 
half of the island has a much drier climate, where there are 
forests of teak and much more open country, it is certain 
that this enormous variety of species is found in a wonder- 
fully small area, probably little larger than Wales. I have 
no doubt that the forests of the Amazon valley are equally 
rich, while there are not improbably certain portions of their 
vast extent which are still richer. 

The second feature, that I can never think of without 
delight, is the wonderful variety and exquisite beauty of the 
butterflies and birds, a variety and charm which grow upon 
one month after month and year after year, as ever new and 
beautiful, strange and even mysterious, forms are continually 
met with. Even now I can hardly recall them without a 
thrill of admiration and wonder. 

The third and most unexpected sensation of surprise and 
delight was my first meeting and living with a man in a state 
of nature — with absolute uncontaminated savages! This was 
on the Uaupes river, and the surprise of it was that I did not 
in the least expect to be so surprised. I had already been 
two years in the country always among Indians of many 
tribes; but these were all what are called tame Indians, they 
wore at least trousers and shirt; they had been (nominally) 
converted to Christianity, and were under the government of 
the nearest authorities; and all of them spoke either Portu- 
guese or the common language, called " Lingoa-Geral." 

But these true wild Indians of the Uaupes were at once 
seen to be something totally different. They had nothing 
that we call clothes; they had peculiar ornaments, tribal 
marks, etc.; they all carried weapons or tools of their own 
manufacture ; they are living in a large house, many 
families together, quite unlike the hut of the tame Indians ; 
but, more than all, their whole aspect and manner were dif- 
ferent — they were all going about their own work or pleasure 
which had nothing to do with white men or their ways; they 
walked with the free step of the independent forest-dweller, 
and, except the few that were known to my companion, paid 
no attention whatever to us, mere strangers of an alien race. 

(One-third natural size) 

(One-third natural size) 


In every detail they were original and self-sustaining as are 
the wild animals of the forests, absolutely independent of 
civilization, and who could and did live their own lives in 
their own way, as they had done for countless generations 
before America was discovered. I could not have believed 
that there would be so much difference in the aspect of the 
same people in their native state and when living under 
European supervision. The true denizen of the Amazonian 
forests, like the forest itself, is unique and not to be forgotten. 



In memory of 
Herbert Edward Wallace, 
who died of yellow fever at Para, June 8, 1851, 
Age 22 years. 

During the three or four years my brother lived at Neath 
he contributed a considerable number of verses and enigmas 
to the local newspapers, while some of his old notebooks 
contain many others in an unfinished state. While on the 
Amazon he wrote several more, and I will here give a few 
samples of these, which may perhaps be thought w^orth pre- 
serving, and as a memento of a young life prematurely closed 
in a distant land. He was a great admirer of Hood and of 
Longfellow, and several of his little poems are reflections of 
their writings, while the enigmas were inspired by those of 
William Mackworth Praed. 

The only two likenesses of my brother we possess are copied 
here. The first is from a pencil sketch by an old friend of the 
family (Miss Townsend), taken at Hoddesdon when he was 
about eight years old, which was always thought to be a strik- 
ing likeness. The other is a copy of a black silhouette taken 
before he came out to the Amazon in 1849, when he was just 
twenty years old. 

My lamented friend Dr. Spruce kindly sent me two letters 
he received from my brother in the interval between our part- 
ing at Santarem and on his return to Para, and as they are 
probably the last he ever wrote I give them here (omitting 
one or two personal matters) in order to show his usual good 
spirits and random style of writing. 



" Barra, March 15, 1850. 

" Dear Sir, 

" A lodge is gained at last. Here we are in a 

Barra ! 

" Here we work with Net and Trigger, 
By the famous river Nigger, 

on whose midnight waters never is heard the hum of the 
sanguinary carapana,^ where ' sleep which knits up the ravelled 
sleave of care/ hath no intruder. By the bye, talking of sleep 
reminds me of redes.^ All the redes in Barra possess a title. 
Why? Because they are Barra-nets. This you may think 
far-fetched. Well ! I will own 'tis rather distant ; perhaps 
you would like one a little nearer ? Good. As we left Obydos, 
remarking the woody declivity on our right, the following 
sublime comparative similitude burst forth spontaneously. 
Why is this hill like a dead body running? Because, says I — 
but no ! you must really try to guess it ; however, I will enclose 
the answer to refer to in case of failure. (See p. 292.) 

" With best wishes for your health and success, and kind 
remembrances to Mr. King and Santarem friends 

I remain, yours respectfully 

" Edward Wallace." 

" Serpa, December 29, 1850. 

" Dear Sir, 

I have just returned from a month's excursion 
among the lakes and byways of the mighty Amazon, and 
whilst reposing my weary limbs amid the luxurious folds of 
a rede, drinking a fragrant cup of the sober beverage, and 
meditating (but cheerfully) upon the miseries of human 
nature, I received notice of your arrival in the Barra. 

" So you have at last gained that ' lodge ' so long pictured 
in the vista of imagination. You are at last in that Promised 

1 Carapana is the native name of the mosquito. 
2 Rede or net, the local name for "hammock." 



Land — a land flowing with caxaga and farina ; ^ a land where 
a man may literally, and safely, sleep without breeches — a 
luxury which must be enjoyed to be appreciated. 

" I am now waiting for a passage to Para, from thence to 
return to England. There is a vessel caulking here I expect 
will go in two or three weeks. I have a small collection of 
birds and butterflies, but new species of the latter are very 

" The Christmas festa is now over, and this little village 
has resumed its wonted tranquillity. I suppose you intend soon 
to proceed up the Rio Negro; no doubt my brother is now 
glorying in ornithological rarities, and revelling amid the 
sweets of lepidopterous loveliness. But enough! A little 
while and the wintry sea is roaring around my pillow; then 
shall I envy you in your snug redes far from the restless bil- 
low; then, whilst vainly endeavouring to swallow preserved 
salmon or other ship luxury, I shall long for my Amazonian 
appetite and roasted pirarucu ; then But I will not antici- 

pate hours which are inevitable. I hope yourself and Mr. 
King are in good health. In this respect I have no cause to 
complain. Wishing you both a prosperous and a pleasant 
time, I must now remain, 

" Yours sincerely, 

" Edward Wallace.'' 

It is evident from this letter that the usual dilatoriness and 
difficulties of Amazonian travel delayed his arrival at Para 
about four months beyond the time he calculated on. The 
answer to the enigma in the first letter, which he says he has 
enclosed, I did not receive ; but I have no doubt it is as follows : 
" Because it is a corpse (copse) sloping away from the town." 
" Slope," " sloping," were at that time slang words for escaping 
or running away, ' understanded by the people,' which perhaps 
they may not be now. I may add here that he did not like the 
name Herbert (his first name), and so took to his second — 

1 Native rum and mandioca meal. 



The friends of temperance often complain of the want of 
a good song. I think the following, written by my brother 
about 1848, may perhaps be considered suitable till a better 
one is written : — 

"The Cup of Tea. 

"Some love to sip their Burgundy, 

And some prefer Champagne ; 
Some like the wines of sunny France, 

And some the grape of Spain. 
There's some will take their brandy neat, 

While others mix with water; 
There's some drink only Indian ale, 

And others London porter. 
Away with poisons such as these, 

No Alcohol for me ! 
Oh, fill me up the sober cup, 

The social cup of Tea. 


" Some love to sing of ancient times. 

And drinking customs preach ; 
Such customs are — as Shakespeare saith — 

More honoured in the breach; 
For we can sing a joyous song 

Without the aid of wine, 
And court the muse without a glass 

To spur the lagging rh5'me. 
Then take the pledge, be one of us, 

And join our melody — 
* Oh, fill me up the sober cup, 

The social cup of Tea.' 


"We pray for that long wished-for hour 

When Bacchus shall be slain, 
John Barleycorn be trodden down 

And ne'er rise up again ; 
When man, begim to know himself. 

Shall maddening bowls resign, 



And Temperance, with a mighty hand, 

'Dash down the Samian wine.' 
Here's to the death of Alcohol ! 

And still our song shall be, 
* Oh, fill me up the sober cup, 

The social cup of Tea.' " 

The next verses, suggested by a well-known old song, show 
his early love of humanity and aspirations for an improved 
social state. It was probably written at Neath about 1847 or 

"The Light of Days to Come. 

"The light of other days is faded, 

But we will not repine. 
Nor waste the precious hours as they did, 

The dwellers in that time. 
We will not sigh in gloom and sadness 

O'er what can ne'er return, 
But rather share the mirth and gladness 

In the light we now discern. 

"The past brought luxury and pleasure 

To few beneath the sun. 
But equal all shall share the treasure 

Of the light of days to come. 
Knowledge shall strengthen each endeavour 

To set the future right, 
And Justice with her sword shall sever 

The iron hand of Might. 

" The fields where warriors have commanded, 

And men have fought for fame, 
Shall in a future age be branded 

With an inglorious name. 
Bright souls who perish unassuming, 

Your work is not yet done. 
Like scattered seed your deeds shall bloom in 

The Light of days to come." 

I preserve the following fantastic little poem because it so 
well describes the mode of house-building of the dwellers in 



the grand equatorial forests which supply so many of man's 
wants in a way unknown in the colder climes : 

"The Indian's Hut. 

"'Twas on the mighty Amazon, 

We floated with the tide, 
While steep and flowery were the banks 

That rose on either side, 
And where the green bananas grow, 

An Indian's cot I spied. 

"Like to the halls of Solomon, 

Yon humble dwelling rose, 
Without the grating of the saw 

Or echoing hammer's blows ; 
For all its parts are bound with rope, 

Which in the forest grows. 

"Those wild fantastic slender cords 

Which hang from branches high, 
The place of staple, screw, and nail. 

With equal strength supply, 
And pole and rafter firm and fast 

All silently they tie. 

"All silently, for stake and pole 

Were sharpened where they grew ; 
And where the house was built, no axe 

Was lifted up to hew. 
But slow and still the Indian worked, 

His wife and children too. 

***0h, for a lodge!' thus Cowper cried; 

And here's a peaceful home, 
A quiet spot, a calm retreat. 

Where care can seldom come. 
Adieu ! thou silent Indian cot, 

My fate it is to roam." 

I give the following verses on the Cayman or Alligator of 
the Amazon because I remember how pleased my brother 
was with the quotation from Macbeth, which so aptly applies 
to this dangerous reptile. 



" Song of the Cayman. 

(Written, 1850.) 

" Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold : 
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes 
Which thou dost glare with." 

" I bask in the waveless waters 

When the sun is shining on high, 

Watching the Indian children 
With a grim and greedy eye; 

Woe to the careless bather 
Who ventures where I lie. 

" I float on the midnight waters 

With my deathly demon head; 
My skin is an iron armour 

Which flattens the hunter's lead; 
And my eyes are a living terror, 

Glassy as those of the dead. 

" I hear the house-dog prowling, 
And without a ripple sink; 
Down to the stream he cometh 

And enters the water to drink, 
I rise again as noiseless 
And seize him on the brink. 

" I dwell not in rushing waters, 
But in woodland pool and lake, 
Where the cowfish and the turtle 

Lie sleeping neath the brake ; 
I seize the senseless dreamers, 
And a merry meal I make. 

" Midnight deeds have I witness'd, 
But never shudder'd to see. 
Tremble not, thou murderer pale! 

Go! leave the corpse to me. 
And not a hair or a whiten'd bone 
I'll leave to speak of thee." 

I preserve the next little poem because I feel sure that the 
first three verses were inspired by the memories of his child- 


hood, while the conclusion indicates those deeper feelings still 
more dominant in that which follows it. 

" Voices. 

"I remember voices 
In my early home, 
Pleasant and familiar. 
Breathed in sweetest tone — 

"Little manly voices, 

Brothers then were near. 
Soft and kindly voices; 
Of my sisters dear. 

"Grave and tender voices, 
Voices now no more. 
In the ear of childhood 
Whispered golden lore. 

"I remember voices. 
Tones of later years, 
Passionate and tearful, 
Full of hopes and fears. 

"Eloquent and earnest, 
Seeming firm and true, 
Trusting to these voices 
I've had cause to rue. 

"Friendship's voice deceived me. 
And the maid I loved. 
Vain of wealth and beauty. 
False and fickle proved. 

"I remember voices, 
Now I hear but one. 
The silent voice within me 
Speaks to me alone — 

" ' Calm amid the tempests. 
Live in peace with me. 
Thou shalt learn Earth's wisdom 
And Heaven's mystery.' " 



The following poem is probably the last written by my 
brother. There is no draft or note of it in his rough note- 
book, and it is written out carefully on a sheet of thin letter- 
paper which is probably obtained in Para. It was therefore 
almost certainly written during the two weeks before his fatal 

" Our Better Moments. 

"Uncalled they come across the mind, 
We know not why or how, 
And with instinctive reverence 

Ignoble feelings bow; 
A power strange, yet holy too, 

Breathes through our every sense; 
Each atom of our being feels 

Its subtle influence. 
High visions, noble thinking, flash 
Like meteors through the brain. 
If Paradise was lost to us, 
*Tis surely come again ! 
Better moments ! Better moments ! Ye are sunny angels* wings, 
Sent to shed a holier radiance o'er all dim and worldly things. 

" Perchance we love to watch awhile, 
In simple child-like mood, 
The waving of the summer grass, 

The ebbing of the flood. 
Or lie upon a mossy bank 

In some secluded shade, 
When sudden, from before our gaze. 

The grass — the waters fade; 
And giving up our being's rein 
To unknown guiding hands. 
We float in passive confidence 
To voiceless spirit lands. 
Better moments! Better moments! Ye are sunny angels' wings, 
Sent to shed a holier radiance o'er all dim and worldly things. 

"Or sitting in a leafy wood. 

Some still and breathless hour, 
The joyous twitter of a bird 

Has strange unconscious power; 
The power to send through ev'ry nerve 
A thrill of soft delight ; 



A better moment, like the dawn. 

Steals in with ambient light; 
The soul expands, and lovingly 

Takes in its pure embrace, 
All life! all nature! high or mean. 
Of colour, tongue or race. 
Better moments ! Better moments ! Ye are sunny angels* wings, 
Sent to shed a holier radiance o'er all dim and worldly things. 

" A thousand various scenes and tones 
Awake the better thought, 
By which our duller years of life 

Become inspired and taught. 
In olden times there rudely came 

Handwriting on the wall, 
And prostrate souls fell horror-struck 

At that wild spirit-call; 
But now God's momentary gleam 

Is sent into the soul 
To guide uncertain wavering feet 
To Life's high solemn goal. 
Better moments! Better moments! Ye are sunny angels' wings, 
Sent to shed a holier radiance o'er all dim and worldly things." 

Of the numerous versified enigmas he wrote, I print four 
of the best. They may interest some of my younger readers. 
They are not difficult to guess, but I give the solutions at the 


"There was a Spanish gentleman 

Of high and noble mien, 
Who riding into Seville's town 

One summer's eve was seen; 
He came among us suddenly. 

And vanished as he came; 
We only knew him as my First, 

But never knew his name. 

"We saw him at the opera, 
We met him at the ball. 
The very point of chivalry 
A pattern for us all; 



And oft upon my Second seen 

Where Seville's beauties came, 
But still we knew him as my First, 

And did not know his name. 

**'Twas / who brought that gentleman 

From out another clime, 
'Twas I upon my Second stood 

With skins of smuggled wine; 
And ye were duller far than me. 

Proud gentlemen of Spain, 
To only know him as my First, 

And never know his name." 


(Written in 1847.). 

** Know ye my Second, the green and the beautiful. 
Sitting alone by the sea, 
Weeping in sadness o'er children undutiful. 
Woe-worn and pallid is she. 

"For skeleton famine is rapidly striding, 
Blasting the fruits of the earth, 
Many a hovel his victims have died in. 
Cursing the hour of their birth. 

"Ah! my First from the heavens has darkly descended, 
Wrapping the earth in its gloom ; 
The dying lie helpless by corpses extended. 
Sullenly awaiting their doom. 

" And the living watch hopeless the dead and the dying. 
All gentler feelings have fled; 
They knov/ not — an hour and they may be lying 
Outstretched, and cold with the dead. 

" To see their blank features so set and despairing, 
To gaze on those dark, tearless eyes 
Which look into vacancy listlessly staring. 
Might humble the great and the wise. 

"Ah! the great and the wise! can no way be suggested 
By the mighty in power and in soul, 
To banish the curse that too long has rested 
A shade and a fear on my Whole." 



"There stood by the stake a sable form, 

His grimy arms were bare, 
A heavy sledge on his shoulder swung 

That had fashioned many a share. 
And his dark eyes shone like fiery sparks 

From the red-hot iron's glare. 

"Open the way! Fall back! Fall back! 

And let the victim through. 
To the mocking chant of the bigot priest 

And the muffled drum's tattoo ; 
They have tortured him long, but his spirit strong, 

Ne'er cowed 'neath rack or screw. 

"My First stepped forth and grasped his arm 

(He felt no muscle shake). 
And led him within the .fatal ring; 

Nor then did his victim quake, 
When a chain was riveted to his waist, 

And round the fatal stake. 

" He had seen my Second red with blood 
Of friend and foe and steed, 
He had looked on death in every form. 

He had seen a father bleed; 
The flames of my Whole were a terrible goal. 
But he could not renounce his creed." 


(August, 1849.) 

"She stood upon the scaffold 
With a firm, undaunted mien. 
Condemned to die a shameful death, 

But yesterday a Queen! 
Ill-fated Jane, how brief thy reign ! 
How dark thy closing scene ! 

" She fearless gazes on my First 
With sable trappings hung. 
And to the bright and glittering axe 

She speaks with jesting tongue : 
*Fear not to fall, my neck is small, 
Thy work is quickly done.* 


** Where are the eyes that fearless gazed? 

Their lustre now is fled. 
Where is the tongue where hung the jest? 

Inanimate and dead. 
The snowy neck she used to deck. 

The axe has left it red. 

**A ghastly sight it is to see 

My Second bleeding there, 
Distorted now those features, erst 

So perfect and so fair; 
No art can dress that gory tress 

Of dark, luxuriant hair. 

"This is a scene from history's page, 
The triumph of might and wrong; 

That barbarous age has passed away 
With the power of the proud and strong; 

But still in our day by law we slay 
To teach the erring throng. 

"To show our abhorrence of shedding blood 

We send the murderer's soul, 
Unfit, I ween, to meet his judge, 

To a last and awful goal. 
He who can draw good from such law 

Must be my senseless Whole." 

Solutions of the Enigmas. 

Donkey. 2. Ireland. 3. Smithfield. 4. Blockhead. 



Among the letters preserved and kindly returned to me by 
Dr. Spruce is one partly written on board ship on my way 
home, giving an account of my somewhat adventurous voyage 
while it was fresh in my memory, and containing some details 
not given in the narrative in my " Travels on the Amazon." 
I will therefore print it here, as no part of it has yet been 
made public. 

" Brig, Jordeson, N. Lat. 49" 30', W. Long. 20°. 

"Sunday, September 19, 1852. 

" My Dear Friend, 

" Having now some prospect of being home in a 
week or ten days, I will commence giving you an account of 
the peculiar circumstances which have already kept me at sea 
seventy days on a voyage which took us only twenty-nine days 
on our passage out. I hope you have received the letter sent 
you from Para, dated July 9 or 10, in which I informed you 
that I had taken my passage in a vessel bound for London, 
which was to sail in a few days. On Monday, July 12, I went 
on board with all my cargo, and some articles purchased or 
collected on my way down, with the remnant (about twenty) 
of my live stock.^ After being at sea about a week I had a 
slight attack of fever, and at first thought I had got the yellow 
fever after all. However, a little calomel set me right in a 
few days, but I remained rather weak, and spent most of my 
time reading in the cabin, which was very comfortable. On 
Friday, August 6, we were in N. Lat. 30° 30', W. Long. 52°, 

1 These consisted of numerous parrots and parrakeets, and several 
uncommon monkeys, a forest wild-dog, etc. 




when, about nine in the morning, just after breakfast, Captain 
Turner, who was half-owner of the vessel, came into the cabin, 
and said, Tm afraid the ship's on fire. Come and see what 
you think of it.' Going on deck I found a thick smoke coming 
out of the forecastle, which we both thought more like the 
steam from heating vegetable matter than the smoke from a 
fire. The fore hatchway was immediately opened to try and 
ascertain the origin of the smoke, and a quantity of cargo was 
thrown out, but the smoke continuing without any perceptible 
increase, we went to the after hatchway, and after throwing 
out a quantity of piassaba, with which the upper part of the 
hold was filled, the smoke became so dense that the men could 
not stay in it. Most of them were then set to work throwing 
in buckets of water, and the rest proceeded to the cabin and 
opened the lazaretto or store-place beneath its floor, and found 
smoke issuing from the bulkhead separating it from the hold, 
which extended half-way under the fore part of the cabin. 
Attempts were then made to break down this bulkhead, but 
it resisted all efforts, the smoke being so suffocating as to pre- 
vent anyone stopping in it more than a minute at a time. A 
hole was then cut in the cabin floor, and while the carpenter 
was doing this, the rest of the crew were employed getting 
out the boats, the captain looked after his chronometer, sextant, 
books, charts, and compasses, and I got up a small tin box 
containing a few shirts, and put in it my drawings of fishes 
and palms, which were luckily at hand; also my watch and a 
purse with a few sovereigns. Most of my clothes were scat- 
tered about the cabin, and in the dense suffocating smoke it 
was impossible to look about after them. There were two 
boats, the long-boat and the captain's gig, and it took a good 
deal of time to get the merest necessaries collected and put 
into them, and to lower them into the water. Two casks of 
biscuit and a cask of water were got in, a lot of raw pork and 
some ham, a few tins of preserved meats and vegetables, and 
some wine. Then there were corks to stop the holes in the 
boats, oars, masts, sails, and rudders to be looked up, spare 
spars, cordage, twine, canvas, needles, carpenter's tools, nails, 
etc. The crew brought up their bags of clothes, and all were 


bundled indiscriminately into the boats, which, having been 
so long in the sun, were very leaky and soon became half full 
of water, so that two men in each of them had to be constantly 
baling out the water with buckets. Blankets, rugs, pillows, 
and clothes were all soaked, and the boats seemed overloaded, 
though there was really very little weight in them. All being 
now prepared, the crew were again employed pouring water 
in the cabin and hatchway. 

" The cargo of the ship consisted of rubber, cocoa, anatto, 
balsam-capivi, and piassaba. The balsam was in small casks, 
twenty stowed in sand, and twenty small kegs in rice-chaff, 
immediately beneath the cabin floor, where the fire seemed to 
be. For some time we had heard this bubbling and hissing 
as if boiling furiously, the heat in the cabin was very great, 
flame soon broke into the berths and through the cabin floor, 
and in a few minutes more blazed up through the skylight on 
deck. All hands were at once ordered into the boats, which 
were astern of the ship. It was now about twelve o'clock, 
only three hours from the time the smoke was first discovered. 
I had to let myself down into the boat by a rope, and being 
rather weak it slipped through my hands and took the skin 
off all my fingers, and finding the boat still half full of water 
I set to baling, which made my hands smart very painfully. 
We lay near the ship all the afternoon, watching the progress 
of the flames, which soon covered the hinder part of the ves- 
sel and rushed up the shrouds and sails in a most magnificent 
conflagration. Soon afterwards, by the rolling of the ship, 
the masts broke off and fell overboard, the decks soon burnt 
away, the ironwork at the sides became red-hot, and last of all 
the bowsprit, being burnt at the base, fell also. No one had 
thought of being hungry till darkness came on, when we had 
a meal of biscuit and raw ham, and then disposed ourselves as 
well as we could for the night, which, you may be sure, was 
by no means a pleasant one. Our boats continued very leaky, 
and we could not cease an instant from baling; there was a 
considerable swell, though the day had been remarkably fine, 
and there were constantly floating around us pieces of the 
burnt wreck, masts, etc., which might have stove in our boats 



had we not kept a constant lookout to keep clear of them. 
We remained near the ship all night in order that we might 
have the benefit of its flames attracting any vessel that might 
pass within sight of it. 

" It now presented a magnificent and awful sight as it rolled 
over, looking like a whole caldron of fire, the whole cargo of 
rubber, etc., forming a liquid burning mass at the bottom. In 
the morning our little masts and sails were got up, and we 
bade adieu to the Helen, now burnt down to the water's edge, 
and proceeded with a light east wind towards the Bermudas, 
the nearest land, but which were more than seven hundred 
miles from us. As we were nearly in the track of West 
Indian vessels, we expected to fall in with some ship in a few 

" I cannot attempt to describe my feelings and thoughts 
during these events. I was surprised to find myself very 
cool and collected. I hardly thought it possible we should 
escape, and I remember thinking it almost foolish to save my 
watch and the little money I had at hand. However, after 
being in the boats some days I began to have more hope, and 
regretted not having saved some new shoes, cloth coat and 
trousers, hat, etc., which I might have done with a little trou- 
ble. My collections, however, were in the hold, and were 
irretrievably lost. And now I began to think that almost all 
the reward of my four years of privation and danger was lost. 
What I had hitherto sent home had little more than paid my 
expenses, and what I had w^ith me in the Helen I estimated 
would have realized about £500. But even all this might 
have gone with little regret had not by far the richest part of 
my own private collection gone also. All my private collec- 
tion of insects and birds since I left Para was with me, and 
comprised hundreds of new and beautiful species, which would 
have rendered (I had fondly hoped) my cabinet, as far as 
regards American species, one of the finest in Europe. Fancy 
your regrets had you lost all your Pyrenean mosses on your 
voyage home, or should you now lose all your South American 
collection, and you will have some idea of what I suffer. But 
besides this, I have lost a number of sketches, drawings, notes. 


and observations on natural history, besides the three most 
interesting years of my journal, the whole of which, unlike 
any pecuniary loss, can never be replaced; so you will see 
that I have some need of philosophic resignation to bear my 
fate with patience and equanimity. 

" Day after day we continued in the boats. The winds 
changed, blowing dead from the point to which we wanted to 
go. We were scorched by the sun, my hands, nose, and ears 
being completely skinned, and were drenched continually by 
the seas or spray. We were therefore almost constantly wet, 
and had no comfort and little sleep at night. Our meals con- 
sisted of raw pork and biscuit, with a little preserved meat 
or carrots once a day, which was a great luxury, and a short 
allowance of water, which left us as thirsty as before directly 
after we had drunk it. Ten days and ten nights we spent in 
this manner. We were still two hundred miles from Bermuda, 
when in the afternoon a vessel was seen, and by eight in the 
evening we were on board her, much rejoiced to have escaped 
a death on the wide ocean, whence none would have come to 
tell the tale. The ship was the Jordeson, bound for London, 
and proves to be one of the slowest old ships going. With a 
favourable wind and all sail set, she seldom does more than 
five knots, her average being two or three, so that we have 
had a most tedious time of it, and even now cannot calculate 
with any certainty as to when we shall arrive. Besides this, 
she was rather short of provisions, and as our arrival exactly 
doubled her crew, we were all obliged to be put on strict allow- 
ance of bread, meat, and water. A little ham and butter of 
the captain's were soon used up, and we have been now for 
some time on the poorest of fare. We have no suet, butter, or 
raisins with which to make ' duff,' or even molasses, and 
barely enough sugar to sweeten our tea or coffee, which we 
take with dry, coarse biscuit, and for dinner, beef or pork of 
the very worst quality I have ever eaten or even imagined to 
exist. This, repeated day after day without any variation, 
beats even Rio Negro fare, rough though it often was. About 
a week after we were picked up we spoke and boarded an out- 
ward bound ship, and got from her some biscuits, a few 



potatoes, and some salt cod, which were a great improvement, 
but did not last long. We have also occasionally caught some 
dolphin and a few fish resembling the acarras of the Rio 
Negro; but for some time now we have seen none, so that I 
am looking forward to the " flesh-pots of Egypt " with as 
much pleasure as when we were luxuriating daily on farina 
and " fiel amigo." ^ While we were in the boats we had gener- 
ally fine weather, though with a few days and nights squally 
and with a heavy sea, which made me often tremble for our 
safety, as we heeled over till the water poured in over the 
boat's side. We had almost despaired of seeing any vessel, 
our circle of vision being so limited; but we had great hopes 
of reaching Bermuda, though it is doubtful if we should have 
done so, the neighbourhood of those islands being noted for 
sudden squalls and hurricanes, and it was the time of the 
year when the hurricanes most frequently occur. Having 
never seen a great gale or storm at sea, I had some desire to 
witness the phenomenon, and have now been completely grati- 
fied. The first we had about a fortnight ago. In the morning 
there was a strong breeze and the barometer had fallen nearly 
half an inch during the night and continued sinking, so the 
captain commenced taking in sail, and while getting in the 
royals and studding-sails, the wind increased so as to split the 
mainsail, fore-topsail, fore-trysail, and jib, and it was some 
hours before they could be got off her, and the main-topsail 
and fore-sail double reefed. We then went flying along, the 
whole ocean a mass of boiling foam, the crests of the waves 
being carried in spray over our decks. The sea did not get 
up immediately, but by night it was very rough, the ship 
plunging and rolling most fearfully, the sea pouring in a 
deluge over the top of her bulwarks, and sometimes up over 
the cabin skylight. The next morning the wind abated, but 
the ship, which is a very old one, took in a deal of water, and 
the pumps were kept going nearly the whole day to keep her 
dry. During this gale the wind went completely round the 

1 This was the name given by our kind host, Senor Henrique, at 
Barra, to dried pirarucu, meaning " faithful friend," always at hand 
when other food failed. 


compass, and then settled nearly due east, where it pertina- 
ciously continued for twelve days, keeping us tacking about, 
and making less than forty miles a day against it. Three days 
ago we had another gale, more severe than the former one — 
a regular equinoctial which lasted two entire days and nights, 
and split one of the newest and strongest sails on the ship. 
The rolling and plunging were fearful, the bowsprit going 
completely under water, and the ship being very heavily laden 
with mahogany, fustic, and other heavy woods from Cuba, 
strained and creaked tremendously, and leaked to that extent 
that the pumps were obliged to be kept constantly going, and 
their continued click-clack, click-clack all through the night 
was a most disagreeable and nervous sound. One day no 
fire could be made owing to the sea breaking continually into 
the galley, so we had to eat a biscuit for our dinner; and not 
a moment's rest was to be had, as we were obliged to be con- 
stantly holding on, whether standing, sitting, or lying, to pre- 
vent being pitched about by the violent plunges and lurches of 
the vessel. The gale, however, has now happily passed, and 
we have a fine breeze from the north-west, which is taking us 
along six or seven knots — quicker than we have ever gone yet. 
Among our other disagreeables here we have no fresh water 
to spare for washing, and as I only saved a couple of shirts, 
they are in a state of most uncomfortable dirtiness, but I 
console myself with the thoughts of a glorious warm bath 
when I get on shore. 

"October i. Oh, glorious day! Here we are on shore at 
Deal, where the ship is at anchor. Such a dinner, with our 
two captains ! Oh, beef-steaks and damson tart, a paradise 
for hungry sinners. 

" October 5. London. Here I am laid up with swelled 
ankles, my legs not being able to stand work after such a 
long rest in the ship. I cannot write now at any length — I 
have too much to think about. We had a narrow escape in the 
Channel. Many vessels were lost in a storm on the night of 
September 29, but we escaped. The old * Iron Duke ' is dead. 


The Crystal Palace is being pulled down, and is being rebuilt 
on a larger and improved plan by a company. Loddige's col- 
lection of plants has been bought entire to stock it, and they 
think by heating it in the centre to get a gradation of climates, 
so as to be able to have the plants of different countries, tropi- 
cal or temperate, in one undivided building. This is Paxton's 

" How I begin to envy you in that glorious country where 
* the sun shines for ever unchangeably bright,' where farina 
abounds, and of bananas and plantains there is no lack ! Fifty 
times since I left Para have I vowed, if I once reached England, 
never to trust myself more on the ocean. But good resolu- 
tions soon fade, and I am already only doubtful whether the 
Andes or the Philippines are to be the scene of my next wan- 
derings. However, for six months I am a fixture here in 
London, as I am determined to make up for lost time by enjoy- 
ing myself as much as possible for awhile. I am fortunate 
in having about i200 insured by Mr. Stevens' foresight, so 
I must be contented, though it is very hard to have nothing to 
show of what I took so much pains to procure. 

