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HIMALAYAN JOURNALS or NOTES OF A NATURALIST
IN BENGAL, THE SIKKIM AND NEPAL HIMALAYAS, THE KHASIA MOUNTAINS, etc.
JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER, M.D., R.N., F.R.S.
First published 1854
To CHARLES DARWIN, F.R.S., etc. These volumes are dedicated, by his affectionate friend, J.D. HOOKER Kew, Jan. 12th, 1854
HAVING accompanied Sir James Boss on his voyage of discovery to the Antarctic regions, where botany was my chief pursuit, on my return I earnestly desired to add to my acquaintance with the natural history of the temperate zones, more knowledge of that of the tropics than I bad hitherto had the opportunity of acquiring. My choice lay between India and the Andes, and I decided upon the former, being principally influenced by Dr. Falconer, who promised me every assistance which his position as Superintendent of the H.E.I.C. Botanic Garden at Calcutta, would enable hum to give. He also drew my attention to the fact that we were ignorant even of the geography of the central and eastern parts of these mountains, while all to the north was involved in a mystery equally attractive to the traveller and the naturalist.
On hearing of the kind interest taken by Baron Humboldt in my proposed travels, and at the request of my father (Sir William Hooker), the Earl of Carlisle (then Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests) undertook to represent to Her Majesty's Government the expediency of securing my collections for the Royal Gardens at Kew; and owing to the generous exertions of that nobleman, and of the late Earl of Auckland (then First Lord of the Admiralty), my journey assumed the character of a Government mission, £400 per annum being granted by the Treasury for two years.
I did not contemplate proceeding beyond the Himalaya and Tibet, when Lord Auckland desired that I should afterwards visit Borneo, for the purpose of reporting on the capabilities of Labuan, with reference to the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, sugar, indigo, spices, guttapercha, etc. To this end a commission in the navy (to which service I was already attached) was given me, such instructions were drawn up as might facilitate my movements in the East, and a suitable sum of money was placed at my disposal.
Soon after leaving England, my plans became, from various causes, altered. The Earl of Auckland* [It is with a melancholy satisfaction that I here record the intentions of that enlightened nobleman. The idea of turning to public account what was intended as a scientific voyage, occurred to his lordship when considering my application for official leave to proceed to India; and from the hour of my accepting the Borneo commission with which he honoured me, he displayed the most active zeal in promoting its fulfilment. He communicated to me his views as to the direction in which I should pursue my researches, furnished me with official and other information, and provided me with introductions of the most essential use.] was dead; the interest in Borneo had in a great measure subsided; H.M.S. "Maeander," to which I had been attached for service in Labuan, had left the Archipelago; reports of the unhealthy nature of the coast had excited alarm; and the results of my researches in the Himalaya had proved of more interest and advantage than had been anticipated. It was hence thought expedient to cancel the Borneo appointment, and to prolong my services for a third year in India; for which purpose a grant of £300 (originally intended for defraying the expense of collecting only, in Borneo) was transferred as salary for the additional year to be spent in the Himalaya.
The portion of the Himalaya best worth exploring, was selected for me both by Lord Auckland and Dr. Falconer, who independently recommended Sikkim, as being ground untrodden by traveller or naturalist. Its ruler was, moreover, all but a dependant of the British government, and it was supposed, would therefore be glad to facilitate my researches.
No part of the snowy Himalaya eastward of the northwest extremity of the British possessions had been visited since Turner's embassy to Tibet in 1789; and hence it was highly important to explore scientifically a part of the chain which, from its central position, might be presumed to be typical of the whole range. The possibility of visiting Tibet, and of ascertaining particulars respecting the great mountain Chumulari,* [My earliest recollections in reading are of "Turner's Travels in Tibet," and of "Cook's Voyages." The account of Lama worship and of Chumulari in the one, and of Kerguelen's Land in the other, always took a strong hold on my fancy. It is, therefore, singular that Kerguelen's Land should have been the first strange country I ever visited (now fourteen years ago), and that in the first King's ship which has touched there since Cook's voyage, and whilst following the track of that illustrious navigator in south polar discovery. At a later period I have been nearly the first European who has approached Chumulari since Turner's embassy.] which was only known from Turner's account, were additional inducements to a student of physical geography; but it was not then known that Kinchinjunga, the loftiest known mountain on the globe, was situated on my route, and formed a principal feature in the physical geography of Sikkim.
