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Title: Life of a Scotch Naturalist - Thomas Edward, Associate of the Linnean Society. Fourth Edition
Author: Smiles, Samuel
Language: English
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[Illustration: Handwritten: Thomas Edward]




    ‘THRIFT,’ ETC.


    Fourth Edition


    _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh._


THE history of the humblest human life is a tale of marvels. Dr.
Johnson said that there was not a man in the street whose biography
might not be made interesting, provided he could narrate something of
his experiences of life, his trials, his difficulties, his successes,
and his failures.

I use these words as an introduction to the following biography of my
“man in the street.” Yet Thomas Edward is not an ordinary man. Eighteen
years since, I mentioned him in _Self-Help_, as one of the most
extraordinary instances of perseverance in the cause of science that
had ever come under my notice.

Nor was he a man of any exalted position in society. He was a
shoemaker then; he is a shoemaker still. For nearly thirty years he
has fought the battle of scientific poverty. He was one of those men
who lived _for_ science, not _by_ science. His shyness prevented him
pushing himself forward; and when he had done his work, he was almost

How he pursued his love of Nature,—how he satisfied his thirst for
knowledge, in the midst of trials, difficulties, and troubles,—not the
least of which was that of domestic poverty,—will be found related
in the following book. Indeed, it may be said of him, that he has
endured as much hardship for the cause of science, as soldiers do in a
prolonged campaign. He spent most of his nights out of doors, amidst
damp, and wet, and cold. Men thought him mad for enduring such risks.
He himself says, “I have been a fool to Nature all my life.”

He always lamented his want of books. He had to send his “findings” to
other naturalists to be named, and he often lost them. But books could
not be had without money; and money was as scarce with him as books.
He was thus prevented from taking rank among higher-class naturalists.
He could only work in detail; he could not generalise. He had to be
satisfied with the consolation that Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys once gave him.
“Working naturalists like yourself,” said he, “do quite as much good
service in the cause of science as those who study books.” Edward,
however, doubted this; for he considered works on natural science to
be a great help to the working naturalist. They informed him of what
others had done, and also of what remained to be done.

Those who would know something of what Edward has accomplished in only
_one_ department of his favourite subject, should consult Messrs.
Bate and Westwood’s _History of the British Sessile-eyed Crustacea_,
where his services to the cause of science are fully and generously
acknowledged. Of the numerous Crustacea mentioned in that work, Edward
collected a hundred and seventy-seven in the Moray Firth, of which
twenty were New Species.

In 1866, Edward was elected an Associate of the Linnean Society,—one
of the highest honours that science could confer upon him. Since
then, however, he has been able to do comparatively little for the
advancement of his favourite study. He had been so battered about by
falling from rocks in search of birds, and so rheumatised by the damp,
wet, and cold, to which he was exposed at night,—for he was obliged to
carry on his investigations after his day’s work was over,—that he was
unable to continue his investigations in Natural History.

In the Appendix will be found a Selection of the Fauna of Banffshire,
prepared by Edward. I have been able to find room for only the Mammals,
Birds, Fishes, and Crustacea. I wish it had been possible to give the
Star-fishes (_Rayed Echinodermata_), Molluscs, Zoophytes, and other
objects; but this would have filled up the book, and left no room for
the Biography.

It was not my intention to have published the book in the ornate
form in which it now appears. But my friend Mr. Reid,—being greatly
interested in the man and his story,—and having volunteered to
illustrate the work “for love,” I could not withstand his generous
offer. Hence the very fine portrait of Edward, so exquisitely etched by
Rajon; and the excellent wood engravings of Whymper and Cooper, which
illustrate the volume.

It is scarcely necessary to say that the materials of the book have
been obtained from Edward himself, either by written communication or
by “word of mouth.” Much of it is autobiography. Edward was alarmed at
the idea of what he communicated being “put into a book.” He thought
it might do me an injury. “Not a copy,” he said, “would be bought in

However this may be, the writing of the Biography has given me much
pleasure. It has led me to seek health amidst the invigorating breezes
of the North; and to travel round the rugged shores of Aberdeen and
Banff, in search of the views of bays and headlands with which Mr. Reid
has so beautifully embellished the book.

It may be objected—“Why write the life of a man who is still living?”
To this it may be answered, that Edward has lived his life and done his
work. With most of us, “_Hic jacet_” is all that remains to be added.
If the book had not been written now, it is probable that it never
would have been written. But it may be asked,—“Is the life really worth
writing?” To this question the public alone can give the answer.

    LONDON, _Nov. 1876._




  Edward born at Gosport, Portsmouth—The Fifeshire
    Militia—Return to Cupar—Residence at Kettle—Settles at
    Aberdeen—The Green—How Edward became a Naturalist—The
    sow Bet—Stolen by Gipsies—The Inches, Aberdeen—Fondness
    for “Beasts”—An incorrigible boy—Imprisoned at
    home—Sets the house on fire—Is laid up by fever—His
    Recovery—Birds’ Nests—Rubislaw Quarries—The Wasp’s
    Nest                                               Pages 1-20



  Edward goes to school—Plays the Truant—The
    fishwives—Bell Hill—Grannie’s Plunge—A Kae taken to
    school—Edward’s expulsion—Sent to his second school—The
    Horse-leeches—Edward expelled—The third school—The
    Sparrow’s nest harried—Takes the nest to school—The
    birds “chirrup”—The Master bit by a Centipede—Edward
    thrashed terribly—Expelled from his third school—A
    night under the logs—Results of his punishment—Hunt
    after an adder—The adder sold                           21-46



  Goes to work—A Tobacco-spinner—Factory at
    Grandholm—The Banks and Braes of the Don—The Brig
    o’ Balgownie—Spires of St. Machar—Working at the
    factory—The Sedge-warbler—The Kingfisher—Country
    rambles—Apprenticed to a Shoemaker—Charles
    Begg—Shoemakers’ pets—Begg’s brutality—Edward’s pets
    killed—Wishes to be a sailor—Tries in vain              47-60



  Sets out for the Kettle—His provisions—His
    money—Tries to sell his knife—Ruins of Dunnottar
    Castle—Bervie—Encounter with tramps—Montrose—Sells
    his knife—Sleeps in a haycock—Arbroath—The sailors’
    wives—Dundee—The Long-tailed Titmouse—Cupar—Reaches
    the Kettle—Reception by his uncle—Sets out for
    home—Uncivility of a gamekeeper—Adventure with a
    Bull—Rests near Stonehaven—Reaches Aberdeen—His
    reception at home                                       61-74



  Offers himself as a sailor—Resumes shoemaking—Wild
    Botanical Garden—Tanners’ pits for puddocks—The
    picture shops—The _Penny Magazine_—Castlegate on
    Fridays—Gunmakers’ windows—Tries to emigrate to
    America as a stowaway—He fails—Joins the Aberdeenshire
    Militia—Chase of a butterfly—Is apprehended—Is
    reprimanded and liberated—Enlists in the 60th
    Rifles—Assists as a pew-opener—Leaves Aberdeen for
    Banff                                                   75-86



  His employment—Finds time to follow his bent—His
    Caterpillars among the workmen—His landlady—Marries a
    Huntly lass—Settled for life—Self-education in Natural
    History—Stuffs birds—His want of education—Want of
    books—Shy and friendless—Avoids the public-house—His
    love of Nature—The ocean—The heavens—Makes
    a collection—His gun and paraphernalia—His
    equipment—Sleeps out of doors at night—Exaggerated
    rumours about him—Frequents Boyndie churchyard—Lies in
    holes during rain—Disagreeable visitors—Awful night
    in Boyndie churchyard—Moth-hunting at night—Terrible
    encounter with Badgers                                 87-103



  Animals wandering at night—Their noises and cries—The
    Roe-deer and hare—The Rabbit—A Rabbit fight—The
    Fox—The Badger—The Field Mice—The Weasel—Attack by a
    Weasel—Pertinacious Rats—The Otter—The Polecat—Boyne
    Castle—Fight with a Polecat—The Long-eared Owl—The
    Brown Owl—A chorus of Frogs—Birds of prey—Landrail,
    Sedge-warbler, Rook—Songsters at night                104-128



  Situation of Banff—Macduff—Cliffs of
    Banffshire—Gamrie—The fishing-boats—Gardenstown—The
    fishermen—Crovie—Hell’s Lum—Troup Head—Pennan—The
    dens of North Aberdeenshire—Aberdour—Church of
    Aberdour—Inland county of Banff—Ben Macdhui—Edward’s
    rounds—Pursuit of two Geese—Pursuit of a little
    Stint—Shoemaking—Edward’s traps—His collection
    of insects—Collection destroyed—Loss of dried
    plants—Exhibits his collection at Banff               129-152



  Aberdeen his city of expectations—Dramatic
    bird-stuffing—Collection taken to Aberdeen in six
    carriers’ carts—Exhibited in Union Street—The
    handbills—Appeal to the people—The expected
    rush—General visitors—Professional visitors—An
    interrogator—Edward disbelieved—“The thing
    impossible”—Edward’s vindication—Invites his mill
    mates—Temperance and drunkenness—Edward a mystery—A
    lady visitor—Appeals to “The Millions”—The exhibition
    a failure—Edward in despair—The beach—The flock of
    Sanderlings—The Providential Bird—The collection
    sold—Departure from Aberdeen                          153-180



  Re-enters his desolate dwelling—Return of his
    family—Begins again—Redoubles his zeal—His
    paraphernalia—Ramble in the Balloch Hills—A
    successful search—A furious storm comes on—Crossing
    the moor—A haven—The chip-boxes destroyed—A terrible
    woman—His hat and insect boxes—How to preserve—A
    referee—Edward’s certificate from the Justices—Love of
    birdnesting—Accident at Tarlair—Falls from a cliff, and
    is rescued—Draws on his Savings Bank                  181-202



  The Rev. Mr. Smith—The Bridled Guillemot—Grammar—Scraps
    from the newspapers—The Death’s-head Moth—Butterflies
    and locusts—_Locusta migratoria_—Saw-flies—The
    Spider—Notes in Natural History—Rare birds—The
    Bee-eater—The Bohemian Waxwing—The Brown Snipe-Edward’s
    pursuit—The Snipe escapes—Adventure on Gamrie
    Head—The Fox’s lair—The precipice—The Peregrine
    Falcon-Feeds upon its prey—Flight of the Falcon—Slides
    down the rocks—Discovers a Spinous Shark—Returns
    home                                                  203-229



  Mr. Smith’s articles published in the
    _Zoologist_—Edward’s power of observation described—The
    beautiful Heron—Cries of the Birds at Ness Bogie—The
    motherly Wild Duck—Burial of the Wild Duck—The
    Pickietars—The Pickietar fishing—The Pickietar
    shot—Rescued by his friends—Edward’s closeness
    of observation—The Turnstone—Its description—Its
    labours—The Turnstones turn over a Cod—The little
    Auk—Sea-fowl nurseries—Pennan—Sleeps in Hell’s Lum—The
    sea-birds at night                                    230-251



  Death of the Rev. Mr. Smith—Mr. Smith’s
    helpfulness—Observation of the Partridge—The Rev.
    Alexander Boyd—Loch of Strathbeg—The Waterfowl
    at Strathbeg—Swans—Geese—Ducks—Winter and summer
    birds—The Ring Dotterel—A pursuit—Mr. Boyd’s
    article—Encouragement of native talent and genius—Death
    of Mr. Boyd—Publication of ‘Birds of Strathbeg’ in
    _Naturalist_—Mr. C. W. Peach—Writes articles for the
    _Zoologist_—Finches—Crows and Crab-shells—The Heron
    and the Crows—A fight in the air—Crows, Hares, and
    Rabbits—Cold and Whisky—Edward’s health fails—Again
    draws on his Savings Bank                             252-278



  Marine objects on the shores of Banffshire—Edward’s
    sea-traps—Captures a rare fish, Bloch’s Gurnard—The
    incoming wave—Big fish the best dredgers—Helped by
    the fishermen—Helped by his daughters—The Cod’s
    bill of fare—Haddocks—Advice to the fishermen—The
    fishers of Macduff—The Blue-striped Wrasse—The
    Saury Pike—Yarrell’s Blenny—Black Goby—Equoreal
    Needle-fish—Edward’s self-education—How he got
    his fishes named—“Give him books!”—Edward’s
    enthusiasm                                            279-296



  Mr. Bate of Plymouth—His work on Crustacea—_Praniza
    Edwardii_—The Anceus—Edward’s letter to Mr.
    Bate—Entomostraca—Parasites from short Sun-fish—Present
    of a Microscope—A possible Sub-curatorship—Edward
    disappointed—Freemasonry among naturalists—Rev.
    A. M. Norman—Fish parasites—_Mysis spinifera_—New
    species discovered—_Vibilia borealis_—Observation of
    _Eurydice pulchra_—Edward’s difficulties—Nest building
    crustacea—New Shrimps and Parasites—The Zoologists in
    ecstasies—The “_Sessile-eyed Crustacea_” published—Mr.
    Bate’s eulogiums on Edward’s discoveries—New Crustacea
    found by Edward in the Moray Firth                    297-323



