Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Malay Archipelago by by Alfred Russell Wallace

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Four or five different kinds of ants attack everything not
isolated by water, and one kind even swims across that; great
spiders lurk in baskets and boxes, or hide in the folds of my
mosquito curtain; centipedes and millepedes are found everywhere.
I have caught them under my pillow and on my bead; while in every
box, and under every hoard which has lain for some days
undisturbed, little scorpions are sure to be found snugly
ensconced, with their formidable tails quickly turned up ready
for attack or defence. Such companions seem very alarming and
dangerous, but all combined are not so bad as the irritation of
mosquitoes, or of the insect pests often found at home. These
latter are a constant and unceasing source of torment and
disgust, whereas you may live a long time among scorpions,
spiders, and centipedes, ugly and venomous though they are, and
get no harm from them. After living twelve years in the tropics,
I have never yet been bitten or stung by either.

The lean and hungry dogs before mentioned were my greatest
enemies, and kept me constantly on the watch. If my boys left the
bird they were skinning for an instant, it was sure to be carried
off. Everything eatable had to be hung up to the roof, to be out
of their reach. Ali had just finished skinning a fine King Bird
of Paradise one day, when he dropped the skin. Before he could
stoop to pick it up, one of this famished race had seized upon
it, and he only succeeded in rescuing it from its fangs after it
was torn to tatters. Two skins of the large Paradisea, which were
quite dry and ready to pack away, were incautiously left on my
table for the night, wrapped up in paper. The next morning they
were gone, and only a few scattered feathers indicated their
fate. My hanging shelf was out of their reach; but having
stupidly left a box which served as a step, a full-plumaged
Paradise bird was next morning missing; and a dog below the house
was to be seen still mumbling over the fragments, with the fine
golden plumes all trampled in the mud. Every night, as soon as I
was in bed, I could hear them searching about for what they could
devour, under my table, and all about my boxes and baskets,
keeping me in a state of suspense till morning, lest something of
value might incautiously have been left within their read. They
would drink the oil of my floating lamp and eat the wick, and
upset or break my crockery if my lazy boys had neglected to wash
away even the smell of anything eatable. Bad, however, as they
are here, they were worse in a Dyak's house in Borneo where I was
once staying, for there they gnawed off the tops of my waterproof
boots, ate a large piece out of an old leather game-bag, besides
devouring a portion of my mosquito curtain!

April 28th.--Last evening we had a grand consultation, which had
evidently been arranged and discussed beforehand. A number of the
natives gathered round me, and said they wanted to talk. Two of
the best Malay scholars helped each other, the rest putting in
hints and ideas in their own language. They told me a long
rambling story; but, partly owing to their imperfect knowledge of
Malay, partly through my ignorance of local terms, and partly
through the incoherence of their narrative, I could not make it
out very clearly. It was, however, a tradition, and I was glad to
find they had anything of the kind. A long time ago, they said,
some strangers came to Aru, and came here to Wanumbai, and the
chief of the Wanumbai people did not like them, and wanted them
to go away, but they would not go, and so it came to fighting,
and many Aru men were killed, and some, along with the chief,
were taken prisoners, and carried away by the strangers. Some of
the speakers, however, said that he was not carried away, but
went away in his own boat to escape from the foreigners, and went
to the sea and never came back again. But they all believe that
the chief and the people that went with him still live in some
foreign country; and if they could but find out where, they would
send for them to come back again. Now having some vague idea that
white men must know every country beyond the sea, they wanted to
know if I had met their people in my country or in the sea. They
thought they must be there, for they could not imagine where else
they could be. They had sought for them everywhere, they said--on
the land and in the sea, in the forest and on the mountains, in
the air and in the sky, and could not find them; therefore, they
must be in my country, and they begged me to tell them, for I
must surely know, as I came from across the great sea. I tried to
explain to them that their friends could not have reached my
country in small boats; and that there were plenty of islands
like Aru all about the sea, which they would be sure to find.
Besides, as it was so long ago, the chief and all the people must
be dead. But they quite laughed at this idea, and said they were
sure they were alive, for they had proof of it. And then they
told me that a good many years ago, when the speakers were boys,
some Wokan men who were out fishing met these lost people in the
sea, and spoke to them; and the chief gave the Wokan men a
hundred fathoms of cloth to bring to the men of Wanumbai, to show
that they were alive and would soon come back to them, but the
Wokan men were thieves, and kept the cloth, and they only heard
of it afterwards; and when they spoke about it, the Wokan men
denied it, and pretended they had not received the cloth;--so
they were quite sure their friends were at that time alive and
somewhere in the sea. And again, not many years ago, a report
came to them that some Bu0gis traders had brought some children
of their lost people; so they went to Dobbo to see about it, and
the owner of the house, who was now speaking to me, was one who
went; but the Bugis roan would not let them see the children, and
threatened to kill them if they came into his house. He kept the
children shut up in a large box, and when he went away he took
them with him. And at the end of each of these stories, they
begged me in an imploring tone to tell them if I knew where their
chief and their people now were.

By dint of questioning, I got some account of the strangers who
had taken away their people. They said they were wonderfully
strong, and each one could kill a great many Aru men; and when
they were wounded, however badly, they spit upon the place, and
it immediately became well. And they made a great net of rattans,
and entangled their prisoners in it, and sunk them in the water;
and the next day, when they pulled the net up on shore, they made
the drowned men come to life again, and carried them away.

Much more of the same kind was told me, but in so confused and
rambling a manner that I could make nothing out of it, till I
inquired how long ago it was that all this happened, when they
told me that after their people were taken away the Bugis came in
their praus to trade in Aru, and to buy tripang and birds' nests.
It is not impossible that something similar to what they related
to me really happened when the early Portuguese discoverers first
carne to Aru, and has formed the foundation for a continually
increasing accumulation of legend and fable. I have no doubt that
to the next generation, or even before, I myself shall be
transformed into a magician or a demigod, a worker of miracles,
and a being of supernatural knowledge. They already believe that
all the animals I preserve will come to life again; and to their
children it will be related that they actually did so. An unusual
spell of fine weather setting in just at my arrival has made them
believe I can control the seasons; and the simple circumstance of
my always walking alone in the forest is a wonder and a mystery
to them, as well as my asking them about birds and animals I have
not yet seen, and showing an acquaintance with their form,
colours, and habits. These facts are brought against me when I
disclaim knowledge of what they wish me to tell them. "You must
know," say they; "you know everything: you make the fine weather
for your men to shoot, and you know all about our birds and our
animals as well as we do; and you go alone into the forest and
are not afraid." Therefore every confession of ignorance on my
part is thought to be a blind, a mere excuse to avoid telling
them too much. My very writing materials and books are to them
weird things; and were I to choose to mystify them by a few
simple experiments with lens and magnet, miracles without end
would in a few years cluster about me; and future travellers,
penetrating to Wanumbai, world h hardly believe that a poor
English naturalist, who had resided a few months among them,
could have been the original of the supernatural being to whom so
many marvels were attributed.

Far some days I had noticed a good deal of excitement, and many
strangers came and went armed with spears and cutlasses, bows and
shields. I now found there was war near us--two neighbouring
villages having a quarrel about some matter of local politics
that I could not understand. They told me it was quite a common
thing, and that they are rarely without fighting somewhere near.
Individual quarrels are taken up by villages and tribes, and the
nonpayment of the stipulated price for a wife is one of the most
frequent causes of bitterness and bloodshed. One of the war
shields was brought me to look at. It was made of rattans and
covered with cotton twist, so as to be both light, strong, and
very tough. I should think it would resist any ordinary bullet.
Abort the middle there was au arm-hole with a shutter or flap
over it. This enables the arm to be put through and the bow
drawn, while the body and face, up to the eyes, remain protected,
which cannot be done if the shield is carried on the arm by loops
attached at the back in the ordinary way. A few of the young men
from our house went to help their friends, but I could not bear
that any of them were hurt, or that there was much hard fighting.

May 8th.-I had now been six weeks at Wanumbai, but for more than
half the time was laid up in the house with ulcerated feet. My
stores being nearly exhausted, and my bird and insect boxes full,
and having no immediate prospect of getting the use of my legs
again, I determined on returning to Dobbo. Birds had lately
become rather scarce, and the Paradise birds had not yet become
as plentiful as the natives assured me they would be in another
month. The Wanumbai people seemed very sorry at my departure; and
well they might be, for the shells and insects they picked up on
the way to and from their plantations, and the birds the little
boys shot with their bows and arrows, kept them all well supplied
with tobacco and gambir, besides enabling them to accumulate a
stock of beads and coppers for future expenses. The owner of the
house was supplied gratis with a little rice, fish, or salt,
whenever he asked for it, which I must say was not very often. On
parting, I distributed among them my remnant stock of salt and
tobacco, and gave my host a flask of arrack, and believe that on
the whole my stay with these simple and good-natured people was
productive of pleasure and profit to both parties. I fully
intended to come back; and had I known that circumstances would
have prevented my doing so, shoed have felt some sorrow in
leaving a place where I had first seen so many rare and beautiful
living things, and bad so fully enjoyed the pleasure which fills
the heart of the naturalist when he is so fortunate as to
discover a district hitherto unexplored, and where every day
brings forth new and unexpected treasures. We loaded our boat in
the afternoon, and, starting before daybreak, by the help of a
fair wind reached Dobbo late the same evening.



(MAY AND JUNE 1857.)

DOBBO was full to overflowing, and I was obliged to occupy the
court-house where the Commissioners hold their sittings. They had
now left the island, and I found the situation agreeable, as it
was at the end of the village, with a view down the principal
street. It was a mere shed, but half of it had a roughly boarded
floor, and by putting up a partition and opening a window I made
it a very pleasant abode. In one of the boxes I had left in
charge of Herr Warzbergen, a colony of small ants had settled and
deposited millions of eggs. It was luckily a fine hot day, and by
carrying the box some distance from the house, and placing every
article in the sunshine for an hour or two, I got rid of them
without damage, as they were fortunately a harmless species.

Dobbo now presented an animated appearance. Five or six new
houses had been added to the street; the praus were all brought
round to the western side of the point, where they were hauled up
on the beach, and were being caulked and covered with a thick
white lime-plaster for the homeward voyage, making them the
brightest and cleanest looking things in the place. Most of the
small boats had returned from the "blakang-tana "(back country),
as the side of the islands towards New Guinea is called. Piles of
firewood were being heaped up behind the houses; sail-makers and
carpenters were busy at work; mother-of-pearl shell was being
tied up in bundles, and the black and ugly smoked tripang was
having a last exposure to the sun before loading. The spare
portion of the crews were employed cutting and squaring timber,
and boats from Ceram and Goram were constantly unloading their
cargoes of sago-cake for the traders' homeward voyage. The fowls,
ducks, and goats all looked fat and thriving on the refuse food
of a dense population, and the Chinamen's pigs were in a state of
obesity that foreboded early death. Parrots and Tories and
cockatoos, of a dozen different binds, were suspended on bamboo
perches at the doors of the houses, with metallic green or white
fruit-pigeons which cooed musically at noon and eventide. Young
cassowaries, strangely striped with black and brown, wandered
about the houses or gambolled with the playfulness of kittens in
the hot sunshine, with sometimes a pretty little kangaroo, caught
in the Aru forests, but already tame and graceful as a petted

Of an evening there were more signs of life than at the time of
my former residence. Tom-toms, jews'-harps, and even fiddles were
to be heard, and the melancholy Malay songs sounded not
unpleasantly far into the night. Almost every day there was a
cock-fight in the street. The spectators make a ring, and after
the long steel spurs are tied on, and the poor animals are set
down to gash and kill each other, the excitement is immense.
Those who lave made bets scream and yell and jump frantically, if
they think they are going to win or lose, but in a very few
minutes it is all over; there is a hurrah from the winners, the
owners seize their cocks, the winning bird is caressed and
admired, the loser is generally dead or very badly wounded, and
his master may often be seen plucking out his feathers as he
walks away, preparing him for the cooking pot while the poor bird
is still alive.