" I trust you are well and successful. Kind remembrances 
to everybody, everywhere, and particularly to the respectable 
Senhor Joao de Lima of Sao Joachim. 

" Your very sincere friend, 

"Alfred R. Wallace." 

Some of the most alarming incidents, to a landsman, are 
not mentioned either in this letter or in my published " Narra- 
tive." The captain had given the only berths in the cabin to 
Captain Turner and myself, he sleeping on a sofa in fine 
weather, and on a mattress on the floor of the cabin when 
rough. On the worst night of the storm I saw him, to my 
surprise, bring down an axe and lay it beside him, and on 
asking what it was for, he replied, " To cut away the masts in 
case we capsize in the night." In the middle of the night a 
great sea smashed our skylight and poured in a deluge of 
water, soaking the poor captain, and then slushing from side 
to side with every roll of the ship. Now, I thought, our time 


is come; and I expected to see the captain rush up on deck 
with his axe. But he only swore a good deal, sought out a 
dry coat and blanket, and then lay down on the sofa as if 
nothing had happened. So I was a little reassured. 

Not less alarming was the circumstance of the crew coming 
aft in a body to say that the forecastle was uninhabitable, as it 
was constantly wet, and several of them brought handfuls of 
wet rotten wood which they could pull out in many places. 
This happened soon after the first gale began; so the two 
captains and I went to look, and we saw sprays and squirts of 
water coming in at the joints in numerous places, soaking 
almost all the men's berths, while here and there we could see 
the places where they had pulled out rotten wood with their 
fingers. The captain then had the sail-room amidships cleared 
out for the men to sleep in for the rest of the voyage. 

One day in the height of the storm, when we were being 
flooded with spray and enormous waves were coming up behind 
us, Captain Turner and I were sitting on the poop in the driest 
place we could find, and, as a bigger wave than usual rolled 
under us and dashed over our sides, he said quietly to me, If 
we are pooped by one of those waves we shall go to the bot- 
tom ; " then added, " We were not very safe in our two small 
boats, but I had rather be back in them where we were picked 
up than in this rotten old tub." It is, therefore, I think, quite 
evident that we did have a very narrow escape. Yet this 
unseaworthy old ship, which ought to have been condemned 
years before, had actually taken Government stores out to 
Halifax, had there been patched up, and sent to Cuba for a 
cargo of heavy timber, which we were bringing home. 

I may here make a few remarks on the cause of the fire, 
which at the time was quite a mystery to us. We learnt 
afterwards that balsam-capivi is liable to spontaneous com- 
bustion by the constant motion on a voyage, and it is for that 
reason that it is always carried in small kegs and imbedded 
in damp sand in the lowest part of the hold. Captain Turner 
had never carried any before, and knew nothing of its prop- 
erties, and when at the last moment another boat load of 
small kegs of balsam came with no sand to pack them in. 



he used rice-chaff which was at hand, and which he thought 
would do as well and this lot was stored under the cabin 
floor, where the flames first burst through and where the fire, 
no doubt, originated. 

Captain Turner had evidently had no experience of fire 
in a ship's cargo, and took quite the wrong way in the attempt 
to deal with it. By opening the hatchways to pour in water 
he admitted an abundance of air, and this was what changed 
a smouldering heat into actual fire. If he had at once set 
all hands at work caulking up every crack through which 
smoke came out, making the hatchways also air-tight by 
nailing tarpaulins over them, no flame could have been pro- 
duced, or could have spread far, and the heat due to the 
decomposition of the balsam would have been gradually 
diffused through the cargo, and in all probability have done 
no harm. A few years later a relative of mine returning 
home from Australia had a somewhat similar experience, in 
which the captain adopted this plan and saved the ship. When 
in the Indian Ocean some portion of the cargo was found 
to be on fire, by smoke coming out as in our case. But the 
captain immediately made all hatches and bulkheads air-tight ; 
then had the boats got out and prepared for the worst, towing 
them astern; but he reached Mauritius in safety, and was 
there able to extinguish the fire and save the greater part of 
the cargo. 

On the receipt of my letter Dr. Spruce, who was then, I 
think, somewhere on the Rio Negro or Uaupes, wrote to 
the "Joao de Lima," referred to by me (and usually men- 
tioned in my "Travels" as Senhor L.), giving him a short 
account of my voyage home; and a few months later he 
received a reply from him. He was a Portuguese trader who 
had been many years resident on the upper Rio Negro, on 
whose boat I took a passage for my first voyage up the river, 
and with whom I lived a long time at Guia. I also went 
with him on my first voyage up the river Uaupes. He was 
a fairly educated man, and had an inexhaustible fund of 
anecdotes of his early life in Portugal, and would also relate 
many " old-time " stories, usually of the grossest kind, some- 


what in the style of Rabelais, or of Chaucer's coarsest Canter- 
bury tales. Old Jeronymo was a quiet old man, a half-bred 
Indian, or Mameluco as they were called, who lived with 
Senhor Lima as a humble dependent, assisting him in his 
business and making himself generally useful. It was these 
two who were with me during my terrible fever, and who one 
night gave me up as certain not to live till morning. Dr. 
Spruce gave me this letter, and as it mainly refers to me, I 
will here give a nearly literal translation of it. 

" San Joaquim, June 7, 1853. 
" Illustrissimo Senhor Ricardo Spruce : 

" I received your greatly esteemed favour dated the 
26th April last, and was rejoiced to hear of your honour's 
health and all the news that you give me, and I was much 
grieved at the misfortunes which befell our good friend 
Alfredo! My dear Senhor Spruce, what labours he per- 
formed for mankind, and what trouble to lose all his work 
of four years; but yet his life is saved, and that is the most 
precious for a man! Do me the favour, when you write to 
Senhor Alfredo, to give my kind remembrances. The mother 
of my children also begs you to give her remembrances to 
Senhor Alfredo, also tell him from me that if he ever comes 
to these parts again he will find that I shall be to him the 
same Lima as before, and give him more remembrances from 
the bottom of my heart, and also to yourself, from 

" Yours, with much affection and respect, 

" JoAO Antonio de Lima. 

" N.B. — Old Jeronymo also asks you to remember him to 
Senhor Alfredo, and to tell him that he still has the shirt 
that Senhor Alfredo gave him, and that he is still living a 
poor wanderer with his friend Lima." 

On reaching London in the condition described in my letter 
to Dr. Spruce, and my only clothing a suit of the thinnest 
calico, I was met by my kind friend and agent, Mr. Samuel 
Stevens, who took me first to the nearest ready-made clothes 



shop, where I got a warm suit, then to his own tailor, where I 
was measured for what clothes I required, and afterwards to a 
haberdasher's to get a small stock of other necessaries. Having 
at that time no relatives in London, his mother, with whom he 
lived in the south of London — I think in Kennington — had 
invited me to stay with her. Here I lived most comfortably 
for a week, enjoying the excellent food and delicacies Mrs. 
Stevens provided for me, which quickly restored me to my 
usual health and vigour. 

Since I left home, and after my brother John had gone to 
California in 1849, my sister had married Mr. Thomas Sims, 
the elder son of my former host at Neath. Mr. Sims had 
taught himself the then rapidly advancing art of photography, 
and as my sister could draw very nicely in water-colours, they 
had gone to live at Weston-super-Mare, and established a 
small photographic business. As I wished to be with my sister 
and mother during my stay in England, I took a house then 
vacant in Upper Albany Street (No. 44), where there was 
then no photographer, so that we might all live together. 
While it was getting ready I took lodgings next door, as the 
situation was convenient, being close to the Regent's Park 
and Zoological Gardens, and also near the Society's offices in 
Hanover Square, and with easy access to Mr. Stevens's office 
close to the old British Museum. At Christmas we were all 
comfortably settled, and I was able to begin the work which 
I had determined to do before again leaving England. 

In the small tin box which I had saved from the wreck 
I fortunately had a set of careful pencil drawings of all the 
different species of palms I had met with, together with notes 
as to their distribution and uses. I had also a large number 
of drawings of fish, as already stated, carefully made to scale, 
with notes of their colours, their dentition, and their fin-rays, 
scales, etc. I had also a folio Portuguese note-book contain- 
ing my diary while on the Rio Negro, and some notes and 
observations made for a map of that river and the Uaupes. 
With these scanty materials, helped by the letters I had sent 
home, I now set to work to write an account of my travels, 
as well as a few scientific papers for which I had materials in 


the portion of my collections made in Para, Santarem and the 
Lower Rio Negro. These I had sent off before leaving Barra 
on my first voyage up the Rio Negro, and they had arrived 
home safely ; but I had reserved all my private collections for 
comparison with future discoveries, and though I left these to 
be sent home before starting on my second voyage up the Rio 
Negro, they were never dispatched, owing to the Custom 
House authorities at Barra insisting on seeing the contents 
before allowing them to go away. I therefore found them at 
Barra on my way home, and they were all lost with the ship. 

I had sent home in 1850 a short paper on the Umbrella Bird, 
then almost unknown to British ornithologists, and it was 
printed in the Zoological Society's Proceedings for that year. 
The bird is in size and general appearance like a short-legged 
crow, being black with metallic blue tints on the outer margins 
of the feathers. Its special peculiarity is its wonderful crest. 
This is formed of a quantity of slender straight feathers, 
which grow on the contractile skin of the top of the head. 
The shafts of these feathers are white, with a tufted plume at 
the end, which is glossy blue and almost hair-like. When the 
bird is flying or feeding the crest is laid back, forming a com- 
pact white mass sloping a little upward, with the terminal 
plumes forming a tuft behind; but when at rest the bird ex- 
pands the crest, which then forms an elongated dome of a 
fine glossy, deep blue colour, extending beyond the beak, and 
thus completely masking the head. This dome is about five 
inches long by four or four and a half inches wide. Another 
almost equally remarkable feature is a long cylindrical plume 
of feathers depending from the lower part of the neck. These 
feathers grow on a fleshy tube as thick as a goose-quill, and 
about an inch and a half long. They are large and overlap 
each other, with margins of a fine metallic blue. The whole 
skin of the neck is very loose and extensible, and when the 
crest is expanded the neck is inflated, and the cylindrical 
neck-ornament hangs down in front of it. The effect of these 
two strange appendages when the bird is at rest and the 
head turned backwards must be to form an irregular ovate 
black mass with neither legs, head, nor eyes visible, so as to 



be quite unlike any living thing. It may thus be a protection 
against arboreal camivora, owls, etc. It is, undoubtedly, one 
of the most extraordinary of birds, and is an extreme from 
the great family of Chatterers, which are peculiar to tropical 
America. Strange to say, it is rather nearly allied to the 
curious white bell-bird, so different in colour, but also pos- 
sessing a fleshy erectile appendage from the base of the upper 
mandible. The umbrella bird inhabits the lofty forests of 
the islands of the lower Rio Negro, and some portions of 
the flooded forests of the Upper Amazon. 

About the time when I was collecting these birds (Januarv-, 
1850) a new species {Cephalopterus glabricolUs) was brought 
home by M. Warzewickz from Central America, where a sin- 
gle specimen was obtained on the mountains of Chirique at an 
elevation of eight thousand feet. This is a similar bird, and 
has a crest of the same form but somewhat less developed; 
but the main distinction is that a large patch on the neck is 
of bare red skin, from the lower part of which hangs the 
fleshy tube, also red and bare, with only a few feathers, form- 
ing a small tuft at its extremity. This species is figured in 
the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1850 " (p. 92), 
and will serve to explain my description of the larger species 
in the same volume (p. 206). Nine years later a third species 
was discovered in the eastern Andes of Ecuador, which more 
resembles the original species, but has the feathered dewlap 
so greatly developed as to be nearly as long as the whole bird. 
This is figured in The Ibis (1859,, PI. III.). The white 
species which I was told inhabited the Uaupes river has not 
been found, and may probably have been confounded by my 
informants with the white bell-bird. 

During the two ascents and descents of the Rio Negro 
and Uaupes in 1850- 1852 I took observations with a prismatic 
compass, not only of the course of the canoe, but also of 
every visible point, hill, house, or channel between the islands, 
so as to be able to map this little known river. For the dis- 
tances I timed our journey by a good watch, and estimated 
the rate of travel up or down the river, and whether paddling 
or sailing. With my sextant I determined several latitudes 


by altitudes of the sun, or of some of the fixed stars. The 
longitudes of Barra and of San Carlos, near the mouth of the 
Cassiquiare, had been determined by previous travellers, and 
my aim was to give a tolerable idea of the course and width 
of the river between these points, and to map the almost 
unknown river Uaupes for the first four hundred miles of its 
course. From these observations I made a large map to 
illustrate a paper which I read before the Royal Geographical 
Society. This map was reduced and lithographed to accom- 
pany the paper, and as it contains a good deal of information 
as to the nature of the country along the banks of the rivers, 
the isolated granite mountains and peaks, with an enlarged 
map of the river Uaupes, showing the position of the various 
cataracts I ascended, the Indian tribes that inhabit it, with 
some of the more important vegetable products of the sur- 
rounding forests, it is given here, to illustrate this and the 
two preceding chapters. (See p. 320.) It will also be of 
interest to readers who possess my " Travels on the Amazon 
and Rio Negro," which was published before the map was 

The great feature of this river is its enormous width, often 
fifteen or twenty miles, and its being so crowded with islands, 
all densely forest-clad and often of great extent, that for a 
distance of nearly five hundred miles it is only at rare intervals 
that the northern bank is visible from the southern, or vice 
versa. For the first four hundred and fifty miles of its course 
the country is a great forest plain, the banks mostly of alluvial 
clays and sands, though there are occasional patches of sand- 
stone. Then commences the great granitic plateau of the 
upper river, with isolated mountains and rock-pillars, extend- 
ing over the watershed to the cataracts of the Orinoko, to the 
mountains of Guiana, and, perhaps, in some parts up to the 
foot of the Andes. The other great peculiarity of the river 
is its dark brown, or nearly black, waters, which are yet 
perfectly clear and pleasant to drink. This is due, no doubt, 
to the greater part of the river's basin being an enormous 
forest-covered plain, and its chief tributaries flowing over 
granite rocks. It is, in fact, of the same nature as the coflPee- 



coloured waters of our Welsh and Highland streams, which 
have their sources among peat-bogs. A delightful peculiarity 
of all these black or clear water rivers is that their shores are 
entirely free from mosquitoes, as is amusingly referred to 
in my brother's letter, already quoted in chapter xviii. 

After my journey the river Uaupes remained unknown to 
the world for thirty years, when, in 1881 and 1882, Count 
Ermanno Stradelli, after spending two years in various parts 
of the Amazon valley, ascending the Purus and Jurua rivers, 
visited this river to beyond the first cataracts. Having fever 
he returned to Manaos (Barra), and joined an expedition to 
determine the boundary between Brazil and Venezuela through 
an unknown region, and descended the Rio Branco to Manaos. 
He then went a voyage up the Madeira river, returning home 
in 1884. In 1887 he again visited South America, ascending 
the Orinoko, passed through the Cassiquiare to the Rio Negro, 
and having become much interested in the rock-pictures he 
had met with in various parts of these rivers, he again made 
a voyage up the Uaupes, this time penetrating to the Jurupari 
cataract, which I had failed to reach, and going about a hun- 
dred miles beyond it. This last voyage was made in 1890- 
1891. His only objects seem to have been geographical and 
anthropological explorations, and he has probably explored 
a larger number of the great tributaries of the Amazon and 
Orinoko than any other European. 

For a knowledge of this great traveller I am indebted to 
Mr. Heawood, the librarian of the Royal Geographical Society, 
who, in reply to my inquiry as to any ascents of the Uaupes 
since my journey, sent me two volumes of the Bolletino della 
Societa Geographica Italiana (1887 and 1900), which give, 
so far as he can ascertain, all that is known of Count Stradelli's 
work. This is most scanty. In the 1887 volume there is a 
very short abstract of his earlier explorations, with a portion 
of his journey up the Orinoko in that year. In the volume 
for 1900 is an article by the Count, almost entirely devoted to 
a description, with drawings, of all the rock inscriptions which 
he found in the Uaupes. These drawings are very carefully 
made, and are twelve in number, each representing a whole 


rock surface, often containing several groups of forty or fifty- 
distinct figures. It is rather curious that several of the groups 
in my two plates do not appear in any of the twelve plates 
of Count Stradelli. Besides these drawings there are several 
large scale sketch-plans of the portions of the river where 
they were found, mostly at cataracts or rapids where there 
are large exposed rock surfaces. The map showing the first 
three cataracts well illustrates the description of them given 
at p. 197 of my " Travels." But besides these sketch-plans 
there is a large folding map of the Uaupes, drawn by Count 
Stradelli from " compass " bearings during this last journey. 
There is no reference whatever to this map by the Count 
himself, except the statement on the title that it is by " com- 
pass " observations, as was mine. And as there is no refer- 
ence to any determinations of longitude the distances could 
only have been ascertained by estimated rates of canoe-travel, 
such as I used myself. I therefore compared the two maps 
with much interest, and found some discrepancies of consid- 
erable amount. His map is on a scale rather more than four 
times that of mine; but my original map, now in the posses- 
sion of the Geographical Society, is on a larger scale than 
his. His longitude of the river's mouth is 67° 5', mine being 
68°, more accurate determinations having now been made 
than were available at the time I prepared my map, more 
than fifty years ago. On comparing the two maps we see 
at once a very close agreement in the various curves, sharp 
bends, loops, and other irregularities of the river's course, so 
that, omitting the minuter details, the two correspond very 
satisfactorily. But when we compare the total length of the 
river to my furthest point, close to the mouth of the Codiary, 
there is a large difference. The difference of the longitudes 
of these two points on the Count's map is 2° 22', whereas on 
mine it is 3° 45'; my estimate being about 60 per cent, more 
than his. By measuring carefully with compasses in lengths 
of five miles, with a little allowance for the minuter bends, 
his distance is 315 miles, mine 494, mine being thus 55 per 
cent. more. 

It is unfortunate that Count Stradelli has given us no 



information as to how he estimated his distances. In a river 
flowing through a densely wooded country, with nowhere 
more than a few hundred yards of clear ground on its banks, 
with a very crooked and twisted course, and with a current 
varying from being scarcely perceptible to such rapidity that 
a whole crew of paddlers can hardly make way against it, it 
is exceedingly difficult to ascertain the rate of motion in miles 
per hour. 

Canoes of different sizes do not travel at very different 
rates, when each has its complement of men, and I had 
taken many opportunities to ascertain this rate in still water. 
Then, by noting the time occupied for a particular distance, 
say between two of the cataracts, both during the ascent and 
descent of the river, the mean of the two would be the time 
if there were no current. Making a little allowance for the 
load in the canoe, the number or the quality of the rowers, 
etc., this time multiplied by the rate of travel in still water 
would give the distance. This was the plan I adopted in 
making my map of the Uaupes. It is, of course, a mere 
approximation, and liable to considerable errors, but I did 
not think they would lead to such a large difference of dis- 
tance as that between the Count's map and my own. We 
have no doubt erred in opposite directions, and the truth lies 
somewhere between us; but until some traveller takes a good 
chronometer up the river with a sextant for determining local 
time, or a telescope of sufficient size to observe eclipses of 
Jupiter's satellites, the true length of the river will not be 

In one of the latest atlases, " The Twentieth Century Citi- 
zens' Atlas," by Bartholomew, the position of the Jurupari 
fall is 62 per cent, further from the mouth of the river than 
on Stradelli's map, which seems to show either that some 
other traveller has determined the longitude, or that they con- 
sider my distances more correct than his. 

Another traveller. Dr. T. Koch, only last year (1904) 
ascended the Uaupes to beyond the Jurupari fall, and also 
went up the Codiary branch where he reached an elevated 
plateau. But it is not stated whether he made any observa- 



tions to determine the true positions of his farthest point. 
(The Geographical Journal, July, 1905, p. 89.) 

It seems probable, therefore, that the upper course of this 
great river for a distance of two or three hundred miles 
is quite unknown. But this is only one indication of the 
enormous area of country in the central plains of South 
America, which, except the banks of a few of the larger 
rivers, is occupied only by widely scattered tribes of Indians, 
and is as absolutely unknown to civilized man as any por- 
tion of the globe. From the Meta river on the north, to the 
Juambari and Beni rivers on the south, a distance of about 
twelve hundred miles, and to an equal average distance from 
the lower slopes of the Andes eastward, is one vast, nearly 
level, tropical forest, only known or utilized for a few miles 
from the banks of comparatively few of the rivers that every- 
where permeate it. It is to be hoped that in the not remote 
future this grand and luxuriant country will be utilized, not 
for the creation of wealth for speculators, but to provide happy 
homes for millions of families. 

As my collections had now made my name well known to 
the authorities of the Zoological and Entomological Societies, 
I received a ticket from the former, giving me admission to 
their gardens while I remained in England, and I was a wel- 
come visitor at the scientific meetings of both societies, which 
I attended very regularly, and thus made the acquaintance 
of most of the London zoologists and entomologists. I also 
went frequently to examine the insect and bird collections 
in the British Museum (then in Great Russell Street), and 
also to the Linngean Society, and to the Kew Herbarium to 
consult works on botany, in order to name my palms. 

After discussing the matter with some of my friends, I 
determined to publish, at my own expense, a small popular 
volume on the " Palms of the Amazon and Rio Negro," with 
an account of their uses and distribution, and figures of all 
the species from my sketches and specimens of fruits. I ar- 
ranged with Mr. Walter Fitch of Kew, the first botanical 
artist of the day, to draw them on stone, adding a few 


artistic touches to give them life and variety, and in a few 
cases some botanical details from species living in the gar- 
dens. In one of the drawings a large native house on the 
Uaupes is introduced, with some figures which, I am sorry 
to say, are as unlike the natives as are the inhabitants of a 
London slurrk I arranged with Mr. Van Voorst to publish 
this small volume, and it was not thought advisable to print 
more than two hundred and fifty copies, the sale of which 
just covered all expenses. 

At the same time I was preparing my Travels on the 
Amazon and Rio Negro " from the scanty materials I had 
saved, supplemented by the letters I had written home. I 
arranged with Mr. Lovel Reeve for its publication on an 
agreement for half profits." Only 750 copies were printed, 
and when I returned home from the East in 1862, about 
250 copies were still unsold, and there were consequently no 
profits to divide. We agreed, how^ever, to share the remain- 
ing copies, and my portion was disposed of by my new pub- 
lisher, Messrs. Macmillan & Co., and brought me in a few 

I had brought with me vocabularies of about a hundred 
common words in ten different Indian languages, and as the 
greatest philologist at that time was the late Dr. R. G. Latham, 
I obtained an introduction to him, and he kindly offered to 
write some " Remarks " upon the vocabularies, and these are 
published in the first edition of my Travels." 

Dr. Latham was at this time engaged in fitting up groups 
of figures to illustrate the family life and habits of the various 
races of mankind at the new Cr}-stal Palace at Sydenham, 
then just completed, and he asked me to meet him there and 
see whether any alterations were required in a group of 
natives, I think, of Guiana. 

I found Dr. Latham among a number of workmen in 
white aprons, several life-size clay models of Indians, and a 
number of their ornaments, weapons, and utensils. The head 
modellers were Italians, and Dr. Latham told me he could 
get no Englishmen to do the work, and that these Italians, 


although clever modellers of the human figure in any re- 
quired attitude, had all been trained in the schools of classical 
sculpture, and were unable to get away from this training. 
The result was very curious, and often even ludicrous, a 
brown Indian man or girl being given the attitudes and 
expressions of an Apollo or a Hercules, a Venus or a 
Minerva. In those days there were no photographs, and 
the ethnologist had to trust to paintings or drawings, usually 
exaggerated or taken from individuals of exceptional beauty 
or ugliness. Under my suggestion alterations were made 
both in the features and pose of one or two of the figures 
just completed, so as to give them a little m^ore of the Indian 
character, and serve as a guide in modelling others, in which 
the same type of physiognomy was to be preserved. I went 
several times during the work on the groups of South Ameri- 
can origin, but though when completed with the real orna- 
ments, clothing, weapons, and domestic implements the groups 
were fairly characteristic and life-like, yet there remained 
occasionally details of attitude or expression which suggested 
classic Greek or Italy rather than the South American savage. 

These ethnological figures, although instructive to the 
student, were never very popular, and soon became the 
subject of contempt and ridicule. One reason of this was 
their arrangement in the open, quite close to the passing 
visitor, with nothing to isolate them from altogether incon- 
gruous surroundings. Another was, that they were not care- 
fully attended to, and when I saw them after my return 
from the East, they had a shabby and dilapidated appear- 
ance, and the figures themselves were more or less dusty, 
which had a most ludicrous eflfect in what were intended to 
represent living men and women, being so utterly unlike the 
clear, glossy, living skins of all savage peoples. To be suc- 
cessful and life-like, such groups should be each completely 
isolated in a deep recess, with three sides representing houses 
or huts, or the forest, or river-bank, while the open front 
should be enclosed by a single sheet of plate-glass, and the 
group should be seen at a distance of at least ten or fifteen 
feet. In this way, with a carefully arranged illumination 



from above and an artistic colouring of the figures and acces- 
sories, each group might be made to appear as Ufe-Hke as some 
of the best figures at Madame Tussaud's, or as the grand 
interiors of cathedrals, which were then exhibited at the 
Diorama. In the museum of the future, such groups will find 
their place in due succession to the groups illustrating the life 
histories of the other mammalia; but ample space and a very 
careful attention to details must be given in order to ensure 
a successful and attractive representation. 

It was at this time that I first saw Huxley. At one of 
the evening meetings of the Zoological Society (in December, 
1852) he gave an account of some Echinococci found in the 
liver of a zebra which died in the gardens. He did not read 
the paper, but, with the help of diagrams and sketches on the 
blackboard, showed us clearly its main points of structure, its 
mode of development, and the strange transformations it 
underwent when the parent worm migrated from the intestine 
to other parts of the body of the animal. I was particularly 
struck with his wonderful power of making a difficult and 
rather complex subject perfectly intelligible and extremely 
interesting to persons who, like myself, were absolutely ignor- 
ant of the whole group. Although he was two years younger 
than myself, Huxley had already made a considerable repu- 
tation as a comparative anatomist, was a Fellow of the Royal 
Society, and a few months later was appointed Professor 
of Natural History and Palaeontology at the Royal School 
of Mines. I was amazed, too, at his complete mastery of the 
subject, and his great amount of technical knowledge of a 
kind to which I have never given any attention, the structure 
and development of the lower forms of animal life. From 
that time I always looked up to Huxley as being immeasur- 
ably superior to myself in scientific knowledge, and supposed 
him to be much older than I was. Many years afterwards 
I was surprised to find that he was really younger. 

About this time I read before the same Society a few 
notes on the species of monkeys I had observed on the 


Amazon, either wild or in a state of captivity, with the par- 
ticular object of pointing out their peculiarities of distribu- 
tion. As with butterflies and many birds, I found that both 
the Amazon and the Rio Negro formed the limit to the range 
of several species. The rare monkey, Lagothrix Humholdti, 
inhabits the district between the Rio Negro and the Andes, 
but is quite unknown to the east of that river. A spider- 
monkey (Afeles paniscus) is found in the Guiana district 
up to the Rio Negro, but not beyond it. The short-tailed 
Brachiiiriis Couxiu has the same range, while distinct species 
are found in the Upper Amazon and the Upper Rio Negro. 
The two species of sloth -monkeys (Pifhecia) are found one 
to the north the other to the south of the Upper Amazon. 
In several other cases also, as well as with the beautiful 
trumpeters among birds, the great rivers are found to form 
the dividing lines between quite distinct species. Four great 
divisions of eastern equatorial America, which may be termed 
those of Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, are thus distinctly 
marked out by the Amazon and its great northern and south- 
ern tributaries — the Rio Negro and the Madeira river; and it 
seems easy to account for this if we look upon the vast central 
plains of South America, so little elevated above the sea-level, 
as having been formerly a gulf or great inland sea which has 
been gradually filled up by alluvial deposits from the sur- 
rounding highlands, and to have been all stocked with forms 
of life from the three great land-masses of the continent. 
These would be diversely modified by the different conditions 
of each of these areas, and as the intervening seas became 
formed into alluvial plains drained by a great river, that river 
would naturally form the dividing line between distinct but 
closely allied species. 

It was in the autumn of 1853 that I made my first visit 
to Switzerland with my friend Mr. George Silk. On our way 
from London to Dover we had for companion in our com- 
partment a stout, good-humoured American, a New England 
manufacturer, going to Paris on business for the first time. 
He asked us if we could recommend him a good kafe. On 



telling him we didn't know what a kafe was, he said, " Why, 
a hotel or eating-house, to be sure ; the French call it ' kafe/ " 
So we told him where we were going for the night, and he 
went with us. The next day we v/ent on by diligence to 
Geneva, where we stayed a day, and then walked with our 
knapsacks to Chamouni ; but the heat was so intense that we 
stayed at a small inn on the way for the night. We walked 
up to the Flegere to see the grand view of the Aiguilles and 
]\Iont Blanc, and the next day joined a party to Montanvert, 
the Mer de Glace, and the Jardin, having a guide to take 
care of us. The day was magnificent; we saw the sights of 
the glacier, its crevasses and ice-tables, and when passing 
round the precipice of the Couvercle above the ice-fall of the 
Talefre glacier, there were masses of cloud below us which 
partially rolled away, revealing the wonderful ice-pinnacles 
brilliantly illuminated by the afternoon sun, and affording a 
spectacle the grandeur and sublimity of which I have never 
since seen equalled. Only a portion of our party reached 
the Jardin, where I made a hasty collection of the flowers, 
and by the time we got back to the hotel, having made the 
steep descent from Montanvert in the dark, we were all pretty 
well exhausted. 

The next day I and my friend walked over the Tete Noir 
to Martigny. From here we took a chaise to Leuk, and 
then walked up to Leukerbad and hired a porter to carry our 
knapsacks up the Gemmi Pass, in order that we might enjoy 
the ascent of that wonderful mountain road. Before reach- 
ing the top snow began to fall, and we reached the little 
inn on the summit in a snow-storm. It was crowded, and we 
had to sleep on the floor. Next day we walked down to 
Thun, whence we returned home via Strasburg and Paris. 
Although I enjoyed this my first visit to snowy mountains 
and glaciers, I had not at that time sufficient knowledge to 
fully appreciate them. The three visits I have since made 
have filled me with a deeper sense of the grandeur and the 
exquisite scenery of the Alps. My increased general knowledge 
of geolog}', and especially of the glacial theor\% have added 
greatly to my enjoyment of the great physical features of the 


country; while my continually growing interest in botany 
and in the cultivation of plants has invested every detail of 
meadow and forest, rock and alp, with beauties and delights 
which were almost absent from my early visit. The appre- 
ciation of nature grows with years, and I feel to-day more 
deeply than ever its mystery and its charms. 

During my constant attendance at the meetings of the 
Zoological and Entomological Societies, and visits to the 
insect and bird departments of the British Museum, I had 
obtained sufficient information to satisfy me that the very 
finest field for an exploring and collecting naturalist was to 
be found in the great Malayan Archipelago, of which just 
sufficient was known to prove its wonderful richness, while 
no part of it, with the one exception of the island of Java, 
had been well explored as regards its natural history. Sir 
James Brooke had recently become Rajah of Sarawak, while 
the numerous Dutch settlements in Celebes and the Moluccas 
offered great facilities for a traveller. So far as known also, 
the country was generally healthy, and I determined that it 
would be much better for me to go to such a new country than 
to return to the Amazon, where Bates had already been suc- 
cessfully collecting for five years, and where I knew there was 
a good bird-collector who had been long at work in the upper 
part of the river towards the Andes. 

As the journey to the East was an expensive one, I was 
advised to try and get a free passage in some Government 
ship. Through my paper on the Rio Negro, I had made the 
acquaintance of Sir Roderick Murchison, then President of 
the Royal Geographical Society, and one of the most accessible 
and kindly of men of science. On calling upon him and stating 
my wishes, he at once agreed to make an application on my 
behalf for a passage to some Malayan port, and as he was 
personally known to many members of the Government and 
had great influence with them, a passage was promised me on 
the first ship going to those seas. This was, I think, near the 
end of the year 1853, when I had published my two books, 
and had spent much of my spare time at the British Museum, 


examining the collections, and making notes and sketches, 
of the rarer and more valuable species of birds, butterflies, 
and beetles of the various Malay islands. 