  Edward brings home Zoophytes to observe—The Star-fish—The
    Brittle Stars—A six legged Starfish—Rosy-feather
    Star—The great Sea-cucumber—Dead Man’s Paps—The
    Ascidians—Want of observers—New Ascidian sent to Mr.
    Alder—Drummond’s Echiodon—Mr. Couch of Polperro—The
    Wrasses—A jumping Wrasse—A new Midge—_Couchia
    Thompsoni_—Colonel Montague—Montague’s Midge—Midges in
    Moray Firth—Edward’s Midge (_Couchia Edwardii_)—Other
    new fishes—Difficulties with the Museum—Edward elected
    Associate of the Linnean Society—Other societies elect
    him member—The “prophet without honour in his own
    country”                                              324-349



  Edward’s illness—Studies galvanism—Curator of Banff
    Museum—Practises Photography—Antiquities of Banff—The
    old Town Cross—The Drinking Fountain—The Kjökken
    Mödding at Boyndie—Early population, Lapps or
    Fins—Shelly-bush—Investigates the shell mounds at
    Boyndie—Loch of Spynie—Contents of the shell-mounds—The
    Stone period—The Old Bone—Conjectures about it—The
    old bone condemned—Sir Roderick Murchison—The bone,
    part of the _Plesiosaurus dolichodeiras_—Banff
    Museum                                                350-372



  Edward’s labours drawing to a close—Still craves after
    Nature—His wife accompanies him to Huntly—Traps at
    Tarlair—Another discovery to announce—Nilsson’s
    Goby—His numerous discoveries—His observations at last
    accredited—His self-reliance and perseverance—His
    sobriety—His family—His power of Will—Pride—Never
    despair—Money considerations—Things he has _not_
    done—Edward at home—His outside helpers—His
    failures—“HERE I AM STILL”                            373-388


    MAMMALS        391-394
    BIRDS          394-417
    FISHES         417-429
    CRUSTACEA      430-438



  PORTRAIT OF THOMAS EDWARD.   _Etched by P. Rajon._    _Frontispiece._

                                   _Engraved by_
  BANKS AND BRAES O’ DON          _J. W. Whymper._    _To face page_ 1
  AULTEN LINKS, ABERDEEN               ”                     _page_ 42
  BRIG O’ BALGOWNIE                    ”             _To face page_ 48
  THE SPIRES OF ST. MACHAR             ”                     _page_ 49
  CHARLES BEGG’S SHOP, GALLOWGATE      ”                     _page_ 55
  GRANDHOLM MILLS                      ”                         ”  60
  RUINS OF DUNNOTTAR CASTLE       _J. D. Cooper._                ”  63
  DISTANT VIEW OF MONTROSE        _J. W. Whymper._               ”  65
        FRIDAYS                   _J. D. Cooper._                ”  79
  BOYNDIE CHURCHYARD              _J. W. Whymper._  _To face page_ 100
  THE CASTLE OF THE BOYNE         _J. D. Cooper._          ”       116
  FRASERBURGH                     _J. W. Whymper._          _page_ 128
  BAY OF ABERDOUR                 _J. D. Cooper._             ”    134
  MOUTH OF THE DON                _J. W. Whymper._  _To face page_ 176
  THE SHORE AT ABERDEEN                   ”                 _page_ 180
        OF BANFFSHIRE             _J. D. Cooper._   _To face page_ 196
  GAMRIE HEAD                     _J. W. Whymper._         ”       218
  VILLAGE OF PENNAN               _J. D. Cooper._          ”       250
  RED HEAD OF PENNAN              _J. W. Whymper._          _page_ 251
        LINKS                     _J. W. Whymper._             ”   278
  BROADSEA, NEAR FRASERBURGH      _J. D. Cooper._              ”   291
  SPYNIE CASTLE AND LOCH          _J. W. Whymper._             ”   359
  BANFF MUSEUM                          ”                      ”   372
  “HERE I AM STILL”                     ”           _To face page_ 388
        BANFF                     _J. D. Cooper._           _page_ 438


    PRANIZA EDWARDII                                        ”      299
    NESTS OF NEST-BUILDING CRUSTACEA                        ”      312
    EDWARD’S MIDGE (COUCHIA EDWARDII)                       ”      344
    THE OLD BONE IN BANFF MUSEUM                            ”      369

[Illustration: BANKS AND BRAES O’ DON.]




THOMAS EDWARD was born at Gosport, Portsmouth, on Christmas day, 1814.
His father, John Edward, was a private in the Fifeshire Militia.
Shortly after his enlistment at Cupar, he went to Aberdeen to join
his regiment. While stationed there, he became acquainted with, and
afterwards married, Margaret Mitchell, a native of the place.

Not long after John Edward’s marriage, his regiment was ordered to
Portsmouth. Towards the close of the continental war, militia regiments
were marched hither and thither, from one end of the country to
another. The regular troops had mostly left England, to meet the armies
of Napoleon in the Peninsula and the Low Countries. The militia were
assembled in camps along the coast, or were stationed in garrisons to
hold watch and ward over the French prisoners confined there. Hence the
appearance of the Fifeshire militia at Gosport, where the subject of
our story was born.

[Sidenote: _VILLAGE OF KETTLE._]

When the battle of Waterloo had been fought, and peace fell upon
Europe, the English army returned from abroad. The militia were no
longer needed for garrison duty, and the greater number of them were
sent home. The Fifeshire Militia were ordered to Fife, and took up
their quarters at Cupar. During that time, John Edward’s wife and
family resided at the village of Kettle, about six miles south-west of
the county town. They lived there, because John was a native of the
place, and had many relatives in the village.

At length the militia were disembodied. Edward returned to Kettle,
and resumed his trade of a hand-loom cotton weaver. After remaining
there for some time, he resolved to leave for Aberdeen. His wife liked
neither the place nor the people. Kettle was a long straggling sleepy
village. The people were poor, and employment was difficult to be had.
Hence Edward did not require much persuasion to induce him to leave
Kettle and settle in Aberdeen, where his wife would be amongst her own
people, and where he would be much more likely to find work and wages
to enable him to maintain his increasing family.


Arrived at Aberdeen, John Edward and his wife “took up house” in the
Green, one of the oldest quarters of the city. Their house stood at
the head of the Green, near Hadden’s “Woo mill.” The remains of the
old Green were lower down the hill. The Denburn ran at the foot of the
Street. There were also the Inches, near the mouth of the Dee, over
which the tide flowed daily.

Since then, the appearance of that part of Aberdeen has become entirely
changed. Railways have blotted out many of the remnants of old
cities.[1] The Green is now covered with houses, factories, and the
Aberdeen Railway Station,—its warehouses, sidings, and station rooms. A
very fine bridge has been erected over the Green, now forming part of
Union Street; the Palace Hotel overlooking the railway station and the
surrounding buildings.

Thomas Edward was brought up in his parents’ house in the Green, such
as it was sixty years ago. It is difficult to describe how he became
a naturalist. He himself says he could never tell. Various influences
determine the direction of a boy’s likings and dislikings. Boys who
live in the country are usually fond of birds and bird-nesting; just as
girls who live at home are fond of dolls and doll-keeping. But this boy
had more than the ordinary tendency to like living things. He wished
to live amongst them. He made pets of them; and desired to have them
constantly about him.

[Sidenote: _THE UNRULY CHILD._]

From his birth he was difficult to manage. His mother said of him that
he was the worst child she had ever nursed. He was never a moment at
rest. His feet and legs seemed to be set on springs. When only about
four months old, he leapt from his mother’s arms, in the vain endeavour
to catch some flies buzzing in the window. She clutched him by his long
clothes, and saved him from falling to the ground. He began to walk
when he was scarce ten months old, and screamed when any one ventured
to touch him. And thus he went on, observing and examining,—as full of
liking for living things as he was when he tried to grasp the flies in
the window at Gosport.


When afterwards asked about the origin of his love for Natural History,
he said, “I suppose it must have originated in the same internal
impulse which prompted me to catch those flies in the window. This
unseen something—this double being, or call it what you will—inherent
in us all, whether used for good or evil, which stimulated the
unconscious babe to get at, no doubt, the first living animals he
had ever seen, at length grew in the man into an irresistible and
unconquerable passion, and engendered in him an insatiable longing for,
and earnest desire to be always amongst such things. This is the only
reason I can give for becoming a lover of Nature. I know of none other.”

While living at Kettle, the child began to walk. He made friends with
the cats and dogs about the house. He was soon able to toddle out of
doors. At first, he wished to cultivate the acquaintance of the cocks
and hens and ducks, of which the village was full. But they always ran
away before he could get up to them and caress them.

There was, however, another, and a much more dangerous creature, whose
acquaintance he sought to make. This was a sow called Bet, with a
litter of pigs. Whenever he was missing, he was found looking in at the
pigs. He could not climb over the paling, but could merely look through
the splits.

The sow was known to be ferocious, and she was most so when she had a
litter of pigs. Edward’s mother was afraid lest the sow should injure
him by biting his hands or face through the bars of the cruive.[2]
Therefore she warned him not to go near the beast. But her warnings
were disregarded. When she asked, “Where’s Tam?” the answer invariably
was, “Oh! he’s awa wi’ the pigs.”

[Sidenote: “_STOLEN BY THE GYPSIES._”]

One day the boy disappeared. Every hen-house, every stable, every
pigstye, and every likely corner of the village, was searched; but
in vain. Tom was lost! He was then little over a year old. He could
not have gone very far. Somebody raised the cry that he had been
“stolen by the gipsies!” It was remembered that some tinkers had been
selling their brooms and pans in the village that afternoon; and it
was immediately concluded that they had kidnapped the child. It was
not so very unreasonable after all. Adam Smith, the author of the
_Wealth of Nations_, had been kidnapped by a gipsy woman when a child
at Kirkcaldy, many years before; and such things live long in popular

A hue-and-cry was accordingly got up in Kettle about the bairn that
had been stolen by the gipsies. Their camp was known to be in the
neighbourhood,—about three miles off. Tom’s uncle and three other
men volunteered to go early next morning. The neighbours went to
their homes, except two, who remained with the mother. She sat by the
fire all night,—a long, wretched, dreary night. Early in the morning
the four men started. They found the gipsy camp, and stated their
grievance. They “wanted the child that had been kidnapped yesterday.”
“What?” said the chief gipsy; “we never kidnap children; such a
dishonest deed has never been laid to our charge. But, now that you are
here, you had better look for yourselves.”

As the searchers were passing through among the carts and tents, they
were set upon by a number of women and girls, and belaboured with
every kind of weapon and missile. Those who had neither sticks nor
ropes, used their claws. The men were unmercifully pummelled and
scratched before they could make their escape. They reached Kettle in a
deplorable state,—but without the child!

All hopes of his recovery in that quarter being ended, another body of
men prepared to set out in another direction. But at this moment they
were amazed by a scream outside the house. All eyes were turned to the
door, when in rushed the pig-wife, and, without the least ceremony,
threw the child into his mother’s lap. “There, woman, there’s yer
bairn! but for God’s sake keep him awa frae yon place, or he may fare
war next time.” “But whar was he?” they exclaimed in a breath. “Whar
wud he be but below Bet and her pigs a’ nicht!”[3]


When the family removed to Aberdeen, young Edward was in his glory.
The place where he lived was close to the outside of the town. He was
enabled to roam into the country by way of Deeside and Ferryhill. Close
at hand were the Inches,—not the Inches of to-day—but the beautiful
green Inches of sixty years ago, covered with waving algæ. There, too,
grew the scurvy grass, and the beautiful sea daisy. Between the Inches,
were channels through which the tide flowed, with numerous pots or
hollows. These were the places for bandies, eels, crabs, and worms.


Above the Inches, the town’s manure was laid down,—at a part now
covered by the railway station. The heaps were remarkably prolific
in beetles, rats, sparrows, and numerous kinds of flies. Then the
Denburn, at the foot of the Green, yielded no end of horse-leeches,
powets (tadpoles), frogs, and other creatures that abound in fresh or
muddy water. The boy used daily to play at these places, and brought
home with him his “venomous beasts,” as the neighbours called them. At
first they consisted, for the most part, of tadpoles, beetles, snails,
frogs, sticklebacks, and small green crabs (the young of the _Carcinus
mœnas_); but as he grew older, he brought home horse-leeches, asks
(newts), young rats—a nest of young rats was a glorious prize—field
mice and house mice, hedgehogs, moles, birds, and birds’ nests of
various kinds.