A game at foot-ball, which generally took place at sunset, was,
however, much more interesting to me. The ball used is a rather
small one, and is made of rattan, hollow, light, and elastic. The
player keeps it dancing a little while on his foot, then
occasionally on his arm or thigh, till suddenly he gives it a
good blow with the hollow of the foot, and sends it flying high
in the air. Another player runs to meet it, and at its first
bound catches it on his foot and plays in his turn. The ball must
never be touched with the hand; but the arm, shoulder, knee, or
thigh are used at pleasure to rest the foot. Two or three played
very skilfully, keeping the ball continually flying about, but
the place was too confined to show off the game to advantage. One
evening a quarrel arose from some dispute in the game, and there
was a great row, and it was feared there would be a fight about
it--not two men only, but a party of a dozen or twenty on each
side, a regular battle with knives and krisses; but after a large
amount of talk it passed off quietly, and we heard nothing about
it afterwards.

Most Europeans being gifted by nature with a luxuriant growth of
hair upon their faces, think it disfigures them, and keep up a
continual struggle against her by mowing down every morning the
crop which has sprouted up flaring the preceding twenty-four
hours. Now the men of Mongolian race are, naturally, just as many
of us want to he. They mostly pass their lives with faces as
smooth and beardless as an infant's. But shaving seems an
instinct of the human race; for many of these people, having no
hair to take off their faces, shave their heads. Others, however,
set resolutely to work to force nature to give them a beard. One
of the chief cock-fighters at Dobbo was a Javanese, a sort of
master of the ceremonies of the ring, who tied on the spars and
acted as backer-up to one of the combatants. This man had
succeeded, by assiduous cultivation, in raising a pair of
moustaches which were a triumph of art, for they each contained
about a dozen hairs more than three inches long, and which, being
well greased and twisted, were distinctly visible (when not too
far off) as a black thread hanging down on each side of his
mouth. But the beard to match was the difficulty, for nature had
cruelly refused to give him a rudiment of hair on his chin, and
the most talented gardener could not do much if he had nothing to
cultivate. But true genius triumphs over difficulties. Although
there was no hair proper on the chin; there happened to be,
rather on one side of it, a small mole or freckle which contained
(as such things frequently do) a few stray hairs. These had been
made the most of. They had reached four or five inches in length,
and formed another black thread dangling from the left angle of
the chin. The owner carried this as if it were something
remarkable (as it certainly was); he often felt it
affectionately, passed it between his fingers, and was evidently
extremely proud of his moustaches and beard!

One of the most surprising things connected with Aru was the
excessive cheapness of all articles of European or native
manufacture. We were here two thousand miles beyond Singapore and
Batavia, which are themselves emporiums of the "far east," in a
place unvisited by, and almost unknown to, European traders;
everything reached us through at least two or three hands, often
many more; yet English calicoes and American cotton cloths could
be bought for 8s. the piece, muskets for 15s., common scissors
and German knives at three-halfpence each, and other cutlery,
cotton goods, and earthenware in the same proportion. The natives
of this out-of-the-way country can, in fact, buy all these things
at about the same money price as our workmen at home, but in
reality very much cheaper, for the produce of a few hours' labour
enables the savage to purchase in abundance what are to him
luxuries, while to the European they are necessaries of life. The
barbarian is no happier and no better off for this cheapness. On
the contrary, it has a most injurious effect on him. He wants the
stimulus of necessity to force him to labour; and if iron were as
dear as silver, and calico as costly as satin, the effect would
be beneficial to him. As it is, he has more idle hours, gets a
more constant supply of tobacco, and can intoxicate himself with
arrack more frequently and more thoroughly; for your Aru man
scorns to get half drunk-a tumbler full of arrack is but a slight
stimulus, and nothing less than half a gallon of spirit will make
him tipsy to his own satisfaction.

It is not agreeable to reflect on this state of things. At least
half of the vast multitudes of uncivilized peoples, on whom our
gigantic manufacturing system, enormous capital, and intense
competition force the produce of our looms and workshops, would
be not a whit worse off physically, and would certainly be
improved morally, if all the articles with which w e supply them
were double or treble their present prices. If at the same time
the difference of cost, or a large portion of it, could find its
way into the pockets of the manufacturing workmen, thousands
would be raised from want to comfort, from starvation to health,
and would be removed from one of the chief incentives to crime.
It is difficult for an Englishman to avoid contemplating with
pride our gigantic and ever-increasing manufactures and commerce,
and thinking everything good that renders their progress still
more rapid, either by lowering the price at which the articles
can be produced, or by discovering new markets to which they may
be sent. If, however, the question that is so frequently asked of
the votaries of the less popular sciences were put here--"Cui
bono?"--it would be found more difficult to answer than had been
imagined. The advantages, even to the few who reap them, would be
seen to be mostly physical, while the wide-spread moral and
intellectual evils resulting from unceasing labour, low wages,
crowded dwellings, and monotonous occupations, to perhaps as
large a number as those who gain any real advantage, might be
held to show a balance of evil so great, as to lead the greatest
admirers of our manufactures and commerce to doubt the
advisability of their further development. It will be said: "We
cannot stop it; capital must be employed; our population must be
kept at work; if we hesitate a moment, other nations now hard
pressing us will get ahead, and national ruin will follow." Some
of this is true, some fallacious. It is undoubtedly a difficult
problem which we have to solve; and I am inclined to think it is
this difficulty that makes men conclude that what seems a
necessary and unalterable state of things must be good-that its
benefits must he greater than its evils. This was the feeling of
the American advocates of slavery; they could not see an easy,
comfortable way out of it. In our own case, however, it is to be
hoped, that if a fair consideration of the matter in all its
hearings shows that a preponderance of evil arises from the
immensity of our manufactures and commerce-evil which must go on
increasing with their increase-there is enough both of political
wisdom and true philanthropy in Englishmen, to induce them to
turn their superabundant wealth into other channels. The fact
that has led to these remarks is surely a striking one: that in
one of the most remote corners of the earth savages can buy
clothing cheaper than the people of the country where it is made;
that the weaver's child should shiver in the wintry wind, unable
to purchase articles attainable by the wild natives of a tropical
climate, where clothing is mere ornament or luxury, should make
us pause ere we regard with unmixed admiration the system which
has led to such a result, and cause us to look with some
suspicion on the further extension of that system. It must be
remembered too that our commerce is not a purely natural growth.
It has been ever fostered by the legislature, and forced to an
unnatural luxuriance by the protection of our fleets and armies.
The wisdom and the justice of this policy have been already
doubted. So soon, therefore, as it is seen that the further
extension of our manufactures and commerce would be an evil, the
remedy is not far to seek.

After six weeks' confinement to the house I was at length well,
and could resume my daily walks in the forest. I did not,
however, find it so productive as when I had first arrived at
Dobbo. There was a damp stagnation about the paths, and insects
were very scarce. In some of my best collecting places I now
found a mass of rotting wood, mingled with young shoots, and
overgrown with climbers, yet I always managed to add something
daily to my extensive collections. I one day met with a curious
example of failure of instinct, which, by showing it to be
fallible, renders it very doubtful whether it is anything more
than hereditary habit, dependent on delicate modifications of
sensation. Some sailors cut down a good-sized tree, and, as is
always my practice, I visited it daily for some time in search of
insects. Among other beetles came swarms of the little
cylindrical woodborers (Platypus, Tesserocerus, &c.), and
commenced making holes in the bark. After a day or two I was
surprised to find hundreds of them sticking in the holes they had
bored, and on examination discovered that the milky sap of the
tree was of the nature of gutta-percha, hardening rapidly on
exposure to the air, and glueing the little animals in self-dug
graves. The habit of boring holes in trees in which to deposit
their eggs, was not accompanied by a sufficient instinctive
knowledge of which trees were suitable, and which destructive to
them. If, as is very probable, these trees have an attractive
odour to certain species of borers, it might very likely lead to
their becoming extinct; while other species, to whom the same
odour was disagreeable, and who therefore avoided the dangerous
trees, would survive, and would be credited by us with an
instinct, whereas they would really be guided by a simple

Those curious little beetles, the Brenthidae, were very abundant
in Aru. The females have a pointed rostrum, with which they bore
deep holes in the bark of dead trees, often burying the rostrum
up to the eyes, and in these holes deposit their eggs. The males
are larger, and have the rostrum dilated at the end, and
sometimes terminating in a good-sized pair of jaws. I once saw
two males fighting together; each had a fore-leg laid across the
neck of the other, and the rostrum bent quite in an attitude of
defiance, and looking most ridiculous. Another time, two were
fighting for a female, who stood close by busy at her boring.
They pushed at each other with their rostra, and clawed and
thumped, apparently in the greatest rage, although their coats of
mail must have saved both from injury. The small one, however,
soon ran away, acknowledging himself vanquished. In most
Coleoptera the female is larger than the male, and it is
therefore interesting, as bearing on the question of sexual
selection, that in this case, as in the stag-beetles where the
males fight together, they should be not only better armed, but
also much larger than the females. Just as we were going away, a
handsome tree, allied to Erythrina, was in blossom, showing its
masses of large crimson flowers scattered here and there about
the forest. Could it have been seen from an elevation, it would
have had a fine effect; from below I could only catch sight of
masses of gorgeous colour in clusters and festoons overhead,
about which flocks of blue and orange lories were fluttering and

A good many people died at Dobbo this season; I believe about
twenty. They were buried in a little grove of Casuarinas behind
my house. Among the traders was a. Mahometan priest, who
superintended the funerals, which were very simple. The body was
wrapped up in new white cotton cloth, and was carried on a bier
to the grave. All the spectators sat down on the ground, and the
priest chanted some verses from the Koran. The graves were fenced
round with a slight bamboo railing, and a little carved wooden
head-post was put to mark the spot. There was also in the village
a small mosque, where every Friday the faithful went to pray.
This is probably more remote from Mecca than any other mosque in
the world, and marks the farthest eastern extension of the
Mahometan religion. The Chinese here, as elsewhere, showed their
superior wealth and civilization by tombstones of solid granite
brought from Singapore, with deeply-cut inscriptions, the
characters of which are painted in red, blue, and gold. No people
have more respect for the graves of their relations and friends
than this strange, ubiquitous, money-getting people.

Soon after we had returned to Dobbo, my Macassar boy, Baderoon,
took his wages and left me, because I scolded him for laziness.
He then occupied himself in gambling, and at first had some luck,
and bought ornaments, and had plenty of money. Then his luck
turned; he lost everything, borrowed money and lost that, and was
obliged to become the slave of his creditor till he had worked
out the debt. He was a quick and active lad when he pleased, but
was apt to be idle, and had such an incorrigible propensity for
gambling, that it will very likely lead to his becoming a slave
for life.

The end of June was now approaching, the east monsoon had set in
steadily, and in another week or two Dobbo would be deserted.
Preparations for departure were everywhere visible, and every
sunny day (rather rare now) the streets were as crowded and as
busy as beehives. Heaps of tripang were finally dried and packed
up in sacks; mother-of-pearl shell, tied up with rattans into
convenient bundles, was all day long being carried to the beach
to be loaded; water-casks were filled, and cloths and mat-sails
mended and strengthened for the run home before the strong east
wind. Almost every day groups of natives arrived from the most
distant parts of the islands, with cargoes of bananas and sugar-
cane to exchange for tobacco, sago, bread, and other luxuries,
before the general departure. The Chinamen killed their fat pig
and made their parting feast, and kindly sent me some pork, and a
basin of birds' nest stew, which had very little more taste than
a dish of vermicelli. My boy Ali returned from Wanumbai, where I
had sent him alone for a fortnight to buy Paradise birds and
prepare the skins; he brought me sixteen glorious specimens, and
had he not been very ill with fever and ague might have obtained
twice the number. He had lived with the people whose house I had
occupied, and it is a proof of their goodness, if fairly treated,
that although he took with him a quantity of silver dollars to
pay for the birds they caught, no attempt was made to rob him,
which might have been done with the most perfect impunity. He was
kindly treated when ill, and was brought back to me with the
balance of the dollars he had not spent.

