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missions still holding collections of Insects unappropriated, under the supposition, perhaps, that such objects would be less appreciated than the large animals; on the contrary, Dr. HORSFIELD states that contributions to this department of the Museum would be as likely as any other means to promote the interests of science, and to secure the approval of those who are interested in the collection at the India House.
With regard to Insects. The public collections which remain, I believe, unappropriated, are those made by Dr. WALLICH, Mr. GRIFFITH, and myself, when employed on the Assam deputation, and Dr. HELFER'S collection. That which was made by the Assam deputation is still, I believe, at the Botanic Garden, and like Dr. HELFER'S collection has not yet been transferred to the Government With regard to the former, perhaps the Society has no authority to interfere; but as the Society has been authorized to take one series of Dr. HELFER'S collection for our own Museum, and to select another for that of the India House, it might be necessary to address Dr. HELFER on the subject, particularly as his collection of birds for the Honorable Court has been packed up for some time in the Museum, and are only detained till the insects which have not yet been submitted to the Society should accompany them.
The large collections of birds and insects made by Captain PEMBERTON during his mission to Boutan, and the officers who accompanied him on that occasion, have been long almost unobserved in the Museum, owing to the late repairs of the house. The greater part of the birds composing that collection were previously in our possession, bu tsuch as were new to it were transferred to our cabinets, and the rest enclosed in cases for transmission to the India House. The insects of the same collection which are numerous, and no doubt rich in undescribed forms, are also in course of being dispatched with the birds; a series having been reserved for our own collection. The pains taken during Captain PEMBERTON's Journey, to mark the localities in which the different objects were collected, cannot be too highly applauded, especially as this very important circumstance has been hitherto altogether neglected on such occasions. Mr. LYELL in a letter addressed to Mr. M'CLELLAND, dated 7th September 1839, states, that he is very anxious for accurate information respecting the geography of living testacea and Indian tertiary shells, and if furnished with duplicates from the Museum of the Asiatic Society, proposes in return to supply the Society with fossil and recent shells in exchange.
The Society, it is to be regretted, has few fossil shells from Indian beds, and a very imperfect collection of recent species. Indeed the little attention that has been paid to these important subjects in India, seems to have induced collectors to send their contributions elsewhere. Several members, and others interested in the advancement of science, are most favourably placed on the Malay coast, at various points from Chittagong to Mergui, and we may look, I trust, with confidence for large collections from this quarter in the peculiar department alluded to. I have myself been already indebted for a miscellaneous collection of shells from Dr. HELFER, and slight contributions have been made to our Museum from time to time by different individuals; but I question if we have as yet a tenth part of the species of the Bay, while we are altogether without the corals, polypes, and radiata, so abundant in all the Eastern seas.
Mr. A. P. PHAYRE, assistant to the commissioner of Arracan, kindly sent me some time since a few interesting specimens of the rocks in the vicinity of Akyab, which are perforated to the height of six feet above the greatest elevation of spring tides, the same as beneath the level of the water, by a species of Pholas. Mr. PHAYRE justly
ascribes this to a change of level in the rocks composing this part of the coast, and regards the perforations as identical to those which have been observed in the sandstone at Cherra Ponji. With regard to the Cherra Ponji rocks, I am indebted to Mr. H. WALKER for an observation of very great importance when observing the number of Echinidæ in my collection from that quarter; he suggested the probability of the elongated moulds contained in what seemed to be perforations, being nothing more than the spines of a Cidaris, a species of Echinus. On this subject, as well as the Echinidae generally, which I find to be very abundant in the Cherra beds, I hope soon to have a communication to make, being now employed in an examination of the Indian species, particularly those which I have found fossil.
These departments of the animal kingdom are of the more importance to our collections, as we can hardly advance a single step in geology until our cabinets are complete, or nearly so, in recent species.
Mr. PHAYRE has liberally undertaken to collect for us at Akyab, but we require equally zealous correspondents at Chittagong, Kyuk Phyu, Sandoway, Moulmein, Mergue, and at all the different stations along the coast, before our Museum can be considered in a progressive state.
With regard to fossil species, our collection is equally defective; indeed so long as we are without a complete collection of recent shells, fossil species would be of little interest in our Museum. As a proof of the poverty of our collection, I may remark, that of one striking and numerous family, affording probably some hundred species, most of them found in the Indian seas, yet two species only are all we have in our Museum, and these from unknown localities, probably New South Wales.