The fishes and birds were easily kept; but as there was no secure
place for the puddocks, horse-leeches, rats, and such like,—they
usually made their escape into the adjoining houses, where they were
by no means welcome guests. The neighbours complained of the venomous
creatures which the young naturalist was continually bringing home. The
horse-leeches crawled up their legs and stuck to them, fetching blood;
the puddocks and asks roamed about the floors; and the beetles, moles,
and rats, sought for holes wherever they could find them.


The boy was expostulated with. His mother threw out all his
horse-leeches, crabs, birds, and birds’ nests; and he was strictly
forbidden to bring such things into the house again. But it was of
no use. The next time that he went out to play, he brought home as
many of his “beasts” as before. He was then threatened with corporal
punishment. But that very night he brought in a nest of young rats. He
was then flogged. But it did him no good. The disease, if it might be
so called, was so firmly rooted in him, as to be entirely beyond the
power of outward appliances. And so it was found in the end.

Words and blows having failed to produce any visible effect, it was
determined to keep him in the house as much as possible. His father,
who was a handloom weaver, went to his work early in the morning, and
returned late at night. His meals were sent to him during the day.
The mother, who had her husband’s pirns to fill, besides attending to
her household work, was frequently out of the way; and as soon as she
disappeared, Tom was off to the Inches. When any one made a remark
about her negligence in not keeping a tighter hold of the boy, her
answer was, “Weel, I canna be aye at his heels.” Sometimes he was set
to rock the cradle. But on his mother’s arrival at home, she found
the rocker had disappeared. He was also left to play with the younger
children; but he soon left them to play by themselves.

He was occasionally sent a message, though he rarely fulfilled it.
He went to his old haunts, regardless of the urgency of the message.
One morning he was sent to his father’s workshop with his breakfast;
but instead of going there, he set off for the Stocket, several miles
from town, with two other loons.[4] Tom induced them to accompany him.
The Stocket was a fine place for birds and birds’ nests. They searched
all day, and returned home at night. The father never received his
breakfast. It was eaten by Edward and the loons.


As a punishment for his various misdoings, he was told one morning
that he was to be confined to the house all day. It was a terrible
punishment, at least to him. Only a portion of his clothes was given
him, that he might not go out; and as a further precaution, his mother
tied him firmly to the table leg with a thick wisp of thrums. She
also tied his wrists together with a piece of cord. When she went out
on family affairs, Tom’s little sister was set to watch him. But he
disengaged himself from his bonds almost as quickly as the Davenport
brothers. With a mixture of promises and threats, he made his little
sister come to his help; and the two together pushed the table close to
the grate, when putting the rope which confined his legs between the
ribs, it soon burnt asunder, and he was free. He next tried to find his
clothes, but his mother had hidden them too securely. He found a coat
of his elder brother’s, much too big for himself: nevertheless he put
it on.

[Sidenote: _SETS HOUSE ON FIRE._]

His mother’s feet were now heard on the stair. Tom hid himself at the
back of the door, so that he might rush out as soon as she entered. The
door was opened, his mother rushed in screaming, and Tom ran away. The
table to which the rope had been attached was on fire, and the house
would soon have been in a blaze. In quenching the flames of the rope
attached to the boy’s leg, he had forgotten, in his hurry, to quench
the burning of the rope still attached to the table. Hence the fire.
But Tom was now at liberty. He soon got rid of his shackles, and spent
a glorious day out of doors. He had a warm homecoming at night, but the
less said of that the better.

[Sidenote: _AGAIN ESCAPES._]

In fact, the boy was found to be thoroughly incorrigible. He was
self-willed, determined, and stubborn. As he could not be kept at
home, and would not go a message, but was always running after his
“beasts,” his father at last determined to take his clothes from him
altogether. So, one morning when he went to work, he carried them with
him. When the boy got up, and found that he had nothing to wear, he was
in a state of great dismay. His mother, having pinned a bit of an old
petticoat round his neck, said to him, “I am sure you’ll be a prisoner
this day.” But no! His mother went downstairs for milk, leaving him in
the house. He had tied a string round his middle, to render himself a
little more fit for moving about. He followed his mother downstairs,
and hid himself at the back of the entry door; and as soon as she had
passed in, Tom bolted out, ran down the street, and immediately was at
his old employment of hunting for crabs, horse-leeches, puddocks, and

His father, on coming home at night with Tom’s clothes in his hand,
looked round the room, and asked, “Is he in bed?” “Na!” “Far[5] is
he?” “Weel, I left him here when I gaed to the door for milk, and
when I came back he was awa; but whether he gaed out o’ the window or
up the lum[6] I canna tell.” “Did ye gie him ony claes?” “No!” “Most
extraordinary!” exclaimed the father, sitting down in his chair. He was
perfectly thunderstruck. His supper was waiting for him, but he could
not partake of it. A neighbouring woman shortly after entered, saying,
“Meggy, he’s come!” “Oh, the nickem,”[7] said Tom’s mother, “surely
he’s dead wi’ cauld by this time. Fat _can_ we do wi’ him? Oh, Mrs.
Kelman, he’ll break my very heart. Think o’ him being oot for haill
days without ony meat. Often he’s oot afore he gets his breakfast, and
we winna see him again till night. Only think that he’s been out a’ the
day ’maist naked! We canna get him keepit in frae thae beasts o’ his!”


“He’ll soon get tired o’ that,” said Mrs. Kelman, “if ye dinna lick
him.” “Never,” roared old Edward; “I’ll chain him in the house, and
see if that will cool him.” “But,” rejoined Mrs. Kelman, “ye maunna
touch him the night, John.” “I’ll chain him to the grate! But where is
he? Bring him here.” “He’s at my fireside.” By this time Tom, having
followed at her heels, and heard most of what was said about him, was
ready to enter as she came out. “Far hae ye been, you scamp?” asked his
mother. “At the Tide!” His father on looking up, and seeing the boy
with the old petticoat about him, bedabbled by the mud in which he had
been playing, burst into a fit of laughter. He leant back on his chair,
and laughed till he could laugh no more.

“Oh, laddie,” said the mother, “ye needna look at me in that way. It’s
you that he’s laughin’ at, you’re sic a comical sicht. Ye’ll gang to
that stinkin’ place, man, till ye droun yoursel, and sine ye winna
come back again.” Tom was then taken in hand, cleaned and scrubbed,
and put to bed. Next morning his father, before he went out, appeared
at the boy’s bedside, and said, “If ye go out this day, sir, I’ll have
you chained.” “But,” replied Tom, “ye hinna a cooch;”[8] for he had
no notion of anything being chained but dogs. “Never mind,” said his
father, “I’ll chain you!”

[Sidenote: _IS LAID UP BY FEVER._]

The boy had no inclination to rise that day. He was hot and cold
alternately. When he got up in the afternoon, he was in a “gruize.”[9]
Then he went to bed again. By the evening he was in a hot fever. Next
day he was worse. He raved, and became delirious. He rambled about his
beasts and his birds. Then he ceased to speak. His mouth became clammy
and his tongue black. He hung between life and death for several weeks.
At length the fever spent itself, leaving him utterly helpless.

One afternoon, as he was gradually getting better, he observed his
mother sitting by his bedside. “Mother,” said he, “where are my crabs
and bandies that I brocht hame last nicht?” “Crabs and bandies!” said
she, “ye’re surely gaun gyte;[10] it’s three months sin ye were oot!”
This passed the boy’s comprehension. His next question was, “Has my
father gotten the chains yet?” “Na, laddie, nor winna; but ye maunna
gang back to yer auld places for beasts again.” “But where’s a’ my
things, mother?” “They’re awa! The twa bottoms o’ broken bottles we
found in the entry, the day you fell ill, were both thrown out.” “And
the shrew mouse ye had in the boxie?” “Calton (the cat) took it.” This
set the boy a-crying, and in that state he fell asleep, and did not
waken till late next morning,—when he felt considerably better. He
still, however, continued to make inquiries after his beasts.

His father, being in-doors, and seeing the boy rising and leaning upon
his elbow, said to him, “Come awa, laddie. It’s long since ye were oot.
The whins, and birds, and water-dogs[11] at Daiddie Brown’s burnie,
will be a’ langin to see ye again.” The boy looked at his mother, and
smiled, but said nothing. In a few days he was able to rise, but the
spring was well advanced before he was able to go out of doors.

[Sidenote: _HIS RECOVERY._]

He then improved rapidly. He was able to go farther and farther every
day. At first he wandered along the beach. Then he roamed about
over the country. He got to know the best nesting places—the woods,
plantations, and hedges,—the streams, burns, locks, and mill-dams,—all
round Aberdeen. When the other boys missed a nest, it was always “that
loon Edward” that took it. For this he was thrashed, though he was only
about four years old.


One of his favourite spots was the Den[12] and quarries of Rubislaw.
There were five excellent places in the Den for birds’ nests and wild
flowers. But he went to the quarries chiefly to find the big bits
of sheep’s silver or mica in the face of the rocks. Edward was much
astonished at the size of the rocks. He knew how birds made their
nests; he knew how flowers and whins grew out of the ground; but he
did not know how rocks grew. He asked his parents for the reason. They
told him that these rocks had existed from the beginning. This did not
satisfy him, and he determined to ask one of the men at the quarry,
who certainly ought to know how the rocks grew. “How do the rocks
grow?” asked he of a quarryman one day. “Fat say ye?” Tom repeated the
question. “To the deil wi’ ye, ye impudent brat, or I’ll toss ye owre
the head o’ the quarry!” Tom took to his heels and fled, never looking

Another favourite haunt was Daiddie Brown’s burnie. There were
plantations and hedges near it, and fields close at hand on either
side. Its banks were thickly clothed with wild raspberries and
whins—the habitats of numerous birds. The burn itself had plenty of
water-dogs, or water-rats, along its banks. That neighbourhood has now
been entirely overbuilt. The trees, the hedges, the whins, and even the
burn itself, have all been swept away.


Tom’s knowingness about birds’ nests attracted many of his boy-fellows
to accompany him in his expeditions. He used to go wandering on,
forgetful of time, until it became very late. On such occasions, the
parents of the boys became very anxious about them; and knowing that
Tam Edward was the cause of their being kept so long away from home,
they forbade them accompanying him again on any account. When he asked
them to go with him a-birdnesting, their answer usually was, “Wha wad
gang wi’ you? ye never come hame!” Even when Tom did get any boys to
follow him, he usually returned alone.

[Sidenote: _“A BYKE” IN THE WOOD._]

On one occasion he got some boys to accompany him to a wood at Polmuir,
about two miles from town, on a birdnesting expedition. While they were
going through the wood, a little separated, one of them called out, “A
byke, a byke,[13] stickin’ on a tree, and made o’ paper!” A byke was
regarded as a glorious capture, not only for the sake of the honey,
but because of the fun the boys had in skelpin’ out the bees. Before
they had quite reached the spot, one of the youngest boys yelled out,
“Oh! I’m stung, I’m stung!” He took to his feet, and they all followed.
After they had run some distance, and there being no appearance of a
foe, a halt was made, and they stood still to consider the state of
affairs. But all that could be ascertained was, that the byke was on a
tree, that it was made of paper, and that it had lots of yellow bees
about it.

This so excited Tom’s curiosity that he at once proposed to go back
and take down the paper byke. His proposal was met with a decided
refusal; and on his insisting upon going back, all the other boys ran
away home. Nothing daunted, however, he went back to that part of the
wood where the byke had been seen. He found it, and was taking it from
the under side of the branch to which it was attached, when a bee lit
upon one of his fingers, and stung it severely. The pain was greater
than from any sting that he had ever had before. He drew back, and
sucked and blew the wound alternately, in order to relieve the pain.

[Sidenote: _SECURES THE BYKE._]

Then he thought, “What can I do next?” There the byke hung before him.
It was still in his power to remove it,—if he could. To leave it was
impossible. Although he had nothing to defend himself from the attacks
of the bees, nor anything to put the byke into when he had taken it
down, still he would not go without it. His bonnet could scarcely do.
It was too little and too holey. His stockings would not do; because he
wished to take the byke home whole. A thought struck him. There was his
shirt! That would do. So he took off his jacket, and disrobed himself
of his shirt. Approaching the tree very gently, though getting numerous
stings by the way, he contrived to remove the byke from the branch to
which it was hanging, and tucked it into his shirt. He tied the whole
up into a sort of round knot, so as to keep all in that was in.

It was now getting quite dark, and he hurried away with his prize.
He got home in safety. He crept up the stair, and peeped in at the
keyhole, to see that the coast was clear. But no! he saw his father
sitting in his chair. There was an old iron pot in a recess on one side
of the stair, in which Tom used to keep his numerous “things,” and
there he deposited his prize until he could unpack it in the morning.
He now entered the house as if nothing had happened. “Late as usual,
Tam,” said his father. No further notice was taken. Tom got his supper
shortly after, and went to bed.