The Wanumbai people, like almost all the inhabitants of the Aru
Islands, are perfect savages, and I saw no signs of any religion.
There are, however, three or four villages on the coast where
schoolmasters from Amboyna reside, and the people are nominally
Christians, and are to some extent educated and civilized. I
could not get much real knowledge of the customs of the Aru
people during the short time I was among them, but they have
evidently been considerably influenced by their long association
with Mahometan traders. They often bury their dead, although the
national custom is to expose the body an a raised stage till it
decomposes. Though there is no limit to the number of wives a man
may have, they seldom exceed one or two. A wife is regularly
purchased from the parents, the price being a large assortment of
articles, always including gongs, crockery, and cloth. They told
me that some of the tribes kill the old men and women when they
can no longer work, but I saw many very old and decrepid people,
who seemed pretty well attended to. No doubt all who have much
intercourse with the Bugis and Ceramese traders gradually lose
many of their native customs, especially as these people often
settle in their villages and marry native women.

The trade carried on at Dobbo is very considerable. This year
there were fifteen large praus from Macassar, and perhaps a
hundred small boats from Ceram, Goram, and Ke. The Macassar
cargoes are worth about 1,000. each, and the other boats take
away perhaps about 3,000, worth, so that the whole exports may
be estimated at 18,000. per annum. The largest and most bulky
items are pearl-shell and tripang, or "beche-de-mer," with
smaller quantities of tortoise-shell, edible birds' nests,
pearls, ornamental woods, timber, and Birds of Paradise. These
are purchased with a variety of goods. Of arrack, about equal in
strength to ordinary West India rum, 3,000 boxes, each containing
fifteen half-gallon bottles, are consumed annually. Native cloth
from Celebes is much esteemed for its durability, and large
quantities are sold, as well as white English calico and American
unbleached cottons, common crockery, coarse cutlery, muskets,
gunpowder, gongs, small brass cannon, and elephants' tusks. These
three last articles constitute the wealth of the Aru people, with
which they pay for their wives, or which they hoard up as "real
property." Tobacco is in immense demand for chewing, and it must
be very strong, or an Aru man will not look at it. Knowing how
little these people generally work, the mass of produce obtained
annually shows that the islands must be pretty thickly inhabited,
especially along the coasts, as nine-tenths of the whole are
marine productions.

It was on the 2d of July that we left Aru, followed by all the
Macassar praus, fifteen in number, who had agreed to sail in
company. We passed south of Banda, and then steered due west,
not seeing land for three days, till we sighted some low islands
west of Bouton. We had a strong and steady south-east wind day
and night, which carried us on at about five knots an hour, where
a clipper ship would have made twelve. The sky was continually
cloudy, dark, and threatening, with occasional drizzling showers,
till we were west of Bouru, when it cleared up and we enjoyed the
bright sunny skies of the dry season for the rest of our voyage.
It is about here, therefore that the seasons of the eastern and
western regions of the Archipelago are divided. West of this line
from June to December is generally fine, and often very dry, the
rest of the year being the wet season. East of it the weather is
exceedingly uncertain, each island, and each side of an island,
having its own peculiarities. The difference seems to consist not
so much in the distribution of the rainfall as in that of the
clouds and the moistness of the atmosphere. In Aru, for example,
when we left, the little streams were all dried up, although the
weather was gloomy; while in January, February, and March, when
we had the hottest sunshine and the finest days, they were always
flowing. The driest time of all the year in Aru occurs in
September and October, just as it does in Java and Celebes. The
rainy seasons agree, therefore, with those of the western
islands, although the weather is very different. The Molucca sea
is of a very deep blue colour, quite distinct from the clear
light blue of the Atlantic. In cloudy and dull weather it looks
absolutely black, and when crested with foam has a stern and
angry aspect. The wind continued fair and strong during our whole
voyage, and we reached Macassar in perfect safety on the evening
of the 11th of July, having made the passage from Aru (more than
a thousand miles) in nine and a half days.

My expedition to the Aru Islands had been eminently successful.
Although I had been for months confined to the house by illness,
and had lost much time by the want of the means of locomotion,
and by missing the right season at the right place, I brought
away with me more than nine thousand specimens of natural
objects, of about sixteen hundred distinct species. I had made
the acquaintance of a strange and little-known race of men; I had
become familiar with the traders of the far East; I had revelled
in the delights of exploring a new fauna and flora, one of the
most remarkable and most beautiful and least-known in the world;
and I had succeeded in the main object for which I had undertaken
the journey-namely, to obtain fine specimens of the magnificent
Birds of Paradise, and to be enabled to observe them in their
native forests. By this success I was stimulated to continue my
researches in the Moluccas and New Guinea for nearly five years
longer, and it is still the portion of my travels to which I look
back with the most complete satisfaction.



IN this chapter I propose to give a general sketch of the
physical geography of the Aru Islands, and of their relation to
the surrounding countries; and shall thus be able to incorporate
the information obtained from traders, and from the works of
other naturalists with my own observations in these exceedingly
interesting and little-known regions.

The Aru group may be said to consist of one very large central
island with a number of small ones scattered round it. The great
island is called by the natives and traders "Tang-busar" (great
or mainland), to distinguish it as a whole from Dobbo, or any of
the detached islands. It is of an irregular oblong form, about
eighty miles from north to south, and forty or fifty from east to
west, in which direction it is traversed by three narrow
channels, dividing it into four portions. These channels are
always called rivers by the traders, which puzzled me much till I
passed through one of them, and saw how exceedingly applicable
the name was. The northern channel, called the river of Watelai,
is about a quarter of a mile wide at its entrance, but soon
narrows to abort the eighth of a mile, which width it retains,
with little variation, during its whole, length of nearly fifty
miles, till it again widens at its eastern mouth. Its course is
moderately winding, and the hanks are generally dry and somewhat
elevated. In many places there are low cliffs of hard coralline
limestone, more or less worn by the action of water; while
sometimes level spaces extend from the banks to low ranges of
hills a little inland. A few small streams enter it from right
and left, at the mouths of which are some little rocky islands.
The depth is very regular, being from ten to fifteen fathoms, and
it has thus every feature of a true river, but for the salt water
and the absence of a current. The other two rivers, whose names
are Vorkai and Maykor, are said to be very similar in general
character; but they are rather near together, and have a number
of cross channels intersecting the flat tract between them. On
the south side of Maykor the banks are very rocky, and from
thence to the southern extremity of Aru is an uninterrupted
extent of rather elevated and very rocky country, penetrated by
numerous small streams, in the high limestone cliffs bordering
which the edible birds' nests of Aru are chiefly obtained. All my
informants stated that the two southern rivers are larger than

The whole of Aru is low, but by no means so flat as it has been
represented, or as it appears from the sea. Most of it is dry
rocky ground, with a somewhat undulating surface, rising here and
there into abrupt hillocks, or cut into steep and narrow ravines.
Except the patches of swamp which are found at the mouths of most
of the small rivers, there is no absolutely level ground,
although the greatest elevation is probably not more than two
hundred feet. The rock which everywhere appears in the ravines
and brooks is a coralline limestone, in some places soft and
pliable, in others so hard and crystalline as to resemble our
mountain limestone.

The small islands which surround the central mass are very
numerous; but most of them are on the east side, where they form
a fringe, often extending ten or fifteen miles from the main
islands. On the west there are very few, Wamma and Palo Pabi
being the chief, with Ougia, and Wassia at the north-west
extremity. On the east side the sea is everywhere shallow, and
full of coral; and it is here that the pearl-shells are found
which form one of the chief staples of Aru trade. All the islands
are covered with a dense and very lofty forest.

The physical features here described are of peculiar interest,
and, as far as I am aware, are to some extent unique; for I have
been unable to find any other record of an island of the size of
Aru crossed by channels which exactly resemble true rivers. How
these channels originated were a complete puzzle to me, till,
after a long consideration of the whole of the natural phenomena
presented by these islands, I arrived at a conclusion which I
will now endeavour to explain. There are three ways in which we
may conceive islands which are not volcanic to have been formed,
or to have been reduced to their present condition, by elevation,
by subsidence, or by separation from a continent or larger
island. The existence of coral rock, or of raised beaches far
inland, indicates recent elevation; lagoon coral-islands, and
such as have barrier or encircling reefs, have suffered
subsidence; while our own islands, whose productions are entirely
those of the adjacent continent, have been separated from it. Now
the Aru Islands are all coral rock, and the adjacent sea is
shallow and full of coral, it is therefore evident that they have
been elevated from beneath the ocean at a not very distant epoch.
But if we suppose that elevation to be the first and only cause
of their present condition, we shall find ourselves quite unable
to explain the curious river-channels which divide them. Fissures
during upheaval would not produce the regular width, the regular
depth, or the winding curves which characterise them; and the
action of tides and currents during their elevation might form
straits of irregular width and depth, but not the river-like
channels which actually exist. If, again, we suppose the last
movement to have been one of subsidence, reducing the size of the
islands, these channels are quite as inexplicable; for subsidence
would necessarily lead to the flooding of all low tracts on the
banks of the old rivers, and thus obliterate their courses;
whereas these remain perfect, and of nearly uniform width from
end to end.

Now if these channels have ever been rivers they must have flowed
from some higher regions, and this must have been to the east,
because on the north and west the sea-bottom sinks down at a
short distance from the shore to an unfathomable depth; whereas
on the east. a shallow sea, nowhere exceeding fifty fathoms,
extends quite across to New Guinea, a distance of about a hundred
and fifty miles. An elevation of only three hundred feet would
convert the whole of this sea into moderately high land, and make
the Aru Islands a portion of New Guinea; and the rivers which
have their mouths at Utanata and Wamuka, might then have flowed
on across Aru, in the channels which are now occupied by salt
water. Then the intervening land sunk down, we must suppose the
land that now constitutes Aru to have remained nearly stationary,
a not very improbable supposition, when we consider the great
extent of the shallow sea, and the very small amount of
depression the land need have undergone to produce it.

But the fact of the Aru Islands having once been connected with
New Guinea does not rest on this evidence alone. There is such a
striking resemblance between the productions of the two countries
as only- exists between portions of a common territory. I
collected one hundred species of land-birds in the Aru Islands,
and about eighty of them, have been found on the mainland of New
Guinea. Among these are the great wingless cassowary, two species
of heavy brush turkeys, and two of short winged thrushes; which
could certainly not have passed over the 150 miles of open sea to
the coast of New Guinea. This barrier is equally effectual in the
case of many other birds which live only in the depths of the
forest, as the kinghunters (Dacelo gaudichaudi), the fly-catching
wrens (Todopsis), the great crown pigeon (Goura coronata), and
the small wood doves (Ptilonopus perlatus, P. aurantiifrons, and
P. coronulatus). Now, to show the real effect of such barrier,
let us take the island of Ceram, which is exactly the same
distance from New Guinea, but separated from it by a deep sea.
Cut of about seventy land-birds inhabiting Ceram, only fifteen
are found in New Guinea, and none of these are terrestrial or
forest-haunting species. The cassowary is distinct; the
kingfishers, parrots, pigeons, flycatchers, honeysuckers,
thrushes, and cuckoos, are almost always quite distinct species.
More than this, at least twenty genera, which are common to New
Guinea and Aru, do not extend into Ceram, indicating with a force
which every naturalist will appreciate, that the two latter
countries have received their faunas in a radically different
manner. Again, a true kangaroo is found in Aru, and the same
species occurs in Mysol, which is equally Papuan in its
productions, while either the same, or one closely allied to it,
inhabits New Guinea; but no such animal is found in Ceram, which
is only sixty miles from Mysol. Another small marsupial animal
(Perameles doreyanus) is common to Aru and New Guinea. The
insects show exactly the same results. The butterflies of Aru are
all either New Guinea species, or very slightly modified forms;
whereas those of Ceram are more distinct than are the birds of
the two countries.