Among the greatest wants of a collector who wishes to 
know what he is doing, and how many of his captures are 
new or rare, are books containing a compact summary with 
brief descriptions of all the more important known species ; 
and, speaking broadly, such books did not then nor do now 
exist. Having found by my experience when beginning botany 
how useful are even the shortest characters in determining 
a great number of species, I endeavoured to do the same 
thing in this case. I purchased the " Conspectus Generum 
Avium " of Prince Lucien Bonaparte, a large octavo volume 
of 800 pages, containing a well-arranged catalogue of all the 
known species of birds up to 1850, with references to descrip- 
tions and figures, and the native country and distribution 
of each species. Besides this, in a very large number — I 
should think nearly half — a short but excellent Latin descrip- 
tion was given, by which the species could be easily deter- 
mined. In many famihes (the cuckoos and woodpeckers, for 
example) every species was thus described, in others a large 
proportion. As the book had very wide margins I consulted 
all the books referred to for the Malayan species, and copied 
out in abbreviated form such of the characters as I thought 
would enable me to determine each, the result being that 
during my whole eight years' collecting in the East, I could 
almost always identify every bird already described, and if 
I could not do so, was pretty sure that it was a new or un- 
described species. 

No one who is not a naturalist and collector can imagine 
the value of this book to me. It was my constant companion 
on all my journeys, and as I had also noted in it the species 
not in the British Museum, I was able every evening to 
satisfy myself whether among my day's captures there was 
anything either new or rare. Now, such a book is equally 
valuable to the amateur collector at home in naming and 
arranging his collections, but to answer the purpose thoroughly 
it must, of course, be complete — that is, every species must be 


shortly characterized. During the last fifty years it is prob- 
able that the described species of birds have doubled in 
number, yet with slight alteration the whole of these might 
be included in a volume no larger than that I am referring 
to. This could be effected by giving only one name to each 
species (that in most general use), whereas Prince Bonaparte 
has usually given several synonyms and references to figures, 
so that these occupy fully as much space as the descriptions. 
These are quite unnecessary for the collector abroad or at 
home. What he requires is to have a compact and cheap 
volume by which he can name, if not all, at least all well- 
marked species. A series of volumes of this character should 
be issued by the various national museums of the world (each 
one taking certain groups) and be kept up to date by annual 
or quinquennial supplements, as in the case of the admirable 
" List of Plants introduced to Cultivation during the twenty- 
one years, 1876 — 1896, issued by the Director of the Kew 
Gardens." In this very compact volume of 420 pages, 7600 
species of plants are sufficiently described for identification, 
while by the use of double columns and thin paper, the volume 
is only about half the weight of Bonaparte's " Conspectus," 
in which about the same number of birds are catalogued, but 
only half of them described. By a division of labour such 
as is here suggested, the mammals, reptiles, and freshwater 
fishes might be issued in this form without difficulty. The 
land and freshwater shells might have separate volumes deal- 
ing with the eastern and western hemispheres, or with the 
separate continents, as might the Diurnal Lepidoptera. The 
other orders of insects are too extensive to be treated in this 
way, but the more attractive families — as the Geodephaga, the 
Lamellicornes, the Longicornes, and the Buprestidse among 
beetles, the bees and wasps among Hysuoptera, might have 
volumes devoted to them. As these volumes would, if com- 
pact and cheap, have a very large sale in every civilized 
country, they might be issued at a very low price, and would 
be an immense boon to all amateur collectors, travellers, and 
residents abroad; and if the chief genera were illustrated by 
a careful selection of photographic prints, now so easily and 



economically produced, they would constitute one of the 
greatest incentives to the study of nature. 

The only other book of much use to me was the volume 
by Boisduval, describing all the known species of the two 
families of butterflies, the Papilionidse and Pieridse. The de- 
scriptions by this French author are so clear and precise that 
every species can be easily determined, and the volume, 
though dealing with so iimited a group, was of immense 
interest to me. For other families of butterflies and for some 
of the beetles I made notes and sketches at the British 
Museum, which enabled me to recognize some of the larger 
and best known species; but I soon found that so many of 
the species I collected were new or very rare, that in the 
less known groups I could safely collect all as of equal 

It was, I think, in the latter part of January, 1854, that I 
received a notification from the Government that a passage 
had been granted me to Singapore in the brig Frolic, shortly 
sailing for that port, and that I was to communicate with 
the Captain — Commander Nolloth — as to when I should go 
on board. I think it was about the middle of February that 
I went to Portsmouth with all necessaries for the voyage, 
my heavy baggage having been sent off by a merchant ship 
some time previously. The Frolic was anchored at Spithead 
with a number of other warships. She was about seven hun- 
dred tons, and carried, I think, twelve guns. The accommo- 
dation was very scanty. I messed with the gun-room officers, 
and as there was no vacant cabin or berth, the captain very 
kindly accommodated me in a cot slung in his cabin, which 
was a large one, and also provided me with a small table in 
one comer where I could write or read quietly. 

The captain was a rather small, nervous man, but very 
kind and of rather scientific and literary tastes. He wished 
to take some deep sea-soundings during the voyage, and to 
bring up good samples of the bottom; and we discussed an 
apparatus he was having made for the purpose, in which I 
suggested some improvements, which he adopted. Sailing 
orders were expected every day, as the ship was quite ready, 


with the stores she was taking out to the East all on board; 
but day after day and week after week passed, signals were 
exchanged with the admiral^ but we seemed no nearer sailing 
than when I came on board. It was rather dull work, but 
I consoled myself with getting acquainted with the ship and 
its ways, the regular routine of which went on, and every- 
body seemed as fully occupied as if we were at sea. The 
captain had a nice little library in his cabin, among which 
the only book I specially remember was a fine Spanish 
edition of Don Quixote. This I intended to read through 
during the voyage, as my familiarity with Portuguese and the 
small experience of Spanish conversation while in Venezuela 
enabled me to understand a good deal of it. But this was 
not to be. 

Having read almost all Marryat's novels, I was especially 
interested in the characters and manners of the various 
officers, in whom I found several of Marryat's types repro- 
duced. The captain, as I have said, was nervous, and espe- 
cially on everything connected with official etiquette. One day 
signals were being made from the admiral's ship, and there 
seemed to be some doubt as to what ships it was intended 
for. The first-lieutenant asked what they were to do about 
it, and the captain was quite excited for fear of a reprimand, 
and at last said, " We can only do what the others do. Watch 
them and repeat the signals they make." Whether it was 
right or not I don't remember. One officer, I think it was 
the purser, was the great authority on naval history. His 
small cabin had a complete set of the Navy List for fifty years 
or more, and every matter in dispute as to what ship was at 
a certain station in a given year, or where any particular 
officer was stationed, was always referred to him, and if he 
could not say ofiF-hand, he retired to his cabin for a few 
minutes, and then produced the authority which settled the 
question. The others were nothing remarkable, except the 
doctor, who was of the jolly, talkative sort, and seemed 
especially to pride himself on his knowledge of seamanship. 
One day I remember the captain was summoned by signal to 
go on shore to the admiral's office. It was a cold day with 

332 MY LIFE 

a strong wind, and there was a very choppy sea on, as there 
often is at Spithead. When the captain's gig came alongside 
it was difficult to keep it clear of the ship, it was so tossed 
about in sudden and unexpected ways; and when the captain 
had got in, there was a difficulty in getting away, and for a 
few moments the boat seemed quite out of command and in 
danger of upsetting. The officers were all looking on with 
anxiety, and as soon as the boat had got clear away, it was 
the doctor that spoke, and declared that he never saw such 
bad seamanship. They were very near losing the captain! 
They were a set of lubbers ! etc., etc. 

Finding that I was a bad sailor, I was assured that before 
we got to Singapore I should be thoroughly seasoned, for the 
brig was what they called a Simonite, a class of ships named 
after the designer, which, though stable, were very uncom- 
fortable in bad weather, having a quick jumping motion, which 
often made old sailors seasick. I hoped this was exaggerated, 
but looked forward to the ordeal with some dread. But one 
day the captain informed me that he had received fresh 
orders to carry stores to the Crimea, where the great war with 
Russia was about to commence. He said that he regretted 
the change, because he much preferred the voyage to Singa- 
pore and China, and that he also regretted the loss of my 
company; but as it was, I had better leave the next morning, 
and that no doubt the Government would provide me a pas- 
sage in some other vessel. So I bade farewell to him and his 
officers, none of whom I ever met again. 

On returning to London I at once called on Sir Roderick 
Murchison, and through his representations I received in a 
few days a first-class ticket overland to Singapore by the 
next Peninsular and Oriental steamer, which sailed in about 
a week, so that I did not lose much time. The voyage was 
a very interesting one, stopping a few hours at Gibraltar, 
passing within sight of the grand Sierra Nevada of Spain, 
staying a day at Malta, where the town and the tombs of the 
knights were inspected, and then on to Alexandria. But hav- 
ing by me a long letter I wrote to my schoolfellow, Mr. 
George Silk, I will here quote from it a few of the impressions 


of my journey as they appeared to me at the time they 
occurred ; and first as to my fellow-passengers : — 

" Our company consists of a few officers and about twenty 
cadets for India, three or four Scotch clerks for Calcutta, the 
same number of business men for Australia, a Government 
interpreter and two or three others for China; a Frenchman; 
a Portuguese officer for Goa, with whom I converse; three 
Spaniards for the Philippines, very grave; a gentleman and 
two ladies, Dutch, going to Batavia ; and some English officers 
for Alexandria. At Gibraltar we were quarantined for fear 
of cholera, then rather prevalent in England, and all com- 
munication with the ship was by means of tongs and a basin 
of water, the latter to drop the money in. We had a morn- 
ing at Malta, and went on shore from 6 a. m. to 9 a. m., walked 
through the narrow streets, visited the market to hear the 
Maltese language, admired the beggar boys and girls, strolled 
through the Cathedral of St. John, gorgeous with marbles 
and gold and the tombs of the knights. A clergy^man came 
on board here going to Jerusalem, and a namesake of my 
own to Bombay. The latter has a neat figure, sharp face, 
and looks highly respectable, not at all like me! I have 
found no acquaintance on board who exactly suits me. One 
of my cabin mates is going to Australia, and reads ' How 
to make Money ' — seems to be always thinking of it, and is 
very dull and unsociable. The other is one of the Indian 
cadets, very aristocratic, great in dressing-case and jewellery, 
takes an hour to dress, and persistently studies the Hindo- 
stanee grammar. The Frenchman, the Portuguese, and the 
Scotchman I find the most amusing; there is also a little fat 
Navy lieutenant, who is fond of practical jokes, and has 
started a Monte Table." 

"Steamer Bengal, Red Sea, March 26. 

"Of all the eventful days in my life (so far), my first in 
Alexandria was (in some respects) the most exciting. Ima- 
gine my feeling when, coming out of the hotel (to which 
we had been conveyed in an omnibus) with the intention of 
taking a quiet stroll through the city, I suddenly found 



myself in the midst of a vast crowd of donkeys and their 
drivers, all thoroughly determined to appropriate my person 
to their own use and interest, without in the least consulting 
my inclinations. In vain with rapid strides and waving arms 
I endeavoured to clear a way and move forward, arms and 
legs were seized upon, and even the Christian coat-tails were 
not sacred from the profane hands of the Mahometan crowd. 
One would hold together two donkeys by their tails whilst I 
was struggling between them, and another, forcing their heads 
together, hoped to compel me to mount one or both of them. 
One fellow, more impudent than the rest, I laid flat upon the 
ground, and, sending the little donkey staggering after him, I 
escaped for a moment midst hideous yells and most unearthly 
cries. I now beckoned to a fellow more sensible-looking 
than the rest, and told him that I wished to walk, and would 
take him as a guide, and now hoped that I might be left at 
peace. But vain thought! I was in the hands of the Philis- 
tines, who, getting me up against a wall, formed around 
me an impenetrable phalanx of men and brutes, thoroughly 
determined that I should only escape from the spot upon the 
four legs of a donkey. So, bethinking myself that donkey- 
riding was a national institution of venerable antiquity, and 
seeing a fat Yankee (very like our Paris friend) already 
mounted, being like myself, hopeless of any other means of 
escape, I seized upon a bridle in hopes that I should then be 
left by the remainder of the crowd. But seeing that I was at 
last going to ride, each one was determined that he alone 
should profit by the transaction, and a dozen animals were 
forced suddenly upon me, and a dozen pair of hands tried to 
lift me upon their respective beasts. But now my patience 
was exhausted, so, keeping firm hold of the bridle I had first 
taken with one hand, I hit right and left with the other, and 
calling upon my guide to do the same, we succeeded in clear- 
ing a little space around us. Now, then, behold your long- 
legged friend mounted upon a jackass in the streets of 
Alexandria; a boy behind, holding by his tail and whipping 
him up; Charles, who had been lost sight of in the crowd, 
upon another; and my guide upon a third; and off we go 


among a crowd of Jews and Greeks, Turks and Arabs, and 
veiled women and yelling donkey-boys, to see the city. We 
saw the bazaars, and the slave market (where I was again 
nearly pulled to pieces for 'backsheesh'), the mosques with 
their graceful minarets, and then the pasha's new palace, the 
interior of which is most gorgeous. We passed lots of Turkish 
soldiers, walking in comfortable irregularity; and after the 
consciousness of being dreadful guys for two crowded hours, 
returned to the hotel, whence we are to start for the canal 
boats. You may think this little narrative is exaggerated, 
but it is not so. The pertinacity, vigour, and screams of the 
Alexandrian donkey-drivers cannot be exaggerated. On our 
way to the boats we passed Pompey's Pillar; for a day we 
were rowed in small boats on a canal, then on the Nile in 
barges, with a panorama of mud villages, palm-trees, camels, 
and irrigating wheels turned by buffaloes, — a perfectly flat 
country, beautifully green with crops of corn and lentils ; end- 
less boats with immense triangular sails. Then the Pyramids 
came in sight, looking huge and solemn; then a handsome 
castellated bridge for the Alexandria and Cairo railway; and 
then Cairo — Grand Cairo ! the city of romance, which Ave 
reached just before sunset. We took a guide and walked 
in the city, very picturesque and very dirty. Then to a quiet 
English hotel, where a Mussulman waiter, rejoicing in the 
name of Ali-baba, gave us a splendid tea, brown bread and 
fresh butter. One or two French and English travellers were 
the only guests, and I could hardly realize my situation. I 
longed for you to enjoy it with me. Thackeray's ' First Day 
in the East ' is admirable. Read it again, and you will under- 
stand just how I think and feel. 

" Next morning at seven we started for Suez in small four- 
horsed two-wheeled omnibuses, carrying six passengers each. 
Horses were changed every five miles, and we had a meal 
every three hours at very comfortable stations. The desert 
is undulating, mostly covered with a coarse, volcanic-looking 
gravel. The road is excellent. The skeletons of camels — 
hundreds of them — lay all along the road; vultures, sand- 
grouse, and sand-larks were occasionally seen. We frequently 



saw the mirage, like distant trees and water. Near the 
middle station the pasha has a hunting-lodge — a perfect pal- 
ace. The Indian and Australian mails, about six hundred 
boxes, as well as all the parcels, goods, and passengers' lug- 
gage, were brought by endless trains of camels, which we 
passed on the way. At the eating places I took a little stroll, 
gathering some of the curious highly odoriferous plants that 
grew here and there in the hollow, which I dried in my 
pocket-books, and I also found a few land-shells. We enjoyed 
the ride exceedingly, and reached Suez about midnight. It 
is a miserable little town, and the bazaar is small, dark, and 
dirty. There is said to be no water within ten miles. The 
next afternoon we went on board our ship, a splendid vessel 
with large and comfortable cabins, and everything very 
superior to the Eiixine. Adieu." 

I have given this description of my journey from Alex- 
andria to Suez, over the route established by Lieutenant 
Waghorn, and which was superseded a few years later by 
the railway, and afterwards by the canal, because few persons 
now living will remember it, or know that it ever existed. 
Of the rest of our journey I have no record. We stayed a 
day at desolate, volcanic Aden, and thence across to Galle, 
with its groves of cocoa-nut palms, and crowds of natives 
offering for sale the precious stones of the country; thence 
across to Pulo Penang, with its picturesque mountain, its 
spice-trees, and its waterfall, and on down the Straits of 
Malacca, with its richly-wooded shores, to our destination, 
Singapore, where I was to begin the eight years of wandering 
throughout the Malay Archipelago, which constituted the cen- 
tral and controlling incident of my life. 



In order not to omit so important a portion of my life as my 
eight years in the far East, I propose to give a general sketch 
of my various journeys and their results, told as far as pos- 
sible in quotations from the few of my letters home that 
have been preserved, with such connecting facts as may serve 
to render them intelligible. 

Ten days after my arrival at Singapore I wrote home as 
follows : — " After being a week in a hotel here, I at last got 
permission to stay with a French Roman Catholic missionary, 
who liv^es about eight miles out of town, in the centre of the 
island, and close to the jungle. The greater part of the 
inhabitants of Singapore are Chinese, many of whom are 
very rich, and almost all the villages around are wholly Chi- 
nese, who cultivate pepper and gambler, or cut timber. Some 
of the English merchants have fine country I dined 
with one, to whom I brought an introduction. His house 
was spacious, and full of magnificent China and Japan fur- 
niture. We are now staying at the mission of Bukit Tima. 
The missionary (a French Jesuit) speaks English, Malay, and 
Chinese, and is a very pleasant man. He has built a pretty 
church here, and has about three hundred Chinese converts." 

A month later (May 28th) I wrote — " I am very comfort- 
able here with the missionary. I and Charles go into the 
jungle every day for insects. The forest here is very similar 
to that of South America. Palms are very numerous, but 
they are generally small, and very spiny. There are none of 
the large majestic species so common on the Amazon. I am 




so busy with insects now that I have no time for anything 
else. I send now about a thousand beetles to Mr. Stevens, 
and I have as many other insects still on hand, which will 
form part of my next and principal consignment. Singapore 
is rich in beetles, and before I leave I think I shall have a 
beautiful collection of them. I will tell you how my day is 
now occupied. Get up at half-past five, bath, and coffee. 
Sit down to arrange and put away my insects of the day 
before, and set them in a safe place to dry. Charles mends 
our insect-nets, fills our pin-cusions, and gets ready for the 
day. Breakfast at eight; out to the jungle at nine. We 
have to walk about a quarter mile up a steep hill to reach 
it, and arrive dripping with perspiration. Then we wander 
about in the delightful shade along paths made by the Chi- 
nese wood-cutters till two or three in the afternoon, generally 
returning with fifty or sixty beetles, some very rare or beau- 
tiful, and perhaps a few butterflies. Change clothes and sit 
down to kill and pin insects, Charles doing the flies, wasps, 
and bugs; I do not trust him yet with beetles. Dinner at 
four, then at work again till six: coffee. Then read or talk, 
or if insects very numerous, work again till eight or nine. 
Then to bed." 

In July I wrote from " The Jungle, near Malacca " : " We 
have been here a week, living in a Chinese house or shed, 
which reminds me of some of my old Rio Negro habitations. 
We came from Singapore in a small trading schooner, with 
about fifty Chinese, Hindoos, and Portuguese passengers, and 
were two days on the voyage with nothing but rice and 
curry to eat, not having made any special provision, it being 
our first experience of the country vessels. Malacca is a 
very old Dutch city, but the Portuguese have left the clearest 
marks of their possession of it in the common language of 
the place being still theirs. I have now two Portuguese 
servants, a cook and a hunter, and find myself almost back 
in Brazil, owing to the similarity of the language, the people, 
and the general aspect of the forest. In Malacca we stayed 
only two days, being anxious to get into the country as soon 
as possible. I stayed with a Roman Catholic missionary; 


there are several here, each devoted to a particular portion of 
the population — Portuguese, Chinese, and wild Malays of the 
jungle. The gentleman we were with is building a large 
church, of which he is architect himself, and superintends the 
laying of every brick and the cutting of every piece of tim- 
ber. Money enough could not be raised here, so he took a 
voyage round the world, and in the United States, California, 
and India got enough subscribed to finish it. It is a curious 
and not very creditable thing, that in the English possessions 
of Singapore and Malacca, there is not a single Protestant 
missionary; while the conversion, education, and physical and 
moral improvement of the non-European inhabitants is left 
entirely to these French missionaries, who, without the slight- 
est assistance from our Government, devote their lives to Chris- 
tianizing and civilizing the varied population under our rule. 

" Here the birds are abundant and most beautiful, more 
so than on the lower Amazon, and I think I shall soon form 
a fine collection. They are, however, almost all common 
species, and are of little value, except that I hope they will 
be better specimens than usually reach England. My guns 
are both very good, but I find powder and shot actually 
cheaper in Singapore than in London, so I need not have 
troubled myself to bring any. So far both I and Charles have 
had excellent health. He can now shoot pretty well, and 
is so fond of it that I can hardly get him to do anything 

" The Chinese here are most industrious. They clear and 
cultivate the ground with a neatness which I have never seen 
equalled in the tropics, and they save every particle of 
manure, both from animals and men, to enrich the ground. 

" The country around Malacca is much more beautiful 
than near Singapore, it being an old settlement with abun- 
dance of old fruit and forest trees scattered about. Monkeys 
of many sorts are abundant ; in fact, all animal life seems more 
abundant than in Brazil. Among the fruits I miss the de- 
licious oranges of Para and the Amazon. Here they are 
scarce and not good, and there is nothing that can replace 



I may as well state here that the " Charles " referred to in 
the preceding letter was a London boy, the son of a carpenter 
who had done a little work for my sister, and whose parents 
were willing for him to go with me to learn to be a collector. 
He was sixteen years old, but quite undersized for his age, 
so that no one would have taken him for more than thirteen 
or fourteen. He remained with me about a year and a half, 
and learned to shoot and to catch insects pretty well, but not 
to prepare them properly. He was rather of a religious turn, 
and when I left Borneo he decided to stay with the bishop 
and become a teacher. After a year or two, however, he 
returned to Singapore, and got employment on some plan- 
tations. About five years later he joined me in the Moluccas 
as a collector. He had grown to be a fine young man, over 
six feet. When I returned home he remained in Singapore, 
married, and had a family. He died some fifteen years 

At the end of September I returned to Singapore, whence 
I wrote home as follows: — 

" I have now just returned to Singapore after two months' 
hard work. At Malacca I had a strong touch of fever, with 
the old * Rio Negro ' symptoms, but the Government doctor 
made me take large doses of quinine every day for a week, and 
so killed it, and in less than a fortnight I was quite well, 
and oflF to the jungle again. I never took half enough quinine 
in America to cure me. 

" Malacca is a pretty place. Insects are not very abundant 
there, still, by perseverance, I got a good number, and many 
rare ones. Of birds, too, I made a good collection. I went 
to the celebrated Mount Ophir, and ascended to the top, sleep- 
ing under a rock. The walk there was hard work, thirty 
miles through jungle in a succession of mud-holes, and 
swarming with leeches, which crawled all over us, and sucked 
when and where they pleased. We lived a week at the foot 
of the mountain, in a little hut built by our men, near a 
beautiful rocky stream. I got some fine new butterflies there, 
and hundreds of other new or rare insects. Huge centipedes 
and scorpions, some nearly a foot long, were common, but we 


none of us got bitten or stung. We only had rice, and a little 
fish and tea, but came home quite well. The mountain is 
over four thousand feet high. Near the top are beautiful 
ferns and pitcher-plants, of which I made a small collection. 
Elephants and rhinoceroses, as well as tigers, are abundant 
there, but we had our usual bad luck in seeing only their 
tracks. On returning to Malacca I found the accumulation 
of two or three posts — a dozen letters, and about fifty news- 
papers. ... I am glad to be safe in Singapore with my 
collections, as from here they can be insured. I have now 
a fortnight's work to arrange, examine, and pack them, and 
four months hence there will be work for Mr. Stevens. ^ 

" Sir James Brooke is here. I have called on him. He 
received me most cordially, and offered me every assistance 
at Sarawak. I shall go there next, as the missionary does not 
go to Cambodia for some months. Besides, I shall have some 
pleasant society at Sarawak, and shall get on in Malay, which 
is very easy; but I have had no practice yet, though I can 
ask for most common things." 

I reached Sarawak early in November, and remained in 
Borneo fourteen months, seeing a good deal of the country. 
The first four months was the wet season, during which I 
made journeys up and down the Sarawak river, but obtained 
very scanty collections. In March I went to the Sadong 
river, where coal mines were being opened by an English 
mining engineer, Mr. Coulson, a Yorkshireman, and I stayed 
there nearly nine months, it being the best locality for beetles 
I found during my twelve years' tropical collecting, and 
very good for other groups. It was also in this place that I 
obtained numerous skins and skeletons of the orang-utan, as 
fully described in my " Malay Archipelago." 

In my first letter, dated May, 1855, I gave a sketch of the 
country and people: — 

" As far inland as I have yet seen this country may be 
described as a dead level, and a lofty and swampy forest. It 

1 They were sent by sailing ship round the Cape of Good Hope, the 
overland route being too costly for goods. 



would, therefore, be very uninviting were it not for a few- 
small hills which here and there rise abruptly — oases in the 
swampy wilderness. It is at one of these that we are located, 
a hill covering an area of, perhaps, three or four square miles, 
and less than a thousand feet high. In this hill there are 
several coal seams; one of these three feet and a half thick, 
of very good coal for steamers crops out round three-fourths 
of the hill, dipping down at a moderate angle. We have here 
near a hundred men, mostly Chinese ; ground has been cleared, 
and houses built^ and a road is being made through the jungle, 
a distance of two miles, to the Sadong river, where the coal 
will be shipped. 

The jungle here is exceedingly gloomy and monotonous ; 
palms are scarce, and flowers almost wanting, except some 
species of dwarf gingervvorts. It is only high overhead that 
flowers can be seen. There are many fine orchids of the 
genus C3elog}ne, with great drooping spikes of white or yel- 
low flowers, and occasionally bunches of the scarlet flowers 
of a magnificent creeper, a species of seschynanthus. Oak 
trees are rather common, and I have already noticed three 
species having large acorns of a red, brown, and black colour 

" Our mode of life here is ver\' simple, and we have a con- 
tinual struggle to get enough to eat, as all fowls and vegetables 
grown by the Dyaks go to Sarawak, and I have been obliged 
to send there to buy some. 

" The old men here relate with pride how many * heads * 
they took in their youth ; and though they all acknowledge 
the goodness of the present rajah, yet they think that if they 
were allowed to take a few heads, as of old, they would have 
better crops. The more I see of uncivilized people, the better 
I think of human nature on the whole, and the essential 
differences between civilized and savage man seem to disap- 
pear. Here we are, two Europeans, surrounded by a popula- 
tion of Chinese, Malays, and Dyaks. The Chinese are gener- 
ally considered, and with some amount of truth, to be thieves, 
liars, and reckless of human life, and these Chinese are coolies 
of the lowest and least educated class, though they can all read 


and write. The Malays are invariably described as being 
barbarous and bloodthirsty; and the Dyaks have only recently 
ceased to think head-taking a necessity of their existence. 
We are two days' journey from Sarawak, where, though the 
government is nominally European, it only exists with the 
consent and by the support of the native population. Yet I 
can safely say that in any part of Europe where the same 
opportunities for crime and disturbance existed, things would 
not go so smoothly as they do here. We sleep with open 
doors, and go about constantly unarmed; one or two petty 
robberies and a little fighting have occurred among the Chi- 
nese, but the great majority of them are quiet, honest, decent 
sort of people. They did not at first like the strictness and 
punctuality with which the English manager kept them to 
their work, and two or three ringleaders tried to get up a 
strike for shorter hours and higher wages, but Mr. Coulson's 
energy and decision soon stopped this by discharging the 
ringleaders at once, and calling all the Malays and Dyaks in 
the neighbourhood to come up to the mines in case any 
violence was attempted. It was very gratifying to see how 
rapidly they obeyed the summons, knowing that Mr. Coulson 
represented the rajah, and this display of power did much 
good, for since then everything has gone on smoothly. 
Preparations are now making for building a ' joss-house,' a 
sure sign that the Chinese have settled down contentedly." 

In my next letter, a month later, I gave the following ac- 
count of an interesting episode : — 

'T must now tell you of the addition to my household of 
an orphan baby, a curious little half-nigger baby, which I 
have nursed now more than a month. I will tell you pres- 
ently how I came to get it, but must first relate my inventive 
skill as a nurse. The little innocent was not weaned, and I 
had nothing proper to feed it with, so was obliged to give it 
rice-water. I got a large-mouthed bottle, making two holes 
in the cork, through one of which I inserted a large quill so 
that the baby could suck. I fitted up a box for a cradle with 
a mat for it to lie upon, which I had washed and changed 



every day. I feed it four times a day, and wash it and brush 
its hair every day, which it Hkes very much, only crying when 
it is hungry or dirty. In about a week I gave it the rice-water 
a Httle thicker, and always sweetened it to make it nice. I 
am afraid you would call it an ugly baby, for it has a dark 
brown skin and red hair, a very large mouth, but very pretty 
little hands and feet. It has now cut its two lower front 
teeth, and the uppers are coming. At first it would not sleep 
alone at night, but cried very much; so I made it a pillow 
of an old stocking, which it likes to hug, and now sleeps 
very soundly. It has powerful lungs, and sometimes screams 
tremendously, so I hope it will live. 

" But I must now tell you how I came to take charge of 
it. Don't be alarmed; I was the cause of its mother's death. 
It happened as follows: — I was out shooting in the jungle 
and saw something up a tree which I thought was a large 
monkey or orang-utan, so I fired at it, and down fell this little 
baby — in its mother's arms. What she did up in the tree of 
course I can't imagine, but as she ran about the branches quite 
easily, I presume she was a wild ' woman of the woods ; ' 
so I have preserved her skin and skeleton, and am trying to 
bring up her only daughter, and hope some day to introduce 
her to fashionable society at the Zoological Gardens. When 
its poor mother fell mortally wounded, the baby was plunged 
head over ears in a swamp about the consistence of pea- 
soup, and when I got it out looked very pitiful. It clung to 
me very hard when I carried it home, and having got its little 
hands unawares into my beard, it clutched so tight that I had 
great difficulty in extricating myself. Its mother, poor crea- 
ture, had very long hair, and while she was running about 
the trees like a mad woman, the little baby had to hold 
fast to prevent itself from falling, which accounts for the 
remarkable strength of its little fingers and toes, which catch 
hold of anything with the firmness of a vice. About a week 
ago I bought a Httle monkey with a long tail, and as the baby 
was very lonely while we were out in the daytime, I put 
the little monkey into the cradle to keep it warm. Per- 
haps you will say that this was not proper. ' How could you 


do such a thing?' But, I assure you, the baby likes it ex- 
ceedingly, and they are excellent friends. When the monkey 
wants to run away, as he often does, the baby clutches him 
by the tail or ears and drags him back; and if the monkey 
does succeeding in escaping, screams violently till he is brought 
back again. Of course, baby cannot walk yet, but I let it 
crawl about on the floor to exercise its limbs; but it is the 
most wonderful baby I ever saw, and has such strength in its 
arms that it will catch hold of my trousers as I sit at work, and 
hang under my legs for a quarter of an hour at a time with- 
out being the least tired, all the time trying to suck, thinking, 
no doubt, it has got hold of its poor dear mother. When it 
finds no milk is to be had, there comes another scream, and 
I have to put it back in its cradle and give it ' Toby ' — the 
little monkey — to hug, which quiets it immediately. From 
this short account you will see that my baby is no common 
baby, and I can safely say, what so many have said before 
with much less truth, ' There never was such a baby as my 
baby,' and I am sure nobody ever had such a dear little duck 
of a darling of a little brown hairy baby before." 

In a letter dated Christmas Day, 1855, I gave my impres- 
sion of the Dyaks, and of Sir James Brooke, as follows : 

" I have now lived a month in a Dyak's house, and spent 
a day or two in several others, and I have been very much 
pleased with them. They are a very kind, simple, hospitable 
people, and I do not wonder at the great interest Sir James 
Brooke takes in them. They are more communicative and 
more cheerful than the American Indians, and it is therefore 
more agreeable to live with them. In moral character they 
are far superior to either the Malays or the Chinese, for 
though head-taking was long a custom among them, it was 
only as a trophy of war. In their own villages crimes are 
very rare. Ever since Sir James Brooke has been rajah, more 
than twelve years, there has only been one case of murder in 
a Dyak tribe, and that was committed by a stranger who had 
been adopted into the tribe. One wet day I produced a piece 
of string to show them how to play ' cat's cradle ' and was 



quite astonished to find that they knew it much better than I 
did, and could make all sorts of new figures I had never seen. 
They were also very clever at tricks with string on their 
fingers, which seemed to be a favourite amusement. Many of 
the remoter tribes think the rajah cannot be a man. They ask 
all sorts of curious questions about him — Whether he is not 
as old as the mountains ; whether he cannot bring the dead to 
life; and I have no doubt, for many years after his death, he 
will be held to be a deity and expected to come back again. 

