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I now received letters informing me of the reception of the paper on “Varieties," which I had sent to Darwin, and in a letter home I thus refer to it: “I have received letters from Mr. Darwin and Dr. Hooker, two of the most eminent naturalists in England, which have highly gratified me. I sent Mr. Darwin an essay on a subject upon which he is now writing a great work. He showed it to Dr. Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell, who thought so highly of it that they had it read before the Linnean Society. This insures me the acquaintance of these eminent men on my return home.” I also refer to my next voyage as follows:-"I am now about to start for a place where there are some soldiers, and a doctor, and an engineer who can speak English, so if it is good for collecting I shall stay there some months. It is called 'Batchian,' an island on the south-west side of Gilolo, and three or four days' sail from Ternate. I have now quite recovered from the effects of my New Guinea voyage, and am in good health.”
I reached Batchian on October 21, and about a month afterwards, there being a Government boat going to Ternate, I took the opportunity of writing to my school-fellow and oldest friend, Mr. George Silk. As he knew nothing whatever of natural history, I wrote to him on subjects more personal to myself, and which may therefore be more suitable to quote here :
"I have just received yours of August 3 with reminiscences of Switzerland. To you it seems a short time since we were there together, to me an immeasurable series of ages! In fact, Switzerland and the Amazon now seem to me quite unreal—a sort of former existence or long-ago dream. Malays and Papuans, beetles and birds, are what now occupy my thoughts, mixed with financial calculations and hopes for a happy future in old England, where I may live in solitude and seclusion, except from a few choice friends. You cannot, perhaps, imagine how I have come to love solitude. I seldom have a visitor but I wish him away in an hour. I find it very favourable to reflection; and if you have any acquaintance who is a fellow of the Linnean Society, borrow the Fournal of Proceedings for August last, and in the last article you will find some of my latest lucubrations, and also some complimentary remarks thereon by Sir Charles Lyell and Dr. Hooker, which (as I know neither of them) I am a little proud of. As to politics, I hate and abominate them. The news from India I now never read, as it is all an inextricable confusion without good maps and regular papers. Mine come in lumps—two or three months at a time, often with alternate issues stolen or lost. I therefore beg you to write no more politics-nothing public or newspaperish. Tell me about yourself, your own private doings, your health, your visits, your new and old acquaintances (for I know you pick up half a dozen every week à la Barragan). But, above all, tell me of what you read. Have you read the Currency' book I returned you, ‘Horne Tooke,' ‘Bentham,' Family Herald leading articles ? Give me your opinions on any or all of these. Follow the advice in Family Herald Article on ‘Happiness,' Ride a Hobby, and you will assuredly find happiness in it, as I do. Let ethnology be your hobby, as you seem already to have put your foot in the stirrup, but ride it hard. If I live to return I shall come out strong on Malay and Papuan races, and shall astonish Latham, Davis, & Co.! By-the-by, I have a letter from Davis ;' he says he sent my last letter to you, and it is lost mysteriously. Instead, therefore, of sending me a reply to my 'poser,' he repeats what he has said in every letter I have had from him, that 'myriads of miracles are required to people the earth from one source. I am sick of him. You must read 'Pritchard' through, and Lawrence's 'Lectures on Man' carefully; but I am convinced no man can be a good ethnologist who does not travel, and not travel merely, but reside, as I do, months and years with each race, becoming well acquainted with their average physiognomy and their character, so as to be able to detect cross-breeds, which totally mislead the hasty traveller, who thinks they are transitions ! Latham, I am sure, is quite wrong on many points. “When I went to New Guinea, I took an old copy of •Tristram Shandy,' which I read through about three times. It is an annoying and, you will perhaps say, a very gross book ; but there are passages in it that have never been surpassed, while the character of Uncle Toby has, I think, never been equalled, except perhaps by that of Don Quixote. I have lately read a good many of Dumas's wonderful novels, and they are wonderful, but often very careless and some quite unfinished. “The Memoirs of a Physician' is a wonderful wild mixture of history, science, and romance; the second part, the Queen's Necklace, being the most wonderful and, perhaps, the most true. You should read it, if you have not yet done so, when you are horribly bored!
"In reference to your private communication, it seems to me that marriage has a wonderful effect in brightening the intellect. For example, John used not to be considered witty; yet in his last letter he begs me to write to him 'semi-occasionally,' or 'oftener if I have time, and I send a not bad extract from his letter. By this mail I send more than a dozen letters, for my correspondence is increasing."
On my return to Ternate in April, 1859, after spending nearly six months in Batchian, where I had made fairly good though not very large collections, including a new and very peculiar bird of paradise and a grand new butterfly of the largest size and most gorgeous colouring, I determined to go next to Timor for a short time, and afterward to Menado, at the north-eastern extremity of Celebes, from which place some of the most interesting birds and mammalia had been obtained. I had, of course, my usual large batch of letters to reply to. One of these from my brother-in-law, Mr.
Thomas Sims, urged me very strongly to return home before my health was seriously affected, and for many other reasons. In my reply I gave full expressions to my ideas and feelings compelling me to remain a few years longer, and as these are a part of the history of my life and character, I will give them here.
"Your ingenious arguments to persuade me to come home are quite unconvincing. I have much to do yet before I can return with satisfaction of mind; were I to leave now I should be ever regretful and unhappy. That alone is an all-sufficient reason. I feel that my work is here as well as my pleasure; and why should I not follow out my vocation ? As to materials for work at home, you are in error. I have, indeed, materials for a life's study of entomology, as far as the forms and structure and affinities of insects are concerned; but I am engaged in a wider and more general study—that of the relations of animals to space and time, or, in other words, their geographical and geological distribution and its causes. I have set myself to work out this problem in the Indo-Australian Archipelago, and I must visit and explore the largest number of islands possible, and collect materials from the greatest number of localities, in order to arrive at any definite results. As to health and life, what are they compared with peace and happiness ? and happiness is admirably defined in the Family Herald as to be best obtained by 'work with a purpose, and the nobler the purpose the greater the happiness.' But besides these weighty reasons there are others quite as powerful-pecuniary ones. I have not yet made enough to live upon, and I am likely to make it quicker here than I could in England. In England there is only one way in which I could live, by returning to my old profession of land-surveying. Now, though I always liked surveying, I like collecting better, and I could never now give my whole mind to any work apart from the study to which I have devoted my life. So far from being angry at being called an enthusiast (as you seem to suppose), it is my pride and glory to be worthy to be so called. Who ever did anything good or great who was not an enthusiast? The majority of mankind are enthusiasts only in one thing-in money-getting ; and these call others enthusiasts as a term of reproach because they think there is something in the world better than money-getting. It strikes me that the power or capability of a man in getting rich is in an inverse proportion to his reflective powers and in direct proportion to his impudence. It is perhaps good to be rich, but not to get rich, or to be always trying to get rich, and few men are less fitted to get rich, if they did try, than myself.” The rest of the letter is devoted to new discoveries in photography and allied subjects.
I left Ternate by the Dutch mail steamer on May 1, 1859, calling at Amboyna and spending two days at Banda, where I visited the celebrated nutmeg plantations, reaching Coupang, at the west end of Timor, on the 13th. The country round proving almost a desert for a collector, I went to the small island of Semau, where I obtained a few birds, but little else. I therefore returned to Coupang after a week and determined to go back the way I came by Amboyna and Ternate to Menado, in order to lose no time, and arrived there on June 10. Here I remained for four months in one of the most interesting districts in the whole archipelago. I visited several localities in the interior, and obtained a number of the rare and peculiar species of birds and a considerable collection of beetles and butterflies, mostly rare or new, but by no means so numerous as I had obtained in other good localities.
In October I returned to Amboyna in order to visit the almost unknown island of Ceram, which, however, I found very unproductive and unhealthy. While there I wrote a short letter to Bates, congratulating him on his safe return to England, discussing great schemes for the writing and publication of works on our respective collections, adding, “I have sent a paper lately to the Linnean Society which gives my views of the principles of geographical distribution in the archipelago, of which I hope some day to work out the details.” 1
In December, being almost starved, I returned to Amboyna to recruit, and in February started on another journey to Ceram, with the intention, if possible, of again reaching the Ké Islands, which I had found so rich during the few days I stayed there on my voyage to the Aru Islands. I visited several places on the coast of Ceram, and spent three days very near its centre, where a very rough mountain path
1 The title of this paper was “On the Zoological Geography of Malay Archipelago," and it was published in 1860. VOL. I.