My passage to Egypt was provided by the Admiralty in H.M. steam-vessel "Sidon," destined to convey the Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, thus far on his way. On his arrival in Egypt, his Lordship did me the honour of desiring me to consider myself in the position of one of his suite, for the remainder of the voyage, which was performed in the "Moozuffer," a steam frigate belonging to the Indian Navy. My obligations to this nobleman had commenced before leaving England, by his promising me every facility he could command; and he thus took the earliest opportunity of affording it, by giving me such a position near himself as ensured me the best reception everywhere; no other introduction being needed. His Lordship procured my admission into Sikkim, and honoured me throughout my travels with the kindest encouragement.
During the passage out, some days were spent in Egypt, at Aden, Ceylon, and Madras. I have not thought it necessary to give here the observations made in those well-known countries; they are detailed in a series of letters published in the "London Journal of Botany," as written for my private friends. Arriving at Calcutta in January, I passed the remainder of the cold season in making myself acquainted with the vegetation of the plains and hills of Western Bengal, south of the Ganges, by a journey across the mountains of Birbhoom and Behar to the Soane valley, and thence over the Vindhya range to the Ganges, at Mirzapore, whence I descended that stream to Bhaugulpore; and leaving my boat, struck north to the Sikkim Himalaya. This excursion is detailed in the "London Journal of Botany," and the Asiatic Society of Bengal honoured me by printing the meteorological observations made during its progress.
During the two years' residence in Sikkim which succeeded, I was laid under obligations of no ordinary nature to Brian H. Hodgson, Esq., B.C.S., for many years Resident at the Nepal Court; whose guest I became for several months. Mr. Hodgson's high position as a man of science requires no mention here; but the difficulties he overcame, and the sacrifices he made, in attaining that position, are known to few. He entered the wilds of Nepal when very young, and in indifferent health; and finding time to spare, cast about for the best method of employing it: he had no one to recommend or direct a pursuit, no example to follow, no rival to equal or surpass; he had never been acquainted with a scientific man, and knew nothing of science except the name. The natural history of men and animals, in its most comprehensive sense, attracted his attention; he sent to Europe for books, and commenced the study of ethnology and zoology. His labours have now extended over upwards of twenty-five years' residence in the Himalaya. During this period he has seldom had a staff of less than from ten to twenty persons (often many more), of various tongues and races, employed as translators and collectors, artists, shooters, and stuffers. By unceasing exertions and a princely liberality, Mr. Hodgson has unveiled the mysteries of the Boodhist religion, chronicled the affinities, languages, customs, and faiths of the Himalayan tribes; and completed a natural history of the animals and birds of these regions. His collections of specimens are immense, and are illustrated by drawings and descriptions taken from life, with remarks on the anatomy,* [In this department he availed himself of the services of Dr. Campbell, who was also attached to the Residency at Nepal, as surgeon and assistant political agent.] habits, and localities of the animals themselves. Twenty volumes of the Journals, and the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, teem with the proofs of his indefatigable zeal; and throughout the cabinets of the bird and quadruped departments of our national museum, Mr. Hodgson's name stands pre-eminent. A seat in the Institute of France, and the cross of the Legion of Honour, prove the estimation in which his Boodhist studies are held on the continent of Europe. To be welcomed to the Himalaya by such a person, and to be allowed the most unreserved intercourse, and the advantage of all his information and library, exercised a material influence on the progress I made in my studies, and on my travels. When I add that many of the subjects treated of in these volumes were discussed between us, it will be evident that it is impossible for me to divest much of the information thus insensibly obtained, of the appearance of being the fruits of my own research.
Dr. Campbell, the Superintendent of Dorjiling, is likewise the Governor-General's agent, or medium of communication between the British Government and the Sikkim Rajah; and as such, invested with many discretionary powers. In the course of this narrative, I shall give a sketch of the rise, progress, and prospects of the Sanatarium, or Health-station of Dorjiling, and of the anomalous position held by the Sikkim Rajah. The latter circumstance led indirectly to the detention of Dr. Campbell (who joined me in one of my journeys) and myself, by a faction of the Sikkim court, for the purpose of obtaining from the Indian Government a more favourable treaty than that then existing. This mode of enforcing a request by _douce
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