Edgar Leopold Layard Autobiography

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You ask me for my autobiography! Well you shall have what I remember of it and some letters that I have gathered from “tradition”. To put the last first then. I was born in the Berti Palace in Florence on the 23rd of July 1824, the youngest of my father's seven sons; the eldest of whom is Sir Henry Austin Layard, the late ambassadeur to Turkey. The two next before me died in their infancy so there was a pretty large gap of five years, between me and my next brother. This appears to me to account for my early bias to Natural History. I was too young to join in the games and sports of my elder brothers, so was relegated to my own wits for amusement, which I soon found in the collection of butterflies and shells. How well I remember the hoards of the latter I accumulated in my walks with my faithfully old nurse and her device — not discovered for a long time— to keep my [still] within compass. I had a collecting basket with a handle in the middle, on each side of which was a flap; as I introduced a fine example of Helix aspersa or H .muralis by one flap, she extracted a ditto by the other! The clausilias I was allowed to keep! They were not so shiny as the others, and did not leave shining tracksall over the nursery walls! My father, one of the old school, was a literary man, and cared nothing for natural science (in its infancy)!! Many a rating and many a spanking I have got for my “low tastes” as he called them, and for filling the house with “creeping things innumerable”. How little the good man thought he was trying to quench what has proved the greatest happiness of my life, my love of nature in her own wilds!

I must have been very young between five and six I fancy, when I met with my first “adventure with wild beasts”. We were travelling from Italy — where my family resided for many years — to England, and halted some time at Interlacken in Switzerland. I was hunting an old wall for what I now think must have been the most lovely blue eggs of the Hedge-Sparrow, and on thrusting my hand [and] area, as far as that small member would reach, into a hole, out of which I had seen a bird flutter, out came a large snake who had probably gone in for the same purpose as my hand. My faithful old nurse could not stand that, and with a yell she bolted, but recovering her presence of mind returned to find her young charge had seized the “monster” by the neck and was holding on tight while the reptile wound itself round his head and body — a miniature Laocoön in fact! Her cries brought to the rescue some country men at work in the field, and I was deprived of my prize, I think, well “spanked” into the bargain, for giving my old nurse such a fright, and warned off old walls! I might have caused the dear old souls death, as she was a martyr to a heart complaint.That was my first introduction to the reptiles! As for birds! How well I remember my first “stuffed bird”. My brothers had clubbed their pocket money together and bought a small hunting owl, with his little stand covered with a red cloth, bundle of limed twigs, and all complete. This little fellow was kept in a spacious closet off the nursery and taken out hunting as required. I can recollect the “bitter too too awful” stink of that cupboard, arising from the remains of his of a faithful domestic, a Belgian, whom my father had picked up somewhere after Waterloo, with a bullet in his head or through it, I am not sure which, but my belief to this day is that he had a great portion of his skull replaced by a silver plate. If he had not, I shall still believe it, so it don't matter to dispute it. He was out of a class — old nurse being another — of servants now nearly, if not quite, extinct. He and she were faithful living, friends, not domestics. Our interests were their interests — our joys their joys — our sorrows their sorrows. They both lived many, many years with us, and died our pensioners. All honour to their memories. Old Pachôt on one of these hunting expeditions, brought home a wonderful bird! Never had mine eyes seen anything half so heavenly! I gazed entranced! Those blues and greens. How [ ] it I never knew, but after long years deep thought, I have come to the conclusion it was a “Roller”!But the question arose — how was it to be kept? Pachôt said he would skin it, and eventually produced a wonderful [“Guy”], which I then thought the perfection of art and skill. The chief ingredient in the preservative, [ ] as pepper! for it set old nurse and the maid girls off sneezing to such an extent, that the [ ] specimen was consigned to a drawer only to be looked at on “grand occasions” — one of these soon came or was manufactured, and on tiptoe of expectation I adjourned to the drawer. And when the drawer was opened the bird began to say” —Alas! no such luck! Our old friends taxidermy was not equal to his good intentions! A mass of disintegrated feathers met our view, among which lay the more solid skull. 'And the worms they crawled in And the worms they crawled out,and they sported his eyes and his temples about!’Sic transit gloria Rolli! behold the end of my stuffed bird.

How well I remember chasing the glorious Papilios Machaon and Podalirius, the glowing “Sulphurs” and somber “Browns” at Perfola and Myteliano, country seat of my old friend the Marchesa Manchini, at the foot of Cortona, the ancient [ } where many of my happiest childhood hours were spent, and where they were nearly ended! The latter in this wise. We had just arrived from Rome, not by “Rail” in those days, over 50 years ago, but in our own travelling carriage, a light one for my parents and a lumbering Vettorino for us children and servants. One of my brothers — who now sleeps in the Crimea — and I adjourned to the garden, where in were several fish-ponds of considerable depth. In one of them floated sundry empty wine casks. We began to shove these about with some long rakes that lay handy and not being up in Dynamics, or hydrostatics, in those days, I pushed with zeal untempered with knowledge, with the result that my barrel suddenly moved off from the side of the pond, leaving a vacant space of water, into which I plunged headlong! The catastrophe was witnessed from the top of my fathers carriage by old Pachôt, who was unlacing the “Imperial”, the lumbering, huge flat box that in those days covered the whole of the carriage top, Pachtôt to the rescue! I was fished out with a rake, my dripping garments stript off my shivering person, and being thus unprotected by the vestment known as “anti-spankiness”, was well “spanked” to restore warmth and administer consolation, and shoved into bed, under heaped up blankets, there to remain until fires were lit and a warm bath substituted for my involuntary cold one.