It is now generally admitted that we may safely reason on such
facts as those, which supply a link in the defective geological
record. The upward and downward movements which any country has
undergone, and the succession of such movements, can be
determined with much accuracy; but geology alone can tell us
nothing of lands which have entirely disappeared beneath the
ocean. Here physical geography and the distribution of animals
and plants are of the greatest service. By ascertaining the depth
of the seas separating one country from another, we can form some
judgment of the changes which are taking place. If there are
other evidences of subsidence, a shallow sea implies a former
connexion of the adjacent lands; but i this evidence is wanting,
or if there is reason to suspect a rising of the land, then the
shallow sea may be the result of that rising, and may indicate
that the two countries will be joined at some future time, but
not that they have previously been so. The nature of the animals
and plants inhabiting these countries will, however, almost
always enable us to determine this question. Mr. Darwin has shown
us how we may determine in almost every case, whether an island
has ever been connected with a continent or larger land, by the
presence or absence of terrestrial Mammalia and reptiles. What he
terms "oceanic islands "possess neither of these groups of
animals, though they may have a luxuriant vegetation, and a fair
number of birds, insects, and landshells; and we therefore
conclude that they have originated in mid-ocean, and have never
been connected with the nearest masses of land. St. Helena,
Madeira, and New Zealand are examples of oceanic islands. They
possess all other classes of life, because these have means of
dispersion over wide spaces of sea, which terrestrial mammals and
birds have not, as is fully explained in Sir Charles Lyell's
"Principles of Geology," and Mr. Darwin's "Origin of Species." On
the other hand, an island may never have been actually connected
with the adjacent continents or islands, and yet may possess
representatives of all classes of animals, because many
terrestrial mammals and some reptiles have the means of passing
over short distances of sea. But in these cases the number of
species that have thus migrated will be very small, and there
will be great deficiencies even in birds and flying insects,
which we should imagine could easily cross over. The island of
Timor (as I have already shown in Chapter XIII) bears this
relation to Australia; for while it contains several birds and
insects of Australian forms, no Australian mammal or reptile is
found in it, and a great number of the most abundant and
characteristic forms of Australian birds and insects are entirely
absent. Contrast this with the British Islands, in, which a large
proportion of the plants, insects, reptiles, and Mammalia of the
adjacent parts of the continent are fully represented, while
there are no remarkable deficiencies of extensive groups, such as
always occur when there is reason to believe there has been no
such connexion. The case of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java, and the
Asiatic continent is equally clear; many large Mammalia,
terrestrial birds, and reptiles being common to all, while a
large number more are of closely allied forms. Now, geology has
taught us that this representation by allied forms in the same
locality implies lapse of time, and we therefore infer that in
Great Britain, where almost every species is absolutely identical
with those on the Continent, the separation has been very recent;
while in Sumatra and Java, where a considerable number of the
continental species are represented by allied forms, the
separation was more remote.

From these examples we may see how important a supplement to
geological evidence is the study of the geographical distribution
of animals and plants, in determining the former condition of the
earth's surface; and how impossible it is to understand the
former without taking the latter into account. The productions of
the Aru Islands offer the strangest evidence, that at no very
distant epoch they formed a part of New Guinea; and the peculiar
physical features which I have described, indicate that they must
have stood at very nearly the same level then as they do now,
having been separated by the subsidence of the great plain which
formerly connected them with it.

Persons who have formed the usual ideas of the vegetation of the
tropics who picture to themselves the abundance and brilliancy of
the flowers, and the magnificent appearance of hundreds of forest
trees covered with masses of coloured blossoms, will be surprised
to hear, that though vegetation in Aru is highly luxuriant and
varied, and would afford abundance of fine and curious plants to
adorn our hothouses, yet bright and showy flowers are, as a
general rule, altogether absent, or so very scarce as to produce
no effect whatever on the general scenery. To give particulars: I
have visited five distinct localities in the islands, I have
wandered daily in the forests, and have passed along upwards of a
hundred miles of coast and river during a period of six months,
much of it very fine weather, and till just as I was about to
leave, I never saw a single plant of striking brilliancy or
beauty, hardly a shrub equal to a hawthorn, or a climber equal to
a honeysuckle! It cannot be said that the flowering season had
not arrived, for I saw many herbs, shrubs, and forest trees in
flower, but all had blossoms of a green or greenish-white tint,
not superior to our lime-trees. Here and there on the river banks
and coasts are a few Convolvulaceae, not equal to our garden
Ipomaeas, and in the deepest shades of the forest some fine
scarlet and purple Zingiberaceae, but so few and scattered as to
be nothing amid the mass of green and flowerless vegetation. Yet
the noble Cycadaceae and screw-pines, thirty or forty feet high,
the elegant tree ferns, the lofty palms, and the variety of
beautiful and curious plants which everywhere meet the eye,
attest the warmth and moisture of the tropics, and the fertility
of the soil.

It is true that Aru seemed to me exceptionally poor in flowers,
but this is only an exaggeration of a general tropical feature;
for my whole experience in the equatorial regions of the west and
the east has convinced me, that in the most luxuriant parts of
the tropics, flowers are less abundant, on the average less
showy, and are far less effective in adding colour to the
landscape than in temperate climates. I have never seen in the
tropics such brilliant masses of colour as even England can show
in her furze-clad commons, her heathery mountain-sides, her
glades of wild hyacinths, her fields of poppies, her meadows of
buttercups and orchises--carpets of yellow, purple, azure-blue,
and fiery crimson, which the tropics can rarely exhibit. We, have
smaller masses of colour in our hawthorn and crab trees, our
holly and mountain-ash, our boom; foxgloves, primroses, and
purple vetches, which clothe with gay colours the whole length
and breadth of our land, These beauties are all common. They are
characteristic of the country and the climate; they have not to
be sought for, but they gladden the eye at every step. In the
regions of the equator, on the other hand, whether it be forest
or savannah, a sombre green clothes universal nature. You may
journey for hours, and even for days, and meet with nothing to
break the monotony. Flowers are everywhere rare, and anything at
all striking is only to be met with at very distant intervals.

The idea that nature exhibits gay colours in the tropics, and
that the general aspect of nature is there more bright and varied
in hue than with us, has even been made the foundation of
theories of art, and we have been forbidden to use bright colours
in our garments, and in the decorations of our dwellings, because
it was supposed that we should be thereby acting in opposition to
the teachings of nature. The argument itself is a very poor one,
since it might with equal justice be maintained, that as we
possess faculties for the appreciation of colours, we should make
up for the deficiencies of nature and use the gayest tints in
those regions where the landscape is most monotonous. But the
assumption on which the argument is founded is totally false, so
that even if the reasoning were valid, we need not be afraid of
outraging nature, by decorating our houses and our persons with
all those gay hues which are so lavishly spread over our fields
and mountains, our hedges, woods, and meadows.

It is very easy to see what has led to this erroneous view of the
nature of tropical vegetation. In our hothouses and at our
flower-shows we gather together the finest flowering plants from
the most distant regions of the earth, and exhibit them in a
proximity to each other which never occurs in nature. A hundred
distinct plants, all with bright, or strange, or gorgeous
flowers, make a wonderful show when brought together; but perhaps
no two of these plants could ever be seen together in a state of
nature, each inhabiting a distant region or a different station.
Again, all moderately warm extra-European countries are mixed up
with the tropics in general estimation, and a vague idea is
formed that whatever is preeminently beautiful must come from the
hottest parts of the earth. But the fact is quite the contrary.
Rhododendrons and azaleas are plants of temperate regions, the
grandest lilies are from temperate Japan, and a large proportion
of our most showy flowering plants are natives of the Himalayas,
of the Cape, of the United States, of Chili, or of China and
Japan, all temperate regions. True, there are a great number of
grand and gorgeous flowers in the tropics, but the proportion
they bear to the mass of the vegetation is exceedingly small; so
that what appears an anomaly is nevertheless a fact, and the
effect of flowers on the general aspect of nature is far less in
the equatorial than in the temperate regions of the earth.




AFTER my return from Gilolo to Ternate, in March 1858, I made
arrangements for my long-wished-for voyage to the mainland of New
Guinea, where I anticipated that my collections would surpass
those which I had formed at the Aru Islands. The poverty of
Ternate in articles used by Europeans was shown, by my searching
in vain through all the stores for such common things as flour,
metal spoons, wide-mouthed phials, beeswax, a penknife, and a
stone or metal pestle and mortar. I took with me four servants:
my head man Ali, and a Ternate lad named Jumaat (Friday), to
shoot; Lahagi, a steady middle-aged man, to cut timber and assist
me in insect-collecting; and Loisa, a Javanese cook. As I knew I
should have to build a house at Dorey, where I was going, I took
with me eighty cadjans, or waterproof mats, made of pandanus
leaves, to cover over my baggage on first landing, and to help to
roof my house afterwards.

We started on the 25th of March in the schooner Hester Helena,
belonging to my friend Mr. Duivenboden, and bound on a trading
voyage along the north coast of New Guinea. Having calms and
light airs, we were three days reaching Gane, near the south end
of Gilolo, where we stayed to fill. up our water-casks and buy a
few provisions. We obtained fowls, eggs, sago, plantains, sweet
potatoes, yellow pumpkins, chilies, fish, and dried deer's meat;
and on the afternoon of the 29th proceeded on our voyage to Dorey
harbour. We found it, however, by no means easy to get along; for
so near to the equator the monsoons entirely fail of their
regularity, and after passing the southern point of Gilolo we had
calms, light puffs of wind, and contrary currents, which kept us
for five days in sight of the same islands between it and Poppa.
A squall them brought us on to the entrance of Dampier's Straits,
where we were again becalmed, and were three more days creeping
through them. Several native canoes now came off to us from
Waigiou on one side, and Batanta on the other, bringing a few
common shells, palm-leaf mats, cocoa-nuts, and pumpkins. They
were very extravagant in their demands, being accustomed to sell
their trifles to whalers and China ships, whose crews will
purchase anything at ten times its value. My only purchases were
a float belonging to a turtle-spear, carved to resemble a bird,
and a very well made palm-leaf box, for which articles I gave a
copper ring and a yard of calico. The canoes were very narrow and
furnished with an outrigger, and in some of them there was only
one man, who seemed to think nothing of coming out alone eight or
ten miles from shore. The people were Papuans, much resembling
the natives of Aru.

When we had got out of the Straits, and were fairly in the great
Pacific Ocean, we had a steady wind for the first time since
leaving Ternate, but unfortunately it was dead ahead, and we had
to beat against it, tacking on and off the coast of New Guinea. I
looked with intense interest on those rugged mountains,
retreating ridge behind ridge into the interior, where the foot
of civilized man had never trod. There was the country of the
cassowary and the tree-kangaroo, and those dark forests produced
the most extraordinary and the most beautiful of the feathered
inhabitants of the earth--the varied species of Birds of
Paradise. A few days more and I hoped to be in pursuit of these,
and of the scarcely less beautiful insects which accompany them.
We had still, however, for several days only calms and light
head-winds, and it was not till the l0th of April that a fine
westerly breeze set in, followed by a squally night, which kept
us off the entrance of Dorey harbour. The next morning we
entered, and came to anchor off the small island of Mansinam, on
which dwelt two German missionaries, Messrs. Otto and Geisler.
The former immediately came on board to give us welcome, and
invited us to go on shore and breakfast with him. We were then
introduced to his companion who was suffering dreadfully from an
abscess on the heel, which had confined him to the house for six
months--and to his wife, a young German woman, who had been out
only three months. Unfortunately she could speak no Malay or
English, and had to guess at our compliments on her excellent
breakfast by the justice we did to it.

