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

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Letter 2
Melchbourne Vicarage,


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


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


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 — &


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


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


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]

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]

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

[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]

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