My next reminiscences come to me “When I was a school-boy aged ten” When we had left Italy and settled finally in England. The change, I believe, killed my poor father he could not stand the climate. I was at school with two of my brothers at Richmond in Surrey.My “low tastes” had clung to and grown with me. At Aylesbury, when home for the holidays, I had learned under old Pachtôt, to shoot larks, and sparrows, but my love had been given to Butterflies and I collected assiduously. The next time I came home, my mother had removed to [Ramsgate], her native place, and lived with her aged mother. Here I fell in with a first-rate Field Naturalist and Taxidermist, my dear old friend Mr.Thompson of the “Elnis” long since, “gone behind the Veil”. I believe the site, even, of his beautiful house and grounds is all now lose under “Streets and Rows and Terraces”.He had a room in his house fitted up as a museum, and here everything was the work of his own hands. Every bird and beast was killed and stuffed by him, from the lordly Eagle to the tiny shrew — [ ] every butterfly, moth, beetle, shell etc., had and set out by himself. This aquaintance set fast the color of my life. My kind friend shewed me the haunts of the rare butterflies and moths, and actually drove me over to Richborough Castle that I might catch the then, to me, [ ] Aporia crataji, or “black veined white”, with my own net. Ah! was not that day to be remembers, thou' it occurred so long ago” in the merry day! — the merry days! When we were young”. But I was now to take higher flight. I wanted to imitate his life-like birds! Would he teach me? Yes he would, and I was soon initiated into the art of skinning. I remember my first attempt. It was on a black Scoter duck, which he shot, and gave over to my tender mercies. Under his guidance I skinned it — and proceeded to make it up into a skin, when he was called out to do some business — he was Mayor of Ramsgate, I think, at the time. “How much cotton shall I put into the neck sir?” I asked as he went away — “Oh! fill it” was his answer, and fill it I did! At first it seemed as if it had no end, it took in such a lot of cotton! but I rammed away, and by the time he came back I had effected a wonderful transmutation! I had changed, at least so he vowed, pointing to the elongated neck — a black scoter into a black swan! The merciless chaffing I got over my poor duck, has never been forgotten, and many times and oft, when I am filling up a neck, does my dear old long-lost friends merry face, with the humorous twinkle of the eye, rise to my rememberance.

From my school at Richmond I followed my [ ] to his living in Staffordshire [Lapley] near Wheaton Aston, or “Wicked Aston” as it was called, tradition says because on Sunday, while waiting for church time, the parishioners of the latter place, sold the parish bible and prayer book to some strolling [ ] to allow they had them with them! At Lapley I had much scope for my favourite pursuit and accumulated quite a respectable collection of English lepidoptera and a few birds. My next move was to Cambridge, whither my Mother and I removed together, my Brothers having all started in life. I was destined for the church, but being to young to enter college was set to read with a private tutor. Here I formed the acquaintance of the Revd. L. Jenyns of [ ], Col. Babbinton and others. I obtained some “Kudos” among the big-wigs of Science by exhibiting a grand 'Camberwell beauty' “Vanessa antigua”, captured close to Cambridge by one who afterwards became my brother-in-law. The kind encouragement of these veterans in science; helped me very much in my love for it. But my zoological ponderings began to alienate me, much to the horror of my dear mother,from the doctrines I learnt at her knee.about creation, the deity, the sun standing still etc and I found the church would not do for me. Meanwhile I had come across a young lady who had a great taste for zoology! but we were so young that though we knew our own minds, we felt that we should not persuade others that we did so! and for some time it was simply an exchange of insects, by the carriers card, in a nice little Cork-lined box, but under the covering paper was generally found a few slips of other paper sadly perforated with pins it is true, but not the less dear and precious to those who knew where to look for them! at last we determined that we would face the probable storm, and then found that loving welcomes came from both “Heads of Families”!It was not “a plague on both your Houses”.I elected to go to Canada, thinking I might the sooner make a home for my darling in a new country. I could turn my hand to anything. I had picked up a knowledge of all sorts of trades, carpentry, turning, Smith's work, surveying, everything in fact but Latin and Greek, to which W. Garnous, of Sydney [ ], Col. Babbinton and others. I obtained I never took kindly. I could plough and I could reap, and was a dead shot with gun, on rifle and another in the fish way. I thought I was but one for a settler, but “man proposes” and I could not stand the cold, and after 18 months I had to come back, wiser than I went, but no nearer my matrimony!

At this juncture a cousin wrote from Ceylon saying he had heard of my mechanical [turn] and offered me employment in a coffee estate, to develop the water power etc.I was now just turned twenty one and my love had been faithful already three years! So said my dear mother, “Marry and go” — and so I did. My loving young wife had taught herself drawing and painting that she might help me in my zoological pursuits, and few have experienced the exquisite delight that we two young people did, in making acquaintance with Tropical scenery and animal life. My wife had a fair general knowledge of Botany which added to our jest. Here again — “the best laid schemes of mice and men — went all astray”. My cousin had been pulled down through the failure of a mercantile firm in London, and all my little fortune, went with him! I found myself beginning life, with a wife, and seventeen pounds sterling. The wife, I know, would never spend a sixpence unnecessarily, and I may as well say at once, that in all our poverty and straits, I have, thanks to her, never owed a sixpence that I could not pay on demand.I was shortly after landing seized with a terrible illness, and Doctor Templeton of the Artillery, who attended my relatives in Ceylon came to me. He quickly spied out our butterfly nets, and cross-questioning my little wife, wormed out of her our history and pursuits. From that moment he was the “one that sticketh closer than a brother”. Not a fee would he ever take from me, he interested Sir J.E. Tennent — then colonial secretary, and “a man of mickle might” in the colony — in my favor. Through him, on my recovery, I got my first appointment in the Colonial Service. I was appointed Custom House officer at Balliganbay, a lovely spot, since rendered famous in zoological annals.