Before getting into bed, he went a little out of way to get undressed,
and then, as much unseen as possible, he crept down beneath the
blankets. His brother, having caught sight of his nudity, suddenly
called out, “Eh, mother, mother, look at Tam! he hasna gotten on his
sark!” Straightway his mother appeared at the bedside, and found
that the statement was correct. Then the father made his appearance.
“Where’s your shirt, sir?” “I dinna ken.” “What! dinna ken!” addressing
his wife—“Where’s my strap?” Tom knew the power of the strap, and found
that there was no hope of escaping it.

The strap was brought! “Now, sir, tell me this instant, where is your
shirt?” “It’s in the bole on the stair.” “Go and get it, and bring it
here immediately.” Tom went and brought it, sorrowfully enough, for he
dreaded the issue. “And what have you got in it?” “A yellow bumbees’
byke.” “A what?” exclaimed his father and mother in a breath. “A yellow
bumbees’ byke.” “Did I not tell you, sir,” said his father, “only the
other day, and made you promise me, not to bring any more of these
things into the house, endangering and molesting us as well as the
whole of our neighbours. Besides only think of your stripping yourself
in a wood, to get off your shirt to hold a bees’ byke!”

“But this is a new ane,” said Tom, “it’s made o’ paper.” “Made o’
fiddlesticks!” “Na, I’ll let ye see it.” “Let it alone, I don’t want to
see it. Go to bed at once, sir, or I shall give you something (shaking
his strap) that will do you more good than bees’ bykes!”

[Sidenote: _THE WASP’S NEST._]

Before the old couple went to bed, they put Tom’s shirt into a big
bowl, poured a quantity of boiling water over it, and after it was
cold, they opened the shirt, and found—a Wasps’ Nest!


[1] Some antiquarian writers are of opinion that “The Green” was the
site of ancient Aberdeen. For instance, Sir Samuel Forbes of Foveran,
in his _Description of Aberdeenshire_ (1715), says, “From the end of
the last-mentioned straight street [the Upper Kirkgate], there runs
another southward and obliquely [the Nether Kirkgate], leading also to
the town churches, and terminates in a pretty broad street, lying flat,
and called the Green, the seat of the ancient city; where the river Dee
receives a small rivulet, called the Denburn, covered with a bridge of
three arches.”—Turreffs’s _Antiquarian Gleanings_, 290.

[2] _Cruive_, a pigstye.

[3] The question occurred, How did the child get amongst the pigs? He
could not have climbed over the paling; he must have been lifted over.
There was an old sweetheart of the quondam militiaman, whom he had
deserted in favour of Margaret Mitchell. It was believed that she had
maliciously lifted the child over the palings, and put him amongst the
pigs, most probably from spite against her old lover.

[4] In the north, _loons_ and _queans_ are boys and girls.

[5] The pronunciation of the Aberdeenshire dialect is peculiar. For
instance, _far_ is where; _fat_, what; _tee_, to; _dee_, do; _feel_,
fool; _peer_, poor; _byeuk_, book; _been_, bone, etc. It is said that
Jane Maxwell, the handsome and beautiful Duchess of Gordon, was in the
habit of amusing George III. by repeating phrases in Aberdonian doric;
and that his Majesty plumed himself on his ability to interpret them.
The Duchess one day tried his mettle with the following: “A gangrel
bodie oot o’ the toon o’ Stanhive was i’ the way o’ wan’erin the
kwintra wi’ a bit basket owre ’er gardie, crying, ‘Fa’ll buy my black
doctors fulpit in a peel?’” The gangrel bodie was a leech-seller of
Stonehaven, and of course the “doctors” were “whelped” in a pool.

[6] _Lum_, chimney.

[7] _Nickem_, a person given to mischievous tricks. The word is also
used as an endearing phrase: my _bonnie nickem_ is equivalent to my
_little dear_.

[8] _Cooch_, a dog-kennel.

[9] _Gruize_, a rigor, generally preceding a cold or fever.

[10] _Gaun gyte_, becoming insane, or acting foolishly.

[11] Water-rats.

[12] _Den_, dean, a dingle or small valley.

[13] _Byke_, a bees’ nest.



EDWARD was between four and five years old when he went to school. He
was sent there principally that he might be kept out of harm’s way. He
did not go willingly; for he was of a roving, wandering disposition,
and did not like to be shut up anywhere. He hated going to school. He
was confined there about four hours a day. It might seem very little
to some, but it was too much for him. He wanted to be free to roam
about the Inches, up the Denburn, and along the path to Rubislaw,

The first school to which he was sent was a dame’s school. It was kept
by an old woman called Bell Hill. It was for the most part a girls’
school, but Bell consented to take the boy because she knew his mother,
and wished to oblige her. The schoolroom was situated at the top of a
long stair. In fact, it was the garret of an ordinary dwelling-house.

We have said that Tom did not like school. He could not be reconciled
to spend his time there. Thus he often played the truant. He was
sometimes arrested on his way to school by the fish-market. It was then
held in the Shiprow, where the post-office now stands. There were long
rows of benches on which the fish were spread out. The benches were
covered in, and afforded an excellent shelter on a rainy day.

[Sidenote: _THE FISH-MARKET._]

Tom was well known to the fishwives. “Here comes the queer laddie,”
they would say as they saw him approaching. And when he came up, they
would ask him, “Weel, man, fat are ye gaun to speer[14] the day?” Tom’s
inquiries were usually about fish—where they came from, what their
names were, what was the difference between the different fishes, and
so on. The fish-market was also a grand place for big blue flies, great
beetles with red and yellow backs (burying beetles), and daylight
rottens. They were the tamest rats he had ever seen, excepting two that
he used to carry about in his pockets. His rats knew him as well as a
dog knows his master.

But Tom’s playing the truant and lingering about the fish-market soon
became known to his mother; and then she sent for _her_ mother, Tom’s
grannie, to take him to school. She was either to see him “in at the
door,” or accompany him into the school itself. But Tom did not like
the supervision of his grannie. He rebelled against it. He played
the truant under her very eyes. When grannie put him in at the door,
calling out “Bell!” to the schoolmistress upstairs, Tom would wait
until he thought the old woman was sufficiently distant, and then
steal out, and run away, by cross streets, to the Denburn or the

But that kind of truant-playing also got to be known; and then grannie
had to drag him to school. When she seized him by the “scruff o’ the
neck,” she had him quite tight. It was of no use attempting to lie down
or sit down. Her hand was like a vice, and she kept him straight upon
his feet. He tried to wriggle, twist, turn himself round as on a pivot,
and then make a bolt. She nevertheless held on, and dragged him to
school, into the presence of Bell Hill, and said, “Here’s your truant!”
Tom’s only chance was to go along very quietly, making no attempt to
escape grannie’s clutches, and then, watching for an opportunity, he
would make a sudden dart and slip through her fingers. He ran, and she
ran; but in running, Tom far outstripped her, for though grannie’s legs
were very much longer than his, they were also very much stiffer.


The boy was sent one morning to buy three rolls for breakfast; but
after he had bought the rolls, instead of going home, he forgathered
with three loons, and accompanied them to the Denburn. He got a lot of
horse-leeches, and was in the act of getting another when, looking in
the water, he saw the reflection of grannie approaching. When he felt
her fingers touching his neck, he let go the stone under which the
horse-leech was, and made a sudden bound to the other side of the burn.
He heard a heavy splash in the water. His comrades called out, “Tam,
Tam, yer grannie’s droonin’!” But Tam neither stopped nor looked back.
He flew as fast as he could to the Inches, where he stopped to take
breath. The tide coming in, drove him away, and then he took refuge on
the logs, near the Middens; after which he slunk home in the evening.

His mother received him thus: “Ye’re here again, ye ne’er-do-well!
creepin in like a thief. Ye’ve been wi’ yer raggamuffins: yer weet duds
tell that. That’s wi’ yer Inches, an’ tearin an’ ridin on the logs, an’
yer whin bushes. But ye may think muckle black shame o’ yersel, man,
for gaun and droonin yer peer auld grannie.” “I didna droon her,” said
Tom. “But she may hae been drooned for you; ye didna stay to tak her
oot.” “She fell in hersell.” “Haud yer tongue, or I’ll take the poker
t’ye. Think shame, man, to send her hame in sic a filthy state. But
where’s the bread I sent ye for?” “It’s a’ eaten.” “We wad hae had a
late breakfast if we had waited till now, and sine ye’ve no gottin it
after a’. But yell see what yer faither ’ill say to ye when he gets

[Sidenote: _TOM AND HIS GRANNIE._]

Tom was in bed by that time. He remained awake until his father
returned in the evening. He was told the whole story by his wife, in
its most dreadful details. When he heard of grannie’s plash into the
burn, and coming home covered with “glaur,” he burst out into a long
and hearty laugh. Tom heard it with joy. The father then remarked
that grannie should “beware of going so near the edge of such a dirty
place.” Then Tom felt himself reprieved, and shortly after fell asleep.


The scapegrace returned to school. He did not learn a great deal. He
had been taught by his mother his A B C, and to read words of three
letters. He did not learn much more at Bell Hill’s school. Bell’s
qualifications as a teacher were not great. Nevertheless, the education
that she gave was a religious education. She prayed, or as Edward
called it, “groaned” with the children twice a day. And it was during
one of her devotional exercises that the circumstance occurred which
compelled Bell Hill to expel Tom Edward from her school.

Edward had been accustomed to bring many of his “beasts” with him to
school. The scholars were delighted with his butterflies; but few of
them cared to be bitten or stung by his other animals. And to have
horse-leeches crawling about them was unendurable. Thus Edward became
a source of dread and annoyance to the whole school. He was declared
to be a “perfect mischief.” When Bell Hill was informed of the beasts
he brought with him, she used to say to the boy, “Now, do not bring
any more of these nasty and dangerous things here again.” Perhaps he
promised, but generally he forgot.

[Sidenote: _THE “KAE” AT SCHOOL._]

At last he brought with him an animal of a much larger sort than usual.
It was a Kae, or jackdaw. He used to keep it at home, but it made
such a noise that he was sent out with it one morning, with strict
injunctions not to bring it back again. He must let it go, or give it
to somebody else. But he was fond of his kae, and his kae was fond
of him. It would follow him about like a dog. He could not part with
the kae. So he took it to school with him. But how could he hide it?
Little boys’ trousers were in those days buttoned over their vest; and
as Tom’s trousers were pretty wide, he thought he could get the kae in
there. He got it safely into his breeks before he entered the school.

So far so good. But when the schoolmistress gave the word “Pray,” all
the little boys and girls knelt down, turning their backs to Bell.
At this movement the Kae became fractious. He could not accommodate
himself to the altered position. But seeing a little light overhead,
he made for it. He projected his beak through the opening between the
trousers and the vest. He pushed his way upwards; Tom squeezed him
downwards to where he was before. But this only made the Kae furious.
He struggled, forced his way upwards, got his bill through the opening,
and then his head.

The Kae immediately began to _cre-waw! cre-waw!_ “The Lord preserv’s
a’! Fat’s this noo?” cried Bell, starting to her feet. “It’s Tam Edward
again!” shouted the scholars, “wi’ a craw stickin’ oot o’ his breeks!”
Bell went up to him, pulled him up by his collar, dragged him to the
door, thrust him out, and locked the door after him. Edward never saw
Bell Hill again.


The next school to which he was sent was at the Denburn side, near by
the venerable Bow brig, the oldest bridge in Aberdeen,[15] but now
swept away to make room for modern improvements. This school consisted
wholly of boys. The master was well stricken in years. He was one of
the old school, who had great faith in “the taws,”[16] as an instrument
of instruction. Edward would have learnt much more at this school
than at Bell Hill’s, had he not been so near his favourite haunt, the
Denburn. He was making rapid progress with his reading, and was going
on well with his arithmetic, when his usual misfortune occurred.


One day he had gone to school earlier than usual. The door was not
open; and to wile away his time he went down to the Denburn. He found
plenty of horse-leeches, and a number of the grubs of water-flies.
He had put them into the bottom of a broken bottle, when one of the
scholars came running up, crying, “Tam, Tam, the school’s in!” Knowing
the penalty of being behind time, Tom flew after the boy, without
thinking of the bottle he had in his hand. He contrived, however,
to get it into the school, and deposited it in a corner beside him,
without being observed.

All passed on smoothly for about half-an-hour, when one of the scholars
gave a loud scream, and started from his seat. The master’s attention
was instantly attracted, and he came down from the desk, taws in hand.
“What’s this?” he cried. “It’s a horse-leech crawlin’ up my leg!” “A
horse-leech?” “Yes, sir, and see,” pointing to the corner in which
Tom kept his treasure, “there’s a bottle fu’ o’ them!” “Give me the
bottle!” said the master; and, looking at the culprit, he said, “You
come this way, Master Edward!” Edward followed him quaking. On reaching
the desk, he stopped, and holding out the bottle, said, “That’s yours,
is it not?” “Yes.” “Take it then, that is the way out,” pointing to the
door; “go as fast as you can, and never come back; and take that too,”
bringing the taws down heavily upon his back. Tom thought that his back
was broken, and that he would never get his breath again.

