« EelmineJätka »
the jungle, and every Friday fasting on omelet and vegetables, a most wholesome custom, which the Protestants erred in leaving off. I have been reading Huc's ‘Travels' in French, and talking a good deal with one of the missionaries just arrived from Tonquin, who can speak no English. I have thus obtained a good deal of information about these countries, and about the extent of the Catholic missions in them, which is really astonishing. How is it that they do their work so much more thoroughly than most Protestant missions In Cochin China, Tonquin, and China, where Christian missionaries are obliged to live in secret, and are subject to persecution, expulsion, or death, every province, even those farthest in the interior of China, has its regular establishment of missionaries constantly kept up by fresh supplies, who are all taught the languages of the countries they are going to at Penang or Singapore. In China there are near a million of Catholics, in Tonquin and Cochin China more than half a million. One secret of their success is their mode of living. Each missionary is allowed about £30 a year, on which he lives in whatever country he may be. This has two good results. A large number of missionaries can be kept on limited funds, and the people of the country in which they reside, seeing that they live in poverty and with none of the luxuries of life, are convinced that they are sincere. Most of them are Frenchmen, and those I have seen or heard of are well-educated men, who give up their lives to the good of the people they live among. No wonder they make converts, among the lower orders principally; for it must be a great blessing to these poor people to have a man among them to whom they can go in any trouble or distress, whose sole object is to advise and help them, who visits them in sickness and relieves them in want, and whom they see living
in continual danger of persecution and death only for their benefit.”
Before leaving Singapore I wrote a long letter to my old fellow traveller and companion, Henry Walter Bates, then collecting on the Upper Amazon, almost wholly devoted to entomology, and especially giving my impressions of the comparative richness of the two countries. As this comparison is of interest not only to entomologists but to all students of the geographical distribution of animals, I give it here almost entire. The letter is dated April 30, 1856:“I must first inform you that I have just received the Zoologist containing your letters up to September 14, 1855 (Ega), which have interested me greatly, and have almost made me long to be again on the Amazon, even at the cost of leaving the unknown Spice Islands still unexplored. I have been here since February waiting for a vessel to Macassar (Celebes), a country I look forward to with the greatest anxiety and with expectations of vast treasures in the insect world. Malacca, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo form but one zoological province, the majority of the species in all classes of animals being common to two or more of these countries. There is decidedly less difference between them than between Para and Santarem or Barra. I have therefore as yet only visited the best known portion of the Archipelago, and consider that I am now about to commence my real work. I have spent six months in Malacca and Singapore, and fifteen months in Borneo (Sarawak), and have therefore got a good idea of what this part of the Archipelago is like. Compared with the Amazon valley, the great and striking feature here is the excessive poverty of the Diurnal Lepidoptera. The glorious Heliconidae are represented here by a dozen or twenty species of generally obscure-coloured Euplaas, the Nymphalidae containing nothing comparable with Epicalias, Callitheas, Catagrammas, etc., either in variety or abundance to make up for their want of brilliancy. A few species of Adolias, Limentis, and Charaxes are the most notable forms. The Satyridae have nothing to be placed by the side of the lovely Haeteras of the Amazon. Your glorious Erycinidae are represented by half a dozen rather inconspicuous species, and even the Lycaenidae, though more numerous and comprising some lovely species, do not come up to the Theclas of Para. Even the dull Hesperidae are almost wanting here, for I do not think I have yet exceeded a dozen species of
this family. All this is very miserable and discouraging to one who has wandered in the forest-paths around Para or on the sandy shores of the Amazon or Rio Negro. The only group in which we may consider the two countries to be about equal is thatof the true Papilios(including Ornithoptera), though even in these I think you have more species. Including Ornithoptera and Leptocircus, I have found as yet only thirty species, five of which I believe are new. Among these is the magnificent Ornithoptera Brookeana, perhaps the most elegant butterfly in the world. “To counterbalance this dearth of butterflies there should be an abundance of other orders, or you will think I have made a change for the worse, and compared with Para only perhaps there is, though it is doubtful whether at Ega you have not found Coleoptera quite as abundant as they are here. But I will tell you my experience so far and then you can decide the question, and let me know how you decide it. You must remember that it is now just two years since I reached Singapore, and out of that time I have lost