These missionaries were working men, and had been sent out, as
being more useful among savages than persons of a higher class.
They had been here about two years, and Mr. Otto had already
learnt to speak the Papuan language with fluency, and had begun
translating some portions of the Bible. The language, however, is
so poor that a considerable number of Malay words have to be
used; and it is very questionable whether it is possible to
convey any idea of such a book, to a people in so low a state of
civilization. The only nominal converts yet made are a few of the
women; and some few of the children attend school, and are being
taught to read, but they make little progress. There is one
feature of this mission which I believe will materially interfere
with its moral effect. The missionaries are allowed to trade to
eke out the very small salaries granted them from Europe, and of
course are obliged to carry out the trade principle of buying
cheap and selling dear, in order to make a profit. Like all
savages the natives are quite careless of the future, and when
their small rice crops are gathered they bring a large portion of
it to the missionaries, and sell it for knives, beads, axes,
tobacco, or any other articles they may require. A few months
later, in the wet season, when food is scarce, they come to buy
it back again, and give in exchange tortoiseshell, tripang, wild
nutmegs, or other produce. Of course the rice is sold at a much
higher rate than it was bought, as is perfectly fair and just--
and the operation is on the whole thoroughly beneficial to the
natives, who would otherwise consume and waste their food when it
was abundant, and then starve--yet I cannot imagine that the
natives see it in this light. They must look upon the trading
missionaries with some suspicion, and cannot feel so sure of
their teachings being disinterested, as would be the case if they
acted like the Jesuits in Singapore. The first thing to be done
by the missionary in attempting to improve savages, is to
convince them by his actions that lie comes among them for their
benefit only, and not for any private ends of his own. To do this
he must act in a different way from other men, not trading and
taking advantage of the necessities of those who want to sell,
but rather giving to those who are in distress. It would he well
if he conformed himself in some degree to native customs, and
then endeavoured to show how these customs might be gradually
modified, so as to be more healthful and more agreeable. A few
energetic and devoted men acting in this way might probably
effect a decided moral improvement on the lowest savage tribes,
whereas trading missionaries, teaching what Jesus said, but not
doing as He did, can scarcely be expected to do more than give
them a very little of the superficial varnish of religion.

Dorey harbour is in a fine bay, at one extremity of which an
elevated point juts out, and, with two or three small islands,
forms a sheltered anchorage. The only vessel it contained when we
arrived was a Dutch brig, laden with coals for the use of a war-
steamer, which was expected daily, on an exploring expedition
along the coasts of New Guinea, for the purpose of fixing on a
locality for a colony. In the evening we paid it a visit, and
landed at the village of Dorey, to look out for a place where I
could build my house. Mr. Otto also made arrangements for me with
some of the native chiefs, to send men to cut wood, rattans, and
bamboo the next day.

The villages of Mansinam and Dorey presented some features quite
new to me. The houses all stand completely in the water, and are
reached by long rude bridges. They are very low, with the roof
shaped like a large boat, bottom upwards. The posts which support
the houses, bridges, and platforms are small crooked sticks,
placed without any regularity, and looking as if they were
tumbling down. The floors are also formed of sticks, equally
irregular, and so loose and far apart that I found it almost
impossible to walls on them. The walls consist of bits of boards,
old boats, rotten mats, attaps, and palm-leaves, stuck in anyhow
here and there, and having altogether the most wretched and
dilapidated appearance it is possible to conceive. Under the
eaves of many of the houses hang human skulls, the trophies of
their battles with the savage Arfaks of the interior, who often
come to attack them. A large boat-shaped council-house is
supported on larger posts, each of which is grossly carved to
represent a naked male or female human figure, and other carvings
still more revolting are placed upon the platform before the
entrance. The view of an ancient lake-dweller's village, given as
the frontispiece of Sir Charles Lyell's "Antiquity of Man," is
chiefly founded on a sketch of this very village of Dorey; but
the extreme regularity of the structures there depicted has no
place in the original, any more than it probably had in the
actual lake-villages.

The people who inhabit these miserable huts are very similar to
the Ke and Aru islanders, and many of them are very handsome,
being tall and well-made, with well-cut features and large
aquiline noses. Their colour is a deep brown, often approaching
closely to black, and the fine mop-like heads of frizzly hair
appear to be more common than elsewhere, and are considered a
great ornament, a long six-pronged bamboo fork being kept stuck
in them to serve the purpose of a comb; and this is assiduously
used at idle moments to keep the densely growing mass from
becoming matted and tangled. The majority have short woolly hair,
which does not seem capable of an equally luxuriant development.
A growth of hair somewhat similar to this, and almost as
abundant, is found among the half-breeds between the Indian and
Negro in South America. Can this be an indication that the
Papuans are a mixed race?

For the first three days after our arrival I was fully occupied
from morning to night building a house, with the assistance of a
dozen Papuans and my own men. It was immense trouble to get our
labourers to work, as scarcely one of them could speak a word of
Malay; and it was only by the most energetic gesticulations, and
going through a regular pantomime of what was wanted, that we
could get them to do anything. If we made them understand that a
few more poles were required, which two could have easily cut,
six or eight would insist upon going together, although we needed
their assistance in other things. One morning ten of them came to
work, bringing only one chopper between them, although they knew
I had none ready for use.

I chose a place about two hundred yards from the beach, on an
elevated ground, by the side of the chief path from the village
of Dorey to the provision-grounds and the forest. Within twenty
yards was a little stream; which furnished us with excellent
water and a nice place to bathe. There was only low underwood to
clear away, while some fine forest trees stood at a short
distance, and we cut down the wood for about twenty yards round
to give us light and air. The house, about twenty feet by
fifteen; was built entirely of wood, with a bamboo floor, a
single door of thatch, and a large window, looking over the sea,
at which I fixed my table, and close beside it my bed, within a
little partition. I bought a number of very large palm-leaf mats
of the natives, which made excellent walls; while the mats I had
brought myself were used on the roof, and were covered over with
attaps as soon as we could get them made. Outside, and rather
behind, was a little hut, used for cooking, and a bench, roofed
over, where my men could sit to skin birds and animals. When all
was finished, I had my goods and stores brought up, arranged them
conveniently inside, and then paid my Papuans with knives and
choppers, and sent them away. The next day our schooner left for
the more eastern islands, and I found myself fairly established
as the only European inhabitant of the vast island of New Guinea.

As we had some doubt about the natives, we slept at first with
loaded guns beside us and a watch set; but after a few days,
finding the people friendly, and feeling sure that they would not
venture to attack five well-armed men, we took no further
precautions. We had still a day or two's work in finishing up the
house, stopping leaks, putting up our hanging shelves for drying
specimens inside and out, and making the path down to the water,
and a clear dry space in front of the horse.

On the 17th, the steamer not having arrived, the coal-ship left,
having lain here a month, according to her contract; and on the
same day my hunters went out to shoot for the first time, and
brought home a magnificent crown pigeon and a few common birds.
The next day they were more successful, and I was delighted to
see them return with a Bird of Paradise in full plumage, a pair
of the fine Papuan lories (Lorius domicella), four other lories
and parroquets, a grackle (Gracula dumonti), a king-hunter
(Dacelo gaudichaudi), a racquet-tailed kingfisher (Tanysiptera
galatea), and two or three other birds of less beauty.

I went myself to visit the native village on the hill behind
Dorey, and took with me a small present of cloth, knives, and
beads, to secure the good-will of the chief, and get him to send
some men to catch or shoot birds for me. The houses were
scattered about among rudely cultivated clearings. Two which I
visited consisted of a central passage, on each side of which
opened short passages, admitting to two rooms, each of which was
a house accommodating a separate family. They were elevated at
least fifteen feet above the ground, on a complete forest of
poles, and were so rude and dilapidated that some of the small
passages had openings in the floor of loose sticks, through which
a child might fall. The inhabitants seemed rather uglier than
those at Dorey village. They are, no doubt, the true indigenes of
this part of New Guinea, living in the interior, and subsisting
by cultivation and hunting. The Dorey men, on the other hand, are
shore-dwellers, fishers and traders in a small way, and have thus
the character of a colony who have migrated from another
district. These hillmen or "Arfaks "differed much in physical
features. They were generally black, but some were brown like
Malays. Their hair, though always more or less frizzly, was
sometimes short and matted, instead of being long, loose, and
woolly; and this seemed to be a constitutional difference, not
the effect of care and cultivation. Nearly half of them were
afflicted with the scurfy skin-disease. The old chief seemed much
pleased with his present, and promised (through an interpreter I
brought with me) to protect my men when they came there shooting,
and also to procure me some birds and animals. While conversing,
they smoked tobacco of their own growing, in pipes cut from a
single piece of wood with a long upright handle.

We had arrived at Dorey about the end of the wet season, when the
whole country was soaked with moisture The native paths were so
neglected as to be often mere tunnels closed over with
vegetation, and in such places there was always a fearful
accumulation of mud. To the naked Papuan this is no obstruction.
He wades through it, and the next watercourse makes him clean
again; but to myself, wearing boots and trousers, it was a most
disagreeable thing to have to go up to my knees in a mud-hole
every morning. The man I brought with me to cut wood fell ill
soon after we arrived, or I would have set him to clear fresh
paths in the worst places. For the first ten days it generally
rained every afternoon and all night r but by going out every
hour of fine weather, I managed to get on tolerably with my
collections of birds and insects, finding most of those collected
by Lesson during his visit in the Coquille, as well as many new
ones. It appears, however, that Dorey is not the place for Birds
of Paradise, none of the natives being accustomed to preserve
them. Those sold here are all brought from Amberbaki, about a
hundred miles west, where the Doreyans go to trade.

The islands in the bay, with the low lands near the coast, seem
to have been formed by recently raised coral reef's, and are much
strewn with masses of coral but little altered. The ridge behind
my house, which runs out to the point, is also entirely coral
rock, although there are signs of a stratified foundation in the
ravines, and the rock itself is more compact and crystalline. It
is therefore, probably older, a more recent elevation having
exposed the low grounds and islands. On the other side of the bay
rise the great mass of the Arfak mountains, said by the French
navigators to be about ten thousand feet high, and inhabited by
savage tribes. These are held in great dread by the Dorey people,
who have often been attacked and plundered by them, and have some
of their skulls hanging outside their houses. If I was seem going
into the forest anywhere in the direction of the mountains, the
little boys of the village would shout after me, "Arfaki!
Arfaki?" just as they did after Lesson nearly forty years before.

On the 15th of May the Dutch war-steamer Etna arrived; but, as
the coals had gone, it was obliged to stay till they came back.
The captain knew when the coalship was to arrive, and how long it
was chartered to stay at Dorey, and could have been back in time,
but supposed it would wait for him, and so did not hurry himself.
The steamer lay at anchor just opposite my house, and I had the
advantage of hearing the half-hourly bells struck, which was very
pleasant after the monotonous silence of the forest. The captain,
doctor, engineer, and some other of the officers paid me visits;
the servants came to the brook to wash clothes, and the son of
the Prince of Tidore, with one or two companions, to bathe;
otherwise I saw little of them, and was not disturbed by visitors
so much as I had expected to be. About this time the weather set
in pretty fine, but neither birds nor insects became much more
abundant, and new birds -were very scarce. None of the Birds of
Paradise except the common one were ever met with, and we were
still searching in vain for several of the fine birds which
Lesson had obtained here. Insects were tolerably abundant, but
were not on the average so fine as those of Amboyna, and I
reluctantly came to the conclusion that Dorey was not a good
collecting locality. Butterflies were very scarce, arid were
mostly the same as those which I had obtained at Aru.