A few days after, Tom was preparing to go out, after breakfast, when
his mother asked him, “Where are ye gaun the day, laddie?” “Till my
school,” said he. “To your school, are ye? where is’t? at the Inches,
or the Middens, or Daiddie Brown’s burnie? where is’t?” “At the fit o’
the Green.” “At the fit o’ the Green! But hoo lang is it since ye was
putten awa frae that school?” Tom was silent. He saw that his mother
had been informed of his expulsion.


In a little while she was ready to go out. She took hold of her son by
the cuff of the neck, and took him down to the Green. When she reached
the school, for the purpose of imploring the master to take her son
back, she knocked at the door, and the master at once appeared. Before
she could open her mouth, the master abruptly began, “Don’t bring
that boy here! I’ll not take him back—not though you were to give me
twenty pounds! Neither I, nor my scholars, have had a day’s peace since
he came here.” And with that he shut the door in her face, before
she could utter a single word. She turned and came away, very much
vexed. She kept her grip on the boy, but, standing still to speak to
a neighbour, and her hold getting a little slacker, he made a sudden
bolt, and escaped.

As usual, he crept in late in the evening. His father was at home,
reading. On entering, Tom observed that he stopped, fixing his eyes
upon him over the top of his book, and looked at him steadily for some
time. Then, laying down his book, he said, “And where have you been,
sir?” The boy said nothing. “It’s no wonder that you’re dumb. You’ve
been putten out of your school a second time. You’ll be a disgrace to
all connected wi’ you. You’ll become an idler, a ne’er-do-well. You’ll
get into bad company. You’ll become a thief! Then you’ll get into gaol,
and end your days in misery and shame. Such is the case with all that
neglect their schooling, and disregard what their parents bid them.”

Tom was at last ashamed of himself. He said nothing until supper-time;
and then he asked for his supper, as he was hungry. “Perhaps you are,”
said his father; “and you shall get no supper this night, nor any other
night, until you learn to behave yourself better. Go to bed, sir, this
moment!” Tom slunk away, and got to bed as soon as possible. When the
lights were out, and all were thought to be abed, a light hand removed
the clothes from over Tom’s head, and put something into his hand. He
found it to be “a big dad o’ bread and butter.” It was so like the kind
motherly heart and hand to do this. So Tom had his supper after all.


He was next sent to the Lancaster School in Harriet Street. There were
two masters in this school. The upper classes were in the highest
storey, the other classes in the lowest. The master of the lower class,
to which Tom belonged, knowing his weakness, ordered him, on entering,
not to bring any of his beasts to that school. He was to pay more
attention to his lessons than he had yet done, or he would be punished
severely. He did not bring anything but his school-books for a long
time, but at last his usual temptation befell him. It happened in this

[Sidenote: _THE SPARROW’S NEST._]

On his way to and from school, along School Hill, he observed a
sparrow’s nest built in the corner part of a spout. He greatly envied
the sparrow’s nest. But he could only feast his longing eyes at a
distance. He tried to climb the spout once or twice, but it was too
high, and bulged out at the top. The clamps which held the spout to the
wall were higher at the top than at the bottom. He had almost given up
the adventure in despair, when one day, on going to school, he observed
two men standing together and looking up in the direction of the nest.
Boy-like, and probably thinking that he was a party concerned in the
affair, he joined them, and listened to what they were talking about.
He found that the nest interfered with the flow of water along the
spout, and that it must be removed; and that the whole waterway along
the spout must also be cleaned out.

Tom was now on the alert, and watched the spout closely. That day
passed, and nothing was done. The next day passed, and still the men
had not made their appearance. But on the third day, on his way to
school, he observed a man and a boy placing a long ladder against
the house. Tom stopped, and guessing what was about to be done, he
intended to ask the man for the nest and its contents. The man was
about to ascend the ladder, when, after feeling his pockets and finding
that something had been forgotten, he sent the boy back to the shed
for something or other,—most probably a trowel. Then, having struck
a light, and set fire to his pipe, the man betook himself to the
churchyard, which was near at hand.

[Sidenote: _THE NEST “HARRIED.”_]

A thought now struck Tom. Might he not take the nest himself without
waiting for it, and perhaps without getting it after all? He looked
about. He looked into the churchyard gate, nearly opposite. He saw
nobody. The coast was clear. Tom darted across the street, and went
rapidly up the ladder. Somebody shrieked to him from a window on the
other side. It staggered him at first. But he climbed upward; got to
the nest, and, after some wriggling and twisting, he pulled it away,
and got down before either the man or the boy had returned.


It was eggs that he wanted, but, lo and behold! here was a nest of five
well-fledged birds. Instead of taking the birds home, Tom was foolish
enough to take them with him to school. He contrived to get the nest
into the school unobserved, and put it below the form on which he was
seated, never thinking that the little things would get hungry, or
try to make their escape. All went on well for about an hour. Then
there was a slight commotion. A chirrup was heard. And presently
the throats of all were opened—“_Chirrup! chirrup!_” Before the
master could get the words “What’s that?” out of his mouth, the birds
themselves answered him by leaving their nest and fluttering round the
schoolroom,—the boys running after them! “Silence! Back to your seats!”
cried the master. There was now stillness in the school, except the
fluttering of the birds.

The culprit was called to the front. “This is more of your work,
Edward, is it not?” “Yes, sir.” “And did I not tell you to bring no
more of these things here.” “Yes, sir; but I only got them on my way
up, or I wouldn’t have brought them here.” “I don’t believe it,” said
the master. “Yes, it’s true, it’s true,” shouted some of the scholars.
“Silence! How do you know?” “We saw him harryin’ the nest as we came
up School Hill.” “How?” “He was on the top of a long ladder takin’ the
nest oot o’ a spoot.” “Well, sir,” he said to Edward, “you are one of
the most daring and determined little fellows that I have ever heard
of. It seems you will follow nobody’s advice. If you do not give up
your tricks, you will some day fall and break your neck. But as you
have told me the truth, I will forgive you this once. But remember!
it’s the last time. Now go, collect your birds, and take them away!”

Edward groped about to collect the birds, but few of them were left.
The windows having been let down, they had all escaped except one. He
got that one, and descended to the street. There he recovered two
other “gorbals.” He went home with his three birds; but, his sister
being ill, his mother told him to take them away, because they made
such a noise. In the course of the day he gave them to another boy, in
exchange for a little picture-book, containing “The Death and Burial of
Cock Robin.”


Next morning he went back to school, and from that time forward he
continued to obey the master’s orders. He never brought any more
“beasts” there. He was at the Lancaster school about eighteen months,
though he was occasionally absent. He did not learn very much. The
Bible was used as the reading book, and when he left school he could
read it fairly. He could also repeat the Shorter Catechism. But he knew
very little of arithmetic, and nothing of grammar. He had only got
the length of the rule of two,—that is, he could add up two lines of
figures. He could not manage the multiplication table. He could only
multiply by means of his fingers. He knew nothing of writing.

We must mention the cause of his leaving his third and his last school.
He had entirely given up bringing “beasts” with him. But he had got
a bad name. It was well known that he had been turned out of all the
schools which he had formerly attended, on account of bringing his
“beasts” with him. Better kill a dog, it is said, than give him a bad
name. In Edward’s case, his bad name was attended with very serious

[Sidenote: _A MAGGY MONNY FEET._]

One morning, when the boys were at their lessons and the master was
at his desk, a sudden commotion occurred. The master gave a loud
scream, and, jumping to his feet, he shook something from his arm, and
suddenly put his foot upon it. Then, turning in Edward’s direction, he
exclaimed, “This is some more of your work, Master Edward.” Not hearing
what he said, Edward made no reply. Another boy was called forward, and
both stooping down, they took up something and laid it on a sheet of
paper. On rising, the boy was asked what it was. “It’s a Maggy Monny
Feet,” he said. “Is its bite dangerous? Is it poisonous?” The boy could
not tell.

Edward was then called to the floor. “You’ve been at your old trade,
Edward, I see; but I’ll now take it out of you. I have warned you not
to bring any of your infernal beasts here, and now I have just found
one creeping up my arm and biting me. Hold up.” Edward here ventured to
say that he had not brought the beast, that he had not brought anything
for a long while past. “What! a lie too?” said the master: “A lie added
to the crime makes it doubly criminal. Hold up, sir!” Tom held up his
hand, and the master came down upon it very heavily with the taws. “The
other!” The other hand was then held up, and when Tom had got his two
hot hands, the master exclaimed, “That’s for the lie, and this for the
offence!” and then he proceeded to bring the taws heavily down upon his
back. The boy, however, did not cry.


“Now, sir,” said the master, when almost out of breath, “will you say
now that you did not bring it?” “I did not; indeed, sir, I did not!”
“Well then, take that,” giving him a number of tremendous lashes along
his back. “Well now?” “I did not!” The master went on again: “It’s your
own fault,” he said, “for not confessing your crime.” “But I did not
bring it,” replied Edward. “I’ll flog you until you confess.” And then
he repeated his lashes, upon his hands, his shoulders, and his back.
Edward was a mere mite of a boy, so that the taws reached down to his
legs, and smote him there. “Well now,” said the master, after he was
reduced to his last effort, “did you bring it?” “No, sir, I did not!”

The master sat down exhausted. “Well,” said he, “you are certainly a
most provoking and incorrigible devil.” The master had a reddish nose,
and a number of pimples on his face, which were of the same hue. When
he got into a rage, it was observed that the protuberances became much
brighter. On this occasion his organ became ten times redder than
before. It was like Bardolph’s lanthorn in the poop. Some of the boys
likened his pimples to large driblets of blood.


After resting for a while in his chair, Edward standing before him,
he called to the boy whom he had first brought to his assistance,
“William, bring forward that thing!” The boy brought forward the paper,
on which lay a bruised centipede. “Now then,” said the master, “did
you not bring that venomous beast here?” “I did not, sir!” The whole
school was now appealed to. “Did any of you see Edward with that beast,
or any other beast, to-day or yesterday?” No answer. “Did any of you
see Edward with anything last week or the week before?” Still no
answer. Then, after a considerable pause, turning to Edward, he said,
“Get your slate. Go home, and tell your father to get you put on board
a man-of-war, as that is the best school for all irreclaimables such
as you.” So saying, he pointed to the door. Tom got his slate and his
books, and hurried down stairs. And thus Edward was expelled from his
third and last school.

On reaching home, he told his parents the circumstances connected with
his expulsion. He also added that he wouldn’t go to school any more; at
all events, he wouldn’t go back to “yon school.” He would rather go to
work. He was told that he was too young to work; for he was scarcely
six years old. His father proposed to take him to the Lancaster school
on the following day, for the purpose of inducing the master to take
back the boy.


The next day arrived. His father came home from his work for the
purpose of taking the boy to school; but Tom had disappeared. He
would not go back. He went first to the fish-market, where he spent
the greater part of the day. Then he went down to the Inches. From
thence he went towards the logs, and whilst there with a few more
boys preparing sparrow-traps, one of them called out “Tam, there’s yer
faither!” Tom immediately got up, and ran away; his father, following
him, called out “Stop, sir! stop, sir! come back, come back, will
you!” Tom’s father was a long slender man, and could not stand much
running. He soon dropt behind, while Tom went out Deeside way like
a lamplighter. He never stopped until he reached the Clayholes. Not
seeing his father following him, he loitered about there until it was
nearly dark; he then returned, keeping a close look-out and ready to
run off again. At length, about dark, he got back to the logs.

It must be mentioned that on the spare ground above the Inches large
piles of logs were laid, some of them of great size. The logs were
floated down the Dee, and were laid there until the timber merchants
found it convenient to take them away. Little care being exercised
in putting up the piles, there were often large openings left at the
ends. Instead of going home, the boy got into one of these openings,
and crept in as far as he could get. But though he was in a measure out
of sight, he soon found that he could obtain very little shelter for
the night. He was barefooted, and his clothes were thin and raggy. The
wind blew through the logs, and he soon became very cold. He shivered
till his teeth chattered. The squeaking and jumping of the rats, of
whom there seemed to be myriads, kept him awake. It was so different
from being snug in his warm bed, that he once thought of getting out
of his hole and running home. But he was terrified to do that, and
thus encounter his father’s strap,—his back being still so sore from
the effects of his flogging at school. The cold continued to increase,
especially towards the small hours of the morning. Indeed, he never
experienced so bitterly cold a night in the whole course of his life.