"I have now seen a good deal of Sir James, and the more 
I see of him the more I admire him. With the highest 
talents for government he combines in a high degree good- 
ness of heart and gentleness of manner. At the same time, 
he has so much self-confidence and determination that he 
has put down with the greatest ease the conspiracies of one 
or two of the Malay chiefs against him. It is a unique case 
in the history of the world for a private English gentleman 
to rule over two conflicting races — a superior and an inferior 
— with their own consent, without any means of coercion, 
but depending solely upon them both for protection and sup- 
port, while at the same time he introduces some of the best 
customs of civilization, and checks all crimes and barbarous 
practices that before prevailed. Under his government ' run- 
ning-a-muck,' so frequent in other Malay countries, has never 
taken place, and in a population of about 30,000 Malays, almost 
all of whom carry their kris, and were accustomed to revenge 
an insult with a stab, murders only occur once in several years. 
The people are never taxed except with their own consent, and 
in the manner most congenial to them, while almost the whole 
of the rajah's private fortune has been spent in the improve- 
ment of the country or for its benefit. Yet this is the man who 
has been accused in England of wholesale murder and butchery 
of unoffending tribes to secure his own power ! " 

In my next letter (from Singapore in February, 1856) I 
say — " I have now left Sarawak, where I began to feel quite 
at home, and may perhaps never return to it again, but I 
shall always look back with pleasure to my residence there 
and to my acquaintance with Sir James Brooke, who is a 


gentleman and a nobleman in the truest and best sense of 
those words." 

At the end of this letter I make some remarks on the 
Crimean War, then almost concluded, and though I after- 
wards saw reason to change my opinion as regards this 
particular war, my views then as to the menace of Russian 
power to civilization are not altogether inapplicable at the 
present day. I say — " The warlike stores found in Sebasto- 
pol are alone a sufficient justification of the war. For what 
purpose were four thousand cannon and other stores in pro- 
portion accumulated there for if not to take Constantinople, 
get a footing in the Mediterranean, and ultimately to subju- 
gate Europe? And why do such tremendous fortresses exist 
in every part of the frontiers of Russia, if not to render her- 
self invulnerable from the attacks which she has determined 
by her ambitious designs to bring upon her? Russia is per- 
petually increasing her means both of defence and of aggres- 
sion; if she had continued unmolested for a few years longer, 
it would have cost still greater sacrifices to subdue her. The 
war, therefore, is absolutely necessary as the only means of 
teaching Russia that Europe will not submit to the indefinite 
increase of her territory and power, and the constant menace 
of her thousands of cannons and millions of men. It is the 
only means of saving Europe from a despotism as much worse 
than that of Napoleon as the Russian people are behind the 
French in civilization." 

There is a certain amount of truth in this, but to avoid 
misconception I wish to state that I think the danger does 
not arise from the Russian Government being any worse 
than our own, or than the Governments of Germany or France. 
All have the same insatiable craving for extending their ter- 
ritories and ruling subject peoples for the benefit of their own 
upper classes. Russia is only the most dangerous because 
she is already so vast, and each fresh extension of her territory 
adds to her already too large population, from which to create 
enormous armies, which she can and will use for further 
aggrandizement. It is a disgrace to Europe that they have 
allowed Russia to begin the dismemberment of China, and 



to leave to Japan the tremendous task of putting a check to 
her progress. 

A later letter from Singapore touches on two matters of 
some interest. " I quite enjoy being a short time in Singapore 
again. The scene is at once so familiar and yet so strange. 
The half-naked Chinese coolies, the very neat shopkeepers, 
the clean, fat, old, long-tailed merchants, all as pushing and 
full of business as any Londoners. Then the handsome, dark- 
skinned klings from southern India, who always ask double 
what they will take, and with whom it is most amusing to 
bargain. The crowd of boatmen at the ferry, a dozen beg- 
ging and disputing for a farthing fare; the tall, well-dressed 
Armenians ; the short, brown Malays in their native dress ; 
and the numerous Portuguese clerks in black, make up a scene 
doubly interesting to me now that I know something about 
them, and can talk to them all in the common language of the 
place — ]\Ialay. The streets of Singapore on a fine day are 
as crowded and busy as Tottenham Court Road, and from 
the variety of nationalities and occupations far more interest- 
ing. I am more convinced than ever that no one can appre- 
ciate a new country by a short visit. After two years in the 
East I only now begin to understand Singapore, and to 
thoroughly appreciate the life and bustle, and the varied occu- 
pations of so many distinct nationalities on a spot which a 
short time ago was an uninhabited jungle. A volume might 
be written upon it without exhausting its humours and its 
singularities. . . . 

" I have been spending three weeks with my old friend the 
French Jesuit missionary at Bukit Tima, going daily into 
the jungle, and every Friday fasting on omelet and vegetables, 
a most wholesome custom, which the Prostestants erred in 
leaving off. I have been reading Hue's * Travels ' in French, 
and talking a good deal with one of the missionaries just 
arrived from Tonquin, who can speak no English. I have 
thus obtained a good deal of information about these countries, 
and about the extent of the Catholic missions in them, which 


is really astonishing. How is it that they do their work so 
much more thoroughly than most Protestant missions ? In 
Cochin China, Tonquin, and China, where Christian mis- 
sionaries are obliged to live in secret, and are subject to perse- 
cution, expulsion, or death, every province, even those farthest 
in the interior of China, has its regular establishment of mis- 
sionaries constantly kept up by fresh supplies, who are all 
taught the languages of the countries they are going to at 
Penang or Singapore. In China there are near a million of 
Catholics, in Tonquin and Cochin China more than half a 
million. One secret of their success is their mode of living. 
Each missionary is allowed about £30 a year, on which he 
lives in whatever country he may be. This has two good 
results. A large number of missionaries can be kept on 
limited funds, and the people of the country in which they 
reside, seeing that they live in poverty and with none of the 
luxuries of life, are convinced that they are sincere. Most 
of them are Frenchmen, and those I have seen or heard of 
are well-educated men, who give up their lives to the good 
of the people they live among. No wonder they make con- 
verts, among the lower orders principally; for it must be a 
great blessing to these poor people to have a man among 
them to whom they can go in any trouble or distress, whose 
sole object is to advise and help them, who visits them in 
sickness and relieves them in want, and whom they see living 
in continual danger of persecution and death only for their 

Before leaving Singapore I wrote a long letter to my old 
fellow traveller and companion, Henry Walter Bates, then 
collecting on the Upper Amazon, almost wholly devoted to 
entomology and especially giving my impressions of the 
comparative richness of the two countries. As this com- 
parison is of interest, not only to entomologists, but to all 
students of the geographical distribution of animals, I give it 
here almost entire. The letter is dated April 30, 1856: — 

" I must first inform you that I have just received the 
Zoologist containing your letters up to September 14, 1855 



(Ega), which have interested me greatly, and have almost 
made me long to be again on the Amazon, even at the cost 
of leaving the unknown Spice Islands still unexplored. I 
have been here since Februar}' waiting for a vessel to Macassar 
(Celebes), a country I look forward to with the greatest 
anxiety and with expectations of vast treasures in the insect 
world. Malacca, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo form but one 
zoological province, the majority of the species in all classes 
of animals being common to two or more of these countries. 
There is decidedly less difference between them than between 
Para and Santarem or Barra. I have therefore as yet only 
visited the best known portion of the Archipelago, and con- 
sider that I am now about to commence my real work. I 
have spent six months in ^lalacca and Singapore, and fifteen 
months in Borneo (Sarawak), and have therefore got a good 
idea of what this part of the Archipelago is like. Compared 
with the Amazon valley, the great and striking feature here 
is the excessive poverty of the Diurnal Lepidoptera. The 
glorious Heliconidae are represented here by a dozen or 
twenty species of generally obscure-coloured Euplseas, the 
Nymphalidse containing nothing comparable with Epicalias, 
Callitheas, Catagrammas, etc., either in variety or abundance 
to make up for their want of briUiancy. A few species of 
Adolias, Limentis. and Charaxes are the most notable forms. 
The Satyridse have nothing to be placed by the side of the 
lovely Haeteras of the i\mazon. Your glorious Erycinidse 
are represented by half a dozen rather inconspicuous species, 
and even the Lycaenidae, though more numerous and com- 
prising some lovely species, do not come up to the Theclas 
of Para. Even the dull Hesperidae are almost wanting here, 
for I do not think I have yet exceeded a dozen species of 
this family. All this is very miserable and discouraging to 
one who has wandered in the forest-paths around Para or on 
the sandy shores of the Amazon or Rio Negro. The only 
group in which we may consider the two countries to be 
about equal is that of the true Papilios (including Omithop- 
tera), though even in these I think you have more species. 
Including Ornithoptera and Leptocircus, I have found as yet 


only thirty species, five of which I beheve are new. Among 
these is the magnificent Ornithoptera Brookcana, perhaps the 
most elegant butterfly in the world. 

" To counterbalance this dearth of butterflies there should 
be an abundance of other orders, or you will think I have 
made a change for the worse, and compared with Para only 
perhaps there is, though it is doubtful whether at Ega you 
have not found Coleoptera quite as abundant as they are 
here. But I will tell you my experience so far and then you 
can decide the question, and let me know how you decide it. 
You must remember that it is now just two years since I 
reached Singapore, and out of that time I have lost at least 
six months by voyages and sickness, besides six months of 
an unusually wet season at Sarawak. However, during the 
dry weather at Sarawak I was very fortunate in finding a 
good locality for beetles, at which I worked hard for five or 
six months. At Singapore and Malacca I collected about a 
thousand species of beetles, at Sarawak about two thousand, 
but as about half my Singapore species occurred also at 
Sarawak, I reckon that my total number of species may be 
about 2500. The most numerous group is (as I presume 
with you) the Rhyncophora (weevils, etc.), of which I have at 
least 600 species, perhaps many more. The majority of these 
are very small, and all are remarkably obscure in their colours, 
being in this respect inferior to some of our British species. 
There are, however, many beautiful and interesting forms, 
especially among the Anthribidae, of one of which — a new 
genus — I send a rough sketch. The group next in point of 
numbers and, to me, of the highest interest are the Longicorns. 
Of these I obtained fifty species in the first ten days at 
Singapore, and when in a good locality I seldom passed a 
day without getting a new one. At Malacca and Singapore 
I collected about 160 species, at Sarawak 290, but as only 
about fifty from the former places occurred at the latter, my 
Longicorns must now reach about 400 species. ... As to 
size, I have only about thirty species which exceed an inch in 
length, the majority being from one half to three quarters 
of an inch, while a considerable number are two or three 

352 MY LIFE 

lines only. I see you say you must have near 500 species 
of Longicorns ; but I do not know if this refers to Ega 
only, or to your whole South American collections. 

" The Geodephaga, always rare in the tropics, we must 
expect to be still more so in a level forest country so near the 
equator, yet I have found more species than I anticipated — 
as nearly as I can reckon, a hundred — twenty-four being 
Cicindelidse (tiger beetles) of various groups. 

Lamellicorns are very scarce, about one hundred and 
forty species in all, of which twenty-five are Cetoniidae, all 
rare, and about the same number of Lucanidse. Elaters are 
rather plentiful, but with few exceptions small and obscure. 
I have one hundred and forty species, one nearly three inches 
long, and several of one and a half inch. The Buprestidse 
are exceedingly beautiful, but the larger and finer species are 
very rare. I have one hundred and ten species, of which half 
are under one-third of an inch long, though one, Cafoxantha 
bicolor, is two and a half inches. Two genera of Cleridse are 
rather abundant, others rare; but I have obtained about fifty 
species, which, compared with the very few previously known, 
is very satisfactory. Of the remaining groups, in which I 
took less interest, I have not accurately noted the number of 

"The individual abundance of beetles is not, however, so 
large as the number of species would indicate. I hardly 
collect on an average more than fifty beetles a day, in which 
number there will be from thirty to forty species. Often, in 
fact, twenty or thirty beetles are as much as I can scrape 
together, even when giving my whole attention to them, for 
butterflies are too scarce to distract it. Of the other orders 
of insects, I have no accurate notes ; the species, however, of 
all united (excluding Lepidoptera) about equal those of the 
beetles. I found one place only where I could collect moths, 
and have obtained altogether about one thousand species, 
mostly of small or average size. My total number of species 
of insects, therefore, I reckon at about six thousand, and of 
specimens collected about thirty thousand. From these data 
I think you will be able to form a pretty good judgment of 


the comparative entomological riches of the two countries. 
The matter, however, will not be definitely settled till I have 
visited Celebes, the Moluccas, etc., which I hope to find as 
much superior to the western group of islands as the Upper 
is to the Lower Amazon. 

" In other branches of Natural History I have as yet done 
little. The birds of Malacca and Borneo, though beautiful, 
are too well known to be worth collecting largely. With 
the orang-utans I was successful, obtaining fifteen skins and 
skeletons, and proving, I think, the existence of two species, 
hitherto a disputed question. The forests here are scarcely 
to be distinguished from those of Brazil, except by the fre- 
quent presence of the various species of Calamus (Rattan 
palms), and the Pandani (Screw pines) and by the rarity of 
those Leguminous trees with finely divided foliage, which are 
so frequent in the Amazonian forests. The people and their 
customs I hardly like as well as those of Brazil, but the com- 
paratively new settlements of Singapore and Sarawak are 
not quite comparable with the older towns of the Amazon. 
Here provisions and labour are dear, and travelling is both 
tedious and expensive. Servants* wages are high, and the 
customs of the country do not permit you to live in the free- 
and-easy style of Brazil. 

" I must tell you that the fruits of the East are a delusion. 
Never have I seen a place where fruits are more scarce and 
poor than at Singapore. In Malacca and Sarawak they are 
more abundant, but there is nothing to make up for the 
deficiency of oranges, which are so poor and sour that they 
would hardly be eaten even in England. There are only two 
good fruits, the mangosteen and the durian. The first is a 
very delicate juicy fruit, but hardly worthy of the high place 
that has been given it; the latter, however, is a wonderful 
fruit, quite unique of its kind, and worth coming to the Malay 
Archipelago to enjoy; it is totally unlike every other fruit. 
A thick glutinous, almond-flavoured custard is the only thing 
it can be compared to, but which it far surpasses. These 
two fruits, however, can only be had for about two months in 



the year, and everywhere, except far in the interior, they 
are dear. The plantains and bananas even are poor, like the 
worst sorts in South America. 

" May loth. — The ship for which I have been waiting 
nearly three months is in at last, and in about a week I hope 
to be off for Macassar. The monsoon, however, is against 
us, and we shall probably have a long passage, perhaps forty 
days. Celebes is quite as unknown as was the Upper 
Amazon before your visit to it, perhaps even more so. In 
the British Museum catalogues of Cetoniidae, Buprestidse, 
Longicorns, and Papilionidae, not a single specimen is recorded 
from Celebes, and very few from the Moluccas ; but the fine 
large species described by the old naturalists, some of which 
have recently been obtained by Madame Reiffer, give promise 
of what systematic collection may produce." 

Before giving a general sketch of my life and work in less 
known parts of the Archipelago, I must refer to an article I 
wrote while in Sarawak, which formed my first contribution 
to the great question of the origin of species. It was written 
during the wet season, while I was staying in a little house 
at the mouth of the Sarawak river, at the foot of the Santu- 
bong mountain. I was quite alone, with one Malay boy as 
cook, and during the evenings and wet days I had nothing to 
do but to look over my books and ponder over the problem 
which was rarely absent from my thoughts. Having always 
been interested in the geographical distribution of animals 
and plants, having studied Swainson and Humboldt, and 
having now myself a vivid impression of the fundamental 
differences between the Eastern and Western tropics; and 
having also read through such books as Bonaparte's " Con- 
spectus," already referred to, and several catalogues of insects 
and reptiles in the British Museum (which I almost knew by 
heart), giving a mass of facts as to the distribution of animals 
over the whole vrorld, it occurred to me that these facts had 
never been properly utilized as indications of the way in 
which species had come into existence. The great work of 
Lyell had furnished me with the main features of the succes- 


sion of species in time, and by combining the two I thought 
that some valuable conclusions might be reached. I accord- 
ingly put my facts and ideas on paper, and the result seeming 
to me to be of some importance, I sent it to The Annals and 
Magazine of Natural History, in which it appeared in the 
following September (1855). Its title was "On the Law 
which has regulated the Introduction of New Species," which 
law was briefly stated (at the end) as follows : Every species 
has come into existence coincident both in space and time with 
a pre-existing closely-allied species." This clearly pointed to 
some kind of evolution. It suggested the when and the where 
of its occurrence, and that it could only be through natural 
generation, as was also suggested in the " Vestiges " ; but the 
how was still a secret only to be penetrated some years later. 

Soon after this article appeared, Mr. Stevens wrote me 
that he had heard several naturalists express regret that I 
was " theorizing," when what we had to do was to collect 
more facts. After this, I had in a letter to Darwin expressed 
surprise that no notice appeared to have been taken of my 
paper, to which he replied that both Sir Charles Lyell and 
Mr. Edward Blyth, two very good men, specially called his 
attention to it. I was, however, rewarded later, when in 
Huxley's chapter, " On the Reception of the Origin of 
Species," contributed to the Life and Letters, he referred 
to this paper as — his powerful essay," adding — " On reading 
it afresh I have been astonished to recollect how small was 
the impression it made." (vol. ii., p. 185). The article is 
reprinted in my " Natural Selection and Tropical Nature." 



Having been unable to find a vessel direct to Macassar, I took 
passage to Lombok, whence I was assured I should easily 
reach my destination. By this delay, which seemed to me at 
the time a misfortune, I was enabled to make some very in- 
teresting collections in Bali and Lombok, two islands which 
I should otherwise never have seen. I was thus enabled to 
determine the exact boundary between two of the primary 
zoological regions, the Oriental and the Australian, and also 
to see the only existing remnant of the Hindu race and reli- 
gion, and of the old civilization which had erected the wonder- 
ful ruined temples in Java centuries before the Mohammedan 
invasion of the archipelago. 

After two months and a half in Lombok, I found a pas- 
sage to Macassar, which I reached the beginning of Septem- 
ber, and lived there nearly three months, when I left for the 
Aru Islands in a native prau. The country around Macassar 
greatly disappointed me, as it was perfectly flat and all cul- 
tivated as rice fields, the only sign of woods being the palms 
and fruit trees in the suburbs of Macassar and others mark- 
ing the sites of native villages. I had letters to a Dutch 
merchant who spoke English as well as Malay and the Bugis 
language of Celebes, and who was quite friendly with the 
native rajah of the adjacent territory. Through his good 
offices I was enabled to stay at a native village about eight 
miles inland, where there were some patches of forest, and 
where I at once obtained some of the rare birds and insects 
peculiar to Celebes. After about a month I returned to 



Macassar, and found that I could obtain a passage to the 
celebrated Aru Islands, where at least two species of birds of 
paradise are found, and which had never been visited by an 
English collector. This was a piece of good fortune I had 
not expected, and it was especially fortunate because the next 
six months would be wet in Celebes, while it would be the 
dry season in the Aru Islands. This journey was the most 
successful of any that I undertook, as is fully described in 
my book ; and as no letters referring to it have been preserved, 
I shall say no more about it here. 

The illustration opposite is from a photograph of a native 
house in the island of Wokan, which was given me by the 
late Professor Moseley of the Challenger expedition, because 
it so closely resembles the hut in which I lived for a fort- 
night, and where I obtained my first King bird of paradise, 
that I feel sure it must be the same, especially as I saw no 
other like it. It is described at the beginning of chap. xxxi. 
of my " Malay Archipelago," and will be of interest to such 
of my readers as possess that work. 

Several months later I arrived again at Macassar, and 
after arranging and despatching my Aru collections, I went 
to an estate a few days' journey north, the property of a 
brother of my kind friend Mr. Mesman. I had a house built 
for me in a patch of forest where I lived with two Malay 
servants for three months making very interesting collections 
both of birds and insects; and I have rarely enjoyed myself 
so much as I did here. About the end of November I 
returned to Macassar, and in December embarked on the Dutch 
mail steamer for Amboyna, calling by the way at Timor and 
at Banda. 

At Amboyna I made the acquaintance of a German and 
a Hungarian doctor, both entomologists, and in a fortnight's 
visit to an estate in the interior surrounded by virgin forest 
I obtained some of the lovely birds and gorgeous insects 
which have made the island celebrated. The only letter I 
possess which indicates something of my opinions and antici- 
pations at this period of my travels is one to Bates, dated 
Amboyna, January 4, 1858, from which I will make a few 



extracts. The larger portion is occupied with remarks on the 
comparative riches of our respective regions in the various 
families of beetles, founded on a letter I had received from 
him a few months before, which, though very interesting to 
entomologists, are not suitable for reproduction here. I then 
touched on the subject of my paper referred to at the end of 
the last chapter. 

"To persons who have not thought much on the subject 
I fear my paper on the - Succession of Species ' will not 
appear so clearly as it does to you. That paper is, of course, 
merely the announcement of the theory, not its development. 
I have prepared the plan and written portions of a work 
embracing the whole subject, and have endeavoured to prove 
in detail what I have as yet only indicated. It was the pro- 
mulgation of Forbes's theory of ' polarity ' which led me to 
write and publish, for I was annoyed to see such an ideal 
absurdity put forth, when such a simple hypothesis will 
explain all the facts. I have been much gratified by a letter 
from Darwin, in which he says that he agrees with ' almost 
every word ' of my paper. He is now preparing his great 
work on ' Species and Varieties,' for which he has been collect- 
ing materials twenty years. He may save me the trouble of 
writing more on my hypothesis, by proving that there is no 
difference in nature between the origin of species and of 
varieties ; or he may give me trouble by arriving at another 
conclusion ; but at all events, his facts will be given for me to 
work upon. Your collections and my own will furnish most 
valuable material to illustrate and prove the universal applic- 
ability of the hypothesis. The connection between the suc- 
cession of affinities and the geographical distribution of a 
group, worked out species by species, has never yet been 
shown as we shall be able to show it. 

" In this archipelago there are two distinct faunas rigidly 
circumscribed, which differ as much as do those of Africa 
and South America, and more than those of Europe and 
North America; yet there is nothing on the map or on the 
face of the islands to mark their limits. The boundary line 
passes between islands closer together than others belonging 


to the same group. I believe the western part to be a 
separated portion of continental Asia, while the eastern is a 
fragmentary prolongation of a former west Pacific continent. 
In mammalia and birds the distinction is marked by genera, 
families, and even orders confined to one region; in insects 
by a number of genera, and little groups of peculiar species, 
the families of insects having generally a very wide or univer- 
sal distribution." 

This letter proves that at this time I had not the least 
idea of the nature of Darwin's proposed work nor of the 
definite conclusions he had arrived at, nor had I myself any 
expectation of a complete solution of the great problem to 
which my paper was merely the prelude. Yet less than two 
months later that solution flashed upon me, and to a large 
extent marked out a different line of work from that which 
I had up to this time anticipated: 

I finished the letter after my arrival at Ternate (January 
25, 1858), and made the following observation: " If you go to 
the Andes I think you will be disappointed, at least in the 
number of species, especially of Coleoptera. My experience 
here is that the low grounds are much the most productive, 
though the mountains generally produce a few striking and 
brilliant species." This rather hasty generalization is, I am 
inclined still to think, a correct one, at all events as regards 
the individual collector. I doubt if there is any mountain 
station in the world where so many species of butterflies 
can be collected within a walk as at Para, or more beetles than 
at my station in Borneo and Bates' at Ega. Yet it may 
be the case that many areas of about one hundred miles square 
in the Andes and in the Himalayas actually contain a larger 
number of species than any similar area in the lowlands of 
the Amazon or of Borneo. In other parts of this letter I 
refer to the work I hoped to do myself in describing, cata- 
loguing, and working out the distribution of my insects. I 
had in fact been bitten by the passion for species and their 
description, and if neither Darwin nor myself had hit upon 
" Natural Selection," I might have spent the best years of my 
life in this comparatively profitless work. But the new ideas 



swept all this away. I have for the most part left others to 
describe my discoveries, and have devoted myself to the great 
generalizations which the laborious work of species-describers 
had rendered possible. In this letter to Bates I enclosed a 
memorandum of my estimate of the number of distinct species 
of insects I had collected up to the time of writing — three 
years and a half, nearly one year of which had been lost in 
journeys, illnesses, and various delays. The totals were as 
follows : — 




Bees, wasps, etc. 


Bugs, cicadas, etc. 

Locusts, etc 

Dragonflies, etc. . 
Earwigs, etc 

Total 8540 species of Insects. 

It was while waiting at Ternate in order to get ready for 
my next journey, and to decide where I should go, that the 
idea already referred to occurred to me. It has been shown 
how, for the preceding eight or nine years, the great problem 
of the origin of species had been continually pondered over, 
and how my varied observations and study had been made 
use of to lay the foundation for its full discussion and eluci- 
dation. My paper written at Sarawak rendered it certain 
to my mind that the change had taken place by natural suc- 
cession and descent — one species becoming changed either 
slowly or rapidly into another. But the exact process of the 
change and the causes which led to it were absolutely unknown 
and appeared almost inconceivable. The great difficulty 
was to understand how, if one species was gradually changed 
into another, there continued to be so many quite distinct 
species, so many which differed from their nearest allies by 
slight yet perfectly definite and constant characters. One 
would expect that if it was a law of nature that species were 

620 species 

2000 „ 






40 " 


continually changing so as to become in time new and distinct 
species, the world would be full of an inextricable mixture of 
various slightly different forms, so that the well-defined and 
constant species we see would not exist. Again, not only are 
species, as a rule, separated from each other by distinct exter- 
nal characters, but they almost always differ also to some 
degree in their food, in the places they frequent, in their 
habits and instincts, and all these characters are quite as 
definite and constant as are the external characters. The 
problem then was, not only how and why do species change, 
but how and why do they change into new and well-defined 
species, distinguished from each other in so many ways ; why 
and how do they become so exactly adapted to distinct modes 
of life; and why do all the intermediate grades die out (as 
geology shows they have died out) and leave only clearly 
defined and well-marked species, genera, and higher groups 
of animals. 

Now, the new idea or principle which Darwin had arrived 
at twenty years before, and which occurred to me at this time, 
answers all these questions and solves all these difficulties, 
and it is because it does so, and also because it is in itself 
self-evident and absolutely certain, that it has been accepted 
by the whole scientific world as affording a true solution of 
the great problem of the origin of species. 

At the time in question I was suffering from a sharp 
attack of intermittent fever, and every day during the cold 
and succeeding hot fits had to lie down for several hours, 
during which time I had nothing to do but to think over any 
subjects then particularly interesting me. One day something 
brought to my recollection Malthus's " Principles of Popula- 
tion," which I had read about twelve years before. I thought 
of his clear exposition of " the positive checks to increase " — 
disease, accidents, war, and famine — which keep down the 
population of savage races to so much lower an average than 
that of more civilized peoples. It then occurred to me that 
these causes or their equivalents are continually acting in the 
case of animals also; and as animals usually breed much more 
rapidly than does mankind, the destruction every year from 



these causes must be enormous in order to keep down the 
numbers of each species, since they evidently do not increase 
regrilarly from year to year, as otherwise the world would long 
ago have been densely crowded with those that breed most 
quickly. Vaguely thinking over the enormous and constant 
destruction which this implied, it occurred to me to ask the 
question, Why do some die and some live? And the answer 
was clearly, that on the whole the best fitted live. From the 
effects of disease the most healthy escaped ; from enemies, 
the strongest, the swiftest, or the most cunning; from famine, 
the best hunters or those with the best digestion; and so on. 
Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process 
would necessarily improve the race, because in every genera- 
tion the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the 
superior would remain — that is, the attest would survive. 
Then at once I seemed to see the whole effect of this, that 
when changes of land and sea, or of climate, or of food- 
supply, or of enemies occurred — and we know that such 
changes have always been taking place — and considering the 
amount of individual variation that my experience as a col- 
lector had shown me to exist, then it follow^ed that all the 
changes necessarv' for the adaptation of the species to the 
changing conditions would be brought about ; and as great 
changes in the environment are always slow, there would be 
ample time for the change to be effected by the survival of 
the best fitted in every generation. In this way every part 
of an animal's organization could be modified exactly as 
required, and in the very process of this modification the 
unmodified would die out, and thus the definite characters 
and the clear isolation of each new species would be explained. 
The more I thought over it the more I became convinced that 
I had at length found the long-sought-for law of nature that 
solved the problem of the origin of species. For the next 
hour I thought over the deficiencies in the theories of Lamarck 
and of the author of the " V estiges," and I saw that my new 
theory supplemented these views and obviated every important 
difficulty. I waited anxiously for the termination of my fit 
so that I might at once make notes for a paper on the subject. 


The same evening I did this pretty fully, and on the two suc- 
ceeding evenings wrote it out carefully in order to send it to 
Darwin by the next post, which would leave in a day or two. 

I wrote a letter to him in which I said that I hoped the 
idea would be as new to him as it was to me, and that it 
would supply the missing factor to explain the origin of 
species. I asked him if he thought it sufficiently important 
to show to Sir Charles Lyell, who had thought so highly of 
my former paper. 

The subsequent history of this article is fully given in the 
" Life and Letters," volume ii., and I was, of course, very 
much surprised to find that the same idea had occurred to 
Darwin, and that he had already nearly completed a large 
work fully developing it. The paper is reprinted in my 
" Natural Selection and Tropical Nature," and in reading it 
now it must be remembered that it was but a hasty first sketch, 
that I had no opportunity of revising it before it was printed 
in the journal of the Linnsean Society, and, especially, that 
at that time nobody had any idea of the constant variability 
of every common species, in every part and organ, which has 
since been proved to exist. Almost all the popular objec- 
tions to Natural Selections are due to ignorance of this fact, 
and to the erroneous assumption that what are called " fav- 
ourable variations " occur only rarely, instead of being abun- 
dant, as they certainly are, in every generation, and quite large 
enough for the efficient action of " survival of the fittest " in 
the improvement of the race. 

During the first months of my residence at Ternate I 
made two visits to different parts of the large island of Gilolo, 
where my hunters obtained a number of very fine birds, but 
owing to the absence of good virgin forest and my own ill- 
health, I obtained very few insects. At length, on March 25, 
I obtained a passage to Dorey Harbour, on the north coast 
of New Guinea, in a trading schooner, which left me there, 
and called for me three or four months later to bring me 
back to Ternate. I was the first European who had lived 
alone on this great island; but partly owing to an accident 



which confined me to the house for a month, and partly 
because the locality was not a good one, I did not get the 
rare species of birds of paradise I had expected. I obtained, 
however, a number of new and rare birds and a fine collection 
of insects, though not so many of the larger and finer kinds 
as I expected. The weather had been unusually wet, and 
the place was unhealthy. I had four Malay servants with 
me, three of whom had fever as well as myself, and one of 
my hunters died, and though I should have liked to have 
stayed longer, we were all weak or unwell, and were very 
glad when the schooner arrived and took us back to Ternate. 
Here wholesome food and a comfortable house soon restored 
us to good health. 

When I unpacked and examined my collections I found 
that the birds I had obtained were very numerous and beauti- 
ful, and as my journey and residence in New Guinea had 
created much interest among my numerous Dutch friends in 
Ternate, I determined to make a little exhibition of them. I 
accordingly let it be known that I would be glad to see visitors 
on the next Sunday afternoon. I had a long table in the 
verandah which I had covered with new " trade " calico, and 
on this I laid out the best specimens of all my most showy 
or strange birds. There were numbers of gorgeous lories, 
parrots, and parrakeets, white and black cockatoos, exquisite 
fruit-pigeons of a great variety of colours, many fine king- 
fishers from the largest to the most minute, as well as the 
beautiful racquet-tailed species, beautiful black, green, and 
blue ground-thrushes, some splendid specimens of the Papuan 
and King paradise-birds, and many beautiful bee-eaters, roll- 
ers, fly-catchers, grakles, sun-birds, and paradise crows, mak- 
ing altogether such an assemblage of strange forms and 
brilliant colours as no one of my visitors had ever imagined to 
exist so near them. Even I myself was surprised at the 
beauty of the show when thus brought together and displayed 
on the white table, which so well set off their varied and bril- 
liant colours. 