On my way to “kiss hands” for my appointment, I fell in with Judge T “where are you going, young Layard” said he “To thank Mr S for my appointment” (S was Head of the Customs) It was £100 per annum and I was glad to get my foot on the ladder. “Well” said the Judge “I was sworn in one of the [ ] judges this morning, I have been looking for you to offer you the appointment of “Private Secretary”. Dr Templeton told me of your cash, and he wants to keep you in town, to help him in his zoological pursuits and the berth is £80 better than the other, and a sure step to a magistracy if you will read for the Bar. I will help you in your studies, and as I have met you several times, I know what you can do. If you will take the berth I will advance you a couple of months pay out of my own pocket to start you with a horse and trap, you can repay me at your leisure”. It is needless to say I accepted this kind offer and my young wife and I started house-keeping on our own account, as up to that moment we had been kindly taken in by a cousin.We led a very happy life. In the early morning, from half past four or five till eight o'clock we scoured the cinnamon gardens” on which our premises abutted in search of Lepidoptera, and their larvae. These latter my wife tended, and figured while I was at my work during the day. At night we played and sang, as we had brought her piano with us and she played well. We could not keep up much society, we could not afford it; but we had a few staunch friends. We early resolved never to buy anything we could not pay for on the spot, our furniture was therefore of the plainest and scantiest, and this reminds me of an amusing episode. Two ladies were discussing us. Says Mrs A, “They belong to the Layard family do they not?” “Oh yes! “replied Mrs B. “I hear they are the Elder branch”. “He is the Mister Layard of Ceylon”. “Oh really! shall you call?” “Oh dear no! (with emphasis); why they have only common packwood furniture!!!” The want of such society did not much trouble us. Another grand lady called not to see us, but to see our collection of butterflies, the fame of which began to be noised about. She was very condescending “Now really they are very beautiful! I have collected all the time I have been here, we have not a tenth part of what you have. Did you young people really catch them all yourselves?” We assured her we had done so in our morning and evening walks “Walks?” she exclaimed “Walk? do you walk?I never do, I have a carriage!” ...then said my little woman — you won’t have a collection!” How we did tramp about! What lovely spots we found. We knew every path and track through the cinnamon jungle and named them according to the insects we caught there. On Sphinx road” we have seen thousands of Sphingidae of an evening. At “Thecla corner” we could always be sure if seeing, if not catching, the glorious blue Thecla hercules and parada, giants of their families, and great prizes to us, accustomed only to the little-”blues and Hairstreaks” of England. What long walks did we take to secure the food plant of some favourite caterpillar we were nursing, and whose transformations my “better-half” was drawing and painting, and what a delight it was to watch the Butterfly or moth emerge from its pupa,and then the lovely perfect specimen we secured [ ]. I remember the first huge [ ] that we successfuly reared. We fed the great fat green caterpillars on cinnamon and cajea leaves and when they finally wove their massive cocoons we saw that the breeding cages lent us by our dear old friend Dr Templeton would be to small for the expansion of the perfect insects wings. A “happy thought” came into the wife's head. She pinned up the large cocoons inside our big mosquito net!How Templeton laughed and chaffed us with fly allusions to “professional services”, that sent one of us flying from the room! Thank heaven there was no need for them for over three years. We had “no encumbrances”, and when circuit time came, we got a friend to take our furniture, gave up our house, packed ourselves, with gun, Butterfly net, collecting box for shells, and ditto for caterpillars, into our little buggy, and off we went round the south coast to Galle, stopping at the circuit towns on the way.What glorious fun it was! and with what delight did we drink in the beauties of nature, so bountifully spread around us. How different our life and [ ] were to those with whom our lot was cast, may be gathered from the following anecdotes.

One morning we pushed our way through some tangled bushes on to the high road, just as a friend was passing in his buggy. My wife was carrying a huge mass of the Pitcher plant (Nepenethes). She usually did the carrying, to allow me more scope for running. Seeing the grand “pitchers” our friend drew rein — “What on earth have you two got now?” he exclaimed — “you are the oddest couple I know always turning up in the most unexpected places and generally with some unheard of plant, or butterfly or something! What is that queer thing you have got now”. We assured him it was nothing out of the way — a “Pitcher Plant”. “But did you get it here?” I don't know it and I have lived all my life! We told him, with a smile that there were acres of it in the swamp at the back of his father's house wherein he was born!!Another time my wife was driving with a cousin who remarked, as they passed along a road through the cinnamon gardens, — “Ah! the cinnamon is in flower. Again, look at the beautiful white star—shaped flower”. My wife assured her that was not the flower of the cinnamon, but of a common creeper, that infected the gardens and climbed over the bushes. “Oh,come” was the reply — “that won't do! — you young folks don't know everything, and you can't teach me who have been here all my life! “Please stop your carriage a moment” — said the wife, and she soon returned from a dash into the bush bearing a long trail of the creeper with the star—shaped blossoms, and a branch of cinnamon with its tiny greenish yellow flowerets. “Oh! I