Among the insects of other orders, the most curious and novel
were a group of horned flies, of which I obtained four distinct
species, settling on fallen trees and decaying trunks. These
remarkable insects, which have been described by Mr. W. W.
Saunders as a new genus, under the name of Elaphomia or deer-
flies, are about half an inch long, slender-bodied, and with very
long legs, which they draw together so as to elevate their bodies
high above the surface they are standing upon. The front pair of
legs are much shorter, and these are often stretched directly
forwards, so as to resemble antenna. The horns spring from
beneath the eye, and seem to be a prolongation of the lower part
of the orbit. In the largest and most singular species, named
Elaphomia cervicornis or the stag-horned deer-fly, these horns
are nearly as long as the body, having two branches, with two
small snags near their bifurcation, so as to resemble the horns
of a stag. They are black, with the tips pale, while the body and
legs are yellowish brown, and the eyes (when alive) violet and
green. The next species (Elaphomia wallacei) is of a dark brown
colour, banded and spotted with yellow. The horns are about one-
third the length of the insect, broad, flat, and of an elongated
triangular foam. They are of a beautiful pink colour, edged with
black, and with a pale central stripe. The front part of the head
is also pink, and the eyes violet pink, with a green stripe
across them, giving the insect a very elegant and singular
appearance. The third species (Elaphomia alcicornis, the elk-
horned deer-fly) is a little smaller than the two already
described, but resembling in colour Elaphomia wallacei. The horns
are very remarkable, being suddenly dilated into a flat plate,
strongly toothed round the outer margin, and strikingly
resembling the horns of the elk, after which it has been named.
They are of a yellowish colour, margined with brown, and tipped
with black on the three upper teeth. The fourth species
(Elaphomia brevicornis, the short-horned deer-fly) differs
considerably from the rest. It is stouter in form, of a nearly
black colour, with a yellow ring at the base of the abdomen; the
wings have dusky stripes, and the head is compressed and dilated
laterally, with very small flat horns; which are black with a
pale centre, and look exactly like the rudiment of the horns of
the two preceding species. None of the females have any trace of
the horns, ane Mr. Saunders places in the same genus a species
which has no horns in either sex (Elaphomia polita). It is of a
shining black colour, and resembles Elaphomia cervicornis in
form, size, and general appearance. The figures above given
represent these insects of their natural size and in
characteristic attitudes.

The natives seldom brought me anything. They are poor creatures,
and, rarely shoot a bird, pig, or kangaroo, or even the sluggish
opossum-like Cuscus. The tree-kangaroos are found here, but must
be very scarce, as my hunters, although out daily in the forest,
never once saw them. Cockatoos, lories, and parroquets were
really the only common birds. Even pigeons were scarce, and in
little variety, although we occasionally got the fine crown
pigeon, which was always welcome as an addition to our scantily
furnished larder.

Just before the steamer arrived I had wounded my ankle by
clambering among the trunks and branches of fallen trees (which
formed my best hunting grounds for insects), and, as usual with
foot wounds in this climate, it turned into an obstinate ulcer,
keeping me in the house for several days. When it healed up it
was followed by an internal inflammation of the foot, which by
the doctor's advice I poulticed incessantly for four or five
days, bringing out a severe inflamed swelling on the tendon above
the heel. This had to be leeched, and lanced, and doctored with
ointments and poultices for several weeks, till I was almost
driven to despair,--for the weather was at length fine, and I was
tantalized by seeing grand butterflies flying past my door, and
thinking of the twenty or thirty new species of insects that I
ought to be getting every day. And this, too, in New Guinea--a
country which I might never visit again,--a country which no
naturalist had ever resided in before,--a country which contained
more strange and new and beautiful natural objects than any other
part of the globe. The naturalist will be able to appreciate my
feelings, sitting from morning to night in my little hut, unable
to move without a crutch, and my only solace the birds my hunters
brought in every afternoon, and the few insects caught by my
Ternate man, Lahagi, who now went out daily in my place, but who
of course did not get a fourth part of what I should have
obtained. To add to my troubles all my men were more or less ill,
some with fever, others with dysentery or ague; at one time there
were three of them besides myself all helpless, the coon alone
being well, and having enough to do to wait upon us. The Prince
of Tidore and the Resident of Panda were both on board the
steamer, and were seeking Birds of Paradise, sending men round in
every direction, so that there was no chance of my getting even
native skins of the rarer kinds; and any birds, insects, or
animals the Dorey people had to sell were taken on board the
steamer, where purchasers were found for everything, and where a
larger variety of articles were offered in exchange than I had to

After a month's close confinement in the house I was at length
able to go out a little, and about the same time I succeeded in
getting a boat and six natives to take Ali and Lahagi to
Amberbaki, and to bring them back at the end of a month. Ali was
charged to buy all the Birds of Paradise he could get, and to
shoot and skin all other rare or new birds; and Lahagi was to
collect insects, which I hoped might be more abundant than at
Dorey. When I recommenced my daily walks in search of insects, I
found a great change in the neighbourhood, and one very agreeable
to me. All the time I had been laid up the ship's crew and the
Javanese soldiers who had been brought in a tender (a sailing
ship which had arrived soon after the Etna), had been employed
cutting down, sawing, and splitting large trees for firewood, to
enable the steamer to get back to Amboyna if the coal-ship did
not return; and they had also cleared a number of wide, straight
paths through the forest in various directions, greatly to the
astonishment of the natives, who could not make out what it all
meant. I had now a variety of walks, and a good deal of dead wood
on which to search for insects; but notwithstanding these
advantages, they were not nearly so plentiful as I had found them
at Sarawak, or Amboyna, or Batchian, confirming my opinion that
Dorey was not a good locality. It is quite probable, however,
that at a station a few miles in the interior, away from the
recently elevated coralline rocks and the influence of the sea
air, a much more abundant harvest might be obtained.

One afternoon I went on board the steamer to return the captain's
visit, and was shown some very nice sketches (by one of the
lieutenants), made on the south coast, and also at the Arfak
mountain, to which they had made an excursion. From these and the
captain's description, it appeared that the people of Arfak were
similar to those of Dorey, and I could hear nothing of the
straight-haired race which Lesson says inhabits the interior, but
which no one has ever seen, and the account of which I suspect
has originated in some mistake. The captain told me he had made a
detailed survey of part of the south coast, and if the coal
arrived should go away at once to Humboldt Pay, in longitude 141
east, which is the line up to which the Dutch claim New Guinea.
On board the tender I found a brother naturalist, a German named
Rosenberg, who was draughtsman to the surveying staff. He had
brought two men with him to shoot and skin birds, and had been
able to purchase a few rare skins from the natives. Among these
was a pair of the superb Paradise Pie (Astrapia nigra) in
tolerable preservation. They were brought from the island of
Jobie, which may be its native country, as it certainly is of the
rarer species of crown pigeon (Goura steursii), one of which was
brought alive and sold on board. Jobie, however, is a very
dangerous place, and sailors are often murdered there when on
shore; sometimes the vessels themselves being attacked.
Wandammen, on the mainland opposite Jobie, inhere there are said
to be plenty of birds, is even worse, and at either of these
places my life would not have been worth a week's purchase had I
ventured to live alone and unprotected as at Dorey. On board the
steamer they had a pair of tree kangaroos alive. They differ
chiefly from the ground-kangaroo in having a more hairy tail, not
thickened at the base, and not used as a prop; and by the
powerful claws on the fore-feet, by which they grasp the bark and
branches, and seize the leaves on which they feed. They move
along by short jumps on their hind-feet, which do not seem
particularly well adapted for climbing trees. It has been
supposed that these tree-kangaroos are a special adaptation to
the swampy, half-drowned forests of, New Guinea, in place of the
usual form of the group, which is adapted only to dry ground. Mr.
Windsor Earl makes much of this theory, but, unfortunately for
it, the tree-kangaroos are chiefly found in the northern
peninsula of New Guinea, which is entirely composed of hills and
mountains with very little flat land, while the kangaroo of the
low flat Aru Islands (Dorcopsis asiaticus) is a ground species. A
more probable supposition seems to lie, that the tree-kangaroo
has been modified to enable it to feed on foliage in the vast
forests of New Guinea, as these form the great natural feature
which distinguishes that country from Australia.

On June 5th, the coal-ship arrived, having been sent back from
Amboyna, with the addition of some fresh stores for the steamer.
The wood, which had been almost all taken on board, was now
unladen again, the coal taken in, and on the 17th both steamer
and tender left for Humboldt Bay. We were then a little quiet
again, and got something to eat; for while the vessels were here
every bit of fish or vegetable was taken on board, and I had
often to make a small parroquet serve for two meals. My men now
returned from Amberbaki, but, alas brought me almost nothing.
They had visited several villages, and even went two days'
journey into the interior, but could find no skins of Birds of
Paradise to purchase, except the common kind, and very few even
of those. The birds found were the same as at Dorey, but were
still scarcer. None of the natives anywhere near the coast shoot
or prepare Birds of Paradise, which come from far in the interior
over two or three ranges of mountains, passing by barter from
village to village till they reach the sea. There the natives of
Dorey buy them, and on their return home sell them .to the Bugis
or Ternate traders. It is therefore hopeless for a traveller to
go to any particular place on the coast of New Guinea where rare
Paradise birds may have been bought, in hopes of obtaining
freshly killed specimens from the natives; and it also shows the
scarcity of these birds in any one locality, since from the
Amberbaki district, a celebrated place, where at least five or
six species have been procured, not one of the rarer ones has
been obtained this year. The Prince of Tidore, who would
certainly have got them if any were to be had, was obliged to put
up with a few of the common yellow ones. I think it probable that
a longer residence at Dorey, a little farther in the interior,
might show that several of the rarer kinds were found there, as I
obtained a single female of the fine scale-breasted Ptiloris
magnificus. I was told at Ternate of a bird that is certainly not
yet known in Europe, a black King Paradise Bird, with the curled
tail and beautiful side plumes of the common species, but all the
rest of the plumage glossy black. The people of Dorey knew
nothing about this, although they recognised by description most
of the otter species.

When the steamer left, I was suffering from a severe attack of
fever. In about a week I got over this, but it was followed by
such a soreness of the whole inside of the mouth, tongue, and
gums, that for many days I could put nothing solid between my
lips, but was obliged to subsist entirely on slops, although in
other respects very well. At the same time two of my men again
fell ill, one with fever, the other with dysentery, and both got
very bad. I did what I could for them with my small stock of
medicines, but they lingered on for some weeks, till on June 26th
poor Jumaat died. He was about eighteen years of age, a native, I
believe, of Bouton, and a quiet lad, not very active, but doing
his work pretty steadily, and as well as he was able. As my men
were all Mahometans, I let them bury him in their own fashion,
giving them some new cotton cloth for a shroud.

On July 6th the steamer returned from the eastward. The weather
was still terribly wet, when, according to rule, it should have
been fine and dry. We had scarcely anything to eat, and were all
of us ill. Fevers, colds, and dysentery were continually
attacking us, and made me long I-o get away from New Guinea, as
much as ever I had longed to come there. The captain of the Etna
paid me a visit, and gave me a very interesting account of his
trip. They had stayed at Humboldt Bay several days, and found it
a much more beautiful and more interesting place than Dorey, as
well as a better harbour. The natives were quite unsophisticated,
being rarely visited except by stray whalers, and they were
superior to the Dorey people, morally and physically. They went
quite naked. Their houses were some in the water and some inland,
and were all neatly and well built; their fields were well
cultivated, and the paths to them kept clear and open, in which
respects Dorey is abominable. They were shy at first, and opposed
the boats with hostile demonstrations, beading their bows, and
intimating that they would shoot if an attempt was made to land.
Very judiciously the captain gave way, but threw on shore a few
presents, and after two or three trials they were permitted to
land, and to go about and see the country, and were supplied with
fruits and vegetables. All communication was carried on with them
by signs--the Dorey interpreter, who accompanied the steamer,
being unable to understand a word of their language. No new birds
or animals were obtained, but in their ornaments the feathers of
Paradise birds were seen, showing, as might be expected, that
these birds range far in this direction, and probably all over
New Guinea.