at least six months by voyages and sickness, besides six months of an unusually wet season at Sarawak. However, during the dry weather at Sarawak I was very fortunate in finding a good locality for beetles, at which I worked hard for five or six months. At Singapore and Malacca I collected about a thousand species of beetles, at Sarawak about two thousand, but as about half my Singapore species occurred also at Sarawak, I reckon that my total number of species may be about 2500. The most numerous group is (as I presume with you) the Rhyncophora (weevils, etc.), of which I have at least 600 species, perhaps many more. The majority of these are very small, and all are remarkably obscure in their colours, being in this respect inferior to some of our British species. There are, however, many beautiful and interesting forms, especially among the Anthribidae, of one of which—a new genus—I send a rough sketch. The group next in point of numbers and, to me, of the highest interest are the Longicorns. Of these I obtained fifty species in the first ten days at Singapore, and when in a good locality I seldom passed a day without getting a new one. At Malacca and Singapore I collected about 160 species, at Sarawak 290, but as only about fifty from the former places occurred at the latter, my Longicorns must now reach about 400 species. . . . As to size, I have only about thirty species which exceed an inch in length, the majority being from one half to three quarters of an inch, while a considerable number are two or three lines only. I see you say you must have near 500 species of Longicorns; but I do not know if this refers to Ega only, or to your whole South American collections. “The Geodephaga, always rare in the tropics, we must expect to be still more so in a level forest country so near the equator, yet I have found more species than I anticipated— as nearly as I can reckon, a hundred—twenty-four being Cicindelidae (tiger beetles) of various groups. “Lamellicorns are very scarce, about one hundred and forty species in all, of which twenty-five are Cetoniidae, all rare, and about the same number of Lucanidae. Elaters are rather plentiful, but with few exceptions small and obscure. I have one hundred and forty species, one nearly three inches long, and several of one and a half inch. The Buprestidae are exceedingly beautiful, but the larger and finer species are very rare. I have one hundred and ten species, of which half are under one-third of an inch long, though one, Catorantha bicolor, is two and a half inches. Two genera of Cleridae are rather abundant, others rare ; but I have obtained about fifty species, which, compared with the very few previously known, is very satisfactory. Of the remaining groups, in which I took less interest, I have not accurately noted the number of species. “The individual abundance of beetles is not, however, so large as the number of species would indicate. I hardly collect on an average more than fifty beetles a day, in which number there will be from thirty to forty species. Often, in fact, twenty or thirty beetles are as much as I can scrape together, even when giving my whole attention to them, for butterflies are too scarce to distract it. Of the other orders of insects, I have no accurate notes; the species, however, of all united (excluding Lepidoptera) about equal those of the beetles. I found one place only where I could collect moths, and have obtained altogether about one thousand species, mostly of small or average size. My total number of species of insects, therefore, I reckon at about six thousand, and of specimens collected about thirty thousand. From these data I think you will be able to form a pretty good judgment of the comparative entomological riches of the two countries. The matter, however, will not be definitely settled till I have visited Celebes, the Moluccas, etc., which I hope to find as much superior to the western group of islands as the Upper is to the Lower Amazon.
“In other branches of Natural History I have as yet done little. The birds of Malacca and Borneo, though beautiful, are too well known to be worth collecting largely. With the orang-utans I was successful, obtaining fifteen skins and skeletons, and proving, I think, the existence of two species, hitherto a disputed question. The forests here are scarcely to be distinguished from those of Brazil, except by the frequent presence of the various species of Calamus (Rattan palms) and the Pandani (Screw pines), and by the rarity of those Leguminous trees with finely divided foliage, which are so frequent in the Amazonian forests. The people and their customs I hardly like as well as those of Brazil, but the comparatively new settlements of Singapore and Sarawak are not quite comparable with the older towns of the Amazon. Here provisions and labour are dear, and travelling is both tedious and expensive. Servants' wages are high, and the customs of the country do not permit you to live in the freeand-easy style of Brazil.
* * * + + o:
“I must tell you that the fruits of the East are a delusion. Never have I seen a place where fruits are more scarce and poor than at Singapore. In Malacca and Sarawak they are more abundant, but there is nothing to make up for the deficiency of oranges, which are so poor and sour that they would hardly be eaten even in England. There are only two good fruits, the mangosteen and the durian. The first is a
WOL. I. 2 A