At length morning began to dawn. The first streaks of light were
tinging the eastern sky, when Tom prepared to get out of his hole and
have a run in the open ground to warm himself. He was creeping out of
the logs for the purpose, when in the dim morning light he thought he
saw the figure of a man. Yes! it was his father. He saw him moving
about, among the sawpits, the logs, and the piles of wood. Tom crept
farther into his hole among the logs; and on looking out again, he
found his father had disappeared. Half-an-hour later he appeared again;
and after going over the former ground, he proceeded in the direction
of the Inches. In a few minutes he descended to the channel, doubtless
with the intention of crossing, as the tide was out at the time.


Now, thought Tom, is my opportunity. He crept out of his hole, went
round the farther end of the logs, up Lower Dee Street, past the
carpet-weaver’s, up Carmelite Street, and then home. Just as he reached
the top of the stair, Mrs. Kelman, the kindly “neibour,” who had been
kept up all night by the troubles of the Edward family, took him by
the collar, and said, “Eh, laddie, ye hae gien yer folk a sair nicht
o’t! But bide a wee, I’ll gang in wi’ ye!” As she entered the door,
she exclaimed, “Here he’s again, Maggie, a’ safe!” “Oh, ye vagaboon,”
said the mother, “where hae ye been a’ nicht? Yer faither’s oot seekin’
ye. I wonder how I can keep my hands aff ye.” “No, no, Maggie,” said
Mrs. Kelman, “ye winna do that. But I’ll tell ye what ye’ll do. Gie him
some meat, and let him get to his bed as fast as he can.” “His bed?”
said his mother, “he shanna bed here till his faither comes in.” “Just
gie him something, Maggie, and get him oot o’ the road.” After some
parleying, Tom got something to eat, and was in bed, with the blankets
over him, before his father returned.

“Weel, John,” said Mrs. Kelman, “ye hinna gotten him?” “No.” “Ye hinna
gaun to the right place!” “The right place!” said John, “who on earth
could tell the right place for such a wandering Jew as he is?” “Weel,
I’ve got him.” “Where?” “At the head o’ the stair!” “And where is he
now?” “Where he should be.” “That’s in Bridewell!” “No, no, John, dinna
say that.” “Where, then?” “In his bed.” “What! here? And before I have
paid him for his night’s work?” “Now, John, just sit doun and hae a
cup o’ tea wi’ Maggie and me before you go to your wark; and if ye hae
onything to say to the laddie, ye can say it when he gets up.” “You
always take his part, Mrs. Kelman, always!”

Tom lay quaking in bed. He heard all that was said. He peeped out of
the blankets; but when he saw his father sit down, he knew that all was
safe. And when he had his friendly cup o’ tea, and went to his work,
Tom fell fast asleep. He did not awake until midday, when his father
returned to dinner. Being observed to move in his bed, his father
ordered him to get up. This set him a-crying, and he exclaimed that “he
wudna gang back to yon school.” His mother now asked the reason why he
was so bitter against going to “yon school.” He then told them how he
had been treated by the master, and how his back was sore yet.


His back was then looked at, and it was found that his shirt was
hard with clotted blood, and still sticking to his skin. The wales
extended right down to his legs. Means were adopted to soften the
shirt and remove it from the skin. But while that was being done, the
boy fell back and fainted away. On coming to himself, he found his
mother bathing his brow with cold water, and Mrs. Kelman holding a
smelling-bottle to his nose, which made his eyes run with water. A
large piece of linen, covered with ointment, was then put upon his
back. His father went away, ordering him to keep the house, and not to
go out that day.

Whatever may have passed between his parents he did not know. He was
in bed and asleep when his father returned at night. But he was never
asked to return to the Lancaster school.


[Sidenote: _THE AULTEN LINKS._]

He had now plenty of time for excursions into the country. He wandered
up the Dee and along the banks of the Don on both sides. He took long
walks along shore,—across the Aulten Links to the Auld Brig,—and even
up to the mountains, which at Aberdeen approach pretty near to the

[Sidenote: _HUNT AFTER AN ADDER._]

During one of his excursions on the hills of Torrie, near the
commencement of the Grampians, while looking for blaeberries and
crawberries, Edward saw something like the flash of an eel gliding
through amongst the heather. He rushed after it, and pounced down upon
it with both hands, but the animal had escaped. He began to tear up the
heather, in order to get at it. His face streamed with perspiration. He
rested for a time, and then began again. Still there was no animal, nor
a shadow of one.

At this time another boy came up, and asked, “What are ye doing there?”
“Naething.” “D’ye call that naething?” pointing to about a cart-load of
heather torn up. “Have ye lost onything?” “No.” “What are ye looking
for then?” “For something like an eel!” “An eel!” quoth the lad; “do ye
think ye’ll find an eel amang heather? It’s been an _adder_, and it’s
well ye havena gotten it. The beast might have bitten ye to death.”
“No fear o’ that,” said Edward. “How long is it sin’ ye saw it?” “Some
minutes.” “If that’s the case, it may be some miles up the hills by
this time. Which way was it gaun?” “That way.” “Well,” said the lad,
“you see that heap o’ stones up there? try them, and if you do not find
it there, you may gang hame and come back again, and then ye’ll just be
as near finding it as ye are now.” “Will ye help me?” asked Edward. “Na
faith, I dinna want to be bitten to death.” And so saying, he went away.

Edward then proceeded to the pile of stones which had been pointed
out, to make a search for the animal. He took stone after stone off
the heap, and still there was no eel. There were plenty of worms and
insects, but these he did not want. A little beyond the stones lay a
large piece of turf. He turned it over, and there the creature was! He
was down upon it in an instant, and had it in his hand! He looked at
the beast. It was not an eel. It was very like an asp, but it was six
or seven times longer.


Having tightened his grip of the beast, for it was trying to wriggle
out of his hand, he set out for home. He struck the Dee a little below
where the Chain Bridge now stands, reaching the ford opposite Dee
village, and prepared to cross it. But the water being rather deep at
the time, he had to strip and wade across, carrying his clothes in one
hand and the “eel” in the other. He had only one available hand, so
that getting off and on his clothes, and wading the river breast high,
occupied some time.

On reaching the top of Carmelite Street, he observed his mother, Mrs.
Kelman, and some other women, standing together at the street door.
He rushed in amongst them with great glee, and holding up his hand,
exclaimed, “See, mother, sic a bonnie beastie I’ve gotten.” On looking
at the object he held in his hand, the conclave of women speedily
scattered. They flew in all directions. Edward’s mother screamed, “The
Lord preserv’s! what the sorrow’s that ye hae noo?” “Oh, Meggy, Meggy,”
said Mrs. Kelman, “it’s a snake! Dinna let him in! For ony sake dinna
let him in, or we’ll a’ be bitten.” The entry door was then shut and
bolted, and Tom was left out with the beast in his hand.

Mrs. Kelman’s husband then made his appearance. “What’s this, Tam, that
has caused such a flutter amongst the wives?” “Only this bit beastie.”
Kelman started back. “What, has it not bitten you?” “No!” “Well,”
he added, “the best thing you can do with it, is to take it to Dr.
Ferguson as fast as you can, for you can’t be allowed to bring it in

Dr. Ferguson kept a druggist’s shop at the corner of Correction Wynd,
near the head of the Green. He had a number of creatures suspended in
glass jars in his window. Boys looked in at these wonderful things.
They were the admiration of the neighbours. Some said that these
extraordinary things had come from people’s “insides.” Tom had often
been there before with big grubs, piebald snails, dragonflies, and
yellow puddocks. So he went to Dr. Ferguson with his last new prize.

[Sidenote: _THE ADDER SOLD._]

He was by this time surrounded by a number of boys like himself. They
kept, however, at a respectable distance. When he moved in their
direction, they made a general stampede. At length he arrived at the
Doctor’s door. When the Doctor saw the wriggling thing that he was
holding in his hand, he ordered him out of the shop, and told him to
wait in the middle of the street until he had got a bottle ready for
the reception of the animal. Tom waited until the bottle was ready,
when he was told that when he had gotten the snake in, he must cork
the bottle as firmly as possible. The adder was safely got in and
handed to the Doctor, who gave Tom fourpence for the treasure. Next day
it appeared in the window, to the general admiration of the inhabitants.

[Sidenote: _TOM’S REWARD._]

Tom hastened home with his fourpence. On entering the house he
encountered his father, who seized him by the neck, and asked, “Where’s
that venomous beast that you had?” “I left it with Dr. Ferguson.” “But
have you no more?” “No.” “That’s very strange! You seldom come home
with so few things about you. But we shall see.” The boy was then
taken into the back yard, where he was ordered to strip. Every bit of
clothing was shaken, examined, and searched; the father standing by
with a stick. Nothing was found, and Tom was allowed to put on his
clothes and go up stairs to bed.


[14] _Speer_, to ask a question.

[15] The Rev. James Gordon, in his _Description of both Towns of
Aberdeen_ (1661), says—“The bruike called the Den Burne runs beneath
the west side of the citie; upon the brink quhairoff a little stone
bridge, at that pairt wher the brooke entereth the river Dee, the
Carmelites of old had a convent, whoes church and quholl precinct of
building wer levelled with the ground that very day that the rest
of the churches and convents of New Aberdeen wer destroyed. There
remayneth now onlie ane kilne, which standeth in the outmost south
corner of the citie, known this day by the name of the Freer Kilne.”

[16] The “Taws” consist of a leather strap about three feet long, cut
into tails at the end. Sometimes the ends are burnt, to make them hit
hard. They are applied to the back, or the “palmies”—that is, the palm
of the hand.



THE boy was learning idle habits. He refused to go back to the
Lancaster school. Indeed, from the cruel treatment he had received
there, his parents did not ask him to return. He had now been expelled
from three schools. If he went to a fourth, it is probable that he
might also have been expelled from that. It would not do for him to go
scouring the hills in search of adders, or to bring them home to the
“terrification” of his neighbours. He himself wished to go to work. His
parents at last gave their consent, though he was then only about six
years old. But poor people can always find something for their children
to do out of doors. The little that they earn is always found very
useful at home.

[Sidenote: _TOBACCO WORKING._]

Edward’s brother, who was about two years older than himself, was
working at Craig and Johnston’s tobacco work. On inquiry, it was
found that the firm was willing to take young Edward at the wage of
fourteen-pence a week. The tobacco-spinners worked in an old house
situated at the end of the flour mill in St. Nicholas Street. Each
spinner had three boys under him—the wheeler, the pointer, and the
stripper. Edward went through all these grades. As a stripper he could
earn about eighteen-pence a week.

[Illustration: THE SPIRES OF ST. MACHAR.]

The master was a bird-fancier, so that Edward got on very well with
him. The boy brought him lots of nests and young birds in summer,
and old birds which he trapped during winter. The master allowed him
to keep rabbits in the back yard; so that, what between working and
playing, attending to his rabbits and catering for their food, his time
passed much more happily than it had done at school.

After being in the tobacco work for about two years, Edward heard that
boys were getting great wages at a factory at Grandholm, situated on
the river Don, about two miles from Aberdeen. The high wages were a
great attraction. Tom and his brother took the advantage of a fast-day
to go to the mill and ask for employment. The manager told the boys
that he wanted no additional hands at that time, but that he would put
their names down and let them know when he required their services.

They returned and told their parents what they had done. Both father
and mother were against the change, partly because of Tom’s youth,
and partly because of the distance Grandholm was from Aberdeen. Tom,
however, insisted that he could both work and walk; and at last his
parents gave their consent.

[Illustration: THE BRIG O’ BALGOWNIE.]

[Sidenote: _BANKS OF THE DON._]

There was another reason besides the high wages which induced Tom to
wish to be employed at Grandholm. He kept this to himself. He had often
seen the place before, though only at a distance. But who that has
seen the banks and braes of the Don, from the Auld Brig[17] to the
Haughs of Grandholm, can ever forget it? Looking down from the heights
above the Brig of Balgownie, you see the high broad arch thrown across
the deep and dark winding Don. Beneath you, the fishermen are observed
hauling to the shore their salmon nets. Westward of the Auld Brig the
river meanders amongst the bold bluff banks, clothed to the summit with
thick embowered wood. Two or three miles above are the Haughs, from
which a fine view of the Don is obtained, with the high wood-covered
bank beyond it; and, over all, the summits of the spires of St. Machar,
the cathedral church of Old Aberdeen.


It was to roam through these woods and amidst this beautiful scenery,
that young Edward so much desired to be employed at the Grandholm
factory. Nor was he disappointed in his expectations. Scarcely three
days had elapsed ere a letter arrived at the Edwards’ house, informing
both the boys that they would be employed at the mill at the usual
wages. The hours were to be from six o’clock in the morning till eight
o’clock in the evening.

The boys had accordingly to be up by about four in the morning, after
which they had to get their breakfast and to walk two miles to their
work. They were seldom home at night before nine. It was delightful in
summer, but dreary in winter, when they went and came in the cold dark
nights and mornings. The wages of the boys were at first from three to
four shillings a week each, and before they left the mill their wages
were from five to six shillings a week.