never thought of gathering them” said our friend!Oh the delight and fun of our journeys in circuit the [ ]we were put to the adventures we encountered. What did we care for roughing it! We were young strong full of hope, life and love! “None could be, blithe as we On the merry days when we were young Then youths say and fancy free O'er life is glowing here The hearts own light, shone more bright In the merry days when we were young.Alas! after battling with the world for forty years, side by side, we can now realize the truth of the last words of the sad old say."Those happy hours are fled, Like leaves from roses dead;Their perfume hangs o'er the Tomb,Of the merry days when we were young” — Yes! thank God the “perfume brings not bitter remembrance. We often recall with laughter, mingled with tears of sweet regret, some of our “adventures” of our first sight of a troup of monkeys at Caltura. How they ran along a pliant bough, using it as a spring board to launch themselves across the ravine. How one little fellow missed his aim and toppled over yelling and shreiking into the leafy bed below — How we there saw our first “golden oriole” flash across our eyes — How a leopard sprang into the verandah as “Apoo” was shutting up the shutters of our little temporary residence in the jungle, and while he held one shutter the wife held the other and I ran for my gun. The brute cameafter our [ ]cat, which took refuge on the roof and would not come down for three days. I can picture to myself the very spot where I shot my first “Cabragoqa”, a huge aquatic lizard. I thought it was a crocodile! as I fired from the buggy, while my wife held the reins. I had just shot a huge cobra, that lay extended half across the road! My gun was always by my side in the buggy, the butterfly-net in the wife's side, and then our delight at capturing the first climbing [finch] “Anabas scanderis” deliberately walking along the dusty road and then watching him climb up the sides of the paddy — [porunda], into which we put him, on arrival at the Nest House, not however until he had picked our fingers till they ran with blood! For two years we went the Southern circuit, and then came separation. I had to go the Northern one, where my wife could not accompany me, not that she feared the wild jungles of the west coast, but the expense of the Palanguim travelling was too great. Mine was of course paid, like the judges and government. But what a delight that first journey was, and what “journals”, in the way of letters, did I write describing all the new butterflies, shells, birds etc. I met with. I should state that I had changed my Judge. I found I had been using a “warming pan” for Judge T’s brother, and when he came out I was expected to resign. This I did, but I had made friends. The Senior [Prison] Judge sent for me. He was a canny Scot from Glasgow. “Eh lad!” said the kind old man “I hear Brother T has na treated ye quite fairly, but dinna ye be down hearted! Luck’s wi ye! My Secretary has just been promoted to a magistracy and I am very glad to offer ye his place. I’ve often noticed your suggestions, and I see ye are profitting by your legal studies — you'll no [ ]” My dear old friend often got scotch in his talk when he [ ] the judge in his kind heart and so I travelled north with the judge.