It is curious that a rudimental love of art should co-exist with
such a very low state of civilization. The people of Dorey are
great carvers and painters. The outsides of the houses, wherever
there is a plank, are covered with rude yet characteristic
figures. The high-peaked prows of their boats are ornamented with
masses of open filagree work, cut out of solid blocks of wood,
and often of very tasteful design, As a figurehead, or pinnacle,
there is often a human figure, with a head of cassowary feathers
to imitate the Papuan "mop." The floats of their fishing-lines,
the wooden beaters used in tempering the clay for their pottery,
their tobacco-boxes, and other household articles, are covered
with carving of tasteful and often elegant design. Did we not
already know that such taste and skill are compatible with utter
barbarism, we could hardly believe that the same people are, in
other matters, utterly wanting in all sense of order, comfort, or
decency. Yet such is the case. They live in the most miserable,
crazy, and filthy hovels, which are utterly destitute of anything
that can be called furniture; not a stool, or bench, or board is
seen in them, no brush seems to be known, and the clothes they
wear are often filthy bark, or rags, or sacking. Along the paths
where they daily pass to and from their provision grounds, not an
overhanging bough or straggling briar ever seems to he cut, so
that you have to brush through a rank vegetation, creep under
fallen trees and spiny creepers, and wade through pools of mud
and mire, which cannot dry up because the sun is not allowed to
penetrate. Their food is almost wholly roots and vegetables, with
fish or game only as an occasional luxury, and they are
consequently very subject to various skin diseases, the children
especially being often miserable-looking objects, blotched all
over with eruptions and sores. If these people are not savages,
where shall we find any? Yet they have all a decided love for the
fine arts, and spend their leisure time in executing works whose
good taste and elegance would often be admired in our schools of

During the latter part of my stay in New Guinea the weather was
very wet, my only shooter was ill, and birds became scarce, so
that my only resource was insect-hunting. I worked very hard
every hour of fine weather, and daily obtained a number of new
species. Every dead tree and fallen log was searched and searched
again; and among the dry and rotting leaves, which still hung on
certain trees which had been cut down, I found an abundant
harvest of minute Coleoptera. Although I never afterwards found
so many large and handsome beetles as in Borneo, yet I obtained
here a great variety of species. For the first two or three
weeks, while I was searching out the best localities, I took
about 30 different kinds of beetles n day, besides about half
that number of butterflies, and a few of the other orders. But
afterwards, up to the very last week, I averaged 49 species a
day. On the 31st of May, I took 78 distinct sorts, a larger
number than I had ever captured before, principally obtained
among dead trees and under rotten bark. A good long walk on a
fine day up the hill, and to the plantations of the natives,
capturing everything not very common that came in my way, would
produce about 60 species; but on the last day of June I brought
home no less than 95 distinct kinds of beetles, a larger number
than I ever obtained in one day before or since. It was a fine
hot day, and I devoted it to a search among dead leaves, beating
foliage, and hunting under rotten bark, in all the best stations
I had discovered during my walks. I was out from ten in the
morning till three in the afternoon, and it took me six hours'
work at home to pin and set out all the specimens, and to
separate the species. Although T had already been working this
shot daily for two months and a half, and had obtained over 800
species of Coleoptera, this day's work added 32 new ones. Among
these were 4 Longicorns, 2 Caribidae, 7 Staphylinidae, 7
Curculionidae, 2 Copridae, 4 Chrysomelidae, 3 Heteromera, 1
Elates, and 1 Buprestis. Even on the last day I went out, I
obtained 10 new species; so that although I collected over a
thousand distinct sorts of beetles in a space not much exceeding
a square mile during the three months of my residence at Dorey, I
cannot believe that this represents one half the species really
inhabiting the same spot, or a fourth of what might be obtained
in an area extending twenty miles in each direction.

On the 22d of July the schooner Hester Helena arrived, and five
days afterwards we bade adieu to Dorey, without much regret, for
in no place which I have visited have I encountered more
privations and annoyances. Continual rain, continual sickness,
little wholesome food, with a plague of ants and files,
surpassing anything I had before met with, required all a
naturalist's ardour to encounter; and when they were
uncompensated by great success in collecting, became all the more
insupportable. This long thought-of and much-desired voyage to
New Guinea had realized none of my expectations. Instead of being
far better than the Aru Islands, it was in almost everything much
worse. Instead of producing several of the rarer Paradise birds,
I had not even seen one of them, and had not obtained any one
superlatively fine bird or insect. I cannot deny, however, that
Dorey was very rich in ants. One small black kind was excessively
abundant. Almost every shrub and tree was more or less infested
with it, and its large papery nests were everywhere to be seen.
They immediately took possession of my house, building a large
nest in the roof, and forming papery tunnels down almost every
post. They swarmed on my table as I was at work setting out my
insects, carrying them off from under my very nose, and even
tearing them from the cards on which they were gummed if I left
them for an instant. They crawled continually over my hands and
face, got into my hair, and roamed at will over my whole body,
not producing much inconvenience till they began to bite, which
they would do on meeting with any obstruction to their passage,
and with a sharpness which made me jump again and rush to undress
and turn out the offender. They visited my bed also, so that
night brought no relief from their persecutions; and I verily
believe that during my three and a half months' residence at
Dorey I was never for a single hour entirely free from them. They
were not nearly so voracious as many other kinds, but their
numbers and ubiquity rendered it necessary to be constantly on
guard against them.

The flies that troubled me most were a large kind of blue-bottle
or blow-fly. These settled in swarms on my bird skins when first
put out to dry, filling their plumage with masses of eggs, which,
if neglected, the next day produced maggots. They would get under
the wings or under the body where it rested on the drying-board,
sometimes actually raising it up half an inch by the mass of eggs
deposited in a few hours; and every egg was so firmly glued to
the fibres of the feathers, as to make it a work of much time and
patience to get them off without injuring the bird. In no other
locality have I ever been troubled with such a plague as this.

On the 29th we left Dorey, and expected a quick voyage home, as
it was the time of year when we ought to have had steady
southerly and easterly winds. Instead of these, however, we had
calms and westerly breezes, and it was seventeen days before we
reached Ternate, a distance of five hundred miles only, which,
with average winds, could have been done in five days. It was a
great treat to me to find myself back again in my comfortable
house, enjoying milk to my tea and coffee, fresh bread and
butter, and fowl and fish daily for dinner. This New Guinea
voyage had used us all up, and I determined to stay and recruit
before I commenced any fresh expeditions. My succeeding journeys
to Gilolo and Batchian have already been narrated, and if; now
only remains for me to give an account of my residence in
Waigiou, the last Papuan territory I visited in search of Birds
of Paradise.




IN my twenty-fifth chapter I have described my arrival at Wahai,
on my way to Mysol and Waigiou, islands which belong to the
Papuan district, and the account of which naturally follows after
that of my visit to the mainland of New Guinea. I now take up my
narrative at my departure from Wahai, with the intention of
carrying various necessary stores to my assistant, Mr. Allen, at
Silinta, in Mysol, and then continuing my journey to Waigiou. It
will be remembered that I was travelling in a small prau, which I
had purchased and fitted up in Goram, and that, having been
deserted by my crew on the coast of Ceram, I had obtained four
men at Wahai, who, with my Amboynese hunter, constituted my crew.

Between Ceram and Mysol there are sixty miles of open sea, and
along this wide channel the east monsoon blows strongly; so that
with native praus, which will not lay up to the wind, it requires
some care in crossing. In order to give ourselves sufficient
leeway, we sailed back from Wahai eastward, along the coast of
Ceram, with the land-breeze; but in the morning (June 18th) had
not gone nearly so far as I expected. My pilot, an old and
experienced sailor, named Gurulampoko, assured me there was a
current setting to the eastward, and that we could easily lay
across to Silinta, in Mysol. As we got out from the land the wind
increased, and there was a considerable sea, which made my short
little vessel plunge and roll about violently. By sunset -we had
not got halfway across, but could see Mysol distinctly. All night
we went along uneasily, and at daybreak, on looking out
anxiously, I found that we had fallen much to the westward during
the night, owing, no doubt, to the pilot being sleepy and not
keeping the boat sufficiently close to the wind. We could see the
mountains distinctly, but it was clear we should not reach
Silinta, and should have some difficulty in getting to the
extreme westward point of the island. The sea was now very
boisterous, and our prau was continually beaten to leeward by the
waves, and after another weary day we found w e could not get to
Mysol at all, but might perhaps reach the island called Pulo
Kanary, about ten miles to the north-west. Thence we might await
a favourable wind to reach Waigamma, on the north side of the
island, and visit Allen by means of a small boat.

About nine o'clock at night, greatly to my satisfaction, we got
under the lea of this island, into quite smooth water--for I had
been very sick and uncomfortable, and had eaten scarcely anything
since the preceding morning. We were slowly nearing the shore,
which the smooth dark water told us we could safely approach; and
were congratulating ourselves on soon being at anchor, with the
prospect of hot coffee, a good supper, and a sound sleep, when
the wind completely dropped, and we had to get out the oars to
row. We were not more than two hundred yards from the shore, when
I noticed that we seemed to get no nearer although the men were
rowing hard, but drifted to the westward, and the prau would not
obey the helm, but continually fell off, and gave us much trouble
to bring her up again. Soon a laud ripple of water told us we
were seized by one of those treacherous currents which so
frequently frustrate all the efforts of the voyager in these
seas; the men threw down the oars in despair, and in a few
minutes we drifted to leeward of the island fairly out to sea
again, and lost our last chance of ever reaching Mysol! Hoisting
our jib, we lay to, and in the morning found ourselves only a few
miles from the island, but wit, such a steady wind blowing from
its direction as to render it impossible for us to get back to

We now made sail to the northward, hoping soon to get a more
southerly wind. Towards noon the sea was much smoother, and with
a S.S.E. wind we were laying in the direction of Salwatty, which
I hoped to reach, as I could there easily get a boat to take
provisions and stores to my companion in Mysol. This wind did
not, however, last long, but died away into a calm; and a light
west wind springing up, with a dark bank of clouds, again gave us
hopes of reaching Mysol. We were soon, however, again
disappointed. The E.S.E. wind began to blow again with violence,
and continued all night in irregular gusts, and with a short
cross sea tossed us about unmercifully, and so continually took
our sails aback, that we were at length forced to run before it
with our jib only, to escape being swamped by our heavy mainsail.
After another miserable and anxious night, we found that we had
drifted westward of the island of Poppa, and the wind being again
a little southerly, we made all sail in order to reach it. This
we did not succeed in doing, passing to the north-west, when the
wind again blew hard from the E.S.E., and our last hope of
finding a refuge till better weather was frustrated. This was a
very serious matter to me, as I could not tell how Charles Allen
might act, if, after waiting in vain for me, he should return to
Wahai, and find that I had left there long before, and had not
since been heard of. Such an event as our missing an island forty
miles long would hardly occur to him, and he would conclude
either that our boat had foundered, or that my crew had murdered
me and run away with her. However, as it was physically
impossible now for me to reach him, the only thing to be done was
to make the best of my way to Waigiou, and trust to our meeting
some traders, who might convey to him the news of my safety.

Finding on my map a group of three small islands, twenty-five
miles north of Poppa, I resolved, if possible, to rest there a
day or two. We could lay our boat's head N.E. by N.; but a heavy
sea from the eastward so continually beat us off our course, and
we made so much leeway, that I found it would be as much as we
could do to reach them. It was a delicate point to keep our head
in the best direction, neither so close to the wind as to stop
our way, or so free as to carry us too far to leeward. I
continually directed the steersman myself, and by incessant
vigilance succeeded, just at sunset, in bringing our boat to an
anchor under the lee of the southern point of one of the islands.
The anchorage was, however, by no means good, there being a
fringing coral reef, dry at low water, beyond which, on a bottom
strewn with masses of coral, we were obliged to anchor. We had
now been incessantly tossing about for four days in our small
undecked boat, with constant disappointments and anxiety, and it
was a great comfort to have a night of quiet and comparative
safety. My old pilot had never left the helm for more than an
hour at a time, when one of the others would relieve him for a
little sleep; so I determined the next morning to look out for a
secure and convenient harbour, and rest on shore for a day.