As animals of this family have been found in a fossil state, in a bed of sand, reposing beneath the common soil of the Sylhet mountains, under circumstances which we are bound to investigate, the fact may induce those who reside along the coasts above alluded to, to contribute their share towards the inquiry by forwarding specimens of them to our Museum. The dried testa of Echinida, called sea-eggs, are very abundant, I understand from Captain BROWN, on the shores of Rambree Island, and all the islands from thence to the Straits, while the living animals usually named sea-hedgehogs, from the number of spines with which they are covered, may be had from rocks in the same vicinity. The bleacher shell is seldom perfect, so that the living animals when put fresh into spirits form the more valuable specimens ; but from the ease with which the former may be collected and preserved, as well as from their beauty as mere ornaments, they ought to form a portion of every collection, and from the philosophical interest of the subject they would be a welcome addition to our Museum.
Enough I trust has been said to induce residents on the Malay coast and other situations where similar facilities are afforded, to enable the Society to avail itself of the offer of Mr. LYELL, and at the same time to enlarge, or rather form its own collections of Indian species.
The interest now awakening in Europe regarding the natural history of this country, calculated to produce a more powerful effect in exciting a spirit of inquiry here than any arguments that could be urged on the spot. Thus, we have not only a Museum at the India House, now opened for the exhibitions of animals collected in India, but the first philosophers are ready to co-operate with us and aid our inquiries.
In addition to the instances of this kind already referred to, Mr. E. CHARLESWORTH and Mr. S. V. WooD have each presented us with collections of tertiary shells,
to facilitate our examination of the Cherra fossils. With a similar view Professor REINHARDT has presented the Society (through the medium of Dr. CANTOR, by whom they have been safely conveyed from Denmark to our Museum free of expense) with the valuable collection of skulls of Cetacea from Greenland, now on the table, to facilitate the examination of the fossil Mammalia that abound in several districts of India.
We cannot however flatter ourselves that any results we have yet attained are such as to entitle us to the aid of naturalists in Europe. I therefore refer the interest which the above marks of attention betoken in favor of our scientific movements, to the personal influence of one of our members, Dr. Cantor, who has recently returned from Europe, where he met a reception for his labors among us, from philosophers of every rank, of which he may well be proud, and which cannot fail to produce a powerful effect on his future career in India.
Our scientific progress will however depend so much on the cultivation of a general intercourse with scientific individuals and Societies in other parts of the world, that we ought to take advantage of the occasion by meeting the views of those who are desirous of exchanging collections with us.
Indeed to attempt to establish a national Museum in India without this kind of co-operation, would be to reject what has been done in Europe, and to begin the study of the physical sciences as if nothing had been accomplished beyond the few scattered publications that reach India. It by cultivating an interchange with other Museums, and thus introducing the known species of other countries as the standard of comparison for the elucidation of the unknown species of this, that we are to advance our own collections, and contribute most effectually to the general diffusion of knowledge, and the progress of science.
5th February, 1840.
Dr. M'CLELLAND then rose and addressed the meeting regarding the attendance of the curator for two hours a day, and a monthly report on the Museum, as insisted upon in the minute of the President, which he objected to. He objected to any stipulated period of daily attendance beyond what might be necessary to superintend the persons employed in the Museum, and of this the curator himself should be supposed the best judge. He has been in the habit of devoting more time than two hours, he might say even five hours, daily to the duties of the Museum, but that was at his own house, where he had painters and other facilities which the Museum did not afford, and where he would continue to employ himself pretty much in the same way whether appointed curator or not. As to reports, he also thought these should be left to the discretion of the curator, as it would be useless reporting unless there should happen to be something of interest to report about.
SIR EDWARD RYAN said, that he thought Dr. M'CLELLAND did not quite understand him by two hours a day; he did not mean that two hours should be given every day, but that if he could not give one, four hours could be devoted to it the next, and so on, only that on an average two hours daily, whether at home or at the Museum, Should be required by the Society from the curator.
As to monthly reports, it was not absolutely necessary that a long report should be furnished every month; for some months there might not be any thing to report, when only a letter stating this circumstance would be all that would be required. Monthly reports were only necessary as public records for future reference for a history of the Museum, and also that they might have something which they could produce if called
on by the Government for the expenditure of the sum granted by the Honorable Court for this express purpose. He therefore begged to propose that the office be offered to Dr. M'CLELLAND on these stipulations, if he chose to accept of it.