[Sidenote: _FACTORY WORK._]

The boys were first put into the heckling shop. They were next
transferred to a small mill at the end of the larger one. Young Edward
worked there. His business was to attend at the back of a braker,—to
take away the cases when they were full, and put empty ones in their
places. He was next set to attend two carding-machines; and from these
to the roving or spinning side, three of which he frequently kept
before he left. This was the highest work done in that room.

“People may say of factories what they please,” says Edward, “but I
liked this factory. It was a happy time for me whilst I remained there.
It was situated in the centre of a beautiful valley, almost embowered
amongst tall and luxuriant hedges of hawthorn, with watercourses and
shadowy trees between, and large woods and plantations beyond. It
teemed with nature and natural objects. The woods were easy of access
during our meal-hours. What lots of nests! What insects, wild flowers,
and plants, the like of which I had never seen before! Prominent
amongst the birds was the Sedge Warbler,[18] which lay concealed in the
reedy copses, or by the margin of the mill-lades. Oh! how I wondered
at the little thing; how it contrived to imitate almost all the other
birds I had ever heard, and none to greater perfection than the chirrup
of my old and special favourite the sparrow.”

[Sidenote: _THE KINGFISHER._]

One day he saw a Kingfisher—a great event in his life! What a beautiful
bird! What a sparkling gem of nature! Resplendent in plumage and
gorgeous in colour—from the bright turquoise blue to the deepest
green, and the darker shades of copper and gold. Edward was on a
nesting excursion, with some little fellows like himself, along the
braes of the Don, and at some distance above the Auld Brig, when he
first saw this lustrous bird. “I was greatly taken,” he says, “with
its extraordinary beauty, and much excited by seeing it dive into the
stream. I thought it would drown itself, and that its feathers would
eventually become so clogged with water that it would not be able to
fly. Had this happened—which, of course, it did not—my intention was
to have plunged in to the rescue, when, as a matter of course, I would
have claimed the prize as my reward. Thus buoyed up, I wandered up
and down the river after the bird, until the shades of even came down
and forced me to give up the pursuit; and I then discovered, having
continued the chase so long, that I was companionless, and had to
return home alone.

[Sidenote: _COUNTRY RAMBLES._]

“It so happened, that for a month or two during summer-time, owing
to the scarcity of water, one part of the factory worked during the
night-time and the other during the day-time, week and week about. This
was a glorious time for me. I rejoiced particularly in the night work.
We got out at six in the morning, and, instead of going directly home,
I used to go up to the woods of Scotston and Scotston Moor, scoured the
country round them, and then returned home by the Auld Brig. Another
day I would go up to Buxburn, range the woods and places about them,
and then home by Hilton or Woodside. Or again, after having crossed
Grandholm Bridge, instead of going up by Lausie Hillock, I went away
down Don side, by Tillydrone, the Aulten (Old Aberdeen), through the
fields to the Aulten links, whipped the whins there, then over the
Broad hill, and home by Constitution Street. I would reach it, perhaps,
about dinner-time, instead of at seven in the morning, although I had
to be back at the mill again by eight o’clock at night.

“Once, on a Saturday, after having visited Buxburn, I went round by the
back of the Dancing Cairns to the Stocket and the woods of Hazelhead,
then down the Rubislaw road, and home in the evening. Ah! these were
happy days. There were no taws to fear, and no tyrannical dominie to
lay them on. True, the farm people did halloo at me at times, but I
generally showed them a clean pair of heels. The gamekeepers, also,
sometimes gave me chase, but I managed to outstrip them; and although
no nests were to be got, there was always something to be found or
seen. In winter-time, also, when the canal was frozen, a mile of it lay
in our way home, and it was capital fun to slide along, going to and
coming from our work. This was life, genuine life, for the young. But,
alas! a sad change was about to come; and it came very soon.”


The boys remained at Grandholm factory for about two years. Their
father thought that they ought both to be apprenticed to some
settled trade. The eldest boy left first, and was apprenticed to a
baker; then Tom, the youngest, left, very much to his regret, and
was bound apprentice to a shoemaker. He was eleven years old at
that time. His apprenticeship was to last for six years. His wages
began at eighteenpence a week, with sixpence to be added weekly in
each succeeding year. He was to be provided by his master with shoes
and aprons. The hours were to be from six in the morning to nine at
night,—two hours being allowed for meals.

[Sidenote: _CHARLES BEGG._]

The name of Edward’s master was Charles Begg. His shop was situated at
the highest part of Gallowgate. He usually employed from two to three
workmen. His trade consisted chiefly in manufacturing work of the
lightest description, such as ladies’ and children’s boots and shoes.
He himself worked principally at pump-making, and that was the branch
of the trade which young Edward was taught.

Begg was a low-class Cockney. He was born in London, where he learnt
the trade of shoemaking. He had gradually wandered northwards, until he
reached Inverness, where he lived for some time. Then he went eastward
to Elgin, then to Banff, until at last he arrived at Aberdeen, where
he married and settled. Begg was a good workman; though, apart from
shoemaking, he knew next to nothing. It is well, however, to be a
good workman, if one does his work thoroughly and faithfully. The
only things that Begg could do, besides shoemaking, were drinking and
fighting. He was a great friend of pugilism; though his principal
difficulty, when he got drunk, was to find anybody to fight with in
that pacific neighbourhood.


It was a great misfortune for the boy to have been placed under
the charge of so dissolute a vagabond. He had, however, to do his
best. He learnt to make pumps and cut uppers, and proceeded to make
shoe-bottoms. He would, doubtless, have learnt his trade very well,
but for the drunkenness of his master, who was evidently going
headlong to ruin. He was very often absent from the shop, and when
customers called, Edward was sent out by his mistress to search the
public-houses frequented by Begg; but when found, he was usually
intoxicated. The customers would not return, and the business
consequently fell off. When drunk, Begg raved and swore; and after
beating the boy in the shop, he would go up-stairs and beat his wife.

[Sidenote: _SHOEMAKERS’ PETS._]

Shoemakers are usually very fond of pets, and especially of pet birds.
Many of the craft have singing-birds about them, and some are known to
be highly-skilled and excellent bird-fanciers. But Begg had no notion
of pets of any kind. He had no love whatever for the works of nature,
and detested those who had. Edward had been born with the love of birds
and living creatures, and Begg hated him accordingly. Begg used to
rifle his pockets on entering the shop, to see that Edward had nothing
of the kind about him. If he found anything he threw it into the
street,—his little boxes with butterflies, eggs, and such like. Many a
blow did he give Edward on such occasions. He used to say that he would
“stamp the fool out of him;” but he tried in vain.

[Sidenote: _BEGG’S BRUTALITY._]

One afternoon, when Edward had finished his work, and was waiting for
the return of his master in order to go to dinner, he was sitting with
a sparrow on his knee. It was a young sparrow which he had trained and
taught to do a number of little tricks. It was his pet, and he loved
it dearly. While he was putting the sparrow through its movements, the
master entered. He was three parts drunk. On looking at the bird on
Edward’s knee, he advanced, and struck Edward such a blow that it laid
him flat on the floor. The bird had fluttered to the ground, and was
trampled on.

When Edward was about to rise, he saw that Begg was going to kick him.
Raising up his arm to ward off the blow, Begg’s foot came in contact
with it, and, losing his balance, he reeled, staggered against the
wall, and fell backwards. He gathered himself together and got up. If
angry before, he was furious now. Edward, seeing that he was again
about to resume his brutality, called out that he would shout for help,
and that he wouldn’t be struck again without a cause! “Without a cause,
you idle blackguard! sitting playing with some of your devils instead
of doing my work!” “I had no work; it was done three hours ago, and I
was waiting to go to my dinner.” “It’s not near dinner time yet.” “It’s
four o’clock!” “I didn’t know it was so late; well, you may go!”

Tom seized the opportunity of picking up his poor and innocent bird
from the floor. He found it was still breathing. He put it tenderly in
his bosom and hastened homewards. His mother was not surprised at his
lateness, which was very usual, in consequence of the irregularity of
his master’s hours. “But what’s the matter wi’ ye?” she said; “your
face is bleedin’, and ye hae been greetin’.” “Look,” said he, taking
the harmless and now lifeless bird from his breast, and holding it
up,—“that would gar onybody greet;” and his tears fell on the mangled
body of his little pet. “I wouldn’t have cared so much for myself,”
he said, “if he had only spared my bird!” Then he told his mother all
that had happened, and he added that if Begg struck him again without a
cause, he would certainly run away. She strongly remonstrated against
this; because, being bound apprentice for six years, he must serve out
his time, come what would.


On returning to the shoemaker’s shop in the afternoon, Edward was met
at the door by his master, who first shook him and then searched him.
But finding there was nothing about him, he was allowed to go to his
seat. And thus three years passed. The boy learnt something of his
trade. The man went on from bad to worse. In his drunken fits he often
abused and thrashed his apprentice. At last the climax came. One day
Edward brought three young moles to the shop. The moles were safely
ensconced in his bonnet. When Begg found the moles he killed them at
once, knocked down Edward with a last, seized him by the neck and
breast, dragged him to the door, and with a horrible imprecation threw
him into the street. Edward was a good deal hurt; but he went home,
determined that from that day he would never again serve under such a

Begg called at his mother’s next day, and ordered the boy to return to
his work. Edward refused. Begg then invoked the terrors of the law. “He
would compel Edward to fulfil his apprenticeship. He would prosecute
his father and his two sureties, and make them pay the penalty for
breaking the boy’s indenture.” This threat gave Edward’s mother a
terrible fright, especially when her boy insisted that he would not go
back. The family were left in fear and commotion for some time. But at
last, as nothing further was heard of the threatened prosecution, they
dismissed it from their minds.

[Sidenote: _WISHES TO BE A SAILOR._]

What was Edward to do next? He was thoroughly sick of his trade, and
wished to engage in some other occupation that would leave him freer
to move about. He would be a sailor! He had a great longing to see
foreign countries, and he thought that the best way of accomplishing
this object was to become a sailor. On mentioning the matter to his
parents, he was met with a determined and decided refusal. They tried
to dissuade him by various methods. “Man,” said his father to him, “do
you know that sailors have only a thin plank between them and death?
Na, na! If you’re no gaun back to Begg, you must find some other
master, and serve out your time. Bide ye at the shoemaker trade, and if
ye can make siller at it, ye can then gang and see as mony countries as
ye like!”


Such was his father’s advice, but it did not suit young Edward’s views.
He wanted to be a sailor. He went down to the harbour, and visited
every ship there, in order to offer himself as a cabin boy. He asked
the captains to employ him, but in vain. At last he found one captain
willing to take him, provided he had the consent of his father. But
this he could not obtain, and therefore he gave up the idea for a time.

[Illustration: GRANDHOLM MILLS]

Then he thought of running away from home. He could not get away by
sea; he would now try what he could do by land. He had often heard
his parents talking about the Kettle, and of his uncle who had gone
in search of him to the gipsy camp. Edward thought he would like to
see this uncle. He might perhaps be able to help him to get some other
and better employment than that of shoemaking. His thoughts were very
undefined about the matter. But he certainly would not go back to work
again with Charlie Begg, the drunken shoemaker.


[17] The Auld Brig is also called the Brig o’ Balgownie. Byron, who
lived for some years at Aberdeen in his boyhood, says—“The Brig of Don,
near the ‘auld toun’ of Aberdeen, with its one arch and its black deep
salmon stream, is in my memory as yesterday. I still remember the awful
proverb which made me pause to cross it, and yet lean over it with a
childish delight—being an only son, at least by the mother’s side—

    ‘Brig o’ Balgownie, wight (strong) is thy wa’;
     Wi’ a wife’s ae son on a mear’s ae foal
     Down thou shalt fa’.’“

[18] Called also the English Mocking Bird, and the Scottish Nightingale.



AT last Edward determined to run away from home, and from Charlie
Begg’s cruelty, and to visit his wonderful uncle at the Kettle. The
village is situated nearly in the centre of the county of Fife,—about
a hundred miles from Aberdeen. Edward did not know a step of the road;
but he would try and do his best to reach the far-off place.

The first thing that he wanted was money. All his earnings had gone
into the family purse, and were used for family expenses. One day, when
his mother had gone out, leaving Edward to rock the cradle, he went
to look at the money box, and found only a solitary sixpence in it.
He wanted sevenpence in all,—that is, a penny to get across Montrose
bridge, and sixpence to cross the Tay at Dundee. He took the sixpence
from the box, and fancied that he might be able to raise another penny
by selling his knife. He took two quarters of oat-cakes, put some
oatmeal into a parcel, and bundling his things together, and giving the
cradle a final and heavy rock, he left the house, and got away unseen.


