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In the first place, I know nothing of any remuneration that was ever promised me for executing the task that was assigned to me; the sum of Co.'s Rs. 3,200 which I have since received from the Society, was for arrears of an additional hundred per month of salary, withheld until I had completed the said letter-press, as some inducement for me to undertake a labour for which it was believed I had no particular liking. It was well known that I. had strenuously and consistently opposed, from the first, and considerably to my own disadvantage, any outlay of money upon the publication of what I have always regarded and repeatedly averred to be a series of drawings possessing not the slightest scientific value ; but on this subject I need merely refer to my letter published in the Society's ‘Proceedings' for October 1845, and here repeat my regret (for which I have now a further pecuniary reason) that, as the recognised zoological officer of the Society, it was not deemed necessary to consult me in a single instance about even the selection of the drawings for publication, whence some of the very worst are amongst those upon which the expense of lithography has been incurred, the worst alike for execution, for representing the most familiarly known European species, and in several instances different drawings representing the same species ! I conceive that I should have been greatly remiss in my duty to the Society if I had not uniformly endeavoured to oppose so wasteful an expenditure of money, as the enormous outlay upon these “ trashy” drawings is now admitted, on all hands, to have been : but, gentlemen, I wish it to be recorded, that instead of having benefited to the extent of Co.'s Rs. 3,200 for preparing the letter-press to accompany the publication of those drawings, as would be inferred from perusal of Capt. Munro's minute, the small increase of pay that had been allowed me for nearly three years previously was withdrawn, not in consequence of any dissatisfaction felt towards myself, but because of the impoverishment of the Society resulting from the outlay of which I was so long the sole opponent, as I am now the only personal sufferer from the retrenchment !
Capt. Munro expected that I should have “ zealously undertaken an essay on the animals of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries”—“ considering a large and distinct remuneration” was expected. Of the latter I need say no more : and as regards the former, Capt. M. happened to be unaware that I had such an essay in a forward state of preparation, the ornithological portion of which had long since been sent in ; but that it had been suggested by the Senior Secretary of the Society that nothing of the kind was required, and that it would be sufficient if I simply identified the species, as far as was practicable. *
This suggestion was only made in March, 1847, when I found the Society unanimous in their resolution not to publish the plates.-W. B. O'S., Sen. Secy.
Of my execution of this labour, Capt. M. remarks "All that seems to have been done consists in guessing at the names of a number of animals, intended to be represented, in a series of bad drawings, with scarcely any original information regarding these animals. The little that has been done has been but slovenly executed,” &c. Really I cannot imagine what else could have been done, or expected, under the circumstances ; having, in the great majority of cases, no further data than the said " bad drawings” to build an opinion upon,-to " guess” at as I best might. Neither do I see much advantage in amplifying the notices of common and well known species, merely for the sake of filling out the page ; nor even in imparting valuable information about rare species in a work which, as I had every reason to infer, was destined to be all but suppressed. Unhappily, the MS. notes of Dr. Lord, which would have afforded some assistance, had unaccountably disappeared from the Society's Rooms :* and the specimens collected by the party were few and mostly valueless.
The most useful to me amongst the latter were some of the fishes procured; and without these it would have been impossible to determine certain of the species with anything like precision. Whoever reads Capt. Munro's brief paragraph on this class will assuredly do me the injustice to infer that I am indebted to my friend Mr. McClelland“ for the short notes attached to this portion of the drawings” (the Afghan fishes ? or the fishes generally? vide minute): the fact, however, being that my attempts to ascertain the numerous species figured, from very insufficient data in most instances, cost me much tedious labour; and but a small residue of them remained for determination when I consulted Mr. McClelland on the subject. That gentleman very obligingly rendered me all the assistance in his power, and I trust that I have sufficiently acknowledged the aid which I derived from him ; and moreover that I am not exactly to blame for obtaining assistance from every available quarter.
So with the reptiles. Very truly—“ The names of the snakes have been guessed at in a most haphazard way.” For the simple reason that there was no alternative in the matter. Not having a single book treating Ophidia in the Society's library, except Russell's ‘Indian Serpents,' the nomenclature of which is now antiquated, I consulted a gentleman well known for his attainments in this branch of Zoology, in the presence, too (as it happened), of another eminent naturalist, W. H. Benson, Esq.; and may remark that the name Acrochordus, with a mark of doubt, was not of my suggestion ; nor that pl. XLII, fig. 2, represented the young of pl. XLI, fig. 1, though I still entertain the opinion that it does so.
* Although nominally under my charge, they were virtually in the same keeping as the other books in the Society's library; and thither I returned them as often as I had had recourse to them, and on no occasion took them out of the premises. I could have had no reason for ever doing so, as my custom has always be to wo Museum : but why so unpretending a small volume of MS. should have been abstracted from the place, in preference to others of bazar value, I own to some difficulty of understanding.
solely at the
The supposed Dipsas I so assigned, with a note of interrogation however, from its general resemblance to the common D. trigonatus, combined with the fact of the head being expanded as usual in this genus: but where figures are admitted to be “bad enough to favor any guess,” a less harsh tone of criticism might, I think, have been advantageously adopted, and even a private suggestion or two might have been offered and thankfully responded to, as a preferable mode of promoting the interests and the harmony of the Society.*
The birds treated of are numerous, and I believe are all correctly assigned; but unfortunately I made the one sad oversight of writing Grus cinerea, Lin., instead of Grus cinerea, Bechstein; an error which I could scarcely have failed to rectify when correcting the press, and which assuredly is made the most of by Capt. Munro, by the mode in which he has notified it. He says
-"Grus was not a genus, nor Ardea cinerea a species, of Linnæus.” I think, however, he will find that the latter is a particularly well known species so na by Linnæus, though not referring to the Grus ; which name seems to have been first used in a generic sense by Mæhring. Again, I need scarcely say I knew well that Capra ægagrus was Gmelin's species, and
* I quote here all that I deemed it necessary to write of the four snakes particularly referred to by Capt. Munro, who, after complaining of my guessing what they were, proceeds to offer a few guesses himself !
“Pl. XLI, fig. 1. Acrochordus? Bamoo-ee, or Dwo-moo-ee. It is not possible to determine what this snake is, without a knowledge of the actual species. Perhaps it may be a large Typhlops.
“Pl. XLII, fig. 2. Acrochordus? This is probably the young of the species represented in pl. XLI, fig. 1. The originals of both figures were procured at Issakhai.
“Pl. XLIII, Dipsas ? Tropidonotus? It is not possible to determine what this is meant for, without a specimen for reference. It is probably a Dipsas ? Procured in the Derajat.
“Pl. XLIV, fig. 2. Dipsas ? Alteran-nag, or Gorah-dang. Probably the young of the species figured in Pl. XLIII. This and the next were procured at Buhawalpore.”
Surely it is much better to express doubt in such cases than to pronounce dogmatically? Of myself, I would not have undertaken what I consider such uselese labour, as to attempt to determine species so wretchedly represented; the scutation, for instance, being expressed by simple cross-lines.
not Pallas's; and I venture confidently to assert that I should (in all probability) have corrected this inadvertence as well as the other. It is my general practice to look carefully over all matters of this kind when I receive the printed proofs for revisal; and I do not think that trivial errors of the sort are very often to be met with in my published papers. Indeed, with species so familiarly known as the above two are, it is a mere matter of form to cite the name of the author of the nomenclature; and I maintain that it is most unfair, on the part of Capt. Munro, to argue that the laboured part of the MS. was carelessly executed, because notices of such species as the common European Crane were written out of band, and I chanced to say “Grus cinerea, Lin. ;” the identification of the bird remaining, of course, unaffected.