Mr. H. T. PRINSEP thought it necessary to inquire, with reference to Dr. M'CLElLAND'S explanation of his views of the nature of a curator's office, whether it was intended to recognize the curator as entitled to remove to his own house any objects of natural curiosity or other articles he might desire. He thought that the recognition of such a privilege was inconsistent with the object of preserving always at hand for inspection every article obtained. He wished the rules of other Museums should be referred to, for of course it would be expected now that the Honorable Court had specifically assigned a sum for its maintenance, that the Society should conform to the practice of other similar institutions in Europe. Of course on the first arrival of any article, before it was classed and located in the Museum, the curator might do whatever was necessary to examine and test it, carrying it away if he pleased for the purpose. But when once placed in the Museum, Mr. PRINSEP thought the articles ought not on any account to be removed, and the rooms of the Society afforded facilities sufficient for copying and comparing in them, without any removal being necessary. Sir E. RYAN then moved that the Committee of Papers be instructed to draw up rules on which the curatorship should be held, with the stipulation that two hours a day at least be allotted for the duties of the office-that reports be furnished monthly of the state of the Museum-and that no specimens be allowed to be removed from the Society's apartments. Similar rules in fact have invariably been observed by other Societies. The President further suggested, that the Committee do make their report on it at the next meeting. Dr. M'CLELLAND then said, that if it was intended that these rules should be strictly enforced, it would be the means of greatly limiting the endeavours of the curator, whoever he might be, for the interests of the Society; and he thought it as well, under these stipulations, to decline accepting of the situation.
Sir E. RYAN added that the Society were so sensible of the value of Dr. M'CLELLAND's services, that no decision would be formed on his expressed refusal of the office until the next meeting.
The annual Report was then presented by the officiating Secretaries, but reserved for perusal at the next meeting.
The following letters from Dr. CANTOR were read.
Calcutta, January 25, 1840.
I take the liberty to call your attention to the following extract of a letter which I have received from Prof. REINHARDT, Superintendent of the Royal Museum at Copenhagen.
"In the year 1823 or 1824, I presented a number of stuffed specimens of European, (mostly northern) birds to the Asiatic Society, Calcutta. From a Calcutta Journal I have learned, that the specimens had arrived in fine condition, and that the Society at their monthly meeting were pleased to pass a resolution, that a number of their duplicates of Indian birds were to be presented to me in return. I have however since then neither heard any thing concerning this matter, nor have I received the gift of the Society. If you therefore on your return to Calcutta could procure some informa
tion as to what course has been pursued after the Society had passed the resolution, I shall feel much obliged."*
I beg leave to request that you will favour me with such information upon the subject as shall enable me to comply with the request of Professor REINHARDT. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient servant,
To the Curator, Asiatic Society's Museum.
Calcutta, January 25, 1840.
In a letter from the Secretary, bearing the date of October 31st, 1837, Mr. JAS. PRINSEP expressed the Society's wish, that on my arrival in England I should purchase such works upon natural history for the Society as were most wanted in their library. To the number of works upon natural history which I have ordered Messrs. ALLEN and Co. to procure and dispatch to the Society, I beg to add the accompanying work upon Infusoria, by Professor EHRENBERG.
In the above mentioned letter, the Secretary further requested me to take charge of two duplicates from the Society's Museum, viz. a skull of an elephant, and a ditto of a rhinoceros, with a view to procure in exchange for those objects others, which from the knowledge I had obtained by arranging and making a catalogue of the Museum, I should conceive to be acceptable.
From Professor REINHARDT, Superintendent of the Royal Museum at Copenhagen, I have received in exchange the accompanying series of osteological preparations, which with the annexed list I have the honor of laying before the Society. The collection consists chiefly of northern Cetacea, a class of animals, which, from their locality, belong to the rarer objects in the European Museums, and which I conceive of double interest to our Museum, as affording means of comparison to students of the fossil Cetacea found in the Himalayan beds,
I have the honor to be, Sir,
List of osteological preparations received from the Royal Museum at Copenhagen, in exchange for two skulls from the Asiatic Society's Museum.
*Note by the Curator. The articles intended by the Society for Professor Reinhardt were made over to Dr. Wallich, I believe, who undertook to have them conveyed to Copenhagen.