I can't say I troubled my Palanquia-bearers much, except before day-light. I generally trudged ahead of the long line of coolies, our two palkies and Judge S's horse, collecting, as I went along. The Judge studied his cases in his palki; for he was most painstaking and, of an evening, at dinner, for he almost always made me dine with him, he made me tell him all about my captures and what I had observed during the day. He became much interested in my doings with the following result. The Northern circuit with its long wearisome Palki work, its heat and discomforts was dreaded by the judges. Fancy then the astonishment of the others, when my Judge, when arrangements were being made for the judicial circuits, volunteered to again out of his turn, take the Jaffna circuit! “Why brother S” exclaimed the chief,my kind old friend Sir A.O.” — you have only just come back from it! Your turn won't come for two years yet!” “True.” — responded Brother S, —“but you see, I have had so much pleasure with my young secretary yonder, — who has shewn me such wonderful plants, and insects and birds and opened my eyes to so many new things that I never dreamt of before, that if you, and Brother T, don't object, I'll just be going again”. “Going again” we did! This time I rode my own horse, with a view of saving part of the allowance made to the secretary for coolie — hire. On my return, I applied to the treasurer (a cousin) for my allowance. He refused to give it on the plea that I had not expended it. I told him it did not matter how I got to Jaffna, so as I got there, and I was entitled to the allowance. He still refused so I “took” my bill and sat down quickly and wrote To E.G. Layard “For horse hire so many days and so much” far more than the coolie allowance came too!! “Billy G” in a fit took off the Bill to the Col. Sec. Sir J.E.T. — “See” said he — the impudence of my young cousin!” My good kind friend laughed very heartily — “Pay him his coolie allowance”, he said — “I know he has undergone the fatigue to save a few pounds, he has such a horror of debt!”.I got my money and well it was I did, for on my return home from circuit was met with a surprise and a confession! My darling told me she wanted to go into Town to buy “some soft materials to make up into little garments”, so I was to assume the honored title of “Father”!!My cousin had saved a few pounds out of the wreck of my first little fortune, and I left it in his hands. We resolved to go into town and draw upon this little store that we have [ ] kept for a “rainy day”. This was however a “sunny day”, but we found we must draw, nevertheless. We drove in and found HL walking up and down his veranda. I told him my joyful news, and that I wanted a few pounds to buy baby linen. Can you picture my consternation when he said “It has pleased the Lord to afflict me, Edgar, I am a bankrupt! I stopped payment then morning, and you much come in with the other creditors, your money is second on some land I have, but it will be long ere you can realize — not till my estate is wound up”!!! So a second time I had lost my all! I staggered back to my Buggy, and broke the news to my wife. It was a heavy blow, but she bravely met it. “I know what I will do said she, thro' her tears. “Mrs.--- admires the beautiful lace that was given to me on our Wedding day. I will ask her to buy it. She knows its value” — so the Wedding lace furnished the baby's basinet! and we never owed a sixpence to anyone.I once went the day after an auction sale, to pay for a trifling lot of furniture, I bought. The auctioneer put me off. I insisted on paying, and did so, letting him know? I made a point of paying at once. As he handed me the receipt he said “If you will persuade my debtors to pay me as rapidly as you have done I will give you a couple of thousand pounds”. He failed about a month after with £7000 of bad debts!! It was however hard work at times! of course the coming baby increased our expenses, and one day my kind friend Dr. Templeton came in and found us pondering our “ways and means”. “Faith now”, said he letting out his Irish brogue as he often did when fully facetious — “What makes you young folks so down in the mouth? We are three days from “pay-day” (the end of the month) and the [Byoherqui] is empty!! “Showing her empty purse, Oh! bedad now! but that's serious”, — said he feeling in his pockets, and finally capturing four sixpenny bits, in some remote corner — “Theres one m'son I have for cigars, & must keep — my dinner I get at the mess — (he was in the Artillery) “& the three others you re welcome to. “Thank you heartily Doctor, we will live on them for the next three days,” & so we did and I rather think my old friend went without cigars for the next three days, unless he “cadged them”!! Aye! Youth is the time to form friendships, when one is in sight of the “three score years”, friendships are not made then. But the time had come when I must lose my firm friend and ally. Templeton was ordered home — he left me his insect boxes, & collecting materials, but above all he left me a letter to answer, which had a material effect on my future. This letter was from Blyth, the curator of the Calcutta museum, asking for information on and, if possible, skins of certain Ceylon birds. Now tho' passionately fond of the gun, I could not afford to use it much, so I plainly told him, when I sent him the information required. I chiefly used it to supplement the pot & could not waste powder & shot on small birds. His reply came by return mail. He was delighted to welcome a new correspondent, who evidently had been a close observer of birds, he urged me to follow the study of ornithology, & supply him with birds, He valued the birds he wanted at so much and he sent me a•note for that amount, & a little over, begging me to expend the same on ammunition, to procure for him the birds he wanted, & any other species I could obtain. He sent also a list of all the known species from Ceylon, 182 in number, with a lot of small paintings of rare or doubtful species, descriptions of others, & a vast amount of information. This was the beginning of a correspondence continued monthly for years, & of the pleasure & profit it was to me, I can give no idea. I used carefully to bind up his letters as they came, & I often now, when I see them, think with a sad heart of the bright intelligence and vast ornithological knowlege that sank with him, in shadows, in the grave. After that letter I devoted myself more & more to ornithology. My Wifes time was of course much taken up with “the Baby” my eldest son, Leopold, who of all our seven children has about survived, to help me in my favourite pursuits, & nursing and delineation of caterpillers, gave way to other nursing! -------on my last journey to Jaffna (the northern circuit) I had acquired my favourite weapon “Long Tom” now so well known in the collecting world. This little gun .360 in the bore, & 3 feet 8 inches long in the barrel, was one of a pair sent out to the design of a [Giutteman] at Jaffna by name of Napsil Burleigh, who had a great love for ornithology (he too like many others of those I held dear, has gone 'behind the veil') not wanting both, he had parted with one to a lawyer, who took a temporary fancy to it, from him he bought it back for me for £4. All my other guns had been stolen from me by the rascally natives — my own servants (would that the barrels would have burst in their hands, & shatter them!) just before the circuit commenced.With this wonderful little weapon I soon repaid Blyth his outlay, & ere I left Ceylon had brought up the list of known species from 182 to 318!! Every bird enumerated with the exception of some half a dozen (if so many) got by Dr. Kelaart, fell to my own shot, & was skinned, & preserved by me. Every one was sent to Blyth, and the types were retained in the Calcutta Museum, often his description of them. The others (duplicate) returned to me passed into the possession of a cousin of the present Lord Wimborne, but have perished by exposure.

I had many happy hours over these birds, whenever we drove out for our evening's airing “Long Tom” was so snugly nestled at my side, as my Baby was on its mother's knee. If I jumped out to get a shot at some coveted bird, old “Baba” my pet horse, took charge of mother and child — he would come to my call 'ha a mile away, along the road, and if anyone had annoyed them my bull terrier 'hero' would have had him by the throat in no time. At night when “Baby” was snug in bed, my wife would play our best songs, while I sat by, at a little table, I had for the purpose, and skinned and sang! We were still poor in worldly circumstances but rich in ourselves — in love of our pursuits, and of each other, and our little one. A change however was to come. A vacancy occurred at Point Pedro, at the entrance north of the Island, near Jaffna. Many who had become acquainted with me on circuit urged me to apply for the Berth, that of Magistrate. Judge S, tho' loudly lamenting that he should lose me, gave me a warm letter of recommendation to Lord Torrington, our then Governor, and I know I should have the support of our Colonial Secretary Mr. McCarthy (afterwards Sir Charles)I boldly demanded an audience. It was granted and I asked for the Berth. “I have not heard of the vacancy” said His Excellency!! I have special information my Lord, from friends” said I, handing him my letter. “Well — he laughed — you know more than I do, and they seem to want you up there. You are a Barrister now are you not? Yes, my Lord, I have passed my exam, & here is a letter from Mr. Justice S “. “Better and better said His Ex, and here comes Maccarthey” — The Colon. Sec. was just then announced, and came in with his hands full of papers — 'Maccarthey — Mr. Layard tells me Point Pedro is vacant, & he asks me for the berth” — “May I join in his request your Ex here is the report for Van D's suspension for bribery, just received from the Commissioners, by the steamer. She is just in time to take the Chief Justice up there, & will start tomorrrow morning”. — “Well, Mr. L you shall have the berth; said his Lordship kindly, “and from all I Hear you deserve it”. I thanked him and asked if I might go in the steamer (a Govt Boat) I was sure the Chief Justice would not object. “Yes I might, but could I get ready, “Oh yes! I would be up all night packing — “But” said his Ex — how about your debts? You must not run away from your creditors! When I have paid the milkman, your Ex, for the milk I shall take this evening and that I had this morning, I shall not owe a sou in Colombo, or elsewhere”. Lord Torrington brought his hand down on the table with a sounding slap “By G----- he said “you deserve the appointment if only for that. I know you — you are the poorest, & have the least pay of any of your family. I doubt if any of them & hardly any other of the Civil Service can say the same!And so after a night of hard work, I started with the kind old chief soon after daylight. I remember one piece of advice, among many others which he gave me for my conduct as a magistrate “There are three maxims” — he said — “I would have you observe. The first is — Sit like a hen! — the second is — Sit like a hen!! — the third is Sit like a hen!!!” I pondered a bit and the replied — “I understand you Sir A and will condense all into one word —"Patience”. “Right you are Boy” said the chief, and I never had cause to doubt it.

At Point Pedro I was a rich man £300 per annum & house free, living was cheap. We got a big turtle for sixpence, as much or more delicious fish that we could eat for a fanain (2½). Others might have been lonely, but we had our time well filled up. I often was in court from dawn till long into the night — I remembered the maxim — “Sit like a hen”. I sifted every case so thoroughly that the natives, who are awfully liticious dared not bring a false case before me. I never had judgment reversed tho' at first, appeals from [me] to the higher court were as “numerous as blackberries”. I devoted every Saturday to examining my district, in company of my gun. The result was a vast addition to the Ceylon fauna and a thorough knowledge of my district, and people. I knew every road, footpath, field, fence and almost every man by sight. It was of no use for a [ ] witness to say he came from such a place, to such a place, in such a space of time, I had walked it and mapped it on a bit chart — that I was making. witness to My knowledge of surveying was standing in good stead, and so with many other trades I had picked up! I mended my buggy when broken, and put a new hood to it. I helped to forge my own dredge, and made my youngsters their first pair of shoes.he natives, at first, could not make me out. One day when much heated, I begged some men drawing water with the well—whip, and huge mat basket, to let me drink. The rim of the basket was muddy and my hands were black with powder, so I dipt my face in the sparkling water and drank — 'He drinks like a dog! they exclaimed, much shocked. Another time I had taken my buggy wheels off, when unluckily a lot of head—men came to pay their respects! With my hammer and files about me and my grimy hands, I don't wonder at their saying to each other, “Our magistrate is a blacksmith!” I explained to them that an English gentleman only considered a dishonest action as staining his hands, and his honour, and that I was proud to be able to use my hands, & could do so at most trades. While I was skewing them the use of certain tools, the interpreter went into the house to warn my wife the Headmen were coming to Salaam — when he saw how she was employed, the staid nature quite broke down! He rushed at her, seized her netting — mesh, needle, and netting out of her hands, & conceded them all behind the door — “Madam, Madam” he exclaimed — for God's sake don't let them see you doing [ ] that is especially the work of the lowest Fisher caste!! a lady should do nothing at all!!” She was netting me a net to fish the coral pools!! “Oh that won't suit me'she said and when the Headmen came she showed them her drawings of Fishes, Butterflies, Moths, Caterpillers, plants & played them the National Anthem and did a dozen other things to their extreme surprise. I believe a big council was held, and we were at last voted such High Caste that we knew everything!!!

My knowledge of the habits of various creatures obtained me such reverence, and at times helped me. I had a heavy land—case to decide, a special matter, as our courts (Magistrates) did not touch them. I took all the evidence on both sides carefully — I “sat like a hen” for days. The testimony to the boundary ditch was equal on both sides, but it was clear that one side, or the other, was “swearing very hard”. It was at an extreme corner of my district, so far that at that time I had not visited, and consequently did not know it. The vast plain, covered in the wet season with a paddy, was now parched and dry. The retiring waters had filled up the ditch with mud and this caused the dispute. I told the contending parties, place on Saturday morning. On arriving I found a huge crowd evidently come to see the Magistrate bewildered. There was not a trace of a ditch, but my surveying eye detected at once a slight depression towards one spot or rather line, here I saw the dead shells of the large Ampullaria (since named after me by the way) in most abundance. I told the parties each to mark out his line with pegs, and to my delight the one I suspected of lying, drew his line on such a part of the slightly raised land, that I felt sure he was in the wrong, & merely wanted to rob his neighbour of land and watercourse. The other fellow quite fairly followed the slight depression. When all was ready I produced a live specimen of the Ampullaria from my pocket and told people I had, a witness there that would not lie. If the ditch had been, as it must have been, the last to hold water then should we find them aestivating, or laid up for the dry season.I ordered a mamotty (native spade.) to be brought and a trench to be dug along the first named line — not a shell did we find! on the second being opened, they turned up by scores!! “This” said I “is the line of the ditch”. A roar of delight followed my decision, and the defeated party threw himself at my feet praying for mercy — “It was [ ] witnesses, to with the Headman, and meet me at the no use trying to deceive a man who 'spoke the language of the birds and beasts'. I was [“Paq”] or “uncanny” a demon in fact! Of course the living shells had followed the retreating water and finally buried themselves in the soft mud of the ditches as it dried up Another time, a woman was giving evidence which I knew must be false, but I could not catch her. A Gecko one of a pair that lived behind a beam over my head, uttered its peculiar cry. The natives are very superstitious about this reptile. “There” — said the woman — “the magistrate knows all the beasts say — he heard the Gecko say “I was right”! “I” made a shot and said “no” on the contrary he said you were speaking false things, and that I was to fine you for perjury — he shall say it again and convince you. I gently emitted the call of the female whom I could see, but she could not and the shrill note of the male again rang out in response. The woman threw her hands above her head “It is of no use” she cried, “they told me you were “Page and now I know it. I confess all — I have been lying”!!

