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Full text of "Naturalist at large"

NATURALIST AT LARGE 




Photo b\' D. Faircliild 



The author and J. C. Greenway, Jr., ^^•ith a Bahama Barn Owl, 

at the mouth of a cave near Landrail Point, 

Crooked Island, Bahamas 



y^aturalist at Lar^e 



A 



THOMAS BARBOUR 




ILLUSTRATED 



An Atlantic Monthly Press Book 

Little, Brown and Company • Boston 

1944 



COPYRIGHT 1942, 1943, BY PHILLIPS KETCHUM, TRUSTEE UNDER 

AN INDENTURE OF TRUST MADE BY THOMAS BARBOUR FOR 

THE BENEFIT OF MARY B. KIDDER, JULIA A. BARBOUR 

AND LOUISA B. BARBOUR, DATED JULY I9, I943 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THE RIGHT 

TO REPRODUCE THIS BOOK OR PORTIONS 

THEREOF IN ANY FORM 

Published September ig4j 
Reprinted September 1943 

Reprinted October 194s 
Reprinted November 1943 

Reprinted January 1944 



ATLANTIC-LITTLE, BROWN BOOKS 

ARE PUBLISHED BY 

LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY 

IN ASSOCIATION WITH 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



Dedicated to 
ROSAMOND P. BARBOUR 

With great affection and respect 



A wai-m salute to Edward Weeks 

and Dudley H. Cloud for guiding 

the clumsy feet of a tyro 



Peresrlnation charms our senses with such 
unspeakable and sweet variety that some count 
him unhappy that never travelled — a kind of 
prisoner — and pity his case; that from his 
cradle to his old age, he beholds the same — 
still, still the same. 

— Robert Burton 



'■--i. 



\ 



Contents 

PART I THE MAKING OF A NATURALIST 

1. Confessions of a Naturalist 3 

2. The Family 6 

3. The Mind's Eye 13 

4. "For Richer for Poorer" 22 

5. Wallace and the Dutch East 41 

6. Flying Fish and Turtles 58 

7. The Sea and the Cave 6$ 

8. Cuba 87 

9. The Bahamas, Old and New 103 

10. Reptiles in the West Indies 1 19 

PART II THE SEDENTARY NATURALIST 

11. Naturalists in Dispute 135 

12. Three Friends 140 

13. Mr. Justice Holmes 150 

14. Lifework 157 

15. The Glory Hole 168 

16. Those Who Help 181 

17. Panama 193 

18. Scientists and Philosophers 208 

j-7^6 3 



X . Contents 

PART III THE LEISURELY NATURALIST 

19. Florida and Some Snakes 221 

20. The Tests of Evolution 2 37 

21. Whales 245 
2 2 . Latin America 250 

23. Africa 2^4 

24. In Retrospect 279 

APPENDICES 

I For Zoographers Only 299 

II Render unto Caesar 3 ^ ^ 



Illustrations 



The author and J. C. Greenway, Jr., with a Bahama 
Barn Owl, at the mouth of a cave near Landrail 
Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas Frontispiece 

Sarah Elizabeth Barbour, about 1890 14 

Rosamond and Thomas Barbour, by John Singer Sar- 
gent, 19 19 22 

The big cobra killed near Lucknow on the fifteenth 
of November, 1906 32 

The women's canoe with no outrigger, only used on 
short journeys; The men's canoe, used for trips to 
sea. Humboldt Bay, 1907 42 

The Great Karriwarri at Tubadi Village, Humboldt 
Bay, New Guinea 46 

Two Karriwarris at the village of Tubadi in Hum- 
boldt Bay; Communal long houses over the water 
at Ansus, Japen Island, in Geelvink Bay, Dutch 
New Guinea 48 

R. P. B. at Monokwari; Natives of Humboldt Bay 54 

Utowana in Port Castries Harbor, St. Lucia; Three 
deep-sea fish drawn by Alexander Agassiz 58 

Dancing Girl Orchids recall the market at San Sal- 
vador 68 

The tropical forest primeval along the upper Jesusito 
River, eastern Panama 76 



xii Illustrations 

The Harvard Garden, Soledad, near Cienfuegos, Cuba 88 

The author and "Lizzie" at Soledad, 1941; On the 
steps at the Aula Magna, University of Havana, 
March 1930 100 

David Fairchild and William Morton Wheeler at 
Barro Colorado Island, 1924; Henry B. Bigelow 
aboard the Grampus, 191 3; John C. Phillips, 1934 144 

Three of George Nelson's finest fossil reptiles: A sail- 
back lizard, Edaphosaurus; Unique mount of Ophi- 
acodon; Unique type of Dynodontosaurus oliveroi 
Romer from southern Brazil 166 

The Hunter home from the kill. Churima rests after 
bringing in a peccary to camp; The author and 
Juicio, the chief of all the Chokoi Indians with 
whom we came in contact 182 

The author with three Indians near Garachine, west- 
earn Panama, 1922; The Laboratory at Barro Colo- 
rado Island 194 

One of the giant Bombacopsis on Barro Colorado 
Island; Shore-line vegetation at Barro Colorado 
Island 196 

Our tent by an almost dry stream in eastern Panama; 
Churima's house, where we hung our mosquito bars 
on various occasions 200 

Alexander Agassiz and the Sultan of the Maldive 
Islands aboard the Amra, 1901 214 

A yearling Greater Kudu in the Kruger Park 266 

Bird Island, forty miles off southeast Africa 274 

T. B.'s office in the Agassiz Museum 290 



PART I 

THE MAKING OF A NATURALIST 



CHAPTER I 

Confessions of a Naturalist 

JLO USE a witty simile of William Morton Wheeler's 
in a sense in which he did not use it, I may say that in the 
home I am a poor Peruna-soaked Methodist, but in the 
Museum I am a High Church port-wine-drinking Epis- 
copalian. I came to Boston a little too late in life really to 
enjoy the iteration and reiteration of Back Bay society gos- 
sip. I am inclined to creep off by myself when Vincent 
Club politics hold the floor. To be sure, I supply a presi- 
dent and vice-president to the Club. These are daughters 
whom I see occasionally at eventide. I am old-fashioned and 
eat my breakfast early; also, I have insomnia and go to bed 
early. My more socially-minded housemates arise for a cup 
of black coffee and a cigarette, timed so as not to spoil the 
appetite for luncheon. (I'll confess this was written before 
the war changed many habits.) 

I recall once taking a distinguished Southern Bishop of 
my Church to a meeting of the Saturday Club. As we 
walked away, he said, "The talk at that table has canceled 
out an awful lot of banality." I have also enjoyed the 
Wednesday Evening Club and the Wintersnight. Being 
the only male in a household composed of singularly mas- 
terful women, I have, for the sake of peace, apologized 
and confessed to about everything from mayhem to men- 
dacity—perhaps most often to intemperance. My trans- 
gressions along the latter line, however, have been pitifully 



4 Naturalist at Large 

moderate and puny compared to what I often observe and 
hear about in others. 

Now in the Museum all is different. My staff does not 
laugh at my jack-of -all-trades inclinations. They might, 
for I have collected and described mammals, birds, rep- 
tiles, amphibians, fishes, and have collected countless in- 
sects and marine invertebrates which others have described. 
I have been by inclination an old-fashioned naturalist, many 
tell me perhaps the last of the breed. My colleagues prefer 
to know more and more about less and less and so are in- 
finitely more erudite than I. 

No man has ever had more fun with his chosen tasks. 
When I am taxed with, "You never do anything that you 
don't want to do," my answer is, "Not if I can help it." 
Father, bless him, left me well endowed with this world's 
goods and with a nervous, high-strung desire to hurry 
about whatever I am attempting to do. This has been my 
chief source of strength — and perhaps of weakness, too. 
I have loved the three Museums in Boston, Cambridge, and 
Salem, which, from time to time, I have been permitted to 
correct as if they were human friends. 

I do not think I am guilty of conceit, as was Rafinesque. 
He wrote at the close of his autobiography: — 

Versatility of talents and of professions, is not un- 
common in America; but those which I have exhibited 
in these few pages, may appear to exceed belief: and 
yet it is a positive fact that in knowledge I have been a 
Botanist, Naturalist, Geologist, Geographer, Histo- 
rian, Poet, Philosopher, Philologist, Economist, Phi- 
lanthropist. ... By profession a Traveller, Mer- 



Confessions of a Naturalist 5 

chant, Manufacturer, Collector, Improver, Professor, 
Teacher, Surveyor, Draftsman, Architect, Engineer, 
Pulmist, Author, Editor, Bookseller, Librarian, Sec- 
retary . . . and I hardly know myself vv^hat I may 
not become as yet: since whenever I apply myself to 
anything, ivhich I like, I never fail to succeed if de- 
pending on me alone, unless impeded and prevented 
by lack of means, or the hostility of the foes of man- 
kind. 

God gave one ever-useful attribute — realistic apprecia- 
tion of my own limitations. This has saved me from taking 
positions which I knew I could not fill acceptably and 
generally from biting off more than I could chew. 



CHAPTER II 

The Family 



A 



STRONG family likeness runs through our family. 
My brother Robert looks extraordinarily like our Great- 
Uncle Robert, for whom he was named. I went into the 
State House in Richmond one day with my friend, Cotes- 
worth Pinckney, to see whether there might not be por- 
traits of James Barbour and Phillip Pendleton Barbour 
there, since both had been Governors of Virginia long ago. 
We had barely entered the room when Cotesworth said, 
"Well, there's one of them all right," and pointed to a 
picture which turned out to be labeled '']2Lmts Barbour." 
And yet these were distant kin. 

My three brothers and I present four types. My brother 
Robert, who is two years younger than I am, is the mathe- 
matician of the family. His facility with figures is amaz- 
ing to me, for I am hopelessly incompetent in this respect. 
He also has marked mechanical ability, coupled with 
manual dexterity, and even before he went to the School 
of Mines at Columbia he had a workshop on top of Father's 
New York house — now the Museum of Modern Art, 
II West 53rd Street. This workshop was fitted up with 
lathes and all sorts of mechanical tools. There with David 
Dows he built an automobile, one of the first in the city, 
which actually ran when it was lowered into the street. 
One of the more amusing aspects of that feat was the con- 
fidence David showed in their combined abihty. He bought 



The Family 1 

the horn before they began work on their contraption. 
Robert has now retired to well-earned leisure, after a use- 
ful career in charge of the manufacturing department of 
the Linen Thread Company. 

My brother Warren, four years younger than I am, 
started out as a chubby, rolypoly little boy. Just as he was 
about to enter Princeton, the death of one of my father's 
business associates made an opening which Father thought 
was too good to pass up, so Warren went into the office. 
Early in life he developed tuberculosis and spent some time 
in the Adirondacks where Father had a big hunting pre- 
serve, in the care of Grandmother's friend. Dr. Edward 
Trudeau. He was entirely cured, went to Bermuda, and in 
less than no time became well known as an amateur boxer. 
He became amateur champion heavyweight of the United 
States in 19 lo and could at this time probably have out- 
boxed anyone in the country; but Mother did not take 
kindly to the idea of his fighting and naturally he gave it 
up. He is now United States Senator from New Jersey, 
having piled up a greater number of votes than any other 
RepubHcan candidate in the last election, which means 
something in New Jersey, where election practices are still 
what they were in other parts of the country fifty years 
ago. 

My brother Frederick, born in 1894, has now inherited 
the presidency of the Linen Thread Company, but, to my 
mind, shows great good sense in taking time off for the 
field sports which he loves. This has given me an oppor- 
tunity of late years to see rather more of him than of my 
other brothers, since we both love to hunt and to fish. 
Frederick is the finest hand with a wet fly for salmon that 



8 Naturalist at Large 

I have ever seen. He can tlirow a fly a prodigious distance 
with absolute accuracy and then at the end of the cast have 
the fly just touch the water as if it were a bit of falling 
thistledown. 

My brothers and I owe Father several different debts of 
gratitude. He left us not only with the means but also the 
opportunity to take up our several totally different ways of 
living. I was enabled to build up a fine Hbrary and to spend 
my life as a volunteer servant of Harvard College. Father 
loved the out-of-doors and was a good observer himself 
in the field, but I do not think he was particularly pleased 
that I became a naturalist. He hoped that I would follow 
him in his business. 

He delighted, however, in the fact that for many years 
he had my other brothers in association with him in either 
the executive, the seUing, or the manufacturing ends of 
the Linen Thread Company and the American Net & 
Twine Company. During the last years of his fife he ex- 
tended himself dangerously, acquiring a locomotive works 
in Chicago and other scattered interests which were diffi- 
cult to supervise adequately. I owe a deep debt of grati- 
tude to my brothers who at his death unwound the tan- 
gled skein of his affairs, something at which I was incap- 
able of giving more than a small share of assistance. By 
injudicious handhng of his enormous outstanding loans 
they might easily have landed me in the poorhouse, 
but they were well equipped to make their way in the 
world. 

No two persons were ever more completely unlike than 
my mother and father. My mother loved New York, and 
by this I mean the city itself. None of her younger days 



The Family 9 

had been spent in the country, for her father — my grand- 
father — had moved up from Charleston, South Carohna, 
to New York a short time before the Civil War, taking 
with him his slaves. He was left impoverished and died 
shortly after the war was over. He was a Southern sym- 
pathizer, and suffered deeply as a result of his convictions 
during the last few years of his life in New York. My 
grandmother Sprague moved with her young brood to 
Geneva, Switzerland, where one could live at small cost. 
After three years, when the financial outlook was a bit 
brighter, they sailed back to America and entered New 
York Harbor to see a column of smoke rising from the 
lower end of Manhattan Island. It was the storage ware- 
house containing all their earthly belongings — everything 
they owned was lost. 

Mother was a tall and stately person to the very end of 
her life. She was tall for a woman, for she was slightly 
over six feet. I have no doubt that in her youth she was 
very handsome. 

Mother had a deeply religious character, Calvinistic and 
fundamentaHst, but utterly sincere in her belief. I never 
knew a person who tried harder to be just and fair. She 
leaned over backward in this respect. Brought up as she 
was, it was a little difficult to convince her that there was 
no essential difficulty in accepting such modern scientific 
behefs as the theory of evolution without jeopardy to the 
faith which she treasured so sincerely. 

She and my father's mother did not particularly care for 
each other and I think the reason really was that the male 
members of Grandmother's family on both sides, the War- 
rens and the Sayreses, were officers in the Union Army, 



10 Naturalist at Large 

whereas Mother's family were not at all convinced of the 
righteousness of the Northern cause. They were in fact 
Copperheads. 

While Mother did not play any musical instrument, she 
had a lovely soprano voice and took music lessons to well 
within the years of my memory. She and Father had the 
same seats at the Opera for many years and I remember 
particularly the pleasure she derived during the last years 
of her life from the Bagby Concerts which she attended 
very regularly. 

Mother was just, as I have said, but she had a sharp and 
flaring temper and she thrashed us youngsters on number- 
less occasions. I remember that she had a giant hairbrush 
which had belonged to Grandfather Barbour which was 
specially reserved for spanking. Warren terminated its use- 
fulness permanently when he surreptitiously slipped a flat 
stone inside the seat of his pants and the hairbrush was 
shattered once and for all, to our great joy. 

She went to the Adirondacks with Father from a sense 
of duty and while she liked to row a boat about the lake 
herself for exercise she never fished or hunted, nor do I 
believe that she could have told a beet from a carrot when 
they were growing in the garden. She had no knowledge 
of or interest in the country — no interest in nature, in 
birds or flowers, nor in woods or fields. 

Father on the other hand inherited his mother's love of 
outdoor life, her love of shooting and fishing, and a very 
considerable knowledge concerning the birds and animals 
which he, came across from time to time. He passed this 
enjoyment of shooting on to his sons. His father acquired 



The Family 11 

a share In what was called the Tupper Lake Club in north- 
ern New York, and went there to shoot and fish with 
Grandmother when Father was a little boy. Gradually the 
members died off and Father acquired the property. This 
consisted of about 145 acres on the southeasterly shore of 
Big Tupper Lake. And Paradise Point, on which the famous 
Coleman's Spring was the outstanding feature of the prop- 
erty. Here Father built a camp where for years he came 
for relaxation and enjoyment after the hard life so char- 
acteristic of the businessmen of his day, who speculated 
daringly albeit successfully, but certainly to the peril of 
their nervous system. Father had his father's passion for 
acquiring land. Grandfather bought tracts of land scat- 
tered over New Jersey, usually because there was a pretty 
view over some attractive pond, whereas Father kept add- 
ing to his Adirondack holdings until at his death he had 
at least 45,000 acres. 

Father was not skillful with his hands any more than I 
am, although his handwriting was superb. Nevertheless, 
he loved to watch work and the work he liked best was 
the building of stone walls. I often drove oxen hitched to 
a stone boat and hauled rocks with him. My brother 
Robert, the mechanic, ran the big stone crusher, and every 
year we built roads and stone walls. When it was time to 
knock off Father went for his evening bout of fishing 
with Dan Hinkson, who simply adored him. Father had a 
stately figure, and was possessed of great personal beauty 
and dignity. He was six feet three inches tall and often 
said, "I and my four boys are just a half inch shy of being 
thirty-one feet of Barbour." Unfortunately for me I was 
the tallest of the lot, and I have suffered from colliding 



12 Naturalist at Large 

with chandeliers and low doonvays, and from short sleep- 
ing-car and steamer berths, all my Ufe. 

A flood of pleasant memories surround the stories of our 
life at Tupper Lake. I can close my eyes and see the great 
flock of lovely swan swimming past Warren Point just a 
mile or so north of Father's Paradise Point camp, where 
for several summers I had a lovely home of my own, thanks 
to his generosity. He took the greatest pride in his swan, 
his peacock, his Kerry cattle, his oxen, and his bees, and 
in the ever-changing beauty of the scene which unfolded as 
summer changed to autumn in the north woods. 

My three brothers and I were a fortunate crew. 

After Father's death it was quite obvious that the reserve 
at Tupper Lake was more than we four could swing. 
Father's estate, cut in quarters and the death duties paid, 
was of a quite different order of magnitude from what 
it had been when he was alive. Fortunately the State of 
New York needed lands for a forest reserve and to pro- 
tect watersheds which, in the future, may have to be drawn 
upon for the use of the City of New York. They bought 
all of the unimproved acreage. The farm and its various 
buildings, Father's camp and my camp, were purchased 
by the American Legion as a tuberculosis sanatorium. I 
have often wondered whether the convalescent Legion- 
naires have appreciated the beauty spread before their eyes. 
Mount Morris, one of the handsomest domes in the whole 
Adirondacks area, lies right directly across the lake from 
these camps, and when the autumn foliage is richest the 
reflection in the lake is frequently one of breath-taking 
beauty. 



CHAPTER III 

The Mind's Eye 



I 



WAS born August 19, 1884, on the island of Martha's 
Vineyard. My mother went there to visit her mother, and 
I arrived unexpectedly. When I was six weeks old my 
father and mother went to Ireland on business, and I went 
along in a bureau drawer of the old Cunard liner U?nbria — 
my peregrinations began early. Father went back and 
forth to Europe several times a year. He had succeeded 
his father as a director of William Barbour and Son, 
the firm founded by his great-grandfather, which had linen 
mills near Lisburn in Ireland. 

When I was eight years old we made a long tour through 
Europe. I remember vividly the terror caused by the chol- 
era outbreak in Hamburg that year. We were visiting at 
Mr. Fritz Krupp's house at Essen, an extraordinary estab- 
lishment. The house was a palace, the gardens enormous. 
The place was entirely self-contained, Mr. Krupp even 
having his own fire department. I think his Arab horses 
impressed me more than anything else, although I remem- 
ber staring with wonderment at a room stacked high with 
Oriental rugs. Mr. Krupp, who had been an old friend and 
schoolmate of my father in Germany, explained that the 
Sultan of Turkey was often short of cash and occasionally 
paid for his munitions in commodities. We had a wonder- 
ful time pestering our governess by doing everything mis- 
chievous we could think of; my brother Rob and I tipped 



14 Naturalist at Large 

the young Crown Prince of Bavaria into a rather deep 
fountain, and for this, naturally, we got the devil. 

I recall that when we visited the Zoo at Frankfurt am 
Main, the keeper reached into a cage, opened a tiny box, 
parted the cotton wool — and there, curled up, was a 
pigmy lemur. He said it was the smallest of all the mon- 
key family. I can see the little beast now in my mind's 
eye — a tiny, gray, fuzzy ball scarcely larger than a 
mouse. The event came back to my mind the other day 
when I put a lovely little mounted specimen of Microcebus 
on exhibition. 

The cholera got so bad that we hurried back to America, 
and I cannot think of any events that played much part in 
my wishing to become a naturalist by profession until 
1898, when I had typhoid fever. My brother Rob and I 
both had typhoid fever twice. In those days, no one knew 
the difference between typhoid and paratyphoid — which, 
I suspect, accounts for our unusual misfortune. 

After the first of these illnesses I was shipped to Eau 
Gallie, Florida, where my grandmother had a winter home. 
Grandmother, born Sarah Elizabeth Warren, was an ex- 
traordinary character. She was the best shot with rifle or 
shotgun I ever knew, and she threw as pretty a salmon or 
trout fly as my brother Frederick. She was devoted to 
Thoreau, and went to Keene Valley to hear Dr. Thomas 
Davidson lecture on philosophy. I once met him at her 
house in Paterson, New Jersey. He said, "Where there are 
two Toms together, the older is a fool." I felt sheepish but, 
curiously enough, remembered the remark. 

Grandmother was a born naturalist. She loved the out- 
of-doors, and with her I made my first memorable excur- 




Photo by Pack Bros. 



Sarah Elizabeth Barbour 
About 1 8 go 



The Mind's Eye 15 

sions. We went to Lake Washington, at the head of the 
Saint Johns River in Florida. We put a boat on a wagon, 
Gene Kinniard drove the team, and I rode a marsh tacky 
alongside. We used to leave the house at two o'clock in 
the morning and get to the lake about daylight. We built 
fires and cooked our meals at the Cabbage Mound, a tall 
grove of cabbage palm trees, high and dry in the midst of 
a quaking bog, which extended for miles after a heavy rain. 
TTie fishing was good, and the birds were a sight to behold. 
I never go near this part of the world now without driv- 
ing from Eau Gallie out to the Mound, a drive of about 
half an hour by motor; but every inch of the road, indeed 
of that whole country, is loaded with golden memories. 

My grandmother was not particularly tall but she was 
strikingly beautiful, even in her old age, and entirely aware 
of the fact. She was inordinately proud of her hair, which 
reached almost to her heels when she let it down. She was 
usually as brown as a gypsy and was as restless as I am. 
It was nothing for her to slip quietly away and then send 
us a letter from Stavanger in Norway, where she had gone 
salmon fishing, or from Cuba, or from Gaspe. 

Her father was a clergyman, the Reverend Dr. David 
Allen Warren, who started as a Presbyterian but got into 
a row with the Synod because he declared that the Lord's 
Prayer was incorrectly translated — it was insulting to ask 
the Lord not to lead us into temptation because, naturally, 
He would not be so unkind as to do any such thing. The 
congregation, being very fond of him, slid with him over 
into the Congregational fold with its complete autonomy, 
and he continued to preach in Verona, New York, until 
his death. 

Verona was near an Indian reservation, and Grand- 



16 Naturalist at Large 

mother thrilled me with tales of how, as a little girl, she 
would come down early in the morning to dig out the pine 
knot which was buried in the embers each evening so that 
the fire could be easily kindled the next day. She would 
sometimes find three or four Indians sleeping on the floor 
in front of the hearth. They would leave a haunch of veni- 
son, or fish from Oneida Lake, or berries, out of gratitude 
for the hospitality. The time, of course, was well over a 
hundred years ago. 

Grandmother and I went down to Miami from Eau 
GaUie. The railroad had only been built a short time 
before, and we stayed at the Royal Palm Hotel, which was 
then only partly built. A day or two after we arrived, a 
gray-haired gentleman in the dining room came over and 
spoke to Grandmother. He was Henry M. Flagler, who had 
been an usher at her wedding. He suggested that we go 
with him to Nassau, where he was to buy some property. 

So it happened that I got in Nassau my first glimpse of 
the tropics — an iron which entered so deeply into my 
soul that it is still completely embedded. The specimens of 
snakes and lizards which I secured at that time became the 
nucleus of my own collection and are now part of the 
collections of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at 
Harvard. Imagine a timid, introspective youngster thrown, 
at the most impressionable moment of his life, into the one 
spot most ideally framed to arouse imagination to the 
fullest. Grandmother was as keen as I to sail over the Sea 
Gardens and peer at their wonders through a water glass. 
I don't remember glass-bottomed boats in Nassau at this 
early date. We sailed among the little cays which surround 
New Providence Island, picnicked, and collected shells. 



The Mind's Eye 17 

Grandmother made herself extremely unpopular by col- 
lecting and taking back with her to Eau GaUie one John 
Sumpter, who had been Lady Blake's gardener — and Sir 
Henry Blake was Governor of the Bahamas. He took care 
of her garden till he died. 

I can thank Grandmother for starting me on the road 
to being a naturalist — she was the only member of the 
family who thoroughly encouraged me all the time. Father 
and Mother were perfectly fair and believed that I had 
the right to decide about my own career, but they were 
utterly unenthusiastic. I think the only time Father ever 
came to the University Museum — it must have been early 
in my freshman year — he walked up to Alexander Agas- 
siz and asked if he knew where I could be found. At this 
time, of course, Mr. Agassiz didn't know me from Adam. 
But he asked Father, "What is your son interested in?" 
and Father answered, "Pickling toads." So Mr. Agassiz 
steered him down to Samuel Garman's quarters where he 
found me. 

I was no stranger to the Museum, for the reason that I 
had been previously under the spell of an ardent lover of 
Harvard, Theodore W. Moses of Exeter. Dr. Moses, a 
friend of my father, tutored me when I had trouble at 
school because of an attack of typhoid fever which knocked 
me flat in the middle of the school year. He asked Father 
to allow him to take me to Cambridge when he went up 
for his twenty-fifth reunion in June 1 899. I had been des- 
tined for Princeton, but this visit to Cambridge changed 
the course of my life. I did not want to hsten to the tire- 
some speeches on the afternoon of Commencement Day, so 
I sneaked off and visited the Museum. Here I wandered 



18 Naturalist at Large 

alone for hours, completely entranced. I had been often to 
the natural history museums in New York and Washing- 
ton, but here was something entirely different, and I soon 
discovered that this was essentially a museum for the edi- 
fication of naturalists rather than for the great urban public 
which the museum in New York had to cater to. 

I spotted some specimens which I thought were wrongly 
labeled — and as a matter of fact they were. I wrote with 
all the dignity of my thirteen years to Dr. Woodworth, 
then Acting Custodian of the Museum, who was rather in- 
furiated by my temerity. As I look back on it, I don't 
blame him. I suspect that my letter was as fresh as green 
paint. I made up my mind that very day that if I lived I 
would be Director of the Museum. I had to wait until 1927. 
Mr. Lowell wanted me to take office earlier, but I begged 
him not to push matters. I was perfectly willing to wait 
out of consideration for my predecessor. No consideration 
was ever more completely wasted, or more ill-conceived, 
for my predecessor left the Museum in a huff and never 
entered it again or spoke to me as long as he lived — and 
he lived to the ripe old age of ninety-one. 

I came to college as complete a social misfit as ever 
breathed. I was abnormally shy, suffered from a bad in- 
feriority complex, was tall and gangling. But fortune fa- 
vored me. I had spent the summer of 1 90 1 at a boys' camp 
near Bridgewater, New Hampshire. There I had a won- 
derful time puttering with a tiny museum of natural history 
and writing a list of the reptiles of New Hampshire and 
something of their habits. Dr. Glover M. Allen had been a 
counselor in this camp the year before, and in some way I 



The Mind's Eye 19 

learned that he was a kind and friendly person. So he 
proved to be. 

When I came to college I chose a room in the corner of 
Conant Hall, because there was no place where I could be 
nearer the Museum. I chose Professor Robert T. Jackson 
as my Freshman Adviser, to my great good fortune, for 
he and I have been good friends from that day to this. 
I soon found that Allen roomed in Perkins Hall, directly 
across Oxford Street from my lodgings, and as soon as I 
was settled and had an evening clear, I went over and 
knocked at the door of 28 Perkins Hall. I found him and 
his roommate, Austin H. Clark, both at home and intro- 
duced myself. One thing led to another. Austin Clark in- 
troduced me to Garman in the Museum. Allen introduced 
me to Henry B. Bigelow, who was preparing to take his 
doctor's degree, as was Glover. Gradually I found myself 
at least a tolerated member of a small congenial group of 
men of the highest intellectual quality, whose conversa- 
tion was infinitely more enlightening and educational than 
most of the courses which I took during my not particu- 
larly distinguished undergraduate career. 

It was while I was in college that my brother Warren 
contracted tuberculosis and Dr. Trudeau cured him at 
Saranac. Then he advised Warren to go to Bermuda for 
the winter. I joined him for the Christmas holidays. As 
usual, I was infatuated with the chance to collect. The 
coral reefs at Hungry Bay were easily reached at low tide, 
and everything was new and enchanting. 

I stayed in Bermuda long after I should have been back 
in Cambridge. On my return I got more or less caught up, 
but my marks were not very good. The next spring Dr. 



20 Naturalist at Large 

Bigelow and I went to Bermuda with Professor Mark to 
open the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, an 
organization which still exists. While in Bermuda on this 
second trip I got word that Professor Shaler had done the 
unprecedented and had given me a D in Geology 4. This 
made me a dropped freshman when I returned to college, 
and I had to report like a convict on parole to Dean George 
H. Chase. Then I began to work at my studies. Next term 
I was again in good standing and got good marks for the 
rest of my undergraduate years. But when the time came 
to take my A.B. degree I asked the registrar, Mr. George 
Washington Cram, whether it could not be granted cum 
laude as I had the requisite number of A's and B's. I found, 
however, that my sins were not to be forgiven me, and I 
got no such thing. 

I did not take my A.M. until after I had come back from 
the East Indies, nor my Ph.D. until after I had been to 
South America as a member of the North American dele- 
gation to the First Pan-American Scientific Congress, held 
at Santiago, Chile, in 1908. Professor Archibald Cary 
Coolidge was a member of our delegation. Probably I 
should never have met him if we had not been thrown 
together in this way, for I took no history or economics, 
or indeed anything, during those days of free electives, 
except zoology, botany, and languages. Archie and his sec- 
retary, Clarence Hay, became dear and valued friends. 

On the Santiago trip, Archie would come up to me at 
sea with two pads and pencils and we would see how 
quickly we could write down the names of the nineteen 
provinces of China or the twenty-three states of Mexico, 
or bound the province of Uganda or Togoland, or name 



The Mind's Eye 21 

the Grenadine Islands. It was good practice in learning 
geography, and a knowledge of geography is infinitely use- 
ful to a museologist. I don't say that I always won at these 
games, but I held my own pretty well, and Archie made me 
feel proud by saying that he had never known any other 
person who knew so many place names and their loca- 
tion. It was simply the vagary of a peculiar type of mem- 
ory. But this, with an ability to remember the names of 
animals, thousands and thousands of them, has been use- 
ful; and I have more luck in holding onto the names of 
more different kinds of animals than anyone I have ever 
met. I feel perfectly certain, however, that my friend El- 
mer Merrill can name more plants at a glance than I can 
animals. 

While I was an undergraduate I was too shy to make 
any friends among my classmates. I came to know some of 
them very well later on, I am proud to say, the most dis- 
tinguished of them being Herbert Winlock, noted Egyptol- 
ogist and former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of 
Art in New York. I Hterally did not know that there were 
any such things as clubs in Cambridge. I had heard some 
names, but they meant nothing to me. I joined the Harvard 
Natural History Society and attended its meetings quite 
faithfully, becoming president in my senior year. Many 
years later I was made an Honorary Member of the Signet 
and was much touched at the compliment, as I was when 
elected an Honorary Member of Phi Beta Kappa. 



CHAPTER IV 

95 



" For Richer for Poorer 



E 



VEN before I entered Harvard, one of the greatest 
stimulants to my career had come to me in the course of 
my schoolboy visits to the New York Zoological Park, 
where I used to spend my Saturdays. I knew Professor 
Henry Fairfield Osborn, the President of the Zoological 
Society, because one of his sons was a schoolmate of mine. 
To me, a shy fifteen-year-older in those days, he seemed 
very awesome, but one Saturday afternoon he did some- 
thing which enriched my life more than he ever realized. 
On this occasion he sat down beside me in the train going 
back from the Bronx to Grand Central Station. He asked 
me what I had been reading and then said, "There are four 
great books for boys who like natural history." And he 
named them: Wallace's Malay Archipelago, Belt's The 
Naturalist in Nicaragua, Bates's book on the Amazon, and 
Hudson's on the La Plata region. Well, I read them in this 
order. Wallace's book, coming first, made the greatest im- 
pression; I read it over and over again until I knew it almost 
by heart. And my desire to see the Dutch East Indies be- 
came so all-consuming that I must have seemed a veritable 
monomaniac to my parents. 

I was married on the first of October, 1906. When I 
had won a yes from Rosamond, in the face of countless 
competitors, I soft-pedaled the fact that I planned to leave 
for the Dutch East Indies as soon as we were married. This 








Rosamond 

and 

Thomas Barbour 



By John Singer Sargent, 191^ 



'''For Richer for Poorer' 23 

news, when It broke, caused a bit of a surprise. My wife 
had once been west of the Adirondacks, once south to New 
York, and once north to North Haven. 

She had lived in Brookhne, surrounded by untold cohorts 
of Bowditches, Higginsons, and Cabots, all kin, and many 
of them what in Charleston would be called "kissin' kin." 
I do not have to enlarge upon the fact that she is a strong- 
minded and masterful person; if you belong in these clans 
you are that automatically. I cry at funerals and at movies 
and at certain types of music, particularly "The Flowers 
of the Forest" on a good pipes band. She always has her 
emotions completely in hand. She is as bold and daring, 
especially in facing misfortune, as I am shrinking and cow- 
ardly. 

The day after Rosamond and I were married we sailed 
on the Ivernia for Queenstown. My father's family came 
from Northern Ireland, and in 1906 a number of his uncles 
were still alive and were keen to have a look at my bride. 
I cannot remember now which one gave the party, but a 
celebration was staged in honor of our arrival. A big bar- 
rel of Jamieson's, not too old, was put out on the lawn 
for the benefit of all and sundry. The next day I met Danny 
Ferris, one of the gardeners, and asked him if he had had 
a good time. He said, "Oh, God, Mr. Tommy, I could 
neither stand up, nor sit down, nor roll on the ground." 
He must have been really tight. Pat Dooley told me that 
his wife had bitten him. And he added, "I was only bit 
but twice in me life, once by me ass and once by me 
woman. And yesterday I wished to God the ass had swal- 
lowed me." 

My Uncle James's two old gardeners, bosom friends, 



24 Naturalist at Large 

walked down the road after the party, one saying to the 
other, "Don't say it," and the other muttering, "I must! 
I must!" This was repeated over and over again until one 
blurted out, "To hell with King William." And his col- 
league, who was a Protestant, promptly picked up a cob- 
blestone, knocked him on the head, and kicked him into 
the gutter. For those are fighting words indeed in that 
lovely land. 

The blame for the fighting is evenly divided. On the 
anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne the Orangemen pa- 
rade with the whole idea of insulting their Catholic neigh- 
bors. They sing: — 

Teeter, totter, milk and water, 
Slaughter the Catholics every one; 
We will take them to battle 
And kill them like cattle, 
And pile them up under 
The Protestant's drum. 

Of course preparation has been duly made and the house- 
tops are well piled with cobblestones and brickbats. The 
great Linen Thread Works, which have been operated by 
my family since the middle of the eighteenth century, ex- 
pect to close down for a few days twice each year — once 
after the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne and again 
after St. Patrick's Day. 

Father told a story which well illustrates the unbeliev- 
able agility of the Hibernian mind. It ran something like 
this: — 

Ireland is a rainy country, but there are spells of dry 
weather. At such times an elderly retainer was employed 



* 'F(9r Richer for Poorer ' 2 5 

to bring water from a pond near by for the garden or for 
sprinkling the driveway. Father asked this old man in a 
bantering way what capacity his cart had. The old man 
told him. "How many trips do you have to make in the 
course of a year?" And the old man told him how many. 
"Well," said Father, "I have a sovereign for you if you 
can figure out how many gallons of water you haul from 
one end of the season to the other." "Oh," replied the old 
man, "that's too easy. I haul all the water you don't see in 
that pond there now." 

We are inclined to laugh at the Irish, to be impatient 
with them sometimes, but deep in our hearts we love them 
and admire them for their bravery, their loyalty, their love 
of poetry and flowers, their kindness to animals, and their 
unfailingly warm hearts. In the words of the old song, 
"Who then can blame us if Ireland is famous for murther 
and whiskey and beauty and love?" 

After our visit to Ireland, we crossed over to London 
for a few days before taking the express from Calais to 
Brindisi to catch the boat for Egypt. At London I went to 
the office of Thomas Cook and bought a skeleton ticket 
which covered a good many of the inevitable steamship 
runs, such as Port Said to Aden, Aden to Bombay, Calcutta 
to Rangoon, Yokohama to San Francisco. This consisted 
of a mass of coupons pinned together which were to be 
exchanged for steamship tickets. These coupons I inadvert- 
ently put in Rosamond's trunk. Then this trunk caused our 
first marital argument. It was a veritable leviathan of a 
trunk. I have never seen another one so large. I said, "Buy 
ten little trunks that can be easily handled and let's ship 
that white elephant of yours home.'* 



26 Naturalist at Large 

Rosamond finally agreed. Our warm clothing and heavy- 
overcoats, which we had needed for the North Atlantic 
crossing and were not likely to need again, and sundry 
purchases made in England filled it up. Father's agents in 
London arranged to handle its transfer to Boston, and I 
mailed the key about two hours before train time. Just as 
we were ready to leave for the station, it occurred to me 
that all those coupons were in the trunk. I rushed down- 
stairs in a frenzy. In the old Metropole Hotel, where this 
affair took place, there was a letter box right by the door 
of the elevator. By inexpressible good fortune I reached 
the bottom step just as the postman, key in hand, was un- 
locking the box. I spotted the letter and made a grab for it, 
pushed a half sovereign into the bewildered postman's palm, 
and jumped for the elevator. Before the postman could yell 
"Stop thief," I had the key extracted. We just made the 
train. 

By nature I am a timorous person. Physical bravery is 
no part of my make-up and all my life I have dodged trou- 
ble rather than looked for it. For this reason, while I have 
traveled a good deal, I have few adventures to recount. 
My friends often counter with the statement, "But you 
catch poisonous snakes with your hands." This, of course, 
is only partially true. You need the right sort of stick and 
then, when you know how, picking up snakes, whether 
harmless or poisonous, is no trick at all. 

My wife and I, however, made one trip in 1906 which 
for some reason was crowded with thrills. A family friend, 
Sir Frederick Palmer, Chief Engineer of the Port of Cal- 
cutta Authority, gave us one of the Survey vessels for a 



'"'For Richer for Poorer' 27 

trip to the Sunderbunds. At certain times of the year, 
when the water is high, the shifting sands of the Hooghly 
River make it necessary to revise pilot charts every few 
days, and a number of vessels are constantly employed in 
this work. But in the dry season they are not so busy, and 
one was available for our use. 

We sailed from Calcutta down into the vast network 
©f waterways which make up the double delta, for the 
Hooghly River and the Brahmaputra River flow into the 
Bay of Bengal near together. This region, called the Sun- 
derbunds, is a maze of islands, and at low water each of 
these is fringed by wide marginal flats grown with grass 
and bushes, which are flooded at the height of the rainy 
season. 

On these open maidans, as they are called, the axis deer, 
or chital, swarm at night to graze. Tigers abound and feed 
on the chital, and there is an abundance of wild life of 
other sorts. We spent several nights in a machan, a platform 
high in a tree, with tethered goat for bait. We wanted to 
kill a tiser, but there was too much wild food about, and 
while we saw fresh tracks and heard tigers, we never saw 
one. 

Late one morning, after we had slept for some hours 
following our night's vigil, I took my net and Rosamond 
her box of papers, and we set to collecting butterflies. 
There were clumps of flowering shrubs three or four feet 
high, the plants looking something like our buttonbush. A 
good many butterflies were coming to these flowers, and 
the collecting was good. A boy followed us with my dou- 
ble-barreled Manton Express rifle on his shoulder. I looked 
back to speak to him for some reason, and saw that he had 



JS Naturalist at Large 

disappeared. Just then a perfectly magnificent tiger walked 
out from one of these clumps of bushes and stalked away- 
over the open grass as if he were crossing a lawn, his tail 
straight in the air, its tip flicking from side to side. Since 
there was no particular object in running away, nor any 
place to run to, we stood and watched him walk majes- 
tically out of sight behind another thicket. 

A few days later the captain of our little vessel went 
out with us to get some snipe for the pot. We got widely 
separated, and I heard him shoot from time to time, but 
naturally I paid no particular attention. Later on, circling 
about to return to our meeting place, I heard a snort, and 
a giant wild boar which he had wounded charged me on 
three legs with an unbelievable alacrity. I realized, how- 
ever, that I held a deadly weapon in my hand if I only shot 
straight. I waited until he was about ten feet away and then 
put a charge of snipe-shot straight in the middle of his fore- 
head. He fell dead and skidded almost to my feet. The 
charge of shot entered his skull like a soHd slug, and the 
pressure on his brain popped out both his eyes, so that they 
hung by their optic nerves. He never moved. Then our 
gunbearer turned out to be a Mohammedan, so I had to 
skin out the saddle and hindquarters and carry them back 
to the boat. Luckily we had a Hindu cook of a caste which 
allowed him to handle pig. In due season we dined sump- 
tuously. 

The third event — and mind you, all this happened within 
ten days — almost ended tragically. I was standing in a flat 
skiff called a panchi, the butt of my double-barreled Ex- 
press rifle resting on the thwart in front of me. The search- 



'''For Richer for Poorer'' 29 

light of our boat played on a group of chital, and I was 
being paddled up under the beam of light with the idea 
of shooting one. The skiff liit a submerged stump, and 
bounced the stock of the heavy gun off the thwart. As it 
dropped, the hammers caught. The weight of the gun 
sprung them enough to fire both barrels. 

The great lead slugs passed through my hands as they 
slid off the barrel of the gun, burning my palms badly, and 
cut the brim of my pith helmet, curiously enough, without 
knocking it off. My face was filled with black powder 
grains. I sat down, considerably shaken, and went back to 
the boat, where my wife and the captain helped me aboard. 
The gun, was badly damaged, so there was nothing to do 
but return to Calcutta, which we did at once, and there 
Major Camalliri, surgeon of the Coldstream Guards, picked 
the powder grains out of my face. A few days' rest set 
everything to rights. In my usual hypochondriacal way, I 
wasted a lot of mental energy awaiting tetanus, but in due 
time there was too much else to think about and this non- 
sense got pushed out of mind. 

While Rosamond and I were resting at Darjeeling, after 
I had pretty nearly blown my head off in the Sunderbunds, 
we met an interesting character, a Mr. Mueller, He col- 
lected all sorts of objects, from Tibetan bronzes to butter- 
flies, and was in touch, by correspondence, with museum 
directors everywhere. He had for sale some of the ma- 
terial picked up by members of the Younghusband expe- 
dition to Lhasa, and Rosamond proceeded to get a few 
mementos of our visit. 

He remarked casually to me that this was the season of 



30 f Naturalist at Large 

year when his professional butterfly collectors worked 
most successfully. These men were Lepchas, a tribe 
of hillmen from Bhutan who were born naturalists. 
I had often heard of the wonderful variety of butter- 
flies to be found in the deep tropical valley of the Teesta 
River. 

The upshot was that he agreed to hire for me several 
of his very best collectors, and Amir Hassein immediately 
set out to get ponies and suppHes. We set forth early one 
morning, I on a sturdy gray pony, for I was slender and 
light in those days. Collecting along the road as we went, 
we arrived at nightfall at the Dak Bungalow near the bridge 
over the Teesta River. 

On this trip I first had a chance to see really fine, high 
tropical rain forest. I also had my first sight of a troop of 
monal pheasants with an enormous cock leading his harem 
across the narrow road — a glittering mass of metallic 
golden bronze and green, the sun striking his back as he 
moved proudly on his way. He certainly topped my ex- 
perience observing wild life up to that moment. 

Then, of course, there were many other birds, jungle 
fowl, and other species of pheasants, and lastly, the but- 
terflies. These were in astonishing variety. The Lepchas 
were keen as mustard and extraordinarily skillful with their 
long-handled nets. We caught and papered butterflies until 
we had a magnificent collection. 

After several days of continuous excitement and enjoy- 
ment we returned to Darjeeling, where I joined Rosamond, 
who was waiting for me there. I supplemented the collec- 
tion we had made ourselves with material purchased from 
our friend Mr. Mueller and sent the whole collection back 



"Fcr Richer for Poorer' ' 3 1 

to the Museum. There, by the most inexcusable careless- 
ness, it was mislaid and so badly eaten by Dermestes that 
few of the specimens ever finally reached the collection. 

At Lucknow, in India, we went out to a village with a 
friend of our bearer, Amir Hassein. This friend lived in a 
village within easy driving distance. Amir had spoken of 
the fact that his master (meaning me) was obviously crazy, 
as he was interested in snakes and other loathsome crea- 
tures. It seemed that a giant cobra lived in an abandoned 
rodent burrow near a path between the friend's village and 
a stream where the women went to draw water. In passing 
along this way at night, because it was cooler then, several 
people had trod on this cobra. Only a few days before, a 
child had been bitten and had died. 

Now of course they could not kill the cobra. You re- 
member that when Buddha was asleep under the Bo tree, 
the cobra came up and spread its hood to shade his sleep- 
ing eyes. The Master blessed the cobra then; and if you 
don't believe it, how do you explain the fact that the two 
finger marks are to be seen on the cobra's hood? So nat- 
urally the cobra is sacred, and no native was going to risk 
his prospects of the hereafter by killing it. But no one 
cared a rap about my chances in the hereafter, and if I 
killed the cobra, so much the better. 

We trudged out across the dusty plain and came at last 
to the little hole where the villagers said the cobra lived. 
I had an old entrenching tool which I used to dig insects out 
of rotten logs, and with this I commenced to enlarge the 
hole, cutting down in the hard-baked earth. I got down 
about a foot before I saw what was obviously skin of either 



32 Naturalist at Large 

a lizard or a snake. I strongly suspected snake. I gave it a 
poke with the tip of my digger and out came the most 
magnificent cobra you ever saw. 

We subsequently preserved any number of them for 
specimens, but none so "manner-gorgeous" as this one. It 
came out, reared up, its beady eyes peering from side to 
side as it moved its head inquiringly, its tongue flashing. 
I had to have a picture of it. I had no long-focus camera in 
those days and I wanted a picture of this cobra which 
would fill the whole plate. I got it (I have the picture 
framed on my wall at this moment) by lying down on the 
ground and edging up until I was right in front of the 
snake. My wife stood by with an open parasol, and when 
he saw fit to make a nip at the camera, which meant com- 
ing pretty close to my face and hands, she would lower 
the parasol in front of him and he would sway back and 
straighten up again. I took a number of excellent snapshots 
and then carefully shot the snake with a charge of dust-shot 
in a .38 cartridge so as to damage him as little as possible. 

We got an earthenware jar from the village near by, 
coiled our treasure down in it, and went back to Lucknow. 
Rosamond refused to have the snake in our room because, 
as she wisely maintained, snakes have a way of coming to 
life after they have apparently been killed. The upshot was 
that a jackal sneaked up on the low clay porch in front 
of the room and carried off the cobra while we were hav- 
ing supper. But I still have the photograph, and I am still 
just as convinced as I was then that I am fortunate in 
having a wife who is not only beautiful but brave. I had 
stepped into great good fortune. 



. \* 



^^ 



i-«f ♦■»■■ 



^ '. * 



,«*,',• 



•Mi 






t.. 




^^'f^^-^'-^-i:^^. 











1' 7". Bill hour 



The big cobra killed near Liicknow on the fifteenth of 

November, 1906 



''''For Richer for Poorer'' 33 

Forty years ago India was a travelers' Mecca, but rela- 
tively few thought Burma worth more than a glance. They 
would sail from Calcutta to Rangoon, look at the great 
pagoda, rush up to Mandalay and see the sights of the 
city, interesting enough to be sure, and then call it a day 
and move on. We decided to do a Httle differently. 

We crossed from Calcutta to Mandalay and found some- 
thing which I have never forgotten and which really 
whetted our appetites for more. This was not Shwe-Dagon, 
astounding as that great temple is, but rather a row of big 
trees of Amherstia nobilis encircling the lake in the city 
park. Amherstia is certainly the A number i flowering 
tree of the whole world and this is its homeland. The indi- 
vidual blossoms look like tiny hummingbirds each mounted 
on a slender wire and all tied into a long dropping cord, 
so that the dozen or more little birdlike flowers stick out 
quite evenly in all directions. The individual blooms are 
scarlet with big blobs of gold symmetrically placed and 
as sharply defined as if each one were hand-painted. The 
fohage of the tree, especially the new shoots, is delicately 
tinted, and with the leaves makes up a combination of 
color and form which is superb. After driving out re- 
peatedly to look at the Amherstias, we decided to post- 
pone our trip to Java, where we had a real job to do, in 
order to see a little more of this fascinating country. For 
the more we heard of it the more we wanted to see. And 
naturally we took time to watch the elephants a-piUn' teak 
and all that sort of thing while we were making plans. Late 
one afternoon a comfortable train landed us in Mandalay, 
where we did the ordinary sightseeing of palaces and 
shrines. Rosamond reveled in the silk market and I went 



34 Naturalist at Large 

snipe shooting: snipe were plentiful in the rice fields and 
the sport was excellent. 

Comfortable and reasonably rapid express steamers car- 
ried the mails from Mandalay to the head of navigation 
on the Irrawaddy, and on these most of the few visitors 
desiring to take the trip usually traveled. We, however, 
to our great good fortune, found that the Irrawaddy Flotilla 
Company was planning to send a bazaar boat up the river 
in a few days and that this would offer a comfortable and 
leisurely way to see this long stretch of water. My wife 
has never had much inclination to explore, so that this was a 
compromise proposition. Because I have had few trips of 
this sort, this pleasant river trip probably looms larger in 
my memory than it would have done otherwise. Never- 
theless, since no American will take it again for many a 
long day, some of the high lights may be worth setting 
forth. 

The boat on which we traveled was like a gigantic 
pumpkin seed with a great stern wheel. She had a fine 
upper deck giving forward, an airy dining room and quite 
comfortable cabins, with the beds well screened. She was 
built to draw very little water because the river Is shallow 
and the bars shift constantly. Lashed alongside was an even 
larger flatboat or scow, roofed over but with open sides. 
On this great barge space was rented out to merchants who 
sold almost everything. This meant that we traveled slowly, 
did not run at night, and tied up at innumerable little vil- 
lages where the people on shore would come piling down 
to bargain and chaffer with the merchants on board the 
flat. We had time for many pleasant walks In the woods, 
for opportunities to observe birds and animals, and even 



* ''For Richer for Poorer' ' 3 5 

the chance to do a little collecting of reptiles, although 
the season was unfavorably dry. Occasionally, moreover, 
we shot ducks to vary our everlasting diet of curry, and 
we did pick up a fair number of lizards and the like. 

Rosamond had a regular busman's hoHday when we 
stopped at Thaybeitkyin, which is the river port for Mogoc 
where the famous ruby fields are located. Of course the 
officials in charge of the mines take great care to see that 
bootlegging of rubies does not take place; nevertheless, 
the natives are very shrewd and it is possible to pick up 
tiny but lovely colored stones at low rates. And this place 
was sufficiently remote so that there was little danger of 
having imitation stones offered to us. 

We stopped in many strange little towns. I remember 
particularly Mingoon, where there is the largest hanging bell 
in the world. (The great bell in Moscow is a little larger 
but has a chunk knocked out of it and it is set down on 
the pavement in the city.) The great bell at Mingoon is 
about two feet clear of the ground and as you creep under 
it and look up twelve feet or more into the beautiful pol- 
ished inner surface, you can but wonder what would hap- 
pen if it dropped while you were inside. In the East great 
bells are usually struck with staghorns or with a heavy 
billet of teakwood hung in the middle with a tail of rope 
that you can haul back and then let go. The noise is not 
overwhelming when you are right beside the bell, but it is 
tremendously impressive at the distance of a mile or so. 

One day while sitting on the lower deck — and this was 
but a few inches above the water level — away out ahead 
I could see a good-sized snake swimming out from shore. 
I figured that we should probably meet at the rate we both 



36 Naturalist at Large 

were traveling. I seized a broom handle or something of 
the sort — I may even have snatched him up with my 
hand — anyway he came right alongside the bow as we 
went by and I pitched him up on the deck. He was a lovely 
iridescent Burmese python about seven feet long, skin 
freshly shed and an ideal size to preserve. Most specimens 
are enormous and require too much alcohol. I had no con- 
tainer on board which would hold this fellow, so I put 
him in a pillowcase and kept him in my room until we got 
back to Mandalay. Rarely will a snake strike while in a 
bag and if he does his fine needlelike teeth will catch in the 
fabric and indeed often fetch loose. This fellow as usual 
made no attempt to escape. He rests in the museum at 
Cambridge to this day as a souvenir of our journey. 

I think that the most amusing^ siojht we saw was one 
which was repeated on a number of occasions. This was 
a chance to watch the enormous droves of macaque mon- 
keys working along the riverbank. They moved slowly 
along, industriously turning over stones, pulling sticks and 
logs about, the old individuals appearing very serious, while 
the myriad youngsters gamboled about the tree tops over 
the heads of the traveling band. Every once in a while a 
young monkey would come down and sit on a branch 
which was near the ground, and waiting for the crowd 
to pass beneath him would seize one of the elders by the 
tail and give it a mighty twitch. This would set all hands 
to scolding and bickering and chasing one another, as 
punishment was passed out down the line. 

Once we saw a smallish elephant come down to drink 
and once up near Katha a giant cow. This big elephant 
was so tame and paid so little attention to our clumsy- 



'''For Richer for Poorer' • 37 

looking flotilla that I thought she must have been a tame 
elephant which had wandered off from some lumber opera- 
tion. I found that there was no lumbering going on in the 
area and that she was unquestionably a wild animal and 
a very fine one to boot. Birds were a great source of in- 
terest — pigeons and paraquets especially — and the occa- 
sional pairs of hornbills crossing the river were always im- 
pressive. Their heavy wing beats were accompanied by a 
noise like the puffing of a locomotive on a heavy grade a 
mile or so away. 

In most of the villages there were little monasteries 
where the yellow-robed Buddhist monks ran what might be 
called their parochial schools, and of course these people 
never killed anything. Hence the great Tokkay geckos 
which lived in the thatched roofs were always undisturbed. 
Sometimes the monks frowned upon our catching these 
lizards to preserve them, albeit not very actively. We 
learned that the gentle monks sitting around in the evening 
would make pools and gamble moderately on the number 
of times that these lizards would call, for their name "Tok- 
kay" is taken from the sound which they make, and it is 
usually repeated from five to nine times at each bout of 
singing. 

The trip ended at Bhamo, where the caravans outfitted 
and loaded up to carry the goods of British India to Teng- 
yueh or Talifu in China. We were impressed by the hand- 
some mules and by the singularly good-looking muleteers, 
for these Chinese were tall and sturdy. They were well 
dressed in blue and their queues, which they all wore in 
those days, reached down almost to their heels. The people 
around Bhamo are not Burmese but Kachins, a primitive 



38 Naturalist at Large 

folk, picturesque, rather offish, and dressed gaily in red 
and blue. We succeeded in getting some of their swords 
and other artifacts for the Peabody Museum. After leav- 
ing Bhamo we slipped downstream, the current carrying 
us along quite quickly, and in a few days were back again 
in Mandalay. 

This excursion had proved so enjoyable and to our no- 
tion so instructive that we decided to try one more Bur- 
mese expedition. We had heard of the Gokteik Gorge. This 
was to be reached by the railroad which runs out into the 
Shan states. It is from the end of this railroad that the 
Burma Road runs. We went first to Mamyio, a pleasant hill 
station, and then on to the gorge where there was a ddk 
bungalow, just a short distance before the railway ended 
at Lashio. The last stage of the journey was made in a 
somewhat primitive railroad coach: I remember finding 
the sliding door which led into the wasliroom completely 
covered, and I mean loo per cent covered, with the largest 
and most ablebodied cockroaches I have ever seen. They 
scattered about when they were disturbed but before long 
crawled back and took up their old roosting places. 

The extremely deep Gokteik Gorge through which a 
stream ran was very narrow and the cliffs which formed 
its walls were so close together, and both "slantindicular" 
in the same direction, that the effect was just like being in 
a cave. We looked up and saw no sky. Here there was an 
enormous colony of cave swifts of the genus Collocalia, 
a genus abundant, widespread, multitudinous in species, 
and distributed all over southeastern Asia and the islands. 
It is from one species of the genus, in the East Indies, that 
the nests made of the swifts' dried saliva are gathered to 



* 'For Richer for Poorer ' 3 9 

make Chinese bird's-nest soup. The owning and leasing 
of these caves is native high finance. 

The country about us swarmed with game. Tracks of 
bear, deer, and leopard were literally everywhere. I asked 
my bearer to gather some beaters and we tried a drive, 
but since the vegetation was so thick and since we could 
post only one watcher, myself, there was only a small 
chance that whatever game they moved would come in 
sight. Plenty of game was moved — of that there was no 
doubt, as I could hear both it and the excited shouts of our 
beaters. Unfortunately we saw nothing. 

From the bungalow everything which went on in the 
neighborhood, however, could certainly be heard. It was 
a little building set up on high posts with a good roof but 
more or less open on all sides. I knew well the inordinate 
racket made by peacocks where they were really common, 
for I had heard them abundantly in Jeypore in India. This 
was just another place where the constant noise made by 
the peacocks was well reinforced by numbers of jungle 
fowl. These wild chickens would crow in the morning 
with high, shrill calls like those of leghorns multiplied a 
hundredfold; all these birds saw to it that there was no 
oversleeping. We got butterflies and some other insects but 
our Burmese collections were by no means outstanding. 
We were just loafing and enjoying ourselves to the very 
fullest. 

I shall always think of this country in vivid contrast to 
India. When we were there, the people were singularly 
friendly. The wide variety of gay costumes worn by Shans, 
Kerens, Kachins, and Burmese made up a satisfying va- 
riety. The Burmese young men and girls were especially 



40 Naturalist at Large 

gay and attractive to look at. I am sure the universal land 
clearing has greatly changed those gloriously forested 
banks. 

The variety of native craft both rowed and propelled 
by sail was a constant source of interest. Some of the boats 
were beautifully decorated and wonderfully carved. Enor- 
mous rafts of teak would come down the river, each with 
a whole encampment of rivermen housed on their artificial 
island. Every log of teak was made to float by having 
bundles of giant dry bamboos lashed fast to its length. 
These rafts made running at night difficult and dangerous. 

Today Rangoon is a ruined city, as is also Mandalay. 
It must have been impossible to bombard and to bomb 
these towns without destroying their superb examples of 
old Burmese architecture, with the gorgeous teakwork 
carvings and the strangely ornate roofs. Gone too must be 
the myriad pagodas, ranging in size from lovely little ala- 
baster structures, which were to be found literally by 
hundreds around Mandalay, to the great Shwe-Dagon 
at Rangoon. This temple, plated with gold from top to 
bottom, looked as high as the Washington Monument, 
though I suppose it was not. Forty years ago Burma was a 
land of romance and charm. It is a pity that war had to 
come to it. 



CHAPTER V 

Wallace and the Dutch East 



I 



N MY pocket at the start of our journey I had the best 
of all passports to the Dutch East Indies. It was a letter 
of introduction from Mr. Agassiz to Dr. Treub, the fa- 
mous botanist, head of the Gardens at Buitenzorg and 
Minister of Agriculture. After our mild zoological ad- 
ventures in India and Burma, we finally fetched up in 
Batavia. Major Ouwens, the charming and friendly direc- 
tor of the Zoological Museum in the Buitenzorg Gardens, 
passed the word along, and all day streams of men and 
boys — and girls too, for that matter — Uned up either at 
the museum or at our lodgings near by with hollow joints 
of giant bamboo carefully plugged with wads of grass and 
leaves. Each contained a treasure — snakes of countless 
sorts, frogs, toads, lizards, insects, and fishes. We pickled 
and shipped unceasingly. I had been for a long time sur- 
reptitiously learning Malay, so that when I reached Java 
I could bicker and bargain, and consequently acquired a 
great collection very reasonably. 

We had some weeks on our hands in Batavia before the 
trim little steamship BotJo made one of her three-a-year 
voyages to the eastern islands of the far-flung empire of 
Insulindia. After deep cogitation, we had picked out this 
voyage as offering a chance to see the greatest number of 
locaHties mentioned by Wallace. There were numberless 
voyages to choose from, as the little steamers of the K.P.M. 



42 Naturalist at Large 

(Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij) poked their noses 
in and out of scores upon scores of out-of-the-way har- 
bors. Finally, on January 24, 1907, we set forth. 

Our passage was leisurely, loading and unloading was 
slow, and there were always letters to be waited for or 
merchants whose affairs dragged on, as always when one is 
dealing with Orientals. First came Bali, a very different Bali 
from the island as it is, or was a short time ago. The Dutch 
had just conquered it, and the natives were still pretty well 
unpacified. Then Lombok, chiefly memorable as producing 
a new toad which I named Biifo cavator. Then Macassar, 
Buru, Ambon, Ceram, Obi, and lovely Ternate. 

Here came a real thrill, for I was stopped in the street 
one day as my wife and I were preparing to climb up to 
the Crater Lake. With us were Ah Woo with his butterfly 
net, Indit and Bandoung, our well-trained Javanese col- 
lectors, with shotguns, cloth bags, and a vasculum for car- 
rying the birds. We were stopped by a wizened old Malay 
man. I can see him now, with a faded blue fez on his head. 
He said, "I am Ali Wallace." I knew at once that there 
stood before me Wallace's faithful companion of many 
years, the boy who not only helped him collect but nursed 
him when he was sick. We took his photograph and sent 
it to Wallace when we got home. He wrote me a delightful 
letter acknowledging it and reminiscing over the time 
when Ali had saved his life, nursing him through a terrific 
attack of malaria. This letter I have managed to lose, to my 
eternal chagrin. 

The voyage continued all the way around the great 
spidery mass of the island of Helmahera, one of the love- 
liest in all the world. The only rough night I remember 




The women's canoe with no outrigger, only used on short 

journeys 




1' hot us bv R. P. Barbour 



The men's canoe, used for trips to sea. Humboldt Bay, 1907 



Wallace and the Dutch East 43 

was when we anchored way offshore at Supu Bay. I had 
been told that we should catch the mischief there, but 
slept on deck as usual and mighty nearly got rolled over- 
board before I woke to what was going on. Actually I al- 
most rolled" into our meat supply. Since we had no refrig- 
eration, this came on board on the hoof in Bah and stood 
in a row, tied to the ship's rail. Hitched to the other rail 
were the Orang nanti (the Chain People, prisoners of 
war), shackled together. They had been captured by the 
Dutch in the Achinese war in Sumatra and were going to 
build roads in Ceram. The fact that the beef had to be 
butchered on deck — and there was not very much deck 
at that — meant that my wife sat sewing in the opposite 
direction, so to speak, waited till she heard the hose which 
washed the gurry overboard, and then turned about to 
find the table being set up. The ship's officers and the three 
or four passengers on board all ate together on the open 
deck. There was no ice aboard: our meat was fresh for 
just one day. 

The absence of ice made photography difficult. The film 
of thirty years ago softened easily and disintegrated in 
warm water. Fresh water on the ship was coolest late at 
night, so that is when we had to develop our pictures. Some 
were lost, but luckily we saved the best of them by putting 
a little formalin in the water to harden the film. 

At Ternate w^e were boarded by a Mr. Sedee, who had 
agents in numberless little outposts and who dealt in rat- 
tan, dammar gum, and bird-of-paradise plumes. He was a 
mine of information — knew all about Wallace, though he 
had never actually seen him. And he said one day, "To- 
morrow we land in Ake Selaka and there fives Mr. Duiven- 



44 Naturalist at Large 

boden." The next day we found Mr. Duivenboden and 
were introduced. He was dressed in immaculate white, 
spoke perfect Enghsh. His father had been Wallace's host 
and his mother a Javanese lady: as a small boy he had seen 
Wallace and remembered him. He took me into the woods, 
sat beside me on a giant fallen log, and whistled in a pe- 
culiar way. In a few moments, hopping down the long 
snaky trunk of a climbing palm, appeared a bizarre-look- 
ing brown bird. Here was I, sitting at the very spot where 
Wallace had collected the extroardinary-looking bird of 
paradise which bears his name. Wallace speaks of the elder 
Duivenboden as the scion of "an ancient Dutch family, but 
who was educated in England and speaks our language per- 
fectly." He was a very rich man, possessed many ships 
and more than a hundred slaves. "He was, moreover, well 
educated and fond of literature and science — a phenome- 
non in these regions." 

The next day at Galela, a neighboring village and the 
seat of a rather cocky ruler, as it turned out, I went shoot- 
ing at dawn. The island fairly swarmed with parrots, lories, 
and cockatoos of all sorts. I saw a giant cockatoo in the 
top of a tall tree. I shot it. Down it came, fluttering and 
flapping through the foliage, to fall at my feet. I picked 
it up and, to my utter astonishment, dangling from its leg 
was about eighteen inches of gilt chain. Of course, it had 
to belong to the Rajah — a favorite pet which had escaped 
that morning. There was the devil to pay. I paid a con- 
siderable amount of hush money, and I never even got the 
bird. 

We had a little launch on board, called by the Malays 
"Child of the Fireboat" {Ajiak Kapal Apt). When we 



Wallace and the Dutch East 45 

were anchored near shore and she was not needed to tow 
cargo lighters, we were generously allowed to use her. In 
her we explored the rivers and bays which studded this 
extraordinarily indented coastline. The Kali Weda ran in- 
land, twisting and turning for a good many miles behind 
the town of Weda. The forest here was sumptuously mag- 
nificent — great masses of pandans and canes and bamboos 
along the banlc, and then the high woods. At times the little 
river ran through a green tunnel. We could hear pigs and 
deer crashing in the underbrush, but never got sight of 
them. 

What we did get, however, were some enormous lizards 
— they were three feet long — with a great fanlike sail on 
their backs and tails, like Permian Pelycosaurs in miniature. 
To my joy, on coming home, I found that this creature 
was entirely unknown, and I named it for Professor Max 
Weber of Holland, who had shown a kindly interest in 
our journey {Hydrosaiinis iveber'i). I cannot for the life 
of me understand how Wallace missed finding this crea- 
ture. We took it at Piru in Ceram as well as here, and it 
was conspicuously different from allies known from the 
Philippines and Amboina. It is hard to convey to a person 
who is not a naturahst by profession the extraordinary feel- 
ing of satisfaction which overwhelms one at handling a 
great, conspicuous creature which has hitherto eluded 
notice by one's colleagues. 

Fortunately, we approached New Guinea through the 
narrow passage between Batanta and Salawatti rather than 
through the more ample Dampier Strait which afforded 
Wallace approach, but he was sailing in a schooner. We 
had steam and could buck the swift current, albeit slowly. 



46 Naturalist at Large 

Wallace said, as he drew near, "I looked with intense in- 
terest on those rugged mountains, retreating ridge behind 
ridge into the interior, where the foot of civilized man had 
never trod. There was the country of the cassowary and 
the tree kangaroo, and those dark forests produce the most 
extraordinary and the most beautiful of the feathered in- 
habitants of the earth — the varied species of the bird of 
paradise." Wallace was not given to hyperbolic expres- 
sion, for he had been collecting commercially in the Indies 
for years before he approached Papua, and had had his 
senses somewhat benumbed by a long stay in Amazonia 
before that. 

Think, then, what were the feelings of a youngster just 
of age, whose previous tropical experience had been a single 
voyage to the Bahamas and something of India and Burma 
on the way east. As we moved slowly through the strait, 
with the billowing mountains of green near at hand, the 
little villages of thatched huts borne on high stilts by the 
Waterside, catamarans and sailing prows constantly moving 
along the shore, I was completely overcome. I am ridicu- 
lously emotional by nature, and when the first mate, who 
stood beside me in the bow, pointed ahead and said, "That 
is Papoea," as the Dutch call New Guinea, a lump which 
I could hardly swallow came in my throat. 

Then followed unforgettable days indeed. Sorong pro- 
duced a spiny anteater which we kept alive and were able 
to observe. A dish of ground coconut soon accumulated 
enough ants, which we thought would keep it happy. They 
didn't, and I am quite sure now its principal food is earth- 
worms and not insects. The great, bird-winged butterflies 
of the genus Ornithoptera were abundant. They flew so 




Ilioto b\ A. p. Ba>hoi 

The Great Karriwarri at Tubadi Milage, Humboldt Bay, 

New Guinea 



Wallace and the Dutch East 47 

high that we shot them with dust-shot and got a good 
series, which satisfied us entirely until we found a lot of 
pupae, which we strung up against the curtains of a vacant 
stateroom. Here they emerged, and we got perfect speci- 
mens. 

On to Doreh Bay, Wallace's old headquarters. I sent him 
photographs of the natives here and he wrote me that he 
was sorry I had, for he disliked them so. They may not 
have been friendly to him, but they were to us in 1907, 
and went with us into the forest. On every fallen log beau- 
tiful metallic weevils swarmed, just as they had in Wal- 
lace's day, and we had unbelievably good collecting. I came 
back to the ship one afternoon, Rosamond having been 
left on board, and found that she had done something for 
me which touched me greatly. A native had brought aboard 
a big green snake about four feet long, hitched by rattan 
fore and aft to a piece of stick. She purchased the snake 
for a stick of tobacco and a small mirror and then, feeling 
that it might get away, opened the top of our big alcohol 
tank, cut the snake loose from the stick, and herself forced 
the reptile into the pickle. She firmly believed that the 
snake was a poisonous one. It was not, but hers was a brave 
and kindly act, since she loathes snakes as much as most 
people do. And she had garnered the first specimen of 
Chondropytho7i viridis, which had certainly never before 
been collected by an American. 

By an arrangement with the K.P.M. authorities in Sura- 
baya, we were allowed to delay the itinerary of the Both 
for a very reasonable indemnity. This, and the fact that 
Mr. Sedee had much trading to do, gave us a chance to 
see a good many points of interest along the north coast 



48 Naturalist at Large 

of New Guinea, among them Windessi, where Mr. Van 
Balen had been immured as a missionary for years. He and 
Mr. Van Hasselt, located on Mansinam Island in Doreh 
Bay, were the only Dutchmen in New Guinea at that 
time. Van Hasselt had tried to translate the Bible into 
Numfoor, the most widely spoken of the Papuan idioms. 

A knowledge of Hawaiian will carry you from Hono- 
lulu through all the Polynesian Islands to New Zealand 
with only a few consonantal changes, but most languages 
in New Guinea won't carry you across the street, since 
almost every village speaks its own tongue. I understand 
Mr. Van Hasselt had to give up his task because the presen- 
tation of abstract ideas in Numfoor was utterly impossible. 
I report this, however, on hearsay. 

Pom, Wooi, and Ansus were the towns we visited on 
Japen Island. Here the natives were distinctly non-co-opera- 
tive and Ah Woo would not go on shore, saying that too 
many Chinese had been eaten there in the past. We did 
try a landing at the little town of Meosbundi on Wiak 
Island, but when we went ashore and tried to buy some 
drums and other objects for the Peabody Museum, we 
saw the women sneaking off into the thick bush and climb- 
ing away up into their httle houses set up fifty or sixty 
feet above the ground. The first officer allowed that this 
was a bad sign and we had better pull out. And we did, 
quite obviously just in time, for a cohort of yelling, mop- 
headed natives thronged the beach. Perhaps they were 
simply showing ofT, but the officers of the ship had no 
desire to encounter the inquiry which would perforce have 
been held had we been killed, even though we had signed 
waivers of responsibility before we left Java. 




„^Sif«*«-*>-- 



Two Karriwarris at the village of Tubadi in Humboldt Bay 




Plwto bv R. P. Barbour 



Communal long houses over the water at Ansus, Japen Island, 
in Geelvink Bay, Dutch New Guinea 



Wallace and the Dutch East 49 

We pushed on to Humboldt Bay, now Fort Hollandia 
and the base which Richard Archbold used for the great 
aeroplane which in 1938 carried his expedition to the 
mountain lakes. Sir John Murray, the oceanographer, told 
me that when the ship Challenger visited Humboldt Bay 
in February 1873, it was absolutely impossible to land. The 
natives met them with such showers of arrows that they 
sailed away. We landed on Metu Debi Island in the mouth 
of the bay amid swarms of natives. We found them stark 
naked but, on the whole, quite jolly and congenial. They 
were a little short-tempered if they were crossed, as, for 
instance, when they somewhat indiscreetly wanted to see 
whether my wife was white all over. She was the first 
white woman they had ever seen. In fact, we were so com- 
pletely disassociated with their idea of human beings that 
not only at Djamna, but here in the village of Tubadi, 
she was allowed to enter the Karriwaris, where the sacred 
paraphernaha are stored. Native women, under pain of 
death, are forbidden to enter there. 

These people were most bizarre in appearance. The 
women were buxom and not unpleasing in mien; they 
wore a short skirt of beaten bark shrunk about their waists 
while the bark was wet and allowed to dry there. In their 
ears were several dozen rings made of tortoise shell, about 
four inches in diameter. The whole ear margin was pierced 
with a row of holes. Their heads were covered with little 
braids of hair, each weighted, to hold it in place, with a 
tiny ball of dried clay. 

The men wore bands of fiber tightly bound around their 
arms. In these were stuck flowers or bunches of brightly 
colored leaves, and often also a dagger, made of a casso- 



50 Naturalist at Large 

wary's thighbone or a human thighbone, chipped to a 
point. Many carried stone axes, and almost all had bows 
and bundles of arrows. We photographed their arrow re- 
lease for Professor E. S. Morse, who was studying the 
evolution of archery. In their noses they wore the tusks of 
wild boars, one pushed up through the nostril and through 
a hole pierced in the side of the nose on each side, a sort 
of glorified Kaiser's mustache, quite striking when seen 
from a distance. They wore their hair in great, luxuriant 
mops, with a comb stuck in it. This was made from the 
spiny, coarse wing feathers of the cassowary and was used 
to keep the hair fluffed out symmetrically. They not in- 
frequently wore a band around their brows decorated with 
hibiscus or other flowers. They either wore no clothes at 
all or bizarrely shaped little gourds decorated with patterns 
burned on them, in which a small round hole was cut. All 
in all, they were highly satisfactory savages and looked 
just as they should have. 

Rosamond and I have been to the Island of Amboina 
twice, for the Both stopped there for several days on the 
way to New Guinea and on the return voyage. We went 
out to Batu Gadja to see the tomb of old Rumphius,^ whose 

^For anyone who may be interested, I can recommend 
Professor George Sarton's fascinating biographical sketch of 
Rumphius, who went to Java in 1653 and to Amboina the next 
year. His drawings were lost there in a disastrous fire on Janu- 
ary 1 1, 1687, but his manuscript was saved. Luckily, Governor 
General Camphuys had this copied before he sent it to Holland, 
since the ship Waterla?zd, carrying the original manuscript to 
the homeland, was sunk by the French. Rumphius continued 
his work until May 1670, when he completely lost his eyesight. 



Wallace and the Dutch East 51 

A?72bonsche Rariteitkamer, published in 1705, first made 
known to the world the natural wonders of the Moluccas. 

A queer old hermit of a Frenchman lived up in the 
forest not far from where Rumphius was buried. He made 
a precarious livelihood selling natural-history objects to 
museums hither and yon. We got a lot of interesting things 
from him, including a fine batch of cocoons of the local 
bird-winged butterfly, a giant species, black and metallic 
velvety green, related to one we had taken in New Guinea 
and which flew so high, here in Amboina, that we had no 
luck collecting specimens. We pinned up the cocoons in a 
vacant stateroom, separate from such others as we had 
secured so that there would be no mixing of localities, 
and long before we were back in Java they had emerged 
and are all now safely pinned out in the collection here in 
Cambridge. 

There was a cave in the hills not far from this same spot. 
This yielded a few bats of families poorly represented in 
American collections. But the exciting high light of our 
visit to Amboina was, of all things, an eel. In 1887 the 
Reverend B. G. Snow sent some fishes to the Agassiz Mu- 
seum from Ebon in the Marshall Islands. Amongst these 
was a single specimen of an extraordinary eel with curious 
extensions to its nostrils like folded leaves sticking far out 



He worked on, helped by friends, and finally died on the fif- 
teenth of June 1702. He left two great manuscripts, the one I 
have mentioned and the Herbarmm Amboinense, neither of 
which was published until after his death. Rumphius was one 
of the great naturalists of the seventeenth century and he de- 
serves to be better known. Sarton's brief account of his life 
was written in his for August 1937, and a longer and a more - 
elaborate biography will some day be forthcoming. ^v 



52 Naturalist at Large 

in front of its snout. Garman called this astonishing eel 
Khinojmiraena quaesita. It was long and slender and 
brown. For some reason or other I remembered exactly 
how it looked. No second specimen has ever been found, 
so far as I know. 

While frogging about on an Amboina reef at low tide, 
I saw a sky-blue eel, long and slender and quite active 
when we rolled over a slab of coral rock. By great good 
luck I caught it, and in a second I said to myself, "That's 
another Rhinomuraena and a new one" — and it was. I 
described it and called it R. amboinensis and have it well 
preserved to this day. No other specimen has ever been 
reported. Is it not an extraordinary coincidence that the 
only two examples of this unique eel should both have 
found their way to Cambridge — one shipped in by the old 
missionary ship The Momijig Star in 1887, the other found 
by me exactly twenty years later more than a thousand 
miles from Ebon? 

Our visit to Humboldt Bay was the climax of the trip 
and our leisurely return a pleasant aftermath. All along 
the line we picked up objects which had been collected 
and saved for our return. We stopped at just as many 
places on the way back as we did going out. Several un- 
expected delays caused by waiting for dammar gum to be 
brought down from the interior gave us a chance to garner 
a great store of ethnological objects for the Peabody Mu- 
seum. It was well that we did, for in those days Papua 
was still unspoiled. Of course, I have Uved in hope that 
by some chance I might once see the interior. 

It was at Hong Kong that we met Mr. Daniel Russell 
of the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs. He came from 



Wallace and the Dutch East 5 3 

near Belfast and knew a lot of the members of Father's 
family, but I think our real bond was the fact that he 
was translating Bowditch's Practical Navigator into Chi- 
nese. He was certainly interested when he found out that 
"The Navigator" was Rosamond's great-grandfather. He 
was going to take charge of the customhouse in the great 
city of Wuchow, a city which had only recently been 
declared open for foreign commerce. He asked us to 
join him on the trip upriver. Wuchow is several hun- 
dred miles inland from Canton up the west river, or the 
Si-kiang to give it its proper name. The experience in get- 
ting here was a most interesting one and the section of 
China through which we passed was completely unspoiled. 

We journeyed in a small, shallow-draught river steamer, 
locked in an enormous iron cage. This cage enclosed the 
bridge, a little dining saloon just aft the bridge, the offi- 
cers' cabins and a few tiny cubbyholes for passengers, and 
a small open area of deck. The boat sailed under the British 
jflag; she was spotlessly clean, the food was good. We had 
several tall, bearded Sikhs and three or four Malays on 
board, all heavily armed, as guards. All this because the 
Chinese pirates still abundant in those days used to come 
aboard a few at a time disguised as passengers, and then, 
when enough of them had assembled, they would produce 
their hidden arms and try to take the ship. This was no 
idle rumor, for even the big passenger steamers from Hong 
Kong to Canton caged their first-class passengers. It was 
widely reported that pigtails were interwoven with fish- 
hooks to discourage anyone from trying to make a cap- 
ture by seizing a pirate's cue. 

The country through which we passed was framed in 
ridges of high hUls, with ancient temples and lovely pa- 



54 Naturalist at Large 

godas against the sky line. I don't think we saw a tree 
during the entire journey. This long-overpopulated land 
has been deforested for ages and we often saw women out 
on the river in sampans gleaning sticks and even straws 
from the flotsam and jetsam of the river for fuel. 

The little stern-wheeler on which we traveled made 
many stops. I remember one place of some importance, 
Sam Shui, which apparently was greatly famed for its culi- 
nary art. Long before we arrived there our Chinese pas- 
sengers were lined up along the rail licking their chops, 
and no sooner had we tied up to the bank than swarms of 
sampans came out, each with one man to row and another 
to dispense the chow. Each carried a hook on a long rope 
which they threw up for one of the passengers to hang 
over the hand rail. The chef stood aft surrounded with 
innumerable little dishes sizzling over a charcoal brazier 
like a battery of tiny stoves, and with a big tub of rice, 
which was the foundation for each meal served. In re- 
sponse to yells from the passengers, he would grab a large, 
grayish, and rather thick pottery bowl, throw into the 
bottom of it a handful of rice, and then toss in on top little 
dabs and gobbets of bean curds, bean sprouts, diced ome- 
lette, diced eggplant, fried duck, fried pork from chit- 
lins to diced ears and bits of crisp fried pigskin, white 
grubs, and what looked like fried angleworms blanched, 
evidently having been kept in water until they were clear 
of grit. Not infrequently a little frog would be added, too 
small even, to my notion, to be worth sucking, but it must 
be remembered that all food in China has to be prepared 
for use with chopsticks. As we were leaning over the rail 
one of the Malay guards said to me, ''Sabaya tida mau 




Photo by T. Barbour 







Photos hv R. P. Barbour 



UPPER RIGHT: R. P. B. at Alonokwari 
OTHER three: Natives of Humboldt Bay 



Wallace and the Dutch East 5 5 

mackan kodok ya?ig kechil sekali,''^ which indicated not 
that he was disincUned to eat frogs but rather that he 
scorned such Httle ones. 

The days passed Hke winking, the river traffic was so 
extraordinarily interesting to watch. There were a few 
steam launches towing barges of all sorts, but more often 
the boats were propelled by paddle wheels operated by 
men working treadmills, and how tired the poor devils 
looked is vivid in my mind's eye to this day. The floating 
duck ranches and even the occasional great easy-going 
junks being towed upstream made this journey a vivid pic- 
ture of Chinese life as it had been since time immemorial. 
Our little white stern-wheeler Shui Hing was the only 
foreign note. 

Finally we reached Wuchow. Walking about the city 
was not pleasant. Strangers were too conspicuous and the 
people did not mind showing their distaste of our presence. 
However we saw some heart-rending but quite character- 
istic sights. I remember a woman sitting beside a large 
pottery jar which had to be set into a niche in the hillside, 
no doubt the spot which the Fengshui man had told her 
was auspicious as a burial place, for the jar contained her 
husband's bones sent back from some far land, and if her 
grief was not genuine I never saw any that was. China is 
a land of poverty and sorrow yet the sturdy good qualities 
of her people have kept her a great nation for a greater 
length of time than any other nation on earth has been 
able to survive. 

Poor criminals standing in tall tripods with the tips of 
their toes resting on bricks — the penalty being that if they 
kicked one over they would strangle — were a frequent 



56 Naturalist at Large 

sight and no one even paused to throw a glance their way. 
We were told that the previous Tao Tat, not the present 
incumbent who came to meet Mr. Russell, for he seemed 
to be a kindly old gentleman, had often snipped off crim- 
inals' eyelids and then blew quicklime into their eyes before 
they were put into the tripod. The collar was made large 
enough so that their hands could not get to their faces. 
Of course everywhere in China at the time of which 
I write, criminals were seen walking about wearing the 
cangue, a great broad wooden collar, sometimes very 
heavy, on which their sins were detailed in large painted 
characters. 

Mr. Russell spoke mandarin Chinese fluently but the 
Tao Tai came from the Province of Fokien and, as our 
friend said, had "a thick Fuchow manner of speech," so 
that they did not chin glibly one with the other; however, 
Mr. Russell gleaned the impression that the old gentleman 
had some pirates in a cage uptown and he would gladly 
have them trundled down to the beach and have their heads 
chopped off for our delectation. Rosamond thought we 
could pass this up and I agreed. 

We lived on board the boat, which was tied up to the 
riverbank. I have no doubt we could have found a Chinese 
inn but the city was an extraordinarily stinking and filthy 
one, although far from ugly when seen from a distance. 
It had obviously been a place of great importance and I 
think at one time was the capital of the Province of 
Kwangsi. At this time, however, Nanning was the capital. 
Unfortunately the river was too low for us to get up there 
so, bidding good-bye to our friend, with whom for years 
I carried on a desultory correspondence, we slipped back 



Wallace and the Dutch East SI 

down river to Canton. Thus ended a journey memorable 
to be sure, but as different in every fundamental detail 
from our voyage to the head of the Irrawaddy as any 
journey could possibly be. 



CHAPTER VI 

Flying Fish and Turtles 



F, 



ROM NOW ON the reader will hear again and again 
of Allison Armour, a friend of many years' standing. 
Shortly after the First World War, he converted a small 
Swedish tramp steamer into the most luxurious floating 
laboratory in the world, and renamed her the Utoiuana. 
He did this primarily to aid his friend David Fairchild in 
transporting useful plants for introduction into the United 
States. Happily on several occasions he asked me and my 
family to go along and to add zoological collecting to the 
botanical work. 

On one of these voyages I had a unique opportunity of 
observing flying fish. The Utoivana was anchored off 
Mathewstown on Watlings Island, or San Salvador. Allison 
and I entered one of the ship's launches to go to a cay off 
the north end of the island where iguana lizards were said 
to be found. Where the yacht lay at anchor it was per- 
fectly calm, but when we got clear of the point an enor- 
mous oily swell was rolling. We were running along with 
the swell abeam. Now we would be running aloncr the 
crest of one of the great rollers and the next moment be 
in the trough. On these occasions we could look right into 
the great clear swells as they loomed up on each side of 
the launch. 

All of a sudden the water broke and a couple of flying 
fish, frightened by some larger fish which I never saw, 




4 



Photo by Allison Armour 

Utoii\mc! in Port Castries Harbor, St. Lucia 










Three deep-sea fish drawn by Alexander Agassiz 



Flying Fish a?jd Turtles 59 

flew directly across the launch, right before my eyes. Had 
I known the fish were coming, I could have caught them 
with a net or touched them with my outstretched hand. I 
had thus an unrivaled opportunity to kill once and for all 
the notion that they move their fins in flying. As is well 
known, this has been a moot point amongst naturalists, 
though it never should have been. No flight muscles are 
revealed on dissection of the fish, yet the fact that their 
fins do move has been insisted on time and time again. I 
have watched them on so many hundreds of occasions that 
I believe the observational error is to be explained in this 
wise: The wings are very thin and delicate and sometimes 
when flying fish are chased out of water and there is a 
good sharp breeze blowing, their wings appear to move, 
being caused to flutter by the angle at which the fish takes 
the wind. Flying fish fly most freely in fairly calm weather. 
I imagine that then they are swimming nearer to the sur- 
face. In a heavy storm I have never seen fish fly at all. Once 
I saw one caught in the air by a canary-yellow dolphin fish, 
which rose at least three feet out of water to snap up its 
prey. 

It was in the Bahamas on another occasion that I saw an 
interesting sight. A giant loggerhead turtle, floating lazily 
on the surface, would swim up to and gulp down Portu- 
guese men-of-war, or Physalias, which were floating about 
abundantly. The old turtle would ease up to the Physaha, 
close his eyes, and make a snap for it. I suspect that the 
hard, horny jaws and the tough skin were impervious to 
the painful stinging caused by the nettle cells of the Si- 
phonophore's tentacles, but that probably the tender skin 



60 Naturalist at Large 

about its eyes offered no such protection and the blind 
gulps were to protect these areas. 

The loggerhead, not being fit to eat, is still an abundant 
sea turtle all through the West Indian area. Green turtles 
have grown scarce because they have been hunted so 
constantly. They are brought to Limon in Costa Rica for 
shipment to the aldermen's feasts in London, being carried 
in individual tanks on the forward deck of the Fruit liners 
crossing the ocean. Kindhearted persons often are hurt by 
seeing the turtles kept lying on their backs. They little 
realize that if they were kept lying plastron down, which 
would be their natural position, they would soon die, the 
lower shell being weakly constructed and incapable of 
long supporting the weight of the turtles. I am sure this 
would not apply to small individuals, but I have been in- 
formed by many turtlers that it is dangerous to leave big, 
heavy turtles on their stomachs for very long. 

Once, climbing up a high cliff overlooking clear, still 
water along the shore of New Providence Island, I fright- 
ened two turtles which had been grazing on seaweeds on 
the bottom quite close to shore. One was a green turtle 
and one a so-called Ridley, another species altogether. Both 
turtles raced away, the green turtle quite deliberately and 
the Ridley with an astounding burst of speed. My friend 
Dr. Archie F. Carr, Jr., of the University of Florida, who 
is an authority on turtles, has noticed this same fact on a 
number of occasions, and he tells me that, unlike all other 
sea turtles, the Ridley when brought ashore snaps about 
in such a blind rage that it tires itself out and would 
probably fidget and worry itself to death in a short time 
if allowed to do so. Sea turtles are fascinating critters 



Flying Fish and Turtles 61 

and It is a pity that the demand for tortoise shell has 
brought one magnificent animal as close to extinction as 
the delicacy of its flesh has brought another. 

Georgetown, Grand Cayman, which we visited on sev- 
eral occasions, is the center of the green-turtle industry. 
The Cayman Islanders are expert boatbuilders, and their 
fast-sailing schooners comb the cays of British Honduras 
and Nicaragua, turtling for soup meat. I have been told 
that most of the turtles are caught with a bullen, an iron 
hoop to which is attached a deep net. The schooner 
anchors. The small boats set out with one man to scull in 
the stern and another in the bow peering down into the 
clear water with a bucket having a glass bottom, called 
a water glass. When a green turtle is spied resting on the 
bottom the bullen is let down as close to it as possible, a 
rope being attached to the apex of the net. The instant the 
iron ring strikes bottom the turtle gives a surprised leap 
upward, pushes its four fins out through the coarse mesh 
of the net and, thus entangled, may be drawn to the sur- 
face. Turtles, of course, are also "pegged" with a harpoon 
having a little head which comes loose, with a line at- 
tached. But this is less satisfactory in that turtles may be 
badly injured, hence less likely to survive the long voyage 
to market. 

They seem pitiful objects, with their great fins folded 
across their breasts made fast with a bit of binder twine 
rove through holes cut in their flippers. But I suspect that 
this really doesn't hurt the turtle very much, as they seem 
to pay little attention to much more shocking injuries. 
Individuals are often seen that have lost a large part of one 
or more flippers, so that in some cases they can swim only 



62 Naturalist at Large 

with difficulty. This is commonly supposed to be the work 
of sharks. But I think it is much more likely that the in- 
juries are caused by fighting with other turtles. There is 
always great excitement when the turtle schooners come 
to Key West. One Cayman vessel will often carry a hun- 
dred or more turtles stacked up in its hold. They probably 
average 200 pounds apiece and the cargo is a very valuable 
one. 

I landed one morning from the Utoivana on the Island 
of Saona, off the coast of Haiti. It is a rather flat, unin- 
teresting little island and I was not prepared for what I 
found. I knew that there was a high degree of endemicity 
on all these islands around the Haitian coast. I knew, also, 
that Saona had never been visited by anyone in search of 
reptiles, so I walked around the confines of a small open 
garden patch, knowing that this was the sort of terrain 
where one might expect to find Ameiva lizards. Lizards 
of this genus have a way of splitting up, so novelties may 
be expected. 

I hunted a long time before I heard a noise in the dead 
leaves. Ameiva lizards are anteaters and scratch with their 
paws among the leaves, throwing them about in their search 
for the insects which may be below them. I approached 
the sound as stealthily as possible and could scarcely beUeve 
my eyes when I saw a perfectly typical Ameiva, and by 
the same token one utterly unlike any which I had ever 
seen. I have collected countless numbers of lizards of this 
genus. I shot this lizard on April 8, 1934. It was lilac gray 
on the back, washed with fawn color on the head and 
turning to pale blue on the tail. A black band, beginning 



Flying Fish and Turtles 63 

with the eyes, ran along the side of the body and the tail, 
which was azure blue beneath, while the undersurfaces of 
the body were glaucous blue, suffused anteriorly with 
cream color. The sides of the head were buff yellow. All 
in all, it was one of the most beautiful and strikingly col- 
ored reptiles which I have ever seen. 

I sent the specimen to Miss Cochran of the National 
Museum in Washington, who was writing a herpetology 
of the Island of Hispaniola, although I fairly itched to 
describe it myself. I realized it was new the second I saw 
it, as I have said before, and I asked her if she would name 
it for my wife. She not only named this species Ameiva 
rosamojidae, but without my knowing it she named the 
Ameiva from La Gonave Island for me. 

The Haitian peasants are so poor that they will struggle 
hard to catch lizards, snakes, frogs, and toads — which they 
do not really like to do — if they can sell them for five 
cents each, and I mean five cents of a Haitian gourde, 
which is only worth fifteen cents to start with. V/e often 
had as many as a hundred people collecting for us. In this 
way, on the islands that were populated of course, it waa 
possible to secure in a few days as much material as a single 
person could have gotten during a long stay, so that while 
we stopped at innumerable different localities during these 
voyages on the Utoivana and never had very much time 
at one place, all around Haiti and in the Bahamas we got 
big collections. You can do this in Jamaica, but not in Cuba. 

We stopped on one occasion at Isle Tortue. I went 
ashore in the morning and passed word around that we 
would be back in the latter part of the afternoon prepared 
to purchase what might be forthcoming, explaining what 



64 Naturalist at Large 

we wanted. I had a sack of Haitian five-cent pieces on 
board the yacht. We found that we got much better re- 
sults from our collectors if we ourselves did not stay where 
they could watch us. It was so much more fun to stand 
and stare at strangers than it was to do anything else that 
the temptation was quite overwhelming. But if we went 
ashore in the morning and spread the news of what we 
were prepared to do, then disappeared on board and 
hauled up the gangway, by the middle of the afternoon 
we could go ashore and be overwhelmed by a rabble of 
men and women, boys and girls, with snakes and lizards 
dangling at the ends of dozens of little lassoes which they 
fashioned cunningly from shredded palm leaves. 

On one occasion a poor old man came up to us with a 
gourd full of fat white grubs. These he had dug out of a 
rotten palm trunk. I recognized them at once as the larvae 
of a big weevil which lives in decayed palm wood. Of 
course he brought them feeling sure we would buy so 
succulent a dainty, for the Haitians are extremely fond 
of these grubs fried. Rosamond was utterly disgusted by 
their very appearance and I was not allowed to take them 
on board and eat them, which I should have greatly en- 
joyed doing. I have no right to complain, however, for 
the family did not relish the intimacy with a wide variety 
of reptiles which they patiently endured. 



CHAPTER VII 

The Sea and the Cave 



s 



*OME of the most delightful incidents of my life have 
happened at sea. I recall a still, calm morning off the west 
coast of Nicaragua. There was hterally not a breath of 
air to stir the surface of the water. And far and wide, scat- 
tered to the horizon, were the images of white birds. They 
appeared miraged up so that they looked about twice as 
big as gulls should be. The answer was soon to see, for 
each gull was standing on the back of a basking sea turtle 
floating or swimming slowly upon the surface of the ocean. 
The effect was extraordinarily lovely, and I have always re- 
called it with the greatest pleasure. 

A few days later, with the same good weather, we passed 
through great swarms of coral-red crabs swimming busily 
along the surface of the ocean, as if all bound upon an 
important errand. 

I often think of the emotion and excitement, which I 
suppose has occurred for years and will occur until time 
ends, when a naturalist sees an albatross for the first time. 
On the wing — and you mighty seldom see them swim- 
ming on the surface of the sea — they look entirely unlike 
any other bird. Their wings are so long and so sharply 
pointed that you hardly see the body at all; you simply 
see this great, straight, unbending pair of wings. To see 
them at their best the sea should be stormy. 

They don't sail the billows as peHcans do, rising and 



66 Naturalist at Large 

gliding with their wings parallel with the surface of the 
water, but they cut and pivot and jibe about as if they 
were standing on end more than half the time. Indeed, it 
looks as if they stuck the tip of one wing in the water and 
used this as a fulcrum as they pivot to swing past the crest 
of a wave. On the voyage to South Africa you meet them 
shortly after leaving Saint Helena, and for a day or so 
before reaching Cape Town you may see great numbers. 
They are perhaps even more abundant off Southern Chile, 
and if by chance you should pass near the floating carcass 
of a whale you will see them in swarms, Hke herring gulls 
in the harbor of Key West after a bad cold spell in the 
north. 

Porpoises are always diverting and, of course, are fa- 
miliar to every traveler at sea. But on three occasions we 
were extraordinarily thrilled by seeing gigantic schools of 
porpoises that behaved m a quite extraordinary manner. 
More than one species must have been involved, for once 
we saw what I am about to describe off the west coast of 
Costa Rica, once near Amboina in the Moluccas, and the 
third time nearing the Cape of Good Hope. 

On each occasion the sea was calm and still. There may 
have been an occasional porpoise rolling lazily, as one is 
accustomed to observe them, but on each of these three 
mornings the sea became suddenly alive with porpoises — 
thousands upon thousands of them, rolling and jumping 
high in the air, jumping over one another, past one an- 
other, boiling and plunging. There seemed no question but 
that they were playing, as I saw no evidence that they 
were driving fish before them. After carrying on in this 
manner for perhaps half or three quarters of an hour, as if 



The Sea and the Cave 67 

at a signal the whole school swam off. As they disappeared, 
the animals rolled gently in order to breathe, but they 
hardly cut the surface of the water. 

Another morning I like to tliink about was when the 
Utoivana lay anchored off the mouth of the Yaqui River 
at the head of the Gulf of Samana in the Dominican Re- 
public. The muddy water of the river pushed out into the 
clear turquoise-blue water of the Gulf, with the line of 
division sharply marked since the dirty fresh water did 
not readily mix with the clean salt water of the ocean. An 
extraordinary procession patrolled the boundary line. Giant 
rays went flying through the water, their great wings flap- 
ping, each one as big as the top of a grand piano, and 
some larger. They were so near the surface that their 
great fins came up into the air as they flapped their way 
along, and every once in a while one would leap high and 
land with a resounding whack. This kept on pretty much 
all day. 

One would naturally suppose that they were feeding, 
and yet these great fish are normally bottom feeders. With 
their protrudable lips they pick up clams or conchs on 
the bottom and crush them with their curiously modified, 
flat, platelike teeth. In the Oceanarium at Marineland, in 
Florida, they had a ray which picked hard clams off the 
bottom, and I could hear them crack. The crunch which 
ground them up was so powerful that the noise carried 
through the plate glass. 

It is a pity that the Gulf of Samana is not readily acces- 
sible to visitors. It is one of the loveliest spots in the whole 
world. On the north side the mountains rise, covered with 
a fine green forest. Down the mountain roads the peasants 



68 Naturalist at Large 

come riding their well-trained bulls laden with heavy packs 
to go to market in little towns like Santa Barbara de 
Samana — quaint little Old World towns that date back 
almost to the time of Columbus. 

The other side of the Gulf offers a complete contrast, 
for long ago this must have been a flat limestone plain 
which has been cut and eroded away to form a labyrinth 
of little rocky islands, each one deeply undercut by the 
surf, the rocks dripping with orchids and begonias and 
great elephant-eared aroids, and beset with tall slender 
palms. Their little stalks are strong as a long iron bar 
would be, for these palms are old and have stood against 
countless hurricanes. There are many caves in these little 
islands, in some of which fishermen live in primitive sim- 
plicity — a fairyland, if ever there was one. 

In 1908 I went as a delegate to the first Pan American 
Scientific Congress, held at Santiago, in Chile. Because it 
was more convenient in those days, we went to Europe 
and sailed from Lisbon to Brazil. Then we visited Monte- 
video and Buenos Aires. A theft of jewelry from my wife, 
which required us to return to Mendoza to testify, pre- 
vented us from crossing the Andes with the American 
delegation to the Congress. I had not expected that this 
South American journey would afford many zoological 
high lights, for it had a political background, but this delay 
provided a few which I should like to record. 

Everyone deplored the fact that we could not travel 
straight through from Buenos Aires to Santiago. The rail- 
road, however, was not yet completed. We went by night 
from Buenos Aires to Mendoza on the very comfortable 




Photo by Fyank White of the American Urchid Society 



Dancinsf Girl Orchids recall the market at San Salvador 



The Sea and the Cave 69 

broad-gauge sleeper, spent a day there, and the following 
morning took the narrow-gauge Trans-Andean line. But 
everything turned out well. The officials of the railroad 
allowed us to ride on the cowcatcher, getting on where the 
real rise begins, at Punta de Las Vacas — where I found 
two good toads in a small water tank which supplied the 
locomotive — and from there riding to the end of the 
line on the Argentine side. The railroad wove about, ris- 
ing ever higher and higher. To right and to left we had 
a splendid panorama of high mountains. The terminus was 
at Puente del Inca, where a simple but clean and com- 
fortable little bath house had been built in connection 
with some hot springs that gushed out near the natural 
bridge which gives the place its name. We stayed there 
several days. Finding excellent sure-footed mules avail- 
able, we took the opportunity to see some of the most 
superb mountain scenery in the world and to catch 
glimpses of the bird life of the highest elevations of this 
southeastern portion of the Andes. 

Fitzgerald began his classic ascent of Mount Aconcagua 
from the Horcones Valley whence the ascent is steep 
and long but fairly direct. In this valley high up on the 
hip of the highest mountain in either North or South 
America there lies a charming little lake. It is called the 
Laguna del Inca, although in all probability no Inca ever 
laid eyes on it. The view of this little azure gem of a pond 
sparkling in the brilliant sunlight, with the majestic snow- 
clad slopes of the great mountain overshadowing it, was 
one of the most ineifably lovely views I have ever seen. 

I don't know exactly what the altitude of the pond is, 
but I suspect it to be about 14,000 feet. I rode up to its 



70 Naturalist at Large 

shores with the keenest anticipation. On this day I took 
the precaution of rolling a stone over on the reins of my 
mule — because the day before, high up on a mountain to 
the south of Puente del Inca, my mule had walked away 
from me down a rocky slope so precipitous that I expected 
him to go head over heels at any moment. Luckily our guide 
appeared on the scene and spurred his own magnificent an- 
imal after my beast lickity gallop down this same slope. 
He caught my mule and brought it back to me with a 
smile as if he had done nothing, but I had learned my lesson. 

On this occasion I was praying under my breath that I 
might see a tiny brown lizard about five inches long and 
quite nondescript as to form and color. I had happened to 
read Fitzgerald's account of climbing Mount Aconcagua 
not long before we started for South America and I re- 
membered that in the appendix of the book Dr. G. A. Bou- 
lenger of the British Museum had described a lizard, which 
he called LiolaeTmis fitzgeraldi, and that it came from within 
a few hundred yards of where I stood. In the winking of 
an eye I spotted one resting on a stone in the sun, but 
catching him was quite another matter. I am big and clumsy 
— and clumsier still when I am at 14,000 feet above sea level. 
My puffs and grunts as I lunged in vain amused Rosamond 
and Archie Coolidge hugely. In time patience had its re- 
ward and I ended up with seven or eight of the little devils, 
which I suspect no one but Fitzgerald and I had ever 
caught. This locality may not be the highest spot in the 
world where lizards live but it certainly is one of them. 

While this chase was going on, the great condors kept 
sweeping by in majestic flight. No one of the carrion-eating 
birds is so clean-looking and attractive, except possibly the 



The Sea and the Cave 71 

King vulture of tropical America. There is nothing of the 
linpleasant appearance when you see them near by that 
marks our turkey buzzards or more particularly the vul- 
tures of the Old World, many of which are inexpressibly 
loathsome. But it was not the condors which gave us the 
greatest thrill but rather the giant hummers. Scientists know 
this bird as Fatagona gigas; it is the largest member of that 
most numerous family of birds, the Trochilidae. Patagona 
does not share the beauty of form and color of most of 
the members of this group. It is purely remarkable for its 
size — considering that it is a hummingbird — for it is nearly 
as big as a robin. Of a dull, rusty gray-brown color, it sits 
stupidly perched on sticks and stones, is quite tame, and is 
awkward in shape. It is cylindrical in appearance as its rests 
with its long wings folded. It may not sound like a very 
exciting bird to behold, but it gave me an everlasting thrill. 

While our colleagues on the trip had been transported 
from railhead to railhead in horse-drawn coaches, we trav- 
eled on horseback, reaching the Chilean side on a day 
when there was no train. By great good fortune we found 
that some of the railway engineers were going down to 
Santa Rosa in a gravity car and they took us "down the 
hill" with them. 

We all sat bunched up on an open platform with noth- 
ing to hang onto — and how we jerked as we took the 
curves! From Juncal down to Santa Rosa is a vertical drop 
of about 10,000 feet: we took it at a rush through tunnels 
and over trestles with nothing but a hand brake between 
us and the blue. There was a burro on the tracks near the 
end of a long tunnel, but we shouted him out of the way 
just in time. The engineers had broken all rules in taking 



72 Naturalist at Large 

us with them, and when at last we were safely down at sea 
level, Rosamond and I repaid them in champagne. 

The festivities in connection with the Congress at San- 
tiago were cordial and extremely well organized, but of 
more interest to us was the visit to Valdivia and Corral, 
in the south of Chile. Here we succeeded in finding not 
only some new fresh-water Crustacea but some extremely 
interesting frogs and toads. 

One day when we had run out of containers I purloined 
Rosamond's sponge bag and filled it with frogs, hung it up 
in our room, and went out to buy bottles. I hadn't tied it 
up very well and when I got back the floor, furniture, 
and walls were liberally besprinkled with tree frogs hop- 
ping about and climbing with their little sucking toes over 
everything, including the windowpanes. As usual I was 
penitent and unpopular, but this didn't catch the frogs. 

Don Carlos Reed helped me secure our grand series of 
Rhinoderma. This strange little frog has a unique habit, in- 
asmuch as the male picks up the eggs as the female lays 
them and packs them into the singing pouch in his throat. 
Here in due time they develop to the point where, when 
he opens his mouth, the little froglets leap forth into free- 
dom. The tadpole stage is passed in the male parent's throat 
pouch. This frog is confined to southern Chile. Around 
Valdivia and Corral, we had some very fruitful collecting, 
finding not only lizards and amphibians but some extremely 
interesting fresh-water Crustacea as well, including a new 
fresh-water crayfish recorded from the most southerly sta- 
tion in America. 

On our voyage north when we landed at Coquimbo we 
were invited to drink a glass of champagne with tlie city 



The Sea and the Cave 73 

fathers of the old town of La Serena some miles inland. 
And while this is one of the driest and most deserty parts 
of the world, I spotted a little marsh not far from the in- 
land town. As soon as I sipped down the warm sweet 
champagne and could make a polite getaway, I skipped 
out and found that the marsh was swarming with frogs. 
This was all to the good, and I caught a number of them. 

A few days later at Pisagua a penguin which I had seen 
from a distance came swimming right up to our ship just 
after we dropped anchor. Here the water was crystal clear 
and the bird, nipping its head from side to side as it peered 
about, came right up to the side of the ship. Then it dove 
with a sudden plunge and passed straight under the keel, 
giving me time to run across the deck to see it come up on 
the other side of the vessel. Since boyhood I had longed to 
see a penguin at large. To me the sight was as memorable 
as that glimpse of the giant dolphin which, to rid himself 
of a sucking fish, rubbed it off against the side of our ves- 
sel in the harbor of Port Said and then, making a quick turn 
over backwards, snapped up the fish and ate it. 

The great herds of sea lions along this part of the South 
American coast were also sources of amusement and inter- 
est. In those days ships anchored far off shore and one 
reached the town in longboats which were laboriously 
rowed shoreward. The sea lions leaping in the air and 
calHng out with their characteristic raucous cries were 
jolly companions on every trip to land. 

I recall one rather gruesome event, when all the lizards 
around Areca seemed to be concentrated near a graveyard 
which had been, shall I say, seriously disturbed by a recent 
earthquake. It was hard even for a rabid enthusiast to fol- 



74 Naturalist at Large 

low a lizard which had run into the boot on the foot of a 
corpse, even though the corpse was pretty well dried up 
and shriveled. This drying happens quickly in this ex- 
cessively dry climate. 

Some friends of ours, the Arthur Jacksons, had lived 
for many years in La Paz in Bolivia. Arthur had charge of 
the interests of the Boston and Bolivia Rubber Company. 
Through him I met a Mr. Dunleavy who mined placer gold 
at the junction of the Kaka and Beni rivers, far down in 
the Amazonian forest. He gave me a lizard which he had 
picked up near his gold diggings and one which was not 
only new but which was one of the most beautiful that I 
have ever seen. It was ringed with sharply defined bands of 
black and ivory white and the whole under surface of the 
beast was suffused with a rich rosy hue. I named it Diplo- 
glossus resplendens and it has never been found again from 
that day to this. By a curious coincidence my cousin Gor- 
don Barbour now owns and operates this same gold field, 
flying in and out from La Paz with his own airplane instead 
of riding over the bitterly cold Andean passes via Sorata 
for days and days on muleback, formerly the only way to 
enter the region. 

The Jacksons knew the railroad people well, and were 
aware of their hospitality to strangers. They arranged for 
a day at the ruins of Tiaguanaco. We had a car hitched 
to the early morning train from La Paz to Guaqui on Lake 
Titicaca. This was dropped off at a siding near the ruins, 
which are directly beside the railroad track. We lunched 
in the car and returned from time to time to deposit our 
plunder until the evening train picked us up and brought 
us back to La Paz. I had an unforgettable experience here 



The Sea and the Cave 75 

chasing lizards in a snow flurry albeit at a mighty slow pace, 
for the ruins stand some 13,000 feet above sea level. We 
found, however, that these lizards tended to run in under 
one of the loose stones of masonry which had fallen from 
the ruins, scattered everywhere over the high plain. By 
turning over the smaller stones it was possible to catch 
the lizard with a quick slap of the hand. I caught an inter- 
esting new species of the same genus Liolaemus which I 
had first taken at the Honcones Valley and of which by 
this time, during our various collectings over western South 
America, I must have picked up a dozen different species. 

Traveling on the west coast of South America was a 
leisurely process forty years ago compared to what it is 
today. We made three bites of the cherry, going first from 
Valparaiso to Mollendo in an old-fashioned Chilean vessel, 
the Lbnari. Then later we moved up the coast from Mol- 
lendo to Callao and then from Callao to Panama, the three 
laps consuming forty days. This of course gave a wonder- 
ful opportunity to see this most entrancing coast line, since 
we stopped, I think, at least once every day and cruised 
along slowly close to the shore. The abundant bird fife and 
its relation to the Humboldt current have been described 
very adequately, but the beauty of the scenery has never 
been exaggerated. I include the birds as part of the scenery, 
the great long rippling fines of boobies which would cross 
right over the ship, and the unbefievable number of cormo- 
rants and pelicans. 

Once on this trip we occasioned considerable consterna- 
tion. We put up at the Hotel Ratti in Jufiaca — concerning 
which I remember only that the pillowcases stuck to the 
pillows! But we had acquired a rare Armadillo at Viacha 



76 Naturalist at Large 

in Bolivia, which we had not been able to preserve as a 
specimen and which was not very efficiently caged. It es- 
caped in our room in the hotel, rushed pell-mell out to the 
balcony directly over the front door, and plunged over- 
board — landing in the midst of one of those conclaves of 
city fathers who always appear to be discussing something 
very important. My unpopularity for a time was un- 
bounded. 

It was a bitter disappointment that limitations of time, 
steamboat accommodations available, and other circum- 
stances prevented our going to Cuzco. Perhaps we were 
foolish not to have thrown up everything else and made the 
trip, but the raihroad had been laid recently and had a way 
of sinking down along the stretches of boggy land. We 
were simply cowardly about it and missed a visit which I 
have regretted a thousand times. Of course Arequipa was 
charming, the mountains glorious, the vegetation exciting 
to a naturalist, and the traveling crescentic sand dunes 
called Medanos seen about halfway to MoUendo extraordi- 
narily arresting. 

One little event occurred at Lima which is perhaps worth 
recording. Our room was on that side of the old Hotel 
Maury directly across from one of the towers of the great 
cathedral. One evening I said to Rosamond, "Those are 
awfully funny-looking bats going in and out of that hole 
in the tower across the street." We stood there, leaning on 
the railing of the little balcony of our room, watching 
them, when all of a sudden, by the greatest good fortune, 
one of the bats detached itself from its companions and 
flew directly into our room. We slammed the doors and 
got it. It proved to be Amorphochilus schnabeU, a bat which 



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The Sea and the Cave 77 

had been described many many years before by Peters from 
a specimen caught up at Tumbez near the Ecuadorian fron- 
tier and which had never been found again until we caught 
our one tiny windfall. 

We returned from the Congress with General Gorgas 
and his family: they were bound for Panama but we were 
going only as far as southern Peru. We were together for 
two weeks on the old Chilean ship, the Li?7mri. We hadn't 
been on board long when Rosamond found that one of 
the two bathroom doors was always locked. This was ex- 
tremely inconvenient, and she spent some time spying out 
the cause. After some conniving she got a look into the 
room and found that the bathtub was full of water in which 
were swimming a number of goldfish. 

Bishop Pierola, the shepherd of the enormous Indian 
diocese of Huanuco in the Andes of Peru, had been to 
make his ad limma visit to the Sovereign Pontiff in Rome. 
He had acquired the goldfish, and his chaplain, being 
charged with their safekeeping, had simply bribed the bath 
steward and taken up one of the two bathrooms in the 
ship for the Bishop's goldfish. They stayed there, too. 

Later on General Gorgas, who did not speak much Span- 
ish, came to me and asked me to tell the 7f70zo in charge of 
the one remaining bathroom that he wanted clean water. 
The fresh-water supply was locked up and we couldn't 
run our own baths as the supply was limited; hence the 
necessity of calling the ?}70Z0. (Gorgas had not learned 
Spanish on purpose, because, as he said, he had so many 
difficult duties and such unpleasant ones, in connection 
with the sanitation of Panama, the burning of buildings 
and worse, that he did not wish to be able to understand 



78 Naturalist at Large 

the frightful curses which were heaped upon him.) I spoke 
a little Spanish and approached the mozo, who answered, 
"Tell the General that the bath water is sweet and nice. 
Nobody has been in it but those two young North Amer- 
ican ladies, and they use such sweet-smelling soap." The 
General, however, insisted that he preferred clean water, 
and finally he got it. 

When we reached Panama the Gorgas family was so 
kind to us that we felt we had reached home. The General 
ordered a place fixed up for me to work in the old Board of 
Health Laboratory. And one event of our stay was suf- 
ficiently exciting to record here. I had one of the first-class, 
all-wool, yard-wide frights of my entire life. Through Dr. 
Gorgas I met Mr. Le Prince, one of his most famous mos- 
quito sleuths. Le Prince was a keen sportsman. One eve- 
ning he suggested that we go deer hunting across the canal 
out in the country, which I suppose now would be desig- 
nated as inland from La Venta Beach. He had an extra 
headhght for me and we borrowed an extra gun. Tracks in 
the mud showed that there were plenty of deer, but for 
some reason we did not succeed in shining a single pair of 
eyes. We walked and walked. Finally, far ahead down an 
old road, in the scrubby woods, I saw a pair of blazing orbs. 
I knew mighty well they were not the eyes of a deer but 
what they were I could not guess. I strongly suspected a 
jaguar. 

I stood looking at them, when all of a sudden it became 
obvious that they were approaching me very rapidly in- 
deed, rapidly and soundlessly. In less time than it takes to 
tell it, they rushed at my light and swept by over my shoul- 
der, my face being fanned with the air moved by the wings 



The Sea and the Cave 79 

of a big owl — Rhinoptynx, no doubt. The whole occur- 
rence happened in such a short time that I had never thought 
of shooting. I can't say that fear bathed me in sweat, be- 
cause I had been as completely wet with sweat as any hu- 
man being could be from the moment our hunt began. But 
my knees were certainly rattling and I was as jittery as I 
have ever been, which is saying a good deal. We walked 
back, shining no more eyes excepting those of the enor- 
mous bird-eating spiders which are always aprowl at that 
late hour, and whose eyes looked like fiery emeralds. When 
we reached the spot where we had left our borrowed am- 
bulance, we dealt out a stiff swig of quinine and clop- 
clopped back behind our army mules to our quarters in 
Ancon. 

I can hardly credit my memory when I think of a trip 
like this or the visit we made, also in an army ambulance, 
to the ruins of old Panama. As I remember it, Aileen Gorgas 
and I rode horseback; all the rest rode behind the mules. Can 
there be any spot in the entire world today which offers a 
more complete contrast than the Panama Canal Zones of 
1908 and 1943? It is a safer place to live in today, as far as 
health conditions go, but, it was a far more amusing and 
delightful spot at the time of which I write. 

In 1 9 10, with a number of others, I represented the As- 
sociation of American Universities at the reopening of the 
ancient University of Mexico in Mexico City. This coin- 
cided with General Porfirio Diaz's last inauguration as 
President. We were sumptuously cared for by the Mexi- 
can government. We American delegates had a house at 
our disposal, and motorcars at beck and call. The great 



80 Naturalist at Large 

banquet, given to all the assembled dignitaries, was one 
of the most extraordinary occasions of its kind that I have 
ever attended. The tables were set on the floor of an enor- 
mous cave near the pyramids at San Juan Teotihuacan, and 
not only were the silver and china — brought from the 
palace in Mexico — decorative in the extreme, but the en- 
tire floor of the cave was carpeted several inches deep with 
tens of thousands of gardenia blossoms. Of course these can 
be bought for a song in the highlands of Mexico, but the 
effect was amazing and the scent almost overpowering. 

The inaugural festivities in Mexico ended with a proces- 
sion in which General Diaz walked with the delegates, who 
wore academic costumes and made quite a show of color. 
The next day there was a military parade, and after seeing 
the ten thousand Rurales prance by on their beautiful 
horses and with their extraordinarily striking costumes one 
little dreamed that in but a short time Diaz would be leav- 
ing Mexico for Spain as a refugee. 

Before returning north Professor Tozzer, Clarence Hay, 
Rosamond, and I visited the ruins of Xochicalco near the 
boundary of the states of Morelos and Guerrero. The 
things that stick out in my memory above all else are the 
buildings which the Indians at the village of Temisco in 
Morelos made to store their corn; the rock iguanas, big 
black lizards which decorated every stone wall; the dreary 
ride, and the uncomfortable night at the ruins. But topping 
all else, I remember the visit to a near-by cave in which, 
by the greatest good fortune, I managed to secure with my 
hat some specimens of a rare bat, Choeronycteris. 

I became so interested in caves at one time that I sug- 
gested to William Morton Wheeler that we start a Society 



The Sea and the Cave 81 

of Speleologists. He was enthusiastic, but we finally con- 
cluded that there was not enough of an interested group to 
make it worth trying. 

I have had grand experiences exploring caves. In the 
spring of 1 9 1 1 , Dr. Carlos de la Torre, of the University 
of Havana, found among the notes which he had inherited 
from his old teacher, Felipe Poey — a very great naturaHst 
indeed, and one whose contributions to the natural his- 
tory of Cuba are well known — the statement that there 
was a cave near Cojimar which had red shrimps in it. Don 
Carlos and I took a guardano — one of those little canopy- 
topped rowboats that ferry one about the harbor of Ha- 
vana — and crossed over to Morro Castle. 

On the little beach just by the battery of the Twelve 
Apostles there lived an old fisherman named Lesmes. He 
had been a collector for Poey and was knowledgeable in 
all sorts of ways. We questioned him and he said, "Yes, 
there is a cave back in the scrub, several miles from here, 
which has shrimp in it which look as though they had 
been boiled." The upshot was we started out to find the 
cave. We wandered through the hot, dusty growth of 
beach-grape trees for a couple of miles and came to what 
had obviously once been a small cave, the roof of which 
had fallen in. 

Sure enough, swimming about in the crystal-clear water, 
which here stood quite near the surface of the ground, 
were to be seen fairy shrimps of the most heavenly crimson 
hue, slender and most delicately formed, with white tips 
to their appendages, as if they had stepped about delicately 
in white ink. We collected a number of these and in due 
season sent them to Miss Mary Rathbun, the famous car- 
cinologist of the Smithsonian Institution. She wrote me 



82 Naturalist at Large 

that these shrimps were unique, the only members of the 
family Hippolytidae that had taken to cave life. The mem- 
bers of this family inhabit the deep sea and a vast number 
of deep-sea Crustacea are red. All other cave shrimps which 
I know of, like most other cavicolous animals, are pure 
white. She named this shrimp Barbouria poeyi, which 
pleased me very much. 

I am going to digress for a moment at this point and say 
something about zoological names. There is always a 
generic name written with a capital, and a specific name, 
and sometimes also a subspecific, always written in lower 
case. The manufacturing or thinking up of generic names 
is not always easy, since you have to think of names which 
have not been used before, and the number of names that 
have been used mounts into many thousands. Therefore a 
person with a name which works up reasonably eupho- 
niously is a good deal of a godsend to describers; so we 
have Barbourella, Barbourina, Barbouricthys, Barbouro- 
phis, Barbourula, and I think several other such combina- 
tions, all shpping off the tongue with reasonable comfort. 

But consider the way Dybowski, for instance, has trans- 
gressed, and some of the names which he has proposed for 
free-swimming Crustacea in Lake Baikal: Leiicophtahiw- 
echinogainmarus leucophthahms, Stenophthahnoechijio- 
gannnanis stenopbthalmus, Corimtoky todermogavmmrus 
cornutuSj and, best of all, Brachyuropushkydermatogam- 
rnarus greivinglii vmemonotus. I call this dirty ball. Thank 
God these have all been outlawed by unanimous consent 
of one of the International Zoological Congresses. 

Not long ago I had occasion to make some rather nasty 



The Sea and the Cave 8 3 

remarks about some perfectly good friends of mine who 
perpetrated such a name as Fhotichthys nonsuchae. Pretty- 
terrible, for "nonsuch" can be translated into decent Latin. 
But my friends were not classicists; otherwise, naming a fish 
seen and not caught — in itself a mortal sin — Bathyspbera 
intacta would not have been used and naively interpreted 
as "the untouchable bathysphere fish." 

But to get back to our caves. Cuba, like many other lime- 
stone countries, abounds in caves and grottoes of all sorts, 
and I have explored any number of them. Three, however, 
stand out particularly. 

There is a Httle range of limestone hills a couple of miles 
east of the Harvard Botanical Garden at Soledad in a pas- 
ture called El Portero de los Vilches. Here there is a shal- 
low cave in the face of a chff which was used years ago 
as a bivouac or lookout by both the Spaniards and the 
Cuban rebels — whichever happened to be in control of 
the area. This cave is known as La Cueva de la Macha. It is 
open to the light, a great domed chamber, the front of 
which fell off and crashed down the hill years ago. Wind- 
blown dust has been carried in in the course of the ages 
and the floor of the cave has been covered with a foot or 
two of dust. 

We visited the cave often, as it was within walking 
distance of the Soledad plantation. Scattered over the sur- 
face of the dust in the cave were the remains of desiccated 
owl castings. These contained the undigested bones of in- 
troduced European mice and rats. It occurred to us that if 
we got down deeper in the dust we might find the remains 
of animals which existed before the coming of the Span- 



84 Naturalist at Large 

iards. This turned out to be the case, and we dug, sifted, 
and screened on many occasions. We found the bones of 
a number of extinct animals and, to top it all, the only ab- 
solutely perfect skull of the extinct rodent Boromys torrei 
which has ever been found anywhere. 

A visit to a second Cuban cave also turned out to be 
extremely valuable. My young friend Victor Rodriguez 
and I set forth from Havana to Matanzas and there 
changed cars to a little branch railroad which ran down 
into the Black Belt of Cuba, the southern part of Matanzas 
Province. We got off the train at Alacranes, not far from 
the larger village of Union de Reyes, and inquired for 
La Cueva del M. 

We found it was in an area mostly planted out in cane 
and we chartered an old, broken-down victoria, drove as 
far as the road would allow, and then walked on. The 
cave was as easy to explore as any I have ever seen. We 
entered through a great open archway and descended by 
a gradual inclined slope until finally we came to a great 
body of water which completely covered the floor of the 
cave. There was no going beyond this point. We could 
not have done so even if we had had a boat, because the 
roof of the cave dropped down, so that there was only a 
very short space between the roof of the cave and the sur- 
face of the water. This subterranean lake simply swarmed 
with life. We got a wonderful collection of blind fishes, 
finding both of the known species living there side by side 
with blind shrimps. 

When we reached the mouth of the cave on our return 
we were surrounded by rural guards and promptly ar- 
rested. But thanks to Dr. de la Torre, we had credentials 



The Sea and the Cave 85 

from the Secretary of the Interior of Cuba and we were 
royally treated when the Rurales discovered our identity. 
They had thought that we entered the cave for the pur- 
pose of purloining treasure "known to be buried there." 
But they were content to let us have our peculiar 
"treasure." 

A totally different sort of cave was that which a guajiro 
living near Madruga advised us to visit. This was one of 
those deep, dark caves, whose presence is made evident by 
the fact that the roof of one of the underground cham- 
bers has fallen in. In this cave trees had grown up and it 
was possible to clamber down to the floor through the 
branches of a tall, scraggly jaguey. Once down, we found 
that the cave spread out more or less in all directions and 
here one needed a ball of string and candles. We took off 
our shoes and stockings, rolled our trousers up, and slithered 
off through the bat dung. My companions were Professor 
J. Lewis Bremer and EHott Bacon. 

We went on and on, stirring up myriads of bats, creep- 
ing along at times where there was only a three- or four- 
foot space between the surface of the guano and the roof 
of the cave. Then, farther along, we could just squeeze 
through a crack a couple of feet wide and forty feet high. 
Finally, when we were about tired out with the fetid heat 
and the mean going, we reached a deep, sluggish stream 
of water — water that had filtered down, most of it, through 
the lime rock, so that it had become supercharged with lime 
salts. 

In the course of ages enough salts had been given up to 
form a crust on the surface of the water like thin ice on a 



86 Naturalist at Large 

pond in autumn in New England. We cracked this, care- 
fully slipped the sheets of lime rock aside, and then could 
look down by the rather feeble light of our candles into a 
crystal-clear pool. There, to our delight, we could see num- 
bers of pure white, quite obviously blind shrimps — new, 
too, to science! — swimming tranquilly about. 

We collected a series of these in a dip net and then, to 
our dehght again, found around the margin of the pool 
little sow bugs, or pill bugs, as we often call them here in 
New England. You see them here about Boston, slate- 
colored, swarming under brickbats or old boards in farm- 
yard or garden. These, too, were pure white and com- 
pletely without eyes. We bottled a supply of specimens 
and then retraced our way, winding up our ball of twine 
and making a good collection of bats during the return 
trip. It was a pleasure to get back to the surface and to 
breathe fresh air again. We clambered up the strangler fig 
by which we had descended, mounted our horses, and rode 
back to Madruga. 

Cuba is honeycombed with caves. There are Innumerable 
places where streams disappear underground. After the 
most torrential rainfalls many areas show no standing water 
at all. And, of course, the story of the marvelous Bellemar 
Caves at Matanzas is well known. A Chinese was working 
here with a crowbar, making holes in a rocky area to set 
out sisal plants. All of a sudden, after a particularly lusty 
stroke, his iron bar slipped from his hands and disappeared 
This is the way these famous caves were found, and now 
they are entered by a long flight of iron stairs lit with elec- 
tric lights, and enchant with their beauty thousands of 
visitors from all parts of the world. 



CHAPTER VIII 



Cub; 



o, 



N OUR first trip to Soledad, Cuba, arrangements 
had been made for Rosamond and me to stay with a Cap- 
tain Beal at Guabairo. He was a retired Danish sea captain 
who had charge of the colonia or section of the plantation 
with the lovely name, "The Whippoorwill." We went over 
from Soledad on a track car and walked up to the house. 
It was late in the afternoon. We ensconced ourselves very 
comfortably, found that evening that the captain had a 
most excellent cook, and looked forward to what the mor- 
row might bring. 

We arose early to a hurried breakfast and set out afoot 
as dawn was breaking, that loveHest time of a tropic day. 
Wisps of fog were rising from the fields of cut cane. Far 
away on the horizon a feather of smoke could be seen above 
the tall smokestack of the mill of the adjoining planta- 
tion, "Hormiguero," where we knew that before long 
Dona Luisa Ponvert would be having her armchair brought 
out to where her highly efficient eye could survey the trains 
of cane coming in and the sacks of sugar pouring from the 
centrifuges, as she had managed this great plantation for 
many years. The house at Guabairo was on the edge of a 
rough, scrubby woods, which grew on soil so rocky that 
it could not be put into cane but was useful for producing 
fence posts and firewood for charcoal. 

It had rained during the night, and we turned and walked 



88 Naturalist at Large 

down a long lane bordered by the living fence posts so 
characteristic of Cuba. Fence posts here are placed in the 
ground to sprout and grow, and so are protected from the 
ravages of termites. I remember that the bien vestida or 
well-dressed lady — Gliricidia — was in bloom, and there 
were gaudy orioles pecking at the blossoms on the pinon 
posts — rich crimson flowers of an Erythrina. In the spring 
the hedgerows built of the Gliricidia are masses of pale 
mauve flowers, not unlike wistaria. These make the road- 
sides gay with color, for an enormous number of the trop- 
ical trees planted for roadside shade or for ornament are 
of somber dark green, a green far darker than we are ac- 
customed to see here in the North. 

We walked on until we reached the woods. In Cuba, 
you do not find a beech grove or a maple swamp or a 
clump of pines, as elsewhere in the tropics. There may be 
trees of a hundred different species in an acre, and as Spanish 
has absorbed much Arabic, so Antillean Spanish has ab- 
sorbed far more Indian terminology than our English has 
done here. I often love to mouth over the sonorous Indian 
names of the trees we found about us. Are they not very 
lovely — ocuje, caoba, jucaro, yayajabita, acona, yaya, and 
innumerable others? I do not think we had been more than 
half an hour from the house when I found a rather damp 
spot in the woods w^here there were a lot of loose flat 
stones. I began turning these over and before long was 
entranced to find a number of tiny frogs, rich maroon 
in color with golden-yellow stripes which ran from the 
tip of the snout down each siJe of the body. These were 
indescribably lovely little frogs, scarce a quarter of an 
inch long from stem to stern, and I knew at once that we 




Photos by Dr. E. G. Stilhnan. IQ41 



The Harvara Garden, Soledad, near CienfueCTos, Cuba 



Cuba 89 

had rediscovered Phyllobates lifiibatus. This particular frog 
had been lost sight of for sixty years. Cope in 1862 de- 
scribed it as originating in Cuba. But Stejneger and I sus- 
pected that it was wrongly labeled and that its home was 
Central American, not Cuban. Now we were proved 
wrong. We got a good series, and it was well that we did, 
as the type specimens in the U. S. National Museum from 
which the species had been originally described were dried 
up and worthless. 

We collected other things — I remember a new fresh- 
water crab — but the finding of this lovely little frog, the 
smallest frog which I know of in the world, was certainly 
the high light of this particular journey to Cuba. Later I 
found that they were quite abundant in the rocky area 
which we keep as a wild plant preserve in the Botanic Gar- 
dens and there countless students have had a chance to 
collect and observe this charming little creature, whose life 
history was finally worked out by Dr. Dunn. 

Years earlier Stejneger and I in our conversations con- 
cerning the Cuban fauna doubted the locaUty of another 
creature taken there years before by Don Juan Gundlach, 
a German naturalist long resident in Cuba. Our doubts 
concerned the little lizard of a very archaic family whose 
representatives are rare denizens of scattered localities be- 
tween the southwestern United States and Panama. We 
should have known better, as a matter of fact, for old Don 
Juan Gundlach did not make mistakes in the localities of 
the species which he described. He said this came from 
Cape Cruz, the extreme southern tip of the island. To verify 
this Don Carlos de la Torre and I set out on a survey trip, 



90 Naturalist at Large 

he to collect mollusks and I to see if I could turn up Cri- 
cosaura. 

Wc went to Manzanillo and then by launch down the 
coast to Niquero, where we got a sailboat to go to the 
Cape. We were late getting started, and of course the wind 
died out. So our boatman and I rowed Don Carlos until 
about midnight, when we found a landing place behind 
the hook on which the great lighthouse stands. Our journey 
was delightful. The sea was as calm as calm could be, phos- 
phorescent, like molten silver. I believe we could have 
read a book by the light produced each time we dipped 
our oars, and each fish that darted from our bow was like 
a meteor in the sky. 

Once a pez agujon, one of those hopping billfishes, came 
skittering along on its tail, half out of water, and struck 
the gunwale of our boat. If it had been a few inches higher 
out of water it might have injured one of us badly, for 
these long, slim fishes (this one was two and a half feet 
long), with a beak like an ice pick and curious bright 
green bones, propel themselves with incredible speed. This 
one had been frightened by a porpoise or by a larger fish, 
and came skittering right against the side of our little 
dinghy. Of course we carried no light, as that would have 
invited visits from other billfish. 

We came ashore to hear the clanging of iron shutters. 
The lighthouse keepers, who had heard the bow of our craft 
scrape on the beach, were taking no chances, and we sat 
outside on the concrete platform around the lighthouse for 
a long time before Don Carlos finally persuaded them that 
we were not bandits. In due season we were taken in and 
given hammocks. The next morning, bright and early, I was 



Cuba 91 

out rolling stones, and within an hour had turned up a tiny, 
slender lizard with a coral-red tail, which was very obvi- 
ously our long unknown friend Cricosaura. I saw several 
others, but they were fast Httle devils and I got only the 
one. However, this one was as good as a thousand in es- 
tablishing the fact that Gundlach was right. This creature 
has one of the most restricted ranges of any reptile in the 
world, being confined to an area in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of Cabo Cruz, not much bigger than Beacon 
Hill in Boston. 

To me there is something particularly appealing about 
the scenery of the Cuban countryside. To be sure, the 
tropical vegetation is not breath-takingly inspiring, as is, 
for instance, that tropical forest which you meet between 
Puerto Armuelles in western Panama and the Costa Rican 
line. The wide sweeping cane fields, their dainty tassels 
blowing in the breeze, and the giant Ceiba trees, which 
are so often to be seen, since it is a custom never to cut 
them down, are a joy to the eye. These great umbrellas, 
their horizontal limbs each a garden of epiphytic curujeyes 
(plants growing on other plants), as the bromeliads are 
called in Cuba, are singularly pleasing, especially when the 
soft green foliage comes out with the first spring rains. 
Then there are the wide groves of stately royal palms, 
their pale gray stalks like stone columns surmounted by a 
section of polished green from which the long, graceful 
fronds sprout forth. These are used for thatching and the 
berries are gathered for pigs. There is a law against cut- 
ting them down, since the royal palm is the official emblem 
of the Republic. 



92 Naturalist at Large 

Cuba has been cleared for cultivation probably as ex- 
tensively as New England was a hundred years agp and 
little of the land has yet begun to go back into second 
growth, as a large part of New England has already done. 
Cuban soil is unbelievably fertile and there are many fields 
on which cane has been cut for a hundred years without 
replanting. Indeed, I know a valley west of Havana where 
the topsoil is sixty feet deep, and while I miss now the 
high forests which I used to see on my visits to Cuba thirty 
or more years ago, I still enjoy the plantations of mango and 
other fruit trees which are found far and wide about vil- 
lages and sugar mills. 

The mango is one of the finest shade trees of the whole 

world, and the tender roseate hue of the long drooping 

leaves on the new-grown shoots is singularly lovely. It is 

strange how many tropical trees have this habit of putting 

forth quick-growing shoots with long, limp, slender leaves, 

pink or even bright red in color, which finally harden up 

and become the firm, typical adult foliage of dark green. 

I think of the Browneas, with their great red pompons of 

flowers, delicate Httle trees and hard to grow, and of that 

most glorious of all the flowering trees of the entire world, 

Amherstia, which we cannot make grow in Cuba. We only 

flowered it once in Soledad. Perhaps you may have seen 

it at Castleton Gardens in Jamaica or in Trinidad, or best 

of all in its native home in Burma. The flowers are borne 

each like a tiny bird mounted on a wire and each wire 

attached, as it were, to a long strand which hangs down 

from the end of the limb, each little bird crimson, with 

boldly painted golden spots. 

Unfortunately Amherstia, even in Burma, seldom, if 



Cuba 93 

ever, sets seeds, and the little plants obtained by inarch- 
ing or layering are extremely delicate. Thus its introduc- 
tion into Cuba has proved very difficult because the at- 
mosphere there is so dry and the rainfall so scant. All in 
all we have brought sbc or eight plants to the island but 
none survive today. I remember one really fine, well-grown 
plant given us at Jamaica when I was on the Utoiua?ia. Mr. 
Armour agreed to carry it direct to Cienfuegos. We did. 
A drop of salt water splashed on it while we were taking 
it ashore to Soledad and withered one of the main branches 
of the plant in an instant. However, the trunk and other 
branches were untouched and we found a damp spot for 
it under a giant Pithecolobium tree. This plant lasted for 
several years and flowered once, but was ruined with its 
giant protector by the hurricane of 1934. This was a sad 
blow. We have never since been able to secure a really 
well-established specimen. 

Thanks largely to David Fairchild, Florida is beginning 
to provide us with good mangos, good alligator pears, and 
many other fruits long since staple articles of food in Cuba. 
Personally, I look forward to the day when we may have 
in our market here sapodillas. In the Spanish-speaking coun- 
tries we call them sapotes or nisperos. They are "dillys" 
in the English-speaking colonies — fruit unprepossessing 
in appearance with a brown skin a good deal like a potato, 
though without eyes, of course. But break it open and 
the delicious brownish pulp has a delicate flavor of its 
own and the black polished seeds characteristic of the 
family to which the fruit belongs are quite artificial-look- 
ing and decorative. The Mamey Colorado belongs to the 
same family, but this has never been established in Florida, 



94 Naturalist at Large 

although I believe there are one or two trees growing in 
Key West. This is a delicious fruit, which I believe some 
day we may expect to procure in Northern markets, al- 
most as large as a Rocky Ford melon, the pulp bright red, 
with a delicious custardy flavor. 

Who has not read Turtle Eggs for Agassiz? I have read 
it time and again. The yarn I am about to tell has no such 
charm. George Howard Parker was the best lecturer to 
whom I ever listened as an undergraduate, so I was natu- 
rally inclined to help him when he asked me for a boa. 
He wanted the longest unbranched nerve which he could 
lay hands on, to study the elaboration of carbon dioxide 
under electrical excitation. I was going to Cuba. With 
luck, I might get a large boa. When it was anesthetized 
and put under water, the long vagus nerve being dissected 
out and electrically stimulated, bubbles of carbon dioxide 
could be readily caught as they issued from the water and 
their volume measured. Now the vagus nerve activates 
the diaphragm and the diaphragm of a snake is well aft. 
Moreover, this nerve is unbranched. Parker yearned for 
a boa. 

Before long I found myself at Soledad, in Cuba, and I 
passed out word through the countryside that I was inter- 
ested in getting a large Maja, as boas are called locally, and 
was not in the least interested in small ones. Soledad in 
Cuba is the site of Harvard's only little ward of Paradise, 
a lovely botanic garden which I have been privileged to 
visit for years. While I was sitting on the front porch of 
Harvard House one hot and sultry afternoon two country- 
men came up to the door, politely doffing their hats, and 



Cuba 95 

took from their shoulders a pole from which a large sack 
was suspended. The spokesman of the twain indicated that 
the sack contained the father of all boas. It wasn't long 
before we struck a bargain and the snake was mine. I 
dumped him out of the sack in the dark room, a httle de- 
tached stucco-and-concrete building adjoining the labora- 
tory. It was obvious at first glance that the snake had dined 
sumptuously and I was not surprised when looking at him 
the next day to see that excitement or nervousness had 
given him indigestion, and a pile of highly aromatic cor- 
ruption on the floor indicated that not long since he had 
consumed no less than three hutias. These savory rodents 
abound in the wilder parts of Cuba and each one of these 
was about the size of an able tomcat. I got the hose and the 
broom and went to it, slicked the place up, and the buz- 
zards took care of the situation in a few moments. 

Time to leave. With some help, I crowded Epicrates, as 
I may call our victim, for this is his generic scientific name, 
into a strong carton, the kind that has four f!aps, one on 
each end and one on each side, pressed them down, 
and tied up the bundle. I was forced to spend a few days 
in Havana, and Epicrates resided under my bed in the 
Inglaterra Hotel. The next day I crossed to Key West. 
Prohibition was in full swing and no customhouse official 
was going to pass a carton on my mere statement that 
it contained a snake; but one peek settled the matter and 
the bundle was re-corded and carried to the train. I had 
the southernmost lower in the north-bound car for Palm 
Beach. We left in the evening and the car was to reach 
Palm Beach early the next morning and to be placed on a 
siding for the convenience of its passengers. 



96 Naturalist at Large 

I walked around Key West to kill time, got aboard, and 
turned in about as the train was leaving. I went to sleep. 
I am a very light sleeper, and slept perhaps a little more 
lightly than usual on this occasion. At any rate, in the dead 
of night I heard a sudden sharp yelp. I knew at once that 
something was wrong and I reached over and twiddled the 
carton. It was obviously empty. Nothing to do but wait 
till morning. The hours dragged, but finally daylight came. 
I waited patiently until everyone had left the car; then I 
went and asked the porter what had happened. He said 
that he had been asleep in the men's washroom, having 
set his alarm watch so that he would have time to clean 
the shoes of the passengers who were to get off at Miami. 
He awoke and, lo and behold, there was the snake, which 
had escaped from my carton, crawled the whole length of 
the car and entered the men's washroom, where it fright- 
ened the Negro almost to death. Luckily, the diner was 
the adjoining car. The porter rushed in and got a cleaver, 
chopped the head off the snake, then opened the vestibule 
door and pushed it out. I pretended to be tremendously 
surprised. I was carrying the empty carton and told the 
porter it contained objects too fragile to entrust to any- 
one else. 

After I had set it down and he had brought out my other 
impedimenta, I asked him how he could account for this 
extraordinary chain of events. He allowed he didn't know. 
I asked him if by chance he had left the car on the siding 
in Key West the day before with its door open. He said 
yes, he had. "And," I added, "you went up town sparking 
the gals." And again he admitted that I was right. I advised 
him that he should always shut the door of his car there- 



Cuba 97 

after. He assured me that he would never make that mis- 
take again. 

The history of the Garden at Soledad in Cuba has been 
written over and over again. The story of how Mr. Edwin 
F. Atkins acquired the Soledad Plantation is told in his 
book Sixty Years in Cuba, incidentally one of the best books 
on the island that have ever been written; how he consulted 
Professor Goodale and Professor Oakes Ames, got Mr. 
Gray to be Superintendent, hybridized sugar canes, and be- 
gan the gradual accumulation of a collection of tropical 
plants over forty years ago. 

I first visited Soledad in 1909, and as I was specializing 
in a study of the fauna of the West Indies and for many 
years studied the fauna of Cuba intensively, I came more 
and more to avail myself most gratefully of the Atkinses' 
hospitality at Soledad Plantation. During the years of the 
last great war I was in Cuba all the time as a government 
agent and frequently spent week ends at Soledad. I be- 
came more and more interested in the possibilities of the 
place. 

In time Mr. Lowell appointed me Custodian of the Gar- 
den and I have had to do with planning itr development 
in a fairly intimate way for some twenty years or more. 
I have built dams and made ponds and watched their bor- 
ders change from those of poor old worn-out cane fields 
to veritable fairylands. From time to time, until he died, 
I begged more and more land from Mr. Atkins, always 
with success, and since then from his son-in-law, William 
H. Claflin. These friends have always given me whole- 
hearted and enthusiastic appreciation of any plans I had 



98 Naturalist at Large 

to offer for the development of what is now one of the 
great tropical gardens of the world. 

Harvard House, its laboratory, airy dining hall, and 
accommodations for six persons soon became outgrown, 
for while this offered sufficient accommodation for the 
visitors who came during the wintertime, in summer groups 
of students with an instructor began making increasing use 
of our facihties. So then Mrs. Atkins and I built Casa Cata- 
lina on the top of a high ridge looking out over the Gar- 
den to the Trinidad Mountains. Here there are a good 
big dormitory and several private rooms, so that now we 
can take care of as many students as we are ever likely 
to have. 

Our collection of palms is only exceeded in variety by 
that of Colonel Robert H. Montgomery at Coconut Grove 
in Florida, and our ornamental and useful hardwood trees 
— teak and the like — are now big enough so that we can 
supply seeds to anybody who needs them. Soledad Planta- 
tion itself has flourishing forest plantings to provide future 
railway ties grown from our seed. For this Garden is not 
simply ornamental, but serves a useful purpose, introduc- 
ing and testing economic plants from all over the tropical 
world. 

One of the sure satisfactions of a life extraordinarily 
blessed with satisfactory events has been the many, many 
restful hours which I have spent alone watching the birds 
in a setting of entrancing beauty, a setting which changes 
every year. I thought the place was ruined when I saw it 
after the great hurricane of 1934, but in 1941, when last I 
was there, all signs of the hurricane were completely gone, 
such is the rapidity of plant growth in the tropics. The 



Cuba 99 

stately clusters of bamboo, the flowering trees of early- 
spring, the ponds reflecting the magnificent trees which 
grow on their banks, afford scenes of extraordinary loveli- 
ness. Moreover, now there is a good road to our very door 
and one can motor out from Havana in about seven hours 
without unreasonable haste. As the beauty of the Garden 
becomes more widely known, the number of visitors in- 
creases, and anyone who is really interested in Harvard 
College cannot but be proud of its lovely outpost in Cuba. 

Some years ago the University of Havana celebrated its 
two hundredth anniversary. After the party was over and 
the delegates had gone home, James Brown Scott of our 
State Department and I remained behind, for we had been 
told that a special convocation was to be held and we were 
to receive honorary degrees. I wired Boston, and my wife 
came down with my gown. No borrowed gown available 
in Havana would fit my bulk. 

The fateful day was still and coppery hot — one of those 
spring mornings in the tropics when it wants to rain but 
can't and the trade wind forgets to blow. I put on my gown 
and fell in line. The ceremony was dignified and colorful 
in the extreme. Scott wore the red cape of a Doctor of 
Laws and I the sky-blue cape of a Doctor of Science. The 
placing of the biretta on our heads was the mark of the 
bestowal of the degree. 

Scott went through his paces first, made a good speech, 
was orated at, and received the degree. He was just about 
the same size as the Rector of the University. Then came 
my turn. I made an oration in my most polite Spanish. My 
old friend, Don Carlos de la Torre, made me turn as red 



100 Naturalist at Large 

as a lobster by the things he said about me. And my wife, 
who was sitting in the front row before us buried in a 
mass of tropical floral tributes, blushed as Don Carlos 
recalled that the cannibals of New Guinea had said they 
preferred to look at her, which was why she was not 
eaten. 

Don Carlos finally sat down, and I rose for the em- 
brace. I stepped forward and put my arms around the Rec- 
tor and patted him three times on the back, according to 
ancient usage. Well, when I did this he completely dis- 
appeared, for I am distinctly outsize, being almost six feet 
six in height, while the Rector was short even for a Cuban. 
A voice from the gallery said in Spanish, "There goes 
Cuba!" This was just about the time that the "Octopus 
of the North" was disciplining Haiti and San Domingo, for 
excellent reasons, and Cuba was inclined to take sides with 
its neighbors. However, in a second the Rector was un- 
folded and breathing again. I sat down, the biretta on my 
head, and as I did so the sweep of my ample sleeve tipped 
a gargantuan goblet of water into the lap of the Dean of 
the Faculty of Sciences, who was sitting beside me. He was 
extremely polite, but a little annoyed. I felt like an ass; 
in reality it was the proudest day of my life — the first 
really distinguished honor I ever received. 

Now the scene changes. I am back in Boston and it is 
the Harvard Commencement season. On the Sunday eve- 
ning before this event I sat in what was called the Sunday 
School at the Somerset Club, a pleasant after-dinner gather- 
ing. I was telling my friend Herbert Leeds about the Ha- 
vana ceremony; I described the gown. This is of shiny, 




Photo by Dr. E. G. Stillman 

The author and "Lizzie" at Soledad, 1941 




Photo hv Luis Ho'ii'dl Rircro 



On the steps at the Aula Alagna, University of Havana 

March 19^0 



Cuba 101 

lustrous silk, full In the skirt but with tight sleeves, deco- 
rated with a deep lace cuif, white on the black. A sky-blue 
cape is worn over the shoulders, while the headdress or 
biretta is of blue silk with a large pompon of blue silk 
threads which reminds one somewhat of the rear end of a 
Pomeranian. Mr. Leeds said, "I have twenty-five dollars 
which says that you won't dare wear that next Thursday." 
I said, "You're on." 

Commencement Day came. I went to Cambridge; put on 
my regalia. I was to be Marshal for the candidates for the 
degrees from A.M. to Theology; in other words, the sec- 
ond half of the candidates' procession. What I didn't know, 
however, was that because Harvard's ex-Treasurer, CharHe 
Adams, had been made Secretary of the Navy and was 
to receive an honorary degree, the press cameramen were 
to be allowed in the Yard for the first time in history. A 
platform had been made at the corner of University Hall on 
which they might stand. 

Ten o'clock struck, the band started up, and Roger Mer- 
riman led off the A.B.'s. All went well until Lewis Bremer 
and I, with our second division of the procession, reached 
the front of the press stand. Then something happened; 
the line halted. A rich Irish voice, subdued but yet quite 
audible, said to its neighbor, "Who the hell is the big 
bloke wrapped up in the blue diploma?" The other re- 
plied, "I'll go and find out." He jumped down, ran a few 
steps to the Yard cop, and whispered in his ear. He jumped 
back to the platform and said in a very audible whisper, 
"His name is Barbour and he runs the Agassiz Museum." 
No. I said, "He looks like the Pope's mistress!" The re- 
joinder to that was, "Would you say Pope Boniface or 



102 Naturalist at Large 

Pope Innocent?" "There's nothing innocent about that 
face." 

At this point, thank God, the line began moving. I 
marched on, unbelievably reheved. I vowed never to wear 
that gown again, though I have from time to time sported 
the blue muzetta with my ordinary American doctor's 
gown. This does not have tight sleeves with a deep border 
of white lace and a skirt effect that looks extraordinarily 
as if one were wearing a bustle under a Mother Hubbard. 

I suppose if we wanted to indicate that a man had 
become a real North Carolinian we should say that he had 
tar on his heel. In the same way the Cubans speak of a per- 
son as being aplatajtado, that is, "bananaed," to indicate 
colloquially that he has become pretty completely ac- 
climated. Well, my Cuban friends say that I am ^'im h ombre 
Men aplatanado.^' Personally, I consider this a great compli- 
ment. If I grow loquacious and prolix when it comes to 
talking about Cuba I do not care a rap, for I love the 
country with a deep, passionate affection. I have no hesi- 
tation in saying so, and I do not care whether my friends 
believe it or not. My Cuban friends do, and that is all that 
counts. 



CHAPTER IX 

The Bahamas, Old and New 



I 



HAVE been asked more than once why I have de- 
voted so large a part of my life to studies connected with 
the Bahama Islands. The answer is that I have been gov- 
erned partly by sentiment and partly by chance. The fact 
that Allison Armour liked to cruise in the Bahamas gave 
me a number of opportunities to visit islands which were 
normally inconvenient of access and I was swayed by senti- 
ment because it was here that my grandmother first in- 
troduced me to the tropics, an experience which, as I have 
explained, played a very large part in determining my hfe's 
work. 

The Bahamas are a happy hunting ground. To be sure 
they have a depauperate fauna but the question is, was 
that always so? I think the answer is no. We know from 
early historical accounts that some of the islands were 
forested and there are other reasons for believing that this 
was the case. Many a stately gateway now standing in what 
is pitiful scrub vegetation on rocky sterile soil is the only 
remains of the rich sea-island cotton plantations which 
existed before the days of British emancipation. I imagine 
that probably even before this time the temptation to 
clear land with fire had initiated the work of destruction. 
Burning and reburning have consumed the humus and 
most of the islands are now desolate indeed. If only the 
cave earth had not been so rich in fertilizing value that 



104 Naturalist at Large 

almost every single cave had been cleared out long ago 
we should have had an immense amount of evidence not 
available now. 

What would I not have given to have had a chance to 
sift the earth out of those caves before it was all dug out 
and spread over the land! Recently a schoolteacher on 
the island of Exuma sent up to Cambridge the contents of 
a little pocket in a cave which had been almost, but not 
quite, emptied of its cave earth. This contained the bones 
of a number of fossil birds which when submitted to Dr. 
Alexander Wetmore, the director of the National Museum 
and our first authority on fossil birds, showed the presence 
long ago of species now extinct, and a genus, also, of 
birds completely tied up with a high forest environment 
— and yet we had only a tiny and pitiful sample for study. 
In the same way on half a dozen scattered islands I have 
found little remnant pockets of undisturbed earth which 
showed the presence of extinct forms of a genus of rodents 
of which today there is only a single remnant, the little 
population of guinea-pig-like rodents on East Plana Cay. 

These little rodents are of the genus Geocapromys, and 
were probably once very much more widespread than they 
are now. One species is confined to the high mountains of 
eastern Jamaica and is very scarce. There was one in Cuba 
which is now extinct but of which I have found remains in 
many caves. Then there is another which swarms on Little 
Swan Island off Honduras, and of course the one which 
I have mentioned as occurring on East Plana Cay. There 
is no indication whatever that it ever occurred on the 
mainland, which may seem a surprising statement in view 
of the fact that I speak of one occurring on Little Swan 



The Bahamas, Old and New 105 

Island, but these islands in the Bay of Honduras have a 
mysterious Antillean tinge to their fauna. When the Uto- 
wa7m stopped at Coxen's Hole at Ruatan I found there a 
tree lizard (which I call Anolis allisoni for our gracious 
host) which was closely alHed to a species of Anoles with 
representatives on the Cayman Island, Cuba, Jamaica, 
Haiti, and the Bahamas. This group of lizards is so sharply 
set aside from the scores of others in the same genus that 
it almost deserves a generic name. 

Allison put David Fairchild, James Greenway, and me 
ashore on East Plana, where as usual we made a grand 
haul of the land shells which abound everywhere in the 
Bahamas, and where also we collected some fine specimens 
of G. ingrahcnm. These were the only specimens which 
have been taken since the types were secured long ago. 
The remains in the caves may mean that these little rodents 
were eaten by the early inhabitants of the islands. Recent 
explorations have greatly increased the number of animals 
known to have existed on all of the Greater Antilles, but 
this evidence has mostly been derived from undisturbed 
caves or from caves where dripping supercharged lime 
water has formed a breccia that has protected the bones by 
encapsulating them with lime. 

The northern Bahamas with their flat pine-clad plains 
probably never had a very varied vegetation; I suspect 
they have always been much less fertile than the southern 
Bahamas which supported what we know was a spacious 
and gracious plantation life. Planters could once afford to 
send their own horses to faraway Jamaica to participate 
in the big races there, but today the islands are completely 
poverty-stricken. The answer is of course fire. After eman- 



106 Naturalist at Large 

cipation days the planters perforce moved away and the 
freed slaves, being left behind, took the easiest way and as 
land grew up to brush they cleared and recleared by burn- 
ing it off, until now on such islands as Cat Island, Long 
Island, Crooked Island, Acklins Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, 
Mariguana, and Great Inagua, only the most pitiful rem- 
nants of gardens remain. The considerable population nat- 
urally has to support itself to a large extent from the sea. 

Many of the resident birds peculiar to the islands are 
extremely local and restricted in distribution. I think par- 
ticularly of the beautiful Nye's woodpecker. This occurs 
in a sort of swale in the Victoria Hills Section of Watlings 
Island. Here there is a growth of large gumbo-limbo trees 
(Bursera guttifera). The area is so restricted that I doubt 
if the total population of this lovely species amounts to more 
than thirty to forty pairs. These big trees are no doubt a 
good sample of what once grew more or less everywhere. 
Elsewhere the forests were weakened by fire. The big 
trees not actually destroyed by the fire itself were re- 
moved by the devastating hurricanes which pass over these 
unfortunate islands more frequently than elsewhere. 

How have the creatures moved from one island to an- 
other? The number of genera of reptiles with representa- 
tive species on the various islands is really very considerable. 
However, I think this not really difficult to explain. There 
has been some fortuitous dispersal by flotsam and jet- 
sam motivated by hurricanes no doubt. But during several 
glacial epochs when a large quantity of oceanic water was 
tied up in the form of polar ice the surface of the sea wa? 
certainly lowered sufficiently to change the Bahama Archi- 
pelago to its present condition. I believe this made large 



The Bahamas, Old and New 107 

land masses of what are now groups of many separate is- 
lands. I also believe there may have been a lot of down- 
thrusting of fault blocks in the Bahamas. It is impossible 
even to guess when this occurred but there are many 
reasons to postulate isostatic disequilibrium in the whole 
Bahamas-Greater Antillean area. 

I agree with those geologists who believe that the Yunque 
of Baracoa in Cuba (well-named the anvil because it is a 
great steep-sided block of a mountain) and the similar- 
looking Morro of Monte Criste in the Dominican Repub- 
lic are upthrust fault blocks, and the channels between 
the islands with their steep walls dropping off quite close 
to shore are perhaps compensatory downthrust blocks. 
While the Bahamas are flat the Greater Antilles are moun- 
tainous. A vast predominance of limestone has gone into 
their make-up. Of course this limestone has made possible 
the perfectly unbelievable variety of mollusks that are to 
be found there. Hundreds of valid species have been de- 
scribed and the end is not yet by any manner of means. 
Collecting mollusks in this part of the world is a most 
fascinating pastime. The species, many of them, are un- 
believably beautiful and although they have a tantalizing 
way of disappearing in dry weather it only takes a shower 
or two to bring them forth in utterly incredible swarms. 

I had an opportunity to visit the island of Great Inagua 
on several occasions. Matthewtown, its principal settlement, 
was a dreary relic of what once obviously was a place of 
some importance. The great salt pans behind the town were 
interesting only because of the presence of a few strag- 
gling flamingos, while the animal life of the island had 



108 Naturalist at Large 

suffered from the introduction of a more curious job lot 
of beasts than most island faunae have to cope with. Feral 
cats and rats abounded; also donkeys, wild cattle, and, I 
have heard it said, even hogs and horses. At any rate the 
scrubby vegetation surrounding the great saline ponds in 
the middle of the island reminded one a good deal of East 
Africa as a drove of timid jackasses would scamper off 
ahead of the intruder. 

James Greenway, who was much more agile than I, suc- 
ceeded in landing on Sheep Cay, a tiny isolated remnant 
of the greater islands separated by but a short strait of 
salt water from Inagua itself. But this stretch of salt water 
had saved the day as far as I was concerned, for Jim waded 
out to where we could pick him up, carrying a canvas 
bag which he had taken ashore, and which now contained 
two treasures. One was a handsome little species of boa 
which turned out to be completely new, the other a very 
distinct Alsophis. I suspect that these once were abundant 
all over Inagua and that they have been extirpated by the 
introduced vermin. At any rate as far as I know no one 
had ever found them on the large island and it had been 
visited by a number of naturalists. 

Now comes the remarkable part of my story. William, 
Josiah, and Douglas Erickson made a careful scientific 
search of the possibilities of utilizing the old salt pans, and 
through Josiah (whom we all call Jim, and who was one 
of the first of my many honorary nephews) I have been 
able to keep track of what these wonderful young men 
have done. To be sure the name of Erickson is synonymous 
with ingenuity. Think of the Monitor in the Civil War 
and the screw propeller on every steamer. I need say no 



The Bahamas^ Old and New 109 

more. I wrote Jim and asked if he would be willing to tell 
the story of what he and his family have done with Inagua. 
Here it is: — 

West India Chemicals, Limited 
Matthewtown, Inagua, Bahamas 

February /^, ip^^ 
Dr. Thomas Barbour, 
M. C Z., 

Harvard University, 
Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Dear Uncle Tommie: 

Sorry to have had to delay this but the pressure of 
work has been considerable and time has just not been 
available. You asked for an account of the changes 
which have taken place here since your last visit and 
I will try to give you a rough picture of what we have 
had to contend with and what developments have 
taken place. 

You were quite familiar with the physical aspect 
of the town as it existed upon our arrival. To go with 
the picture of an almost nonexistent standard of liv- 
ing, we found the usual accompanying lawlessness, 
an attitude which was shared by practically all in- 
dividuals of the local population. Everyone was gath- 
ered more or less tightly under the leadership of three 
or four individuals who tried to hold local superiority 
by means of an apathetic sort of gang warfare. The 
one business was that of stevedoring on steamers ply- 
ing to South America and Europe. As Matthewtown 
was a port of call for several steamers each week, there 



110 Naturalist at Large 

was a considerable turnover in the resident population. 

It was the general practice of all local leaders to have 
a man's total wages for a coming trip completely- 
swallowed in trade before that individual ever em- 
barked. This practice definitely assured the men that 
they would earn nothing if they depended solely on 
the rewards of honest labor. Thievery of cargo in 
vessels' holds and, for the more daring, from ware- 
houses in southern ports, led each individual to a com- 
mon understanding that the only way a man could 
possibly profit was by dishonest means. The resultant 
situation on Inagua was that of men vying with one 
another to show their prowess at various forms of 
gangster technique. This was evidenced in a blatant, 
bawdy sort of life in which Saturday-night wife beat- 
ings, drunkenness and various rather futile attempts at 
knifing were the common order of the day. 

It was a particularly unsatisfactory situation in that 
no one valued money as such, and no one seemed able 
to conceive how they might be benefited by what we 
think of as a higher standard of living. A standard of 
living to them was nothing more than an abysmal pov- 
erty which had its one soul-satisfying outlet in boast- 
fulness of how tough one could be. No one was anxious 
to earn money in excess of that required to fulfill the 
most meager purchases of food and clothing; all the 
so-called luxuries such as cheap rayons, silks and 
gaudy wearing apparel having been acquired through 
the aforementioned pilfering. No one dreamed of hav- 
ing money in terms which could possibly mean a decent 
house to live in and, for that matter, even a decent 



The Bahamas^ Old and New 111 

bed to sleep in. No one thought of money in terms 
of food other than rice and grits. No one thought of 
children's schooling as a large percentage of the pop- 
ulation was illiterate. 

If you paid a man the miserable daily wage of 50 
cents, he would probably work six days out of the 
seven. If you were sufficiently insane to pay him $ i .00 
a day, he most certainly would not work more than 
three days per week. In other words, there was no 
means by which one could stimulate a desire for edu- 
cation, for better food, for better housing or for bet- 
ter anything. Everyone was at zero level, and having 
always been there were perfectly content to remain 
there. I could only think of the story which one of my 
professors at Tech used to tell about the manager of a 
sawmill in Arkansas who was faced with the same 
problem when executives of his company, having of- 
fices in Chicago, decided that wages in the Arkansas 
mill should be doubled. The result was a halving of 
production as it is simple arithmetic that if you get 
twice as much you need only work half as much to 
get the same net result. As the story goes, the manager 
solved his difficulties by a present of a brilliant red 
silk dress to the boss Negro's wife, at the same time 
supplying a stock of similar dresses priced at fabulous 
figures to the commissariat. Within the week feminine 
desire not to be outdone drove reluctant husbands and 
aspiring swains to a full sLx-day-per-week schedule of 
operation. 

It was an example that was difficult for us to put 
into effect in Inagua as the light tinsely trappings that 



112 Naturalist at Large 

fulfilled the population's desire for adornment were 
all to be had in ample quantities simply at the risk of 
a little daring. To turn to the more solid things of 
life such as greater creature comfort in the form of 
homes, etc. was so remote from hope of attainment 
that we could induce no individual in the community 
to as much as attempt to struggle for same. It took years 
of carefully planned control — control of lawless ac- 
tivities while men were on shipboard, control of local 
commodity buying and selling, control of living con- 
ditions, and virtually the way of life before we had the 
final satisfaction of seeing personal initiative, the 
rudiments of self-respect, and something closely akin 
to character begin to develop on the island. 

To counteract exorbitant local prices for food and 
clothing, we found ourselves with a general store on 
our hands, we bought in bulk at wholesale prices and 
resold at a price just sufficient to defray overhead. 
We found ourselves running a restaurant business, a 
rudimentary housing project, a medical clinic, and 
many similar organizations, all of which slowly and 
painstakingly began to have their respective influences 
on the wants and opinions of the public. 

New types of food were edged in at the store, were 
sometimes given away as gifts with other purchases, 
and ever so slowly new tastes were cultivated for 
nutritious, healthful foods that had never before been 
tried or tolerated on the island. In the same way our 
restaurants provided meals in which our company 
absorbed the major part of the cost, so that regard- 
less of whether some of the dishes served were new, 



The Bahamas, Old and New 113 

and regardless of whether they were particularly liked 
at first, the general run of the men found that they 
got so much for so little that they could ill afford to 
provide their own wretched type of meal for which 
they had a natural liking in place of the more prop- 
erly balanced meals which were somewhat strange 
and under normal conditions would be unacceptable 
to the uninitiated palate. Through better feeding our 
men have found that they are less prone to sickness, 
that they are less susceptible to cold, and that they 
have a greater abundance of vitality than ever before. 

The same has been true of our attempts at proper 
housing, of our attempt at maintaining a proper clinic, 
where it is now quite plainly evident that the benefits 
received are worth while, that they lead to actual 
greater enjoyment of life, and we have in the making 
a tentative acceptance of the fact that a higher standard 
of living is something worth striving for, that al- 
though to be industrious requires a considerable ex- 
penditure of personal effort, the returns from such 
industry begin to lead toward something approxi- 
mating home life, toward an atmosphere less laden 
with the wretched squalor and misery that was so gen- 
erally accepted as being the only form of life ob- 
tainable. 

Concurrently with this slow awakening of interest 
we have carried on an educational program which 
had its foundation in our garage and maintenance shops 
where our youngest and, per se, most intelligent labor 
material was started in chipping rust, cleaning machine 
parts and finally, though slowly, learned not only the 



114 Naturalist at Large 

visual aspect of the inside of a piece of machinery but 
also learned something about the value of caring for 
that equipment. From this stage they were carried to 
that of learning to drive trucks, run pumps, operate 
power shovels, drive tractors — in short, carry on 
practically all the mechanical operation of our plant's 
equipment, and that, too, with a considerable degree of 
skiU and success. 

Imperceptibly this group of men and boys were the 
forerunners of an upper class in the island's native 
society, a class which had heretofore known no marks 
of distinction, no gradation of education, no differ- 
ential as to degrees of ability, all because the class 
as a whole were what was locally known in Nassau as 
being behind God's back. This awakening of class 
consciousness has been a stabiHzing influence for the 
community as a whole. Just as the first group of truck 
drivers were looked upon by all and sundry as being 
people quite specially favored and quite admirable to 
emulate, so also have been the actions of this upper 
class of society. It is seen that they have better homes, 
homes which are tangible and possible of attainment. 
It is seen that some of this group are acting even now 
to get a better education. It is seen that this group as 
a whole are being invested with local authority and as 
such, shall we say, perhaps like the bureaucratic regime 
in Russia, it is a position worth striving for. Not only 
is the financial recompense appreciable, but so also 
is the standing which this group has in managing local 
affairs. 

Our whole purpose in handling this group of Ne- 



The Bahamas, Old and New 115 

groes as we have has been in an attempt to place them 
in a position where they will of their own volition 
develop themselves and make of themselves some- 
thing more than goods and chattels, which are the per- 
petual care of government. I remember an old sea cap- 
tain who in his training of a young lieutenant said: 
"Hunt him until he hunts himself and then ye'll no 
stop him." It is in this same sense that we have tried 
to drive, to push, to exert until such a point is reached 
that this group of fellows with whom we are dealing 
will take this momentum and carry it to greater speeds 
for themselves. 

I can truthfully say that the Inagua group as a whole 
have begun to repay us for our efforts. The younger 
members in particular have developed some mighty 
fine characteristics. There is an esprit de corps which, 
I am sorry to say, I have not found equaled in any 
labor group with which I have had dealings in the 
U.S. There has been a conscientious effort on their 
part to enter into discussions on company affairs and, 
what is most gratifying, there is the general feehng 
that this is their company. If you as a stranger talked 
to one of our truck drivers or, for that matter, to any 
one of our employees, you would probably be told 
that we do thus or that we do so, simply because al- 
most every individual now begins to feel that he 
himself is in some way responsible for the develop- 
ments of this concern. 

Within the year we have assisted our men in their 
formation of a labor union which it is hoped will have 
Sir Ernest Bevin's recognition. This is a long step 



116 Naturalist at Large 

to have taken in seven years from a time when local, 
self-seeking interests tried to drive us from the island 
by killing one of our men and wounding others. It's a 
long step to have taken in local mental outlook when 
you stop to consider that the newly formed labor 
union of their own volition took the name of "Asso- 
ciation" instead of "Union," as to their minds the 
word "Union" symbolized a condition of strife and 
ill feeling between employer and employee and in this 
case it was their special wish that no such connotation 
should exist but rather that we should always feel that 
everything done by our concern should be an expres- 
sion of extreme and loyal co-operation between em- 
ployer and employee. 

From the Inagua which you knew during your last 
visit I think you would find it strange to see a condition 
wherein a company labor union maintains its own 
clubhouse, has interest enough to desire educational 
features such as lectures, displays of laboratory ex- 
periments, health talks and, in short, practically every- 
thing pertaining to that higher standard of living 
which was such a far cry when we first landed on the 
island. 

Of equal interest to this development of an erst- 
while uneducated, totally forgotten group of people 
is the development of the natural resources of the 
island which not only made the foregoing possible 
but also, what is more, practical. Originally the island 
produced a fairly large quantity of salt by means of 
solar evaporation. This commodity w^as shipped al- 
most exclusively to the Eastern Seaboard of the United 



The Bahamas, Old and New 117 

States and Canada. With the development of the 
salt mines in New York State the price of salt fell 
from about $30 a ton to a figure little more than $5.00. 
With this decline in price little effort was made to 
alter manufacturing methods sufficiently to keep the 
then existent companies solvent. Each followed the 
other in a succession of bankruptcies until the in- 
dustry was totally at an end. In our own case we 
have been fortunate enough with certain new develop- 
ments to make the manufacture of solar salt a success- 
ful undertaking. The salt now being produced at 
Inagua is of extreme high purity and for the most part 
all that is shipped from the island is of C.P. grade. 
In other words, our main attempt has been to get 
away from the old methods of solar salt manufacture 
which almost invariably precluded bulk shipments of 
a chemically pure product and in many cases went far 
in straining the fair limits of Technical Grade. 

What was known on old maps as Lake Rosa, a 
desolate mud flat of a lake which was the breeding 
ground of a dying flock of flamingos, has with its 
new name of Lake Windsor become the chief object 
of company development. Vast quantities of sea water 
are being pumped into this lake. Salt pans are now 
being built on what was known as the Savannah, 
roaming ground of countless donkeys, the progenitors 
of which were brought from Spain by Mr. Matthew 
Clark of London. Oddly enough, these donkeys were 
to be raised for use primarily in the salt mines in 
New York State. 

To facilitate the operation of this new salt area, as 



118 Naturalist at Large 

well as a magnesite plant which is part of the new de- 
velopment, we have built a road from Matthewtown 
to Northwest Point. This road follows the shore up 
to Devil's Point where it cuts across and again touches 
the sea along the inner edge of Man o' War Bay. 
With the building of this road we have also com- 
pleted a continuous stretch of dikes which join all 
the caps on the western side of Lake Windsor. On 
your next visit to our island I am sure you will find 
these embankments excellent vantage points from 
which to view the tremendous quantity of wild fowl 
which the lake now supports. The new salt water 
entering the area has provided the lake with a teem- 
ing supply of fish and small Crustacea which should 
greatly increase our even now sizable flocks of white 
heron, egrets, ducks and flamingos. 

I hope this will give you some idea of the changes 
which have been taking place at Inagua in the last 

few years. ^ • , 

■' Ever smcerely, 

Jim 

This letter of Jim's is a monument of understatement. 
He has built up an enterprise unique in all the British West 
Indies. Built it up in the face of governmental apathy and 
of native ignorance that are almost unbelievable. Fortu- 
nately the Duke of Windsor gives him sympathetic and 
most intelligent consideration. The Ericksons and their 
families, who are with them, may indeed be proud of having 
revolutionized a community, revived an industry, built it 
to do a greater and better work than was ever conceived 
of when the industry began. 



CHAPTER X 



Reptiles in the West Indies 



M, 



.ANY years ago I acquired a strong impression that 
the number of species of reptiles and amphibians on the 
Greater Antilles was distinctly limited, and for years I made 
the serious mistake of interpreting as indvidual variants, or 
different sexes, adults and young specimens which in re- 
aHty have proved to be totally distinct species. A great 
deal of the proof concerning the true state of affairs is due 
to a former student of mine of whom I am inordinately 
proud. Professor Emmett Reid Dunn of Haverford Col- 
lege. But years ago in Cuba my friend Dr. Charles T. 
Ramsden tried to set me right. He insisted that I was not 
recognizing a sufficient number of frogs of a certain genus 
when we were preparing to write a book together on the 
reptiles and amphibians of Cuba.^ 

I began to err in this way most conspicuously on our 
first trip to Jamaica in 1909. We went there after a rather 
long stay in the Canal Zone. We had been seeing a lot of 
the Gorgas family — the Colonel, as he was then, Mrs. 
Gorgas, and Aileen. We had all been to Chile together 
and when I came back to work in the Board of Health 
Laboratory at the Canal Zone, the General and Mrs. 

^I know that I was unconsciously influenced by what 
Gunther and Boulenger had written when Garman multiplied 
the species of Lesser Antillean lizards. Time proved that Garman 
was entirely correct. 



120 Naturalist at Large 

Gorgas were hospitable beyond measure. When we went 
to Jamaica they passed us on to friends there, the Lagardes. 
I wrote my first paper which ever really amounted to 
anything as a result of the material we got in Jamaica. 
This paper would have been better had I known as much 
as I know now about the limitations of individual variation 
in amphibians, but even so, we spotted some good things 
and described them. 

Most of these we got at Mandeville, a heavenly spot in 
the hills of west central Jamaica, where the Lagardes had 
a lovely house and where it was a delight to be alive and 
one keenly regretted the passing of each hour. The damp 
winds blowing over the hills in Jamaica cause a lot of 
rain and the growth of what are called "wild pines" is 
often extensive. These are what in our South are called 
"air plants," only more luxuriant and more abundant in 
species than the bromeliads of Florida. In the cup formed 
by the long recurving leaves of each individual wild pine 
plant is usually a half pint or so of water, and these 
epiphytes support a characteristic and extremely interest- 
ing fauna. 

Our method was to spread a sheet on the ground, send 
up a Negro boy into the trees to throw down masses of 
the wild pines, and shake them vigorously over the sheet. 
All hands stood by, for Lewis and Mary Bremer were with 
us at this time, and Mary Clark as well. They helped catch 
the frogs before they escaped, and picked up such insects 
as did not appear too noisome. The venomous-looking 
critters were left to me and my metal forceps. 

We had an amusing experience in Jamaica. When I was 
a sophomore in college I had visited my cousin Robert S. 



Reptiles in the West Indies 111 

Johnstone, who was a judge at Nassau in the Bahamas. I 
knew that he had been transferred but did not know where 
he had gone. Years passed. Then at dinner one evening at 
the Gorgases', Sir Claude Mallet, the British Minister to 
Panama, mentioned Mr. Johnstone as being Colonial Secre- 
tary in Jamaica. I assumed instantly that this was my 
transferred cousin, little knowing that the latter had been 
knighted and sent to the Windward Islands to be Chief 
Justice. When we left Colon to cross to Kingston, I sent a 
cable to the Colonial Secretary saying, "Meet steamship 
Trent arriving such and such a date," and thought no more 
of the matter. When we got to Kingston I looked about for 
a familiar face, but in vain. Several hours were consumed 
while we searched for the Secretary and he for us. The 
next day I called at the Colonial Secretary's office. After 
being ushered into the presence, for in British colonies 
the Colonial Secretary ranks next to the Governor, I found 
an irritated and rather awesome personage. I gave him a 
long explanation. He finally got a Colonial Office List, 
looked up, smiled broadly, and admitted that there was 
another person whose name was exactly the same as his 
own, even to the rather unusual spelling. Moreover, the 
fact that my cousin had been knighted showed that he was 
a person of repute. Mr. Johnstone asked us to his house 
and a most pleasant acquaintanceship ensued. 

One of the most interesting animals in the world to 
zoologists is that creature called Peripatus. I use this name 
in a very inclusive way, for there are a lot of genera and 
species scattered over the world, all more or less closely 
related and all forming together a group of the utmost 



122 Naturalist at Large 

scientific interest. These creatures are wormlike in many 
respects, but with the breathing apparatus of insects and 
with the power of ejecting two jets of viscous and irritating 
slime from pores in the head when they are disturbed. 
Today they are well known and well represented in col- 
lections. This was not the case when first we visited 
Jamaica, but we knew that two species were known to 
occur on the island and were supposed to be extremely 
rare. We had almost nothing representing this pecuHar 
group of animals in the museum in Cambridge and one of 
the special reasons for going to Jamaica was to get Peri- 
patus. Dr. Michael Grabham was a distinguished physician 
in Kingston and an excellent amateur entomologist. I knew 
that he had collected a few specimens and went to him for 
information as to where they might be found. He advised 
going to Bath, where there was an old mineral spring and 
hotel of sorts. He said that Perips, as we call them, oc- 
curred only, so far as he knew, on the summit of Beacon 
Hill, a peak in the Blue Mountains to the top of which 
there was a path leading up from near the Bath Springs 
House. 

Journeying in Jamaica in those days was a pleasant con- 
trast to what it is now. We got a team of mules and a big 
three-seated canopy top at Port Antonio and drove leisurely 
along the narrow road to our destination at the east end 
of the island. The scenery was superb and the method of 
traveling permitted the most complete enjoyment of it. 
We reached Bath after a long day's drive, got ourselves 
settled and, fortunately, found exactly the right boy for 
a guide. During the ensuing days we made daily trips, 
Bremer and I, to the summit of Beacon Hill, where we 



Reptiles in the West Indies 123 

scratched around in the banana trash and the holes in the 
ground out of which one could pull the rotten stumps of 
plants from which the bananas had been cut. By great good 
fortune we came up with a really wonderful series of the 
animals, whose peculiarities are not discoverable to the 
naked eye. They look like velvety brown caterpillars about 
two inches long. We killed them in hot water, which ex- 
panded and relaxed them, and preserved them for perma- 
nent study in various ways — a fine collection. We were 
well satisfied and returned to Port Antonio. There I as- 
siduously collected an enormous series of sea urchins of 
the genus Cidaris, which Professor R. T. Jackson, my old 
freshman adviser, wanted for statistical study. As I re- 
member it, we then spent several weeks at Port Antonio, 
awaiting a boat to Santiago, Cuba. 

Several days before sailing Ros said to me, "I have a 
funny lump under my toe." I said, "Let's see it." The skin 
was tight and shiny over something which looked as if an 
acorn had been pushed under it. Without saying what I 
was going to do, I gave the thing a pinch and out popped 
a mass of little white animals that looked like chestnut 
worms, and which Ros declared had black eyes that ac- 
tually bhnked. Without discussing the zoological improba- 
bilities involved, I washed the cavity where they had de- 
veloped with formahn, which caused her acute discomfort 
but cured matters at once. I found out that while I had 
been absent on Beacon Hill the young ladies had wandered 
up the valley of a lovely brook, being extremely bored 
sitting about Bath, and having found a shady pool far up 
in the woods they proceeded to spend their days dallying 
about and swimming 171 puris Jiaturalibus. And of course, 



124 Naturalist at Large 

while they were sitting about on the sand, a chigoe, or 
nigua, as they are called in Spanish, had crawled in through 
the skin under Rosamond's toe and proceeded to raise a 
brood. 

As is my usual custom, I read the account of this episode 
to my wife last evening. This is worth-while insurance. 
She listened to me and then snapped out, "I think it's per- 
fectly disgusting to write about such things. And anyway, 
it wasn't you; it was Lewis Bremer who poked those worms 
out with a nail cleaner." I shudder when I wonder what 
my dear old friend will say when he reads this, for he is a 
genuine doctor, and of course this was not first-class sur- 
gical practice. 

I have been back to Jamaica a number of times since 
this visit, once or twice on the Utoivana and twice or more 
on steamers of the United Fruit Company. I was usually 
inveigled into a stopover to visit another very old friend, 
the late Mr. Frank Cundall, a real antiquarian and a capital 
historian. Once I returned to Bath with Frank Cundall and 
David Fairchild and we found still standing a mango and 
a giant Barringtonia tree, which were the actual individuals 
brought back by Captain Bligh on his final and successful 
voyage for plant introduction. They had been planted 
when there was a botanical garden at Bath, Although he 
left some of his introductions in the garden at St. Vincent, 
I could not find any evidence that any of Bligh's trees were 
still alive when I was there several years ago. But there are 
two or tTiree unquestioned survivors in Jamaica. 

I have made so many journeys among the West Indies — 
fifteen or twenty — that I have trouble keeping them sepa- 



Reptiles in the West Indies 125 

rate In my mind. One of the pleasantest of them, however, 
came as a distinct surprise, and I am sure that my dehght 
when I heard that AlHson Armour planned to take the 
Utowmia on a long cruise through the West Indies may 
be well understood. There were many islands which I had 
never visited, although I had studied collections made on 
almost all of them and I had a great desire to see those 
localities even for a short time. 

This cruise was undertaken primarily to secure con- 
fidential information for one of the government depart- 
ments in Washington, and I had a long list of seeds which 
the Office of Plant Introduction wanted me to secure in 
the Lesser Antilles for introduction into Florida. The 
zoological collections of vertebrate animals from the West 
Indies in the Museum at Cambridge are so complete that 
there was no object in collecting on a wholesale scale, but 
there were special things here and there that I wanted 
very much. 

Actually more good accrued to the Museum than might 
have been reasonably expected. I will cite one or two 
conspicuous examples. For instance, we reached Pointe a 
Pitre in Guadeloupe not long after a devastating hurricane. 
The little local Natural History Museum in this town was 
long ago named for old I'Herminier, a French naturalist 
who first made known the fauna of this very interesting 
island and its dependencies. The roof of the museum had 
been blown off and his collection of birds left in pitiful 
condition. They had been removed from their cases and 
stood about the floor in the hope that they would dry 
out after the tempestuous rain which had fallen upon them. 
It took but a glance to see that I'Herminier's two specimens 



126 Naturalist at Large 

of the rare black-capped petrel were beyond saving. On 
the other hand four specimens of the local burrowing owl 
were in very fair condition. I arranged to make a substantial 
contribution to repairing the roof and took two of the 
burrowing owls. Our Museum had one already and with 
one of this pair I made an advantageous exchange with 
Lord Rothschild, which still left us with a pair. The bird is 
long since extinct. 

A few days later a visit to the Island of Marie Galante 
made it quite evident that this little owl really had been 
confined there, never occurring on Guadeloupe. Marie 
Galante is low, flat and sandy, typical burrowing-owl 
country. Guadeloupe is high, mountainous, and heavily 
forested. It is a pity that the bird was named Speotyto 
giiadeloupensis — one of the myriad unfortunate zoologic 
names which are misleading but which have to remain in 
use if we are to have any stability of nomenclature at all. 

Incidentally I had a chance to see alive on Marie Galante, 
and indeed to collect, a series of the most magnificent of 
all the tree lizards — the genus Anolis. This Garman col- 
lected and described from this island when he visited 
there with Mr. Agassiz on board the Blake, over half a 
century ago. No one since had collected reptiles here and 
this was fine exchange material. It is strange that so many 
of these httle islands which at first sight appeared to be 
but recently separated from their larger neighbors should 
support so many extraordinarily distinct Hzards. The Anolis 
of Marie Galante is a truly beautiful lizard, and if there 
were not other species which more or less intergrade with 
the general run of the species in this enormous genus, it 
might be set forth itself as being genetically distinct. 



Reptiles in the West Indies 127 

A visit to Dominica brought a chance to meet Mr. 
Joseph Jones, long the curator of the lovely botanic gar- 
den, and this meeting engendered a pleasant correspond- 
ence which lasted for years. On our visit to Grenada, I 
fell in with Father Gates, a descendant of General Gates 
of Boston Revolutionary fame, a naturalist and an artist 
of great talent. When he died years later I received a large 
album full of colored drawings of insects, plants, and 
other creatures, all of exquisite beauty, with a card saying 
**Sent at the request of the Rev. Sebastian Gates, O.P." 
I was touched by his thinking of me in this way although I 
knew I had made him very happy by fencing his little 
house and chapel at Piedmontaine to keep stray goats out 
of his garden. These exquisite sketches may easily serve to 
illustrate future publications of the Museum describing 
material from this enchanting isle. 

Our visit to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, was a great event, 
for I met then for the first time Fred Urich, with whom I 
had corresponded for years. Someone had just brought 
him a living tiny frog of the genus Amphodus, hitherto 
unknown from Trinidad, a lovely little golden-yellow 
creature, tiny but with eyes like jewels. This is found in 
bromeHaceous plants in the highest lands of the island, and 
he generously gave it to me to take back to Cambridge. 
He was always doing things of this sort. I visited him 
again several years later in his home outside Port-of-Spain, 
and was saddened later on when the news came of his 
death. 

Herbert Stabler, an old friend, was living in Caracas, 
the representative of the Mellon oil interests. He asked me 
to stay at his house while some minor repairs were being 



128 Naturalist at Large 

made to the Utoivana at La Guaira. His wife and sons 
were in the States and we were quite foot-free. Allison felt 
that he should stay on board the boat, only coming up to 
the capital from time to time for the day. Finally Allison 
set a certain day and suggested that we meet him in Puerto 
Cabello. From my point of view this arrangement was 
perfect, for it made possible a motor trip from Caracas to 
the port with visits to Maracay and Lake Valencia en 
route. 

Maracay is one of the unique cities of the world. There 
is a great ready-made stronghold with a sumptuous hotel 
and beautiful buildings, all because the famous dictator 
General Juan Vicente Gomez disliked the climate of 
Caracas. Here he had his model farm and his extraordinary 
zoological garden. This was in charge of one of the 
younger members of the well-known Hagenbeck family 
of Hamburg, who by chance knew who I was. Herbert 
Stabler naturally knew Gomez well and at this particular 
time was teaching some of the old General's boys to play 
polo. I don't think to the day he died that Herbert even 
dreamed what an unbeHevable beast the General really 
was. 

At last it was arranged that I should meet the old tyrant 
and see his zoo. At the hour appointed we drove out to his 
farm some miles from the city and waited near the um- 
brageous rain tree under which he held his audiences. Be- 
fore long a host of his Andino cowboys, armed to the 
teeth, rode up in a cloud of dust and in the middle of the 
great straggling group rode the General on a beautiful 
horse. He held a large umbrella over his head and car- 
ried a little grandchild in front of him in the saddle. The 



Reptiles in the West Indies 129 

cowboys all took up places on fence posts hither and yon, 
for Gomez was in terror of assassination. After the General 
had spoken to several other people, Dr. Riquena, his per- 
sonal physician, came up and motioned for Herbert and 
me to step forward. We did. The General shook us cor- 
dially by the hand, his own being encased in thin, purplish 
silk gloves. It was said that he wore these and changed 
them frequently to make it difficult for anyone to rub 
poison on his fingers which he might afterwards get in 
his mouth. This of course is pure hearsay; nevertheless 
the gloves were there. When he found that I could speak 
Spanish, he began asking questions. Before long Hagenbeck 
was sent for and he and I started to make a tour of the 
zoo, charged to return later on and report to the General 
on what we had seen. 

The zoo was something which I shall never forget. It 
was utterly unlike any other. For instance, its several enor- 
mous specimens of hippopotamus lived in a pretty little 
lake in a vast field where giraffes, zebras, and a host of 
other antelopes wandered about quite as if they were at 
home and in country similar to East Africa in appearance. 
He had truly an extraordinary collection. A few specimens 
stood out particularly. He had a remarkable lot of the rare 
spectacled bears found in the Andes of several South Amer- 
ican states and the only bear south of Mexico. His paca- 
ranas, which look like nothing but overgrown black bea- 
vers with stubby tails, were his most priceless zoological 
gems. They are the largest of the strictly terrestrial ro- 
dents and they represent the monotypic genus Dinomys. 

While we were looking at the Dinomys the General 
walked up. Of course his animals were not labeled and 



130 Naturalist at Large 

he said to me, "I bet you don't know what those are." 
I replied, "My General, you have lost your bet," and 
proceeded to tell him. He was quite amused. But it was 
by sheer chance that I happened to know, for to this day 
we have never been able to get anything more than a 
skull to represent this genus in the Museum in Cambridge. 
The animal has a wide distribution but seems to be exces- 
sively rare throughout its entire range. 

We at length drove on to Lake Valencia which I wanted 
to see on account of its birds. They were interesting, but 
as a show not up to those of Florida. We finally reached 
Puerto Cabello, that famous harbor which was given its 
name, the Port of the Hair, because it was so well pro- 
tected that a ship could be moored with a thread. We 
found Allison in port cruising frantically up and down in 
the yacht's launch, passing back and forth along the water- 
front holding a yellow flag in his hand. He had been in 
the harbor for hours and in spite of frantic signalings had 
been unable to get the attention of any officials to be for- 
mally received. 

I went into the customhouse, for of course my bag- 
gage had to be passed out of the country with a good deal 
more in the way of inspection than when it came in. The 
customs officer was sitting at a high desk writing indus- 
triously in a ledger. I told him that I had been lunching 
with the General at Maracay and that he had asked Dr. 
Riquena to notify the port officials that we were not to 
be interfered with in any way. The collector of the port 
said that he had had no such news. I was too old a hand 
to be much surprised, but I was somewhat incensed when 



Reptiles in the West Indies 131 

he said that he doubted the luncheon story. I said, "Fine, 
but I should hate to be in your shoes," and grabbed at 
his telephone. This called his bluff completely, and bid- 
ding good-bye to my host I seized my bags and threw them 
into Allison's launch. 

I waved to Stabler, pushed my way down the steps of 
the quay, and jumped aboard. On the quay were a crowd 
of the most pitiful-looking convicts I have ever seen: loaded 
with chains, they were being taken out to an island prison 
in the harbor. After Gomez's death the prison was finally 
dismantled and abandoned, the frightful terrors there hav- 
ing been revealed to the world. We went quickly out to 
the launch, got aboard, hoisted the gangway, and started 
the engines. We had not gone far when there was a good 
deal of sudden activity on a small Venezuelan man-of-war 
anchored not far away. She whistled frantically but ob- 
viously had no steam in her boilers. Fortunately she re- 
frained from firing on us. We felt distinctly more com- 
fortable, however, after we had turned the point and left 
the mouth of the harbor. 

A visit to Cartagena followed. Then came the Canal 
Zone and Barro Colorado Island, where more repairs to a 
troublesome engine gave me needed time to prepare our 
annual report. After this visit we went on to Cienfuegos 
Harbor. I disembarked for Soledad and thus ended a mem- 
orable and most delightful voyage. 



PART II 

THE SEDENTARY NATURALIST 



CHAPTER XI 

Naturalists in Dispute 



G, 



"ENERALLY speaking, the naturalists of today are a 
friendly clan not given to bickering and to reviling one 
another. Two generations ago they were quite different. 
The turmoil which followed the appearance of Darwin's 
Origin of Species Is familiar to many, but the scientific 
feud which accompanied the opening up of our Western 
country is less well known. When the fossil fields in the 
badlands of the West were accessible to exploration and 
the Army had the Indians more or less under control, the 
rush to collect and describe the treasures which were un- 
covered by each succeeding rain as It washed down the 
banks of ravines makes a story almost unbehevable today. 
The principal competitors were Professor Othneil 
Charles Marsh of Yale and Professor Edward Drinker 
Cope of the University of Pennsylvania. Marsh had wealth 
at his command, was an honorary member of forty-one 
scientific academies in twelve different countries. For many 
years he was President of the National Academy of Sci- 
ences and used the power of this office to keep Professor 
Cope from being elected. Not until after Marsh's death 
was Cope admitted to the Academy, and this despite the 
fact that he belonged to one of the most distinguished 
Quaker famihes in Philadelphia, was a great naturalist and 
a kinsman of all the various and sundry Drinkers whom 
we admire today. 



136 Naturalist at Large 

Both these men, wealthy, fashionable, and learned, 
stooped to any depths to steal a march on one another. 
Their rivalry was so bitter, their hatred of each other so 
intense, that to us the feud seems almost incredible. 

Cope had an uncanny visual memory. I remember Leon- 
hard Stejneger, late Head Curator of Biology in the U. S. 
National Museum, telling me that Cope stood looking over 
his shoulder at a curious Uttle lizard which the old collector, 
John Xanthus, had sent in from Lower California. Stejneger 
was studying this Hzard when Cope entered the room, in- 
deed he was preparing to write out his description, for 
nothing like it had ever been known before. Cope glanced 
at the specimen for a few moments, put on his coat, walked 
to the telegraph office, and wired a perfectly accurate de- 
scription of the beast to the American Naturalist, thus glee- 
fully stealing the credit of the discovery for himself. 

In addition to their own efforts, both Marsh and Cope 
employed other collectors who traveled far and wide, gath- 
ering fossils and ruthlessly destroying" material which they 
did not have time to take up before the approach of winter 
so that no rival would chance to find it subsequently. 

Samuel Carman was a protege of Alexander Agassiz, who 
was also sent out into the field. On one trip he reached Fort 
Laramie just as Professor Marsh brought in a collection 
which was to be shipped east. As I remember it, neither 
Marsh nor Garman knew that Cope was in town. Since 
lodgings were scarce, Garman bunked in the empty station. 
Late one night, after he had turned in, he heard someone 
stealthily enter the room. The intruder made a careful 
examination of the slatted crates containing Marsh's ma- 
terial. This went on for some time, then at last the figure 



Naturalists in Dispute 137 

departed empty-handed. In the morning Marsh arrived. 
Garman described what had happened and Marsh said, 
"Oh, I foresaw that possibility. That was Cope. He Ukes 
to describe from skulls, and all the good skulls I got this 
season are in the stove." Marsh then went to the stove, 
opened the door, extracted a bushel or so of treasures, 
wrapped them, boarded the train, and went east with the 
cream of his catch. Marsh didn't dare keep them in his 
lodging, but put them for safekeeping in a place where he 
felt sure they would be undisturbed — as they were. 

Garman himself was an extraordinary character. After 
such training it was no wonder he was secretive about 
everything. He seldom talked about himself, but, work- 
ing with him as I did for many years, I picked up bits of 
information now and then. He had run away from home 
as a boy. He told me he was brought up as a Quaker. I 
imagine he had a German father and a Quaker mother, for 
the notes in all the volumes of his library acquired during 
his earliest years were written in German and in Gothic 
script. Be that as it may, he drifted west, became a profes- 
sional hunter for a construction gang on the Union Pacific 
Railroad; he shot buffalo and, he told me, though it went 
against his Quaker upbringing, he shot Indians too on more 
than one occasion. 

Reading in a paper that Louis Agassiz was to land in 
San Francisco at the close of the voyage of the Hassler, 
Garman trekked out to meet him and was on the wharf 
when the ship pulled in. He introduced himself and told 
the professor of his interest in natural history and of his 
ambition to be a scientist. Agassiz brought him to Cam- 
bridge where he remained the rest of his life. David Starr 



138 Naturalist at Large 

Jordan records that Garman was one of the little group 
who, with Professor Agassiz, with their own hands laid 
the floor of the barn which became the first Marine Bio- 
logical Laboratory at Penikese Island on Buzzard's Bay. 
Garman kept the books of the Laboratory. His costume 
was singular: at first he wore a broad "Western" hat and a 
flaming red four-in-hand necktie. Later on he dressed in a 
ciuriously somber and semi-ecclesiastical suit, somewhat 
like that affected by the late David Belasco. 

In 1873 Louis Agassiz died, and so did his daughter-in- 
law, Alexander's lovely young bride. Alexander Agassiz 
was a distracted man and, to escape his grief, he set sail 
to make a hydrographical survey of Lake Titicaca in Peru. 
He took Garman with him and I well recall Garman's tales 
of the glories of the Andes. The Agassiz Museum still has 
the skin of a magnificent condor which Garman says sailed 
by him as he was perched on a high crag overlooking the 
lake. The bird had its regular beat and came by every so 
often. Garman's shotgun shells were loaded with fine shot, 
for he was collecting small birds. Feeling sure that the 
condor would be back before long, he took his penknife, 
cut his suspender buttons off and pushed them into the 
barrel of his gun, tamping them down with some of the 
paper he had to wrap his birds. Before long the great con- 
dor swept by again and with a quick aim Garman killed it. 
This was his last adventure. He returned to Cambridge and, 
so far as I know, never left it again. 

His early experiences with the way Cope and Marsh 
treated one another's researches evidently soured Garman, 
for it was many years before I could come into his room 
without his spreading sheets of newspaper over the table 



Naturalists in Dispute 139 

where he worked. He made beautiful dissections, and be- 
came a most accompUshed comparative anatomist, chiefly 
interested in the sharks and skates and rays. He had quar- 
ters in the basement of the Museum which could not be 
reached except by a grilled door. One rang a bell, there 
was a rustle of papers (the shades were never pulled up, 
so you couldn't look in the windows) ; after a while Gar- 
man came to the door and opened it, the grille outside 
meantime being fastened. After he had verified the iden- 
tity of his visitor, he might let him in and be quite friendly. 
Just as often he was too busy, and closed the door. 

I worked with Garman for many years and probably 
came to know him as well as anyone. I little realized what 
an oddity he really was until after his death when I found 
in a cupboard in his room a jar full of little stickers bearing 
his name and address which he had cut from each copy of 
the Nation. Another giant glass container was filled with 
his old rubbers. Whether this was prophetic, in view of 
our present shortage, or simply the pack-rat instinct, I 
leave to the reader to guess. Still more unsavory was an- 
other jar, at least three feet high, which contained bits of 
bread, the uneaten corners of the sandwiches which Gar- 
man had brought for his luncheons for years and years. 

You see, my thesis is that working in a museum used to 
make people odd. Of course, that's not the case of my col- 
leagues or me. As one of my daughters said of us, "You 
don't have to be crazy, but it certainly helps." 



CHAPTER XII 

Three Friends 



I 



CANNOT remember where I first met John Phillips, 
but I became his devoted slave and admirer from the very- 
first. John was everything that I was not — stunningly 
handsome, with a wonderful disposition, infinitely at ease. 
I have never known anyone who more completely satisfied 
every test of perfect friendship. I remember admiring him 
particularly for his independence of mind. For one thing, 
he was willing to admit that he was more inclined to ruf- 
fle his feathers with pride after shooting a New England 
partridge sitting than on the wing. I had felt this way 
for years and hunted in moccasins so as to creep about 
the woods as noiselessly as possible. 

Once, walking down a wood road in New Hampshire, 
I happened to be trailing John and his wife, Eleanor, by 
perhaps fifty or sixty yards. I saw a partridge sitting In a 
birch sapling about forty yards in from the road. The bird 
had his neck stretched out straight up in the air and his 
feathers pressed down until he looked just about the size 
and shape of a rolling pin. I snapped my gun on him and 
killed him the second my eyes spied him and, to my tre- 
mendous relief, found that John heartily approved of what 
I had done. I do not think he would have approved had I 
ground-sluiced quail, but he knew, of course, that one gets 
a hundred chances to kill a partridge in this country on 



Three Friends 141 

the wing to every chance to get one sitting, and we were 
both pretty good wing shots. 

John PhiUips had a keen and extraordinarily versatile 
mind. He was a learned gentleman in every sense of the 
word. Trained as a doctor, he knew that his heart was un- 
trustworthy but made up his mind to continue to live as 
he always had, and he died in the woods while grouse 
shooting on A^onday, November 14, 1938. His dog had 
pointed and his gun was cocked when he fell. He went 
exactly as he would have wanted to go. His family asked 
me to write a few lines for the Boston Transcript. I called 
up the editor's office and found that I had but a few mo- 
ments to say what I could think of before the forms were 
closed. Under the stress of the deepest emotion I wrote 
these lines: — 

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I went to see a 
picture taken in the Belgian Congo. It was beautifully 
done but, as I sat, I kept thinking to myself how dif- 
ferent it was from John Phillips's story of his visit to 
the pygmies. In his story there were no fanfaronade, 
no hooey, no hardships, no dangers passed, and yet I 
saw in the picture one little man tapping his drum 
who, I feel quite sure, was the same one whose funny 
little face John and I had often laughed at when 
thumbing over his albums. 

When I came home and unlocked the front door, 
my daughter Mary stood in the hall and her voice 
cracked as she said to me, "Dr. Phillips died this after- 
noon in New Hampshire while out gunning with 
Wayne Colby." 



142 Naturalist at Large 

In the best tradition of all our museum people, John 
traveled widely to collect, or for sport, but never had 
an adventure. He went to the Blue Nile, to Kenya, to 
Arabia Petraea, to Greenland and Mexico, often to the 
Northwest and pretty much all over the United States. 
He never wrote much about his travels. We all wish 
that he had, for, during his later years, he developed 
a highly characteristic and extraordinarily charming 
style which came only after long practice and good 
hard work, for John was not a natural-born writer. 
His essays on New England field sports, the story of 
the woodcock cover and the birch hillsides and 
swamps where our New England ruffed grouse gather, 
will Hve as long as men go gunning in the autumn. 

John was eight years older than I am and I have 
looked up to him ever since I came to Boston as an 
example to be admired but by no good fortune ever 
to be equaled. He was so modest, so selfless and so ut- 
terly courageous. I constantly felt — and I think many 
of John's friends did — that he was made of a finer 
clay than went into any of our make-ups. 

New England did one first-rate work when she pro- 
duced him and I do not believe that any country any- 
where has done better. He, of all our generation, stood 
out as talented and versatile beyond us all. His thor- 
ough medical training brought him to the command of 
a field hospital of a Regular Army division during the 
World War. I think the only time he ever spoke 
sharply to me was when I once said "base hospital" 
instead of "field hospital." His contributions to genet- 
ics were timely and significant, for he worked in that 



Three Friends 143 

field when it was still possible to squeeze a lot from a 
sponge which is now pretty dry. The four stately 
volumes of his Natural History of the Ducks he pro- 
duced in his stride, preparing them with singularly lit- 
tle effort or talk, though he turned out a better and 
probably more lasting monograph than any of his 
colleagues have ever done. 

Phillips has gone as he would have gone had he 
chosen for himself, but he leaves us the shadow of a 
great name and the benediction of a great friendship 
and all those in whose hearts he will ever live are the 
better for his example. 

"And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the Hills, 
And now was dropt into the Western bay; 
At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blue: 
Tomorrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new." 

Henry Bryant Bigelow has been another friend whose 
example has swayed me more than he, or I, for that mat- 
ter, will ever realize. I met him just after I came to college 
and recognized him at once as a great naturalist. He was 
enough older than I so that he exercised a natural leader- 
ship without either of us knowing it. He loved duck shoot- 
ing and used to go with me to Barbour's Hill, on the bor- 
der of Virginia and North Carolina on the beach. This 
place then belonged to my father; it has now passed into 
the hands of my cousins. We had some wonderful adven- 
tures together, for the shooting in those days was mem- 
orable indeed. Henry and I shot about equally well, but 
as a fisherman he was infinitely more skillful than I. I en- 
vied him his journeys with Mr. Agassiz on the Albatross ^ 



144 Naturalist at Large 

but much more for the principal reason why Mr. Agassiz 
took him as a companion. For Henry is an artist who could 
have done far more than paint the exquisite illustrations of 
the jelly fishes, concerning which he is the world's author- 
ity. Henry's manual dexterity with any tool, as well as 
brush or pen, is in sharp contrast to my inept pair of hands. 
He has been a wise and sagacious counselor. 

He made two journeys with Mr. Agassiz, once joining 
him in Ceylon, to board a small ship belonging to the British 
India Steam Navigation Company, which was chartered 
for a visit to the Maldive Islands, certainly one of the least- 
known quarters of the world. In fact I have never even 
spoken to anyone else who has ever been there. On my 
wall hangs a picture of Mr. Agassiz seated beside the Sul- 
tan of the Maldives, one Abdul Abou Hamadudu with 
whom Henry carried on a correspondence for some time, 
The poor Sultan must have fetched up in some sort of 
jam with the British Raj, for the last letter Henry received 
said the Sultan was in exile in Cairo. 

His other journey was on the old Albatross, a research 
vessel belonging to the United States Bureau of Fisheries 
but manned by the United States Navy. Mr. Agassiz ar- 
ranged to use her for a number of long voyages on a basis 
of sharing expenses, and then sharing the collections made, 
with the government institutions. Henry was on the cruise 
known as the Eastern Tropical Pacific Expedition and it 
was during this voyage that he laid the foundations for the 
world-wide reputation which he now enjoys as an oceanog- 
rapher. His definition of the effect of the Humboldt Cur- 
rent on the distribution of marine Hfe brought forth the 
highest praise from Sir John Murray, the greatest oceanog- 




Photo by A. G. Fairchild 

David Fairchild and W illiam iMorton Wheeler 



At Bano Colorado Island, 1^2^ 




Photo by ([■. W. Welsh 

Henr\ B. Bigelow 
Aboard the ""Grainpiisr 1913 



Photo by Pitidy 



John C. PhilHps 
1934 



f ■■'^' 



Three Friends 145 

rapher of his time. Sir John told me of his opinion of 
Henry's work on a number of occasions. 

Henry built up the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institu- 
tion out of nothing. The report which he prepared showing 
the need for such an organization induced the Rockefeller 
Foundation to endow it, and the Institution is now doing 
admirable research for the United States Navy. 

A third friend has won for himself a place quite as deep 
in my affections as John or Henry. This is David Fairchild. 
I am fortunate in that my best men friends were all hand- 
some and David has the temperament of an angel. No more 
lovable human being ever lived, nor anyone who could 
write more delightfully charming English prose. Every sen- 
tence he writes is crammed with unbelievable grammatical 
errors, yet everything he writes holds one's breathless atten- 
tion. His two books. Exploring for Flaiits and The World 
Was My Garden, have made him, if possible, more widely 
known than he was before. 

Marrying Alexander Graham Bell's daughter put him 
in touch with all that was best in Washington. The fact 
that he later traveled all over the world for years on end 
simply meant that he left a stream of friends behind him 
on every continent. As Chief Agricultural Explorer in the 
Department of Agriculture, he has affected in some degree 
the hfe of every American. The very wheat of which our 
bread is made is a better wheat than was grown years ago, 
and David had a hand in bringing it to America. I make 
fun of him because he has no bump of locality, because he 
loves to tilt with windmills, because he would like to be a 
reformer and crusader, which I am not, but I am sure he 



146 Naturalist at Large 

knows in the bottom of his heart that I am his loyal and 
loving friend. 

Every time the postman comes to the door I wonder 
whether, by great good fortune, he will bring me a letter 
from David. Here is a sample, picked at random from 
among hundreds that I treasure: — 

The Kampong 
Coconut Grove, Florida 
July 5, '42 

Dear Tom: 

This is the month for the Kampong. It's the month 
for mangoes beginning to ripen, for white sapotes, for 
guanabanas, for Poincianas in full bloom, for palms 
in their full glory of luxuriance, for Bauhinia galpinii 
— handsome as the "flame" Azalea — for Heliconia sp. 
at the swimming pool, for Cereus of various sorts, for 
Aechmeas and Bromeliads and native orchids and 
"Natal" pineapples ripening in the pineapple patch. 

But last, not least by any means, it's the month for 
mosquitoes. If you swell up when they bite you, it's 
a month to avoid, just as June in the North Woods 
is a poison month for me who swell up and go blind 
when a black fly bomber strikes me. 

I spent a forenoon at the Fairchild Tropical Garden 
a few days ago and find things are in pretty good 
shape. Planting is going forward, Mathews is keeping 
the weeds away from the young palms pretty well, 
and an amazing growth of palm fronds is being made. 
Slowly the Palmetum part comes up out of the little- 



Three Friends 147 

plants-all-about stage and enters the palm-grove one 
where patches of shade are cast by larger leaves. 

Don't let anyone try to convince you, Tom, that 
most young palms grow well in bright sunlight. They 
need plenty of dense shade at the start off. 

The Bailey Palm Glade is taking form and although 
the stonework looks now rather glaring, a year of 
vines will make it look a century old. The front walls 
of the Garden now are nearly hidden by a mass of 
beautiful vines as luxuriant as they can be. 

You know there has been some criticism of the 
fact that no signs were set up to mark the site of the 
Fairchild Tropical Garden. Well, now there are 
enough to stop any traffic and divert it. The signs are 
large and well made and in lots of good style. They 
would do honor even to the Arnold Arboretum. There 
are four of them forming a complete stop to traffic. 
And there is no suggestion whatever of their being 
signs to catch suckers. I am much pleased with them 
aside from a certain feeling of embarrassment at seeing 
my family name played up so prominently. "Kellogg's 
Sanitarium," "Kresge's Chain Stores," "Ford Cars," 
etc., etc. You know how I feel. 

Of the human happenings on the porch too many 
have occurred even to outline them. Danish Com- 
mando jfliers from the Burma Road three weeks by 
air from the fighting zone; Cabot Coville from his 
month in Corregidor with MacArthur, and Quezon 
and Sayre; callers from Cuba who describe a country 
house there of a wealthy Cuban family where tivelve 
dogs dine in the dinijig room with a family of ten, 



148 Naturalist at Large 

all together; Dr. Bugher from Bogota going back with 
thousands of hypodermic needles to inoculate the peo- 
ple there against yellow fever, etc.; a tea planter from 
Assam living on $50.00 a month with ^2000 sterling 
frozen in New York. 

Crash! ! I hear a big branch fall and Sands calls up 
from below to say it's an overloaded Haden mango 
branch. So we inill have green mango pie for dinner 
tonight — don't you want a slice? Loomis is in Wash- 
ington but Sis and Jimmie and Alarjorie are helping 
on the mango crop here and also cross pollinating the 
Pochote flowers at 9 p.m. by flashlight. 

We use the fancy salts every morning and so have 
a different tg^ dish each time! 

Mangoes will come along soon now. They aren't 
quite ripe yet. 

A funny thing happened June 30th. The censor 
called up and asked me, "Have you any relatives in 
Panama?" *'Yes, indeed," I said, " a son Graham Bell 
and his wife and baby, and a daughter, Nancy Bell 
Bates." "Have you no other relatives? Do you know 
of any other David Fairchild?" he asked. I said, "Well, 
to tell you the truth, I thought when I came to the 
telephone that my son might have cabled me that a 
new baby boy had arrived and that his name was 
'David Fairchild,' and that the phone call was to take 
the cable message." The censor laughed and hung up. 

An hour or two later came the cable from Graham, 
addressed to me: "David arrived safely and well. 
Graham." 

The poor censor was puzzled and thought he had 



Three Friends 149 

discovered some person stepping into the Canal Zone 
without advising him. 

It stands about 80° F. now at night but with a fan 
it's not so bad. Did you ever hear of a big crab making 
right for you? I went barefooted with a flashhght 
about 3.30 last night to read the thermometer and an 
enormous crab started right for me. I had no other 
tool than my flashlight so I struck at it with that. It 
fought fiercely and I had the terrible feeling — "What 
if the flashlight goes out and leaves me there in the 
dark barefooted to fight this crab?" Luckily I knocked 
him out before the flash went out and retired behind 
the screen door. The thing was so sudden and so fierce 
and exciting that I got a big thrill from it that kept me 
awake until dawn. Strange how one's environment 
irnpinges on one when he least expects it! I fell over 
a big oak tree root below my study and busted a vein 
in my leg and the leg swelled up to a big size but is 
all right now. 

That fight in the desert sands [Libya] must be the 
nearest approach to Hell that humans ever have ex- 
perienced. And for what? Because of an insane vision 
of the world by a paranoiac and his fanatics. 

Love to you all up there from us all here. 

David 



CHAPTER XIII 

Mr. Justice Holmes 



I 



FIRMLY believe there Is a blind spot In the eye of 
every man and, although I know that I shall be accused 
of lese-majeste, I was never more completely convinced 
of this truth than with Justice OUver Wendell Holmes. 
Most of his friends maintained that he was entirely aware 
of his own intellectual powers and their limitations, but 
his friends were only partially correct. He read constantly, 
quickly, and he had a retentive memory. But he knew of 
science only from hearsay, so to speak. He had a curiously 
definite idea about science — an utterly erroneous one — 
which is one held by many laymen. He lumped together 
those sciences which may really be called exact with those 
which are much more arts. 

Let me exemplify. Mathematics, physics, chemistr)'-, 
that combination of biology with physics and chemistry 
which we call physiology, all these may theoretically be- 
come open books complete to the last word. It is theoreti- 
cally possible to conceive that all of the possible questions 
which concern them may be answered. This Is not true of, 
say, systematic botany or systematic zoology. Here we may 
record the end results, perhaps all the end results, in the 
formation of genera, species, varieties, and races, but we 
can never expect to postulate a knowledge of all the reasons 
wliich have gone into the making of each of these cate- 



Mr. Justice Holmes 151 

gories. The motive force of evolution is beyond our ken. 

This view Mr. Holmes could not or would not under- 
stand. He often spoke of the promise which science held 
for the cosmos of the future. He was a sincere, confirmed, 
and in some respects quite simple-minded atheist. He be- 
lieved that the scientist, given time and painstaking re- 
search, could reasonably be expected to solve all prob- 
lems. He saw no reason to personify a mystery, and it 
never would have occurred to him to pray to "Him to 
whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from 
whom no secrets are hid." I have heard him explain his 
attitude, often in a very naive way, on many, many occa- 
sions. I never felt like arguing the matter with him be- 
cause I was usually too fascinated listening to what he 
had to say. His sparkling choice of words, his superb voice, 
and his personahty held one spellbound. 

I still beheve that had Justice Holmes known as much 
about science as he knew about philosophy, ethics, logistics, 
or history, he would have been forced to admit that there 
are certain categories of facts for which science holds no 
key. And this is where the deist, the humble soul who 
makes no parade of his religious belief, feels positive that 
he has something quite tangible, which the atheist has not. 

Justice Holmes was completely happy and satisfied but, 
in regard to science, he was extraordinarily trusting and 
uninformed. With all his learning, with all his vast and 
mature scholarship which gave him that superb beauty of 
utterance, of imagery, and of apt quotation which deco- 
rated the ornate loveliness of his literary style, Mr. Holmes 
still had his blind spot. 



« 



152 Naturalist at Large 

Justice Holmes was fond of the ladies and he made no 
bones about it. I remember once walking with him past 
a war-bond poster by Howard Chandler Christy. It was 
pasted up on a billboard in Washington. The Justice hesi- 
tated before the extraordinarily lovely feminine figure and 
then remarked, "Gad, if we could only see her without 
those clothes!" 

I came to know him well because my mother-in-law 
was not only a relation of his but a great favorite — she 
was a person of the most stunning beauty. As years passed 
he transferred his affection to my wife, saying to me on 
more than one occasion, after Cousin Fanny's death, that 
he loved Rosamond better than anyone in the world. He 
tolerated me, liked to go walking with me, and talked to 
me for hours at a time on innumerable occasions. In the 
first place we were next-door neighbors at Beverly Farms, 
and in the second place I represented a point of view and 
a vocation with which he had little familiarity. His intel- 
lectual curiosity being what it was, I think he was inter- 
ested in knowing why anyone should do the odd tilings 
that I constantly did. 

I often felt that it was a strange thing that Mr. Holmes 
was disinclined to admit the extraordinary excellence 
which was personified by Robert E. Lee. The mere fact 
that Lee was a "Rebel" damned him completely. Mrs. 
Theodore Roosevelt once had her secretary call up Mrs. 
Holmes, asking her to come to a tea which she was giving 
on short notice to meet General Stonewall Jackson's 
widow, who happened to be in Washington. Mrs. Holmes 
declined the invitation and gave her reason. The secretary 



Mr. Justice Holmes 1 5 3 

protested that Mrs. Jackson was completely reconstructed. 
Mrs. Holmes replied, "But I'm not." And being a most 
completely independent being she stayed away, invitation 
to the White House notwithstanding. 

The Justice was very frank concerning his likes and 
dislikes and the things of which he felt himself completely 
a master. He was extraordinarily sentimental. I have seen 
him break down and cry so that he would have to dis- 
continue reading some of the poems about the war, which 
I will frankly confess I could not have read myself with- 
out acting in just the same way. For while at first sight 
he was austere, apparently inflexible, indeed the personifi- 
cation of the ideal judge, he nevertheless had a warm and 
tender heart. I can see him now as he sobbed unashamedly 
when he came immediately to call on Rosamond after our 
only son died on September 3, 1933. 

The Justice was an inveterate correspondent. He wrote, 
always in longhand, rapidly and easily for hours and hours 
at a time. Rosamond knew that he liked a box of good 
New England apples in the autumn, roses at Christmas, a 
salmon when we went to Canada in the spring, and oranges 
from Grandmother's grove at Eau Gallie. Each gift 
brought a charming and affectionate letter, like the one 
he wrote on January i, 1927: — 

My dear Rosamond: 

The first letter of this year is to wish you a Happy 
New Year and to thank you for the beautiful roses 
that were put upon my desk half an hour ago. We 
began to be cousins in good earnest last summer and it 



154 Naturalist at Large 

made me very happy. You and Tom are both dear to 
us, and thank you for this evidence that you remem- 
ber me. 

Ever aifectionately yours, 

O. W. Holmes 

That was the summer we became next-door neighbors at 
Beverly Farms. 

On January 29, 1932, he answered my wife, who had 
written begging him, as she often did, to put his reminis- 
cences, particularly his war experiences, on paper. He re- 
plied: — 

My dear Rosamond: 

If any magnet could draw me from the mud of 
silence, you would do the trick, but I should no more 
think of writing an autobiography than of writing an 
epic. I suppose you know it and that your letter is 
quasi-chaff . It was a delight to see you the other day. 
It always is. I am a pretty well preserved old cove 
and I still know a charmer when I see her. My love 
to Thomas. 

Your affectionate, 

O. W. Holmes 

During the last few years of his life there were times 
when correspondence went through his secretaries, as 
writing became difficult for him. In January 1933, I sent 
him a copy of a little notice which I had privately printed 
after my colleague Outram Bangs's death. I thought it had 
a flavor which possibly might please the Justice, as he had 



Mr . Justice Holmes 155 

heard me talk about Outram so often. His secretary (at 
that time Donald Hiss) replied for him as follows: — 

My dear Mr. Barbour: 

The Justice asks me to say that he is sending a copy 
of The Speeches to you for Professor Lowes. He 
found that he had two copies and therefore is sending 
you this one, since you requested it. Also the Justice 
asks me to thank you for your notice concerning Mr. 
Outram Bangs, which impressed him very much. But 
he says that he notes with sorrow that you use the 
word gU7i as a verb, to wit: gunning. The Justice says 
that he does not feel positive about this word, but he 
does know that he has nursed a prejudice against it 
since childhood. He considers it, however, only "par- 
tial and not utter damnation." I was delighted, per- 
sonally, with your use of gun, as earlier in the year I 
had been called to account and had stated in a plea 
for mitigation of the punishment that it was a term 
used by duck shooters rather generally and therefore 
should be accepted to a certain extent. But, of course, 
I held little hope! The Justice sends you his love and 
hopes to see you very soon. 

I am, 

Sincerely yours, 

Donald Hiss 

I playfully replied: — 

Dear Mr. Hiss: 

You give the Justice my love, my thanks for the 
book, and my most complete and vigorous scorn at 



156 Naturalist at Large 

his not liking one of my favorite verbs. If I say I am 
going "shooting," there is always the impUed expecta- 
tion that I will find something to shoot, whereas when 
I take my dog and go "gunning," I may shoot some- 
thing but I may equally well walk a peaceful day with 
simply a little added weight on my shoulder. Also, 
praises be to God, I note that the dictionary treats the 
word with distinguished courtesy. What's more I hke 
it and always have liked it and I love to use it — but I 
love the Justice a thousand times more. Tell him just 
this. 

Hiss answered: "The Justice read your reply to his 
letter with much pleasure and amusement. His message to 
you concerning that dispute is, 'When he goes to Purga- 
tory he will get rid of gunning.' " 

Justice Holmes was one of the greatest men I ever knew 
well — if not the very greatest. What made him seem the 
greater was the fact that he was not omniscient and that 
his trifling foibles and frailties accentuated his warm- 
hearted humanity. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Lifework 

XHERE are many different kinds of museums and I 
know little or nothing about museums of art or of history, 
and not so much as I should hke to know about museums 
of archaeology and ethnology. But of museums attempting 
to aid public instruction or advanced instruction in biol- 
ogy, I think I can speak ex cathedra, for I have visited cer- 
tainly a hundred of them and have worked in one pretty 
much all of my hfe. It is quite natural that I should have 
asked myself a thousand times, "Why have the damn things 
anyway? Am I simply caring for an accumulation of junk 
in the final analysis, or is what I am doing serving a useful 
purpose?" However, when I look back on the number of 
intelligent questions which have come from all sorts of 
persons, and which I think I have answered, I feel a little 
more encouraged about things. 

Of course, there are the economic aspects of museum 
service, the help we give the economic entomologist, the 
physician, particularly the physician in the tropics, who 
is up against insect-borne diseases and snails carrying in- 
testinal parasites, and poisonous snakes, and indeed poison- 
ous animals, running from vertebrates to jelly fishes. Some 
bats convey rabies and transmit trypanosomiasis, a para- 
sitic disease in horses, and so on ad mfi?iitu?n. These beasts 
cannot be talked about or discussed without having a name 



158 Naturalist at Large 

to call them by and that name has got to be the right name; 
otherwise someone reviewing the work done twenty years 
later interprets that work in terms of another animal and 
it all comes to naught. 

These, however, are the purely practical aspects of the 
usefulness of a museum. To my way of thinking, they are 
utilitarian and infinitely subservient to a point of view set 
forth by Mr. Eliot in his essay on The Aims of Higher 
Education: — 

The museums of a great university are crowded 
with objects of the most wonderful beauty — beauty 
of form and beauty of color, as in birds, butterflies, 
flowers and minerals. They teach classification, suc- 
cession, transmutation, growth and evolution; but they 
teach also the abounding beauty and loveliness of cre- 
ation. 

I have often felt the stimulus of the beauty of the things 
which it has been my privilege to handle. Sir Henry Miers 
said in a report to the trustees of the Carnegie United 
Kingdom Trust: — 

It is by means of exhibited objects to instruct, and 
to inspire with the desire for knowledge, children 
and adults alike; to stimulate not only a keener appre- 
ciation of past history and present activities but also 
a clearer vision of the potentialities of the future. They 
[and here he is speaking of museums in general] should 
stir the interest and excite the imagination of the ordi- 
nary visitor, and also be for the specialist and the 
student the fruitful field for research. 



Lifenjuork 159 

I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that the pur- 
pose of a museum hke the one in Boston is as different 
from that of the one in Cambridge as chalk is from cheese. 
For financial reasons, the Boston Museum must limit its 
field to pubHc instruction, to support such activities as the 
Junior Explorers, to provide decent service for public- 
school classes. The Museum in Cambridge supplements 
university instruction in general zoology, comparative 
anatomy, and paleontology. It trains curators for other 
museums. Incidentally, without interfering with its more 
important activities, it provides opportunity for instruction 
to the public-school children of Cambridge and educational 
exhibits on a limited scale for persons of more mature 
years. It is, however, primarily a museum dedicated to 
investigation and to the publication of the results thereof. 
It deals primarily with what is called systematic zoology 
— taxonomy, in other words; and Mr. Charles Regan Wil- 
liams in England has set forth concisely and explicitly 
what taxonomy is: — 

The value of Systematic Zoology is generally un- 
derstood, though perhaps still occasionally liable to 
deprecation. The first requisite in zoological work of 
any kind — morphological, economic, or any other — 
is to know what one is dealing with; before we can so 
much as begin on any other problem, we must know 
what our animals are — must have them described, 
named, and classified; and Systematic Zoology, which 
does this, is thus the bed-rock on which all other 
zoological research ultimately rests. Such work stands 
for all time; the first adequate description of a new 



160 Naturalist at Large 

animal is something which can never be duplicated, 
never repeated; it is there, once for all, as something 
to be appealed to, something that cannot, by the rules 
under which the systematist works, be superseded. It 
may seem to be of little interest at the moment; it may 
not be recalled for years; but it will be required, and 
will come into its own when much work in other 
branches has become obsolete through change of 
fashion or improved technique, or has been shown to 
be useless for any further advance. 

One year when I was feeling homiletical I decided to 
head my Annual Report with a text and I chose this line: 
"A satisfied curator, like a finished museum, is damned 
and done for." That is exactly where the museum is like 
the library. It has got to keep growing; otherwise its sig- 
nificance ceases. One gets more books and the other gets 
more critters. There is no great difference between the 
two. 

Our science museums at Cambridge form such a patch- 
work quilt that a great deal of confusion exists concern- 
ing the organization. The Museum of Comparative Zool- 
ogy, built from money appropriated by the Massachusetts 
Legislature and that donated by friends of Professor Agas- 
siz, is housed in a building which was commenced in 1859. 
A gift of Mr. Francis Calley Gray settled it with an un- 
changeable name and a cumbersome one, too — the Mu- 
seum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College. Then 
in 1876 Mr. George Peabody chose Cambridge, along with 
Salem and New Haven, for the establishment of museums 
of several sorts. The one in Cambridge became the Peabody 



Lifeuuork 161 

Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. These two in- 
stitutions were originally independent, affiliated with Har- 
vard College but not controlled by it, having their own 
boards of trustees, and hence autonomous. Later they con- 
veyed their possessions to the College, each forever to 
have a self-perpetuating governing board, confirmed by 
the governing boards of Harvard College, and each having 
the rights and prerogatives of a faculty in the University. 
These two museums are governed in this way to this day. 
Years passed and other buildings to house Botanical, Min- 
eralogical, and Geological Museums were constructed, and 
finally the whole formed one continuous structure. 

The three museums last mentioned are not governed by 
a faculty. The general control of the building, the dis- 
tribution of space therein, and matters affecting more than 
one section, such as repairs, hours of opening and closing, 
etc., etc., make it desirable to have one official responsible 
for such matters, so that while each Museum has its indi- 
vidual director, I have the title of Director of the Uni- 
versity Museum as well as of the Museum of Compara- 
tive Zoology. This situation might conceivably lead to 
friction. As a matter of fact, it leads to nothing but the 
pleasantest and most friendly associations. The Museum 
of Comparative Zoology is widely and very happily known 
as the Agassiz Museum; the others have no occasion to use 
other than their own official styles. As with so many of the 
institutions connected with Harvard University, which, 
like Topsy, just growed, the complicated setup, which 
might be expected to be cumbrous and unhandy, works 
extremely well. 



* 



162 Naturalist at Large 

One of the pleasantest features of life in the Museum 
grew entirely by chance. During one long spell of bad 
weather Henry Bigelow and I began to bring our lunches 
to the Museum and ate together in my back office. Then 
it occurred to me that we had in Gilbert, working here 
in the Museum at odd tasks, a most courtly old-fashioned 
colored servant who, as he put it himself, had been left to 
the Museum with Mr. Brewster's collection of birds. We 
installed an electric stove, proper sink and electric refrig- 
erator, and screened these objects away in a corner of my 
office, which is a large one, so that they do not obtrude. 

William Morton W^heeler joined our group and in time 
the Eateria became quite an institution. As long as Mr. 
Lowell was President of the University he not only called 
up frequently and said that he was coming to lunch but 
brought guests who he thought would be interested in 
learning about the Museum under entirely informal cir- 
cumstances. I remember one day he brought Sir Frederic 
Kenyon of the British Museum and Sir Henry Miers with 
him and they paid us a most enjoyable visit. My friend 
William Claflin, now the Treasurer of the University and 
its most useful officer, has taken up this same practice to 
our great advantage and joy. 

Rosamond provided a lunchbook, a beautifully bound 
parchment volume. Each person who lunches in the Eateria 
for the first time signs his name in full, thereafter only 
his initials. From September 2, 1930, to September 18, 
1942, there have been over 20,800 signatures in this book. 
We have kept a separate book for distinguished visitors 
in which there are about 300 names for the same period of 
time. A casual examination shows that these visitors have 



Lifezvork 163 

come from Honduras, Canal Zone, Cuba, Norway, Italy, 
Panama, England, British Columbia, Ontario, Siam, Bel- 
gium, Holland, New South Wales, Germany, Trinidad 
(B.W.I.) , China, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Federated Malay 
States, France, Transvaal, Cape Colony (South Africa), 
Korea, Denmark, Scotland, West Australia, Philippine 
Islands, Colombia, Venezuela, British North Borneo, and 
Bermuda, but without checking through carefully I should 
say there had been more visitors from Holland than from 
any other foreign state. These books have proved unex- 
pectedly useful on many occasions. When was so-and-so 
here last? Was I in Cambridge on May lo, 1938? On 
dozens of occasions they have solved problems which 
loomed big at the moment. 

The luncheons provided opportunity to ask members 
of the staff in for informal discussions and took the place 
of formal and rather stilted staff meetings. I find, to my 
surprise, that the Eateria has acquired a considerable fame 
and that scientific visitors to the Museum look forward to 
an invitation with real anticipation. It has been, of course, 
a bit of trouble at times but it has certainly served a most 
useful purpose. The women on our staff have been cour- 
teous and considerate in helping to serve and have made 
themselves generally useful; I know they have enjoyed the 
institution as much as the rest of us. 

On January 7, 1942, poor Gilbert died and the Eateria 
has been maintained on a rather reduced basis ever since. 
But as long as my colleagues live they will remember his 
beautifully cooked venison and ducks after my shooting 
excursions. On state occasions we had terrapin prepared 
at the Somerset Club in town and brought out by motor. 



164 Naturalist at Large 

I have tanks in the basement where terrapins and turtles 
may be kept against the visit of some distinguished visitor. 

David Fairchild has provided innumerable tropical 
fruits: white sapotes, aegles, canistels, mangoes, and many 
others, and a grower near Homestead, Florida, who has 
a particularly fine strain of papayas, has supplied these 
frequently. 

Thanks to Wilson Popenoe, a disciple of David's now in 
Guatemala, we have had mangosteens. The Department of 
Agriculture once put a stop to their importation on the 
ground that they were hosts of a pernicious fruit fly. I 
knew that this was obvious nonsense and now, after long 
argument with the Department and after much experimen- 
tation, we have permits to import mangosteens and will 
eat them frequently, I hope, when the war is over. 

I only wish that we could look ahead fifty years and 
see the mangosteen, queen of all tropical fruit, abundant 
in the Boston market. The United Fruit Company has a 
big grove of bearing trees at Lancetilla, in Honduras, and 
can easily plant more if the demand makes it worth while. 
The American people, however, as David Fairchild has 
long ago found out, are slow to change their feeding habits. 
Any number of excellent fruits and vegetables from all 
over the world have been brought to America, propagated 
for a short time, and then allowed to die out. I cite for 
example the Dasheen, which is much better than any sweet 
potato, the Udo, and the giant radish of Japan. 

When I became Director of the Agassiz Museum, I was 
highly dissatisfied with the situation which I found await- 
ing me. Luckily, at that time I had the means to make 



Lifenjoork 165 

changes which permitted a great expansion of our research 
activities. The Rockefeller Foundation had provided 
money for a new biological building, which took most of 
the old laboratories out of the Museum where they had 
been for years, but the space so vacated was still not 
enough. 

I had long had the idea that we exhibited many more 
objects than there was need to show to our rather limited 
public, and I felt that by condensing our exhibits we could 
eliminate obsolete and badly prepared material and at the 
same time gain space for expansion of the research col- 
lections. This I did by flooring over the galleries in nine 
rooms and rearranging all of the exhibitions on the third 
floor of the building, with the exception of our paleonto- 
logical specimens. This scheme has worked out very satisfac- 
torily. Our research collections, which are now expanded, 
well-arranged, and quite accessible, are as much a credit to 
the University as is its great Library. Of course, I can take 
only small credit for this. It was a labor of love for many. 
In 1926 electric lights were installed throughout the 
building (there had only been gas before!) and they and 
an electric elevator improved the working conditions. 

Professor Louis Agassiz designed the standard tray 
which we have used throughout the Museum except in 
the Departments of Birds and Mammals, where we have 
received many good storage cases which came to us with 
the Brewster, Thayer, Bent, Kennard, and Batchelder col- 
lections. Since birds are so different in size, our arrange- 
ment in this department is more or less haphazard. The 
same applies to the mammals except that with these we tan 



166 Naturalist at Large 

the hides of the larger forms and hang them up on rods 
in a large room which we keep sterilized against moths 
and other pests. But generally speaking, standard trays are 
used for fossils, alcoholic material, and all of the myriad 
types of material which are gathered in the Museum pri- 
marily to aid investigators and not to instruct the public. 

The trays measure i8 X 27/2 X 372 inches, except those 
in the Mollusks Department, where they use a good many 
thousand. Theirs are only an inch deep on account of the 
small size of most of the material involved. These trays 
are contained in tall, narrow, glass-door cupboards, placed 
side by side, each containing twenty runners spaced so that 
the trays slide in and out. For very heavy objects we 
simply put the tray in upside down and thus it becomes a 
shelf. Where tall jars of fish or reptiles are stored, we have 
to use a tray to each four or five or six spaces. Of course 
no system is universally convenient, but our trays, now 
that we use galvanized-iron runs to support them, slide 
in and out quite easily even when loaded with very heavy 
material. We use about 500 new trays a year and estimate 
that at the present time there are 50,000 in use in the 
building. 

It is idle to speculate on the number of specimens, for 
it would be sheer guesswork. Mr. Nathan Banks, for in- 
stance, estimates that there are three and a half million 
insects in the collection and knows that there are at least 
30,000 types — that is, specimens from wliich new species 
have been described. This number has been definitely lo- 
cated; no doubt there are several hundred more in the 
collection not as yet found. Our insects are gradually all 
being worked into standard, glass-topped, airtight trays 



■.iyiiiix^.^i:^i^ffi'^ 




A sailback lizard, Edaphosaurus 



Almost six feet long, from the Red Beds of Texas. TI?e only one ivith perfect 
skull and all skeleton from a sini^le individual 






ffffffffffff^' 





Unique mount of Ophiacodon 

About four feet long, from the Red Beds of Texas. Laid dozvv about one 
hundred avd eighty iiiillion years ago 




Photos bv G. Xelson 



Unique type of Dynodontosaiirus olheroi Roiner 
from southern Brazil 

Three of George Nelson's finest fossil reptiles 



Lifework 167 

15 X 18 inches, of which we have about 5000. Many, 
many insects, however, are still in various other types of 
cork-bottomed boxes, since our trays are rather expensive 
and we cannot buy them in sufficient numbers. 

In view of their fragile nature, and contrary to our prac- 
tice with all other groups of animals, we are inclined to 
mount our vertebrate fossils and put them on pubUc ex- 
hibition. Our Chief Preparator, Mr. George Nelson, is 
unexcelled in his abiHty to make graceful and lifelike 
mountings and restore missing parts with perfect accuracy. 
Of course there are many fossils where our material is 
too incomplete to treat in this way. 

In all other groups, types are preserved for the use of 
investigators and are not placed on exhibition. A recent 
count shows that of reptiles and amphibians we have typical 
material of 2173 named forms. 



CHAPTER XV 

The Glory Hole 



X 



HE MAN In the street has always been inclined to 
look down his nose at museum curators, and for as long 
as I have been one of them I have been pondering the 
reason, I think I have it. The average man doesn't like a 
miser and, one way or another, the curator cannot help 
appearing miserly. When I first took charge of the Agasslz 
Museum, I found one big glass jar filled with chicken 
heads, another with burned matches, another with old 
rubbers. The chicken heads were potential material for 
dissection, and the fact that a dollar's worth of heads filled 
a twenty-dollar jar never occurred to the man who ate 
those chickens, who was no other than Louis Agassiz 
himself. 

The Museum at one time housed an unbelievable num- 
ber of strange odds and ends accumulated through the 
years and saved because the old-time museum man thought 
it was a sin to throw anything out. I have been accused 
of erring in this manner myself. It is true that if you look 
at a thing long enough you lose perspective. Any object, 
no matter how revolting and loathsome, seen sufficiently 
often, blunts the senses, and one becomes disinclined to the 
effort necessary to destroy it or get rid of it. 

Pride of possession is a curious attribute of mankind. This 
was brought sharply to my mind recently when it occurred 



The Glory Hole 169 

to me to ask myself, "Why didn't Mrs. Chase give the Pea- 
body Museum her gallstones?" Many other people had, for 
there were a pint or more of miscellaneous gallstones in the 
Peabody Museum in Salem, curiously enough in the case 
with an old reindeer. But these were donated gallstones; 
it was only Mrs. Chase's that were on loan. The answer 
is, Mrs. Chase's gallstones were larger than any others in 
the whole place and she obviously just couldn't bear to 
part with them permanently. I bethought me, Has this sit- 
uation ever occurred before? And then I remembered that 
not long ago I was reading the last Annual Report of the 
Curator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons 
in London. This venerable institution, containing much 
material that was priceless indeed, suffered a direct hit 
from a German bomb. It was almost completely destroyed, 
and the story of the catastrophe was told, sadly and meticu- 
lously, by its distinguished curator. But if our friend in the 
street were to read this report he might be inclined to laugh 
heretically at the cool and unemotional statement that along 
with the many terrific losses suffered by that venerable 
institution were listed the facts that the jar containing 
Napoleon's bowels was cracked and that the rib of Robert 
the Bruce was broken. 

I have found myself justifying the preservation of ob- 
jects which were inherently unpleasing to the eye by say- 
ing, "That illustrates the taxidermy of a hundred years 
ago." Or the preservation of a codfish pickled in alcohol 
by saying, "Someone may want to dissect that fish some- 
time," forgetting that fresh cod, infinitely preferable for 
dissection, are plentiful in the Boston area. And so it goes. 
The more I think of it, the more I believe that the average 



170 Naturalist at Large 

man is entirely entitled to his opinion and the average 
curator is a queer fish. 

Now granted that the curator is a queer fish, is he a rare 
fish? I fear me the answer today is nay. My friend Alex- 
ander Wetmore, Director of the United States National 
Museum, in an address at the opening of the Dyche Mu- 
seum at the University of Kansas, remarked, "There are 
today throughout the world more than seven thousand 
museums, of which more than a thousand are in the United 
States." Every museum has at least one curator, and the 
breed came into being, no doubt, back in the days when 
the "Repositerry of Curiosity," the Anlage of our Uni- 
versity Museum here at Harvard, was visited by Francis 
Goelet on the twenty-fifth of October 1750. Unfortu- 
nately, Mr. Goelet does not tell us how old the museum 
was at that date. He does, however, tell us that its treasures 
included "horns and bones, fishes' skins and other objects, 
and a piece of tanned Negro hide." ^ 

Professor John Winthrop, Hollis Professor of Mathe- 
matics and Natural Philosophy, evidently had started even 
at this early date to make what we call a "Glory Hole." I 
have had some interesting experiences cleaning out "Glory 
Holes" in Cambridge, Boston, and Salem. Only a few 
months ago I opened a parcel in Salem, the wrapping paper 
of which was superscribed, "Please do not disturb these 
shells. Caleb Cooke, February 1857." This behest had been 
scrupulously obeyed for eighty-five years and six months. 
The parcel proved to be pure gold, for the shells were 

^ It's a pity this burned. Wendell Phillips could have waved 
it instead of the bloody shirt. 



The Glory Hole 171 

collected from one of our New England rivers in which 
today it would be impossible to collect a single living 
thing, so polluted have its waters become. I hold in my 
hand a little vial in wliich is a label saying, "This vial con- 
tains two feathers of a large penguin." One wonders why 
these two feathers out of the tens of thousands which that 
penguin carried were singled out for preservation. 

The only old museum I ever saw where, so far as I could 
see, there was no Glory Hole was the museum in Charles- 
ton, South Carolina. This venerable institution, founded 
in 1773, has had plenty of time to accumulate one, but the 
gay and carefree cavaliers of the South were willing to 
throw things away even when they became museum cura- 
tors, while the penny-pinching men of the New England 
states fairly reveled in the making of Glory Holes. Cer- 
tainly nothing equaling the collections of zoological atroci- 
ties once preserved in Boston, Salem, and Cambridge has 
ever been known in America, and probably but seldom in 
Europe. I remember one of my colleagues, now passed to 
his reward, pointing regularly to a certain cask and saying, 
"That's filled with the pickled heads of Chinese." Well, 
it was. They were garnered on the beach at San Francisco 
years ago after a battle, by Thomas G. Carey, no less. Now 
after some seventy years these heads, boiled out and the 
skulls bleached and cleaned, serve a useful purpose: Hooton 
of Harvard uses them in teaching physical anthropology. 

Alexander Agassiz collected but one living spirula, a 
little squidlike mollusk whose dried shells may be found 
along the beaches of the tropics in countless thousands. The 
living spirula carried an important message, for its shell 
was like certain fossil shells of ages ago and gave us a clew 



172 Naturalist at Large 

to what the soft parts of those fossil animals were like. 
That spirula disappeared about forty-five years ago from 
the very desk at which I now sit writing these lines and it 
has never been seen from that day to this. 

Mr. Alexander Agassiz always said that Professor E. D. 
Cope was the greatest thief in the world, for the reason 
that he stole the largest object ever stolen. The story ran 
something like this: Captain Atwood of Provincetown, 
who did the Museum many good turns, once notified Mr. 
Agassiz that a strange whale had drifted ashore on the 
Outer Cape. Mr. Agassiz asked J. A. Allen and some stu- 
dents to go down and rough out the skeleton. This they 
did, and laid out the partially cleaned bones on a flatcar. 
They little dreamed that Dr. Cope from Philadelphia also 
had a scout on the Outer Cape, and Cope was a canny man. 
He went to Provincetown, hired a room in a farmhouse, 
where he could watch proceedings, and waited until the 
Cambridge crew went home. Then he greased the palm 
of the station agent to the end that a Philadelphia waybill 
instead of a Cambridge waybill was afHxed to the flatcar 
and the whale ended up as the type of a new species which 
Mr. Cope described, its skeleton still being preserved at 
the Academy of Natural Sciences in Pliiladelphia. So the 
story runs, and I have often heard it told in the past. 

I can hear the reader mildly say, "Why on earth does 
anyone want to be a museum curator?" This question, 
however, I can answer bravely and with positive assur- 
ance. To one who has by inheritance or training acquired 
the pack-rat instinct it is the most exciting calling in the 
whole world. For who, having a spark of imagination. 



The Glory Hole 17 3 

could fail to be thrilled to hold in his hand our specimen 
of Drepanis pacifica? This was the bird from which the 
feathers were taken to make the royal robe of Kamehameha 
the Great. The bird is extinct and our specimen was col- 
lected by Bloxam, who sailed on the Blond. It is, moreover, 
the cotype of a species. Any naturalist will know what I 
mean. 

Edward S. Morse wrote an article for the Atlantic 
Monthly in July 1893, entitled "If PubUc Libraries Why 
Not Public Museums." I think Morse was entirely wrong 
in the type of museum which he outlined as being instruc- 
tive to the public. Morse's all-consuming intellectual curi- 
osity led him to believe that all of us were similarly en- 
dowed, as of course we are not. Bits of desiccated slime in 
a row of bottles carefully labeled captured Morse's inter- 
est just as rows of rock samples, all looking more or less 
alike, enabled him to point with pride to the fact that this 
exhibit included a piece of every sort of rock found in 
Essex County. This sort of material has no value for pur- 
poses of public instruction; nothing has except that which 
is inherently attractive. 

The Mineralogical Hall in the University Museum in 
Cambridge contains a vast number of objects of the most 
extreme beauty and rarity, yet not one person in a thou- 
sand who comes to see the glass flowers in an adjoining 
hall steps across the threshold to look at the minerals. This 
was even more conspicuously the case in the museum in 
Salem, where the minerals were relatively inaccessible and 
really only displayed for the instruction of public-school 
classes, and the number of visits made by such classes had 



174 Naturalist at Large 

dwindled to one a year and that class only looked at about 
half a dozen minerals. The glass models of plants in Cam- 
bridge and the equally beautiful botanical models in the 
Field Museum in Chicago interest and attract the public. 
Samples of wood and dried foliage have absolutely no value 
for exhibition. 

This is how I came to think up a new kind of museum. 
The trustees of the Peabody Museum in Salem voted to 
restore East India Hall to its original monumental sim- 
plicity and to display here figureheads of ships and other 
objects that are best seen from a distance. The Hall for 
years had been filled with a jittery miscellany of zoological 
objects. There was a good representation of the fauna of 
Essex County, specimens excellently prepared. All else was 
a miscellaneous accumulation, acquired through the years 
from sea captains and others, of specimens which varied 
in quality from the utterly revolting to a few really fine 
things. It was easy to dispose of the repulsive material. 
Some of it had scientific value and the rest of it, when 
tossed out of a second-story window into the back yard 
on Charter Street in Salem, was fought for by a swarm of 
urchins, who carried the critters off in triumph. The police, 
at first unbelieving and suspecting theft, soon became ac- 
quiescent. 

The question was what to do with the few good things 
which did not illustrate the zoology of Essex County. 
These naturally presented a dilemma. I proposed discard- 
ing them all. Then one day I chanced to lunch with Gus 
Loring and Stephen W. Phillips, men of original mind and 
deep learning, who had an honest sentimental feeling for 
some of the objects I proposed to discard. It was quite ob- 



The Glory Hole 175 

vious that I could not proceed without seriously wound- 
ing feelings. I suddenly thought, "See if we can't make a 
human-interest story out of each one; display the object 
with its relation to man." A sort of rough classification 
gradually grew on me. There was a good skylark, and a 
good wandering albatross. Get a nightingale and set up a 
display. Label it "These birds have inspired great poetry." 
Use pictures of the poets, facsimiles of the poems, and some 
of the most superb verses in boldly typed labels. 

What do domesticated animals teach us beside carving 
at table? Domestic fowl and the pigeon have been ex- 
traordinarily plastic in man's hands. Think of the contrast 
between a Shanghai rooster and a Seabright bantam. The 
Shanghai and the Langshan are the largest of the so-called 
Asiatic breeds of fowl, enormous creatures standing over 
two feet high. The breeds are now out of fashion and 
almost extinct. Luckily the Museum had some really his- 
toric fowls. Here was the rooster brought back over a hun- 
dred years ago, the progenitor of the stock which gave 
rise to the Rhode Island Red. And I found a wild jungle 
fowl which could be spared from the collections in Cam- 
bridge. With the help of my neighbor Harry McKean, 
I soon had plans for this exhibit well under way. 

Various species of jungle fowl, which look exactly like 
small game chickens, are found all over southeastern Asia. 
When you are living in the country where they occur, you 
seldom see them, but their crowing at morning and evening 
sometimes becomes a positive nuisance. Now, conversely, 
although there is no reason to believe that the Aztecs did 
not hold the turkey in domestication for as long a time as 



176 Naturalist at Large 

any of the peoples of Asia had the fowl, the turkey has 
not proved plastic at all. Cortez sent domesticated birds 
which he found in Mexico back to Europe. From there 
they spread all over the world. They came to New Eng- 
land, and to this day domesticated turkeys, most of them, 
are hard to tell from wild birds. A few varieties have been 
produced, but only by the chance dropping out of ele- 
ments of the normal pigmentation of the bird's plumage. 
In the reddish-colored turkeys, the black or the dilute black 
pigment — the gray — has gone and the red element alone 
remains. In the white turkeys all pigmentation has disap- 
peared; albino races are always easy to produce in domes- 
tication. White rats and mice and guinea pigs come to 
mind, as well as leghorn fowl and fantail pigeons. 

I visualized an exhibit around William Endicott's mag- 
nificent bull bison, not using the animal as a zoological 
object, a member of the Bovidae, but as a creature which 
provided food, shelter, sport, and even an object of wor- 
ship to many tribes of Indians. And here illustrative mate- 
rial is abundant and spectacular. 

The Museum had a first-class ostrich, given it some 
years ago by Mrs. Stephen Philhps — an ostrich far too 
good to throw away. By good fortune, I had a sample of 
dried ostrich meat, one of the various kinds of "biltong" 
carried by the Boers as rations when at war or on trek. 
An ostrich feather fan, an old-time bonnet, and headdresses 
of the Nandi Masai all proved obtainable. 

Tliink what a story you can build about the giant tor- 
toise of the Galapagos. The old whalers called them turpin. 
For generations all of the ships that chanced to be near the 
Galapagos Islands, about six hundred miles southwestward 



The Glory Hole 111 

of Panama, went ashore turtling. The crews carried the 
beasts down to the beach, boated them to the ships, and 
piled them up in their empty holds. Here, being the strange 
creatures that they are, they survived for months without 
food or water. When scurvy appeared the turtles were 
butchered. The flesh was savory even when poorly pre- 
pared. There was enough fat in each one to shorten a mess 
of "duff," and the water in their bladders was cool and 
clear. I have seen a compilation made from about thirty 
whalers' logs which shows that they carried off more than 
eleven thousand of these animals. Once they occurred in 
countless multitudes on no fewer than nine of the islands. 
Seventeen zoological species of turtles have been described. 
But this is not the point which we want the magnificent 
specimen at Salem to illustrate — rather, what turtles like 
this meant to seamen from the time of Dampier down 
to about 1867, when petroleum knocked out whale oil. 
Probably no less than half a million turpin were carried 
away, and now all the races of the creatures are rare or 
extinct. 

Captain Phillips brought back from Fiji an enormous 
giant clam. The superb pair of matched valves are at least 
three feet long and weigh over a hundred pounds each. 
But I don't want this to be a malacological specimen — 
rather, the terror of the pearl diver. For if a diver inad- 
vertently thrust a hand or a foot into one of these gaping 
shells as it yawned open, the instant reaction was for the 
animal to close up, like any other clam, and the death of 
the diver ensued. 

These giant clams were undoubtedly eaten, the meat 
being chopped fine and stewed. No doubt it was as good 



178 Naturalist at Large 

as conch, most delectable of all sea viands, unfortunately 
unprocurable in New England. What a dramatic under- 
water scene could be depicted with modern methods of 
creating illusions! Mold a lovely Polynesian maiden vested 
only with a net reticule of pearl shells tied to her waist 
and struggling for release from the clutch of this giant mol- 
lusk. I fear, however, such pageantry is beyond our means 
— and might shock Salem, anyhow. 

It is probable that all of the various races of domestic 
duck are derived from the wild mallard, and where man 
first began to breed ducks for food is doubtful. It was 
probably in China. Anyone who has traveled into the in- 
terior of China, say up the Si-kiang River from Canton 
to Wuchow, will recall the floating duck farms. These 
great arks built on rafts move about from place to place, 
a gangplank is let down, and the ducks scuttle overboard 
and dip and dive and feed. At evening the proprietor of 
the establishment stands by with a bamboo wand and beats 
a gong and the ducks rush up the gangway, for they know 
from bitter experience that the last few ducks will be 
assiduously whacked with the bamboo just for being last. 

The people in Bali have had the duck for years. The 
characteristic race is a white one with a large fluffy top- 
knot, and the Balinese positively assure us that unless a 
bunch of cotton wool on top of a twig is put before the 
setting duck where she must observe it constantly, the 
young will not be bedecked with the much admired 
pompon of feathers on their heads. And though unques- 
tionably man has played with the duck for a long time, no 
such enormous variety of named races has been produced 



The Glory Hole 179 

as in the case of the fowl. The Muscovy duck is far dis- 
tantly related to all the rest of its kin. This bird is found in 
a wild state tlirough the tropical lowlands of Central and 
South America. By this I mean, of course, the forested areas. 
It was domesticated in Mexico, and possibly by other In- 
dian tribes than the Aztecs. When it was brought to Eu- 
rope, the tradition of its origin was apparently lost, but 
just why it should have been considered to be of Muscovite 
origin I can't remember, although I have been told. Except 
for albino and pied individuals, most of the Muscovy ducks 
are essentially the same as their wild ancestors. This is also 
true of the guinea hens which came to America on the 
slave ships from West Africa. As everybody knows, these 
can hardly be called domesticated. They have a tendency 
to run wild, and indeed in many localities in Haiti and 
Cuba they afford good sport with a shotgun, being strong, 
fast flyers. 

Look at the pigeons on Boston Common and you will 
be struck by the fact that the vast majority of them are 
essentially hke the blue rock dove, which is their wild 
ancestor. Man has produced an extraordinary number of 
bizarre and curious types of pigeon, but let them become 
feral, as they have in Boston or Venice, and they revert 
to the ancestral type, at least in a vast majority of cases. 
And the accidental additions which come from escaped 
fancy pigeons are soon bred out and absorbed into the 
essentially blue rock mass of the population. But I don't 
want to crowd our museum at Salem to where it appears 
to overstress the exhibition of domesticated animals. This 
aspect has been treated elsewhere. There is a wonderful 
collection of all sorts of domesticated types at the British 



180 Naturalist at Large 

Museum of Natural History in London, of dogs at Yale, 
and a fair synoptic collection in Cambridge. 

A good many dyed plumes of birds of paradise seized 
in the Customhouse and turned over to the Peabody Mu- 
seum for exhibition recalls the trade in birds of paradise. 
When the Dutch and Portuguese first arrived in the Moluc- 
cas, they found some of the Malay sultans receiving dried 
skins of birds of paradise as tribute from Papuan tribes 
of savages who owed them suzerainty. These skins were 
legless, and the notion grew that the birds spent their lives 
flying in the air and admiring the sun. During the last 
years of the last century and the first decade of this the 
number of birds of paradise which were garnered from 
the western part of New Guinea and the Aru Islands was 
stupendous. Queen Wilhelmina stopped the slaughter some 
years ago. But birds of paradise were still abundant, even 
considering the enormous numbers killed for trade, because 
the females were so inconspicuous and so utterly unlike 
the males that they were never disturbed and all the species 
are highly polygamous. 

And so, to my great surprise, I find myself at last en- 
gaged in building up an entirely new type of museum. 
There will be many objects displayed beside the ones which 
I have indicated. I believe that with thoughtful labeling 
some zoology, some history, some folklore, and some poetry 
may be taught in a very attractive way. And I wish we 
could find a good name for our innovation. I can think 
only of "Museum of Ethnozoology," which sounds utterly 
loathsome. 



CHAPTER XVI 



Those who Help 



J 



UST as I have had great good fortune in the support 
given me by my colleagues in the Museum, so I have been 
aided in many unexpected ways by natives of all sorts in 
the field. When Rosamond and I landed in Singapore, we 
had a letter of introduction from Dr. George Lincoln 
Goodale of Harvard to Dr. Wilham H. Ridley, Director 
of the Botanic Garden. Ridley was very kind and friendly 
and helped us to find Ah Woo, a tall and stately Chinese 
boy who had been a mess servant at the mihtary barracks 
at Tanglin. Ah Woo's queue was a joy to behold. Long 
and thick and black as a raven's wing, pieced out with a 
sort of a whiplash of red silk, it extended to his heels. 
When he was at work it was cunningly coiled on top of 
his head, to be pushed off to a hanging position if one of 
us approached him, because to speak to a superior with 
one's queue coiled up was extremely impoHte. 

Ah Woo traveled with us and only left us to return 
home when we left Peking for Japan. He became a superb 
butterfly collector and was perfectly faithful and loyal, 
although he never really liked to take orders from my 
wife. He was so loyal that it was very dangerous to admire 
anything in the museum at Buitenzorg, because the object 
was likely to be missing in the museum and to turn up 
presently in our lodgings. He was a slightly bloodthirsty 
rascal and if there was a tree kangaroo or some other animal 



182 Naturalist at Large 

to be put to death, that its skin and skeleton might be pre- 
served, Ah Woo always begged for the chance to perform. 

He nearly got us into trouble one day at some small town 
in New Guinea, where one of the natives had just died. 
We of course knew nothing about this, our interest being 
centered in some carved wooden drums which we bought 
for the Peabody Museum. Getting into one of the big out- 
rigger canoes to carry the objects out to our ship, Ah W^oo 
began a joyous tattoo. Everything changed in the flashing 
of an eye. Angry Papuans swarmed from every house, and 
it was not long before we learned that you must not beat 
drums in the hearing of their dead. Souls might be called 
back from their wanderings. 

Indit and Bandoung came to us through the good offices 
of Dr. Treub. They were mild, gentle, friendly Javanese. 
They had been naturalists' assistants on board the Dutch 
exploring ship Siboga and literally knew almost every nook 
and cranny of the Indies. They made very passable bird 
and mammal skins, although we were in such a rush col- 
lecting everything — reptiles, amphibians, insects, and ma- 
rine invertebrates — that they never had a chance to do 
their best work. They were patient beyond belief, and 
when I left Java one of them wrote me a most charming 
and touching letter in Malay, in the Dutch transliteration, 
perfectly spelled and like copperplate. These two "boys" 
were nature's gentlemen. 

As I look back over the many years when I used to go 
bug hunting, an innumerable pageant of kindly compan- 
ions passes before my eyes. I think particularly of Juicio 
and Churima. These were probably not their right names, 




The Hunter home from the kill. Churima rests after brino-ino- 

in a peccary to camp 



~*>- 




» . .■»- ^"f 



The author and Juicio, the chief of all the Chokoi Indians 
with whom we came in contact 

It is a pity the facial painting ivitl? red anotto juice does not 
shoiv in either photograph 



Tlwse Who Help 183 

for primitive Indians don't like to give away their names 
any more than they do nail parings or bits of hair, which 
might be used to bewitch them. Dr. Alfaro, a high official 
of the Panamanian Government, went to Darien in 1922 in 
a schooner which he chartered, to adjudicate a disputed 
boundary between the claims of two oil companies. He 
offered us a ride. Winthrop Brooks and I were dumped, 
with our considerable gear, at a little village called Boca 
de Sabalo, at the head of navigation on the Sambu River. 
We went ashore, found a vacant palm-thatched hut with 
a pole floor, and hired it for a few cents. We laid down 
our floor cloth and set up our mosquito bars, for the place 
was a hotbed of malaria. 

We had been advised in Panama by a friend in the 
Survey Department, Major Omer Malsbury, to ask for 
Juicio, who stood high in the councils of the Chokoi In- 
dians. These Indians lived in the forests of this section of 
Panama and the adjacent portion of Colombia. The popu- 
lation of our little village was of mixed Indian and Negro 
blood, but they traded with the Indians who lived farther 
back in the woods. Next day Juicio appeared and Churima, 
and a number of others of less import, in a band. We took 
to each other at once. Juicio wore his hair in a long, straight 
black mane, with an orchid stuck over his ear and his face 
painted dizzily with the red derived from anotto. We 
explained what we wanted and he advised us where to 
camp. 

We spent some time in Darien, moving our camp every 
seventh day and pitching our tents well away from any 
permanent Indian habitation. In this way even if we in- 
fected the local mosquitoes, for probably most of our 



184 Naturalist at Large 

camp followers were carriers of malaria, we kept one jump 
ahead of infection since it takes eight days for the 
mosquitoes to become vectors. Before long, a number of 
our Indians, including Churima, sent for their wives. This 
is a sign that one has won their complete confidence. As a 
matter of fact, they rather like Americans and distinctly 
dislike Spanish-speaking people, who were, and I suspect 
possibly are still, inclined to be afraid of them, or at least 
to patronize them. We possessed such mysteries as desic- 
cated vegetables and dried soups, so that every meal was 
an adventure to the Indians, and they greatly appreciated 
the beads and other trinkets which we brought with us. 

Mrs. Churima, as we called her, was a sleek, buxom 
damsel of tender years, very pretty, with a tiny baby 
slung in her bark-cloth scarf. She had a short skirt of trade 
cotton, I suspect a flour sack, and was industrious beyond 
belief. She rolled stones in search of frogs and lizards while 
the baby dozed. I never heard it cry, and never saw her 
put it down, even when she was hanging over the fire 
cooking. 

Darien is warm and moist and we were there in the 
spring, when it was raining a good deal. I am pretty heavy 
and I remember a number of occasions when my Gold 
Medal cot sank down so that before morning I was in a 
puddle of water well tinged with humic acid, which seeped 
up through the canvas of the cot and greatly irritated my 
prickly heat. We got nearly a thousand birds, a number 
of them new, quite a lot of mammals, including a new 
arboreal mouse, and a wonderful new genus of lizards. We 
considered ourselves richly rewarded. 

That mouse was a veritable gem among mice, a lovely 



Those Who Help 185 

little creature; the richest golden brown above and pearly 
white beneath, the line of demarcation between the two 
colors being sharply drawn. It fell to the ground from a 
tangle of vines pulled out of a tree to get a monkey which 
had been shot and which had lodged among the branches. 
Now this little mouse, which is evidently an arboreal 
species, was dazed when it landed and we caught it easily 
with our hands. We never saw anything like it again. It 
was not only a new species, but a genus new to Central 
America. Its nearest ally comes from Ecuador, and when 
Dr. Allen and I described it we called it Oecomys trabeatus, 
the adjective signifying in Latin "of regal dress." 

The lizard was really something to brag about. I named 
him Diaphoranolis brooksi. Some of our Indians cut down 
a tree of a species that looks a good deal like a poplar and 
grows sparingly throughout the Darien region. It burns 
green with a good hot fire, although there is nothing which 
looks Hke rosin or pitch in it to explain its inflammabiHty. 
This lizard, which fell out of the tree, was also an arboreal 
form, related, but not very closely, to the "chameleon" of 
our Southern states. In other words, naturalists would call 
it an anoline lizard. It was pallid white, with many black 
markings sharply defined. The pendulous dewlap, which 
in this case was not extensible as it is so often, was not 
decorated with flash markinfjs. The head and the neck and 
the dewlap thus were all similarly marked with a network 
of coarse black lines. There were two black saddles on the 
back and nine black rings on the tail. The most interesting 
feature of all was the fact that the limbs and the digits bore 
many pairs of sharply defined black lines occurring as rings, 
which, however, did not quite meet on the inner surface. 



186 Naturalist at Large 

Thus the little lizard looked as if it wore old-fashioned lace 
mitts. I never saw anything like it. At the risk of being 
prolix, I quote from my notes: — 

The region is one of high, damp, humid forest, 
gloomy and stifling except where some watercourse 
cuts through the wooded lowlands, letting in the sun- 
light. Decay of fallen wood and leaves is very rapid 
and the dark forest floor is sodden and slippery. In 
general, reptiles were surprisingly rare, and often a day 
would pass when none of us would see a lizard, unless 
when coming to the shore of some small stream the 
bipedal basilisks would scurry away. The young far 
outnumber the adults and all are well able to run with 
equal ease over land or the face of the water. While 
they are running over either surface the body is held 
almost upright, the tail is raised as a balance, and the 
fore limbs are tightly pressed to the sides. They move 
and stop with a speed and precision which seems 
mechanical rather than animate. The paucity of adults 
and the shyness of both young and old bespeak abun- 
dant enemies, but of what nature we were never able 
to learn. 

One afternoon an Indian who had been gathering fire- 
wood came in carrying a small lizard, and we then saw 
for the first time the young of Diploglossiis 7;wnotropis, 
already known from Costa Rica and Colombia. This little 
creature, about seven inches long, was so gorgeously col- 
ored while alive and so different from the preserved exam- 
ples that my field notes are again worth quoting: "This 
specimen, seven inches long, has a gray-green head, bril- 



Those Who Help 187 

liant carmine sides covered with anastomosing black lines; 
belly yellowish; back and tail black with beautiful narrow 
blue-gray, almost mauve crossbars." I have never seen such 
a gaudy little critter except my Diploglossus resplendens 
from Bolivia. 

A few days after our Upper Jesusito camp was made 
we began to fell trees to let in sunlight and breeze. As it 
turned out, there was no breeze and the sun was almost 
constantly obscured by rain clouds. One tree came down 
with a crash and brought with it a living and uninjured 
Corythophanes cristatus. The interesting point in connec- 
tion with this capture was that we kept the lizard alive 
long enough to find that its actions were singularly 
chameleonlike. 

It was sluggish and deliberate in its movements, and when 
angered it reared upright, flattened its body vertically, and 
bent down its head. Its mouth meanwhile was opened 
widely in a way that recalled at once captive and angry 
African chameleons. That the very peculiar superficial 
similarity of appearance should be accompanied by such 
similar sluggish movements and curious attitudes is most 
noteworthy and almost incredible when the protean zo- 
ologic gap between the two genera is considered. 

In a few places where the forest roof leaked spots of 
sunlight the ground dried out and the great, curly, new- 
fallen leaves made noisy walking. In these little dried-out 
spaces we found some tiny lizards. They crept swiftly and 
stealthily over the big dead leaves, and when the sun was 
hidden, as it often was because of the frequent showers, 
these little lizards hid at once, to reappear when their 
moldy abode became dry again. They were not easy to 



188 Naturalist at Large 

catch, and even when caught a decent specimen was by 
no means assured, for their skin tore like wet tissue paper 
and their struggles usually left them sadly unfrocked. 

These, like other slim-toed Gekkos or Eublepharids, as 
they once were called, are far more agile than their allies 
with dilated digits — more alert and less deliberate in their 
movements. The species proved to be the rare and Httle 
known Lathrogecko sanctae-martae Ruthven. 

At the end of our stay in the Sapo Mountains a message 
came that my daughter, Mary B., had been operated on 
for a tracheotomy and was not expected to live. A tiny 
launch, in bad condition and belonging to the schoolmaster, 
was the only transportation to be found. Into this we piled 
our precious gear, which filled it completely except for a 
little space for the engineer and for the steersman for'ard, 
while we stood on the tiny deck aft, with our elbows 
resting on the canopy top, and here we dozed, taking turns 
at watching one another so that neither of us fell over- 
board, for about thirty hours. Once our engine went dead 
and we drifted out of sight of land and were unutterably 
pleased to hear it start sputtering again. 

At long last the flashes of sunhght reflected by the pearl 
oyster shells embedded in the stucco of the cathedral tow- 
ers of Panama told us we were nearing our destination. And 
when we learned at the Legation that Mary B. was well 
and had been for weeks, I leave it to your imagination to 
guess how much champagne we consumed. Before this 
process began, be it said, I walked up to the desk of the 
Tivoli Hotel to sign for a room and the clerk never even 
recognized me, although we had known one another for 



Those Who Help 189 

years. We were a couple of tired and gaunt-looking shad- 
ows, but supremely happy. 

Years later I went back to Darien with a party of 
friends. We chartered a terrible old hooker called the 
Augusta Victoria. After we appraised the rat bites and 
insect bites incurred during the voyage, we changed her 
name to the Ajigustia. Things had changed when we got 
to Garachine. One of the big oil companies was drilling 
on a considerable scale and a lot of rather rough diamonds 
from Texas and Oklahoma dwelt in well-screened houses 
near where once we had camped. A muddy track ran in- 
land from the "port," and a Ford truck drove us through 
the forest to one of the camps for luncheon. 

I was sitting on the back of the truck with Ned Ham- 
mond and Frank Hunnewell, when whom should I spy 
but Juicio. I stopped the truck. Juicio stepped forward 
with that entirely self-possessed manner which is the in- 
imitable attribute of the American Indian everywhere, 
came up to me, put his arms around my neck, patted me 
on the back, and said, '''Que hay, vie jo?'''' (How are you, 
old man?) Then he went on to tell me how times had 
changed and how he and his people loathed the Americans 
who had settled on their lands. 

Some of the drillers, however, had seen the little drama 
of our meeting and were unbelievably surprised. One of 
them said, "We can't buy fresh meat for love or money 
from those Indians." I said, "What do you want?" "Veni- 
son," he replied. "I will see what I can do." Juicio and a 
number of his friends had gathered, squatting at the foot 
of a gigantic quipo tree, and I walked over and joined the 
group. I asked them if they would sell me some deer meat. 



190 Naturalist at Large 

They said, "Certainly. We have a deer which we killed 
this morning hidden within a hundred yards of where we 
are now," I told Juicio to give it to me for old times' sake. 
Within ten minutes he turned up with a brocket, dressed 
and with the head cut off. I gave the little deer to the 
drillers and they certainly thought that we were magicians. 

In Darien Brooks and I suffered several times from find- 
ing the larvae of a botfly in our skin. Curiously enough 
the eggs seemed to be laid usually between our shoulder 
blades in a particularly difficult place to scratch. The larvae 
grew fast and caused great discomfort, and being beset 
with sharp, spiny hairs they cannot be gotten out by or- 
dinary pinching and squeezing. We knew from the natives 
that they could be narcotized by tobacco juice and we 
chewed up pieces of cigars, rubbed the tobacco juice on 
the area, and when we ceased to feel the larvae wiggling 
under our skin we found that they were stupefied by the 
nicotine and could then be popped out. 

The grubs of this botfly were relatively few and far 
between until years later a lot of infested cattle were 
brought into the Canal Zone pastures from the Orinoco 
River district in Venezuela. I often saw these in the pastures 
near Summit in Panama. The flies which they brought in 
with them multiplied until the cattle became a fearsome 
sight, covered with festering, running sores so that they 
became thin and poor from the pain created by the wab- 
bles, and their skins were worthless when they were 
slaughtered. 

I didn't learn until some years afterwards the curious 
life history of this horrid pest. The fly itself, Dennatobia 



Those Who Help 191 

hominis, apparently does not lay its eggs directly on its 
host but captures other flies, usually of the genus Limno- 
phora, or mosquitoes, and lays its eggs upon them, releas- 
ing them immediately. These then hght upon man or beast 
and the egg, adhering to the skin of the host, hatches at 
once and the larva quickly dives beneath the hide of its 
victim. The most complete account has been given by my 
friend Lawrence Dunn, a medical entomologist in the 
Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama. Seated at the 
edge of a small stream near Summit in October 1929, he 
was infested by six of these larvae, two on each forearm 
and two on his right leg. He recognized at once that here 
was an opportunity to study the emergence of these crea- 
tures in great detail. He returned to the laboratory and in 
spite of the most exquisite torture and the revolting fetid 
discharge from the wounds as the larvae increased in size, 
he patiently waited no less than fifty days until the crea- 
tures finally emerged. They weighed each about 0.725 
gram and were each about 2 5 millimeters long and 1 1 mil- 
limeters in diameter. His account of the final stages is 
worth quoting, for while innumerable travelers have suf- 
fered from these beasts, never before has the exact time 
between the laying of the egg and the emergence of the 
larva been made known. After they dropped from his skin 
Dunn placed these larva in damp sand and twenty-five 
days later the adult flies appeared. 

Brooks and I never were infested more than a few days 
before we got rid of the beasts. Dunn's incredible patience 
and penetrating observations mark him as a pioneer with 
the spirit of a born investigator. 



192 Naturalist at Large 

November 27. Larvae Nos. i and 3 were quiet and 
gave very little trouble during the night, but this 
morning they became active and protruded so far that 
I thought they were about to emerge. No. 3 con- 
tinued more or less movement during the early morn- 
ing and the dressing was removed several times to see 
what was taking place. At each time the larva was 
partly out of the hole, but it always withdrew again 
after coming out about so far. At 10 a.m. a movement 
was felt on my skin at the lesion and upon examination 
the larva was found to be coming out. It appeared to 
be doing very little struggling, yet it slowly came from 
the hole and dropped over on my arm. 

I may add that I have never yet seen a howler monkey 
that was not infested by these botflies, nor have I ever seen 
a marmoset or other species of monkey that was. The 
howlers evidently do not know how to get rid of them 
and I have, on two occasions at least, found a howler 
monkey that had fallen in a dying condition to the forest 
floor, evidently seriously weakened by a heavy infesta- 
tion of these awful fly larvae. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Panama 



I 



THINK nine friends out of ten, if asked to speculate 
on the best job I had ever done in my life, would agree 
that the help I was able to give the Barro Colorado Island 
Laboratory ranked first. 

The story is not without drama. It began in a drab, bick- 
ering meeting of scientists in Washington, and was fol- 
lowed by the organization of an "Institute" which existed 
only on paper and which apparently was unlikely ever to 
serve a useful purpose. Then, with the flooding of Gatun 
Lake in Panama, came the realization that an island was 
created out of what had once been a tropical hilltop. James 
Zetek, Richard Strong, and William Morton Wheeler per- 
suaded Governor Morrow to set the island aside for scien- 
tific purposes, and thus in 1923 imaginations began to kin- 
dle. This letter of Dr. Wheeler's tells its own story: — 

Washington, D. C. 
July 7, 192s 
My dear Fairchild: — 

I have just returned from Woods Hole where I had 
a long talk with Dr. Schramm in regard to the Barro 
Colorado Laboratory. On my return to Boston I also 
talked over the matter with Dr. Barbour. Both of these 
gentlemen feel, and I heartily agree with them, that it 
would be advisable for the Tropical Plant Research 



194 Naturalist at Large 

Foundation to incorporate and take this laboratory 
under its wing as one of the places in which researches 
in tropical botany and zoology could be carried on. 
We also feel strongly that you ought to take over the 
supervision of this laboratory and probably other trop- 
ical laboratories, such as the new marine laboratory 
which President Porras is founding in Panama City, 
and let us help you in developing them. . . . 

I take it that students of plant diseases and the eco- 
nomic entomologists would be glad to have a num- 
ber of stations in which they could carry on investiga- 
tions under different conditions in the American trop- 
ics. The zoologists have usually taken the lead in the 
development of marine stations but have always made 
room for the botanists who desire to carry on inves- 
tigations in these institutions. Since botany and zool- 
ogy can no longer be separated, I believe it would be 
admirable if the botanists could take these various 
tropical laboratories under their wings and let the 
zoologists come in to help them. This seems to me to 
be the more proper because the plant life of the tropics 
is such a tremendous and basic affair and so essential 
to the development of all animal life in those re- 
gions. . . . 

I do hope that you will think favorably of this mat- 
ter, which I should like very much to present to you in 
greater detail. This would be best accomplished in 
conversation. I am so glad to learn that you are en- 
thusiastic about the Barro Colorado proposition. We 
can get Mr. Zetek to look after the laboratory when 
no investigators are there. I contemplate going to Pan- 




.'^ 







^-'■-c. 



Plioto by F. jr. Hiiiiiic-ccll 

The author with three Indians near 
Garachinc, western Panama, 1922 




Photo bv James Zctek 



The Laboratory at Barro Colorado Island 

To the kit of the Diabi building vtay be seen the roof of the author's little cabin. 

Directly behind it and a little farther np the hill is Frank Chapman s house. Ja7/ies 

Zetek's is to the right and shortly below the main building 



Panama 195 

ama during the summer of 1924 with one or two of 
my students, and was delighted to hear that you are 
thinking of being there with your son. Dr. Barbour 
and I have arranged with Zetek to have one of the 
Canal Zone buildings taken down and put up on the 
island, so that probably within a few months the sta- 
tion will be open for work. Even at the present time 
Mr. Shannon of the Bureau of Entomology in Wash- 
ington is living in a shack on the island and doing 
work on mosquitoes for Dr. Dyar. We may say that 
the laboratory is actually operating. It is now up to 
you and the Tropical Plant Research Foundation to 
give it a good boost. 

With kindest greetings to yourself and Mrs. Fair- 
child, I remain 

Yours sincerely, 

W. M. Wheeler 

The fact that Wheeler planned to be in Panama the sum- 
mer of 1924 meant that, if any building was to be done, 
then was the time. So James Zetek and I put our heads 
together. The idea that this marvelous stand of virgin 
forest, nearly eight square miles in area, might be made 
permanently available for biological studies gave impetus 
to us both. 

There was no appropriation, but gifts of cash came in 
from David Fairchild, Barbour Lathrop, and others. For 
my part, the building was made possible by the fact that 
I was particularly flush in 1923. In those days, if you were 
willing to speculate you could make money, and I had 
quite a lot on hand at the time — enough to buy out the 



196 Naturalist at Large 

settlers who had homesteaded and started to grow bananas 
on the island, and also to put up the buildings, lay a track, 
and set up a hoisting engine to carry supplies up the 362 
steps from the lake shore to the Laboratory at the crest. 
A tremendous amount of credit goes to Zetek for his in- 
geniousness and foresight. He and I bought an amount of 
material from the Panama Canal's obsolete stores. The beg- 
ging and borrowing we did from the Army and Navy as 
well as the Canal officials — borrowing especially in the 
shape of brains — put us in debt to many people. 

The question in the beginning was how we were to re- 
ceive the Federal recognition which was necessary if we 
were to operate efficiently in the Canal Zone. Someone 
remembered the paper "Institute for Research in Tropical 
America," and the Barro Colorado Island Laboratory was 
committed to its care. From then on, the annual reports 
were made to and circulated by the National Research 
Council, and to all intents and purposes the Laboratory was 
the Institute. 

This arrangement made it possible for us to give visiting 
scientists commissary privileges, hospital facilities, railroad 
passes, free entry through the customs, and the right of resi- 
dence in the Canal Zone. It also made possible the purchase 
of ice and all other supplies and their delivery at the Frijoles 
Station of the Panama Railroad by the Commissary De- 
partment of the Panama Canal. If it had not been possible 
to devise this quick tie-up, the whole development of the 
Laboratory would have been long delayed. 

The Laboratory and its work have now become widely 
known. Thousands of people have read My Tropical Air 




Photo by T. Barbour 

One of the giant Bombacopsis on Barro Colorado Island 




Shore-line vegetation at Barro Colorado Island 



Panama 197 

Castle by Frank Chapman, the great ornithologist. My 
pride in having built the castle is very deep, not only be- 
cause it provided the setting for Chapman's matchless 
stories, nor because at least four hundred scientific papers 
have been based on studies made there, but for an entirely 
different reason. The building of this Laboratory has made 
it possible for the teacher of biology with a small salary to 
have the thrill of Wallace, Bates, and Spruce when they 
first set foot in the Amazon jungle. 

Our incomparable forest, within a hundred feet of the 
Laboratory door, is as fine as anything to be seen in Brazil. 
The great espave trees tower up almost out of gimshot to 
where their side branches stretch out and interlace with 
those of other trees, each branch as large as a giant white 
oak and covered with a garden of ferns, orchids, and 
bromeliads. Near the spot which I have in mind there is a 
giant Bombacopsis tree, its trunk supported by natural fly- 
ing buttresses, making stalls where one could stable ele- 
phants. 

To see these trees and to walk our carefully marked 
tiails provide all the illusion of exploration, but with this 
great difference: we have pure drinking water. By care- 
fully testing the blood of our employees, we can keep ma- 
laria off the island so that students can walk our trails at 
night with a headlight; if one is ill, our launch crosses the 
Canal in forty minutes to Frijoles Station on the Panama 
Railroad; there is a hospital car on every train, and less 
than an hour's ride is Gorgas Hospital at Ancon, as fine 
as any in the world. Our establishment provides comfort 
huZ not luxuries. Our food is simple, hence served at a 
small cost. A high-school teacher of biology who had 



198 Naturalist at Large 

saved up $250 before the war could go and live in the 
midst of the jungle, with monkeys, parrots and toucans, 
trogons, motmots, and innumerable other denizens of the 
lowland tropical rain forest easily observed on every hand. 

Strictly speaking, the Canal Zone of Panama is not a 
possession of the United States. It is, however, a per- 
petual leasehold, and differs from all other American in- 
terests in the tropics in that it is on the mainland. There 
are two bits of mainland tropical rain forest in the posses- 
sion of the United States: one is Barro Colorado Island and 
the other is the forest reserve which I persuaded Governor 
Harry Burgess to set aside along that stretch of the road 
from Summit to Madden Dam which is within the Canal 
Zone. The rest has been cut down to provide room for 
cultivation. The climate at Summit is somewhat drier than 
it is on the island, and the two spots of forest are quite 
different, botanically and faunally. 

Until a year ago the Laboratory was supported by table 
fees, small sums paid by ten or a dozen institutions to en- 
able officers and students serving them to stay at the 
Laboratory at special rates. The Governor of the Panama 
Canal allowed us railroad passes, the right to purchase at 
the commissaries, and hospital privileges. But a year or 
more ago the island was taken over by the Government 
and renamed the Canal Zone Biological Area. The Institute 
is now an independent entity like the National Academy 
of Sciences and the Smithsonian Institution. 

We are no longer tenants at will who could be ousted 
by an unsympathetic governor, and we have a permissive 
appropriation of $10,000 a year which Congress quite 
characteristically fails to appropriate. Now, of course, the 



Panama 199 

institutions, being eager to save a dollar wherever possible, 
have tried to welsh out of paying their table fees on the 
ground that we are on easy street financially. Just the re- 
verse is true, and it looks as if the old familiar pastime of 
making up deficits might continue. The island is now gov- 
erned by a board consisting of the Secretaries of War, In- 
terior, and Agriculture, and three Naturalists, with the 
President of the National Academy of Sciences as Chair- 
man of the Board. If it were not for the amazing wizardry 
with which Paul Brockett weaves his way through the in- 
tricate maze of Washington red tape and the equal skill 
with which James Zetek treads the same path in the Canal 
Zone, my unpaid job as the Executive Officer of the Canal 
Zone Biological Area would be a far more arduous pastime 
than it is. 

I was in the Canal Zone frequently between 19 16 and 
1936 and was often included when parties were made up 
to visit the Chillibrillo Caves on the headwaters of the Httle 
stream of the same name. These caverns were the objective 
of many a pleasant picnic. I went several times with Meri- 
wether Walker and his wife, Edith, when he was Gov- 
ernor of the Canal. We assembled at Gamboa, took a police 
launch, went up the Chagres River, then the Chilibre, and 
so into the Chillibrillo and to the caves. 

My hosts allowed me to wear old clothes, and I col- 
lected in the caves while the picnic luncheon was being 
prepared. Of course on these excursions I had first-class 
electric lights, one on a headband and one portable. The 
unbelievably large bat population in these caves was ex- 
traordinary, not only for the number of individuals but 



200 Naturalist at Large 

for the tremendous variety of species. In fact, on every 
visit I found a bat or two that had not been taken pre- 
viously, and I suspect the same thing would happen if I 
returned there tomorrow. 

The caves were incredibly noisome and hot, and I was 
certainly a mess at the end of each sortie. I recall that one 
day I rode back on top of the launch because I was in no 
wise fit company for the ladies inside. The Governor joined 
me on the roof, and we sat looking at the scene of exquisite 
beauty which unfolded itself as we passed bend after bend 
of the Chagres River. The little clearings were not con- 
spicuous, and great stretches of untouched tropical forest 
billowed away on either hand. The guayacan trees were 
in bloom and the whole scene looked as if some giant had 
passed over it with an overflowing bucket of molten gold, 
big blobs representing giant forest trees and little spatters 
the lesser trees poking their heads up through the roof of 
the jungle. This is one of the most spectacular shows staged 
by nature anywhere in the world. It is a pity the bloom lasts 
only a few days. 

Looking out at this scene, the Governor said to me, "If 
only this country wasn't cursed with malaria." That re- 
mark set me thinking. There we were, riding on the river 
whose very name is synonymous with pestilence. I sup- 
pose there are millions of people who have heard of 
Chagres fever and who have never heard of the Chagres 
River. 

If only malaria had not come to America, how different 
everything would have been. Is it not a fair assumption 
that when Alexander's army brought it from India to 
Greece the light of Greece waned? It is not unreasonable 




Our tent (on the left) by an almost dry stream in eastern Panama 

The hidhms viade its change the location of this cavip as they 
feared a sudden "'cresciente''' at night 




Churima's house, where we hung our mosquito bars on various 

occasions 



Panama 201 

to suppose that the same thing happened with Rome. 
Whether it reached America with Columbus or not seems 
very doubtful. I am not a medical historian, but it is quite 
obvious that Cortez, equipped as he was and with the 
number of followers that he had, could never have marched 
from Mexico City to where Trujillo in Honduras is now, 
if malaria had stalked abroad in the land. No disease in the 
entire world causes so much suffering and incapacity as 
does this one; and for the untold number with whom qui- 
nine does not agree, the use of this drug, either as a pro- 
phylactic or as a curative agent, means suffering almost as 
bad as that of the disease. 

One dreads the temptation which some day is going to 
come to many people to motor over the Pan-American 
Highway when it is completed. They little realize the 
misery which will be theirs from carelessness or lack of 
knowledge in warding off this disease. It can be done, but 
it cannot be done easily. 

Probably the fault is entirely mine, but the published 
reasons that moved the Peabody Museum to excavate at 
the Sitio Conte in Code, Panama, are not correctly set 
forth in the Memoirs describing the finds. The matter is 
not important, but it illustrates in a peculiar degree how 
chance governs all sorts of things besides our digestion. My 
wife and I were in Panama in August 1928. We were 
house guests of Meriwether and Edith Walker. I re- 
member the question of shopping came up one morning at 
the breakfast table, and I said to Rosamond and Edith 
that I hoped they would stay out of shops in the con- 
gested center of Panama City — because there was an 



202 Naturalist at Large 

epidemic of severe influenza running riot at the time. 

Fortunately they paid no attention whatever to my ad- 
vice and, poking about, they went into the funny Httle rat's 
nest of a curio shop kept by an old German named Peter 
Hauck. It was the most slovenly, messiest little hole in the 
wall that anyone ever saw. But Peter Hauck, for all his 
squalor, was a shrewd, intelligent person. They bought a 
few objects as ornaments. I recall an interesting little stone 
figure which Rosamond gave to Edith as a memento of 
our visit. At noontime I admired this and asked where it had 
come from. I was told, and Rosamond added that she had 
seen an extraordinary little stone pelican partially en- 
sheathed in gold which looked utterly unhke the gold fig- 
ures which are frequently dug up in the Province of Chiri- 
qui and are even more frequently faked for sale to tourists. 
She said that Hauck had a number of other things from the 
same locality, but that he would sell them only to a museum 
and that he did not want the collection dispersed. 

Well, I could not wait to get to Peter Hauck's shop after 
luncheon was over. I found that he quite obviously was 
securing material from a region that promised to be a rich 
treasury. I bought the collection and had it shipped to 
Cambridge. My address being given in care of a museum, 
he was entirely willing to dispose of it at a quite reasonable 
figure. 

When the specimens arrived and were examined, con- 
siderable correspondence ensued with Mr. Karl Curtis, an 
ardent amateur of archaeology and an old employe of the 
Panama Canal, a warm and sterling friend of us all. He it 
was who found that the floods of 1927 had washed deeply 
into the sides of the river in the pastures of Don Miguel 



Panama 203 

Conte, near Penonome in the Province of Code. Dr. Ed- 
ward Reynolds, then Director of the Peabody Museum 
in Cambridge, persuaded Professor Tozzer and Professor 
Hooton to go to Panama, to visit the Conte family and to 
draw up a contract allowing the Peabody Museum to carry 
on explorations. These excavations produced vast stores 
of pre-Columbian objects in pottery, stone, gold, and even 
emeralds — and the whole discovery was the result of not 
taking my advice about Panama City and the influenza 
epidemic. I may add, also, that no one got influenza. 

I wish I had my daughter Mary's ability to paint a pic- 
ture in words. If I had, I could make it possible for you to 
see with me the loveHness of the coming of day on Barro 
Colorado Island. I have a mind to try. I will assume that 
you, my gentle reader, are another mere man, of course. 
Otherwise I could hardly say what I am going to say with 
propriety. How would you like to come and spend the 
night with me? I have a spare Gold Medal cot which can 
be set up in a moment, and the Spaniards taught us genera- 
tions ago that canvas drawn taut was the ideal substratum 
on which to sleep in the tropics. Anyone who camps in the 
North knows that you get colder from below and must 
sleep on blankets more than under blankets. But not down 
here. You can have a thin sheet to pull up just before dawn, 
but otherwise we won't have to bother about bedding. 

I have insomnia and awake with ease, so that if I hear 
any footsteps on our roof I will call you and we will step 
out with my big electric flashlight. It is likely that you 
will get a glimpse of one of our several species of pretty 
little opossums, or a night monkey, brown and furry, with 



204 Naturalist at Large 

the puckish little face of a very imp. Of course if it should 
be rainy, you would hear some interesting frog calls, but 
I can promise you nothing in the way of an amphibian 
chorus to be compared with the unbelievable roar and din, 
a veritable biological boiler factory, which you can hear 
around the University of Florida at Gainesville — in the 
spring — and learn a lot about if you have Professor Archie 
Carr to identify the calls for you. This, as I say, I cannot 
promise, but you will hear some frogs and toads, and in- 
numerable insects. I shall set the alarm clock for about five 
forty-five. We are near enough to the Equator so that 
there is only a few minutes' difference in the length of days 
through the year and, as you no doubt know, day comes 
and night falls quickly in the zone between the Tropic 
of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. 

We will assume now that the alarm has rung and step 
out on our Httle screened porch, which presses directly 
against the front of the great forest. Sit down with me in 
your pajamas, so as not to waste time, as the sky begins 
to pale, just as the first pair of parrots flies overhead, their 
acrimonious vituperations, one to the other, bespeaking 
their haste to reach some distant feeding tree. By great 
good fortune a pair of macaws may fly over, but they are 
rare and have almost disappeared from tliis part of Panama. 
If they should pass, they will give a demonstration of avian 
billingsgate completely unrivaled. If you want to hear 
paroxysms of connubial discontent shrieked out over the 
treetops, listen now. It is too early to watch for the toucans, 
but they will volplane over our heads before long. 

Look out and see that great wliite balsa-tree blossom 
tremble. Its pallid chalice seems to tip sidewise. As it grows 



Panama 205 

a little lighter, you will see a white-faced monkey sipping 
his eye opener. The great blossom contains rain water, 
some nectar, no doubt, the mixture generously spiced with 
drowned insects, so that the draught is surely nourishing. 
He is only one of a dozen or more that spent the night 
roosting near by. A pair of marmosets bicker on a great 
vine. Now it is light enough for the howling monkeys high 
overhead to open their roaring competition. Each one, 
great and small, sounds certainly as if pre-eminence in 
roaring had suddenly become a most ardently desired at- 
tainment. 

Wild figs, so-called (they are not figs at all), begin to 
sound lil<:e giant raindrops hitting the jungle floor. This 
means that the Pavos are up feeding in the tall tree and 
shaking off more fruit than they devour. These great birds, 
locally called' turkeys, are in truth not distantly related to 
those birds. Ornithologists will recall them as Penelope. 
Now the colony of oropendulas awakens, enormous orioles, 
their great nests swinging, not from the breeze, for the 
morning is dead still, but as the birds hop in or out and thus 
set them in motion. They keep up a constant musical clat- 
ter, quite like the janghng of a peal of bells, and Panama- 
nians declare they are talking Chinese. What they do they 
certainly do incessantly. 

Coatis, their long tails erect and curved and their long 
Paul Pry noses sniffing about the lawns, jump for a cricket 
or mumble a fallen fig with equal gusto. As with all the 
tribe of the raccoons and bears, their appetite is as liberally 
omnivorous as my own. Perhaps this morning, as often 
happens, there will be a short, sharp shower of rain and 
everything will become hushed and still, and as the shower 



206 Naturalist at Large 

passes the pageant of sounds, if one may use such a simile, 
is re-enacted and you have the fun of listening all over 
again. 

Nothing ever impressed me more than when Johnny Ses- 
sums, who was General Preston Brown's flying aide, once 
told me that 5000 feet over the island he could see what 
looked like blue sparks snapping against a background of 
green velvet. I knew at once that it was the sun striking 
the wings of the giant Morpho butterflies, the upper sur- 
face of whose wings is a solid sheet of metallic azure. This 
sight I have never seen, though my daughter Mary B. and 
my wife have flown with him high enough to see far out 
into both oceans. But they do not get seasick as I do. 

There are twenty-five miles of shore Hne to our six 
square miles of island, which shows that it is deeply em- 
bayed. The island supports 1 800 species of flowering plants, 
about 70 species of mammals, and something over 275 spe- 
cies of birds. This is the equivalent of what might be seen 
in Massachusetts in a year of observation of resident and 
migrant birds together, and Massachusetts is 1366 times 
larger than Barro Colorado Island. But these figures help 
no impression of the beauty of the place. 

Probably few spots in the world have provided more 
intellectual thrills or satisfied more intellectual curiosity 
than has Barro Colorado Island. Every naturalist, be he 
high-school teacher or independent investigator or college 
professor of biology, craves a chance to see a tropical rain 
forest, if only for once in his life; and many who have had 
their first chance on Barro Colorado Island have returned 
there again and again. 



Panama 207 

The Laboratory is now closed, maintained by a skeleton 
crew in charge of Mr. Zetek. The tropical forest is so in- 
tolerant of the invasion of its realms by man that all ves- 
tiges of our occupation would disappear in a short time if 
we did not keep a crew there. Even our "graveyard" would 
soon disappear. This consists of stumps of wood prepared 
with all sorts of materials supposedly or actually useful in 
protecting the wood against the ravages of termites, the 
greatest scourge affecting wooden buildings in the tropics. 
These test sticks, planted in the ground at exactly the same 
depth, under the same conditions, and carefully watched, 
are now, after fifteen years of Mr. Zetek's penetrating ob- 
servation, beginning to produce information of great value. 

I don't know whether I shall ever see Barro Colorado 
again, but I certainly hope that I may, if only to sail by it 
through the Canal in the month of March, when the 
guayacan trees lift their lofty heads above the forest top, 
each as glittering as a golden dome, while the purple 
Jacarandas, the pale pink almendros, and the Palo Santo 
with flowers as crimson as arterial blood make a scene of 
incomparable splendor. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Scientists and Philosophers 



I 



NEVER could see eye to eye with my Grandmother 
Barbour in her great admiration for Thoreau. As I said 
in my introduction to Concord River by William Brewster, 
I feel that Thoreau's ego was always too near the surface 
and he was too constantly crusading. He seems to me 
smug and self-satisfied, preening himself for his "passive 
resistance," though why one should seek credit for not 
paying one's taxes is hard to see. Civil disobedience was as 
natural to Thoreau as it is to Gandhi, and however saintly 
the latter may appear to his followers, to most Americans 
in this struggle for survival he cuts a slightly ridiculous 
figure. 

Thoreau loved to philosophize, and it has always seemed 
to me that his natural-history notes, though written in a 
charming English style, were those of a man with a very 
inadequate background. WilHam Brewster, for many years 
the Curator of Birds at the Agassiz Museum, was much 
better, a peerless observer and one not given to morahzing. 

Some years ago my friend Lawrence Henderson got all 
tittered up about Pareto. I had my tongue in my cheek, but 
finally consented to buy Pareto's two huge volumes, Traite 
de Sociologie General. I simply could not suffer through 
it. David Fairchild and others of my friends, including 
Wheeler, ate it alive, but my poor mundane mind saw 



Scientists and Philosophers 209 

nothing but the words. It was said that Mussolini had been 
considerably influenced by studying Pareto. As I look back 
on it, it may perhaps be concluded that this was not an 
overwhelming recommendation for the book. I like to read 
books concerning history, biography, travel, adventure, 
detective stories, and shrewd observations concerning ani- 
mals or plants. But philosophy is completely beyond my 
ken; it not only bores me, it irritates me, and after a bout 
of Pareto I become absolutely unfit for human companion- 
ship. 

The men whom I have derived the deepest satisfaction 
from meeting and thinking about have usually not been 
thinkers in the strict sense of the word. Time and again I 
have recalled the delight of meeting Wilham H. Ridley. 
He was Director of the Botanic Garden at Singapore when 
David Fairchild and Barbour Lathrop visited the Garden in 
1897. He was still Director when I presented my letter of 
introduction to him from Dr. George L. Goodale. It was 
Ridley alone, among all the directors of the gardens in 
British colonies throughout the tropical world, who began 
to experiment with the rubber seedlings distributed by 
Kew Gardens after the first batch of seed was bootlegged 
out from Brazil. He studied the variation in quality of the 
latex in the different trees and methods of tapping. Although 
it was slow in coming and the British and Dutch planters of 
the Malayan region took a lot of coaxing, when rubber 
culture once took hold it went forward with a rush. About 
the time Brazilian forest rubber reached $2.10 a pound, 
plantation rubber began to appear on the market and in a 
few years the Brazilian rubber town of Manaos was a de- 
serted city. Probably not one person in a thousand has ever 



210 Naturalist at Large 

heard Ridley's name, but yet the development of Malayan 
rubber owes more to him than to any other man. 

Chattincr once with Mr. Lowell in the President's office 
a few years ago, after we had been talking about some of 
the pecuUarities of my older colleagues, I said to him, "Why 
doesn't the present generation produce any of the curious 
figures that stalked across the Harvard stage a generation 
ago?" He turned and, with his charming and whimsical 
smile, said, "Buy a mirror." 

While I received my Bachelor's and Master's degree at 
the hands of President EHot, I received my Doctor's degree 
the first year that Mr. Lowell presided at Commencement. 
I had already become connected with the Museum at Har- 
vard in a modest way, so that I served Mr. Lowell during 
the entire time of his presidency, a fact which I look back 
upon with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, for no one 
ever served a more worthy master. 

I remember the day before he was to be inaugurated. 
We walked together across the Yard. He stood for a 
moment near Massachusetts Hall and surveyed the sea of 
seats which had been set up for the benefit of spectators 
on the morrow. He remarked, "It's hard for me to believe 
that so many people should want to come to see that show 
tomorrow." I rephed, "Mr. Lowell, if there were a gallows 
set up in the Yard and you were to be hanged on it, there 
would be five times as many people who would want to be 
here." He replied, "I guess you're right." Now this is not 
a very touching story, but the point is that Mr. Lowell 
was sufficiently humble-minded not to take offense, to 



Scientists and Philosophers 211 

observe that I was a bit of an ass, or make any other such 
remark, which would have been perfectly justified. He 
was a realist then, as always. 

Professor Nathaniel Southgate Shaler was a curious, 
lovable figure. He offered a so-called research course and I 
happened to be the only student in it the year of his death. 
It was during my study with him at his home that he told 
me a memorable story. I wish I could conjure up a picture 
of our meeting. Shaler was slender, all wire. He spoke 
rapidly and with great precision of utterance, and from 
time to time he stroked his beard and then ran his hand up 
the front of his head, so that his hair frequently stood up in 
a way which matched his beard quite strikingly. His plan 
was to prepare a simile to present in one of his lectures in 
Geology 4; he wished to illustrate the fact that it was 
fortunate indeed that we had the phenomenon of death. 
What, he argued, would the earth be like if every animal 
that had ever been born had continued to live forever? 
I allowed that it might be difficult to make this most 
unhappy possibility very vivid. "Nonsense," replied Shaler, 
"I have thought of an example. Given a single partheno- 
genetic plant louse, one of those little bugs which can re- 
produce its kind without the presence of the opposite sex. 
Now, if all the progeny of a single plant louse should live, I 
have calculated that at the end of a year we should be 
faced with a column of plant lice having a diameter 
equivalent to the distance from Quincy to Brattle Street 
and thrusting itself upward through space with three times 
the velocity of Hght." Having made this perfectly astound- 



212 Naturalist at Large 

ing statement, Shaler looked at me sharply. I said, "You 
win. Professor. You have certainly made this as vivid as it 
could conceivably be" — which certainly was true. 

I had a letter not long ago from an old friend who knew 
that I was writing some of my recollections. He said, "I 
think that a chapter would not be amiss laying stress on 
the importance of scientific education." 

Well, that's just what I'm not going to do. If there is 
anything that is being overstressed at the present time it is 
the importance of scientific education. I should much 
rather advise every boy to prepare himself with all the 
Latin and Greek which he can pack in, round this off with 
good English reading and a modern language or two, and he 
will have the firm basis for any education. 

I think the scientist is born, not made; I know the 
mathematician is, and the physicist and the chemist as well. 
These sciences are so inherently unattractive in themselves 
and involve so much drudgery that no one ever tackles 
them seriously who is not born with an innate urge to study 
them. 

I entered Harvard College, of course, under the old 
plan with lots of separate examinations during several 
consecutive days. I am happy to say that I passed well in 
Latin, Greek, and German, though I failed utterly in 
physics — a condition which I should still be trying to 
work off if it had not been for the sympathetic understand- 
ing of Professor Wallace Sabine. I remarked once to 
Mr. Lowell that I regretted never having studied history 
or government while I was an undergraduate. He replied 
that he could not see why I should feel that way about 



Scientists and Philosophers 213 

it considering the variety of my reading since I left col- 
lege. He added, however: "You wouldn't have made up 
your Greek and Latin that way." Of course he was entirely 
correct. I think Latin and Greek have to be drilled in as 
the foundation on which to build later studies of foreign 
languages. Although I can't read either of the ancient 
tongues at all fluently now, they help me make pleasant 
new generic names like Hoplophryne or Pomatops or 
Suillomeles. 

During my Harvard years I have been asked a hundred 
times whether Louis or Alexander Agassiz was the greater 
man. The mere fact that I am the unworthy occupant of 
their chair does not necessarily make my opinion of value. 
Nevertheless, because I knew many of their pupils, and 
had the great privilege of knowing Alexander myself, I 
might reasonably be expected to have formed an opinion. 
But I was always noncommittal until one afternoon I had 
a long conversation on this subject with Mr. Lowell just a 
short time after he had resigned as President of Harvard 
College. 

Mr. Lowell argued in this way: Both men had been in- 
terested in geology at one stage of their careers. Louis as a 
young man gave to the world his immortal studies of glacia- 
tion with all they impHed. Glacial geology has now come 
to be a science by itself. The effect of the concept that 
there was a polar ice cap has had a bearing not only on 
modern interpretations of geology and oceanography, but 
on zoography and the modern interpretation of the dis- 
tribution of plants as well. This work alone would have 
given Louis undying fame. Alexander's studies of coral 



214 Naturalist at Large 

reefs were carried on later in life, and resulted in the ac- 
cumulation of an enormous number of data which have 
been useful, but he died without ever correlating and 
synthesizing his findings for the benefit of others. And 
therefore, Mr. Lowell concluded, Louis was the greater 
man. 

Professor Stanley Gardiner conveyed more informa- 
tion as to the probable origin of atolls in the little bulletin 
published by the Museum in Cambridge than was con- 
tained in the many memoirs of Alexander Agassiz. No doubt 
Mr. Agassiz's untimely death kept him from completing 
his work, but the fact remains that he did not finish it. Both 
men were artists. Here, in my opinion, Alexander un- 
questionably excelled. Both did important work in embry- 
ology, and here again I think Alexander's work is superior. 
For one reason, it was done with more modern microscopic 
equipment than was available when his father did his work 
on the embryology of the turtles. 

Both were really great taxonomists. Louis Agassiz's 
work on the fossil fishes stands to this day. His descriptions 
have never been excelled. The classifications have of neces- 
sity changed with the advance of knowledge, but his great 
volumes on the fossil fishes, written when he was a young 
man, are extraordinarily fine contributions to knowl- 
edge. Alexander's work on the sea urchins, of which 
group he was the world's authority, stands out with the 
same preeminent brilliance as his father's work on the 
fossil fishes. To this point I think we may truthfully say 
that both men have run neck and neck, with Louis a Httle 
in the lead, in that his geological work was far more im- 
portanr. 




Photo by IV. McM. U'oodwoitli 



Alexander Agassiz and the Sultan of the Maldive Islands 
Aboard the ''ADira,' i^oi 



Scientists and Philosophers 215 

From this point on, however, candor forces one to admit 
that Louis takes another great step in advance. He revolu- 
tionized the teaching of biology in America, and the effect 
of this was felt all over the world. Introducing laboratory 
methods to all classrooms of school and college was a real 
innovation, and his marvelous ability as a lecturer made 
him one of the most revered and popular geniuses in 
America. No other naturalist was ever known to so many 
people. None was ever so universally beloved. Alexander 
was too shy to teach, nor did he lecture well. As a matter of 
fact I think I heard him speak on only one occasion, and 
it was obvious he hated to do it just as much as I do. The 
tragic death of his lovely young wife but a few days after 
the death of his father had a deep effect upon his inner- 
most nature, as any frightful grief affects a man. He had a 
quick, fiery temper, sharp likes and dislikes, but beneath 
his rather forbidding and stern exterior he had a warm, 
affectionate nature, and he was always kind and encouraging 
to young men. I recall that we brought back a strange 
sponge from our first very amateurish dredging trip in the 
Bahamas, and he took the greatest interest in helping me 
try to find its name, admiring its beauty and otherwise 
showing a friendly interest. 

His father was no better businessman than I am. Alex- 
ander developed great mines, made money for himself and 
many others, and was unbelievably generous to the Museum. 
To be sure he was interested in some departments and 
neglected others. But who had a better right? Mr. W. E. 
Cory told me that he considered Mr. Agassiz very extrava- 
gant as a mine executive, but here again the proof of the 
pudding is that the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company 



216 Naturalist at Large 

paid more millions in dividends than one likes to think of 
in these rather threadbare days. 

I have tried to set forth my opinion realistically and 
fairly. As I have said, Mr. Lowell maintained that Louis 
Agassiz was the greater figure of the two. He was un- 
questionably correct in the final analysis, but both were 
very great men, and their like I do not meet now. 

For years Uncle Bill Wheeler and I projected a book 
on the contribution made to the study of natural history 
by amateurs. Then came his untimely death, and I have 
not thought again of the project until now. I received a few 
days ago with the compliments of the Carnegie Foundation 
a book entitled Th'e Amateur Scientist by W. Stephen 
Thomas. This sets forth in brief but fascinating form the 
contributions of the amateurs not only to biology but to 
physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, and other 
disciplines in their widest sense. In biology alone think of 
the effect of the work of Darwin, in entomology of Sir 
John Lubbock, Henri Fabre, or of Lord Rothschild, in 
geology of Hugh Miller and Frank Buckland, in genetics 
of the monk Gregor Mendel. 

In natural history no name stands forth more pre- 
eminently than that of the Reverend J. G. Wood, whose 
books have led children on to an interest in animal life for 
well over half a century. I can bear witness that they 
fascinated me as a youngster, and that I read and reread 
many of them until they were completely worn-out. Take 
the case of Gilbert W^hite, for instance, whose Natural 
History of Selborne has been translated into many lan- 
guages and appeared in numberless editions. Even herpetol- 



Scientists and Philosophers 217 

ogy, which generally speaking has not been popular among 
amateurs of natural history, had its champion in Dr. J. E. 
Holbrook of Charleston, South Carolina, whose America?! 
Herpetology is a classic to this day. 

While this list is by no means to be despised, and while 
it would be hard to match what it has meant to the world 
with an equal number of names of college professors, it 
becomes infinitely more impressive if we add a few names 
drawn from other fields. Isaac Newton was a govern- 
ment clerk. Leeuwenhoek, the father of microscopy, was 
a Dutch merchant. Joseph Priestley, always thought of as 
a chemist, was in reality a parson. Sir Frederick William 
Herschel was an organist, and an astronomer and mathe- 
matician only on the side, so to speak. 

I have given in barest outline what Wheeler and I often 
talked over in the Eateria, for we lunched together 1087 
times after we began to keep the record of the Eateria Janu- 
ary I, 1930. Of course, there are others, like Benjamin 
Franklin, of equal fame and many more whom we spoke of 
that I do not recall. The whole matter has lain completely 
dormant in my mind for a number of years. Stephen Thomas 
has made an excellent book and recalled these pleasant con- 
versations with Wheeler. The subject is a fascinating one 
not only in the recording of what the amateur has done in 
the past, but in stimulating speculation of what the future 
may bring forth. 

I wrote to my friend Henry James asking whom I should 
thank for having sent me Mr. Thomas's book. He answered 
giving me the information desired, and continued with an 
observation which I think is well worthy of record. He 
wrote: — 



218 Naturalist at Large 

When I was on the Board of Overseers, I was pretty- 
constantly on Visiting Committees that visited botani- 
cal and biological departments, and I got very much 
interested in a fact, as to which I worked up a lot of 
figures, for a report to the Overseers, viz., that the 
graduate students in biology are on the whole not 
graduates of Harvard College. The undergraduates 
who take much biology at Harvard don't pursue the 
subject except at the Medical School or elsewhere. 
And the implications and explanations of this, to you, 
perfectly familiar fact seemed to me quite interesting. 
What used to be called Natural History ought to be 
one of the best cultural studies. A man who cannot 
use his eyes and ears as he goes about in his physical 
environment and cannot learn about the universe ex- 
cept by digging himself into the stacks of the Widener 
Library and putting on a pair of spectacles is only 
half a man. But for some strange reason two genera- 
tions of scientists have chosen to treat amateur natural- 
ists as triflers, the systematist as a pedant; and the school 
teachers have failed pretty completely to do much with 
natural science. Crazy and deplorable! ! 

This is something which Howard Parker has also often 
spoken about. He has remarked on many occasions how few 
of his colleagues teaching biology in Cambridge are gradu- 
ates of Harvard College. Robert Jackson was until he 
retired. Henry Bigelow, Jeffries Wyman, and I are the 
only three on the present staff if I mistake not. 



PART III 

THE LEISURELY NATURALIST 



CHAPTER XIX 

Florida and Some Snakes 



D 



URING and after the last war the family lived in 
Palm Beach — a less sophisticated Palm Beach than that of 
today. Some months after the Armistice, when I finished 
the office work in Cuba, I spent a lot of time hunting and 
fishing in Florida with Frank Carlyle. Frank was much more 
than a guide, for I needed no guide in that part of the world. 
He was an ideal companion, an amazing shot, a born 
naturalist, and he had a homing sense which was uncanny. 
It was nothing to walk in the pinewoods for hours and 
then, feeling hungry, to suggest, "Frank, let's go to camp." 
And we would walk straight oif , with Frank in the lead, and 
pretty soon there would be the old Model T beachwagon 
and our tent. Frank was a good cook, too, and his quail 
and doves cooked with rice were succulent beyond belief. 
One day we put up a big flock of turkey which flew into 
a high strand of cypresses. It was too near dark to do any- 
thing with them, so on Frank's suggestion we turned in. 
About midnight he got up, went to town, and came back 
with a live hen turkey which he said he had borrowed. We 
went to where we thought our wild birds might be likely 
to fly down and tethered our hen by a long string to a young 
pine tree. Then we went off and hid. The sun came up 
hot and clear. We sat about, but something happened and 
we heard no yelps to indicate the approach of our wild 
birds. Before long we stretched out on the sand and were 



222 Naturalist at Large 

fast asleep. We dozed for perhaps an hour until we were 
suddenly awakened by the crack of a gun. We sat up to see 
the most surprised Seminole Indian any living man ever 
beheld. He had shot our tethered hen. We asked him to 
lunch, but he walked off in disgust. He made no move, 
however, to indicate that he thought the bird was his. 

We never hesitated to camp and to leave our things lying 
about if the spot we had chosen was near an Indian village 
or one of their temporary encampments. Crackers would 
sometimes steal, Indians never — at least, not in our experi- 
ence. I inadvertently used the word "cracker" then. Every- 
one knows that the native sons of Georgia and Florida are 
called by this name, but it was not until I stumbled on 
a simple statement in Bartram's Travels that I knew the 
derivation of the term. The corn crackers are those people 
who sincerely enjoy that delectable viand, grits and gravy; 
for grits, you know, are made of cracked corn. 

My father- and mother-in-law frequently joined us in 
our camp for the day. Mr. Dean Pierce was almost blind 
but was able to fish with real enjoyment. Mrs. Pierce, the 
loveliest mother-in-law any man ever had, would sit in a 
Livingstone chair in a shady place and sew or knit and 
enjoy the warmth and the spring songs of the birds. One 
day Mr. Pierce, Frank, and I were fishing in the canal which 
had just been made, running from West Palm Beach to 
Canal Point on Lake Okeechobee. When the canal was 
first dug and its banks had not begun to wash down, the 
water was deep and the bass fishing excellent. 

One day I saw the corner of what I knew was an ele- 
phant's tooth sticking out of the canal bank, just at water 
level. I asked Frank to row over to it, and I dug the tooth 



Florida and Some Snakes 223 

i 

free with my fingers, for it was buried in soft sand. Frank 
was utterly mystified; declared there had never been any 
circus near enough to suppose a dead elephant might have 
been buried where we were. I kept the spot in mind, how- 
ever, and some years afterwards went back while visiting 
Charles and Louise Choate at Pabn Beach. I got a good 
many interesting bones of a perfectly gigantic elephant 
and fragments of some other things as well, but after a 
month or more of steady digging it was quite obvious that 
the best of the material had been smashed up and dispersed 
in the process of digging the canal. This was a bitter dis- 
appointment. 

I have a shoulder blade of this elephant here in the 
Museum on exhibition now. I showed it to Dr. Forster 
Cooper, Director of the British Museum, when he last 
visited us. He said that beyond question it represented the 
largest individual elephant that he had ever seen, and he 
was widely experienced. The shoulder blade of a fair-sized 
mastodon which is mounted in our Museum is literally 
only about 60 per cent in height or area compared to our 
Palm Beach giant. I have just measured our mastodon, 
which stands about 8' 3" at the withers, probably 8' 8" or 
9" in life, whereas the shoulder blade from Palm Beach, 
assuming the proportions are more or less those of the 
mastodon, which they were not, for we know the Florida 
elephant was much longer-legged in proportion, indicates 
an animal 13' 10" high, and probably considerably more. 
There is an enormous elephant in the Amherst College 
Museum which Dr. Loomis bought from C. P. Singleton, 
who dug it up at Melbourne, Florida, only a few miles from 
Grandmother's old home. This is a huge animal, but not 



224 Naturalist at Large 

so big as the one I might have found with better luck. As 
a matter of fact, I should have had the one that Loomis 
got if I had heard of its existence just a little sooner. 

I traveled for years with a wonderful companion, 
Winthrop Sprague Brooks. He was a talented naturalist 
who, unfortunately, did not see fit to continue work in 
the field of zoology. We were together in Florida on many 
occasions and frequently collected around the Royal Palm 
Hammock in the very southern tip of the state. 

It was when the hard black roads were first put in and 
before the snakes which crawled out to warm themselves 
on particularly cool nights had been largely exterminated 
by motor travel as they have been now. This has happened 
to countless thousands upon thousands of reptiles. Indeed, 
like Professor Shaler, I once made a computation to prove 
this point. Fairchild and I, crossing on the road from Miami 
to Everglades — it was in the very early morning — got out 
to look at some birds. As far as one could see down the road 
there were little patches which reflected the rising sun's 
rays. Upon examination we found that each one of these 
was a remnant of a snake, mostly ground and polished bits 
of skin of young water moccasins. We measured the width 
of the road and counted the number of remnants in a 
distance of about one hundred yards and thus figured out 
the probable slaughter along the eighty miles from Miami to 
Ochopee. I have lost the slip of paper with our figuring but 
the number was absolutely unbelievable. 

Well, this sort of thing was happening in a minor way 
when Brooks and I were at the Royal Palm Hammock. I 
had seen several remnants in too bad shape to save as a 



Florida and Some Snakes 22 S 

specimen of what I was certain was a new king snake. 
Finally I got a beautiful specimen. I had nothing to put it 
in at the time I caught it but a stiff paper bag, which I 
carried back to Palm Beach and set down in our bedroom. 
It was late in the evening and I did nothing about preserv- 
ing the specimen that night. When I woke up the next 
morning, lo and behold the bag was empty. We pulled the 
room apart without finding our snake. I overlooked until 
later a rat hole under one of the doors. But we found out 
where the snake was before very long, for wild cries from 
the kitchen took me out there on the run. The snake, about 
five feet long, was neatly coiled up next the hot-water 
boiler, apparently entirely satisfied with life. 

This snake is now M. C. Z. number 12,456 and is the 
type of Lampropeltis brooksi, named for my friend. 

I believe a hundred years from now there is one thing 
that conchologists are certain to say — "It was a darn good 
thing old T. B. got interested in Ligs when he did." Ligs, 
be it known, are the tree snails of the genus Liguus. Their 
distribution is strictly limited to parts of Cuba, Isle of Pines, 
Haiti, the Florida Keys, and the extreme southern part of 
the peninsula of Florida itself. Moreover, in Florida they 
are not generally distributed. They are only associated with 
certain types of trees which grow in those enigmatical plant 
associations known as hammocks. 

The origin of these tiny islands of tropical broad-leaved 
trees scattered about in the pine lands is very difficult to 
explain, but the fact remains that once there were many of 
these hammocks scattered over south Florida and a few in 
the Keys. The very fact of their existence is proof of the 



226 Naturalist at Large 

presence of good soil. Years ago it became clear to me that 
the hammocks were going to be cut over for plantations and 
the snails would disappear. In fact, way back when I was 
a boy I observed "Saws," as the Negroes from the Bahamas 
are called down in the Miami area, using long bamboos to 
knock the snails out of the trees of the Great Brickell 
Hammock. They used them for fish bait. 

I made up my mind to get a representation of the snails 
from every hammock within the Umits of their distribution, 
roughly from south of a line drawn from Fort Lauderdale 
westward across the state. When I started out, our collec- 
tion of these marvelously beautiful creatures was but a few 
hundred, whereas today we have 43,235 individuals in the 
collection from 490 localities, representing 6$ named forms, 
with 48 types. For anyone with an eye for beauty, it is a joy 
to collect Ligs. The whole group of shells is in a state of 
flux, evolutionarily speaking, and there are over 60 color 
varieties. Some are pure white with pink stripes, some white 
with green, some exactly Hke tortoise shell, some pure 
white, varying also in size and form. These creatures indeed 
are so beautiful that a cult of Liguus collectors has come 
into being and thousands of specimens have been gathered 
up with no record whence they came. These are now re- 
posing in the hands of people who do not appreciate the 
story that they could tell if complete data had been kept 
when they were gathered. Ligs have disappeared from many 
localities where they were once abundant and I take satis- 
faction in the fact that before they disappeared we got the 
best collection of Liguus in the world. And none better 
will ever be made. 



Florida and Some Snakes 227 

A fishing trip to Everglades has been an annual feature 
of my visits with the Fairchilds at Coconut Grove. We have 
had the same boatman for years and, by planning far enough 
ahead, I have usually been able to get the same cottage for 
a few days' stay. The chance to visit this strange labyrinth 
of waterways, which comprises the deltas of half a dozen 
rivers emptying into the Bay of Ten Thousand Islands, has 
been fascinating because there have always been botanists 
involved. First, of course, there has been David Fairchild 
himself, though he was not present the day John Phillips 
was with me and we saw a big panther walk across an 
open glade in the mangrove forest. 

Of our Museum crowd, Ted White and Barbara and 
William Schevill know this country and helped to get an 
interesting lot of mammals, particularly raccoons. Years 
ago, E. W. Nelson showed that the raccoons of south 
Florida broke up into a lot of races, which he named. I was 
doubtful whether these races would stand up when long 
series of the animals were compared. As raccoons are ex- 
tremely abundant in the forests around Everglades, we 
made up a test series to see how much variation was shown 
among the individuals and found there was practically none. 
Nelson was right. 

My friends Harold and Sis Loomis with their Margie 
and Jim have often been most delightful and co-operative 
companions. They love to fish and they do not think I am 
crazy because I frequently sit back for hours at a time and 
just look into the woods as we troll slowly by. Last year 
Professor Elmer D. Merrill, the distinguished Director of 
the Arnold Arboretum — Elmira to me, though I do not 
know exactly why — was along, and I felt a patriotic thrill 



228 Naturalist at Large 

when he declared that the formation of shore plants in the 
mangrove area was as fine in their majestic size as anything 
in the PhiHppines, although, of comrse, infinitely less varied 
in the number of species of trees. 

During the last few years a good part of my time has been 
enjoyably and profitably expended in watching the excava- 
tion at the Thomas Farm in Gilchrist County, Florida. Years 
ago on a visit to the Museum of the Geological Survey in 
Tallahassee I saw the fragmentary fossils which Clarence 
Simpson found in 193 1 and which were sent to the Ameri- 
can Museum in New York for description. Some years 
passed by, and by 1938 it was quite obvious that with the 
Florida Survey being forced to specialize on economic 
geology, there was no likelihood that anyone was going to 
take an interest in the Thomas Farm locality. I decided to 
explore the locality thoroughly. Herman Gunter and 
Clarence Simpson of the Survey gave me every assistance, 
marked maps and made sketches. Finally, with some dif- 
ficulty, because there are numberless "Thomas Farms" in 
our county, the Raeford Thomas Farm was located in the 
scrub about eight miles northeast of Bell. A further dif- 
ficulty was that all the dim roads in the scrub change from 
year to year, as ruts get too deep and new routes are found. 

Gilchrist County is self-contained. Strangers do not come 
there, and the residents are suspicious of anyone who comes 
in from even a few miles away. With the aid of William 
and Barbara Schevill, who were my companions several 
years ago, we began to dig at the abandoned farm site. 
There were the remains of the old well, and it was on the 
spoil bank beside this well that Clarence Simpson found 



Florida and Some Snakes 229 

the horse teeth which were the first indications that there 
were Miocene mammals to be found here. He certainly de- 
serves the greatest credit for his instantaneous appreciation 
of the importance of this site. 

Deposits of Miocene Age throughout eastern North 
America are generally of marine origin. In the West they 
are abundantly developed and exposed in the Badlands, 
where an unbeUevable number of vertebrate fossils have 
been found. Before we dug at the Thomas Farm we had no 
picture of Miocene life on land in the Eastern United 
States that was of anything but the most fragmentary 

sort. 

By extreme good fortune we enlisted two extraordinary 
helpers. Uncle Frank Douglas and John Henry Miller were 
characters that might have stepped from the pages of The 
Yearling. In spite of the fact that we were strangers, hence 
very unwelcome in a region abounding in moonshine stills 
and where one of our near neighbors w^as a murderer who 
had left a neighboring state for excellent reasons, we became 
and are fast friends. John Henry and Uncle Frank can take 
out a badly crushed rhino skull and "make a biscuit of it," 
as we say, cutting down around it until it stands on top of a 
pinnacle, and plastering it up with strips of burlap soaked in 
thin plaster of Paris. Then, after this covering is hard, 
they undercut the fossil and turn it over, then plaster it up 
on the bottom side. 

From a little hole our dig has grown until now you could 
put a big house in the excavation. And the end is not yet, 
for while we have taken out i8 genera and 22 species of 
mammals, most of them undescribed and many of them 
curious and bizarre, we have indications that there are at 



230 Naturalist at Large 

least as many more represented by fragments too incomplete 
to stand as types of described species. 

After suffering a good deal of amateur blackmail and 
threats of violence from a neighbor who claimed to have 
a lease on the abandoned farm, we finally found that it was 
owned by a bank in Macon, Georgia, which had taken it by 
foreclosure many, many years before. I bought the forty 
acres around the dig, and now have deeded them to the 
University of Florida, which is located at Gainesville only 
forty-five miles away. 

The digging is finished for the time being, and we have 
built John Henry Miller a little house there of an archi- 
tecture typical of the country. Our house has a room at one 
end for a kitchen, a "breezeway" in the middle, and a room 
beyond the breezeway in which to sleep. John Henry has 
planted wild verbena around the yard, and our friends 
Archie and Margie Carr, of the Department of Biology at 
the University, have brought out bulbs and seeds. During 
the last year when I have been rather on the feeble side 
with a nervous and irritable heart, I could sit in the shade 
and watch the butterflies visit the flowers in the yard, listen 
to the earthy Elizabethan speech of my friends digging near 
at hand, and look forward each day to a cornpone, side 
meat, and collard greens, or a gopher-turtle stew prepared 
by John Henry's master hand. 

From small beginnings the Thomas Farm has grown so 
that now it is the most important and most famous vertebrate 
fossil locality in the Eastern United States, and I have a 
hunch that a generation hence scientists are going to say 
that spotting and opening the Thomas Farm dig was a good 
job. 



Florida and Some Snakes 231 

Before Dr. T. E. White went to the Army, he left a 
manuscript concerning the finds at the Thomas Farm. 
Since he is a speciahst in the study of fossil mammals, I can 
give a better outline of the material which has been ex- 
cavated than I could do with my own knowledge unaided. 

The high lights were the discovery that no less than 
five species of little three-toed horses apparently lived in 
this part of the world at the same time. These varied in size 
from that of a collie dog to that of a Shetland pony — a 
small pony. The situation must have been somewhat similar 
to that on the Athi Plains in East Africa where one may see 
Impallah, Thompson, and Roberts gazelles all mixed up 
together in great herds. They are just about as different, 
one from the other, as these little horses were. Of course 
the fact that these fossil remains, disassociated and re- 
deposited, have been water-borne from the place where 
they were first laid down may well mean that they are not 
strictly contemporaneous — but that we can't tell about 
now. 

There were two types of rhinos, a small one and an 
enormous, long-legged beast which must have been an im- 
pressive animal to see. 

There were also an unusual number of doglike animals, 
some the size of coyotes, and others at least as large as the 
grizzly bear. There is very little evidence of the presence 
of any feline forms but most astonishing of all are the two 
genera of an extinct group of mammals called the Hyper- 
tragulids. These are relatives of our deer but they have 
skulls so elongated that I once facetiously described one of 
them as a hoofed anteater. It is difficult to imagine what 
specialized feeding habits may be tied up with this peculiar 



232 Naturalist at Large 

head form. It is not unlikely that the skull was modified for 
probing for and picking up aquatic vegetation. 

Most tantalizing of all the vast quantity of material which 
has been brought to Cambridge and sorted out are the 
remnants which prove that there are at least twelve more 
animals represented by fragmentary bits, too incomplete 
to make certain of their identity; hence at least there are 
twelve more forms to encourage one to dig further, and 
of course there may be a great many more than twelve. 

Shortly after the First World War Lord William Percy 
came to spend a week end with us in Palm Beach. He ended 
by staying well over a month and certainly he was a fascinat- 
ing companion. A short, spare man with keen aquiline 
features, he started as a brilliant barrister in London, rose 
to be a Colonel with the Grenadier Guards in the war, was 
badly wounded, and had been decorated with the D.S.O. 
Now he was seeking refreshment in his avocation, which 
was ornithology. He was particularly interested in the suc- 
cessions of plumage in our many species of ducks. 

Our Florida dusky ducks fascinated him. He was a 
wonderful shot and rapidly made up a superb series of speci- 
mens. He was keen to find out something of the habits of 
the little secretive masked duck, a bird which is widely 
distributed but which has been very rare in collections. I 
knew a place in Cuba where they were said to be found 
and we sailed off to see if I had the story correctly. My 
friend Mr. Carlos ("Charlie") Hernandez was then Post- 
master General of the Island, and we joined forces with his 
brother and camped in a big, aromatic tobacco barn — it 
was only partially filled — near San Antonio de los Bafios. 



Florida and Some Snakes 233 

Near-by Lake Ariguanabo was, as it always is during the 
dry season, a great sea of "bonnets" or imlangiietas as these 
leaves are called in Spanish. I like the name "bonnet," for 
it is descriptive of those stiff, curled-up, water-lily leaves 
in which little yellow rails frequently hide and over which 
the sharp-eyed grackles continuously creep about seeking 
out the bonnet worms which bore into the stems. The lake 
is variable in size, covering several hundred acres during 
the rainy season. 

Native hunters appeared when the grapevine telegraph 
got working and I asked them about getting for us speci- 
mens of the pato agostero, as the masked duck is locally 
named. They replied that this was easy but that shooting 
would have to be done at dawn when there was no breeze 
to move the bonnets. This mystified us a bit at first but we 
found afterwards that the natives push a little cockleshell 
about, standing up and watching the bonnets. When they 
surprise a duck it dives, swims off with just its bill stuck 
up above the surface of the water, and, of course, rustling 
the bonnets a bit as it swims away. Now the extraordinary 
fact is that these men are never fooled by turtles, which, 
when disturbed, rush off stirring the bonnets also, for the 
men know the rate of speed of turtle and duck. By shooting 
just ahead of the quaking leaves moved by the ducks, they 
get pretty nearly every individual they shoot at. They soon 
brought us all the ducks that Percy wanted. 

Ruddy ducks were present in the same lake and, of 
course were often killed as well as the masked ducks. Their 
habits are very similar. When either of these birds came to 
rest it was almost always among the malanguetas. The 
name agostero or August duck is derived from a reputed 



234 Naturalist at Large 

nesting in August and the fact that it is apparently more 
abundant at that time. I suspect that this simply means 
there was more open water then and so both masked ducks 
and ruddy ducks were seen more frequently. 

I asked Percy to transcribe the notes which he had made 
during our Cuban trip. He answered: — 

According to local information, the masked ducks 
are much less secretive in late summer and autumn when 
the lake is higher and provides less cover from view; 
in such conditions we were told that the masked ducks 
flew a good deal of their own accord, especially early 
and late in the day, and experience elsewhere with these 
birds did not suggest that they were difficult to flush, 
though they rarely flew farther than the nearest patch 
of cover. On the other hand local hunters agreed that, 
while the masked ducks took to wing quite frequently, 
the ruddy ducks never did so under any circumstances. 
This, if true, is remarkable, but it is possible that the 
Cuban race, being entirely stationary, may have de- 
veloped a more skulking habit than that of the migra- 
tory race in Canada and the United States. (It certainly 
is a fact that the Erismaturas of the high Andean lakes 
are so unwilling to fly as to give an impression of in- 
capacity to do so, for during several consecutive 
months of constant association with them I never saw 
one on the wing, although we frequently tried to in- 
duce them to fly.) 

In Cuba the ruddy ducks were in full breeding dress 
on the thirtieth of January 1921, and were actually 
breeding on that date, whereas the male masked ducks 



Florida and Some Snakes 235 

were in full moult and young birds were obtained 
which appeared to be from four to five months old. 
We were told that this bird bred in August and was 
locally known as Agostero for that reason. 

The call of the male masked duck is very distinctive, 
*'kirri-kirroo, kirri kirroo, kirroo, kirroo, kirroo,'^ and 
the bird has a curious habit of responding like a cock 
pheasant to such noises as the banging of a punt pole 
on the water or an explosion in the distance. The fe- 
male makes a short hissing noise, repeated several 
times. 

No firsthand information was collected with regard 
to these birds' nesting habits, but a local hunter pointed 
out several nests which he said were those of masked 
ducks. According to him, the nests were always placed 
amongst short, round rushes, and contained from five 
to six eggs but never any down at all. 

After his return to England Will Percy and I corre- 
sponded in a desultory way. Once I went to visit him at 
Catfield Hall, near Great Yarmouth, motoring over from 
Cambridge. This was after his marriage. For in July 1922 
he wrote me: — 

Dear Tom: 

I'm too busy to write, and too happy to do so co- 
herently. I am going to get married on 25th July to 
Miss Mary Swinton with whose family mine has 
swapped for nearly 1000 years. Poor girl — she gets 
a bad bargain in marrying a worn-out fossil of forty 
(she being 23) but she is bearing up wonderfully. 



236 Naturalist at Large 

Now heaven knows what I do — take the first job any- 
where on the earth's surface at which I can earn 
enough to keep her in comfort. 

Later he came to London to see Rosamond and me. I 
am sorry to say I have not heard from him for a long time. 
I know his section of England has been terribly bombed. 

Every member of our family missed him after he left 
Florida to go on to Panama and South America, ducking 
his way for months till he finally got back to England. 
He never wrote up his observations, for John Phillips had 
his monograph far advanced and Percy generously contrib- 
uted many observations which enhanced the value of John's 
book. His collection is now in the American Museum in 
New York. He is a great gentleman, a gallant soldier, 
and a true scientist at heart. 



CHAPTER XX 

The Tests of Evolution 



I 



THINK there is more misunderstanding about evolu- 
tion among laymen than about any other subject. Of course 
we know that some fundamentalists still deny it. I am not 
writing for them, but rather for those who have been led 
to beUeve that the whole subject is settled and that "scien- 
tists know all about it," which is quite untrue. The results 
of evolutionary processes are everywhere easy to see, but 
the situation is really like that of the man who sees a trolley 
car for the first time. The route it has followed and the 
direction in which it is going are clearly to be seen, and 
the rate at which it progresses is obvious. But what makes 
the thing move? 

Take such a stock as that of the horse, where the fossil 
evidence is unusually good. Practically every single grada- 
tion from the Uttle fox-terrier-like animal of thirty milUon 
years ago to the present-day horse may be followed with 
infinite elaboration of detail. The horse had its origin in the 
New World and we know when it moved from the New 
World to the Old, where it persisted in the form of the 
zebras, wild asses, and wild horses of Tibet. The skeletal 
remains show that horses, as we use the word today, existed 
in Florida down to perhaps 10,000 years ago in unbeHevable 
numbers. Then they died out. Why they died out remains 
a mystery. The Spaniards brought horses with them from 



238 Naturalist at Large 

Europe and enlarged them — that is, turned them loose — 
and in no time they became enormously abundant again. 

Few laymen know that the camels originated in America 
and went through most of their evolutionary history in 
what is now the western part of the United States. During 
the height of the glacial period enough oceanic water was 
tied up in the gigantic polar icecap to lower the level of 
the oceans, so that many land areas now separated by 
water were then connected. Thus the camels reached the 
Old World and the elephants reached the New; and 
strangely enough, according to a Russian scholar, Nazo- 
noif by name, the sheep not only passed from Asia to 
North America but went back again, leaving the ancestors 
of all our various species of bighorn behind them. 

Geologically speaking, a fairly recent uplift of land 
formed Central America (for the Caribbean Sea was once 
a bay of the Pacific) and allowed camels to reach South 
America, where they persist as the llama, alpaca, guanaco, 
and vicuiia. The stock then died out in North America. 
The elephants pushed down as far as Ecuador and likewise 
disappeared, as they did all over North America, where 
they once existed in countless numbers of individuals and 
a great variety of species. 

I can hear my reader ask, "How do you know that the 
Caribbean was once a bay of the Pacific?" The answer was 
given by Alexander Agassiz during his explorations with 
the steamship Blake. He found that there was a greater 
difference between the deep-water fauna on the inside and 
that on the outside of the arc of Lesser Antillean islands 
than there was between the fauna inside the arc and that 
on the Pacific side of the Isthmus of Panama. Only last 



The Tests of Evolution 239 

year I described a lovely rosy Chaunax, a chubby, pot- 
bellied deep-sea fish which had its only near ally in one 
described from the Bay of Panama, and my fish came from 
the south coast of Cuba in a thousand fathoms of water. 

Unfortunately the lines, "Some call it Evolution, And 
others call it God," however true they may be, savor of 
the trite and the smug. No one who thinks and has had 
a real chance to study modern paleontological material 
doubts the fact of evolution, but the mystery behind it all 
is deep and dark and as worthy of our worship, if you will, 
as it ever was. Scientists have seen the evidence where evo- 
lution has run riot. The dinosaurs reached a size which was 
mechanically disadvantageous. The Irish elk proceeded to 
produce such gigantic horns (which presumably were 
dropped each year) that their very renovation from year 
to year must have involved a fatal weakening of the stock, 
which of course has long since disappeared. Cope had a 
phrase for this process, and a good one, too. It was "super- 
abundant growth force" — growth in a particular direction 
until it becomes lethal. 

But what brings this force into being? Darwin provided 
a couple of useful slogans — "sexual selection," "the struggle 
for existence," and Spencer added "the survival of the 
fittest." 

Each one of these explains a good deal. But let us apply 
it, for instance, to the leaf butterfly and see just how much 
it helps us. Metaphorically speaking, a racial stock of but- 
terflies for its own protection starts out to become dead- 
leaf -like. If this change were to be accomplished by natural 
selection alone, it would be reasonable to suppose that as 



240 Naturalist at Large 

soon as the butterflies became sufficiently leaf-like to be 
protected the evolution woiuld cease. It did no such thing. 
The leaf butterflies of the Old World are decorated with 
marks such as the fungi of decay produce on dead leaves, 
and have ragged wing margins which look like wearings 
or tearings in some cases. In other words, they have be- 
come ridiculously and unnecessarily dead-leaf-like. Some- 
thing pushed the evolutionary urge along far beyond ne- 
cessity. 

Lamarck postulated the evolutionary power of use and 
disuse and believed that acquired characters might be in- 
herited. We all know, however, that certain sections of the 
human race have mutilated themselves for thousands of 
generations without result, and we know that in the old 
days when horses' tails were regularly cut short, no short- 
tailed colts ever appeared. 

As a matter of fact, to be realistic in our appreciation 
of evolution we have to be willing to say, "I don't know 
how or why, but it is there just the same." We have to 
avoid believing in what may seem to be too obvious. Con- 
sider how fearful the ordinary person is of inbreeding. 
Such and such animals are inbred; hence they are weak, 
stupid, deformed, or what have you. As a matter of fact, 
animals may be successfully bred for countless generations, 
brother to sister, if nothing but completely sound stock is 
used to breed from. Of course one abnormal individual 
may upset the strain and bad results will then appear, but 
the bad results do not come from the inbreeding. 

I have recently been studying a group of fishing frogs, 
deep-sea fishes in which the first element of the dorsal fin 
has been developed into a fishing rod. In some of the fish 



The Tests of Evolution 241 

this is capable of motion and may be moved out in front 
of the fish's mouth and waved to and fro, the tip of the 
ray being beset with Httle movable filaments which are 
fished about, squirming like a worm on a hook, to lure 
small fish up and into the mouth of the Antennarius. 

This group of fishes is enormous, and in some species 
we see all sorts of ridiculous things which have happened 
— cases where a rod persists as only a useless filament in- 
capable of motion; cases where it is elaborated into an or- 
gan so complicated and so absurd that it is hard to believe 
that it is anything but an ornament, using the word in its 
zoological sense. The creature couldn't possibly get that 
great branching affair into its mouth. Some of these fish- 
ing frogs are just gigantic muscular sacs with fins so de- 
generated that obviously the creatures cannot move. They 
have great cavern-like mouths, not improbably suffused 
with a luminous slime to lure fish to a point where, with 
a sudden gulp, they can be engulfed by these animated 
muscular sacs. 

Many of the baits at the end of the fishing rods are lu- 
minous, and some rods are long enough so that this lumi- 
nous bait can be pushed right around and into the fish's 
mouth. Then he snaps on the electric light, the little fish 
come up inquisitively, he snaps it out of the way, the mouth 
closes, and our fishing frog is fed. 

I cite the extraordinary example of evolution presented 
by the fishing frogs because to me it is absolutely impos- 
sible to see how the first step ever happened to take place; 
it is simply not explainable by any means at our command. 
The fishing rod had to be a good fishing rod before it 



242 Naturalist at Large 

served the fish any useful purpose at all. Now explain that 
if you can. 

This discussion may sound a little old-fashioned to a 
modern specialist. Recent authors, among them Richard 
Benedikt Goldschmidt of the University of California and 
Ernst Mayr of the American Museum of New York, have 
written fascinating books concerning the modern in- 
terpretation of micro- and macro-evolution. The light 
which modern genetics has thrown on evolution has been 
carefully appraised; moreover, what it may be expected 
to interpret in the future has not been neglected. Genetics 
has thrown light, and a flood of light, on heredity and the 
mechanism of inheritance. 

This is a very different thing from throwing light on 
transformism, which is evolution. Mayr has shown that 
the systematic zoologists, or the taxonomists, with, of 
course, the paleontologists, are the ones who have made the 
most extensive contributions to our knowledge. Whether 
they will continue to do so in the future remains to be seen. 

But the sum total of what is really new is not greater 
than the contribution to knowledge made by Hugo de 
Vries in 1901, and notliing like so illuminating as the re- 
statement of Jordan's Law of Evolution through Isolation 
— which I am about to quote in the words of Tate Regan. 
He has pointed out in these meaty paragraphs that this 
isolation might be geographic or habitudinal: — 

This theory [that is, the mutation theory], which 
explains adaptation as the result of a series of fortunate 
accidents, appears to me to approximate to the old 
"special creation" theory, and it was in opposing this 



The Tests of Evolution 243 

idea of great and sudden transformations that Darwin 
wrote: "To admit all this is, as it seems to me, to enter 
into the realms of miracle and to leave those of sci- 
ence." The mutation theory is in favour with the genet- 
icists, who have found that definite variations occur 
and are definitely inherited. But the geneticists are 
puzzled to suggest how these variations could become 
specific characters, common to all the members of a 
species, seeing that they are not adaptive, and there- 
fore could not be selected. 

Systematists attach little importance to interspecific 
steriHty; they know that Darwin showed that between 
alHed species there are all gradations, from complete 
sterility to complete fertility. But for the geneticists 
sterility is all-important — it is their one hope of pro- 
ducing the semblance of a species — and they proclaim 
that the event for which they are waiting is the pro- 
duction of a variety which is sterile with the parent 
form. That great event, if and when it occurs, will 
leave me cold; in my opinion, it will have about as 
much relation to the orgin of species as the occurrence 
of albinos has to the coloration of arctic animals — that 
is to say, no relation whatever! 

My own work on the structure, classification, and 
geographical distribution of fishes has led me to cer- 
tain conclusions. I believe that the first step in the 
origin of a new species is not a change of structure, 
but the formation of a community, either through lo- 
calization, geographical isolation, or habitudinal segre- 
gation. I also think that specific characters may be 
grouped as follows: they are either {a) useful, {b) 



244 Naturalist at Large 

correlated with useful characters, {c) due to the en- 
vironment, or {d) the expression of some physiologi- 
cal peculiarity. But I see no reason for believing that 
they have originated as mutations. 

As I said before, we encounter a multitude of mysteries 
in the study of evolution, and these have made me a little 
bit impatient and uncharitable toward the atheist. As man's 
knowledge of the mysteries expands, their magnitude in- 
creases and leaves the honest and candid man very humble 
in mind. 

I don't see why anyone should gag at the cousinship 
of man and the apes — the relationship is too distant. Rather 
let him consider with awe the majesty of orderliness which 
to the humble-minded is the subject most to be respected 
within man's ken. Like the concept of infinity in time or 
space, this matter passes our understanding. 



CHAPTER XXI 

Whales 



F 



OR a student primarily of reptiles I have had a singu- 
lar number of opportunities to add interesting species of 
whales to the collection of the Museum. 

The first occasion was in my twenty-third year when 
I read in a local paper that a small whale had come ashore 
at North Long Branch, New Jersey. My family were 
spending the summer at Monmouth Beach that year and 
I purchased a large butcher knife and walked to North 
Long Branch. I found that the little whale was being ex- 
hibited and that its owner would continue in this way to 
capitalize his find until the Board of Health intervened. 
The Board did intervene a few days later and I proceeded, 
having had the whale photographed, to cut off its head. 
I wanted to rough out the whole skeleton, but cutting off 
the head was a fearful ordeal and I got myself covered 
with such stinking gurry that I was ashamed to enter the 
house when I got home. I packed the skull in a barrel with 
salt and ice and shipped it to the Museum in Cambridge. 
When I got back to Cambridge I asked where it was and 
was gruffly told by my superior that it had been sent to 
the North Cambridge dump. I went up there and by great 
good luck found it, although it had been somewhat dam- 
aged by dogs. Nevertheless, enough remained for my friend. 
Dr. Glover Allen, to write an important paper on the find 
— for the species represented was a very rare one. 



246 Naturalist at Large 

My next adventure came a few years later during a 
Christmas vacation when I was in Banana Creek near Cape 
Canaveral. I was fishing with Dr. Charles G. Weld in his 
launch when we came on a porpoise that had got into 
shallow water. We killed it with a shotgun. I have the 
tanned skin and skull of that beast in the Museum still. 
We both tried it for breakfast, but it tasted like cotton 
waste soaked in cod-liver oil. Not even the liver was to 
our minds in the least edible. 

The next chance to collect cetaceans that were really 
useful in the Museum came right at Beverly Farms when 
two beaked whales chasing fish on a falling tide got 
stranded quite near where we live in summer. Their un- 
cannily human groans, deep sobbing sounds, were audible 
half a mile away, and had kept the neighbors uneasily 
awake. A local fisherman came along before I did, made 
them fast with ropes to trees on the shore, and carved his 
initials on their hides, thus under Massachusetts laws mak- 
ing them his own. He neglected to do anything with them 
for several days, however, and I got authority from the 
Board of Health to take them over. I got a tug and towed 
them to Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor. There, 
with the advice of my friend Mr. Wilham McGinnes, then 
Mayor of Gloucester, and with the help of some fishermen 
whom he knew, we cut each whale into two pieces — no 
small task, for these were big animals, eighteen to twenty 
feet long. Luckily there was a tug in Gloucester Harbor 
that had a powerful crane on board. Thus we were able 
to pick up the pieces, load them into trucks, and take them 
to a rendering plant in Danvers. In this way it was possible 
to save both skeletons complete and these we have in the 



Whales 247 

Museum. I may add that, here again, this whale adventure 
was odoriferous in the extreme. 

Now to Virginia Beach in the autumn of 1938. 1 walked 
to get tlie mail, from our house at the Sand Bridge Club. 
The mailman drove down the beach every other day, 
leaving our mail in a box on top of a high post. Walking 
about and waiting for the mailman's arrival, I saw a black 
object near the surf. It was a pygmy sperm whale. This 
was small enough so that we could haul it right to the Club 
House, ice it, and send it to Cambridge. It had a deep cut 
across the back of its neck. I am quite sure it was killed by 
getting too near the propeller of a steamer. 

The next year, almost to a day, I walked down the same 
road with my young friends Barbara and WilUam Schevill 
and was telling them about finding the little whale. We 
had no sooner reached the mailbox than I saw a black 
object in about the same position and then, looking down 
the beach, saw another. Since one of these individuals, 
which both turned out to be pygmy sperm whales, was ob- 
viously immature, we concentrated on the adult specimen, 
which we found was a lactating female with an embryo 
about a foot long in her uterus. Both of these whales had 
been killed by a sharp cut across the back of the head in 
exactly the same way as the one we found the previous 
year. After finding these two Uttle whrJes, it suddenly oc- 
curred to me that just the day before from the top of a 
near-by sand dune I had watched the southward passage 
of a large flotilla of torpedo boats which had passed out 
from the Virginia Capes southward bound. I suspect it was 
one of these that killed them. 



248 Naturalist at Large 

Thus we know that this rare little solitary whale, which 
has turned up here and there all over the world (our only- 
previous specimen in this Museum was from New Zea- 
land), evidently has a way of following behind ships in- 
stead of preceding them as is the usual practice for playing 
dolphins. Moreover, evidently the young of the previous 
year follows the mother and continues to suckle until the 
young of the next generation is a well-grown embryo. 

The last of these events I am going to describe in my 
daughter Julia's own terms: — 

Mother, my sister Louisa, Pa and I were in Virginia 
for our annual bout of duck shooting. On this par- 
ticular occasion we were shooting some beach blinds 
owned by our cousin whose property adjoins our 
Sand Bridge marsh. To get to Barbour's Hill (a seven- 
teen-foot elevation above sea level) one drives about 
eight miles along the beach. This in itself is a treach- 
erous pastime at best and not made any less so by our 
vehicle — an old station wagon whose superstructure 
is rusted away and whose brakes and lights have long 
since departed. 

We had an excellent time at Barbour's Hill, wangled 
our limit in geese and ducks and started home. The 
beach buggy was laden down with our loot and our- 
selves. We proceeded slowly, careful to avoid the 
stumps of petrified trees and ribs of wrecked sailing 
ships. Occasionally a marsh hog would eye us over the 
edge of a sand dune and then run hastily away. We 
must have been a terrifying sight. The sea was quite 
rough and waves rolled in fast — breaking in a jumbly 
mass. 



Whales 249 

Suddenly Pa, from his precarious perch on the box, 
let out a yell. After a few seconds, Patsy, our driver, 
brought our junk heap to a standstill. This had to be 
effected by coaxing the gear into reverse, so that we 
rolled a few hundred feet before coming to a full 
halt. Pa leapt out and ran back along the beach. I must 
say he was an odd-looking figure — his hip boots bog- 
ging down in the loose sand. 

We tried to be very casual but we were convinced 
that Pa had lost his mind. Finally, he arose from the 
deep, dragging a heavy object after him. It was a large 
and very dead porpoise which Pa had firmly by the 
tail. He eased back to the beach buggy dragging his 
booty and looking for all the world like the 40-fathom 
codfish advertisement. He asked us to alight and view 
his prize, which we did. We tried to look appreciative. 

Then we were asked to hold the beast in our laps 
while we continued our way homeward. I kept think- 
ing how remarkable it was that Pa had seen anything 
floating in that surf, and, having seen it, cared enough 
to chase into the water, get wet, and then give his 
family the doubtful pleasure of carrying it home. It 
must have been something rare, but it certainly looked 
ordinary, this critter whose aroma circled around us 
like a thick fog. 

This find, however, turned out to be a specimen of a 
Prodelphinus, one of the swift racers of the ocean of which 
we had no specimen in the Museum. We were able to ship 
it entire, as it was cold weather, and we could have draw- 
ings made as well as a complete skeleton prepared after it 
arrived safely in Cambridge. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Latin America 



I 



HAVE long felt that I owed a debt of gratitude to 
many friends in Latin America. When my old friend 
Wilson Popenoe, who is building the Pan-American Agri- 
cultural School for Mr. Samuel Zemurray and the United 
Fruit Company near Tegucigalpa, said, "You should write 
up your experiences in Central and South America," I 
made up my mind to do just that. Experiences of travel 
in South America, however, have inspired books of all 
sorts — old books mostly good, and modern books, a few 
good, more indifferent, and many not worth the paper 
they are written on. 

I am going to write mostly of friendship, not scenery. 
Suppose you had been with me when our steamer anchored 
in the lovely harbor of Bahia in Brazil. I was delighted 
with the scene, as were my family, but was still more 
pleased when a handsome young man stepped up to me 
and said, "I am Afranio's brother." Afranio do Amaral was 
first my student and then one of my warmest friends. I did 
not then know that his brother was President of the State 
of Bahia. He was the soul of courtesy and hospitality. We 
saw everything from the superb tiles in the Church of 
Sao Francisco to the market where you can purchase any- 
thing from a marmoset to a mango. To my dying day I 
shall remember a red snapper cooked with a hot tomato 
sauce as one of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted. 



Latin America 251 

Eventually we arived in Rio, where Afranio met us with 
Lucia, his lovely young wife, and his children. It was a 
joy to be together again, after several years. Rosamond 
and the girls stayed in Rio, but Afranio and I went on 
to Sao Paulo. He was then Director of the Serum Therapeu- 
tic Institute at Butantan, the "Snake Farm" to tourists, 
and of course we had a thousand things to talk over to- 
gether; my old correspondent Oliverio Pinto of the Mu- 
seu Paulista to see; and Lucia's family to salute, the 
Assumpcaos, whose lovely home it was a privilege indeed 
to visit. 

Years before when we were first in Rio I met Dr. Or- 
ville A. Derby, then head of the Geological Survey of 
Brazil. It was in his office that I first realized that there 
were vertebrate fossils to be found in Brazil. This fact lay 
in the back of my mind for years until I had the good 
fortune to play a small part in persuading Professor Alfred 
Romer to come to Cambridge from the University of Chi- 
cago. We soon began to plot a Brazihan expedition to hunt 
fossils. He had exactly the right man to lead it: Llewellyn 
Price, an artist to his finger tips, a splendid field man with 
a great nose for a fossil, and, above all, born and raised in 
Brazil. We teamed him up with Dr. T. E. White, later 
to be my companion in crime in the fossil fields of Florida, 
and down they went to get a magnificent collection of 
Rhynchosaurs, Cynodonts, and Dicynodonts, all primitive 
reptiles, many, many millions of years old. They have 
bones as heavy as a small rhinoceros: the remains of one 
of them would come to several hundred pounds. 

One of the best of these skeletons, prepared for mount- 
ing, we sent back to Brazil as a good-will offering, and 



252 Naturalist at Large 

with it went Price, who now has been in Brazil for sev- 
eral years, the very best sort of good-will envoy. 

Harvard and Brazil have long been allies. On the wall 
of my office hangs a picture inscribed, "To Mrs. Agassiz 
from Dom Pedro d' Alcantara, Boston, June 14, 1876," a 
souvenir of the Emperor of Brazil's visit to Mrs. Agassiz 
after the Professor's death and after the Emperor had more 
or less voluntarily laid down the Royal Crown. 

The Botanical Garden of Rio is comparable only to 
that of Buitenzorg in Java. In some respects, however, it 
is more spectacular and more instructive, for it is divided 
into sections, one growing the xerophytic vegetation of 
the deserts of Ceara, another filled with the incredible 
forest trees of Amazonia, a third with orchids, a fourth 
with enormous palms, and so on. Dr. Campos Porto was 
Director when last I was there, and his first words were to 
ask about the health of my beloved colleague Oakes Ames. 
They had botanized together years before orchid hunting, 
for the Ames herbarium of orchids is probably the richest 
and best organized in existence. 

We have pleasant recollections of Montevideo. When 
first we were in Buenos Aires, Florentino Ameghino was 
alive. And it was of him that Dr. W. B. Scott wrote: — 

He and his wife lived like hermits in a corner of his 
large house, all the rest of which was given up to his 
shop and his collections. Every penny which he could 
scrape up was devoted to the publication of his papers 
and to keeping his brother Carlos at work collecting 
fossils in Patagonia. In the history of science I do not 
know a finer example of courage and devotion under 



Latin America 253 

the most adverse circumstance. The long brave 
struggle was, at length, fitly rewarded by Ameghino's 
appointment to the Directorship of the National Mu- 
seum at Buenos Aires, a post which he held to the end 
of his life. 

Santiago de Chile was and is a superb city, the snow- 
capped Andes in plain view and the lovely little park, 
called the Cerro Santa Lucia, to stroll in during the late 
afternoon. I wonder whether the old sign over the en- 
trance to the Protestant Cemetery there is still in place. 
The inscription ran something Uke this, "Here lie interred 
those who, unable to enter Heaven, were not welcome in 
Hell." If the Good Neighbor Policy works both ways, 
and I believe it does, this sign has probably long since 
disappeared. 

General Kilpatrick, an old friend of my father, had 
married a Chilean lady, a Valdivieso. The widow was still 
alive when we were in Santiago for the Scientific Congress 
in 1908. She was a direct descendant of Ponce de Leon, 
knew everybody in Santiago, and, though we were enter- 
tained officially as delegates, she showed us many charm- 
ing attentions which opened up the life of a most polite 
and cultivated society. 

It is worth a trip to Peru if only to hear the Peruvians 
speak Spanish. They, with the people of Colombia and 
of Costa Rica, do perfect justice to the stately measures of 
that most majestic and sonorous of all the languages. I say 
this praying that my Brazilian friends will not be furious 
at the implied slur on Portuguese. Whenever I read a bit 



254 Naturalist at Large 

of Camoens I am inclined to think that I have been unjust 
to the language of Brazil. 

My daughter Mary and her husband, Alfred Kidder II, 
have traveled far and wide digging for prehistoric pottery, 
first in Venezuela where I was able to pass them on to old 
friends, then in Honduras where the farmers and officials 
of the United Fruit Company showed them many courte- 
sies while they worked in the prehistoric cemeteries near 
Lake Yohoa and the Ulua River. Latterly they have con- 
centrated on Peru where Dr. Julio C. Telio, once here at 
Harvard and an old friend of mine, and his colleagues 
have made every day of their two long visits golden days 
indeed, as witness my daughter's published diary. No 
Lmiits but the Sky, which has been praised by others than 
her affectionate father. 

I have been asked time and time again what railroad 
ride I have enjoyed above all others. This question is a 
o^ood deal lil^e "Which is the most beautiful harbor in 
the world?" — something which has been widely discussed 
since the beginning of time. But for my part I don't think 
there is any scenery so lovely as that which meets the eye 
when the train turns sharply inland after leaving Siquirres 
in Costa Rica and begins to climb up to the central high- 
lands on a road that clings precariously to a little shelf 
beside the roaring Reventazon River. The forest along the 
lower Motagua in Guatemala is perhaps equally fine and 
varied, but in Costa Rica the river pitches down much more 
steeply. As you mount upward there are frequently long- 
distance scenes down the valley toward the sea which are 
ineffably lovely. 



Latin America 255 

Costa Rica is one of the most charming of all lands. In 
addition to breath-taking scenery in all directions, it has a 
dehghtful, cultivated, intellectual society in its capital. I 
may add also that many of the ladies are singularly lovely. 

With horses and guides kindly lent us by my friend 
Charles Lankester, who plants coffee at Las Concavas, 
Ned Hammond and I once made a trip to the summit of 
the volcano of Irazti and spent a couple of nights camped 
just below the cinder cone. It was possible to walk to the 
top of the mountain, with the cinders crackling with frost 
underfoot, and as daylight came to stand and watch the 
sunrise. The clouds were far below us. At last we could 
see the blue sea of the Atlantic far away and over 10,000 
feet below. Far and wide in every direction the moun- 
tain tops stuck up like islands in the deep white sea of fog. 
In a few hours the fog all burned away to reveal the in- 
credible beauty of the valleys of this crumpled-up land. 
Nothing in the mountain forest is more breath-taking than 
the orchids, which are simply beyond description. Imagine 
a mass of corsage Cattleyas ensconced on a branch directly 
below you as you peer down some little mountain canyon, 
perhaps a hundred blossoms, a flaming mass of scarlet, 
which would fill a bushel basket. 

I remember every hour of my considerable number of 
visits to Costa Rica with lasting pleasure. The mainland 
of Central America has conspired to treat me very kindly, 
something which the waters off its coast have usually quite 
reversed. I never in my life have suffered more acutely 
than in going from port to port on those two little sub- 
marine chasers, the Wild Duck and the Victor, of doleful 
memory. I appreciate the kindness of the United Fruit 



256 Naturalist at Large 

Company in allowing me to use them, but of all the mo- 
tions producing seasickness, from which I have suffered 
acutely all my life, nothing was ever contrived in the 
shape of a boat which could touch these two craft for 
unspeakable gyrations. 

Guatemala to me means the Popenoes. They live in the 
house about which Louis Adamic wrote the book called 
The House in Antigua. Do read it. You will then know 
exactly what I mean. And to me Guatemala also means the 
colorful Indian cities and towns, with their individual and 
characteristic costumes; the sumptuous ruins of Quirigua 
in their setting of one of the finest bits of high rain forest 
anywhere to be found; and delightful, lazy week ends spent 
at the hospital at Quirigua with Dr. Macphail, whose cook 
made what always seemed to me the best tortillas in all 
Central America. What Dr. Macphail has done in alleviat- 
ing human suffering in a land where skilled medical care 
is not widely distributed could only be handled justly in 
a book devoted to the men in charge of the far-flung hos- 
pitals of the United Fruit Company. 

It is curious how a single person or a single object re- 
calls a whole concatenation of scenes and personalities. 
Mention dancing-girl orchids and the market at Salvador 
flashes to mind. You can buy these gemlike flowers, 
in armfuls of long sprays, for a few cents and then your 
mind jumps to Madam Duenas and her wonderful collec- 
tion of pottery to whom and to which Warren and Irene 
Robbins introduced us. Warren was our Minister to Sal- 
vador when the Utoivana stopped to bring mangosteen 



Latin America 257 

trees from the Canal Zone to Don Felix Chaussay, then 
Minister of Agriculture, who was extremely anxious to 
introduce this fruit into his country. I hope they throve 
and are bearing now. 

While the colorful Indians have about disappeared in 
Salvador they still remain in Guatemala, each Indian city 
having its different and attractive costume. The extraordi- 
narily interesting religious observances are perplexing and 
difficult indeed to study unless you speak one of the Mayan 
languages, as I, unfortunately, do not. I have seen sand 
paintings as elaborate as anything which the Navajos ever 
made, on the floor of the Church at San Antonio de Aguas 
Calientes. 

Why North Americans have been so slow in learning 
the charms of Latin America is difficult to explain. I sup- 
pose it is because of the language barrier. North Americans 
are generally a unilingual people. Cultivated South Amer- 
icans are bilingual but their second language has been 
French. Most North American college executives a few 
decades ago rather dreaded the advent of Latin-American 
students. They usually had too much money and too few 
morals. The truth was the best of them went to study in 
France. Now this is all changed and since I have served on 
the Latin-American Board of the John Simon Guggenheim 
Memorial Foundation I have had to do with the bringing 
to America of a number of most outstanding young schol- 
ars. It has been sad, at times, to see the way these young 
men, after they have completed their studies, have been 
grabbed up and given positions in American institutions, 
when the purposes of the Foundation would have been 



258 Naturalist at Large 

better served had they returned to replenish the faculties 
of their native lands. 



Americans at last are beginning to learn of the joy of 
traveling in Mexico. The new highway has played some 
part, but the interchange of students, North Americans 
who have attended the summer school at the University 
of Mexico, and the reverse process, have played a part 
which it is quite impossible to exaggerate in building up 
the friendliness which now exists and which should have 
existed for many years. 

I remember in particular a trip we took to Mexico in 
April 193 1, while our ship, the Utowana, lay at anchor in 
Mazatlan Bay. My wife, my daughter Mary, and I got a 
horse and wagon and set out after fresh fruits and vege- 
tables. 

We were some dozen miles inland when Rosamond 
spotted a tree laden with Hmes. There was a small dusty 
roadside general store near by and I asked the storekeeper 
if he owned the lime tree. He said yes. I asked if he would 
sell us some Hmes. He said no. I was surprised, as he didn't 
look very prosperous and I thought he would seize the 
opportunity to do a little business. Not so. While we 
talked and talked, as one does in Mexico, I learned that 
the lime tree was very prickly, that picldng limes was 
tiresome and dreary, and if he picked them he feared he 
would have to charge more for them than we were likely 
to pay, and so on. Finally we agreed to pick them our- 
selves and then set a price after we had seen how many 
we secured. 

Down the road came a small bunch of scrubby cattle, 



Latin America 259 

little more than calves, and behind them trudged a bare- 
foot Indian boy, his white cotton shirt hanging out over 
his white cotton pants, and an enormous sombrero on his 
head. Every once in a while he flicked at something with 
Ills long-lashed whip and then stooped and picked the 
something up and put it in his pocket. It was not until he 
got quite near us that I saw what he was doing. He was 
killing lizards with a skillfully directed snap of his whip- 
lash. This, of course, was an answer to prayer. I asked him 
why he wanted them and he said to feed his mother's cats. 
I offered him a dime and looked over his gamebag. Some 
of the lizards were badly smashed. Others were not. I 
picked out the best and thanked him. One of them turned 
out to be a new species which I named after our good 
ship, Anolis utowanae. I had already named for her owner 
a beautiful new form of the same genus from Ruatan Island 
in Honduras. 

Cuba has been almost a second home to me and I feel 
free to visit my Cuban friends' houses and discuss with 
them their most intimate problems in the frankest way. 
Dear Don Carlos de la Torre is an old friend indeed and 
to his younger satellite I almost feel in loco parentis. This 
very morning I received a letter from one dear boy, who 
writes me: — 

I do not remember if I ever told you that I was en- 
gaged. I feel badly not to have let you know. We 
are going to be married in December. I would have 
liked very much to wait until your next trip south in 
order to have you stand as testigo but because of the 
war I doubt if it could be arranged. The girl is a very 



260 Naturalist at Large 

nice one and I have talked so much to her about you 
that she feels she knows you as well as myself. 

A professor in Brazil writes me: — 

I was awfully pleased to receive your letter of June 
17th and want to thank you very much for your kind 
attention in giving me the information I liked to have 
on the Loew Collection. By reading your letter I see 
now that I had not failed in my judgment, when I 
understood that I had conquered a good friend, after 
your always remembered visit to the Oswald Cruz 
Institute. 

And but a month ago Dr. Afranio do Amaral writes: — 

Dear Tom: 

I was delighted beyond expression to find on my 
desk the other day Mary B.'s book, entitled No Li?nits 
but the Sky and telling about her and Teddy's travels 
in the Andes. Please thank her for this splendid sur- 
prise and most appreciated souvenir. 

How would you like to write Portuguese with that 
style? 

I could go on forever extolling the charms of friends 
from Cuba and Haiti, from San Domingo to Patagonia. 
They have meant a great deal to me. I have entered into 
their joys and sorrows and they into mine, and I salute 
them, one and all. 

My old friend Dr. Herbert Clark, formerly on the 
Medical Staff of the United Fruit Company, now the 



Latin America 261 

Director of the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama, 
has for years been interested in a snake census, to find out 
the relative abundance and the distribution of the species 
dangerous to man. He had collected thousands of heads, 
which have been identified, and the information has been 
useful in determining the procedure connected with the 
preparation of antivenin. 

The procedure is to immunize horses from which the 
anti-venomous serum is to be prepared with poison taken 
from the most abundant dangerous species in any given 
locality. Following the methods used in Brazil, the snakes 
are captured and kept in a pen and milked regularly of 
their venom, which quickly dries into crystal form. This, 
diluted, is then injected, first in infinitesimally small doses, 
into strong, healthy horses. The dosage is gradually in- 
creased until the horse receives without injury amounts of 
venom which would normally be fatal to perhaps a hun- 
dred horses. Their tolerance builds up rapidly. 

The United Fruit Company, operating in those parts 
of Central America where poisonous snakes are abundant, 
had always been apprehensive that some of their best field 
men might be bitten and lost. There were other demands 
for serum in the Canal Zone, in the Army, and elsewhere. 
When Dr. Afranio do Amaral had finished the work for 
his Doctor's degree here he generously consented to help 
organize an Antivenin Institute, and we set up a field sta- 
tion at the Experiment Station belonging to the United 
Fruit at Lancetilla, Honduras. A commercial organization 
in Pennsylvania arranged to produce the antivenin if we 
could supply the venom. 

Wilson Popenoe and Dorothy, his wife, were enthusi- 



262 Naturalist at Large 

astic supporters of our idea. From high to low, not only- 
Pop, as my daughters call him, but everyone else con- 
nected with the Fruit Company has always been cordially- 
helpful in developing any scientific project which came 
to their attention, and I felt pleased and proud to be able 
to repay some of the favors which I have received at their 
hands. I knew that the Snake Farm would be a tourist at- 
traction. Many ships were entering or leaving the port of 
Tela, which at that time was producing vast quantities of 
fruit, but there were no attractions at that port to amuse 
tourists while the ships were being loaded. 

The snake pen, built of galvanized iron for a non- 
climbable wall and shaded by an enormous manaca palm- 
thatched roof, was of unfailing interest, particularly as we 
had arranged to have Douglas Marsh or Raymond Stadel- 
man milk the snakes on days when tourist ships were in 
port. The natives proved efficient collectors when they 
once knew what it was all about, and a number of them 
owe their lives to serum made with the help of the snakes 
they caught. The fer-de-lance was very common about 
Tela. The snake is bold and quick to strike and, though 
active only by night, has a way of hiding by day under 
the banana trash, dead leaves, and old stalks, which nat- 
urally abound in any plantation. The barefooted natives 
ran a considerable risk. 

We gathered enough venom to last for many years and 
then abandoned the Snake Farm. Now, however, with 
the increase of miUtary activity in the Canal Zone, the 
demand for antivenin has suddenly stepped up and I should 
not be at all surprised if we had to start collecting snakes 
again. 



Latin America 263 

It was by rather good fortune that when he wanted a 
medical entomologist for the staff of the Gorgas Memorial 
Institute, Alexander Graham Bell Fairchild, David's son, 
was prepared and ready for me to recommend for the 
position. I felt sure of this choice, for not only had I 
known him for many years, but he passed a most excel- 
lent doctor's examination which I had attended a short 
time before. And fortunately Dr. Marston Bates, whose 
brilliant examination I had attended a number of years 
earlier, joined the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation and 
has distinguished himself in research concerning the trans- 
mission of malaria, first in Albania, then Egypt, and now 
at Villavicencio in Colombia. Marston married David's 
talented daughter Nancy Bell, who was able to adapt her- 
self to life in foreign parts as well as my daughter Mary 
has. All in all, the principal gain which I myself derived 
from the excuse to visit Honduras on various occasions 
was the growing intimacy with the Popenoes, whom we 
have warmly adopted as members of our family. Dorothy 
Popenoe died in Tela and is buried in the lovely garden 
at Lancetilla. After a long interval Pop, as is usual with 
him, proceeded to do the impossible and found another 
lovely wife as charming and talented as was Dorothy. 
Helen is now helping him build the Pan-American Agri- 
cultural School at Zamorano, not far from Tegucigalpa, 
the capital of Honduras. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Africa 



F, 



OR YEARS press of work in Cambridge had forced 
me to concentrate on short journeys to the West Indies 
and Central America; but deep in the background of the 
consciousness of every real "bug hunter" is an overwhelm- 
ing desire to visit Africa, so that finally we ended up — 
and by we I mean my wife, Julia, Louisa, and Margaret 
Porter — in making a quick round trip to get the high 
lights, and especially to visit the Kruger Park. This proved 
so enjoyable that we went again the following year, es- 
pecially to see National Parks, as I have recounted here- 
after. 

If — in the peace to come — you sail up the east coast 
of Africa, take a freight steamer that stops at many places 
and does not hurry in and out of the ports too quickly. 
Thus on a freighter we left Lourengo Marques and put 
in at Beira, which presents little of interest but the fish 
market. There we picked up quite a good collection of 
fishes. There was little else to do. Fish markets vary enor- 
mously. In some you find that the habits of the people 
are such that only a few special species are brought in; 
in others, where the population is omnivorous, fish may 
be found in bewildering variety. This was the case in Beira, 
and while we had no idea of making a collection, when 
Rosamond and I began to walk around the market we 
found such an extraordinary variety of curious and in- 



Africa 265 

teresting fishes, and above all small species or young speci- 
mens, that we were able to get really a very fair variety. 
Luckily, there was a good drugstore in town which had 
formalin for preserving and some wide-mouthed jars, and 
the result of our fortunate visit to this market was a con- 
cise little paper by our friend Henry Fowler of the Phila- 
delphia Academy, who was glad to make the identifica- 
tions and publish them, since he said records were few for 
this section of the African coast. 

Then came Mozambique, hoary with age, and like an 
old, rather down-at-the-heel town of Latin Europe; next 
Porto Amelia with its lovely bay and Dar es Salaam, mod- 
ern, obviously built by Germans, neat and well laid out. 

Zanzibar, however, is the spot of spots, a fascinating old 
labyrinth of unspoiled Arab architecture. No one can 
ever forget those stunning carved doorways in what we 
would call adobe buildings, nor do many who tread its 
little narrow streets realize that those which have not been 
laid with asphalt in recent years are paved with cobble- 
stones which came in the ballast of ships from Salem. The 
stones, on reaching the port, were tossed out and the 
cargoes of ivory and cloves came on board and the thrifty 
Arabs made good use of them. 

Here I played a trick on the family. As we were walk- 
ing along I spotted some durian fruits hanging in a stall 
in the market and I bought one, said nothing about it, and 
when we went to lunch on the roof of the funny Httle 
hotel — an old Arab house remodeled with its high, adobe 
parapets and much needed shade in the form of an awn- 
ing overhead, for the dining room floor is also the roof — 
I prepared a surprise. I had one of the native boys take 



266 Naturalist at Large 

the durian and pick it apart, as one does preparatory to 
eating it. I then put this in a covered dish and set it in the 
middle of the table. In due season the family arrived and 
seated themselves prepared to complain about the victuals. 
We had soup, fish, and an excellent curry which, of course, 
some of my family don't like. However, long before the 
curry stage had been reached there were angry sniffings 
and remarks such as, "My, there's obviously a clogged 
drain in this hotel," or "I think it is a dead horse in the next 
yard which should have been buried days ago." This con- 
tinued until time for the dessert, when I lifted the lid and 
instantly the table was vacated. One brave member of my 
party tasted a sample and disappeared at once so that I 
could continue to clean up the remains of the durian at 
leisure, for I am just perverted enough to like this curious 
mixture of peach, garHc, and almonds. 

I still wear the pongee-silk suits which I had made to 
order in Zanzibar at one South African pound each. I 
never pass the case in the Peabody Museum in Salem where 
the old uniforms are exhibited without marvehng that one 
could wear such clothing in the tropics and survive. Imag- 
ine being consul in Zanzibar in thick broadcloth covered 
with gold lace. However, thin clothes for summer are 
recent. Our grandfathers wore broadcloth all the year 
round, and less than a hundred years ago British troops 
were shipped to India with the same uniforms they wore 
in England. 

At Tanga we motored up to the Botanical Garden at 
Amani in the Usambara Mountains where we had friends 
on the staff of the institution. We stopped along the way 
to watch a column of army ants as they crossed the road 




Photo by M. D. Porter 

A yearling Greater Kudu in the Kruger Park 

August 193^. Taken with a lA FPK universal focus Kodak 

at a distance of tzvelve feet 



Africa 267 

like a strip of blackstrap molasses flowing slowly along, 
and were overjoyed when several magnificent black and 
white Colobus monkeys hurtling their way through the 
high forests jumped across the road from one high tree to 
another, one passing directly over the top of one of our 
motorcars. The forest garden at Amani is magnificent and 
the Germans who laid it out in a better day obviously 
devoted a great deal of money to its development and to 
the scientific work which was carried on there. The cin- 
chona plantations were still in evidence, though somewhat 
overgrown, where the Germans produced enough quinine 
to take care of their army through the whole long East 
African campaign. 

Once we motored from Tanga to Mombasa, a bad road 
but through lovely country, and once, also, we were long 
enough in Mombasa to go up to Nairobi and drive out 
to look across the Riff Valley. Since that day I have al- 
ways hoped I might return. Not only is the scenery sub- 
limely beautiful, but the animals present a constantly 
changing scene. Giraffes, gazelles, gnus, hartebeests, os- 
triches, are constantly before the eye, and with luck one 
occasionally gets a glimpse of rhino, hyena, lion, or leop- 
ard. Indeed, for hours before you reach Nairobi you 
pass through a great game reserve with hundreds, and 
often thousands, of animals always in view. 

Aden is much more interesting than most people realize, 
if you have time to drive off the peninsula and see some 
of the old Arab towns on the mainland, and above all to 
visit the prehistoric tanks — giant cisterns hewn in the rocks 
— high in the stony hills behind Steamer Point. 

Djibouti is a hell hole, and Port Sudan, in the middle 



268 Naturalist at Large 

of summer, is warm enough to talk about afterwards. We 
have been there several times and on one occasion had a 
rather amusing experience. We had driven out to see the 
camel market and the old Fuzzy- Wuzzy town of Suakin. 
We returned to Port Sudan panting. I saw a sign that said 
"Cold Beer." I sat down under a sort of arcade beside the 
dusty square and while I proceeded to try the beer, my 
wife went off to purchase something or other. I heard her 
say to a portly Greek, "My, what good English you speak." 
He replied, "I ought to; I was born in Lawrence, Massa- 
chusetts." 

If you're lucky you can see flamingos in the salt pans near 
Aden and near Port Sudan too, and if your ship does not 
happen to be one of several coming into Aden on the same 
day, so that the birds are too well fed, you will enjoy the 
extraordinary flight of Bramany kites which roost in count- 
less multitudes on the pinnacles of rock about the town and 
which come swooping and diving in graceful flight to pick 
up such bits of offal as may be thrown overboard. I was 
prepared for this scene and had all hands well stocked with 
ancient griddle cakes, biscuits, and other objects which we 
tossed into the air for the fun of seeing the kites swoop and 
catch them before they reached the water. 

Egypt in summer, of course, is pretty warm. On the 
other hand you have it to yourself. The motor ride from 
Suez to Cairo across the desert, if you take it at night, is far 
from uncomfortable and the Sphinx and the Pyramids, I 
think, look their best undecorated by tourists. 

One summer we decided to "do the Holy Land." A 
most comfortable train from Cairo takes you to the Canal, 
which you cross at El Kantara. On the ferry across the 



Africa 269 

Canal time passes easily for a most extraordinary conjurer 
stays on the boat and goes back and forth, entertaining. 
His principal trick is to take a little chicken, seize it by 
the wings, give it a sharp snap and, lo and behold, he has 
two chickens instead of one. He is called the gilly-gilly 
man. 

On one occasion we fetched up across the Canal and 
were about to get in the sleeping car — in fact all the fe- 
male members of the outfit had turned in and I was in the 
passport control office — when the officer suddenly spotted 
the fact that my daughter Julia, having had a birthday a 
few days before, had reached an age when she should have 
a separate passport of her own. This, of course, it was 
impossible to get and, after a lot of talking, he agreed meta- 
phorically to turn the calendar back a few days, else that 
trip would have had to be called off. 

From El Kantara the train runs to Haifa, but if you go 
to Jerusalem you get off at Lydda and take a branch line. 
One passes in sight of the Cave of Macpelah and across the 
stony draw where David smote Goliath. I think the thing 
that is most striking about Palestine is its tininess. You can 
stand on the Mount of Olives and look down and see the 
Dead Sea on one side and the whole city of Jerusalem 
spread out on the other. 1 am not going to discuss visiting 
the Holy Places. Some of the sites provoke deep emotions, 
a real stirring of the soul, while others are quite the re- 
verse, and in summer the dark covered tunnels which 
serve as streets stink awfully. One afternoon we drove 
down to the Dead Sea Valley. The children and Peggy 
Porter went in bathing. We sat and mopped our brows for, 
in spite of being in a region where drought is unbroken, 



270 Naturalist at Large 

the Dead Sea Valley is damp with the evaporation of the 
surface of the great lake. The Jordan River pours into 
the upper end of the Dead Sea but there is no outlet except 
by evaporation. The temperature in the valley, surrounded 
by broken hills and 1500 feet below the level of the sea, in 
August is grotesque. 

Jacob's Well is very impressive. How this rock-cut tube 
but a couple of feet in diameter and enormously deep was 
ever hollowed out by primitive man is hard to understand, 
but made it was and down it reaches to water which is cold 
and crystal clear. It is near Nablus, where the poor, tu- 
berculosis-ridden remnant of the Samaritans still walk the 
streets. 

Nazareth is lovely, the Sea of GaUlee a gem, and the site 
of Capernaum perhaps the most charming of all. 

Before we motored down to Haifa to embark we went 
out to the Cave of El Athlit at the Wadi El Mughara. The 
British Museum has been digging here for some years in 
an extensive cave. A number of Neanderthaloid skeletons 
have been recovered, and picking around the sides of the 
excavation I fished out a jaw of a red deer and the bony 
scute which once underlaid the scale of a crocodile. This 
simply served to bring to mind the fact that the British 
Museum had found remains of hippopotamus and a wide 
variety of other African animals in this region which now 
is too completely bare to support much of any wild life — 
mice and a few foxes at best. I wonder if the fact that man 
took the goat into domestication in this general area is not 
the reason for all this barrenness. Goats and goatherds still 
roam the landscape as they have undoubtedly been doing 
for several thousand years, and the fact that goats can gnaw 



Africa 271 

the bark off trees as well as destroy herbaceous vegetation 
is, I beheve, the probable reason why so large a portion 
of the shores of the Mediterranean basin are now desert. 

John Phillips met Major Hobley in London and thus 
became interested in the Society for the Preservation of 
the Fauna of the British Empire, feeling that some similar 
organization should exist in the United States. He and 
some of his friends established the American Committee 
for International Wild Life Preservation. This committee 
is active to this day, and has gathered together and pre- 
pared much interesting information concerning the his- 
tory and the causes which have caused the extinction of 
so many forms of animal life. To know more in detail 
concerning what had been done in South Africa and to 
encourage the conservationists in that part of the world 
we made a second trip there in 1936. We sailed from New 
York to Gibraltar, spent about ten days motoring through 
southern Spain, and then took the ship from Gibraltar to 
Cape Town via Dakar. 

My wife and I are fond of visiting markets. I can close 
my eyes and see again the brilliantly costumed Negresses 
of Dakar, the Bugi fishermen at Macassar in the Celebes, 
the fish market at Beira in Portuguese East Africa, and 
heaven knows how many others. 

Once or twice, however, my conspicuous size has made 
these visits amusing as well as interesting. I remember an 
old woman in the market in Cienfuegos, which I have 
visited hundreds of times, who said, "Look at the walking 
ceiba." It was no compliment. The ceiba is that enormous 
and ungainly tree with a leprous-looking bark — certainly 



272 Naturalist at Large 

one of the most clumsily shaped objects in the whole 
plant kingdom. 

On another occasion at Santiago de Compostela in Spain 
a slatternly old pod said to a friend beside her, "That chunk 
of humanity ought to have snow on it." My answer sur- 
prised her. I took my hat off and said, "Look, it has." Of 
course she had no idea that I knew Spanish and she used a 
pretty informal term for "chunk of humanity." It was ese 
cacho de hombre. 

I shall not elaborate this thesis any further, for many of 
the remarks made about me will not bear repetition in any 
society, polite or otherwise. 

Dakar is a well-built and typical colonial tropical city 
in the French style. It presents little of interest except the 
noisy and colorful market where the gaily dressed Negro 
women look as if they all came from either Martinique or 
Guadeloupe, but for the naturalist there is a real high light 
in the neighborhood provided he has the good fortune to 
find it out. We did. We drove some miles into the coun- 
try. Our real object was to see what there was in the way 
of bird life but what we found was a great stand of enor- 
mous baobab trees, I really believe the most wonderful 
grove of its kind in the world. These trees must be ex- 
tremely old and most of them have been chopped and 
hollowed out, apparently to conserve the rain water, for 
while this is a deserty part of Africa I take it that "when 
it rains it pours." The Arabs say that the baobab tree, by 
a divine mistake, grows upside down and that the strange, 
ragged branches which we see extending from its enor- 
mous trunk are really the roots sticking up in the air. None 
of the trees were very tall but certainly few of them were 



Africa 273 

less than forty-five or fifty feet in circumference. They 
swarmed with gray hornbills, purple rollers, brilliantly 
colored bee eaters, and agama lizards. Although we 
had seen big baobabs at Mombasa and elsewhere in East 
Africa, these giants at Dakar certainly stand out in mem- 
ory. 

At Cape Town, after visiting the splendid South African 
Museum, the lovely botanical garden at Kirstenbosch, the 
only place where the famous silver trees are still to be seen, 
and with a superb collection of Proteas and heaths, we 
went again to the University at Stellenbosch, and then set 
forth on a long tour. We hired a Dodge truck, a sort of 
delivery-wagon affair, which carried all our goods and 
chattels — as well as shovels, for we knew the roads would 
be bad, some canned goods, and other odds and ends. 
My daughter Julia rode in this with one of our Boer 
drivers so that she could help him by taking a turn at the 
wheel. The rest of us rode in another car. Peg helping with 
the driving of this one. Leaving Cape Town we started 
straight south, crossing the lovely Sir Laurie's Pass, for 
our first destination was the Bontebok Reserve at Bredas- 
dorp. This strikingly beautiful antelope, the bontebok, 
occurred only in a region which is now all farming country, 
and thanks to the Albertyn family some of them had been 
preserved on one of their farms. Finally the government 
bought a considerable area of the Strandveldt, fenced it, and 
twenty-three of the antelopes were successfully moved 
there. By now there are probably two hundred individuals 
and the herd is thriving. We motored on to Mossel Bay and 
saw the sea-lion colony on rocks only a few miles from 
the city. This spectacular herd is capable of development 



274 Naturalist at Large 

into a real attraction for visitors. At present few people 
realize that it exists at all. Our next stop was Port Elizabeth, 
where the ladies of the party, being excellent sailors, 
which I am not, went forty miles offshore to Bird Island, 
their visit luckily coinciding with one of the semiannual 
trips of the lighthouse tender. They saw a wonderful show 
of gannets, but only a few of the penguins which they were 
especially hopeful of seeing. The lighthouse keeper told 
Rosamond that within a few days he would look out from 
his house and instead of seeing the whole island snow-white 
with gannets they would all be gone, and the penguins 
would be swarming ashore to take up the same nesting 
ground. 

While the family were at Bird Island Mr. Herbert Lang, 
who had come from Pretoria to join us, and I went out to 
the Addu Bush. This park, recently established, shelters 
the last remnant of the true South African elephant. There 
are also bush buck, buffalo, and various small antelope, but 
it was established especially to preserve the few remaining 
individuals of the heavy-bodied, short-legged cape elephant, 
characterized by very short and very thick tusks. On ac- 
count of the tendency to wander, these elephants have given 
a great deal of trouble, especially to the orange growers, 
whose groves adjoin their range. A few years ago Major 
Pretorius, a famous Boer hunter, was commissioned to kUl 
off all the elephants. He almost succeeded in doing this be- 
fore the outcry of popular indignation put a stop to the 
slaughter. The Reserve has now been somewhat enlarged, 
I am told, and the elephants are kept in control with rockets 
and flares and by persuading the orange growers to dump 
all their cull oranges in a certain place where the elephants 




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Africa 21 S 

can go and feed upon them. The herd are holding their 
own now, and slowly increasing in numbers. 

After this visit we made a long tour through the Knysna 
and Tsitsikamer Forests, through the native reservations 
in the Transkei, and through Big and Little Pongoland. 
This gave opportunity to visit our friend Mr. Hewitt, 
whose excellent museum at Grahamstown unfortunately 
recently has burned to the ground. Hewitt kindly guided 
us to one of our most interesting experiences during the 
whole trip. This was a visit to some rock shelters where 
there were excellent bushmen paintings and carvings on the 
rocks. Major Shortridge showed us his wonderful mammal 
collection at the Kaffrarian Museum at King William's 
Town. He certainly has one of the finest collections if not 
the very best in the whole world of the small mammals of 
South Africa. At Durban Mr. Chubb described to us the 
excellent service which the museum there is rendering to 
the school system of the city, a complete co-operation 
which I should be proud to see copied in Boston, and which 
has only been equaled, if not perhaps excelled, by the 
work done by the museum at St. John, New Brunswick. 
Aided by grants from the Carnegie British Empire Trust 
the Durban museum has been used more or less as a 
laboratory subject. The population of the city is a con- 
siderable mixture. There are many British, a very few 
Boers, an enormous Indian population, and many natives. 
By bringing children in groups to the museum and by 
circulating small collections to the schools a really im- 
portant educational work has been built up, and it is in- 
teresting to see Zulus, in more or less conventional costumes, 
looking with interest at the objects representing the arts 



276 Naturalist at Large 

and crafts of their fathers or, for that matter, of their 
neighbors but a few miles away whom they probably 
seldom get to know or see. 

North from Durban we passed through Zululand to 
Swaziland, making a side trip to spend a few days with 
Captain Potter, who is warden of the Hluhluwe and 
Umfolozi Reserves where the last black-and-white rhi- 
noceros are well protected and are steadily increasing. The 
final high light of the journey of course was the opportunity 
to revisit the great Kruger National Park. So much has been 
written about this and it has been so often described that 
I am not going to attempt to do this again. The Park is as 
large as the State of Massachusetts, and swarms with 
countless thousands of animals of innumerable different 
sorts. In a day driving slowly along its narrow winding 
roads one may see elephants, giraffe, buffalo, as well as 
antelopes varying from the enormous eland, as big as an 
ox, to the tiny steenbok, hardly larger than a fox terrier. 
We spent a day or two in almost all of the camps from 
Crocodile River in the south to Punda Maria in the north. 
Colonel Stevenson-Hamilton, the chief ranger, and almost 
all of the members of his force of wardens treated us with 
the utmost courtesy, and many went out of their way to 
make it possible for us to see rare and unusual animals 
which could only be found by knowing exactly the place 
which they frequented, or the exact time of day or night 
when they were to be seen. After passing up and down the 
whole length of the Park we left the Union of South 
Africa at Komati Poort and passed over into Portuguese 
East Africa at Ressano Garcia. 



Africa 277 

As I have said, my wife has the most complete control 
over her emotions of any person whom I have ever known 
and, by that same token, is not given to sentimental reflec- 
tions, or even to reminiscence. So I was surprised the other 
day when she said, "You must remember to write about 
the time we met the locusts." 

This was indeed an extraordinary experience as we were 
leaving the Transvaal at Komati Poort. We had heard of 
the troubles that awaited us at the frontier, so I directed 
our somewhat officious South African drivers to stay in 
the cars and let me go into the customhouse and do the 
talking, I had just received notice of my appointment as a 
delegate of the United States Government to the Inter- 
national Zoological Congress to be held at Lisbon, and I 
told the customhouse officers that I was going to give them 
the pleasure of being the first to offer us Portuguese hos- 
pitality. My Portuguese is by no means fluent — indeed it 
is badly mixed with Spanish, which is for me almost a sec- 
ond mother tongue — but my bastard jargon is gUb and I 
can pronounce the Portuguese words correctly and con- 
vincingly. My speech worked hke a charm. At a signal 
from the Collector of Customs, the tall, dignified black 
askari swung wide the barrier over the road and we rolled 
into another world. 

Komati Poort is a sleazy little town of galvanized iron, 
mostly unpainted. Step over to Ressano Garcia and you 
step straight into Portugal — stucco houses painted in bril- 
liant colors, shady arcades about the plaza, a cafe with Httle 
round tables on the sidewalk, a bandstand, and wide, clean, 
well-paved streets with shade trees. Portuguese East Africa 
was a most complete eye-opener and the drive down to the 



278 Naturalist at Large 

Port of Lourengo Marques bid fair to be enjoyable indeed. 
There were lots of birds to look at. Picturesque natives in 
little groups chattered as they walked along the dazzling 
highway. We had progressed about half an hour and had 
stopped to gather some of the seed pods from a giant sausage 
tree for planting in a friend's garden in Florida, when I 
looked up and said, "Hurry back to the car. There's a 
terrible storm brewing." Great black clouds were rolling up 
on the horizon and quite obviously headed in our direction. 
So thundergustuous and menacing did they appear that we 
almost felt the chill wind that often precedes a terrifying 
storm. 

There was only one road and we had to make Lourengo 
Marques for the cars to return to Komati Poort. As we got 
nearer to the storm, we marveled that there was no light- 
ning and no thunder, and then we discovered that this 
was no storm at all but a gigantic cloud of locusts, miles 
long. In India and in Central America we had seen swarms 
of locusts, but nothing anywhere on this gigantic scale. 
The ground they passed over — for they were constantly 
alighting, eating a little, and then flying on — was com- 
pletely bare of vegetation, the scorched earth in very 
sooth. Our wheels slipped and skidded on the pavement, 
which swarmed with them. Natives with great flat baskets 
gathered them up for food and the storks had a field day. 
For a mile or so we passed through the strange semi- 
darkness of this clattering, snapping squall of insects before 
coming out again into the brilliant sunshine. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

In Retrospect 

XHE RECORD of the evolution of a personality, set 
forth objectively, can be a contribution to human biology. 
I do not say that I can succeed in being objective, but I 
am going to try. 

I was so shy and timorous up to the day of my marriage 
that I bid fair to be a complete recluse all my life. The 
gentle but firm impact of my wife's personality soon be- 
gan to change this. She gave up dances and parties and a 
multitude of admirers for some years of travel, which she 
certainly, to say the least, never yearned for. Gradually 
she brought me around to a willingness to meet people and 
even, for some years, to do a considerable amount of enter- 
taining until the devastating blow of our only son Wil- 
liam's death changed the whole course of our lives. 

I should need to be a Milton to sum up Bill's peerless 
personality. I can still sit down on well-remembered stones 
or logs up in New Hampshire and feel Bill's presence just 
as if he were beside me. He liked the woods as I did, loved 
to shoot and fish, and did both extraordinarily well for 
one of his years. He was built like a Barbour — tall, broad- 
shouldered, and very powerful. From somewhere he in- 
herited a perfect sweetness of disposition and temper. In 
this respect he far outshone either of his parents. He was 
a fine athlete and a good student, and cared nothing for 
hardship or discomfort. 



280 Naturalist at Large 

We made together one gorgeous trip alone, up through 
the Kapitachuan Lakes, not far from the southern end 
of James Bay. He was eighteen at the time. We camped 
for several weeks with some Indians, who, in no time, were 
devoted to Bill, and we had splendid fishing. To cap it all, 
Bill killed a bear, which was young enough to be delicious 
to eat; and, as the weather was cool, it kept getting bet- 
ter and better till the last tiny morsel was consumed. Bill 
had a particularly pleasing, soft, quiet, sUghtly husky voice, 
and while he was incHned to be somewhat self-contained, 
nevertheless I have a feeling that he would not unlikely 
have become a clergyman. He always followed the lesson 
at Groton, where he sang in the choir, with his Greek 
Testament. 

Bill and Mary B. were in some respects extraordinarily 
alike, although she was, and still is, a Uttle golden-haired 
sprig of a girl, in sharp contrast to her brother. We talked 
about him the other day as I drove with her to Washington, 
where she went to join her husband, who is on duty there 
with the Army. It was a long and rather dreary drive, but 
made tolerable by the fact that we seldom nowadays have 
long, unbroken opportunities to chin and chatter together 
freely. Mary B. also is one of the very few I know who 
can put up contentedly with discomfort, as I think is well 
indicated in her book. 

I have friends who have suffered the same sort of sor- 
row which I went through following Bill's death when he 
was a senior at Groton. The initial stages seem completely 
unbearable, but gradually, with passing time, scar tissue 
forms over the open wound; the memories grow sweeter 
and more precious with the years, and finally almost com- 



In Retrospect 281 

pletely substitute themselves for the enjoyment once de- 
rived from a human companionship. This has been a con- 
solation to me, and I know it has been for others. 

I once thought seriously of shifting over from being a 
naturalist to becoming a student of archaeology and ethnol- 
ogy, but here my predecessor at the Agassiz Museum, Sam- 
uel Henshaw, did me a real favor. He berated me so vig- 
orously and with such vituperation for having any such 
notion that he really drove it completely out of my head. 
He cited the enormity of J. W. Fewkes's sins in having 
made just such a transfer. But I have sneaked off on many 
occasions to sit musing and wishing that I knew more about 
the inwardness of archaeology, and, in my off hours, I have 
read a great deal in it. 

I love to go alone to the ruins of Quirigua in Guatemala 
in that sumptuous forest setting and watch a toucan come 
volplaning across the ancient plaza. Those gorgeous stelae 
stand now in solitary grandeur where once the whole 
scene must have been thronged with brilliantly costumed 
Indians. 

I have listened with breathless enjoyment to the tales 
Mary B. has told when she and her husband, Alfred Kid- 
der II, have returned from Barquisimeto in Venezuela where 
they have dug in early ruined sites, or from Lake Yohoa or 
the Ulua River Valley in Honduras where they found 
not only buildings of the early Mayan Empire but burials 
and superb polychrome pottery as well. I followed with 
feelings of mingled envy and wrath their visits to the high- 
lands of Peru and BoUvia where they worked for many 
months; envy at the success of their archaeological labors 



282 Naturalist at Large 

and wrath at the stories of the animal life which they saw 
but which they had not the means or the time to collect 
for the Museum. 

It is always a question whether archaeological monu- 
ments are more spectacular on their native heath or when 
delivered into captivity. I believe it is a blessing that that 
high spidery trestle bridge on which the railroad has to 
cross to Guatemala City was not sufficiently strong to al- 
low the Quirigua monuments to be transferred to the Capi- 
tol. They are superb in their original setting. Now they 
are safe in situ for all time, thanks to Dr. Alfred Kidder 
of the Carnegie Institution, and the co-operation of the 
United Fruit Company which owns the land on which they 
stand. Some day I hope the remains of the buildings can 
be pointed up and saved from further disintegration as 
has been done at Copan in Honduras, where I have never 
been, or at Xochicalco in Mexico, where I saw the wonder- 
ful Teocalli with its frieze of plumed serpents in 19 lo. 

I was never fitted to be a teacher, but Mr. Lowell gently 
and firmly led me to a point where I gave a series of Lowell 
Lectures. These appeared in book form. The book went 
through two editions and sold much better in England 
than it did in America. For a while I was much sought for 
as a speaker describing our travels, but that was in a day 
when people traveled less widely and less easily than they 
do now. I even reached a point where I made a speech on 
Prize Day at Groton School, another at the dedication of 
the new Museum of the University of Michigan, and a 
third in the new Biological Laboratories at the University 
of Riclimond. But as I read them over again now these 



In Retrospect 283 

speeches do not appear to have been inordinately creditable 
productions. 

I look back on my connection with the development of 
the laboratories in the Canal Zone, with the Soledad Gar- 
den in Cuba, and with the Farm for extracting snake ven- 
oms at Tela in Honduras with great satisfaction, for I think 
all of these organizations have served a really useful pur- 
pose in the world. Moreover, in the Canal Zone I chanced 
to meet the late Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who became 
a dear friend. Through him I had the opportunity to love 
and admire the nearest thing to a saint that I have ever 
known in human form, his brother-in-law, James Craik 
Morris, then Bishop of the Canal Zone and Parts Adjacent, 
later of Louisiana. Bishop Morris and his lovely wife have 
played an intimate part in my life, and indeed in that of 
all the members of my family. 

For years I was a hypochondriac for a very peculiar 
reason. I had so definitely in mind what I wanted to ac- 
complish during my life that I constantly suffered porten- 
tous symptoms which I expected to lead to death, just as 
for months after Bill's death I awaited what I was sure was 
impending insanity. It was not that I was particularly afraid 
of death, as such, but that I dreaded leaving work that I 
had planned to do — a mess for others to clean up. 

Now all this is changed. When but a short time ago I 
received the notice of election as Foreign Honorary Mem- 
ber of the Linnaean Society of London — I had been simi- 
larly honored by the Zoological Societies of London and 
Amsterdam years before — I was elated. Years ago I too 
had set my cap for a Httle group of hopes: membership in 



284 Naturalist at Large 

the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American 
Antiquarian Society, the Philosophical Society in Phila- 
delphia, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and 
the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, and, to 
cap all, a Harvard honorary degree. All these have been 
vouchsafed unto me and many other honors besides, not 
the least an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth and one 
from Havana described elsewhere. I have many warm 
friends in Hanover. I am not going to write a catalogue 
of the honors, or mention those which came from Europe. 
They all serve a very great purpose for they mean that 
you can't quit trying to do your best without letting down 
a lot of people. Moreover, they keep one humble-minded, 
which is good for the soul. I wound up feeling that the 
race was run and I might rest on my oars. 

One trembles to think of the heinous nature of the orig- 
inal sin which gave rise to the widespread penance known as 
an annual report. Along with thousands of other categories 
of sinners, the preparation of an annual report is a periodical 
duty for museum directors. I have tried from time to time 
to make mine a little bit more than the literary dust which 
is almost inevitable. Sometimes I have succeeded to a sur- 
prising extent, so that my friends have occasionally written 
and said that they read the report of such and such a year 
with somewhat less loathing than usual. For the writing 
of the annual report is by no means all of the horror in- 
volved; a considerable nuitiber of people have to read it, if, 
perchance, only because they have to make a digest of it 
to include in their own annual tragedy. 

This year, in the midst of a war-torn world, I have been 



In Retrospect 285 

thinking hard about the whole question which every el- 
derly person in an administrative capacity has been pon- 
dering — as to whether or not he is pulling his weight in 
the boat at times like this. Or should I shut the Museum 
up and walk away from it for the duration? Then I read 
something which clarified my thoughts and proved extraor- 
dinarily comforting. You remember when Justice Holmes 
told of walking down Pennsylvania Avenue on a drizzly 
night, after a long session of the Court which had involved 
argumentation, perplexity, and perhaps some bickering, 
and how raising his eyes and looking ahead he saw out over 
the Treasury Department clear sky and the shining of 
stars. Well, the stars have shone for me in the form of 
some lines recently written by my friend Dr. Albert Eide 
Parr, the distinguished new Director of the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History in New York. Feeling that we 
need a credo for our work, he writes: — 

This war is not a war for material gain, but a war 
for the protection of a civilization. Therefore, the spir- 
itual home front has an importance in this struggle 
which it never had in the imperialistic battles of old. 
And on this spiritual home front the war itself imposes 
a terrible handicap upon our efforts. Democracy is a 
type of government designed for peace and civilized 
living. We who have had opportunity to mature in 
a democracy at peace have learned to love it for the 
beauty it reveals under the proper conditions for its 
existence. Our love for it is permanent. We can sus- 
pend its freedom for its own protection, and hide 
many of its beauties to the world, safe in the knowl- 



286 Naturalist at Large 

edge that we shall only long for the day when we 
can set it free again. But in the meantime, young 
people are growing up — young people who will spend 
their formative years in a democracy looking its worst 
under conditions for which it was not designed. The 
educational system of which we are a part therefore 
has the stupendous responsibility to the future of de- 
mocracy and of our nation, of teaching the generations 
of tomorrow to love a way of life which by their own 
actual experience they will only have opportunity to 
observe as a tired and harassed image of its former 
beauty in times of peace, and of the beauty it shall 
regain anew after victory if we do not permit it to 
become permanently marred by neglect in the mean- 
time. 

Of course our efforts would be wasted if victory 
should not be won. And I know there are people who 
sincerely believe that for that reason we ought to re- 
duce our cultural efforts to the lowest possible main- 
tenance level. In my opinion the terrible handicaps 
under which we are striving to implant in future 
generations an appreciation of the things for which 
we are fighting today call for the entirely opposite 
attitude. The effort of our physical victory may also 
prove wasted if in the meantime we have lost on the 
spiritual front. And I do not propose to apologize 
for having sufficient faith in our ultimate victory 
to consider the continued growth and development 
of the cultural and educational institutions to 
be one of the most essential duties which can be 
borne in our nation today, second only to the duty 



In Retrospect 287 

of those defending our right to have the civilization 
V7t want. At least that is the conviction in which I my- 
self carry on. 

And who but Robert E. Lee could ever have written 
these words: — 

The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires 
so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, 
and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of human- 
ity is so long, and that of the individual so brief, that 
we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave, and 
are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to 
hope. 

I was greatly impressed as an undergraduate with a re- 
mark I once heard Dean Shaler make. Someone asked him 
why he bothered to go to chapel as regularly as he did. 
The Dean replied, "I need a spiritual bath much more often 
than I need one in the tub." This remark gave me great 
comfort, inasmuch as long years ago I came to the con- 
clusion that an enormous amount of time was wasted 
washing ourselves when there was absolutely no occasion 
or need to do so. As for the chapel, I must confess that 
my attendance there was not very regular. 

With later years, however, I have discovered that when 
I am low in mind I derive great refreshment of spirit and 
a real lift from good ecclesiastical music. I prefer the Gre- 
gorian music and the plainsong of the Roman Church. I 
started out as a Presbyterian, however, because my father 
was one, but long years ago I lost interest in the Pres- 
byterian form of worship and went to the Episcopal 



288 Naturalist at Large 

Church, which my wife attended, and was finally confirmed 
therein. I have served on the vestry of Trinity Church 
in Boston, and am still Treasurer of St. John's Church at 
Beverly Farms. 

The intricate details of what I believe or do not believe 
are seldom exactly alike for two days running, but I com- 
fort myself constantly by recalling that I once heard Dean 
Washburn say in the pulpit of Trinity Church that the 
greatest words in the Book of Common Prayer were those 
of Saint Augustine where he said, "Whose service is per- 
fect freedom." 

The words come in the Collect for Peace: "O God, 
who art the author of peace and lover of concord in knowl- 
edge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is 
perfect freedom." No words of more stately and majestic 
serenity appear in a book which stylistically is unapproach- 
able. The only English which equals the King James ver- 
sion of the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer is John 
Livingston Lowes's "Essay on Appreciation" of that same 
Bible. 

As for the hymnal, that is a quite different part of speech. 
The number of magnificent tunes is vastly greater than 
the number of hymns with excellent words. Of course, 
there are exceptions; "Once to Every Man and Nation," 
by James Russell Lowell, is to me completely overwhelm- 
ing. The same applies to the hymn, "Oh Lord and Master 
of us all," but this was wTitten by Whittier. A^y other favor- 
ite, far and away at the top of the list musically, is "Let 
all mortal flesh keep silence," the hymn which is sung at 
the communion service on the great feast days like Christ- 
mas and Easter. The tune sung to these words is of utterly 



In Retrospect 289 

unworldly beauty and, here again, is one of the rare cases 
when the words are worthy of the music. 

As I say, the details of one's personal religion are no- 
body's business but one's own. However, I think it is only 
fair to say, perfectly frankly, that I have got great com- 
fort out of mine, and there have been occasions when, un- 
supported by it, I should have been hard put to keep my 
reason. 

My family have never mixed themselves very much into 
my pursuits at the Museum. My daughter Julia worked 
in the Agassiz Museum for a while in the Department of 
Birds. She and her sister Louisa are talented executives, ac- 
tive in the management of social and charitable agencies. 
Besides this, Julia has a fine voice and draws beautifully, 
if she would only believe it and keep practising. Perhaps 
she will. My oldest daughter, Mary, happily married to 
Alfred Kidder II, shares his archaeological interest in South 
America. His calling brings him to deal with objects fre- 
quently of rare beauty, and before her marriage Mary B. 
worked in the Peabody Museum for some years as an ex- 
pert pottery restorer. She is also a diarist of no mean talent. 
When my old friend Ellery Sedgwick reviewed her last 
book for the Atlajitic Monthly with spontaneous and gen- 
erous praise I was, I think, even more happy than she. 

A catalogue of the friendships of any man is bound to be 
a bore, like Homer's Catalogue of the Ships, but I cannot 
refrain from mentioning a few of those whose names may 
not have appeared in the pages which I have written. I 
think first of Leonhard Stejneger, dux, lex, lux, who began 
answering my tiresome questions when I was eighteen and 



290 Naturalist at Large 

who is doing so to this day.^ He, I think, take it by and 
large, is the most erudite person I have ever known. Lat- 
terly my connection with the Fairchild Tropical Garden 
in Florida has been a joy. It not only gave me the oppor- 
tunity to visit David and Marian Fairchild for long periods 
of time, to install the Palm Products Museum at the Gar- 
den, but to add Bob and Nell Montgomery to the list of 
well beloved. Their superb collection of palms and other 
plants in southern Florida I have been proud to add to in 
a little way from time to time; a trifling recompense for 
the hospitality they have offered me. 

To this record I want to add the importance to me and 
to the Museum of the wise council and generous assistance 
of my colleagues George Agassiz and George Shattuck, 
members of the Museum's Governing Board. And let me 
add this observation here right now and say that it is dif- 
ficult for me to describe the sensations almost of triumph 
which I have felt when each one of George Nelson's su- 
perbly mounted fossils has been added to what formerly 
was one of the most insignificant collections in the 
Museum. 

Two keys I have had which have opened the doors to 
more happiness than most of those on my bulky key ring. 
One opened the doors of 800 i6th Street in Washington, 
where Mrs. Hay and later Jim and Alice Wadsworth made 
many trips to the Capital, which would have otherwise 
been dreary chores, pure delights, the memories of which 
still remain fresh and clear. The same may be said of the 
key to 1720 I Street, where my wife's cousins, Wendell and 

^He died after these lines were written February 28, 1943. 




T. B.'s office in the Agassiz Museum 

The author's library to the right; Agassiz fireplace to the left; 

the "^Eateria" above 



In Retrospect 291 

Fanny Holmes, made each visit an intellectual adventure, 
and during the war years I came up from Havana to Wash- 
ington on numberless occasions. They fixed me a room 
on the top story of the house, bound two single beds to- 
gether with metal bands, and thus provided rest for my 
elongate figure. Once when the Tavern Club in Boston 
was going to give a dinner to Stephen Vincent Benet, 
which I greatly regret having missed, Owen Wister, then 
its president, wired the Justice for a message. I happened 
to be at hand when the telegram arrived and I seized it and 
the draft of the reply. These I now have framed together. 
Cousin Wendell wrote, "The first book I read about law 
was Benet on Court Practice. The last word I read about 
war was Benet's John Bronmfs Body. The name has been a 
Benediction to me and I salute the bearer of it." 

Mr. Lowell's appointment of me, Henry Bigelow, and 
several other colleagues to professorships in the Faculty of 
Arts and Sciences closed the breach which had previously 
existed between those servants of the University engaged 
in taxonomic research and those interested in other branches 
of biology. At times, largely because the biological labora- 
tories were housed in the Museum building and all hands 
were frightfully overcrowded, the feeling had been bitter 
indeed. 

Election as Trustee of the Carnegie Institution in Wash- 
ington, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Boston 
Museum of Natural History, of which I have been presi- 
dent for years, the Peabody Museum of Salem, the Bishop 
Rhinelander Foundation, and above all to the Latin Amer- 
ican Committee to choose Fellows under the John Simon 
Guggenheim Memorial Foundation — all these have brought 



292 Naturalist at Large 

me the opportunity for acquaintanceship with a number 
of distinguished men, many of whom have long been warm 
friends. 

When I became Director of the Agassiz Museum, it was 
obvious that I should be unable to take care of my old 
pets, reptiles and amphibians. I was able to bring Mr. Ar- 
thur Loveridge from the Nairobi Museum, and I have al- 
ways been glad I did so. His collections are better indexed 
and arranged than any other collection of reptiles in the 
world. As a matter of fact, there is only one more com- 
plete collection — the one in London. The collection of 
reptiles and amphibians now contains typical material of 
about 2300 species and there are something over 100,000 
specimens representing the two groups. 

The collection of birds has grown enormously. There are 
now about 300,000 specimens, and while this is not a large 
collection in comparison with the collections in London, 
New York, or Washington, it is singularly well-chosen 
and reflects a great deal of credit upon the curatorial 
capacity of its caretaker, James Lee Peters, who as a curator 
is a worthy successor to Outram Bangs. 

I don't know why, but our collection of mammals has 
never grown the way the collection of birds has done. It 
amounts to about 60,000 skins. Nevertheless, it is a fine 
collection and a useful one as shown by the constant ap- 
plications to borrow specimens for study elsewhere. It is 
now in the competent hands of Barbara Lawrence, whose 
husband, WilHam Schevill, is our learned librarian. 

Our enormous collection of fish is at last getting organ- 
ized. It is hard to estimate how many specimens we really 
have, for it has been the custom in this department to 



In Retrospect 293 

catalogue lots and not individual specimens. There are 
something in the vicinity of 40,000 glass jars, 187 copper 
tanks for larger specimens, and five of what we call coffins, 
metal-lined receptacles about nine feet long, four feet wide, 
and three feet deep, which contain sharks and similar mon- 
sters. Many of the jars contain from 50 to 100 speci- 
mens, sometimes even more, so that your guess is as 
good as mine as to how many fish there actually are in the 
Museum. 

During the last twenty years we have acquired by gift 
some enormous collections of insects — the collection of 
beetles made by my wife's uncle, Frederick Channing 
Bowditch, the Weeks collection of butterflies, the Wheeler 
collection of ants, the Harris collection, and many, many 
others. Consideringr the enormous accretions to a collection 
of insects which was already very large, the material is 
all in fine shape, largely owing to the unbelievable industry 
and wide learning of Professor Nathan Banks. 

The collection of mollusks has grown to be one of the 
very largest in the world and William Clench keeps it in 
perfect order. It is a joy to behold. The objects themselves 
are inherently so beautiful that in the mass they are be- 
wildering. A tremendous windfall came in the other day 
when Amherst College decided to entrust the care of the 
Adams collection to this Museum. Clench estimates that in 
the aggregate there are 140,071 lots of shells in the depart- 
ment, representing about 28,000 species, and the total 
number may be 6,000,000 and the types 5000 to 6000. 

Frank Carpenter has built up the collection of fossil 
insects largely with his own hands, for he is as skilled in 
the field as in the laboratory. His collection is now the 



294 Naturalist at Large 

best in the world and he has 1376 types and something in 
the vicinity of 60,000 specimens. 

Thanks to Mr. Agassiz, our collection of echinoderms is 
excellent. This is the department in which he himself was 
most interested. Years ago he invited Dr. Hubert Lyman 
Clark to come here to be his associate and study these 
groups and he still continues to have general charge. There 
are of sea urchins 554 species, represented by 145 types. 
This is the largest proportion in relation to the total number 
of species in the world of any collection in the whole 
Museum. Brittle stars, represented by 11 14 species, 442 
types; starfish, 759 species, 150 types; and the sea cucum- 
bers, represented by 484 species and 120 types, form a 
good proportion of the species described, but our collec- 
tion of sea lilies, or crinoids, is not to be compared with 
the one which Austin Clark has built up in Washington. 
But of these groups there are in all 104,000 specimens and 
7000 types, which is a good showing. 

The Museum by tradition has always been interested in 
fossil fishes and we have a splendid collection of about 
44,880 specimens contained in no less than 1122 trays. I 
am not as familiar with this material as I should be, although 
I once worked for some time on the material from Mount 
Lebanon and found that we had a large proportion of the 
species which have been discovered there. Our recent 
accessions have been from Cuba and our oldest material is, 
of course, the European collections which were brought 
to this country by Louis Agassiz. This we are fortunate to 
possess for, generally speaking, American museums are 
weak in European material and for comparative purposes 
these collections are very important. Henry Stetson gave 



In Retrospect 29 S 

up a brilliant career studying the ancestral fishes to enter 
another field, in which he has also distinguished himself 
handsomely: the study of cores brought up by mechani- 
cally driven tubes which, forced into the sea bottom, provide 
a picture of the results of submarine sedimentation and 
hence of geologic history — details which a few years ago 
no one ever dreamt of. 

In vertebrate paleontology we got off to a bad start, but 
now that Professor Alfred Romer has come from Chicago 
to take charge of these fossils, the collection has at last 
begun to grow. Professor Raymond has for many years had 
charge of the invertebrates, which is a gigantic collection, 
numbering close to a million specimens and contained in 
no less than 5549 trays. Our early primitive reptiles of 
North and South America are good and our mammal col- 
lection is growing fast. 

The collection of Crustacea is growing well in Fenner 
Chace's hands. He estimates that he has 1 500 type specimens 
and probably 200,000 specimens in all. I can only make a 
short statement concerning the other marine invertebrate 
groups — corals, jellyfishes, sponges, worms, and so on. 
There are probably about 800 types and 3380 lots of 
specimens in these categories which are not well repre- 
sented in most museums. They frequently tend to accentu- 
ate the interest in conspicuous or spectacular material. We, 
on the other hand, have made a sincere attempt, at least, to 
build up a collection which is thoroughly well rounded. 

This all sounds as if I were a hideous boaster, but I think 
for the sake of the historical record it is worth while taking 
note of the material which this Museum contains at the date 
on which I am writing. 



APPENDICES 



I. For Zoographers Only 

Wallace stated, many years ago, that there are two dif- 
ferent types of islands. Those which he calls oceanic islands 
have never by any likelihood been connected with other 
land. A good example is St. Helena. There are others where 
changes in the earth's crust have broken up large land 
masses into what are now islands. There has always been 
a lot of discussion among naturalists as to details, particu- 
larly in the East and West Indies. 

It is clear that some separations can be explained by the 
fact that the oceans stand at a higher level now than they 
did when a large part of the water on the earth's surface 
was tied up in the form of ice during the several periods of 
maximum glaciation — when the polar icecap was enor- 
mously thick. I have argued principally concerning the 
West Indies, where many connections could be explained 
by this tie-up-of-ice theory, and I also believe that many 
of the deep passageways can be explained by what geol- 
ogists call downthrust-faulting, where an area drops rap- 
idly, geologically speaking of course, and makes a deep 
strait, sometimes counterbalanced by an upthrust some- 
where else. I believe, for instance, that the mountain 
known as the Morro of Monte Criste on the northern coast 
of Hispaniola and the Yunque of Baracoa on the northeast 
coast of Cuba represent upthrust-fault blocks, while the 
separation between Jamaica and Haiti represents a com- 
paratively recent downthrust area. The surface of the 
earth is in somewhat unstable equilibrium, what geologists 
call isostatic balance. 



300 Naturalist at Large 

At the risk of being dry and prosy I am giving here 
some arguments which I have used concerning the distri- 
bution of the animal Hfe in the West Indies. This is matter 
of great theoretical interest with no practical appUcation 
of any sort whatsoever. 

A peculiarity of the fauna of Jamaica is the fact that 
while its proximity to Cuba is practically the same as its 
distance from Haiti, the evident relationship of the island's 
fauna with that of Haiti is well marked, while with Cuba 
it has only in common species which range widely through 
the West Indian region. Now a possible explanation of this 
offers itself when we examine a contour map of the Carib- 
bean Sea. One of these was published as Figure 57 in Mr. 
Alexander Agassiz's Three Cruises of the Blake (Bulletin 
of the Museimt of Coifiparative Xoology, 1888, 14). Mr. 
Agassiz showed here that the Bartlett Deep, of over 3000 
fathoms, extends between Cuba and Jamaica — doubtless 
a cleft of very ancient origin. But the depth of water 
between the great southern arm of Haiti and Jamaica is 
only from 500 to 800 fathoms. There is, it is true, a hole of 
a depth greater than this south of the Formigas Bank. This, 
however, is very Hmited in area, and does not fundamen- 
tally affect the condition of affairs. The water between 
Jamaica and the Mosquito Coast of Central America is, 
much of it, extremely shallow, mostly 100 fathoms or less; 
though between the Pedro Bank and the RosaHnd Bank 
there is a narrow stretch of water of about 500 fathoms 
depth. 

Hydrographically, then, Jamaica is intimately related 
with both Central America and Haiti, and it seems probable 



For Zoographers Only 301 

that Lesser Antillean species and Central American species 
have come through a land connection which had nothing to 
do with Cuba. This would account, for instance, for the 
presence of the Hzard Aristelliger in Haiti and Jamaica. 
The early separation of Jamaica from the mainland and 
from Haiti would account for the absence of types having 
such a distribution as Bufo, the common toads, and Am- 
phisbaena, the blind lizards — which may easily have 
reached Haiti from the mainland of Central America by 
way of Cuba. Another connection must have existed be- 
tween Cuba and the upper peninsula of Haiti after the 
separation of Jamaica from Haiti, and may we not suppose 
that the separation took place before the migration of Bufo 
or Amphisbaena had extended far enough to have reached 
Jamaica? 

The question is undoubtedly far more complex than the 
suggestions contained in the previous paragraphs would 
indicate. Wallace in his Geographical Distribution of 
Ani?nals (London, 1876, 2, p. 81) says: — 

The West Indian Islands have been long isolated 
and have varied much in extent. Originally, they 
probably formed part of Central America, and may 
have been united with Yucatan and Honduras in one 
extensive tropical land. But their separation from the 
continent took place at a remote period, and they have 
since broken up into numerous islands, which have 
probably undergone much submergence in recent 
times. This has led to that poverty of the higher forms 
of life, combined with the remarkable speciality, 



302 Naturalist at Large 

which now characterizes them; while their fauna still 
preserves a sufficient resemblance to that of Central 
America to indicate its origin. 

Masterly as is the above resume of the status of conditions 
in the region under discussion, we suspect that Dr. Wallace 
would have written somewhat differently had he penned 
these lines fifty years later. 

Another view resting solely on geological or physio- 
graphical evidence is that presented by Dr. R. T. Hill, who 
conducted investigations on the geographic relations of 
the West Indies under the auspices of Mr. Agassiz. In an 
article published in the Natiofial Geographic Magazine 
(May 1896, 7, p. 181) he concludes with these words: — 

The Greater Antilles lie along the line of east-west 
corrugations and apparently represent nodes of greater 
elevation whereby the surfaces of these islands were 
projected above the waters as islands, which have 
persisted without continental connection or union 
with each other since their origin. 

If we accept Mr. Hill's conclusion, which I for one cer- 
tainly do not, it is impossible to account for a West Indian 
flora and fauna except by riding to death the old theory 
of "flotsam and jetsam." Ocean currents and prevailing 
winds could hardly have carried Central American types 
to any of the islands, as they work strongly in an opposing 
direction. This fact alone serves to prove the utter im- 
possibility of Hill's conclusion. Even were winds and cur- 
rents favoring, we know now that the number of types 
which will withstand a long submersion in sea water is 



For Zoographers Only 303 

vastly smaller tlian was once supposed when it was thought 
that reptiles, amphibians, land mollusks, and in fact almost 
all orders of animals were carried hither and thither 
throughout the oceanic areas. 

Mr. Agassiz has expressed an opinion on this series of 
relationships in his chapters in The Three Cruises of the 
Blake entitled "American and West Indian Fauna and Flora" 
and "Permanence of Continents and Oceanic Basins." The 
following (loc. cit.y 14, p. m) is pertinent: — 

At the western end of t':e Caribbean Sea the 
hundred-fathom line forms a gigantic bank off the 
Mosquito coast, extending over one third the distance 
from the mainland to the island of Jamaica. The 
Rosalind, Pedro, and a few other smaller banks, limited 
by the same line, denote the position of more or less 
important islands which may have once existed be- 
tween the Mosquito coast and Jamaica. On examining 
the five-hundred-fathom line, we thus find that Ja- 
maica is only the northern spit of a gigantic promon- 
tory, which perhaps once stretched toward Hayti from 
the mainland, reaching from Costa Rica to the north- 
ern part of the Mosquito coast. There is left but a 
comparatively narrow passage between this promon- 
tory and the five-hundred-fathom line which encircles 
Hayti, Porto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in one 
gigantic island. 

The passage between Cuba and Jamaica has a depth 
of over three thousand fathoms, and that between Hayti 
and Cuba is not less than eight hundred and seventy- 
three fathoms in depth. 



304 Naturalist at Large 

Referring to the same subject, Mr. Agassiz writes 
(pp. 112-113): - 

At the time of this connection, if it existed, the 
Caribbean Sea was connected with the Atlantic only 
by a narrow passage of a few miles in width between 
St. Lucia and Martinique, by one somewhat wider and 
slightly deeper between Martinique and Dominica, 
by another between Sombrero and the Virgin Islands, 
and by a comparatively narrow passage between 
Jamaica and Hayti. The hundred-fathom line con- 
nects the Bahamas with the northeastern end of Cuba; 
the five-hundred fathom line unites them not only 
with Cuba, but also with Florida. The Caribbean Sea, 
therefore, must have been a gulf of the Pacific, or 
have been connected with it by wide passages, of 
which we find the traces in the tertiary and cretaceous 
deposits of the Isthmus of Darien, of Panama, and of 
Nicaragua. Central America and northern South 
America at that time must have been a series of large 
islands, with passages leading between them from the 
Pacific into the Caribbean. 

And on page 113: — 

While undoubtedly soundings indicate clearly the 
nature of the submarine topography, it by no means 
follows that this ancient land connection did exist as 
has been sketched above. At the time when the larger 
West India Islands were formed and elevated above 
the level of the sea, they may have been raised as one 
gigantic submarine plateau of irregular shape, in which 



For Zoographers Only 305 

were included the Bahamas, Florida, Cuba, San 
Domingo, Porto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 

If we grant for the sake of argument that the Greater 
Antilles, like all Oceanic Islands, have received their fauna 
fortuitously, we must then explain the regularity and con- 
sistency with which the fauna has spread from two direc- 
tions to populate such a great number of separate islands, 
with and against the prevaihng wind and current. We find 
in the Lesser Antilles that the fauna is of almost purely 
northwest South American origin; as we pass thence to 
St. Thomas and to Porto Rico we note, as Stejneger has 
shown, the very evident twofold origin already mentioned. 
Then in Jamaica and Cuba the balance is in the opposite 
direction — types of Central American origin predomi- 
nate. 

The ancestry of Cricosaura, Amphisbaena, Bufo, and 
many other forms recently discovered prove that migra- 
tion to these two islands took place along independent 
land bridges. The Jamaican coney belongs to a different 
section of the genus (Capromys), similar to the Haitian 
and different from the Cuban species, and Solenodon occurs 
in Cuba and Haiti and not now — nor, so far as we know, 
did it ever — in Jamaica; these facts prove or help to prove 
the independent connection with Haiti of both Cuba and 
Jamaica. Finally, in favor of the "bridge theory" Dr. Stej- 
neger in a recent letter writes: "Whatever the mountain 
structure may show, certainly the geographical distribu- 
tion of the animals shows that the Greater Antilles have 
been part of a continent at some time." 

That Dr. Stejneger's opinion represents views which are 



306 Naturalist at Large 

gaining constantly in credence among present-day students 
of zoogeography there can be no doubt. Dr. R. F. ScharfT 
in his History of the European Faima (London, 1 899) cites 
many experiments to show that land snails are more easily 
killed by immersion in salt water than many students in 
the past have supposed. Slugs in the act of crawling on twigs 
drop off immediately when subjected to a slight spray of 
sea water. Scharff {loc. cit., p. 17) continues: "If we sup- 
posed, therefore, that a slug had successfully reached the 
sea, transported on a tree-trunk, the moisture would tend 
to lure it forth from its hiding-place under the bark, 
whilst the mere spray would prove fatal to its existence." 
He adds that species of snails and slugs which lead an under- 
ground existence would be much less likely to get started 
on these sea voyages. The suggestion advanced by Darwin 
that young snails just hatched might adhere to the feet 
of birds roosting on the ground and then be transported 
seems improbable. Dr. ScharfT in his European Animals: 
Their Geological History and Geographical Distribution 
(New York, 1907) states that Dr. Knud Andersen of 
Copenhagen has informed him in a letter that he has ex- 
amined the legs and wings of many thousands of migratory 
birds, "that their legs were clean; and no seeds or other 
objects were found adhering to their feathers, beaks or 
feet. It has also been proved that birds migrate on empty 
stomachs." 

There is also good authority for the statement that 
amphibians and earthworms very rarely or never occur on 
the two shores of a stretch of sea unless there is evidence 
showing the former existence of a land connection. 

To quote again from Scharff (loc. cit., pp. 18-20): — 



For Zoographers Only 307 

The formerly prevalent belief of the permanence 
of ocean basins has been shaken by the utterances of 
some of the greatest geologists of our day, while many 
positively assert that what is now deep sea of more 
than I GOG fathoms was dry land within comparatively 
recent geological epochs. 

He continues (p. 21): — 

Amphibians are affected in the same manner by 
sea-water as slugs are. The accidental transportal of 
an amphibian from the mainland to an island is there- 
fore almost inconceivable. The presence of frogs, 
toads, and newts in the British Islands, in Corsica and 
Sardinia, indicates, if nothing else did, that all these 
islands were at no distant date united with the con- 
tinent of Europe. 

These quotations show that the belief held by the writer 
is not an unusual one, for certainly the fauna of the Greater 
Antilles is vastly richer in species than on the islands just 
mentioned. 

For the person who may be interested to continue read- 
ing on this general subject I can recommend Dr. Schuchert's 
Historical Geology of the Antillean-Caribbean Region. This 
appeared in 1935 and not only is fascinating reading but 
contains a series of maps showing the distribution of the 
land areas in past geologic times which lend great support 
to the thesis which I have been defending for so many 
years. 

Now a word further regarding isostasy. There is hardly 
a principle in geology concerning which there is greater 



308 Naturalist at Large 

uncertainty among geologists than the matter of isostatic 
balance. Only one thing is sure, isostasy must meet and 
conform to known or presumably known facts, and the 
fact that fundamental changes have taken place in the 
form of the earth's surface in recent geologic time is not 
to be denied. Such features as the Great Rift Valley of 
Africa and its continuation, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, 
the Black Sea, the Basin of the Mediterranean, are held now 
by geologists to be the results of nothing but gigantic and 
fairly recent down-thrown fault-blocks. For other examples 
of changes of land and sea level with relation to each other, 
the Valley of the Po and the Central Valley of CaHfornia 
are good evidence. The argument of isostatic balance may 
probably be held to control the conditions in the Pacific 
Basin as a whole, but isostasy cannot be used effectively as 
an argument in a relatively small area anywhere. Professor 
R. A. Daly tells me that there is clear evidence of the 
fragmentation of a great land mass, including the Fiji 
Islands and New Caledonia, but that there is no evidence 
known at present of such a condition outside of a line 
joining Yap, in the Caroline Islands, with the Fijis, 
Kermadecs, and New Zealand. In addition, radiolarian ooze, 
supposedly only to be derived from the deep sea, has long 
been known from Barbados, Trinidad, Aruba, Buen Ayre, 
and Curacaos, but the origin of this series of deposits has 
been somewhat in dispute. Two recent papers by Dr. G. A. 
F. Molengraff, however, describe deposits of which there 
can hardly be any question whatever; one is "On Oceanic 
Deep Sea Deposits in Central Borneo," ^ while the other is 

^ Kon. Ak. Wet. Amsterdam, Reprint from proceedings of 
meeting June 26, 1909: 141- 147. (Reprint: 1-7.) 



For Zoographers Only 309 

entitled ''Over mangaan Knollen in mesozoischen diepzeeaf- 
•zettmgen van Borneo, Timor en Rotti, him beteekenis en 
hun imjzer van Opstaan.''' ^ These papers show that on the 
islands of Borneo, Timor, and Rotti, at an elevation of 
about 4000 feet, very extensive deposits occur which a 
microscopical examination shows to be composed of radio- 
laria, together with the manganese nodules so characteristic 
of the deep sea. In other words, Molengraff has found an 
extensive area of deep sea floor raised to 4000 feet above 
the present sea level. On the southeast coast of Africa, 
W. M. Davis noticed the truncation by the present shore 
line of extensive concentric terraces, traceable far inland, 
which could only mean the down-faulting of a gigantic 
block of material to bring the shore line into its present 
state. It will be said at once that some of these changes of 
level have taken place in zones known to be incomplete in 
isostatic adjustment, but this is a matter of no moment 
whatsoever in comparison with the fact that change of 
level may be found to have occurred in the very areas 
where the islands under discussion are found. Celebes does 
not lie upon the continental shelf, and yet the island has 
an obviously continental fauna, and the late Mr. WilHam 
D. Matthew, my principal and very friendly adversary in 
these arguments, has told me himself that Celebes has been 
a source of no small worry to him. Cuba has similarly a 
large fauna derived from the American continent, although 
it does not lie upon the continental shelf. Vaughan, a 
thoroughly conservative observer, beheves {in litteris) that 
Cuba was quite possibly separated, by the down-faulting 

* Kon. Ak. Wet. Amsterdam 23: 1058-1073. (Reprint: 1-16.) 



310 Naturalist at Large 

of blocks of material, from both Haiti and the mainland. 
Dr. Matthew was the most scholarly student of fossil 
mammals which America has produced. He was for many 
years at the American Museum of Natural History in New 
York and then, preferring a more tranquil life, went to 
the University of Cahfornia, where he died some years ago. 
We carried on a sort of symposium in print on this matter 
of distribution for some years. It was a pleasure to differ 
from Matthew because he was so perfectly courteous and 
invariably impersonal. In 1939 the New York Academy 
of Sciences brought out a special publication, with an ex- 
cellent portrait of my old friend, a reprinting of his Climate 
and Evolution and my remarks {Special Publications of 
the NeiD York Academy of Sciences, Vol. I, pp. i-xii, 
1-223). The upshot of all this is that we shall probably 
know a great deal more about this subject in the years to 
come, as the paleontological evidence is piling up. Even 
now we know more about the fossil animals of Cuba, 
Jamaica, and Puerto Rico than we did a generation ago — 
very much more — and not improbably more evidence will 
be forthcoming in the future. Once I thought this was a 
"pay your money and take your choice" problem, because 
there is good argumentation both ways, but I feel now 
that Matthew would have felt quite differently had he 
lived to read Schuchert's book, published in 1935. 



IL Render unto Caesar 

Over the course of years the director of a museum has 
the opportunity of working with many associates and 
young assistants, and it is to these oncoming naturahsts and 
curators that I wish to devote my last few pages. This 
record would not be complete without a word of recogni- 
tion of the constant and faithful assistance which I have 
received from four secretaries — Beatrice Johnson, Frances 
M. Wilder, Elizabeth Grundy, and, above all, Helene M. 
Robinson. 

Added to this is the fact that some of my graduate stu- 
dents have, to my great satisfaction, turned out to be dis- 
tinguished scholars and remain warm friends to this day. 
I think at once of Emmett Reid Dunn, Wilham M. Mann, 
John Wendell Bailey, Afranio do Amaral, and Alexander 
Graham Bell Fairchild and Marston Bates, son and son-in- 
law of my old friend David Fairchild. Others who have 
contributed greatly to my happiness on numberless oc- 
casions have been Margaret Porter Bigelow, to whom, with 
Archie and Margie Carr of the University of Florida, I 
presume to feel in loco parentis; the Harold Loomises of 
Coconut Grove and their children Margie and Jim; Dick 
and Helen Gaige at Ann Arbor; Elisabeth Deichmann and 
her sweet mother. I hold in the warmest affection Dr. 
Theodore White, my companion in digging at the Thomas 
Farm in Florida, and Henry Seton, who has gathered some 
wonderful material for us in the fossil fields of the West. 
I miss Jim Greenway, now in the Navy, every time I pass 



312 Naturalist at Large 

the Bird Room door. The Entomological Department has 
lost Philip Darhngton to the Army, but it has gained 
Vladimir Nabokov, a poet as well as a scientist. We need 
Philip back badly, another reason for wishing that the 
war may end soon. 

I must pay tribute without stint to the wide learning of 
two colleagues who are as good botanists as they are 
zoologists — Ludlow Griscom and Joseph Bequaert — orna- 
ments to any faculty. The Mollusk Department misses John 
Higginson Huntington, my nephew, who is driving an 
ambulance in North Africa, and Tucker Abbott, who came 
in only yesterday for a last farewell, his newly won wings 
proudly displayed. Richard Winslow Foster, a real anchor 
to windward, a good scientist and a generous benefactor 
of the Museum as well, is still with us, his asthma having 
kept him out of the Army. It is a horrid thing to say, but 
I am glad, because after all we have got to take care of the 
material which has been entrusted to our charge and assume 
that this war is not going to last forever. Henry Drummond 
Russell, formerly associated with the mollusks here, now 
helps me with the New England Museum of Natural His- 
tory in Boston. 

The Department sadly misses Harold J. Coolidge, who 
long ago joined the Office of Strategic Services. 

Russell Olsen has acquired great technical skill not only 
in taking fossils from the matrix, but in restoring them as 
well. He serves the Museum with unselfish devotion and 
has a good eye for the way exhibits ought to look. 

Ever since my junior year in college Mr. Eugene N. 
Fischer has been making lovely drawings to illustrate the 
Museum publications and he is doing the very same thing 



Render unto Caesar 313 

today. Latterly Mrs. Myvanwy Dick, another artist of 
rare skill, has volunteered to help with illustrations when 
we were hard pressed. 

If anything ever happens to Maxwell French I think I'd 
resign the next day. He does more different odd jobs with 
less waste of time than anyone I know. He can tell you the 
cost of an airmail letter to South Africa, how many inches 
long a parcel can be and still go by post, and he can pack 
the most delicate specimens so that they will reach their 
destination safely. 

Unfortunately we cannot afford a full-time Curator of 
Fishes at the present writing, but William Schroeder of the 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution helps us mightily. 

The Reptile Department doesn't seem itself without 
Benny Shreve's cheerful countenance. He has helped us 
for years, meticulously accurate, in determining Neotropi- 
cal reptiles and amphibians, which are his special pets. 

Elizabeth Bangs Bryant has for years cared for our 
enormous collection of spiders and has written many papers 
describing new species of this usually somewhat neglected 
group. 

We miss Llewellyn Price, an artist with a keen nose for 
a fossil, and a delightful companion. At present he is on 
loan to the Geological Survey of Brazil. 

I am perfectly sure that I have left out some of those 
whom I particularly wanted to salute, but if I have done 
so it has been unintentional. To me, the Museum is more 
like a person than a thing, an object of affection that 
comes directly next to my nearest and dearest. Here we all 
call one another by our first names. There is no Professor 
This or Curator That or Director So-and-so. We are Bill 



314 Naturalist at Large 

and Henry, Liska, Dick and Philip, and I hope that this 
tradition may continue forever. It wsis not always so, since 
my predecessor was not built this way. He felt that his 
resignation would inevitably reveal his incompetence (this, 
however, is not worth elaborating), and his studied un- 
kindness to me during the last years of his life was a bitter 
eye-opener which I hardly deserved. I hope when the time 
comes to make way for my successor that I may step out 
gracefully and help him take over one of the greatest and 
most thrilling tasks which a man can assume.