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form the dividing line between distinct but closely allied species.
It was in the autumn of 1853 that I made my first visit to Switzerland with my friend Mr. George Silk. On our way from London to Dover we had for companion in our compartment a stout, good-humoured American, a New-England manufacturer, going to Paris on business for the first time. He asked us if we could recommend him a good kafe. On telling him we didn't know what a kafe was, he said, “Why, a hotel or eating-house, to be sure; the French call it ‘kafe.’” So we told him where we were going for the night, and he went with us. The next day we went on by diligence to Geneva, where we stayed a day, and then walked with our knapsacks to Chamouni ; but the heat was so intense that we stayed at a small inn on the way for the night. We walked up to the Flegere to see the grand view of the Aiguilles and Mont Blanc, and the next day joined a party to Montanvert, the Mer de Glace, and the Jardin, having a guide to take care of us. The day was magnificent; we saw the sights of the glacier, its crevasses and ice-tables, and when passing round the precipice of the Couvercle above the ice-fall of the Talefre glacier, there were masses of cloud below us which partially rolled away, revealing the wonderful ice-pinnacles brilliantly illuminated by the afternoon sun, and affording a spectacle the grandeur and sublimity of which I have never since seen equalled. Only a portion of our party reached the Jardin, where I made a hasty collection of the flowers, and by the time we got back to the hotel, having made the steep descent from Montanvert in the dark, we were all pretty well exhausted.
The next day I and my friend walked over the Tete Noir to Martigny. From here we took a chaise to Leuk, and then walked up to Leukerbad and hired a porter to carry our knapsacks up the Gemmi Pass, in order that we might enjoy the ascent of that wonderful mountain road. Before reaching the top snow began to fall, and we reached the little inn on the summit in a snow-storm. It was crowded, and we had to sleep on the floor. Next day we walked down to Thun, whence we returned home viá Strasburg and Paris. Although I enjoyed this my first visit to snowy mountains and glaciers, I had not at that time sufficient knowledge to fully appreciate them. The three visits I have since made have filled me with a deeper sense of the grandeur and the exquisite scenery of the Alps. My increased general knowledge of geology, and especially of the glacial theory, have added greatly to my enjoyment of the great physical features of the country; while my continually growing interest in botany and in the cultivation of plants has invested every detail of meadow and forest, rock and alp, with beauties and delights which were almost absent from my early visit. The appreciation of nature grows with years, and I feel to-day more deeply than ever its mystery and its charms.
During my constant attendance at the meetings of the Zoological and Entomological Societies, and visits to the insect and bird departments of the British Museum, I had obtained sufficient information to satisfy me that the very finest field for an exploring and collecting naturalist was to be found in the great Malayan Archipelago, of which just sufficient was known to prove its wonderful richness, while no part of it, with the one exception of the island of Java, had been well explored as regards its natural history. Sir James Brooke had recently become Rajah of Sarawak, while the numerous Dutch settlements in Celebes and the Moluccas offered great facilities for a traveller. So far as known also, the country was generally healthy, and I determined that it would be much better for me to go to such a new country than to return to the Amazon, where Bates had already been successfully collecting for five years, and where I knew there was a good bird-collector who had been long at work in the upper part of the river towards the Andes.
As the journey to the East was an expensive one, I was advised to try and get a free passage in some Government ship. Through my paper on the Rio Negro, I had made the acquaintance of Sir Roderick Murchison, then President of the Royal Geographical Society, and one of the most accessible and kindly of men of science. On calling upon him and stating my wishes, he at once agreed to make an application on my behalf for a passage to some Malayan port, and as he was personally known to many members of the Government and had great influence with them, a passage was promised me on the first ship going to those seas. This was, I think, near the end of the year 1853, when I had published my two books, and had spent much of my spare time at the British Museum, examining the collections, and making notes and sketches, of the rarer and more valuable species of birds, butterflies, and beetles of the various Malay islands.
Among the greatest wants of a collector who wishes to know what he is doing, and how many of his captures are new or rare, are books containing a compact summary with brief descriptions of all the more important known species; and, speaking broadly, such books did not then nor do now exist. Having found by my experience when beginning botany how useful are even the shortest characters in determining a great number of species, I endeavoured to do the same thing in this case. I purchased the “Conspectus Generum Avium ” of Prince Lucien Bonaparte, a large octavo volume of 800 pages, containing a well-arranged catalogue of all the known species of birds up to 1850, with references to descriptions and figures, and the native country and distribution of each species. Besides this, in a very large number—I should think nearly half—a short but excellent Latin description was given, by which the species could be easily determined. In many families (the cuckoos and woodpeckers, for example) every species was thus described, in others a large proportion. As the book had very wide margins I consulted all the books referred to for the Malayan species, and copied out in abbreviated form such of the characters as I thought would enable me to determine each, the result being that during my whole eight years' collecting in the East, I could almost always identify every bird already described, and if I could not do so, was pretty sure that it was a new or undescribed species.
No one who is not a naturalist and collector can imagine the value of this book to me. It was my constant companion on all my journeys, and as I had also noted in it the species not in the British Museum, I was able every evening to satisfy myself whether among my day's captures there was anything either new or rare. Now, such a book is equally valuable to the amateur collector at home in naming and arranging his collections, but to answer the purpose thoroughly it must, of course, be complete—that is, every species must be shortly characterized. During the last fifty years it is probable that the described species of birds have doubled in number, yet with slight alteration the whole of these might be included in a volume no larger than that I am referring to. This could be effected by giving only one name to each species (that in most general use), whereas Prince Bonaparte has usually given several synonyms and references to figures, so that these occupy fully as much space as the descriptions. These are quite unnecessary for the collector abroad or at home. What he requires is to have a compact and cheap volume by which he can name, if not all, at least all wellmarked species. A series of volumes of this character should be issued by the various national museums of the world (each one taking certain groups) and be kept up to date by annual or quinquennial supplements, as in the case of the admirable “List of Plants introduced to Cultivation during the twentyone years, 1876–1896, issued by the Director of Kew Gardens.” In this very compact volume of 420 pages, 7600 species of plants are sufficiently described for identification, while by the use of double columns and thin paper, the volume is only about half the weight of Bonaparte's “Conspectus,” in which about the same number of birds are catalogued, but only half of them described. By a division of labour such as is here suggested, the mammals, reptiles, and freshwater fishes might be issued in this form without difficulty. The land and freshwater shells might have separate volumes dealing with the eastern and western hemispheres, or with the separate continents, as might the Diurnal Lepidoptera. The other orders of insects are too extensive to be treated in this