It was at Point Pedro that I first made the aquaintance of the late Prof. C.B. Adams of Amhurst Col. Cambridge and several other naturalists, thro' the agency of the American Missionaries, and commenced that system of shell exchange which I have carried on to this day.But troubles were coming on me. Children came too fast and died as they came! we had no medical help within 26 miles, and so the found�ation was laid for a disease that for the last 22 years has made my dear wife a cripple! She who in our young days was my companion on walks and rides such as no other woman dared, was now, in her older age, to be almost confined to her chair.I had at last to send her home to England for her life and tho' I was rising in the service, and had been promoted to a good post in Colombo, I had shortly to follow her, from my own health failing. As long as I could get away to the forest, and have lots of exercise, I kept well, The confinement of an office killed me! I got a pate de foie gras in my inside but the “foie” was my own, not that of a goose (hen!) and the result was seventy five leaches on my wretched side and stomach. They were put on by a friend, who could not stop to take them off, & I was left to the tender care of a native servant. The result was I fainted, & as the leeches fell of he quietly put them into a bottle, & let me bleed from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. from all these open wounds. How the Doctor managed to patch them up, & enable me to be sent to Galle and shipped away to England, I don't know, but so it was, and my collections were sent after me, and on them I paid freight for 9 tons! I never returned to the Island I loved so much. The Doctors guaranteed my death in six months they would not guarantee my wife's life for six weeks!! “Skin for skin”! Yea all that a man hath will he give for his life”! What then would I not give up for the life gone I loved so dearly; I resigned!

Where to turn for a living was the next question. Many of my zoological friends united in a memorial to the Secretary of State, praying my transference to a colony with a milder climate, & Sir George Gray hearing of this, & having first been appointed Governor of the Cape Colony, wrote and asked me to go with him, and found a Museum there.This seemed too good to be refused and I followed him to the Cape, as soon as I could, being the bearer of Despatches, announcing the Battle of the Alina [ ? ] and the Death of Genl. Cathcart, therein, he having once been Governor of the Cape Colony.I found I had to begin life all over again! I was at length placed in the office of the Colonial Secretary, as a junior clerk, on a very small salary. We still stuck to our principles, but found our poverty hard to bear. Often we have sat in our coats, cloaks and shawls druing the winter, to avoid spending money on coals for a fire, and we heaped on clothing on the bed to save the expense of blankets! but we never ran into debt. At length the Museum fund was voted by the Parliament, and I was appointed Curator with the addition of £100 per annum to my salary. But my health was still so broken, (not being much improved by anxiety) that a kind friend Commandore Trotter, commanding in the station proposed to Sir George Grey to send me away on a cruise he was about to take to Mauritius, and this enabled me at the same time to collect all the sea fowl of the Cape Seas, for the Museum, and health for myself. Three months was thought to be the probable duration of the cruise, but dispatches found at Mauritius, sent us to Madagascar, the Comoro Islands, and all the east coast of Africa from the Line to Natal, so I was away seven months. I worked hard at collecting for the Museum, and back a large collection of birds, shells, insects etc and laid the foundation of the South African Museum with them.

But bad news awaited me on my return. My poor wife had given birth to a little dead baby girl —News came of the death of my brother in the Crimea, and all seemed dark. Gradually the clouds cleared away, tho' we were still miserably poor. Years past away, the museum grew and the erection of a building suitable for it, and the fine library was dis�cussed by Sir George and myself. We induced the Parilament to vote the money and the building was commenced. We had been there nearly nine A years, when the Govenor, still Sir George Grea?y, asked me to be his Private Secretary, and my wife to come to government house to receive his guests. It was finally arranged that I was not to lose my time “in the Civil Service” but to be “detached in Special Service”, and this was settled. In a few months however Sir George was ordered to New Zealand and he begged us to accompany him. My noble wife braved all the discomforts of a long journey, in the winter season, by sea in the low Southern latitudes, and after some weeks tossing on the stormy southern seas (we ran down to 42º South) we got safe to N.Zealand H.M.S. Cossack.We could not do much collecting in N.Zealand, time being rather taken up with more important matters, but if birds were scarce and hard to get, Ferns, of wondrous beauty, lay all around us, close to our hands, & so we seized on them. There was this advantage too. My wife could set them out, & press them, unaided, when I was at my desk in the office. So a collection was begun which now numbers some 2000 species! In N.Zealand we stayed several months when I received the welcome news that if I liked to apply for the position of “Arbitrator” in the Mixed Commission at the Cape, under the Slave Trade Treaties I should have it. This I owed to the kind intervention of my valued friend Professor Owen, now Sir Richard Owen. I of course at once applied to Lord John Russell, in whose gift it was, and my application was backed up by a most powerful letter from Sir George Grey. I had now to return via the Australian colonies to the Cape and found a ship sailing direct.

On arriving in Sydney, I learned that the curator of the Museum had just died, & the Premier and Governor pressed me to take the appointtment. I told them frankly that I was expecting a post in the Imperial Service and with higher pay and “anticipations” (the next step could be that of Judge and commission in £1200) but they nevertheless kept the berth open for me till I learnt from Adelaide that I was gazetted to the new appointment.The wretched vessel in which I had taken our passages kept us dangling about for over two months, following her to Melbourne & Adelaide. We met with the kindest attention from everyone, from the Governors downwards. At Adelaide, His Excellency insisted on our making his house our “pied a terre”, tho' many friends carried us off to spend a week here or ten days there. I made a most delightful trip under the wing of an influential settler to Lake Alexandria, shooting Kangaroos, black Swans, etc for the Cape Museum, of which I still remained Curator. One little episode I should mention. I carried off from their burial places in the trees, the skulls of four aborigines two male & 2 female — 1 pair for the Adelaide Museum, whose curator begged me to get them & a pair for that at the Cape, as the commencement of an Ethnological series. I did not know the danger I ran. I got them on the [sly] the evening before we turned our faces homewards, wrapped them up in our “swag”, & strapped them on my back. We had not ridden far, when my host said “What is that strong aromatic smell, it seems to follow us” I then told him what I had done. “My heavens” he said “it was too bad of to get you to do this — if the natives of that tribe scent you, they will know what you have been at — rifling their dead, & they will spear you to a “certainty”.We hurried on, however, & got clear away, not falling in with any natives, & I brought home my prizes in safety, but it is the last time I shall go on a “Head hunting” expedition; especially when the natives use these strong aromatic to embalm their dead.

I got a good idea of the Australian Fauna & Flora in my stay in that region, but when I reached the Cape I found myself poorer than when I started and in debt too for the first time in my life! for I had actually had been obliged in Australia to borrow £100 of one who was previously a stranger to me! I found however that my pay was to date from day of gazetting, & there was a little allowance for starting, in lieu of passage money, as I was supposed to be on the spot, so I soon repaid my loan & as the pay was £800 and the Museum £100 & a home I soon pulled up and began a “nest-egg” for my wife and child, in case of my death. My boy was in England under his uncle, my brother-in-law's care, who placed him at Eton. Death however upset all our plans for the future. My dear brother-in-law died suddenly, leaving us a nice little legacy, but to my astonishment and grief, my own family, without consulting me, withdrew my son from Eton, sent him out to the Cape, and one day to my great astonishment he walked into the house! having arrived by the mail from England.We remained eight years more at the Cape and tho' I succeeded to the Title of Judge & Commissioner, I did not succeed to the [enrolement]! a proposition had been made to abrogate the Treaties, as the Salve Trade had ceased, & finally I was instructed to wind up the office & return home.

I confess up to that time I had little to complain of I was laying by a little money, & with nothing to do at the courts, as no prizes were brought in for adjudication, I could devote all my time to the Museum. I inaugurated a system of Exchange, & my bones went about everywhere. I gradually furnished the Museum with cases & added to the gallery, for which by the way I advanced the money, out of my own pocket, & repaid myself by [increments] spread over several years; the whole allowance for the upkeep of the museum was only £300 per annum out of which I had to pay myself, the Taxidermist & the attendant!I had years before commenced to collect materials for a catalogue of the Birds of South Africa, & I now determined to print a cheap as plain and unscentific language as possible, so as to be within the comprehension of everyone, thus to become the companion of the boys of the country, & induce them to learn something of the rich Avifauna around them. Some friends urged me to make the scheme known, & ask for subscribers. This was done, & as soon as I had enough names on my list (& it was most rapidly filled up, chiefly from the Eastern Province) to pay the bare expenses, I published the book. I don't profess to be a scientific naturalist, I have Never been rich enough to purchase the books required for the study, and my life has been spent in countries where no museums existed, save those I myself established. In Ceylon I founded a museum in connection with the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Calcutta, what became of it I do not know, after my connection with the island was severed. At the Cape, the Museum also of my founding still flourishes. All I lay claim to is a certain knowledge of the life history of the Birds of the countries I have inhabited. I have followed them assiduously with their nature haunts, and watched them as closely as I could, and what I have seen I have recorded. When therefore I state in any of my writings, that I obtained such a bird, in such a place, that the colour of his eyes and legs, in life and the contents of the stomach were such and such, I can only assure my readers that such was absolutely the case. The only element of error may be in the name of the bird, but as I did not identify more than three or four “of my own bat”, all the rest being named by “Experts” in England and Europe, I think the chances I must take are small.When first I arrived at the Cape and enquired for any list or accounts of S. African birds, I found none of the former existed and that the latter was scattered in various places. There were a few books of the old Authors in the Public Library — Levaillant's Birds of South Africa. Dr. Andrew Smith's 'Birds' of the Expedition he commanded, and a Rare little trace The Raptores of S. Africa, evidently the commencement of a general list be.... {Ends]

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.