In the morning, finding it would be necessary for us to get round
a rocky point, I wanted my men to go on shore and cut jungle-
rope, by which to secure us from being again drafted away, as the
wind was directly off shore. I unfortunately, however, allowed
myself to be overruled by the pilot and crew, who all declared
that it was the easiest thing possible, and that they would row
the boat round the point in a few minutes. They accordingly got
up the anchor, set the jib, and began rowing; but, just as I had
feared, we drifted rapidly off shore, and had to drop anchor
again in deeper water, and much farther off. The two best men, a
Papuan and a Malay now swam on shore, each carrying a hatchet,
and went into the jungle to seek creepers for rope. After about
an hour our anchor loosed hold, and began to drag. This alarmed
me greatly, and we let go our spare anchor, and, by running out
all our cable, appeared tolerably secure again. We were now most
anxious for the return of the men, and were going to fire our
muskets to recall them, when we observed them on the beach, some
way off, and almost immediately our anchors again slipped, and we
drifted slowly away into deep water. We instantly seized the
oars, but found we could not counteract the wind and current, and
our frantic cries to the men were not heard till we had got a
long way off; as they seemed to be hunting for shell-fish on the
beach. Very soon, however, they stared at us, and in a few
minutes seemed to comprehend their situation; for they rushed
down into the water, as if to swim off, but again returned on
shore, as if afraid to make the attempt. We had drawn up our
anchors at first not to check our rowing; but now, finding we
could do nothing, we let them both hang down by the full length
of the cables. This stopped our way very much, and we drifted
from shore very slowly, and hoped the men would hastily form a
raft, or cut down a soft-wood tree, and paddle out, to us, as we
were still not more than a third of a mile from shore. They
seemed, however, to have half lost their senses, gesticulating
wildly to us, running along the beach, then going unto the
forest; and just when we thought they had prepared some mode of
making an attempt to reach us, we saw the smoke of a fire they
had made to cook their shell-fish! They had evidently given up
all idea of coming after us, and we were obliged to look to our
own position.

We were now about a mile from shore, and midway between two of
the islands, but we were slowly drifting out, to sea to the
westward, and our only chance of yet saving the men was to reach
the opposite shore. We therefore sot our jib and rowed hard; but
the wind failed, and we drifted out so rapidly that we had some
difficulty in reaching the extreme westerly point of the island.
Our only sailor left, then swam ashore with a rope, and helped to
tow us round the point into a tolerably safe and secure
anchorage, well sheltered from the wind, but exposed to a little
swell which jerked our anchor and made us rather uneasy. We were
now in a sad plight, having lost our two best men, and being
doubtful if we had strength left to hoist our mainsail. We had
only two days' water on board, and the small, rocky, volcanic
island did not promise us much chance of finding any. The conduct
of the men on shore was such as to render it doubtful if they
would make any serious attempt to reach us, though they might
easily do so, having two good choppers, with which in a day they
could male a small outrigger raft on which they could safely
cross the two miles of smooth sea with the wind right aft, if
they started from the east end of the island, so as to allow for
the current. I could only hope they would be sensible enough to
make the attempt, and determined to stay as long as I could to
give them the chance.

We passed an anxious night, fearful of again breaking our anchor
or rattan cable. In the morning (23d), finding all secure, I
waded on shore with my two men, leaving the old steersman and the
cook on board, with a loaded musketto recall us if needed. We
first walked along the beach, till stopped by the vertical cliffs
at the east end of the island, finding a place where meat had
been smoked, a turtle-shell still greasy, and some cut wood, the
leaves of which were still green, showing that some boat had been
here very recently. We then entered the jungle, cutting our way
up to the top of the hill, but when we got there could see
nothing, owing to the thickness of the forest. Returning, we cut
some bamboos, and sharpened them to dig for water in a low spot
where some sago -trees were growing; when, just as we were going
to begin, Hoi, the Wahai man, called out to say he had found
water. It was a deep hole among the Sago trees, in stiff black
clay, full of water, which was fresh, but smelt horribly from the
quantity of dead leaves and sago refuse that had fallen in.
Hastily concluding that it was a spring, or that the water had
filtered in, we baled it all out as well as a dozen or twenty
buckets of mud and rubbish, hoping by night to have a good supply
of clean water. I then went on board to breakfast, leaving my two
men to make a bamboo raft to carry us on shore and back without
wading. I had scarcely finished when our cable broke, and we
bumped against the rocks. Luckily it was smooth and calm, and no
damage was done. We searched for and got up our anchor, and found
teat the cable had been cut by grating all night upon the coral.
Had it given way in the night, we might have drifted out to sea
without our anchor, or been seriously damaged. In the evening we
went to fetch water from the well, when, greatly to our dismay,
we found nothing but a little liquid mud at the bottom, and it
then became evident that the hole was one which had been made to
collect rain water, and would never fill again as long as the
present drought continued. As we did not know what we might
suffer for want of water, we filled our jar with this muddy stuff
so that it might settle. In the afternoon I crossed over to the
other side of the island, and made a large fire, in order that
our men might see we were still there.

The next day (24th) I determined to have another search for
water; and when the tide was out rounded a rocky point and went
to the extremity of the island without finding any sign of the
smallest stream. On our way back, noticing a very small dry bed
of a watercourse, I went up it to explore, although everything
was so dry that my men loudly declared it was useless to expect
water there; but a little way up I was rewarded by finding a few
pints in a small pool. We searched higher up in every hole and
channel where water marks appeared, but could find not a drop
more. Sending one of my men for a large jar and teacup, we
searched along the beach till we found signs of another dry
watercourse, and on ascending this were so fortunate as to
discover two deep sheltered rock-holes containing several gallons
of water, enough to fill all our jars. When the cup came we
enjoyed a good drink of the cool pure water, and before we left
had carried away, I believe, every drop on the island.

In the evening a good-sized prau appeared in sight, making
apparently for the island where our men were left, and we had
some hopes they might be seen and picked up, but it passed along
mid-channel, and did not notice the signals we tried to make. I
was now, however, pretty easy as to the fate of the men. There
was plenty of sago on our rocky island, and there world probably
be some on the fiat one they were left on. They had choppers, and
could cut down a tree and make sago, and would most likely find
sufficient water by digging. Shell-fish were abundant, and they
would be able to manage very well till some boat should touch
there, or till I could send and fetch them. The next day we
devoted to cutting wood, filling up our jars with all the water
we could find, and making ready to sail in the evening. I shot a
small lory closely resembling a common species at Ternate, and a
glossy starling which differed from the allied birds of Ceram and
Matabello. Large wood-pigeons and crows were the only other birds
I saw, but I did not obtain specimens.

About eight in the evening of June 25th we started, and found
that with all hands at work we could just haul up our mainsail.
We had a fair wind during the night and sailed north-east,
finding ourselves in the morning about twenty miles west of the
extremity of Waigiou with a number of islands intervening. About
ten o'clock we ran full on to a coral reef, which alarmed us a
good deal, but luckily got safe off again. About two in the
afternoon we reached an extensive coral reef, and were sailing
close alongside of it, when the wind suddenly dropped, and we
drifted on to it before we could get in our heavy mainsail, which
we were obliged to let run down and fall partly overboard. We had
much difficulty in getting off, but at last got into deep water
again, though with reefs and islands all around us. At night we
did not know what to do, as no one on board could tell where we
were or what dangers might surround us, the only one of our crew
who was acquainted with the coast of Waigiou having been. left on
the island. We therefore took in all sail and allowed ourselves
to drift, as we were some miles from the nearest land. A light
breeze, however, sprang up, and about midnight we found ourselves
again bumping over a coral reef. As it was very dark, and we knew
nothing of our position, we could only guess how to get off
again, and had there been a little more wind we might have been
knocked to pieces. However, in about half an hour we did get off,
and then thought it best to anchor on the edge of the reef till
morning. Soon after daylight on the 7th, finding our prau had
received no damage, we sailed on with uncertain winds and
squalls, threading our way among islands and reefs, and guided
only by a small map, which was very incorrect and quite useless,
and by a general notion of the direction we ought to take. In the
afternoon we found a tolerable anchorage under a small island and
stayed for the night, and I shot a large fruit-pigeon new to me,
which I have since named Carpophaga tumida. I also saw and shot
at the rare white-headed kingfisher (Halcyon saurophaga), but did
not kill it. The next morning we sailed on, and having a fair
wind reached the shores of the large island of Waigiou. On
rounding a point we again ran full on to a coral reef with our
mainsail up, but luckily the wind had almost died away, and with
a good deal of exertion we managed get safely off.

We now had to search for the narrow channel among islands, which
we knew was somewhere hereabouts, and which leads to the villages
on the south side ofWaigiou. Entering a deep bay which looked
promising, we got to the end of it, but it was then dusk, so we
anchored for the night, and having just finished all our water
could cook no rice for supper. Next morning early (29th) we went
on shore among the mangroves, and a little way inland found some
water, which relieved our anxiety considerably, and left us free
to go along the coast in search of the opening, or of some one
who could direct us to it. During the three days we had now been
among the reefs and islands, we had only seen a single small
canoe, which had approached pretty near to us, and then,
notwithstanding our signals, went off in another direction. The
shores seemed all desert; not a house, or boat, or human being,
or a puff of smoke was to be seen; and as we could only go on the
course that the ever-changing wind would allow us (our hands
being too few to row any distance), our prospects of getting to
our destination seemed rather remote and precarious. Having gone
to the eastward extremity of the deep bay we had entered, without
finding any sign of an opening, we turned westward; and towards
evening were so fortunate as to find a small village of seven
miserable houses built on piles in the water. Luckily the Orang-
kaya, or head man, could speak a little. Malay, and informed us
that the entrance to the strait was really in the bay we had
examined, but that it was not to be seen except when- close
inshore. He said the strait was often very narrow, and wound
among lakes and rocks and islands, and that it would take two
days to reach the large village of Muka, and three more to get to
Waigiou. I succeeded in hiring two men to go with us to Muka,
bringing a small boat in which to return; but we had to wait a
day for our guides, so I took my gun and made a little excursion
info the forest. The day was wet and drizzly, and I only
succeeded in shooting two small birds, but I saw the great black
cockatoo, and had a glimpse of one or two Birds of Paradise,
whose loud screams we had heard on first approaching the coast.
Leaving the village the next morning (July 1st) with a light
wind, it took us all day to reach the entrance to the channel,
which resembled a small river, and was concealed by a projecting
point, so that it was no wonder we did not discover it amid the
dense forest vegetation which everywhere covers these islands to
the water's edge. A little way inside it becomes bounded by
precipitous rocks, after winding among which for about two miles,
we emerged into what seemed a lake, but which was in fact a deep
gulf having a narrow entrance on the south coast. This gulf was
studded along its shores with numbers of rocky islets, mostly
mushroom shaped, from the `eater having worn away the lower part
of the soluble coralline limestone, leaving them overhanging from
ten to twenty feet. Every islet was covered will strange-looping
shrubs and trees, and was generally crowned by lofty and elegant
palms, which also studded the ridges of the mountainous shores,
forming one of the most singular and picturesque landscapes I
have ever seen. The current which had brought us through the
narrow strait now ceased, and we were obliged to row, which with
our short and heavy prau was slow work. I went on shore several
times, but the rocks were so precipitous, sharp, and honeycombed,
that Ifound it impossible to get through the tangled thicket with
which they were everywhere clothed. It took us three days to get
to the entrance of the gulf, and then the wind was such as to
prevent our going any further, and we might have had to wait for
days or weeps, when, much to my surprise and gratification, a
boat arrived from Muka with one of the head men, who had in some
mysterious manner heard I was on my way, and had come to my
assistance, bringing a present of cocoa-nuts and vegetables.
Being thoroughly acquainted with the coast, and having several
extra men to assist us, he managed to get the prau along by
rowing, poling, or sailing, and by night had brought us safely
into harbour, a great relief after our tedious and unhappy
voyage. We had been already eight days among the reefs and
islands of Waigiou, coming a distance of about fifty miles, and

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest