2 – Letter to Smith from Richard Crawshay, Melchbourne Vicarage, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, 19 Oct 1907

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Letter 2
FS/3/3/3/2
Melchbourne Vicarage,
Sharnbrook,
Bedfordshire,
19/10/07.

[[1]]

My Dear Smith,
Seeing your promotion, to quite the top of the tree, in the Gazette this morning, I am impelled to write and congratulate you: & yet, it is with a deep sense of regret — and shame — that I find myself doing so, after this long period of silence on my part!
This must have puzzled you, if you have had time to think of

[[2]]

any such fleeting acquaintance as myself, although I can only say that to me you have always appeared a friend — one of whom too, I often think, & never otherwise than kindly, even though I have not been able to maintain proper communications on paper: another thing, also, reminded me of you today in the report of the Desecration to Kruger’s grave, in the association with the account I had from you now years ago of the somewhat similar thing done to Prince Christian’s grave.
This long silence has been due to my “way of life” since my return

[[3]]

from Tiera del Fuego what with work at what has culminated in a great book (“The Birds of Tierra del Fuego”), & my dear Mother’s death occurring in the midst of this –completely paralysing me for a time — I have almost “gone under” as a member of the world in which I have hitherto lived.
Perhaps, you will understand? So many cannot! “He laughs at scars who never felt a wound” — I have never more thoroughly realized than in the course of the last 2 ½ years. Long since, your work has seen the light of day.
I remember all you told me — &

[[4]]

still more so all I saw — of your method of working at this. As for my own effort, it has almost been the end of me. But, if I may say so, the result is worthy of a whole life better than mine.
At the outset, I had no idea of attempting more than a paper for the P. Z. S., [Proceedings of the Zoological Society] on the “Ibis” (the organ of the British Ornithological Union). It then, worked into a book. Quaritch finally on taking on himself the whole cost of publication was so nice about it & so anxious to have a really handsome book that I set myself resolutely to work to achieve this; & the further I progressed the more I came to find to do, until really

[[5]]

there seemed to be no end to my task.
Briefly summed up, the book consists of an account of all species of birds collected & observed by me, embodying all I am able I to say myself together with everything I have been able to discover of interest or importance or written by others. This involved a lot of research in the libraries of the R.G.S, [Royal Geographical Society] Z.S [Zoological Society] & of the B.M [British Museum]
I have even investigated the records of such old-time voyages as Magellan (Magalhaens is his correct name), to take, Drake, Cavendish, Sarmiento, Hawkins, Narborough, De Bougainville, Cook, & of course

[[6]]

King’s Stokes & Fitzroy’s Survey of the “Adventure & “Beagle”: 1826 -1836 (in which Survey Darwin was naturalist from 1832-1836)
All later A– such as the “Astrolabe” & [“illegible”] Antarctic expedition, & the “Erebus” & “Terror” under Clarke Ross – I have also comprehended as far as I have been able to see my way.
The book has 21 hand-coloured plates by Keulemans (who is considered the best bird artist of the day, or stone at least), landscapes from my photos, a map (by Stranford) & an illustrated dedication. *
Tierra del Fuego being such a
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
“To those who farthered me by the way” — R.C [signature]

[[7]]

unique & little-understood island, I thought it well to devote a lengthy preface to it — historically, physically, botanically & zoologically — divided up into the headings “Tierra del Fuego” “Flora”, “Fauna” & “Last Words”.
The introduction is brief & deals with the main subject of the book.
I hope to have a copy for you.* It has progressed towards publication as far as my having received, last week, a completely – sketched copy unbound.
I think the price will be about £3=10: perhaps more.
You will remember telling me how interested you are in such primitive races of man as the Onas? Well! I have written a good deal about the in the preface. I hope, too, that I shall be the means
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
* I take ’30: ‘ only 300 are issued. R.C [signature]

[[8]]

Of having them henceforth protected & not — deliberately exterminated — as hitherto.
Someday, ere I again go abroad — I think of another journey to the land of my last sojourn: people, too, press me to go — I hope to see you once more.
Right glad am I to see you promoted to your present position!
Doubtless, you will keep up touch with Todd.
Here, I am making my base with my brother, who is Chaplain — vicar to St John, The Lord-Lieutenant of this county. It is a nice quiet restful place with few neighbours & these all exceedingly friendly. There are, in fact, only three families anywhere near — the St Johns (who own the whole country) & two others closely related to them, I shoot — a bit — Partridge driving; where one sees something of the “complexities & unrealities of modern civilisation” about which I have written in my “Last Words” on Tierra

[[9]]

[rotated the first page of the letter]

Del Fuego. To the Old Great — Game Hunter, it is a credulous spectacle — & [illegible] — to see young men shooting in England — with their leaders & their [illegible] seats (On which they sit waiting for the birds) & cigarettes always in their mouths. However, though I shoot with them, I have none of this! With all best wishes!
Yours most sincerely,

Richard Crawshay [signature]

Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document where possible.

 

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