I now received letters informing me of the reception of 
the paper on " Varieties," which I had sent to Darwin, and 


in a letter home I thus refer to it. I have received letters 
from Mr. Darwin and Dr. Hooker, two of the most eminent 
naturalists in England, which have highly gratified me. I 
sent Mr. Darwin an essay on a subject upon which he is 
now writing a great work. He showed it to Dr. Hooker and 
Sir Charles Lyell, who thought so highly of it that they had 
it read before the Linnsean Society. This insures me the 
acquaintance of these eminent men on my return home." I 
also refer to my next voyage as follows : " I am now about 
to start for a place where there are some soldiers, and a 
doctor, and an engineer who can speak English, so if it is 
good for collecting I shall stay there some months. It is 
called ' Batchian,' an island on the south-west side of Gilolo, 
and three or four days' sail from Ternate. I have now quite 
recovered from the effects of my New Guinea voyage, and 
am in good health." 

I reached Batchian on October 21, and about a month 
afterwards, there being a Government boat going to Ternate, 
I took the opportunity of writing to my school-fellow and 
oldest friend, Mr. George Silk. As he knew nothing what- 
ever of natural history, I wrote to him on subjects more 
personal to myself, and which may therefore be more suitable 
to quote here: — 

" I have just recived yours of August 3 with reminis- 
cences of Switzerland. To you it seems a short time since 
we were there together, to me an immeasurable series of 
ages! In fact, Switzerland and the Amazon now seem to 
me quite unreal — a sort of former existence or long-ago 
dream. Malays and Papuans, beetles and birds, are what 
now occupy my thoughts, mixed with financial calculations 
and hopes for a happy future in old England, where I may 
live in solitude and seclusion, except from a few choice friends. 
You cannot, perhaps, imagine how I have come to love soli- 
tude. I seldom have a visitor but I wish him away in an 
hour. I find it very favourable to reflection ; and if you have 
any acquaintance who is a fellow of the Linnsean Society, 
borrow the Journal of Proceedings for August last, and in the 
last article you will find some of my latest lucubrations, and 



also some complimentary remarks thereon by Sir Charles 
Lyell and Dr. Hooker, which (as I know neither of them) I 
am a little proud of. As to politics, I hate and abominate 
them. The news from India I now never read, as it is all an 
inextricable confusion without good maps and regular papers. 
Mine come in lumps — two or three months at a time, often 
with alternate issues stolen or lost. I therefore beg you to 
write no more politics — nothing public or newspaperish. Tell 
me about yourself, your own private doings, your health, your 
visits, your new and old acquaintances (for I know you pick 
up half a dozen every week d la Barragan) . But, above all, 
tell me what you read. Have you read the * Currency ' book 
I returned you, ' Horne Tooke,' * Bentham,' Family Herald 
leading articles ? Give me your opinions on any or all of 
these. Follow the advice in Family Herald article on * Hap- 
piness,' Ride a Hobby, and you will assuredl}- find happiness 
in it, as I do. Let ethnology be your hobby, as you seem 
already to have put your foot in the stirrup, but ride it hard. 
If I live to return I shall come out strong on Malay and 
Papuan races, and shall astonish Latham, Davis, & Co. ! By 
the bye, I have a letter from Davis ; ^ he says he sent my last 
letter to you, and it is lost mysteriously. Instead, therefore, of 
sending me a reply to my ' poser,' he repeats what he has said 
in every letter I have had from him, that ' myriads of miracles 
are required to people the earth from one source.' I am sick of 
him. You must read ' Pritchard ' through, and Lawrence's 
' Lectures on Man ' carefully : but I am convinced no man can 
be a good ethnologist who does not travel, and not travel 
merely, but reside, as I do, months and years with each race, 
becoming well acquainted with their average physiognomy and 
their character, so as to be able to detect cross-breeds, which 
totally mislead the hasty traveller, who thinks they are transi- 
tions! Latham, I am sure, is quite wrong on many points. 

" When I went to New Guinea, I took an old copy of 
' Tristram Shandy,' which I read through about three times. 
It is an annoying and, you will perhaps say, a very gross 
book; but there are passages in it that have never been 
1 J. Barnard Davis, the well-known craniologist. 


surpassed, while the character of Uncle Toby has, I think, 
never been equalled, except perhaps by that of Don Quixote. 
I have lately read a good many of Dumas's wonderful novels, 
and they are wonderful, but often very careless and some 
quite unfinished. ' The Memoirs of a Physician ' is a wonder- 
ful mixture of history, science, and romance; the second part, 
the Queen's Necklace, being the most wondferful and, perhaps, 
the most true. You should read it, if you have not yet done 
so, when you are horribly bored ! 

" In reference to your private communication, it seems to 
me that marriage has a wonderful effect in brightening the 
intellect. For example, John used not to be considered witty; 
yet in his last letter he begs me to write to him * semi-occa- 
sionally,' or ' oftener if I have time,' and I send a not bad 
extract from his letter. By this mail I send more than a dozen 
letters, for my correspondence is increasing." 

On my return to Temate in April, 1859, after spending 
nearly six months in Batchian, where I had made fairly good 
though not very large collections, including a new and very 
peculiar bird of paradise and a grand new butterfly of the 
largest size and most gorgeous colouring, I determined to go 
next to Timor for a short time, and afterward to Menado, at 
the north-eastern extremity of Celebes, from which place 
some of the most interesting birds and mammalia had been 
obtained. I had, of course, my usual large batch of letters 
to reply to. One of these from my brother-in-law, Mr, 
Thomas Sims, urged me very strongly to return home before 
my health was seriously affected, and for many other reasons. 
In my reply I gave full expressions to my ideas and feelings 
compelling me to remain a few years longer, and as these 
are a part of the history of my life and character, I will give 
them here. 

" Your ingenious arguments to persuade me to come 
home are quite unconvincing. I have much to do yet before 
I can return with satisfaction of mind; were I to leave now 
I should be ever regretful and unhappy. That alone is an 
all-sufficient reason. I feel that my work is here as well as 



my pleasure; and why should I not follow out my vocation? 
As to materials for work at home, you are in error. I have, 
indeed, materials for a life's study of entomology, as far as 
the forms and structure and affinities of insects are con- 
cerned; but I am engaged in a wider and more general 
study — that of the relations of animals to space and time, or, 
in other words, their geographical and geological distribution 
and its causes. I have set myself to work out this problem 
in the Indo-Australian iVrchipelago, and I must visit and 
explore the largest number of islands possible, and collect 
materials from the greatest number of localities, in order to 
arrive at any definite results. As to health and life, what 
are they compared with peace and happiness? and happiness 
is admirably defined in the Family Herald as to be best 
obtained by ' work with a purpose, and the nobler the pur- 
pose the greater the happiness. But besides these weighty 
reasons there are others quite as powerful — pecuniary ones. 
I have not yet made enough to live upon, and I am likely to 
make it quicker here than I could in England. In England 
there is only one way in which I could live, by returning to 
my old profession of land-surveying. Now, though I always 
liked surveying, I like collecting better, and I could never 
now give my whole mind to any work apart from the study 
to which I have devoted my life. So far from being angry 
at being called an enthusiast (as you seem to suppose), it is 
my pride and glory to be worthy to be so called. Who ever 
did anything good or great who was not an enthusiast? The 
majority of mankind are enthusiasts only in one thing — in 
money-getting; and these call others enthusiasts as a term 
of reproach because they think there is something in the 
world better than money-getting. It strikes me that the 
power or capability of a man in getting rich is in an inverse 
proportion to his reflective powers and in direct proportion 
to his impudence. It is perhaps good to he rich, but not to 
get rich, or to be always trying to get rich, and few men 
are less fitted to get rich, if they did try, than myself." 
The rest of the letter is devoted to new discoveries in photog- 
raphy and allied subjects. 


I left Temate by the Dutch mail steamer on May i, 1859, 
calling at Amboyna and spending two days at Banda, where 
I visited the celebrated nutmeg plantations, reaching Coupang, 
at the west end of Timor, on the 13th. The country round 
proving almost a desert for a collector, I went to the small 
island of Semau, where I obtained a few birds, but little else. 
I therefore returned to Coupang after a week and deter- 
mined to go back the way I came by Amboyna and Ternate 
to Menado, in order to lose no time, and arrived there on June 
10. Here I remained for four months in one of the most 
interesting districts in the whole archipelago. I visited several 
localities in the interior, and obtained a number of the rare 
and peculiar species of birds and a considerable collection 
of beetles and butterflies, mostly rare or new, but by no means 
so numerous as I had obtained in other good localities. 

In October I returned to Amboyna in order to visit the 
almost unknown island of Ceram, which, however, I found 
very unproductive and unhealthy. While there I wrote a 
short letter to Bates, congratulating him on his safe return 
to England, discussing great schemes for the writing and 
publication of works on our respective collections, adding, 
" I have sent a paper lately to the Linnaean Society which 
gives my views of the principles of geographical distribution 
in the archipelago, of which I hope some day to work out 
the details." 1 

In December, being almost starved, I returned to Amboyna 
to recruit, and in February started on another journey to 
Ceram, with the intention, if possible, of again reaching the 
Ke Islands, which I had found so rich during the few days I 
stayed there on my voyage to the Aru Islands. I visited 
several places on the coast of Ceram, and spent three days 
very near its centre, where a very rough mountain path 
crosses from the south to the north coast. But never in the 
whole of my tropical wanderings have I found a luxuriant 
forest so utterly barren of almost every form of animal life. 
Though I had three guns out daily, I did not get a single 

1 The title of this paper was, " On the Zoological Geography of 
Malay Archipelago," and it was published in i860. 



bird worth having; beetles, too, were totally wanting; and 
the very few butterflies seen were most difficult to capture. 
Those who imagine that a tropical forest in the very midst 
of so rich a region as the Moluccas must produce abundance 
of birds and insects, would have been woefully disillusioned 
if they could have been with me here. After immense diffi- 
culties I reached Coram, about fifty miles beyond the east end 
of Ceram, where I purchased a boat and started for Ke; but 
after getting halfway, the weather was so bad and the winds 
so adverse that I was obliged to return to the Matabello 
Islands, and thence by way of Coram and the north coast of 
Ceram to the great island of Waigiou. This was a long and 
most unfortunate voyage, as fully described elsewhere. I 
found there, however, what I chiefly went for — the rare red 
bird of paradise {Paradisea rubra) ; but during the three 
months I lived there, often with very little food, I obtained 
only about seventy species of birds, mostly the same as those 
from New Cuinea, though a few species of parrots, pigeons, 
kingfishers, and other birds were new. Insects were never 
abundant, but by continued perseverance I obtained rather 
more species of both butterflies and beetles than at New 
Cuinea, though fewer, I think, of the more showy kinds. 

The voyage from Waigiou back to Ternate was again 
most tedious and unfortunate, occupying thirty-eight days, 
whereas with reasonably favourable weather it should not 
have required more than ten or twelve. Taking my whole 
voyage in this canoe from Coram to Waigiou and Ternate, I 
thus summarize my account of it in my " Malay Archipelago " : 
" My first crew ran away in a body ; two men were lost on 
a desert island and only recovered a month later after twice 
sending in search of them; we were ten times run aground 
on coral reefs ; we lost four anchors ; our sails were devoured 
by rats ; our small boat was lost astern ; we were thirty-eight 
days on a voyage which should not have taken twelve ; we 
were many times short of food and water; we had no com- 
pass-lamp owing to there being not a drop of oil in Waigiou 
when we left ; and, to crown all, during our whole voyage from 
Coram by Ceram to Waigiou, and from Waigiou to Ternate, 


occupying in all seventy-eight days (or only twelve days 
short of three months), all in what was supposed to be the 
favourable season, we had not one single day of fair wind. 
We were always close braced up, always struggling against 
wind, currents, and leeway, and in a vessel that would scarcely 
sail nearer than eight points from the wind! Every seaman 
will admit that my first (and last) voyage in a boat of my 
own was a very unfortunate one." 

While living at Bessir, the little village where I went to 
get the red paradise birds, I wrote a letter to my friend 
George Silk, which I finished and posted after my arrival at 
Temate. As such letters as this, absolutely familiar and con- 
fidential, exhibit my actual feelings, opinions, and ideas at 
the time, I reproduce it here : — 

" Bessir, September i, i860. 

" My Dear George, 

" It is now ten months since the date of my last let- 
ter from England. You may fancy therefore that, in the 
expressive language of the trappers, I am ' half froze ' for 
news. No such thing! Except for my own family and per- 
sonal affairs I care not a straw and scarcely give a thought 
as to what may be uppermost in the political world. In my 
situation old newspapers are just as good as new ones, and 
I enjoy the odd scraps, in which I do up my birds (advertise- 
ments and all), as much as you do your Times at breakfast. 
If I live to return to Ternate in another month, I expect to 
get such a deluge of communications that I shall probably 
have no time to answer any of them. I therefore bestow one 
of my solitary evenings on answering yours beforehand. By 
the bye, you do not yet know where I am, for I defy all the 
members of the Royal Geographical Society in full conclave 
to tell you where is the place from which I date this letter. 
I must inform you, therefore, that it is a village on the 
south-west coast of the island of Waigiou, at the north-west 
extremity of New Guinea. How I came here would be too 
long to tell, the details I send to my mother and refer you 
to her. While hon. members are shooting partridges I am 



shooting, or trying to shoot, birds of paradise — red at that, 
as our friend Morris Haggar would say. But enough of this 
nonsense. I meant to write you of matters more worthy of a 
naturaHst's pen. I have been reading of late two books of 
the highest interest, but of most diverse characters, and I wish 
to recommend their perusal to you if you have time for any- 
thing but work or politics. They are Dr. Leon Dufour's 
' Histoire de la Prostitution ' and Darwin's ' Orgin of Species.' 
If there is an English translation of the first, pray get it. 
Every student of men and morals should read it, and if many 
who talk glibly of putting down the ' social evil ' were first 
to devote a few days to its study, they would be both much 
better qualified to give an opinion and much more diffident 
of their capacity to deal with it. The work is truly a history, 
and a great one, and reveals pictures of human nature more 
wild and incredible than the pen of the romancist ever dared 
to delineate. I doubt if many classical scholars have an idea 
of what were really the habits and daily life of the Romans 
as here delineated. Again I say, read it. 

" The other book you may have heard of and perhaps read, 
but it is not one perusal which will enable any man to ap- 
preciate it. I have read it through five or six times, each 
time with increasing admiration. It will live as long as the 
* Principia ' of Newton. It shows that nature is, as I before 
remarked to you, a study that yields to none in grandeur and 
immensity. The cycles of astronomy or even the periods of 
geology will alone enable us to appreciate the vast depths of 
time we have to contemplate in the endeavour to understand 
the slow growth of life upon the earth. The most intricate 
efiFects of the law of gravitation, the mutual disturbances of 
all the bodies of the solar system, are simplicity itself com- 
pared with the intricate relations and complicated struggle 
which have determined what forms of life shall exist and in 
what proportions. Mr. Darwin has given the world a new 
science, and his name should, in my opinion, stand above that 
of every philosopher of ancient or modem times. The force 
of admiration can no further go ! ! ! " 


" On board steamer from Ternate to Timor, January 2, 1861. 

" I have come home safe to Ternate and left it again. For 
two months I was stupefied with my year's letters, accounts, 
papers, magazines, and books, in addition to the manipula- 
tion, cleaning, arranging, comiparing, and packing for safe 
transmission to the other side of the world about 16,000 
specimens of insects, birds, and shells. This has been inter- 
mingled with the troubles of preparing for new voyages, 
laying in stores, hiring men, paying or refusing to pay their 
debts, running after them when they try to run away, going 
to the town with lists of articles absolutely necessary for the 
voyage, and finding that none of them could be had for love 
or money, conceiving impossible substitutes and not being 
able to get them either, — and all this coming upon me when 
I am craving repose from the fatigues and privations of an 
unusually dangerous and miserable voyage, and you may 
imagine that I have not been in any great humour for letter- 

" I think I may promise you that in eighteen months, more 
or less, we may meet again, if nothing unforeseen occurs. 

" Yours, 

" A. W. R." 

Just before leaving Ternate I also wrote to Bates, chiefly 
about the " Origin of Species " and some of my results on 
geographical distribution. 

" Ternate, December 24, i860. 

" Dear Bates^ 

" Many thanks for your long and interesting letter. 
I have myself suffered much in the same way as you describe, 
and I think more severely. The kind of tcsdium vitcB you 
mention I also occasionally experience here. I impute it to 
a too monotonous existence. 

" I know not how, or to whom, to express fully my ad- 
miration of Darwin's book. To him it would seem flattery, 
to others self-praise; but I do honestly believe that with 



however much patience I had worked and experimented on 
the subject, I could never have approached the completeness 
of his book, its vast accumulation of evidence, its overwhelm- 
ing argument, and its admirable tone and spirit. I really feel 
thankful that it has not been left to me to give the theory to 
the world. Mr. Darwin has created a new science and a new 
philosophy; and I believe that never has such a complete 
illustration of a new branch of human knowledge been due 
to the labours and researches of a single man. Never have 
such vast masses of widely scattered and hitherto quite uncon- 
nected facts been combined into a system and brought to 
bear upon the establishment of such a grand and new and 
simple philosophy. 

" I am surprised at your joining the north and south banks 
of the lower Amazon into one region. Did you not find a 
sufficiency of distinct species at Obydos and Barra to separate 
them from Villa Nova and Santarem? I am now convinced 
that insects, on the whole, do not give such true indications 
of zoological geography as birds and mammals, because, first, 
they have such immensely greater means of dispersal across 
rivers and seas ; second, because they are so much more 
influenced by surrounding circumstances ; and third, because 
the species seem to change more quickly, and therefore dis- 
guise a comparatively recent identity. Thus the insects of 
adjacent regions, though originally distinct, may become 
rapidly amalgamated, or portions of the same region may 
come to be inhabited by very distinct insect-faunas owing to 
diflferences of soil, climate, etc. This is strikingly shown 
here, where the insect-fauna from Malacca to New Guinea 
has a very large amount of characteristic uniformity, while 
Australia, from its distinct climate and vegetation, shows a 
wide difference. I am inclined to think, therefore, that a pre- 
liminary study of, first, the mammals, and then the birds, 
is indispensable to a correct understanding of the geographi- 
cal and physical changes on which the present insect-distribu- 
tion depends. 1 . 

1 These ideas were thoroughly worked out in my book on " The 
Geographical Distribution of Animals," published in 1876. 


"In a day or two I leave for Timor, where, if I am lucky 
in finding a good locality, I expect some fine and interesting 

I reached Delli, the chief place in the Portuguese part of 
the island, on January 12, 1861, and stayed there about three 
months and a half. I lived with an Englishman, Captain Hart, 
who had a coffee plantation about a mile out of the town; 
and there was also another Englishman, Mr. Geach, a mining 
engineer, who had come out to open copper mines for the 
Portuguese Government, but as no copper ore could be found, 
he was waiting for an opportunity to return to Singapore. 
They were both very pleasant people, and I enjoyed myself 
while there, though the collecting was but poor, owing to the 
excessive aridity of the climate and the absence of forests. I 
obtained, however, some rare birds and a few very rare and 
beautiful butterflies by the side of a stream in a little rocky 
valley shaded by a few fine trees and bushes. Of beetles, 
however, there were absolutely none worth collecting. 

Leaving Timor at the end of April, I went by the Dutch 
mail steamer to Cajeli in Bouru, the last of the Molucca 
Islands which I visited. Here I stayed two months, but was 
again disappointed, since the country was almost as unpro- 
ductive as Ceram. For miles round the town there were 
only low hills covered with coarse grass and scattered trees, 
less productive of insects than a bare moor in England. Some 
patches of wood here and there and the fruit trees around 
the town produced a few birds of peculiar species. I went to 
a place about twenty miles off, where there was some forest, 
and remained there most of my time; but insects were still 
very scarce, and birds almost equally so. I obtained, how- 
ever, about a dozen quite new species of birds and others 
which were very rare, together with a small collection of 
beetles ; and then, about the end of June, took the mail 
steamer by Ternate and Menado to Sourabaya, the chief town 
in eastern Java. 

I stayed here about a month, spending most of the time 
at the foot of the celebrated mount Arjuna; but the season 



was too dry, and both birds and insects very scarce. I there- 
fore went on to Batavia and thence to Buitenzorg and to the 
Pangerango mountain, over ten thousand feet high. At a 
station about four thousand feet above sea-level, where the 
main road passes through some virgin forest, I stayed some 
weeks, and made a tolerable collection of birds and butterflies, 
though the season was here as much too wet as East Java 
was too dry. I next went to Palembang in Sumatra, which 
I reached by way of Banka on November 8. Here the coun- 
try was mostly flooded, and I had to go up the river some 
distance to where a military road starts for the interior and 
across the mountains to Bencoolen. On this road, about 
seventy miles from Palembang, I came to a place called Lobo 
Raman, surrounded with some fine virgin forest and near the 
centre of East Sumatra. Here, and at another station on 
the road, I stayed about a month, and obtained a few very 
interesting birds and butterflies ; but it was the height of the 
wet season, and all insects were scarce. I therefore returned 
to Palembang and Banka, and thence to Singapore, on my 
way home. While waiting here for the mail steamer, two 
living specimens of the smaller paradise bird (Paradisea 
papuana) were brought to Singapore by a trader, and I went 
to see them. They were in a large cage about five or six 
feet square, and seemed in good health, but the price asked 
for them was enormous, as they are so seldom brought, and 
the rich Chinese merchants or rich natives in Calcutta are 
always ready to purchase them. As they had never been 
seen alive in Europe I determined to take the risk and at 
once secured them, and with some difficulty succeeded in 
bringing them home in safety, where they lived in the Zoologi- 
cal Gardens for one and two years respectively. 

While living in the wilds of Sumatra I wrote two letters, 
to my friends Bates and Silk, which, being the last I wrote 
before reaching home, may be of interest as showing what 
subjects were then uppermost in my mind. The first from 
which I will quote is that to Mr. Bates, and referring to a 
paper on the Papilios of the Amazon which he had sent me 
I make some remarks on the distribution of animals in South 


America, which I do not think I have published any- 

" Your paper is in every respect an admirable one, and 
proves the necessity of minute and exact observation over a 
wide extent of country to enable a man to grapple with the 
more difficult groups, unravel their synonymy, and mark 
out the limits of the several species and varieties. All this 
you have done, and have, besides, established a very interest- 
ing fact in zoological geography, that of the southern bank 
of the lower river having received its fauna from Guayana, 
and not from Brazil. There is, however, another fact, I think, 
of equal interest and importance which you have barely 
touched upon, and yet I think your own materials in this 
very paper establish it, viz., that the river, in a great many 
cases, limits the range of species or of well-marked varieties. 
This fact I considered was proved by the imperfect material 
I brought home, both as regards the Amazon and Rio Negro. 
In a paper I read on 'The Monkeys of the Lower Amazon 
and Rio Negro' I showed that the species were often dif- 
ferent on the opposite sides of the river. Guayana species 
came up to the east bank, Columbian species to the west 
bank, and I stated that it was therefore important that 
travellers collecting on the banks of large rivers should note 
from which side every specimen came. Upon this Dr. Gray 
came down upon me with a regular floorer. ' Why,' said 
he, * we have specimens collected by Mr. Wallace himself 
marked " Rio Negro " only.' I do not think I answered him 
properly at the time, that those specimens were sent from 
Barra before I had the slightest idea myself that the species 
were different on the two banks. In mammals the fact was 
not so much to be wondered at, but few persons would credit 
that it would apply also to birds and winged insects. Yet 
I am convinced it does, and I only regret that I had not col- 
lected and studied birds there with the same assiduity as I 
have here, as I am sure they would furnish some most interest- 
ing results. Now, it seems to me that a person having no 
special knowledge of the district would have no idea from 
your paper that the species did not in almost every instance 



occur on both banks of the river. In only one case do you 
specially mention a species being found only on the north 
bank. In other cases, except where the insect is local and 
confined to one small district, no one can tell whether they 
occur on one or both banks. Obydos you only mention once, 
Barra and the Tunantins not at all. I think a list of the 
species or varieties occurring on the south bank or north 
bank only should have been given, and would be of much 
interest as establishing the fact that large rivers do act as 
limits in determining the range of species. From the localities 
you give, it appears that of the sixteen species of papilio 
peculiar to the Amazon, fourteen occur only on the south 
bank; also, that the Guayana species all pass to the south 
bank. These facts I have picked out. They are not stated 
by you. It would seem, therefore, that Guayana forms, hav- 
ing once crossed the river, have a great tendency to become 
modified, and then never recross. Why the Brazilian species 
should not first have taken possession of their own side of 
the river is a myster}\ I should be inclined to think that 
the present river bed is comparatively new, and that the 
southern lowlands were once continuous with Guayana; in 
fact, that Guayana is older than north Brazil, and that after 
it had pushed out its alluvial plains into what is now north 
Brazil, an elevation on the Brazilian side made the river 
cut a new channel to the northward, leaving the Guayana 
species isolated, exposed to competition with a new set of 
species from further south, and so becoming modified, as 
we now find them. . . . The whole district is, I fear, too 
little known geologically to test this supposition. The moun- 
tains of north Brazil are, however, said to be of the cretaceous 
period, and if so their elevation must have occurred in 
tertiary times, and may have continued to a comparatively 
recent period. Now if there are no proofs of such recent up- 
heaval in the southern mountains of Guayana, the theory 
would thus far receive support. I regret that your time was 
not more equally divided between the north and south banks, 
but I suppose you found the south so much more productive 
in new and fine things. 


" I am here making what I intend to be my last collections, 
but am doing very little in insects, as it is the wet season and 
all seems dead. I find in those districts where the seasons 
are strongly contrasted the good collecting time is very 
limited — only about a month or two at the beginning of the 
dry, and a few weeks at the commencement of the rains. It 
is now two years since I have been able to get any beetles, 
owing to bad localities and bad weather, so I am becoming 
disgusted. When I do find a good place it is generally very 
good, but such are dreadfully scarce. In Java I had to go 
forty miles in the eastern part and sixty miles in the western 
to reach a bit of forest, and then I got scarcely anything. 
Here I had to come a hundred miles inland, by Palembang, 
and though in the very centre of Eastern Sumatra, the forest 
is only in patches, and it is the height of the rains, so I get 
nothing. A Longicorn is a rarity, and I suppose I shall not 
have as many species in two months as I have obtained in 
three or four days in a really good locality. I am getting, 
however, some sweet little blue butterflies (Lyccenidce) , which 
is the only thing that keeps up my spirits." 

The letter to my friend Silk will be, perhaps, a little more 
amusing, and perhaps not less instructive. 

" Lobo Roman, Sumatra, December 22, 186 1. 
" My Dear George, 

" Between eight and nine years ago, when we were 
concocting that absurd book, ' Travels on the Amazon and 
Rio Negro,' you gave me this identical piece of waste paper 
with sundry others, and now having scribbled away my last 
sheet of ' hot-pressed writing,' and being just sixty miles 
from another, I send you back your gift, with interest; so 
you see that a good action, sooner or later, finds its sure 

" I now write you a letter, I hope for the last time, for I 
trust our future letters may be viva voce, as an Irishman 
would say, while our epistolary correspondence will be con- 
fined to notes. I really do now think and believe that I am 



coming home, and as I am quite uncertain when I may be 
able to send you this letter, I may possibly arrive not very 
long after it. Some fine morning I expect to walk into 79, 
Pall Mall, and shall, I suppose, find things just the same as 
if I had walked out yesterday and come in to-morrow ! 
There will you be seated on the same chair, at the same 
table, surrounded by the same account books, and writing 
upon paper of the same size and colour as when I last beheld 
you. I shall find your inkstand, pens, and pencils in the same 
places, and in the same beautiful order, which my idiosyncrasy 
compels me to admire, but forbids me to imitate. (Could 
you see the table at which I am now writing, your hair would 
stand on end at the reckless confusion it exhibits!) I 
suppose you have now added a few more secretaryships to 
your former multifarious duties. I suppose that you will 
walk every morning from Kensington and back in the 
evening, and that things at the archdeacon's go on precisely 
and identically as they did eight years ago.^ I feel almost 
inclined to parody the words of Cicero, and to ask indignantly, 
'How long, O Georgius, will you thus abuse our patience? 
How long will this sublime indifference last ? ' But I fear 
the stern despot, habit, has too strongly riveted your chains, 
and as, after many years of torture the Indian fanatic can 
at last sleep only on his bed of spikes, so perhaps now you 
would hardly care to change that daily routine, even if the 
opportunity were thrust upon you. Excuse me, my dear 
George, if I express myself too strongly on this subject, which 
is truly no business of mine, but I cannot see, without regret, 
my earliest friend devote himself so entirely, mind and body, 
to the service of others. 

" I am here in one of the places unknown to the Royal 
Geographical Society, situated in the very centre of East 
Sumatra, about one hundred miles from the sea in three 
directions. It is the height of the wet season, and the rain 
pours down strong and steady, generally all night and half 
the day. Bad times for me, but I walk out regularly three or 

1 Mr. Silk was private secretary and reader to the then Archdeacon 
Sinclair, Vicar of Kensington. 


four hours every day, picking up what I can, and generally 
getting some little new or rare or beautiful thing to reward 
me. This is the land of the two-horned rhinoceros, the ele- 
phant, the tiger, and the tapir; but they all make themselves 
very scarce, and beyond their tracks and their dung, and once 
hearing a rhinoceros hark not far off, I am not aware of 
their existence. This, too, is the very land of monkeys; they 
swarm about the villages and plantations, long-tailed and 
short-tailed, and with no tail at all, white, black, and grey; 
they are eternally racing about the tree-tops, and gambolling 
in the most amusing manner. The way they jump is amazing. 
They throw themselves recklessly through the air, apparently 
sure, with one or other of their four hands, to catch hold 
of something. I estimated one jump by a long-tailed white 
monkey, at thirty feet horizontal, and sixty feet vertical, from 
a high tree on to a lower one; he fell through, however, so 
great was his impetus, on to a lower branch, and then, with- 
out a moment's stop, scampered away from tree to tree, evi- 
dently quite pleased with his own pluck. When I startle a 
band, and one leader takes a leap like this, it is amusing to 
watch the others — some afraid and hesitating on the brink 
till at last they pluck up courage, take a run at it, and often 
roll over in the air with their desperate efforts. Then there 
are the long-armed apes, who never walk or run upon the 
trees, but travel altogether by their long arms, swinging them- 
selves from bough to bough in the easiest and most graceful 
manner possible. 

" But I must leave the monkeys and turn to the men, who 
will interest you more, though there is nothing very remark- 
able in them. They are Malays, speaking a curious, half- 
unintelligible Malay dialect — Mohammedans, but retaining 
many pagan customs and superstitions. They are very 
ignorant, very lazy, and live almost absolutely on rice alone, 
thriving upon it, however, just as the Irish do, or did, upon 
potatoes. They were a bad lot a few years ago, but the 
Dutch have brought them into order by their admirable sys- 
tem of supervision and government. By the bye, I hope you 
have read Mr. Mooney's book on Java. It is well worth 



while, and you will see that I had come to the same conclu- 
sions as to Dutch colonial government from what I saw in 
Menado. Nothing is worse and more absurd than the sneer- 
ing prejudiced tone in which almost all English writers speak 
of the Dutch government in the East. It never has been 
worse than ours has been, and it is now very much better; 
and what is greatly to their credit and not generally known, 
they take nearly the same pains to establish order and good 
government in those islands and possessions which are an 
annual loss to them, as in those which yield them a revenue. 
I am convinced that their system is right in principle, and 
ours wrong, though, of course, in the practical working there 
may and must be defects; and among the Dutch themselves, 
both in Europe and the Indies, there is a strong party against 
the present system, but that party consists mostly of mer- 
chants and planters, who want to get the trade and commerce 
of the country made free, which in my opinion would be an 
act of suicidal madness, and would, moreover, seriously injure 
instead of benefiting the natives. 

Personally, I do not much like the Dutch out here, or the 
Dutch officials; but I cannot help bearing witness to the 
excellence of their government of native races, gentle yet 
firm, respecting their manners, customs, and prejudices, yet 
introducing everywhere European law, order, and industry." 

" Singapore, January 20, 1862. 
" I cannot write more now. I do not know how long I 
shall be here ; perhaps a month. Then, ho ! for England ! " 

When I was at Sarawak in 1855 I engaged a Malay boy 
named Ali as a personal servant, and also to help me to 
learn the Malay language by the necessity of constant com- 
munication with him. He was attentive and clean, and 
could cook very well. He soon learnt to shoot birds, to skin 
them properly, and latterly even to put up the skins very 
neatly. Of course he was a good boatman, as are all Malays, 
and in all the difficulties or dangers of our journeys he was 
quite undisturbed and ready to do anything required of him. 



He accompanied me through all my travels, sometimes alone, 
but more frequently with several others, and was then very 
useful in teaching them their duties, as he soon became well 
acquainted with my wants and habits. During our residence 
at Temate he married, but his wife lived with her family, 
and it made no difference in his accompanying me wherever 
I went till we reached Singapore on my way home. On 
parting, besides a present in money, I gave him my two 
double-barrelled guns and whatever ammunition I had, with 
a lot of surplus stores, tools, and sundries, which made him 
quite rich. He here, for the first time, adopted European 
clothes, which did not suit him nearly so well as his native 
dress, and thus clad a friend took a very good photograph of 
him. I therefore now present his likeness to my readers as 
that of the best native servant I ever had, and the faithful 
companion of almost all my journey ings among the islands 
of the far East. 

The two birds of paradise which I had purchased gave 
me a good deal of trouble and anxiety on my way home. I 
had first to make an arrangement for a place to stand the 
large cage on deck. A stock of food was required, which 
consisted chiefly of bananas; but to my surprise I found that 
they would eat cockroaches greedily, and as these abound on 
every ship in the tropics, I hoped to be able to obtain a good 
supply. Every evening I went to the storeroom in the fore 
part of the ship, where I was allowed to brush the cockroaches 
into a biscuit tin. The ship stayed three or four days at 
Bombay to discharge and take in cargo, coal, etc., and all 
the passengers went to a hotel, so I brought the birds on 
shore and stood them on the hotel verandah, where they 
were a great attraction to visitors. While staying at Bom- 
bay a small party of us had the good fortune to visit the 
celebrated cave-temple of Elephanta on a grand festival 
day, when it was crowded with thousands of natives — men, 
women, and children, in ever-changing crowds, kneeling or 
praying before the images or the altars, making gifts to the 
gods or the priests, and outside cooking and eating — a most 
characteristic and striking scene. 



The journey to Suez offered no particular incident, and 
the birds continued in good health ; as did two or three lories 
I had brought. But with the railway journey to Alexandria 
difficulties began. It was in February, and the night was 
clear and almost frosty. The railway officials made diffi- 
culties, and it was only by representing the rarity and value 
of the birds that I could have the cage placed in a box- 
truck. When we got into the Mediterranean the weather 
became suddenly cold, and worse still, I found that the ship 
was free from cockroaches. As I thought that animal food 
was perhaps necessary to counteract the cold, I felt afraid 
for the safety of my charge, and determined to stay a fort- 
night at Malta in order to reach England a little later, and 
also to lay in a store of the necessary food. I accordingly 
arranged to break my voyage there, went to a hotel, and 
found that I could get unlimited cockroaches at a baker's 
close by. 

At Marseilles I again had trouble, but at last succeeded in 
getting them placed in a guard's van, with permission to enter 
and feed them en route. Passing through France it was a 
sharp frost, but they did not seem to suffer; and when we 
reached London I was glad to transfer them into the care of 
Mr. Bartlett, who conveyed them to the Zoological Gardens. 

Thus ended my Malayan travels. 



On reaching London in the spring of 1862 I went to Hve 
with my brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas Sims, and my sister 
Mrs. Sims, who had a photographic business in Westbourne 
Grove. Here, in a large empty room at the top of the house, 
I brought together all the collections which I had reserved 
for myself and which my agent, Mr. Stevens, had taken care 
of for me. I found myself surrounded by a quantity of 
packing-cases and storeboxes, the contents of many of which 
I had not seen for five or six years, and to the examination 
and study of which I looked forward with intense interest. 

From my first arrival in the East I had determined to 
keep a complete set of certain groups from every island or 
distinct locality which I visited for my own study on my 
return home, as I felt sure they would afford me very valuable 
materials for working out the geographical distribution of 
animals in the archipelago, and also throw light on various 
other problems. These various sets of specimens were sent 
home regularly with the duplicates for sale, but either packed 
separately or so distinctly marked " Private " that they could 
be easily put aside till my return home. The groups thus 
reserved were the birds, butterflies, beetles, and land-shells, 
and they amounted roughly to about three thousand bird 
skins of about a thousand species, and, perhaps, twenty thou- 
sand beetles and butterflies of about seven thousand species. 

As I reached home in a very weak state of health, and 
could not work long at a time without rest, my first step 
was to purchase the largest and most comfortable easy-chair 
I could find in the neighbourhood, and then engage a car- 




penter to fit up one side of the room with movable deal 
shelves, and to make a long deal table, supported on trestles, 
on which I could unpack and assort my specimens. In order 
to classify and preserve my bird skins I obtained from a 
manufacturer about a gross of cardboard boxes of three sizes, 
which, when duly labelled with the name of the genus or 
family, and arranged in proper order upon the shelves, 
enabled me to find any species without difficulty. For the 
next month I was fully occupied in the unpacking and ar- 
ranging of my collections, while I usually attended the 
evening meetings of the Zoological, Entomological, and 
Linnsean Societies, where I met many old friends and made 
several news ones, and greatly enjoyed the society of people 
interested in the subjects that now had almost become the 
business of my life. 

As soon as I began to study my birds I had to pay fre- 
quent visits to the bird-room of the British Museum, then 
in charge of Mr. George Robert Gray, who had described 
many of my discoveries as I sent them home, and also to the 
library of the Zoological Society to consult the works of the 
older ornithologists. In this way the time passed rapidly, and 
I became so interested in my various occupations, and saw 
so many opportunities for useful and instructive papers on 
various groups of my birds and insects, that I came to the 
conclusion to devote myself for some years to this work, and 
to put off the writing of a book on my travels till I could 
embody in it all the more generally interesting results derived 
from the detailed study of certain portions of my collections. 
This delay turned out very well, as I w^as thereby enabled to 
make my book not merely the journal of a traveller, but 
also a fairly complete sketch of the whole of the great 
Malayan Archipelago from the point of view of the philo- 
sophic naturalist. The result has been that it long continued 
to be the most popular of my books, and that even now, 
thirty-six years after its publication, its sale is equal to that 
of any of the others. 

Having, as already described, brought home two living 
birds of paradise, which were attracting much notice at the 

(From a photograph by Mr. Sims) 



Zoological Gardens, I thought it would be of interest to the 
Fellows of the Society to give an outline of my various 
journeys in search of these wonderful birds, and of the 
reasons why I was, comparatively speaking, so unsuccessful. 
This was the first paper I wrote after my return, and I read 
it to the society on May 11. As it gives an account of how 
I pursued this special object, and summarizes a number of 
voyages, the description of which occupies six or seven 
chapters of my " Malay Archipelago," and as it is not 
accessible to general readers, I give the larger portion of it 


Having visited most of the islands inhabited by the paradise birds, in 
the hope of obtaining good specimens of many of the species, and some 
knowledge of their habits and distribution, I have thought that an out- 
line of my several voyages, with the causes that have led to their only 
partial success, might not prove uninteresting. 

At the close of the year 1856, being then at Macassar, in the island of 
Celebes, I was introduced to the master of a prau trading to the Aru 
Islands, who assured me that two sorts of birds of paradise were abun- 
dant there — the large yellow and the small red kinds — the Paradisea 
apoda and P. regia of naturalists. 

He seemed to think there was no doubt but I could obtain them either 
by purchase from the natives or by shooting them myself. Thus en- 
couraged, I agreed with him for a passage there and back (his stay 
being six months), and made all my preparations to start by the middle 
of December, 

Our vessel was a Malay prau of about 100 tons burthen, but differing 
widely from anything to be seen in European waters. The deck sloped 
downwards towards the bows, the two rudders were hung by rattans 
and ropes on the quarters, the masts were triangles standing on the 
decks, and the huge mat sail, considerably longer than the vessel, with 
its yard of bamboos, rose upwards at a great angle, so as to make up 
for the lowness of the mast. In this strange vessel, which, under very 
favourable circumstances, plunged along at nearly five miles an hour, 
and with a Buginese crew, all of whom seemed to have a voice in cases 
of difficulty or danger, we made the voyage of about a thousand miles in 
perfect safety, and very agreeably; in fact, of all the sea voyages I 
have made, this was one of the pleasantest. 

On reaching the Bugis trading settlement of Dobbo, I found that the 
small island on which it is situated does not contain any paradise birds. 



Just as I was trying to arrange a trip to the larger island, a fleet of 
Magindano pirates made their appearance, committing great devasta- 
tions, and putting the whole place in an uproar ; and it was only after 
they had been some time gone that confidence began to be restored, and 
the natives could be persuaded to take the smallest voyage. This 
delayed me two months in Dobbo without seeing a paradise bird. 

When, however, I at length reached the main island and ascended a 
small stream to a native village, I soon obtained a specimen of the 
lovely king bird of paradise, which, when first brought me, excited 
greater admiration and delight than I have experienced on any similar 
occasion. The larger species was still not to be seen, and the natives 
assured me that it would be some months before their plumage arrived 
at perfection, when they were accustomed to congregate together and 
could be more easily obtained. This proved to be correct, for it was 
about four months after my arrival at Dobbo that I obtained my first 
full-plumaged specimen of the great paradise bird. This was near the 
centre of the large island of Aru ; and there, with the assistance of 
the natives, I procured the fine series which first arrived in England. 

While at Dobbo I had frequent conversations with the Bugis traders 
and with the Rajah of Coram, who all assured me that in the northern 
partb of New Guinea I could travel with safety, and that at Mysol, 
Waigiou, Salwatty, and Dorey I could get all the different sorts of 
Paradiseae. Their accounts excited me so much that I could think of 
nothing else ; and after another excursion in Celebes I made my way 
to Ternate, as the best headquarters for the Moluccas and New Cuinea. 
Finding a schooner about to sail on its annual trading voyage to the 
north coast of New Cuinea, I agreed for a passage to Dorey, and to be 
called for on the return of the vessel after an interval of three or four 
months. We arrived there, after a tedious voyage, in April, 1858, and 
I began my second search after the birds of paradise. 

I went to Dorey in full confidence of success, and thought myself 
extremely fortunate in being able to visit that particular locality; for 
it was there that Lesson, in the French discovery ship Coquille, pur- 
chased from the natives the skins of at least eight species, viz., Para- 
disea papuana, with regia, magnifica, suberba, and sexsetacea, Astrapia 
nigra, Epimachus magnus, and Sericulusu aureus. Here was a prospect 
for me! The very anticipation of it made me thrill with expectation. 

My disappointment, therefore, may be imagined when, shortly after 
my arrival, I found all these bright hopes fade away. In vain I inquired 
for the native bird-hunters; none were to be found there; and the 
inhabitants assured me that not a single bird of paradise of any kind 
was ever prepared by the Dorey people, and that only the common 
yellow one (P. papuana) was found in the district. This turned out 
to be the case; for I could get nothing but this species sparingly, a 
few females of the king-bird and one young male of the twelve-wired 



bird of paradise, a species Lesson does not mention. Nevertheless, 
Lesson did undoubtedly obtain all the birds he names at Dorey; but 
the natives are great traders in a petty way, and are constantly making 
voyages along the coast and to the neighbouring islands, where they 
purchase birds of paradise and sell them again to the Bugis praus, 
Molucca traders, and whale-ships which annually visit Dorey harbour. 
Lesson must have been there a good time, when there happened to be 
an accumulation of bird-skins; I, at a bad one, for I could not buy a 
single rare bird all the time I was there. I also suffered much by the 
visit of a Dutch surveying steamer, which, for want of coals, lay in 
Dorey harbour for a month ; and during that time I got nothing from 
the natives, every specimen being taken on board the steamer, where 
the commonest birds and insects were bought at high prices. During 
this time two skins of the black paradise bird (Astrapia nigra) were 
brought by a Bugis trader and sold to an amateur ornithologist on 
board, and I never had another chance of getting a skin of this rare 
and beautiful bird. 

The Dorey people all agreed that Amerbaki, about one hundred miles 
west, was the place for birds of paradise, and that almost all the differ- 
ent sorts were to be found there. Determined to make an effort to 
secure them, I sent my two best men with ten natives and a large stock 
of goods to stay there a fortnight, with instructions to shoot and buy 
all they could. They returned, however, with absolutely nothing. They 
could not buy any skins but those of the common P. papuana, and could 
not find any birds but a single specimen of P. regia. They were assured 
that the birds all came from two or three days' journey in the interior, 
over several ridges of mountains, and were never seen near the coast. 
The coast people never go there themselves, nor do the mountaineers, 
who kill and preserve them, ever come to the coast, but sell them to the 
inhabitants of intermediate villages, where the coast people go to buy 
them. These sell them to the Dorey people, or any other native traders ; 
so that the specimens Lesson purchased had already passed through 
three or four hands. 

These disappointments, with a scarcity of food sometimes approach- 
ing starvation, and almost constant sickness both of myself and men, 
one of whom died of dysentery, made me heartily glad when the schooner 
returned and took me away from Dorey. I had gone there with the 
most brilliant hopes, which, I think, were fully justified by the facts 
known before my visit; and yet, as far as my special object (the birds 
of paradise) was concerned, I had accomplished next to nothing. 

My ardour for New Guinea voyages being now somewhat abated, 
for the next year and a half I occupied myself in the Moluccas; but in 
January, i860, being joined (when at Amboyna) by my assistant, Mr. 
Charles Allen, I arranged a plan for the further exploration of the 
country of the Paradiseas, by sending Mr. Allen to Mysol, while I 



myself, after making the circuit of the island of Ceram, was to visit 
him with stores and provisions and proceed to Waigiou, both returning 
independently to meet at Temate in the autumn. 

I had been assured by the Coram and Bugis traders that Mysol was 
the very best country for the birds of paradise, and that they were finer 
and more abundant there than anywhere else. For Waigiou I had, 
besides the authority of the native traders, that of Lesson also, who 
visited the north coast for a few days, and mentions seven species of 
paradise birds purchased there by him. 

These two promising expeditions turned out unfortunately in every 
respect. On reaching Coram, after much difficulty and delay, I found 
it impossible to make the voyage I had projected without a vessel of my 
own. I therefore purchased a sm.all native prau of about eight tons, and 
after spending a month in strengthening and fitting it up, and having 
with great difficulty secured a native crew, paid them half their wages 
in advance, and overcome all the difficulties and objections which every 
one of them made to starting when all was ready, we at length got 
away, and I congratulated myself on my favourable prospects. Touch- 
ing at Ceramlaut, the rendez^'ous of the New Cuinea traders, I invested 
all my spare cash in goods for barter wuth the natives, and then pro- 
ceeded towards Mysol. 

The ver\' next day, however, being obliged to anchor on the east 
coast of Ceram on account of bad weather, my crew all ran away during 
the night, leaving myself and my two Amboyna hunters to get on as we 
could. With great difficulty I procured other men to take us as far as 
W^ahai, on the north coast of Ceram, opposite to Mysoi, and there by a 
great chance succeeded in picking up a make-shift crew of four men 
willing to go with me to Mysol, Waigiou, and Ternate, I here found a 
letter from Mr. Allen, telling me he was much in want of rice and other 
necessaries, and was waiting my arrival to go to the north coast of 
Mysol, where alone the Paradiseae could be obtained. 

On attempting to cross the strait, sevent\' miles wide, between Ceram 
and Mysol, a strong east wind blew us out of our course, so that we 
passed to the westward of that island without any possibility of getting 
back to it. Mr. Allen, finding it impossible to live w^ithout rice, had to 
return to Wahai, much against his will, and there was kept two months 
waiting a supply from AmbojTia. When at length he was able to return 
to Mysol, he had only a fortnight at the best place on the north coast, 
when the last boat of the season left, and he was obliged to take his 
only chance of getting back to Ternate. 

Through this unfortunate series of accidents he was only able to 
get a single specimen of P. papuana, which is there finer than in most 
other places, a few of the Cicinnurus regius, and of P. magnifica only a 
native skin, though this beautiful little species is not rare in the island, 
and during a longer stay might easily have been obtained. 



My own voyage was beset with misfortunes. After passing Mysol, 
I lost two of my scanty crew on a little desert island, our anchor break- 
ing while they were on shore, and a powerful current carrying us rap- 
idly away. One of them was our pilot; and, without a chart or any 
knowledge of the coasts, we had to blunder our way short-handed 
among the rocks and reefs and innumerable islands which surround the 
rocky coasts of Waigiou. Our little vessel was five times on the rocks 
in the space of twenty-four hours, and a little more wind or sea would 
in several cases have caused our destruction. On at length reaching our 
resting-place on the south coast of Waigiou, I immediately sent a native 
boat after my lost sailors, which, however, returned in a week without 
them, owing to bad weather. Again they were induced to make the 
attempt, and this time returned with them in a very weak and c*naci- 
ated condition, as they had lived a month on a mere sand-bank, about a 
mile in diameter, subsisting on shell-fish and the succulent shoots of a 
wild plant. 

I now devoted myself to an investigation of the natural history of 
Waigiou, having great expectations raised by Lesson's account, who 
says that he purchased the three true Paradiseas, as well as P. magnifica 
and P. sexsetacea, with Epimachus magnus and Sericulus aureus, in 
the island, and also mentions several rare Psittaci as probably found 
there. I soon ascertained, however, from the universal testimony of 
the inhabitants, afterwards confirmed by my own observation, that none 
of these species exist on the island, except P. rubral, which is the sole 
representative of the two families, Paradiseidae and Epimachidae, and is 
strictly limited to this one spot. 

With more than the usual amount of difficulties, privations, and 
hunger, I succeeded in obtaining a good series of this beautiful and 
extraordinary bird ; and three months' assiduous collecting produced no 
other species at all worthy of attention. The parrots and pigeons were 
all of known species; and there was really nothing in the island to 
render it worth visiting by a naturalist, except the P. rubra, which can 
be obtained nowhere else. 

Our two expeditions to two almost unknown Papuan islands have 
thus added but one species to the Paradiseas which I had before ob- 
tained from Aru and Dorey. These voyages occupied us nearly a year ; 
for we parted company in Amboyna in February, and met again at 
Ternate in November, and it was not till the following January that 
we were either of us able to start again on a fresh voyage. 

At Waigiou I learned that the birds of paradise all came from three 
places on the north coast, between Salwatty and Dorey — Sorong, Maas, 
and Amberbaki. The latter I had tried unsuccessfully from Dorey; at 
Maas, the natives who procured the birds were said to live three days' 
journey in the interior, and to be cannibals; but at Sorong, which was 
near Salwatty, they were only about a day from the coast, and were less 



dangerous to visit. At Mysol Mr. Allen had received somewhat similar 
information; and we therefore resolved that he should make another 
attempt at Sorong, where we were assured all the sorts could be ob- 
tained. The whole of that country being under the jurisdiction of the 
Sultan of Tidore, I obtained, through the Dutch resident at Ternate, a 
Tidore lieutenant and two soldiers to accompany Mr. Allen as a pro- 
tection, and to facilitate his operations in getting men and visiting the 

Notwithstanding these precautions, Mr. Allen met with difficulties 
in this voyage which we had not encountered before. To understand 
these, it is necessary to consider that the birds of paradise are an 
article of commerce, and are the monopoly of the chiefs of the coast 
villages, who obtain them at a low rate from the mountaineers, and 
sell them to the Bugis traders. A portion of the skins is also paid every 
year as tribute to the Sultan of Tidore. The natives are therefore very 
jealous of a stranger, especially a European, interfering in their trade, 
and above all of his going into the interior to deal with the mountaineers 
themselves. They, of course, think he will raise the prices in the inte- 
rior, and lessen the demand on the coast, greatly to their disadvantage; 
they also think their tribute will be raised if a European takes back a 
quantity of the rare sorts ; and they have, besides, a vague and very 
natural dread of some ulterior object in a white man's coming at so 
much trouble and expense to their country only to get birds of para- 
dise, of which they know he can buy plenty at Ternate, Macassar, or 

It thus happened that when Mr. Allen arrived at Sorong and ex- 
plained his intentions of going to seek birds of paradise in the interior, 
innumerable objections were raised. He was told it was three or four 
days' journey over swamps and mountains; that the mountaineers were 
savages and cannibals, who would certainly kill him; and, lastly, that 
not a man in the village could be found who dare go with him. After 
some days spent in these discussions, as he still persisted in making the 
attempt, and showed them his authority from the Sultan of Tidore to 
go where he pleased and receive every assistance, they at length pro- 
vided him with a boat to go the first part of the journey up a river; at 
the same time, however, they sent private orders to the interior villages 
to refuse to sell any provisions, so as to compel him to return. On 
arriving at the village where they were to leave the river and strike 
inland, the coast people returned, leaving Mr. Allen to get on as he 
could. Here he called on the Tidore lieutenant to assist him, and 
procure men as guides and to carry his baggage to the villages of 
the mountaineers. This, however, was not so easily done; a quarrel 
took place, and the natives, refusing to obey the somewhat harsh 
orders of the lieutenant, got out their knives and spears to attack him 
and his soldiers, and Mr. Allen himself was obliged to interfere to 
protect those who had come to guard him. The respect due to a 



white man and the timely distribution of a few presents prevailed; 
and on showing the knives, hatchets, and beads he was willing to give 
to those who accompanied him, peace was restored, and the next day, 
travelling over a frightfully rugged country, they reached the villages 
of the mountaineers. Here Mr. Allen remained a month, without any 
interpreter through whom he could understand a word or communi- 
cate a want. However, by signs and presents and a pretty liberal 
barter, he got on very well, some of them accompanying him every 
day in the forest to shoot and receiving a small present when he was 

In the grand matter of the paradise birds, however, little was done. 
Only one additional species was found, the Seleucides alba (or twelve- 
wired bird of paradise), of which he had already obtained a specimen 
on the island of Salwatty on his way to Sorong; so that at this much- 
vaunted place in the mountains, and among the bird-catching natives, 
nothing fresh was obtained. The P. magnifica, they said, was found 
there, but was rare ; the Sericulus aureus also rare ; Epimachus magnus, 
Astrapia nigra, Parotia sexsetacea, and Lophorina superba not found 
there, but only much further in the interior, as well as the lovely little 
lory, Charmosyna papuana. Moreover, neither at Sorong nor at Sal- 
watty could he obtain a single native skin of the rarer species. 

Thus ended my search after these beautiful birds. Five voyages to 
different parts of the district they inhabit, each occupying in its prepa- 
ration and execution the larger part of a year, have produced me only 
five species out of the thirteen known to exist in New Guinea- The 
kinds obtained are those that inhabit the districts near the coasts of 
New Guinea and its islands, the remainder seeming to be strictly 
confined to the central mountain-ranges of the northern peninsula; 
and our reseaches at Dorey and Amberbaki, near one end of this 
peninsula, and at Salwatty and Sorong, near the other, enable me to 
decide with some certainty on the native country of these rare and 
lovely birds, good specimens of which have never yet been seen in 
Europe. It must be considered as somewhat extraordinary that during 
five years' residence and travel in Celebes, the Moluccas, and New 
Guinea, I should never have been able to purchase skins of half the 
species which Lesson, forty years ago, obtained during a few weeks 
in the same countries. I believe that all, except the common species 
of commerce, are now much more difficult to obtain than they were 
even twenty years ago ; and I impute it principally to their having 
been sought after by the Dutch officials through the Sultan of Tidore. 
The chiefs of the annual expeditions to collect tribute have had orders 
to get all the rare sorts of paradise birds; and as they pay little or 
nothing for them (it being sufficient to say they are for the Sultan), 
the head men of the coast villages would for the future refuse to pur- 
chase them from the mountaineers, and confine themselves instead to 
the commoner species> which are less sought after by amateurs, but 



are to them a profitable merchandise. The same causes frequently 
lead the inhabitants of uncivilized countries to conceal any minerals 
or other natural products with which they may become acquainted, 
from the fear of being obliged to pay increased tribute, or of bringing 
upon themselves a new and oppressive labour. 

I have given this short sketch of my search after the birds of para- 
dise, barely touching on the many difficulties and dangers I experi- 
enced, because I fear that the somewhat scanty results of my exertions 
may have led to the opinion that they failed for want of judgment or 
perseverance. I trust, however, that the mere enumeration of my 
voyages will show that patience and perseverance were not altogether 
wanting; but I must plead guilty to having been misled, first by Lesson 
and then by all the native traders, it never having occurred to me 
(and I think it could not have occurred to anyone) that in scarcely 
a single instance would the birds be found to inhabit the districts in 
which they are most frequently to be purchased. Yet such is the case ; 
for neither at Dorey, nor at Salwatty, nor Waigiou, nor Mysol are 
any of the rarer species to be found alive. Not only this, but even at 
Sorong, where the Waigiou chiefs go every year and purchase all 
kinds of birds of paradise, it has turned out that most of the speci- 
mens are brought from the central mountain ranges by the natives, 
and reach the shore in places where it is not safe for trading praus 
to go, owing to the want of anchorage on an exposed rocky coast. 

Nature seems to have taken every precaution that these, her choicest 
treasures, may not lose value by being too easily obtained. First, we 
find an open, harbourless, inhospitable coast, exposed to the full swell 
of the Pacific Ocean ; next, a rugged and mountainous country, covered 
with dense forests, offering its swamps and precipices and serrated 
ridges an almost impassable barrier to the central regions; and lastly, 
a race of the most savage and ruthless character, in the very lowest 
stage of civilization. In such a country and among such a people 
are found these wonderful productions of nature. In those trackless 
wilds do they display that exquisite beauty and that marvellous devel- 
opment of plumage, calculated to excite admiration and astonishment 
among the most civilized and most intellectual races of men. A 
feather is itself a wonderful and a beautiful thing. A bird clothed 
with feathers is almost necessarily a beautiful creature. How much, 
then, must we wonder at and admire the modification of simple 
feathers into the rigid, polished, wavy ribbons which adorn Paradisea 
rubra, the mass of airy plumes upon P. apoda, the tufts and wires of 
Seleucides alba, or the golden buds borne upon airy stems that spring 
from the tail of Cicinnurus regius ; while gems and polished metals 
can alone compare with the tints that adorn the breast of Parotia 
sexsetacea and Astrapia nigra, and the immensely developed shoulder- 
plumes of Epimachus magnus. 



My next work was to describe five new birds from New 
Guinea obtained by my assistant, Mr. Allen, during his last 
visit there, and also seven new species obtained during his 
visit to the north of Gilolo and Morty Island. I also de- 
scribed three new species of the beautiful genus Pitta, com- 
monly called ground-thrushes, but more nearly allied to the 
South American ant-thrushes (Formicariidae), or perhaps 
to the Australian lyre-birds. I also began a series of papers 
dealing with the birds of certain islands or groups of islands 
for the purpose of elucidating the geographical distribution 
of animals in the archipelago. The first of these was a list of 
the birds from the Sula or Xulla Islands, situated between 
Celebes and the Moluccas, but by their position seeming to 
belong more to the latter. I believe that not a single species 
of bird was known from these small islands, and I should 
probably not have thought them worth visiting had I not 
been assured by native traders that a very pretty little par- 
rot was found there and nowhere else. I therefore sent 
Mr. Allen there for two months, and he obtained a small but 
very interesting collection, consisting of forty-eight species of 
birds, of which seven were entirely new, including the little 
parrakeet which I named Loriculus sclateri, and which is one 
of the most beautiful of the genus. But the most interesting 
feature of the collection was that it proved indisputably that 
these islands, though nearer to Bouru and the Batchian group 
than to Celebes, really formed outlying portions of the latter 
island, since no less than twenty of the species were found 
also in Celebes and only ten in the Moluccas, while of the 
new species five were closely allied to Celebesian types, while 
only two were nearest to Moluccan species. This very curious 
and interesting result has led other naturalists to visit these 
islands as well as all the other small islands which cluster 
around the strangely formed large island. The result has 
been that considerable numbers of new species have been 
discovered, while the intimate connection of these islands with 
Celebes, so clearly shown by this first small collection, has 
been powerfully enforced. 



During the succeeding five years I continued the study of 
my collections, writing many papers, of which more than a 
dozen related to birds, some being of considerable length and 
involving months of continuous study. But I also wrote 
several on physical and zoological geography, six on various 
questions of anthropology, and five or six on special applica- 
tions of the theory of natural selection. I also began working 
at my insect collections, on which I wrote four rather elabor- 
ate papers. As several of these papers discussed matters of 
considerable interest and novelty, I will here give a brief 
summary of the more important of them in the order in which 
they were written. 

The first of these, read in January, 1863, at a meeting of 
the Zoological Society, was on my birds from Bouru, and was 
chiefly important as showing that this island was undoubtedly 
one of the Moluccan group, every bird found there which was 
not widely distributed being either identical with or closely 
allied to Moluccan species, while none had special affinities 
with Celebes. It was clear, then, that this island formed the 
most westerly outlier of the Moluccan group. 

My next paper of importance, read before the same society 
in the following November, was on the birds of the chain of 
islands extending from Lombok to the great island of Timor. 
I gave a list of one hundred and eighty-six species of birds, 
of which twenty-nine were altogether new; but the special 
importance of the paper was that it enabled me to mark out 
precisely the boundary line between the Indian and Australian 
zoological regions, and to trace the derivation of the rather 
peculiar fauna of these islands, partly from Australia and 
partly from the Moluccas, but with a strong recent migration 
of Javanese species due to the very narrow straits separating 
most of the islands from each other. The following table will 
serve to illustrate this : — 

Lombok. Floree. Timor. 

Species derived from Java 34 28 17 

Species derived from Australia 7 14 36 

This table shows how two streams of immigration have 



entered these islands, the one from Java diminishing in 
intensity as it passed on farther and farther to Timor; the 
other from Australia entering Timor and diminishing still 
more rapidly towards Lombok. This indicates, as its geologi- 
cal structure shows, that Timor is the older island and that 
it received immigrants from Australia at a period when, 
probably, Lombok and Flores had not come into existence 
or were uninhabitable. This is also indicated by the fact that 
the Australian immigrants have undergone greater modifica- 
tion than the Javan. If we compare the birds of the whole 
chain of islands according as they are of Javan or Australian 
origin, we have the following results: — 

Javan species 36 Australian species 13 

Javan allied species 11 Australian allied species. . 35 

47 48 

We thus see that while the proportion of the birds derived 
from each source is almost exactly equal, about three-fourths 
of those from Java have remained unchanged, while three- 
fourths of those from Australia have become so modified as 
to be very distinct species. This shows us how the distribu- 
tion of birds can, when carefully studied, give us information 
as to the past history of the earth. 

We can also feel confident that Timor has not been 
actually connected with Australia, because it has none of the 
peculiar Australian mammalia, and also because many of the 
commonest and most widespread groups of Australian birds 
are entirely wanting. And we are equally certain that Lom- 
bok and the islands further east have never been united to 
Bali and Java, because four Australian or papuan genera 
of parrots and cockatoos are found in them, but not in Java, 
as are several species of honeysuckers (Meliphagidae), a fam- 
ily of birds confined to the Australian region. On the other 
hand, a large number of genera which extend over the whole 
of the true Malay islands, from Sumatra to Java, never pass 
the narrow straits into Lombok. Among these are the long- 
tail parrakeets (Palseornis), the barbets (Megalsemidse), the 



weaver-birds (Ploceus), the ground starlings (Sturnopastor), 
several genera of woodpeckers, and an immense number of 
genera of flycatchers, tits, gapers, bulbuls, and other perching 
birds which abound everywhere in Borneo and Java. 

Two other papers dealt with the parrots and the pigeons 
of the whole archipelago, and are among the most important 
of my studies of geographical distribution. That on parrots 
was written in 1864, and read at a meeting of the Zoological 
Society in June. Although the Malay Archipelago as a 
whole is one of the richest countries in varied forms of the 
parrot tribe, that richness is almost wholly confined to its 
eastern or Australian portion, for while there are about 
seventy species between Celebes and the Solomon Islands, 
there are only five in the three large islands, Java, Borneo, and 
Sumatra, together with the Malay peninsula, while the Philip- 
pine Islands have twelve. This extreme richness of the 
Moluccas and New Guinea is also characteristic of the Pacific 
Islands and Australia, so that the Australian region, with its 
comparatively small area of land, contains nearly as many 
species of this tribe of birds as the rest of the globe and 
considerably more than the vast area of tropical America, the 
next richest of all the regions. 

No two groups of birds can well be more unlike in struc- 
ture, form, and habits than parrots and pigeons, yet we find 
that the main features of the distribution of the former, as 
just described, are found also, though in a less marked degree, 
in the latter. The Australian region by itself contains three- 
fourths as many pigeons as the whole of the rest of the globe ; 
tropical America, the next richest, having only about half 
the number ; while tropical Africa and Asia are as poor, com- 
paratively, in this group as they are in parrots. Turning 
now to our special subject, the Malay Archipelago, we find 
that it contains about one hundred and twenty species of 
pigeons, of which more than two-thirds (about ninety species) 
belong to the eastern or Austro-Malayan portion of it, which 
portion thus contains considerably more species, and much 
more varied forms and colours, than the whole of South 



America, Mexico, and the West Indies, forming the next 
richest area on the globe. 

But this is not the only feature in which the parrots and 
the pigeons resemble each other. Both have characteristic 
forms and colours, which prevail generally pver the whole 
world. In parrots this may be said to be green, varying into 
yellow, grey, red,- and more rarely blue, and, except for a 
lengthened tail, having rarely any special developments of 
plumage. In pigeons, soft ashy lilac or brown tints are char- 
acteristic of the whole group, often with metallic reflections; 
while soft greens, and sometimes metallic greens, occur in 
the forest regions of tropical Africa and Asia, but rarely 
anything approaching to crests or other developments of 

But as soon as we reach the Moluccas and New Guinea 
we find a new type of coloration appearing in both groups. 
Among the lories we find vivid red and crimson, sometimes 
with a remnant of green on the wings and tail, but often 
covering the whole plumage, varied with bands or patches 
of equally vivid blue or yellow, while the red sometimes 
deepens into a blackish purple. Among the cockatoos we 
have pure whites and deep black, with highly developed 
crests, often of great beauty, so that in these two families 
we seem to depart altogether from the usual parrot type of 

Still more remarkably is this the case with the pigeons. 
In the extensive genus of small irmt-pigeons(Ptilonopiis) 
the usual ground colour is a clear soft green, variegated by 
blue, purple, or yellow breasts, and crowns of equally brilliant 
colours. Besides these, we have larger fruit-pigeons almost 
wholly cream white, while the very large ground pigeons 
of New Guinea possess flat vertical crests, which are unique 
in this order of birds. The wonderfully brilliant golden green 
Nicobar pigeon is probably a native of the Austro-Malayan 
islands, and may have been carried westward by Malay 
traders, and have become naturalized on a few small 

These peculiarities of distribution and coloration in two 



such very diverse groups of birds interested me greatly, and 
I endeavoured to explain them in accordance with the laws 
of natural selection. In the paper on Pigeons (published 
in The Ibis of October, 1865) I suggest that the excessive 
development of both these groups in the Moluccas and 
the Papuan islands has been due primarily to the total ab- 
sence of arboreal, carnivorous, or egg-destroying mammals, 
especially of the whole monkey tribe, which in all other 
tropical forest regions are exceedingly abundant, and are 
very destructive to eggs and young birds. I also point out 
that there are here comparatively few other groups of fruit- 
eating birds like the extensive families of chatterers, tanagers 
and toucans of America, or the barbets, bulbuls, finches, 
starlings, and many other groups of India and Africa, while 
in all those countries monkeys, squirrels, and other arboreal 
mammals consume enormous quantities of fruits. It is clear, 
therefore, that in the Australian region, especially in the 
forest-clad portions of it, both parrots and pigeons have 
fewer enemies and fewer competitors for food than in other 
tropical regions, the result being that they have had freer 
scope for development in various directions leading to the 
production of forms and styles of colouring unknown else- 
where. It is also very suggestive that the only other country 
in which black pigeons and black parrots are found is Mada- 
gascar, an island where also there are neither monkeys nor 
squirrels, and where arboreal carnivora or fruit-eating birds 
are very scarce. The satisfactory solution of these curious 
facts of distribution gave me very great pleasure, and I am 
not aware that the conclusions I arrived at have been seriously 
objected to. 

Before I had written these two papers I had begun the 
study of my collections of butterflies, and in March, 1864, 
I read before the Linnaean Society a rather elaborate paper 
on " The Malayan Papilionidse, as illustrating the Theory of 
Natural Selection." This was published in the Society's 
Transactions, vol. xxv., and was illustrated by fine coloured 
plates drawn by Professor Westwood. I reprinted the intro- 


ductory portion of this paper in the first edition of my " Con- 
tributions to the Theory of Natural Selection " in 1870, but 
in later editions it was omitted, as being rather too technical 
for general readers, and not easily followed without the 
coloured plates. I will therefore give a short outline of its 
purport here. 

I may state for the information of non-entomological 
readers that the Papilionidse form one of the most extensive 
families of butterflies, and from their large size, elegant forms 
and splendid colours were considered by all the older 
writers to be the princes of the whole lepidopterous order. 
They are usually known by the English term " Swallow- 
tailed butterflies," because the only British species, as well as 
a great many of the tropical forms, have the hind wings 
tailed. They are pretty uniformly distributed over all the 
warmer regions, but are especially abundant in the tropical 
forests, of which they form one of the greatest ornaments. 
In coloration they are wonderfully varied. The ground 
colour is very frequently black, on which appear bands, spots, 
or large patches of brilliant colours — pale or golden yellow, 
rich crimsons or gorgeous metallic blues and greens, which 
colours sometimes spread over nearly the whole wing surface. 
Some are thickly speckled with golden green dots and 
adorned with large patches of intense metallic green or azure 
blue, others are simply black and white in a great variety 
of patterns, many very striking and beautiful, while others 
again have crimson or golden patches, which when viewed at 
certain angles change to quite different opalescent hues, unsur- 
passed by the rarest gems. 

But it is not this grand development of size and colour 
that constitutes the attraction of these insects to the student 
of evolution, but the fact that they exhibit, in a remarkable 
degree, almost every kind of variation, as well as some of the 
most beautiful examples of polymorphism and of mimicry. 
Besides these features, the family presents us with examples of 
diflPerences of size, form, and colour, characteristic of certain 
localities, which are among the most singular and mysterious 
phenomena known to naturalists. A short statement of the 



nature of these phenomena will be useful to show the great 
interest of the subject. 

In all parts of the world there are certain insects which, 
from a disagreeable smell or taste, are rarely attacked or 
devoured by enemies. Such groups are said to be " protected/' 
and they almost always have distinctive and conspicuous 
colours. In the Malay Archipelago there are several groups 
of butterflies which have this kind of protection ; and one 
group is colored black, with rich blue glosses and ornamented 
with white bands or spots. These are excessively abundant, 
and, having few enemies, they fly slowly. Now there are 
also several different kinds of papilios, which in colour are 
so exactly like these, that when on the wing they cannot be 
distinguished, although they frequent the same places and 
are often found intermingled. Other protected butterflies are 
of paler colours with dark stripes, and these are also closely 
imitated by other papilios. Altogether there are about fifteen 
species which thus closely resemble protected butterflies 
externally, although in structure and transformations they 
have no affinity with them. In some cases both sexes possess 
this resemblance, or " mimicry," as it is termed, but most fre» 
quently it is the female only that is thus modified, especially 
when she lays her eggs on low growing plants ; while the 
male, whose flight is stronger and can take care of himself, 
does not possess it, and is often so different from his mate as 
to have been considered a distinct species. 

This leads us to the phenomenon of dimorphism and 
polymorphism, in which the females of one species present 
two or three different forms. Several such cases occur in the 
Malay Archipelago, in which there are two distinct kinds of 
females, sometimes even three, to a single male, which differs 
from either of them. In one case four females are known to 
one male, though only two of them appear to occur in one 
locality. These have been almost always described as dis- 
tinct species, but observation has now proved them to be 
one, and it has further been noticed that each of the females, 
which are very unlike the male, resembles more or less 
closely some " protected " species. It has also been proved 


by experimental breeding that eggs laid by any one of these 
females are capable of producing butterflies of all the different 
forms which in the few cases recorded are quite distinct 
from each other, without intermediate gradations. 

The local diversities of form are illustrated by outline 
figures (as regards two species of papilio from Celebes) in 
my "Malay Archipelago" (p. 216), and similar local pecu- 
liarities of colour, both in papilio and other groups, are 
described in my " Natural Selection and Tropical Nature " 
(pp. 384, 385), while extraordinary development of size in 
Amboyna is referred to at p. 307 of my Malay Archi- 

This brief outline of the paper will, perhaps, enable my 
readers to understand the intense interest I felt in working 
out all these strange phenomena, and showing how they 
could almost all be explained by that law of " Natural Selec- 
tion " which Darwin had discovered many years before, and 
which I had also been so fortunate as to hit upon. 

The only other groups of insects upon which I did any 
systematic work were the families of Pieridae among butter- 
flies and Cetoniidae among beetles. Of the former family, 
which contains our common whites, our brimstone and orange 
tip butterflies, I gave a list of all known from the Indian and 
Australian regions, describing fifty new species, mostly from 
my own collection. This paper is in the " Transactions of 
the Entomological Society for 1867," and is illustrated by four 
coloured plates. The other paper, which is contained in the 
same volume, is a catalogue of the Cetoniidae (or Rose- 
chafers, named after our common species) of the Malay 
Archipelago, in which I described seventy new species, the 
majority of which were collected by myself, and it is illus- 
trated by four coloured plates, beautifully executed by the 
late Mr. E. W. Robinson, in which thirty-two of the species 
are figured. These two papers, filling about 200 pp. of the 
society's Transactions, occupied me for several months, 
and if I had not had wider and more varied interests — 
evolution, distribution, physical geography, anthropology, 
the glacial period, geological time, sociology, and several 



others — I might have spent the rest of my Hfe upon similar 
work, for which my own collection afforded ample materials, 
and thus settled down into a regular " species-monger." For 
even in this humble occupation there is a great fascination; 
constant difficulties are encountered in unravelling the mis- 
takes of previous describers who have had imperfect materials, 
while the detection of those minute differences, which often 
serve to distinguish allied species, and the many curious modi- 
fications of structure which characterize genera or their sub- 
divisions, become intensely interesting, especially when, after 
weeks of study, a whole series of specimens, which seemed at 
first hardly distinguishable, are gradually separated into well- 
defined species, and order arises out of chaos. 

The series of papers on birds and insects now described, 
together with others on the physical geography of the archi- 
pelago and its various races of man, furnished me with the 
necessary materials for that general sketch of the natural 
history of the islands and of the various interesting problems 
which arise from its study, which has made my " Malay 
Archipelago " the most popular of my books. At the same 
time it opened up so many fields of research as to render me 
indisposed for further technical work in the mere description 
of my collections, which I should certainly never have been 
able to complete. I therefore now began to dispose of 
various portions of my insects to students of special groups, 
who undertook to publish lists of them with descriptions of 
the new species, reserving for myself only a few boxes of 
duplicates to serve as mementoes of the exquisite or fantastic 
organisms which I had procured during my eight years' wan- 

In order that my scientific friends might be able to see the 
chief treasures which I had brought home, I displayed a 
series of the rarest and most beautiful of my birds and butter- 
flies in Mr. Sims's large photographic gallery in the same 
manner as I had found so eft'ective with my New Guinea 
collections at Ternate. The entire series of my parrots, 
pigeons, and paradise birds, when laid out on long tables 
covered with white paper, formed a display of brilliant 



colours, strange forms, and exquisite texture that could hardly 
be surpassed ; and when to these were added the most curious 
and beautiful among the warblers, flycatchers, drongos, star- 
lings, gapers, ground thrushes, woodpeckers, barbets, cuckoos, 
trogons, kingfishers, hornbills, and pheasants, the general 
effect of the whole, and the impression it gave of the 
inexhaustible variety and beauty of nature in her richest 
treasure houses, was far superior to that of any collection of 
stuffed and mounted birds I have ever seen. 

This mode of exhibiting bird skins is especially suitable 
for artificial light, and I believe that if a portion of the 
enormous wealth of the national collection in unmounted 
bird skins were used for evening display in the public gal- 
leries, it would be exceedingly attractive. Different regions or 
subregions might be illustrated by showing specimens of all 
the most distinct and remarkable species that characterize 
them, and each month during the winter a fresh series might 
be shown, and thus all parts of the world in turn represented. 
And in the case of insects the permanent series shown in the 
public galleries might be thus arranged, those of each region or 
of the well-marked subregions being kept quite separate. This 
would be not only more instructive, but very much more inter- 
esting, because such large numbers of persons have now visited 
or resided in various foreign countries, and a still larger num- 
ber have friends or relatives living abroad, and all these would 
be especially interested in seeing the butterflies, beetles, and 
birds which are found there. In this way it would be pos- 
sible to supply the great want in all public museums — a geo- 
graphical rather than a purely systematic arrangement for the 
bulk of the collections exhibited to the public. The syste- 
matic portion so exhibited might be limited to the most dis- 
tinctive types of organization, and these might be given in a 
moderate sized room. 

Having thus prepared the way by these preliminary studies, 
I devoted the larger portion of my time in the years 1867 and 
1868 to writing my "Malay Archipelago." I had previously 
read what works I could procure on the islands, and had 



made numerous extracts from the old voyagers on the parts 
I myself was acquainted with. These added much to the 
interest of my own accounts of the manners and character 
of the people, and by means of a tolerably full journal and 
the various papers I had written, I had no difficulty in going 
steadily on with my work. As my publishers wished the 
book to be well illustrated, I had to spend a good deal of 
time in deciding on the plates and getting them drawn, either 
from my own sketches, from photographs, or from actual 
specimens, and having obtained the services of the best artists 
and wood engravers then in London, the result was, on the 
whole, satisfactory. I would particularly indicate the front- 
ispiece by Wolf as a most artistic and spirited picture, while 
the two plates of beetles by Robinson, the " twelve-wired " 
and " king " birds of paradise by Keulemaus, and the head of 
the black cockatoo by Wood, are admirable specimens of life- 
like drawing and fine wood engraving. I was especially 
indebted to Mr. T. Baines, the well-known African traveller, 
and the first artist to depict the Victoria Falls and numerous 
scenes of Kaffir life, for the skill with which he has infused 
life and movement into an outline sketch of my own, of 
" Dobbo in the Trading Season." 

The book was published in 1869, but during its progress, 
and while it was slowly passing through the press, I wrote 
several important papers, among which was one in the 
Quarterly Review for April, 1889, on "Geological Climates 
and the Origin of Species," which was in large part a review 
and eulogy of Sir Charles Lyell's great work, " The Principles 
of Geology," which greatly pleased him as well as Darwin. 
A considerable part of this article was devoted to a discussion 
of Mr. Croll's explanation of the glacial epoch, and, by a 
combination of his views with those of Lyell on the great 
effect of changed distribution of sea and land, or of differences 
in altitude, I showed how we might arrive at a better explana- 
tion than either view by itself could give us. As the article 
was too long, a good deal of it had to be cut out, but it served 
as the foundation for my more detailed examination of the 



whole question when writing my " Island Life/' twelve years 

As soon as the proofs of the " Malay Archipelago " were 
out of my hands, I began the preparation of a small volume 
of my scattered articles dealing with various aspects of the 
theory of Natural Selection. Many of these had appeared 
in little known periodicals, and were now carefully revised, 
or partially rewritten, while two new ones were added. The 
longest article, occupying nearly a quarter of the volume, 
was one which I had written in 1865-6, but which was not 
published (in the Westminster Review) till July, 1867, and 
was entitled " Mimicry, and other Protective Resemblances 
among Animals." In this article I endeavoured to give a 
general account of the whole subject of protective resemblance, 
of which theory, what was termed by Bates " mimicry," is a 
very curious special case. I called attention to the wide 
extent of the phenomenon, and showed that it pervades animal 
life from mammals to fishes and through every grade of the 
insect tribes. I pointed out that the whole series of phe- 
nomena depend upon the great principle of the utility of every 
character, upon the need of protection or of concealment by 
almost all animals, and upon the known fact that no character- 
istic is so variable as colour, and that therefore concealment 
has been most easily obtained by colour modification. 

Coming to the subject of "mimicry" I gave a popular 
acccount of its principle, with numerous illustrations of its 
existence in all the chief groups of insects, not only in the 
tropics, but even in our own country. I also showed, I think 
for the first time, that it occurs among birds in a few well- 
marked cases, and also in at least one instance among mam- 
malia, and I explained why we could not expect it to occur 
more frequently among these higher animals. 

Two other articles which may be just mentioned are those 
entitled "A Theory of Birds' Nests," and "The Limits of 
Natural Selection applied to Man." In the first I pointed 
out the important relation that exists between concealed 
nests and the bright colours of female birds, leading to con- 
clusions adverse to Mr. Darwin's theory of colours and orna- 



ments in the males being the result of female choice. In 
the other (the last in the volume) I apply Darwin's principle 
of natural selection, acting solely by means of " utilities," to 
show that certain physical modifications and mental faculties 
in man could not have been acquired through the preservation 
of useful variations, because there is some direct evidence to 
show that they zcere not and are not useful in the ordinary 
sense, or, as Professor Lloyd Morgan well puts it, not of 
" life-preserving value," while there is absolutely no evidence 
to show that they were so. In reply, Darwin has appealed 
to the effects of female choice in developing these character- 
istics, of which, however, not a particle of evidence is to be 
found among existing savage races. 

Besides the literary and scientific work now described, in 
the last three years of the period now dealt with I contributed 
about twenty letters or short papers to various periodicals, 
delivered several lectures, and reviewed a dozen books, in- 
cluding such important works as Darwin's " Descent of Man," 
and Galton's " Hereditary Genius." I also gave a Presidential 
Address to the Entomological Society in January, 1871, in 
which I discussed the interesting problems arising from the 
peculiarities of insular insects as especially illustrated by the 
beetles of Madeira. 

As it was during the ten years of which I have now 
sketched my scientific and literary work that I saw most of 
my various scientific friends and acquaintances, and it was 
also in this period that the course of my future life and work 
was mainly determined, I will devote the next five chapters 
to a short summary of my more personal affairs, together 
with a few recollections of those friends with whom I became 
most familiar. 



Soon after my return home in the spring of 1862 my oldest 
friend and schoolfellow, Mr. George Silk, introduced me to a 
small circle of his friends, who had formed a private chess 
club, and thereafter, while I lived in the vicinity of Kensing- 
ton, I was invited to attend the meetings of the club. One 

of these friends was a Mr." L , a widower with two 

daughters, and a son who was at Cambndge University. I 
sometimes went there with Silk on Sunday afternoons, and 
after a few months was asked to call on them whenever I 

liked in the evening to play a game with Mr. L . On 

these occasions the young ladies were present, and we had 
tea or supper together, and soon became very friendly. The 

eldest Miss L was, I think, about seven or eight and 

twenty, very agreeable though quiet, pleasant looking, well 
educated, and fond of art and literature, and I soon began to 
feel an affection for her, and to hope that she would become 
my wife. In about a year after my first visit there, thinking 
I was then sufficiently known, and being too shy to make a 
verbal offer, I wrote to her, describing my feelings and asking 
if she could in any way respond to my aflfection. Her reply 
was a negative, but not a very decided one. Evidently my 
undemonstrative manner had given her no intimation of my 
intentions. She concluded her letter, which was a very kind 
one, by begging that I would not allow her refusal to break 
off my visits to her father. 

At first I was inclined not to go again, but on showing 
the letter to my sister and mother, they thought the young 
lady was favourably disposed, and that I had better go on 



as before, and make another offer later on. Another year 
passed, and thinking I saw signs of a change in her feelings 
towards me, but fearing another refusal, I wrote to her father, 
stating the whole circumstances, and asking him to ascertain 
his daughter's wishes, and if she was now favourable, to grant 
me a private interview. In reply I was asked to call on 

Mr. L , who inquired as to my means, etc., told me that 

his daughter had a small income of her own, and asked that I 
should settle an equal amount on her. This was satisfactorily 
arranged, and at a subsequent meeting we were engaged. 

Everything went on smoothly for some months. We met 
two or three times a week, and after delays, owing to Miss 

L 's ill-health and other causes, the wedding day was fixed 

and all details arranged. I had brought her to visit my 
mother and sister, and I was quite unaware of any cause of 
doubt or uncertainty when one day, on making my usual call, 

I was informed by the servant that Miss L was not at 

home, that she had gone away that morning, and would write. 
I came home completely staggered, and the next morning 

had a letter from Mr. L , saying that his daughter wished 

to break off the engagement and would write to me shortly. 
The blow was verv^ severe, and I have never in my life 
experienced such intenrely painful emotion. 

When the letter came I was hardly more enlightened. 
The alleged cause was that I was silent as to myself and 
family, that I seemed to have something to conceal, and that 
I had told her nothing about a widow lady, a friend of my 
mother's, that I had almost been engaged to. All this was 
to me the wildest delusion. The lady was the widow of an 
Indian officer, very pleasant and good-natured, and wery 
gossipy, but as utterly remote in my mind from all ideas of 
marriage as would have been an aunt or a grandmother. As 
to concealment, it was the furthest thing possible from my 
thoughts, but it never occurs to me at any time to talk about 
myself, even my own children say that they know nothing 
about my early life; but if anyone asks me and wishes to 
know, I am willing to tell all that I know or remember. I 
was dreadfully hurt. I wrote I am afraid too strongly, and 



perhaps bitterly, trying to explain my real feelings towards 
her, and assuring her that I had never had a moment's thought 
of anyone but her, and hoping this explanation would suf- 
fice. But I received no reply, and from that day I never saw, 
or heard of, any of the family. 

While these events were in progress, my dear friend, Dr. 
Richard Spruce, came home from Peru in very weak health, 
and after staying a short time in London, went to live at 
Hurstpierpoint, in Sussex, in order to be near Mr. William 
Mitten, then the greatest English authority on mosses, and 
who had undertaken to describe his great collections from 
South America. This was in the autumn of 1864, and in the 
spring of 1865 I took a small house for myself and my 
mother, in St. Mark's Crescent, Regent Part, quite near the 
Zoological Gardens, and within a pleasant walk across the 
park of the society's library in Hanover Square, where I had 
to go very often to consult books of reference. Here I lived 
five years, having Dr. W. B. Carpenter for a near neighbour, 
and it was while living in this house that I saw most of my 
few scientific friends. 

During the summer and autumn I often went to Hurst- 
pierpoint to enjoy the society of my friend, and thus became 
intimate with Mr. Mitten and his family. Mr. Mitten was 
an enthusiastic botanist and gardener, and knew every wild 
plant in the very rich district which s,urrounds the village, 
and all his family were lovers of wild flowers. I remember 
my delight, on the occasion of my first or second visit there, 
at seeing a vase full of the delicate and fantastic flowers of 
the large butterfly-orchis and the curious fly-orchis, neither 
of which I had ever seen before, and which I was surprised 
to hear were abundant in the woods at the foot of the downs. 
It was an immense delight to me to be taken to these woods, 
and to some fields on the downs where the bee-orchis and 
half a dozen other species grew abundantly, with giant cow- 
slips nearly two feet high, the dyers' broom, and many other 
interesting plants. The richness of this district may be 
judged by the fact that within a walk more than twenty 



species of orchises have been found. This similarity of taste 
led to a close intimacy, and in the spring of the following 
year I was married to Mr. Mitten's eldest daughter, then 
about eighteen years old. 

After a week at Windsor we came to live in London, and 
in early autumn went for a month to North Wales, staying 
at Llanberris and Dolgelly. I took with me Sir Andrew 
Ramsay's little book on " The Old Glaciers of Switzerland 
and North Wales," and thoroughly enjoyed the fine examples 
of ice-groovings and striations, smoothed rock-surfaces, roches 
moutonnees, moraines, perched blocks, and rock-basins, with 
which the valleys around Snowdon abound. Every day 
revealed some fresh object of interest as we climbed among 
the higher cwms of Snowdon ; and from what I saw during 
the first visit the Ice Age became almost as much a reality 
to me as any fact of direct observation. Every future tour 
to Scotland, to the lake district, or to Switzerland became 
doubled in interest. I read a good deal of the literature of 
the subject, and have, I believe, in my later writings been 
able to set forth th-e evidence in favour of the glacial origin 
of lake-basins more forcibly than it has ever been done 
before. As a result of my observations I wrote my first 
article on the subject, " Ice-marks in North Wales," which 
appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Science of January, 
1867. In this paper I gave a sketch of the more important 
phenomena, which were then by no means so well known as 
they are now ; and I also gave reasons for doubting the 
conclusions of Mr. Macintosh in the Journal of the Geological 
Society, that most of the valleys and rocky cwms of North 
Wales had been formed by the action of the sea. I also 
gave, I think for the first time, a detailed explanation of 
how glaciers can have formed lake-basins, by grinding due 
to unequal pressure, not by " scooping out," as usually sup- 

In 1867 I spent the month of June in Switzerland with 
my wife, staying at Champery, opposite the beautiful Dent 
du Midi, where at first we were the only visitors in a huge 
new hotel, but for the second week had the company of an 



English clergyman, his wife, and son. We greatly enjoyed 
the beautiful subalpine flowers then in perfection, and one 
day I went with the clergyman and his son, a boy of about 
thirteen, to see how far we could get on the way to the great 
mountain's summit. On the alp above the pine forest we 
had our lunch at a cow-herd's hut, with a large jug of cream, 
and then got the man to act as guide. He took us over a 
ravine filled with snow, and then up a zigzag path among 
the rocks along a mauvais pas, where an iron bar was fixed 
on the face of a precipice, and then up to an ice-smoothed 
plateau of limestone rock, still partly snow-clad, all the 
crevices of which were full of alpine flowers. I was just 
beginning to gather specimens of these and thought to enjoy 
an hour's botanizing when our guide warned us that a snow- 
storm was coming, and we must return directly, and the 
black clouds and a few snowflakes made us only too willing 
to follow him. We got back safely, but I have always 
regretted that hasty peep of the alpine rock-flora at a time 
of year when I never afterwards had an opportunity of see- 
ing it. 

We then went by Martigny over the St. Bernard, reaching 
the hospice after dark through deep snow, and next day 
walked down to Aosta, a place which had been recommended 
to me by Mr. William Mathews, a well-known Alpine 
climber. It was a very hot place, and its chief interest to us 
was an excursion on mules to the Becca de Nona, which took 
us a long day, going up by the easiest and descending the 
most precipitous road — the latter a mere staircase of rock. 
The last thousand feet I walked up alone, and was highly 
delighted with the summit and the wonderful scene of frac- 
tured rocks, ridges, and peaks all around, but more especially 
with the summit itself, hardly so large as that of Snowdon 
and exhibiting far grander precipices and rock-masses, all in 
a state of visible degradation, and showing how powerfully 
the atmospheric forces of denudation are in constant action 
at this altitude — 10,380 feet. Hardly less interesting were the 
charming little alpine plants in the patches of turf and the 
crevices in the rocks, among which were two species of the 



exquisite Androsaces, the true gems of the primrose tribe. 
I also one day took a lonely walk up a wild valley which 
terminated in the glacier that descends from Mount Emilius; 
and on another day we drove up the main valley to Villeneuve, 
and then walked up a little way into the Val Savaranches. 
This is one of those large open valleys which have been the 
outlet of a great glacier, and in which the subglacial torrent 
has cut a deep narrow chasm through hard rocks at its ter- 
mination, through which the river now empties itself into the 
main stream of the Dora Baltea. This was the first of the 
kind I had specially noticed, though I had seen the Gorge 
of the Trient on my first visit to Switzerland at a time when 
I had barely heard of the glacial epoch. 

Returning over the St. Bernard we went to Interlachen 
and Grindelwald, saw the glaciers there, and then went over 
the Wengern Alp, staying two days at the hotel to see the 
avalanches and botanize among the pastures and moraines. 
Then down to Lauterbrunnen to see the Staubbach, and 
thence home. 

As I had found that amid the distractions and excitement 
of London, its scientific meetings, dinner parties and sight- 
seeing, I could not settle down to work at the more scientific 
chapters of my " Malay Archipelago," I let my house in 
London for a year, from midsummer, 1867, and went to live 
with my wife's family at Hurstpierpoint. There, in perfect 
quiet, and with beautiful fields and downs around me, I was 
able to work steadily, having all my materials already 
prepared. Returning to London in the summer of 1868, 
I was fully occupied in arranging for the illustrations and 
correcting the proofs. The work appeared at the end of the 
year, and my volume on " Natural Selection " in the following 

I may here state that although the proceeds of my eight 
years collecting in the East brought me in a sufficient income 
to live quietly as a single man, I was always on the lookout 
for some permanent congenial employment which would yet 
leave time for the study of my collections. The possibility 



of ever earning anything substantial either by lecturing or 
by writing never occurred to me. My deficient organ of 
language prevented me from ever becoming a good lecturer 
or having any taste for it, while the experience of my first 
work on " The Amazon " did not encourage me to think that 
I could write anything that would much more than pay 
expenses. The first vacancy that occurred was the assistant 
secretaryship of the Royal Geographical Society, for which 
Bates and myself were candidates. Bates had just published 
his " Naturalist on the Amazon," and was, besides, much 
better qualified than myself by his business experience and 
his knowledge of German, which he had taught himself when 
abroad. Besides, the confinement and the London life 
would, I am sure, have soon become uncongenial to me and 
would, I feel equally certain, have greatly shortened my life. 
I am therefore glad I did not get it, and I do not think I felt 
any disappointment at the time; and as it brought Bates to 
live in London, I was able to see him frequently in his private 
room and occasionally at his home, and talk over old times or 
of scientific matters that interested us both, while we fre- 
quently met at the Entomological or other societies' evening 
meetings. This was in 1864, I was too busy with my de- 
scriptive work and writings to think much more on the sub- 
ject till 1869, when it was decided by the Government to 
establish a branch museum in Bethnal Green which should 
combine art and natural history for the instruction of the 
people. I thought this would suit me very well if I could get 
the directorship. Lord Ripon, then Lord President of the 
Council, was a friend of Sir Charles Lyell, and after an inter- 
view with him he promised to help me with the Government, 
while Huxley (I think) introduced me to Sir Henry Cole, 
then head of the Science and Art Department at South Ken- 
sington. I also had the kind assistance of several other 
friends, but though the museum was built and opened, I think, 
in 1872, it was managed from South Kensington and no special 
director was required. Partly because (in my inexperience of 
such matters) I felt rather confident of getting this appoint- 
ment, and also because I was becoming tired of London, and 



wished for a country life, I took a small house at Barking in 
1870, and in 1871 leased four acres of ground at Grays, 
including a very picturesque well timbered old chalk-pit, 
above which I built a house having a very fine view across 
to the hills of North Kent and down a reach of the Thames 
to Gravesend. 

Seven years later, in 1878, when Epping Forest had been 
acquired by the Corporation of London, a superintendent 
was to be appointed to see to its protection and improvement 
while preserving its " natural aspect " in accordance with the 
Act of Parliament which restored it to the public. This 
position would have suited me exactly, and if I had obtained 
it and had been allowed to utilize the large extent of open 
unwooded land in the way I suggested in my article in the 
Fortnightly Reznew (''Epping Forest, and how best to deal 
with it"), an experiment in illustration of the geographical 
distribution of plants would have been made which would 
have been both unique and educational, as well as generally 
interesting. I obtained recommendations and testimonials 
from the presidents of all the natural history societies in 
London, from numerous residents near the forest and in 
London, from many eminent men and members of Parlia- 
ment — seventy in all; but the City merchants and tradesmen 
with whom the appointment lay wanted a " practical man " 
to carry out their own ideas, which were to utilize all the 
open spaces for games and sports, to build a large hotel 
close to Queen Elizabeth's hunting lodge, and to encourage 
excursions and school treats, allowing swings, round-abouts, 
and other such amusements more suited to a beer-garden or 
village fair than to a tract of land secured at enormous cost 
and much hardship to individuals in order to preserve an 
example of the wild natural woodland wastes of our country 
for the enjoyment and instruction of successive generations of 

I still think it is much to be regretted that no effort is 
made to carry out my suggestion in the article above referred 
to (reprinted in my " Studies," vol. ii., under the title, " Epping 
Forest and Temperate Forest Regions "). There still remains 



in the open moors and bare wastes, forming outlying parts 
of the New Forest, ample space on which to try the experi- 
ment, and at all events to extend the forest character of the 

My failure to obtain the post at Epping Forest was certainly 
a disappointment to me, but I am inclined to think now that 
even that was really for the best, since it left me free to do 
literary work which I should certainly not have done if I had 
had permanent employment so engrossing and interesting as 
that at Epping. In that case I should not have gone to lecture 
in America, and should not have written " Darwinism," per- 
haps none of my later books, and very few of the articles 
contained in my " Studies." This body of literary and popu- 
lar scientific work is, perhaps, what I was best fitted to per- 
form, and if so, neither I nor my readers have any reason to 
regret my failure to obtain the post of superintendent and 
guardian of Epping Forest. 

Among the eminent men of science with whom I became 
more or less intimate during the period of my residence in 
London, I give the first place to Sir Charles Lyell, not only 
on account of his great abilities and his position as one 
of the brightest ornaments of the nineteenth century, but 
because I saw more of him than of any other man at all 
approaching him as a thinker and leader in the world of 
science, while my correspondence with him was more varied 
in the subjects touched upon, and in some respects of more 
general interest, than my more extensive correspondence with 
Darwin. My friend. Sir Leonard Lyell, has kindly lent me 
a volume containing the letters from his scientific corre- 
spondence which have been preserved, and I am therefore 
able to see what subjects I wrote about, and to give such 
portions of the letters as seem to be of general interest. 

Early in 1864 Sir Charles was preparing his presidential 
address for the meeting of the British Association at Bath, 
and wishing to introduce a paragraph as to the division of 
the Malay Archipelago into two regions, and the relation of 
this division to the races of man, and also as to the probable 



rate of change of insects, he asked me for a short statement 
of my conclusions on these subjects. On the latter point I 
wrote : — 

" As regards insects changing rapidly, I see nothing 
improbable in it, because, though in a totally different way, 
they are as highly specialized as are birds or mammals, and, 
through the transformations they undergo, have still more 
complicated relations with the organic and inorganic worlds. 
For instance, they are subject to different kinds of danger 
in their larva, pupa, and imago state ; they have different 
enemies and special means of protection in each of these 
states, and changes of climate may probably affect them 
differently in each state. We may therefore expect very 
slight changes in the proportions of other animals, in physical 
geography, or in climate, to produce an immediate change in 
their numbers, and often in their organization. The fact that 
they do change rapidly is, I think, shown by the large number 
of peculiar species of insects in Madeira as compared with 
the birds and plants; the same thing occurs in Corsica, where 
there are many peculiar species of insects ; also, we see the 
very limited range of many insects as found by Bates and 
myself. Again, your rule of the slow change of mollusca 
applies to aquatic species only. The land-shells, I presume, 
change much more rapidly; or why are almost every species 
in Madeira and in each of the West Indian islands peculiar? 
Being terrestrial, they are affected as insects are by physical 
changes, and more still by organic changes. Such changes 
are certainly much slower in the sea." 

Later on, in May, after reading my article on " The Races 
of Man and Natural Selection," which Darwin thought so 
highly of, though at the same time he was quite distressed 
at my conclusion that natural selection could not have done 
it all. Sir Charles objected (May 22, 1864) — very naturally 
for a geologist, and for one who had so recently become a 
convert to Darwin's views — that my suggestion of man's pos- 
sible origination, so early as the Miocene, was due to my 
" want of appreciation of the immensity of time at our disposal, 
without going back beyond the Newer Pliocene." 



To this objection I replied (May 24) as follows: "With 
regard to the probable antiquity of man, I will say a few 
words. First, you will see, I argue for the possibility rather 
than for the necessity of man having existed in Miocene 
times, and I still maintain this possibility, and even prob- 
ability, for the following reasons. The question of time 
cannot be judged of positively, but only comparatively. We 
cannot say d priori that ten millions or a thousand millions 
of years would be required for any given modification in man. 
We must judge only by analogy, and by a comparison with 
the rate of change of other highly organized animals. Now 
several existing genera lived in the Miocene age, and also 
anthropoid apes allied to Hylobates. But man is classed, 
even by Huxley, as a distinct family. The origin of that 
family, that is its common origin with other families of the 
Primates, must therefore date back from an earlier period 
than the Miocene. Now the greater part of the family differ- 
ence is manifested in the head and cranium. A being almost 
exactly like man in the rest of the skeleton, but with a cranium 
as little developed as that of a chimpanzee, would certainly 
not form a distinct family, only a distinct genus of Primates. 
My argument, therefore, is that this great cranial difference 
has been slowly developing, while the rest of the skeleton has 
remained nearly stationary; and while the Miocene Dryo- 
pithecus has been modified into the existing gorilla, speechless 
and ape-brained man (but yet man) has been developed into 
great-brained, speech-forming man. 

The majority of Pliocene mammals, on the other hand, 
are, I believe, of existing genera, and as my whole argument 
is to show how man has undergone a more than generic 
change in brain and cranium, while the rest of his body has 
hardly changed specifically, I cannot consistently admit that 
all this change has been brought about in a less period than 
has sufficed to change most other mammals generically, except 
by assuming that in his case the change has been more rapid, 
which may, indeed, have been so, but which we have no 
evidence yet to prove. I conceive, therefore, that the im- 
mensity of time, measured in years, does not affect the argu- 



ment. My paper was written too hastily and too briefly to 
explain the subject fully and clearly, but I hope these few 
remarks may give my ideas on the point you have especially 
referred to." 

In 1867, when a new edition of the " Principles of Geology " 
was in progress, I had much correspondence and many talks 
with Sir Charles, chiefly on questions relating to distribution 
and dispersal, in which he, like myself, was greatly interested. 
He was by nature so exceedingly cautious and conservative, 
and always gave such great weight to difficulties that occurred 
to himself or that were put forth by others, that it was not 
easy to satisfy him on any novel view upon which two opinions 
existed or were possible. We used often to discuss these 
various points, but in any case that seemed to him important 
he usually preferred to write to me, stating his objections, 
sometimes at great length, and asking me to give my views. 
In reply to some such inquiries I sent him my paper on the 
birds of the Lombok to Timor groups, and wrote to him at 
the same time more fully explaining its bearing, as afterwards 
given in my " Malay Archipelago." I also wrote him on the 
curious facts as to the distribution of pigs in the whole 
archipelago, as illustrated by facts he had himself given 
showing the remarkable power of swimming possessed by 
these animals. Another fact he wanted explained was the 
presence of a few non-marsupial mammals in Australia, and 
why there were not more of them, and why none were 
found in the caves. On these points I wrote to him as 
follows : — 

" My Dear Sir Charles, 

" I think the fact that the only placental land 
mammals in Australia (truly indigenous) are the smallest of 
all mammals is a very suggestive fact as to how they got 
there. Mice would not only be carried by canoes, but they 
would also be transported occasionally by floating trees car- 
ried down by floods. I think myself, however, that it is most 
likely they were carried by the earliest canoes of prehistoric 



man, and that they afford an example of rapid change of 
specific form, owing to the ancestral species having been sub- 
jected to a great change of conditions, both as regards climate 
and food, and having had an immense area of new country 
to roam over and multiply in, in every part of which they 
would be subjected to different conditions. These considera- 
tions, I think, fully meet the facts, and there ought to be no 
large rodents found in the caves of Australia, and no other 
rodents of very distinct type from those now living. When 
any such are found it will be time enough to consider how 
to account for them. It is, as you say, a most important fact 
that, in three such distinct localities as New Zealand, Aus- 
tralia, and Mauritius, no bones of extinct carnivora or other 
mammalia should be found along with the wingless birds 
and marsupials, while abundance of remains of these groups 
are found. We may, I think, fairly claim this as a proof 
that such placental mammals did not exist in those countries, 
and the fact that the only exceptions in the existing Australian 
fauna are mice indicates very clearly that they are a recent 
introduction. When all the known facts are in our favour, 
I do not think we need trouble ourselves to answer objections 
and overcome difficulties that have not yet arisen, and prob- 
ably never will arise." 

Some months later (November, 1867) he wrote me about 
the dispersal and the colours of the races of man. On the 
first point I replied at some length, principally to show why 
we should not expect the primary regions which show the 
great features of the distribution of birds, reptiles, and mam- 
malia should also apply to man. On the question of colour 
I replied as follows : " Why the colour of man is sometimes 
constant over large areas while in other cases it varies, we 
cannot certainly tell; but we may well suppose it to be due 
to its being more or less correlated with constitutional charac- 
ters favourable to life. By far the most common colour of 
man is a warm brown, not very different from that of the 
American Indian. White and black are alike deviations from 
this, and are probably correlated with mental or physical 



peculiarities which have been favourable to the increase and 
maintenance of the particular race. I should infer, therefore, 
that the broum or red was the original colour of man, and 
that it maintains itself throughout all climates in America 
because accidental deviations from it have not been accom- 
panied by any useful constitutional peculiarities. It is Bates's 
opinion that the Indians are recent immigrants into the 
tropical plains of South America, and are not yet fully 

In the following year, when I was living at Hurstpierpoint, 
in a letter I wrote to Sir Charles, thanking him for the 
trouble he had taken in regard to the Bethnal Green Museum, 
I added some remarks on Darwin's new theory of " Pan- 
genesis," which I will quote, because the disproof of it, which 
I thoughf would not be given, was not long in coming, and, 
with the more satisfactory theor}- of Weismann, led me 
entirely to change my opinion. I wrote (Februars' 20, 1868) : 
"I am reading Darsvin's book ('Animals and Plants under 
Domestication'), and have read the 'Pangenesis' chapter 
first, for I could not wait. The hypothesis is sublime in its 
simplicity and the wonderful manner in which it explains the 
most mysterious of the phenomena of life. To me it is 
satisfying in the extreme. I feel I can never give it up, 
unless it be positively disproved, which is impossible, or 
replaced by one which better explains the facts, which is 
highly imprbbable. Darwin has here decidedly gone ahead 
of Spencer in generalization. I consider it the most won- 
derful thing he has given us, but it will not be generally 

This was written when I was fresh from the spell of this 
most ingenious hypothesis. Galton's experiments on blood 
transfusion with rabbits first staggered me, as it seemed to 
me to be the very disproof I had thought impossible. And 
later on, when Weismann adduced his views on the continuity 
of the germ-plasm, and the consequent non-heredity of 
acquired characters ; and further, when he showed that the 
supposed transmission of such characters, which Darwin had 
accepted and which the hypothesis of pangenesis was con- 



structed to account for, was not really proved by any evidence 
whatever; — I was compelled to discard Darwin's view in 
favour of that of Weismann, which is now almost everywhere 
accepted as being the most probable, as well as being the 
most in accordance with all the facts and phenomena of 

Towards the end of the year Sir Charles sent me a num- 
ber of interesting papers to read, and among them was a 
criticism of Darwin by G. H. Lewes. When writing to thank 
him for them I replied to this criticism as follows : — 

" I have just been looking through Lewes. I think that 
in his great argument about the luminous and electric animals 
he completely fails to see their true bearing. He admits the 
fact that the organs producing light or electricity differ in 
position and for^n whenever the animals that bear them differ 
in general structure, while in their essential minute structure 
the (corresponding) organs closely resemble each other, how- 
ever widely the animals may differ. But this is a necessary 
consequence of such organs being modifications of muscular 
tissue, which is almost identical in structure throughout the 
animal kingdom. If electrical and luminous organs were 
always identical in form and position as well as in structure, 
it would be a powerful argument in his favour; but as it is, 
I do not see that it proves anything but that the required 
special variation of an (almost) identical tissue occurs very 
rarely, and has still more rarely occurred at a time and under 
conditions which rendered its accumulation useful to the ani- 
mal, in which case alone it would be selected and specialized so 
as to form a perfect electric or luminous organ. 

" Again, to suppose that because one single organ of a 
simple kind may be produced independently of common de- 
scent, therefore a combination of hundreds of organs, many 
of them consisting of hundreds of parts, should all be brought 
by the action of similar causes to an identity of form, position, 
and function (in different animals) appears to me absolutely 
inconceivable. For instance, I cannot conceive any two 
species of vertebrata developed independently from distinct 
primal specks of jelly (protoplasm) through the millions of 



forms that must have intervened ; but I can conceive verte- 
brata and mollusca so developed ab initio. If this is all 
Lewes claims, Darwin will, I am sure, admit it. If he main- 
tains a distinct origin for mammals, birds, and fishes, how 
does he deal with the identical form.s of the embryos up 
to a certain stage, which is still that of a vertebrate 
animal ? 

But he never tells us what he does believe in detail, and it 
seems to me that his views are utterly groundless if he goes 
beyond the four or five primitive forms, which is all that 
Darwin claims as essential to his system. 

His notion of the mammals of Australia having possibly 
developed ab initio is too wild to be seriously refuted, and I 
think he gives it up in his last part, which you have not sent 
me. What of the fossil marsupials in Europe? The identity 
of embryos? The identity of bone, tooth, hair, and nail 
structure? The identical general arrangement of vertebrae, 
limbs, muscles, cranium, brains, lungs, tongue, stomach, and 
intestines — all to have been developed independently through, 
or out of, forms as low as medusae and actiniae by general 
similarity of conditions! It is too absurd ! " 

The subject on which Sir Charles Lyell and myself had 
the longest discussions was that of the effects of the glacial 
period on the distribution of plants and animals, and on the 
origin of lake basins. On the former question he was dis- 
posed to accept my views in opposition to those of Darwin, 
as shown by the following letter of February 2, 1869 : — 

" Dear Wallace, 

" The more I think over what you said yesterday 
about the geographical distribution of tropical animals and 
plants in the glacial period, the more I am convinced that 
Darwin's difficulty may be removed by duly attending to the 
effects of the absence of cold. The intensity of heat, whether 
in the sea or in the air, is not so important, as you remarked, 
as uniformity of temperature." 

He then goes on to give illustrations of this, and urges 
that there are no recent deposits in or near the tropics con- 



taining fossil remains proving any change of fauna and flora 
such as Darwin had advocated. He then continues — 

" I know of no evidence of this kind, and I don't think 
that Darwin has given any time or thought to Croll's eccen- 
tricity theory, or to my chapters upon it, and I wish much 
that he could see your review^ before he came out with 
this new edition (the fifth) of * The Origin'; for I am 
afraid that he will make too much of the supposed corrobora- 
tion afforded by the imaginary warmth of the southern 
hemisphere, and of the equally hypothetical expulsion of 
tropical forms from the equatorial zone north of the line." 

In the sixth edition of the " The Origin," published three 
years later, Darwin still held to his views of the extreme 
severity of the glacial epoch influencing even the equatorial 
zone, and explaining the transmission of so many northern 
types of plants and insects to the southern hemisphere, as 
shown by the following passage : — " From the foregoing facts, 
namely the presence of temperate forms on the highlands 
across the whole of equatorial Africa, and along the penin- 
sula of India, to Ceylon and the Malay Archipelago, and in 
a less marked manner across the wide expanse of tropical 
South America, it appears almost certain that at some former 
period, no doubt during the most severe part of a glacial 
period, the lowlands of these continents were everywhere 
tenanted under the equator by a considerable number of tem- 
perate forms. At this period the equatorial climate at the level 
of the sea was probably about the same with that now experi- 
enced at the height of from five to six thousand feet under 
the same latitude, or perhaps even rather cooler " (p. 338). 

In my " Island Life " I have discussed at some length all 
these facts, and many others which Darwin did not take 
into consideration, and have explained them on the theory 
that the glacial epoch had no effect whatever in lowering 
the temperature of equatorial plains, while it might easily 
lower the snow-line on even equatorial mountains. Those 

1 My Quarterly Review article on " Geological Climates and the 
Origin of Species," a proof of which Sir Charles had seen. 



interested in this question, after reading Darwin's exposition 
of his views should read the twenty-third chapter of my 
" Island Life," the facts and arguments in which, so far as I 
am aware, have never been controverted. Darwin himself, 
however, never accepted them. 

On the question of the ice-origin of Alpine lakes I had 
much correspondence with Sir Charles, but I could never 
get him to accept my extreme views. In March, 1869, I 
received from him a letter of thirteen pages, and another of 
thirty pages, on this and allied questions, setting forth the 
reasons why he rejected ice action as having ground out 
the larger lakes, much as he states them in the fourth edition 
of " The Antiquity of Man." At page 361 he says that 
"the gravest objection to the hypothesis of glacial erosion 
on a stupendous scale is afforded by the entire absence of 
lakes of the first magnitude in several areas where they ought 
to exist, if the enormous glaciers which once occupied those 
spaces had possessed the deep excavating power ascribed 
to them." He then goes on to adduce numerous places 
where he thinks there ought to have been lakes on the glacier 
theory, which are the same as he adduced in letters to myself, 
and which I answered in each case, and sometimes at great 
length, by similar arguments to those I have adduced in vol. i. 
chap. V. of my " Studies, Scientific and Social." If anyone who 
is interested in these questions, after considering Sir Charles 
Lyell's difficulties and objections in his " Antiquity of Man," 
will read the above chapter, giving special attention to the 
sections headed The Conditions that favour the Production 
of Lakes by Ice-erosion, and the following section on Objec- 
tions of Modern Writers considered, I think he will, if he had 
paid any attention to the phenomena in glaciated regions, 
admit that I show the theory of ice-erosion to be the only 
one that explains all the facts. 

During the same year (1869) I find passages of interest 
in my letters on quite different subjects, some of which I 
wrote upon at a much later period. On February 25, in a 
letter about the Bethnal Green Museum, I added, "Have 



you seen the curious paper in the Atlantic Monthly of Feb- 
ruary on * The Birth of the Solar System ' ? It contains a 
new nebular hypothesis, quite distinct from the old one. The 
writer maintains that all we know about the formation of 
the planets is that they are slowly increasing in bulk from 
the falling in of meteoritic bodies. He maintains, therefore, 
that this is the origin of all planets and suns, space being full 
of cold meteoric dust, heat being produced by its agglomera- 
tion. Thus all small bodies in space are cold, all large ones 
hot; the earth is therefore getting hotter instead of colder, 
and early geological action was less violent than it is now. 
Is not that turning the tables on the convulsionists ? 

" Many of the author's statements are, I think, inaccurate, 
but the view of the formation of the solar system by the 
agglomeraion of cold dust instead of hot vapour seems to 
have some show of probability." 

This hypothesis was new to me, and I had quite forgotten 
all about it when I met with it in Sir Norman Lockyer's 
works while writing my " Wonderful Century," and definitely 
adopted it as more accordant with facts and more intelli- 
gible than Laplace's theory of the intensely heated solar 

On April 28, after referring to Darwin's regret at the 
concluding passages of my Quarterly Review article on 
" Man," which he " would have thought written by someone 
else," I add the following summary of my position, perhaps 
more simply and forcibly stated than in any of my published 
works : — 

" It seems to me that if we once admit the necessity of 
any action beyond * natural selection ' in developing man, we 
have no reason whatever for confining that agency to his 
brain. On the mere doctrine of chances it seems to me 
in the highest degree improbable that so many points of 
structure, all tending to favour his mental development, 
should concur in man alone of all animals. If the erect 
posture, the freedom of the anterior limbs from purposes of 
locomotion, the powerful and opposable thumb, the naked 
skin, the great symmetry of form, the perfect organs of 



speech, and, in his mental faculties, calculation of numbers, 
ideas of symmetr}^, of justice, of abstract reasoning, of the 
infinite, of a future state, and many others, cannot be shown 
to be each and all useful to man in the very lowest state of 
civilization — how are we to explain their co-existence in him 
alone of the whole series of organized beings? Years ago I 
saw in London a bushman boy and girl, and the girl played 
very nicely on the piano. Blind Tom, the half-idiot negro 
slave, had a ' musical ear ' or brain, superior, perhaps, to that 
of the best living musician. Unless Darwin can show me 
how this latent musical faculty in the lowest races can have 
been developed through sunival of the fittest, can have been 
of use to the individual or the race, so as to cause those who 
possessed it in a fractionally greater degree than others to 
win in the struggle for life, I must believe that some other 
power (than natural selection) caused that development. It 
seems to me that the onus prohandi will lie with those who 
maintain that man, body and mind, could have been developed 
from, a quadrumanous animal by * natural selection.' " 

In a letter to Darwin, written a week later and printed in 
the Life, Letters, and Journals," Sir Charles quotes the 
preceding argument entire, and goes on to express his general 
agreement with it. 

He then refers to the glacial-lake theory as follows: — 
As to the scooping out of lake basins by glaciers. I have 
had a long, amicable, but controversial correspondence with 
Wallace on that subject, and I cannot get over (as. indeed, I 
have admitted in print) an intimate connection between the 
number of lakes of modern date and the glaciation of the 
regions containing them. But as we do not know how ice 
can scoop out Lago ^laggiore to a depth of 2600 feet, of 
which all but 600 is below the level of the sea, getting rid of 
the rock supposed to be worn away as if it was salt that had 
melted, I feel that it is a dangerous causation to admit in 
explanation of every cavity which we have to account for, 
including Lake Superior." 

This passage shows, I think, that he was somewhat stag- 
gered by my arguments, but could not take so great a step 


without further consideration and examination of the evidence. 
I feel sure, therefore, that if he had had before him the 
numerous facts since made known, of erratic blocks carried 
by the ice to heights far above their place of origin in North 
America, and even in our own islands, as described at p. 75 
and p. 90 of my "Studies" (vol. i.), with evidence of such 
action now occurring in Greenland (p. 91), of the Moel 
Tryfan beds having been forced up by the glacier that filled 
the Irish sea, he would have seen, I feel sure, that his objec- 
tions were all answered by actual phenomena, and that the 
gradual erosion of Lago Maggiore was far within the powers 
of such enormous accumulations of ice as must have existed 
over its site. 

The following letter I quote entire, because it calls atten- 
tion to a very original but much neglected book which, 
though probably not wholly sound in its theoretical basis, 
contains suggestions which may help towards the solution of 
a still unsolved problem. 

"May 3, 1871. 

" Dear Sir Charles, 

" I have just been reading a book which has struck 
me amazingly, but which has been somewhat pooh-pooh'd by 
the critics, and which therefore you may not have thought 
worth looking at. It is W. Mattieu Williams's ' Fuel of the 
Sun.* Whether the theory is true or false, the book is the 
work of a man of original genius. Its originality is so 
startling that I have found it to require reading twice to take 
it in thoroughly ; and it is so different from all modern theories 
of the sun that I can quite see why such a work by an out- 
sider should not have received due attention. If sound, it 
completely solves the problem of the perpetuity of the sun's 
heat, and gives geologists and Darwinians any amount of 
time they require. It seems to be reasonable, it is beautifully 
worked out, it is quite intelligible, and till shown to be a 
fallacy I hold by its main doctrine. I hope you will read 
it, and, if you see no fallacy in it, get Sir John Herschell to 



read it and tell us if there is a positive fallacy which destroys 
its whole value or no." 

Some weeks later Sir Charles thanked me for recommend- 
ing the book to him, which he had read with great pleasure, 
adding, " It is as interesting as any novel I ever read." The 
fundamental idea of the book is that the sun in its motion 
through space comes into contact with an excessively diffused 
space-atmosphere, which it collects and condenses by its gravi- 
tative force, thus forming the sun's photosphere. Then, on 
cooling, the outer portion of this gaseous envelope is left 
behind or expelled, so that the mass of the sun does not 
increase. The value of the explanation will of course depend 
upon whether this later part of the theory, which the author 
explains at considerable length, is dynamically possible. In 
view of modern discoveries as to the nature of matter, it 
might be well for some competent physicist to re-examine • 
this work, which is largely founded on the author's own obser- 
vations and experiments as a metallurgical chemist. 

In the latter part of 1872 I was assisting Sir Charles by 
reading over the completed MS. and afterwards the proofs 
of Part III. of " The Antiquity of Man," dealing with " The 
Origin of Species as bearing on Man's Place in Nature." In 
one of the letters I wTOte I made a suggestion (which he did 
not adopt, nor did I expect him to do so), but which I will 
here give, as it is a subject on which I wrote afterwards, and 
which I still consider to be of very great importance. Readers 
of the " Antiquity " will see that part of his own MS. has 
been omitted. 

" November 10, 1872. 

" Dear Sir Charles, 

" I have read the MS. with very great interest. 
Two points of importance are, Milton's advocacy of scientific 
as against classical education (which I should think would be 
new to most persons), and freedom of thought as essential to 
intellectual progress. The latter point (occupying pp. 13-23 
of your MS.) is of such immense importance, and 3'our 
opinion on it, clearly expressed, would have so much weight, 



that I should much wish it to be developed in a little more 
detail, though I cannot see how it can possibly be got into 
* The Antiquity of Man/ The points that may be more fully 
treated seem to me to be — ist, to show in a little more detail 
that there was such practical freedom of thought in Greek 
schools and academies ; 2d, to put forward strongly the 
fact that, ever since the establishment of Christianity, the 
education of Europe has been wholly in the hands of men 
bound down by penalties to fixed dogmas, that philosophy 
and science have been taught largely under the same influ- 
ences, and that, even at the present day and among the 
most civilized nations, it causes the greater part of the intel- 
lectual strength of the world to be wasted in endeavours to 
reconcile old dogmas with modern thought, while no step in 
advance can be made without the fiercest opposition by those 
whose vested interests are bound up in these dogmas. 

" 3d, I should like to see (though, perhaps, you are not 
prepared to do it) a strong passage following up your con- 
cluding words, pointing out that it is a disgrace to civilization 
and a crime against posterity that the great mass of the 
instructors of our youth should still be those who are fettered 
by creeds and dogmas which they are under a penalty to 
teach, and urging that it is the very first duty of the Govern- 
ment of a free people to take away all such restraints from 
the national church, and so allow the national teachers to 
represent the most advanced thought, the highest intellect, 
and the purest morality the age can produce. It is equally 
the duty of the State to disqualify as teachers, in all schools 
and colleges under its control, those whose interests are in 
any way bound up with the promulgation of fixed creeds or 
dogmas of whatever nature. 

" I should be exceedingly glad if you could do something 
of this kind, because I look with great alarm on the move- 
ment for the disestablishment of the Church of England, 
a step which I fear would retard freedom of thought for 
centuries. This would inevitably be its effect if any similar 
proportion of its revenues, as in the case of the Irish Church, 
was handed over to the disestablished Church of England, 



which would then still retain much of its prestige and 
respectability, would have enormous wealth which might be 
indefinitely increased by further private endowments, and 
might have a ruling episcopacy with absolute power, who 
would keep up creeds and dogmas, and repress all freedom 
of thought and action, and thus do irreparable injur>' to the 
nation. Besides this, we should lose a grand organization 
for education and a splendid endowment which might confer 
incalculable benefits on society if only its recipients were 
rendered absolutely free. What might have been the result 
if, during the last hundrd years, the twenty thousand sermons 
which are preached every Sunday in Great Britain, instead of 
being rigidly confined to one monotonous subject, had been 
true lessons in civilization, morality, the laws of health, and 
other useful (or elevating) knowledge, and if the teachers 
had been the high class of men who, if unfettered, would have 
gladly entered this the noblest of professions? 

" I so much fear that ^liall's premature agitation may force 
some future Government to (carr\-) disestablishment on any 
terms, that I think it of the greatest importance to point out 
what may be lost by such a step." 

The passages referred to in the beginning of the above 
letter were both omitted by Sir Charles, being thought, ap- 
parently, rather out of place. The book did not appear till 
the following summer, and from that time till his death 
he undertook no more literar}- work. My remarks on the 
question of disestablishment, however, seemed to me so im- 
portant that I elaborated my ideas into an article, which 
appeared in Macmillans Magazine (April, 1873), and is 
reprinted in the second volume of my " Studies," under the 
title, Disestablishment and Disendowment : with a proposal 
for a really National Church of England." In putting this 
suggestion before the country I have done what was in my 
power to indicate a method by which, when the time for 
legislation comes, the present institution may be replaced by 
one that will be a great educational and moral power in every 
part of our land. 



I do not remember when I first saw Sir Charles Lyell, 
but I probably met him at some of the evening meetings of 
the scientific societies. I first lunched with him in the 
summer of 1863, and then met, for the first time, Lady Lyell 
and Miss Arabella B. Buckley. Miss Buckley had become 
Sir Charles's private secretary early in that year, and she 
informs me that she remembers this visit because Lady Lyell 
gave her impressions of me afterwards — I am afraid not 
very favourable ones, as I was shy, awkward, and quite 
unused to good society. With Sir Charles I soon felt at 
home, owing to his refined and gentle manners, his fund of 
quiet humour, and his intense love and extensive knowledge 
of natural science. His great liberality of thought and wide 
general interests were also attractive to me; and although 
when he had once arrived at a definite conclusion he held 
by it very tenaciously until a considerable body of well- 
ascertained facts could be adduced against it, yet he was 
always willing to listen to the arguments of his opponents, 
and to give them careful and repeated consideration. This 
was well shown in the time and trouble he gave to the dis- 
cussion with myself as to the glacial origin of the larger 
alpine lake basins, writing me one letter of thirty pages on 
the subject. Considering his position as the greatest living 
authority on physical geology, it certainly showed remarkable 
open-mindedness that he should condescend to discuss the 
subject with such a mere amateur and tyro as I then was. 
The theory was, however, too new and too revolutionary for 
him to make up his mind at once, but he certainly was some- 
what influenced by the facts and arguments I set before him, 
as shown by the expressions in his correspondence with Dar- 
win, which I have quoted. 

In the much vaster and more important problem of the 
development of man from the lower animals, though convinced 
of the general truth of Darwin's views, with which he had 
been generally acquainted for twenty years, he was yet loth 
to express himself definitely; and Darwin himself was as 
much disappointed with his pronouncement in the recently 
published " Antiquity of Man," as he was with my rejection 



of the sufficiency of natural selection to explain the origin 
of man's mental and moral nature. Sir Charles Lyell's 
character is well exhibited in what he wrote Darwin soon 
after its publication (March ii, 1863). " I find myself, after 
reasoning through a whole chapter, in favour of man's com- 
ing from the animals, relapsing to my old views whenever I 
read again a few pages of the ' Principles,' or yearn for 
fossil types of intermediate grades. Truly, I ought to be 
charitable to Sedgwick and others. Hundreds who have 
bought my book in the hope that I should demolish heresy 
will be awfully confounded and disappointed. . . . What 
I am anxious to effect is to avoid positive inconsistencies in 
different parts of my book, owing probably to the old trains 
of thought, the old ruts, interfering with the new course. 
But you ought to be satisfied, as I shall bring hundreds 
towards you, who, if I treated the matter more dogmatically, 
would have rebelled. I have spoken out to the utmost extent 
of my tether, so far as my reason goes, and further than my 
imagination and sentiment can follow, which I suppose, has 
caused occasional incongruities" ("Life of Sir Charles 
Lyell," vol. ii. p. 363). These passages well exhibit the 
difficulties with which the writer had to contend, and serve 
to explain that careful setting forth of opposing facts and 
arguments without stating any definite conclusion, which is 
felt to be unsatisfactory in some portions of his great works. 

During the ten years 1863-72, I saw a good deal of Sir 
Charles. If he had any special subject on which he wished 
for information, he would sometimes walk across the park to 
St. Mark's Crescent for an hour's conversation; at other 
times he would ask me to lunch with him, either to meet 
some interesting visitor or for friendly talk. After my mar- 
riage we occasionally dined with him or went to his evening 
receptions. These latter were very interesting, both because 
they were not overcrowded and on account of the number 
^ of scientific and other men of eminence to be met there. 
Among these were Professor Tyndall, Sir Charles Wheat- 
stone, Sir Charies Bunbury, Mr. Lecky, and a great many 



others. The Duke of Argyll was frequently there, and al- 
though we criticised each other's theories rather strongly, 
he was always very friendly, and we generally had some min- 
utes' conversation whenever I met him. Miss Buckley (now 
Mrs. Fisher) was a very constant guest, and would point out 
to me the various celebrities who happened to be present, 
and thus began a cordial friendship which has continued un- 
broken, and has been a mutual pleasure and advantage. I 
therefore look back upon my friendship with Sir Charles 
Lyell with unalloyed satisfaction as one of the most instruc- 
tive and enjoyable episodes in my life-experience. 


Date Due 




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