Capt. Munro himself commits a little oversight of the kind, when he says
"The name of pl. II, fig. 3, can at best be but a guess," &c. &c. He alludes to pt. III, fig. 3, (this, however, may be a misprint :) but there is more serious reason to complain of his mistaken surmise about the guesswork, when, if he had taken the trouble to read what I had written on the subject, he would have found the words—“Identified from a skull, with the skin and fur on, among the specimens transmitted to Calcutta by Sir A. Burnes :"—there being, besides, another and perfect skin belonging to Capt. Hutton in my possession at the time I wrote this, and which I have by me to this day. I am entitled, therefore, to retort that Capt. Munro's minute is carelessly and hastily written, or he would not have made such a misrepresentation.
“Pl. IV, fig. 2,” he says, “ has no trouble taken with it, although it is supposed to be a new species.” This is another mistaken surmise, on the part of Capt. Munro. I gave the subject full consideration : and having satisfied myself that the ensemble of its characters accorded with those of no described species of Mustela, I deemed it sufficient to say—“ This species should be distinguished by the uniform whiteness of its under-parts and limbs, and rather lengthened tail having no black at the extremity ;" which, with the coloured figure before the reader, marked “ Mooshkoormah, nat. size one foot long,” is, I still think, amply sufficient. I should be sorry, however, to found a name upon such a figure, and merely marked it thus" Mustela-2"
Respecting the Moosh-i-baldar of Nijrow, plates VI and VII, I beg leave to retain the opinion I expressed, that it is probably a new species (vide also Journal for August last, p. 866). I think it probable that I have seen more specimens of Sciuropterus fimbriatus than my friend and old correspondent Prof. Schinz of Zurich, whose recently published work on the mammalia, referred to by Capt. Munro, is not in the Society's library, nor was there a copy of it in Calcutta at the time I wrote the notice referred to. It would therefore have been more friendly, on the part of Capt. M., to have called my attention to M. Schinz's description of Sc. fimbriatus ; and it would surely have been more satisfactory to himself to have examined the specimens of this animal in the Society's Museum, and to have personally compared them with Burnes's figure of the Moosh-i-baldar, than to have resorted to any mere description whatever.
Had Capt. M. also done me the honour to have looked over my tolerably large collection of carefully executed original drawings of wild Goat and Ibex heads, embracing every species known, except C. caucasica,* C. sibirica, and C. pyrenaica, (of which two latter also I could have shown him M. Schinz's published figures, that gentleman having favored me with a copy of his memoir on these animals, and at the same time-1840-1-received from me his first intimation, with tracings of my drawings of the horns, &c., of the existence of the Himalayan Ibex, and I believe the Afghan Markhore, with different wild Sheep,) he would have given me credit for being a little more conversant with the group-in common with the other groups of Ruminantia-than he seems to be aware of. I have indeed bestowed much attention upon
the different species of wild Capra : and on reperusing what I have written respecting the Booz-i-koh, am still of opinion that it more resembles the C. himalayana, nobis, apud Schinzt (vel C. sakeen, nobis), of the N. W. Himalaya, as where the Indus breaks through the chain, &c. &c., represented in summer dress, than any other known species. Ægagrus it cannot be, for the horns are knobbed as in C. ibex; and it certainly is not C. sibirica ; and I further adhere to what I wrote of C. sakeen, that—"This differs from the Alpine Ibex in possessing a well developed heard : the horns also attain a greater length than in that species, and, in general, attenuate much more towards their tips, being also less widely divergent; as fully described in the “ Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1840, p. 80, where the dimensions are given of a pair measuring 41 ft. over the curvature.I A corresponding difference is observable in the horns of the females of these two Ibices,” &c. &c. Having said this much, I believe I have pointed out all the differences that exist between the Alpine and Himalayan Ibices; and I deem it unnecessary to enumerate the characters that are
* I have drawings of the horns referred to C. caucasica by Mr. Gray, in his ‘Catalogue of the specimens of mammalia in the British Museum :' but I consider these to belong, decidedly, to C. &gagrus; and suspect that those of C. caucasica will prove to be allied in form to those of C. walie, Ruppell, of the snowy heights of Abyssinia.
+ I have no recollection of employing this name for the animal, but might have done so in the course of my correspondence with Prof. Schinz, at a time when I had no idea of visiting India.
# The description referred to was by myself, and I have now two drawings of the specimen in different aspects of view.