He ran up Deeside until he came to a high bank, near where the
Allanvale cemetery now stands. He went in amongst the bushes, took off
his working duds and put his Sunday clothes on; then, tying the former
in a bundle, he dug a hole amongst the sand and shingle, and thrust
them in, stamping upon them to press them down. He covered up the
whole with grass, leaves, and shingle. Putting his stockings and shoes
together, and swinging them over his shoulder, he set out barefoot for
Kettle. He thought he might be able to accomplish the journey in about
two days.

Away he sped. Time was precious. The way was long, and his provender
was small. He had only sixpence. He soon tried to raise the other
penny. He met with two herd boys and a girl. He said to the boys,
“Will ye buy a knife? I’ll give it you cheap.” “No.” He passed through
Stonehaven, about sixteen miles from Aberdeen, and up a steep brae on
to Bervie.


Edward was not much influenced by the scenery through which he passed.
He was anxious to push on without loss of time. But one thing he could
not help seeing, and that was the ruins of Dunnottar Castle. They lay
on his left hand, on a lofty rock-bound cliff, betwixt him and the sea.
They seemed to be of great extent, but he could not turn aside to visit
the ruins. They reminded him, however, of the numerous stories he had
heard about them at home,—of the Covenanters who had been thrust into
the Whigs’ Vault at Dunnottar, where many of them died,—of others
who had tried to escape, and been battered to pieces against the
rocks, while attempting to descend to the seashore,—and of the Regalia
of Scotland, which had been concealed there during the wars of the
Commonwealth. Thoughts of these things helped him on his way; but the
constant thought that recurred to him was, how he could sell his knife
and raise the other penny.


As he was approaching Bervie, he met some lads on the road, and asked
them “Will you buy a knife?” “Where did you steal it?” said the lads.
Off went Edward, followed by a volley of stones. He walked on for a
long time, until he got hot and tired. By that time he had walked about
twenty-five miles. Then he sat down by the side of a spring to eat his
oatmeal, and swallow it down with water.

After resting himself for a time, he started up and set off at full
speed for Montrose. On his way he saw numerous things that he would
have liked to take with him, and numerous woods that he would have gone
into and searched with right good will; but the thought of the journey
before him put all other things aside. Kettle was still a long way off;
and besides, he still wanted the additional pontage penny, in order to
cross Montrose Bridge. He went on and overtook a girl. He asked her if
she would buy a knife. “No!”


He next overtook a man and woman with a lot of bairns. They looked
rather suspicious. He tried to avoid them, and walked faster, but the
man addressed him: “Stop a minute, laddie; ye’re in an awfy hurry!”
“Yes,” said Edward, “I am in a hurry.” “But have ye ony baccy?” “No, I
have no baccy.” “Try if he has ony clink,” said the woman. “Have ye ony
brass?” “No.” “Take him, ye sheep,” said the woman to her husband, “and
squeeze him.” Tom, on hearing this, immediately betook himself to his
heels, and being a good runner, soon left them far behind.

[Sidenote: _MONTROSE._]

At length he reached Montrose. Seeing some boys gazing in at a shop
window, he went up to them and asked if they would buy a knife. “No!”
Edward thought he would never get rid of his knife. He must raise a
penny to get over Montrose bridge, and yet he had nothing but his knife
to sell. He could not break into his sixpence. Then he bethought him
of offering the knife to the bridge-keeper, and if he refused to buy
it, he would try and run the blockade. He went up to the bridge, looked
at the entrance, and felt that he could not run across with success.
He went away from the bridge, and determined again to sell his knife.
Walking up the river, he came to some men working at a large building.
He asked if any of them wanted a knife. After a little bargaining, one
of the men said he would give a penny for it. Edward was delighted.
He rushed back to the bridge, gave the bridge-keeper the penny, and
crossed in double quick time on his way to Arbroath.


[Sidenote: _SLEEPS IN A HAYCOCK._]

It was now getting dark. He had walked all day, and was now very
tired. He was desirous of putting up somewhere for the night. But
first he must have his supper. He sat down by a little rill, and, with
the help of the water, ate some more of his meal and a piece of his
oat-cake. After he had refreshed himself, he thought he could walk a
few more miles. He had now walked forty miles. The twilight being long
in the north, and the month being July, he went on until he came to
what he thought would be a good beild[19] for the night. This was a
field in which there were a number of haycocks. He crossed the wall,
went up to a haycock, pulled a lot of hay out, then ensconced himself
inside, and soon fell fast asleep.

Towards morning he was wakened up by something scratching at his brow.
On putting his hand up he found it was a big black beetle trying to
work its way in between his skin and his bonnet. He wished he had had
his box with him to preserve the beetle, but he could only throw it
away. As he lay awake he heard the mice squeaking about him. It was
still dark, though there was a glimmering of light in the east. Day
was about to break. So he got out of his hole, shook the hay from him,
crossed the wall, and resumed his journey.

Though he felt stiff at first, he soon recovered his walking powers,
and reached Arbroath by daylight. Everybody was in bed, excepting one
woman, whom he saw standing at the end of a close-mouth. He went up to
her and asked, “which was the road to Dundee.” When she began to speak,
he saw that she was either drunk, or daft, or something worse. He went
away, walked through several other streets, but found no one astir. The
town was asleep. Then he sat down on a doorstep and ate some of his
cake. He was just beginning to fall asleep, when some men who passed
woke him up. They told him the road to Dundee, and he instantly set off
in that direction.

As he went on his way, he came up to a man who was tramping along like
himself. He belonged to Dundee, was a weaver by trade, and had been
travelling through the country in search of work. The man asked Edward
where he had come from, whither he was going, where he had slept, and
what money he had to carry him to the end of his journey. On hearing
that he had only enough to carry him across the ferry at Dundee, the
weaver gave him a penny, saying that he would have given him more, but
that the penny was all the change he had.

[Sidenote: _THE SAILORS’ WIVES._]

Shortly after, they overtook two women, who turned out to be two
sailors’ wives. They had come from Aberdeen. The ship in which their
husbands sailed, had been chartered to Dundee, and would not enter
the port of Aberdeen for some time; hence the journey of the wives to
Dundee. The weaver, on hearing where they came from, pointed to his
little companion, and said, “Here’s a laddie that comes frae the same
place, and as his wallet’s no very weel filled, perhaps ye might gie
him a copper or two.” One of the women looked hard at Edward, and
said, “I’ve surely seen ye before, laddie. Did ye ever frequent the
fishmarket i’ the Shipraw?” “Yes.” “And ye had sometimes tame rottens
wi’ ye?” “Yes.” “Ah! I thocht sae. I used to help my mother wi’ her
fish, and was sure that I had seen ye i’ the market.”

They then asked him where he was going? “Till the Kettle,” he said.
“Till the—what did ye say, laddie?” “The Kettle!” How they laughed!
They had never heard of such a place before. But when their laughter
had settled down, they gave the boy twopence; and as they parted, one
of the women said, “Tak’ care o’ yer feet, laddie, when ye step intil
the Kettle.”

[Sidenote: _DUNDEE._]

On reaching Dundee, Edward crossed the Firth of Tay by the ferry-boat,
and reached Newport, in the county of Fife. From thence he walked
on to Cupar. He was very much bewildered by the manner in which the
people told him the direction of the roads. They told him to go south
or north, or east or west. He had no idea of these geographical
descriptions. One man told him to “gang east a bit, then turn south,
syne haud wast.”

He went in the direction indicated, but he could proceed no farther.
He sat down on a stone at the side of the road, and fell fast asleep.
A gentleman passing in a gig, called out to him, “Boy! boy! get up!
don’t lie sleeping in the sun there; it’s very dangerous!” On wakening
up he was much dazed, and he did not at first remember where he was.
When he finally got up, he asked the gentleman the road to Cupar. On
being properly directed, he set off again.


The road along which he passed lay for some time through a wood.
Among the various birds which he saw and heard, he observed a group
of little round birds not much bigger than a hazel nut, with very
long tails. They squeaked like mice, and hung to and went round about
the slenderest twigs. He had never seen such little birds before. He
did not know their names, but he afterwards found that they were the
Long-tailed Titmouse. The little things were the young brood of the
parent bird, which was, no doubt, hanging or flying somewhere near them.

Edward went into the wood to see them and follow them. As he passed
along he was called to from behind, and a man came up and seized him
by the collar. The man, doubtless a keeper, roughly asked him where
he was going. “Naewhere!” “What are you doing here then?” “Naething!”
“What’s that in your bundle?” “My stockings and shoes.” “Let me see.”
His bundle was then overhauled, and nothing being found in it but his
stockings and shoes, he was allowed to depart, with the injunction
“never to return there again unless he wished to be sent to jail.”


After walking a few miles he reached Cupar, and, passing through it,
went on towards Kettle. Coming to a small burn he washed and dried his
feet, and put on his stockings and shoes, rubbing the dust from off his
clothes preparatory to arriving at his destination. He reached Kettle
in the evening, and soon found his uncle. But the reception he met with
did not at all meet his expectations. It was anything but cordial.
After some inquiries, the uncle came to the conclusion that the boy had
done some mischief, and had run away from his parents to hide himself
in the Kettle. He could not believe that the boy had come so far merely
to see him. The old man’s relations were all dead, or had removed from
the place. He was merely lodging with a friend. The house in which he
lodged was full, and there was no spare bed for Edward. At length the
woman of the house said that she would make up a bed for him in the
place where she kept her firewood.

When the boy had got his supper he was asked if he could read. “A
little.” The Bible was got, and he was asked to read two chapters. He
was next asked if he could sing. “No.” He was then told that he might
go to bed. The bed was soft and sweet to the tired boy. As he went to
sleep he heard the people of the house reading the Bible and singing a

He slept very sound, and would have slept much longer, but for his
being wakened up next morning for breakfast. The rain fell very heavily
that day. The boy began to feel very weary and lonesome, and wished
again to be at home. He had taken no thought until now, of the results
of his leaving so suddenly. He thought of what his father and mother
might think of his disappearance. He wondered whether he might now get
away to sea.

[Sidenote: _RETURNS HOME._]

But how was he to get home? He had now only a poor halfpenny left.
However, he had still a gully; perhaps he might be able to sell that.
After considering the matter, he resolved to set out for Aberdeen,
rather than be a burden to the people at the Kettle. He told his uncle
that he would leave next day. The uncle said nothing. The boy was up
early next morning, got his breakfast, and also a big piece of bread,
which he put in his bundle. His uncle accompanied him a little way
along the road, and at parting gave him eighteenpence. Edward was
overjoyed. He would now be able to get home with money in his pocket.

As he approached Newport he came up to three men standing on the road.
Two of them were gentlemen, and the third seemed to be a gamekeeper.
He was showing them something which he had shot in the adjoining wood.
Edward went forward, and saw that it was a bird with blue wings and
a large variegated head. “What do you want?” said the gamekeeper to
Edward. “To have a sight of the bird, if you please.” “There, then,”
said the gamekeeper, and swung the bird in his face, nearly blinding
him. When the water was out of his eyes, and he could see, he found
that they had gone along the road. He followed them, still expecting
to see the bird, and to have it in his hand; but the gamekeeper was


At length he reached the pier, just as the ferry-boat was reaching
the landing-place. He had another pleasant voyage across the ferry to
Dundee. His object now was to push on to the field where he had slept
amongst the hay. He arrived at the place, but there were no haycocks.
The field was cleared. He found some whins in the neighbourhood, and
went in amongst them and slept there until the sun was well up the
sky. He started up, and went rejoicing on his way. He passed through
Arbroath, and was speeding on briskly to Montrose, when he came up to
a man standing in the middle of the road, holding a bull by a rope.
He asked the boy if he would hold the bull for a few minutes until he
went to a house, which he pointed to, near at hand. “I will give you
something if you do,” said the man. “Yes, I will,” said Edward, “if
you’ll not be long.” “No,” said the man, “I’ll not be long.”

On getting hold of the rope Edward found that he was likely to have
a difficult job. Scarcely had the man disappeared ere the bull began
to snort, and kick, and jump. The brute threw up its head and bounded
backward with such force, that the boy was nearly upset. Instead of
holding the rope short as he had been told, he let it go, though he
still held by it at the far end. Away went the bull along the road,
dragging the boy after him. So long as the full stretch of rope lay
between them, Edward did not care so much; but when the animal rushed
into a field of corn, he let go altogether, and resumed his journey.

He had not gone far before he found, on looking back, that he was hotly
pursued by the animal. Observing his danger, Edward rushed into a clump
of trees standing by the roadside, and, throwing down his bundle, he
proceeded to climb one of them. He had only ascended a few yards when
the brute came up. The bull snorted and smelt at his bundle, threw it
into the ditch with his horns, bellowed at the boy up the tree, gave
a tremendous roar, then dashed out of the wood, and set off at full
speed down the nearest byway. Edward was flurried and out of breath;
he rested in the tree for a short time, then descended and ran along
the road for some miles until he thought that he was out of reach of
further danger.


This was the only adventure that he met with on his homeward journey.
He passed through Bervie without molestation. But, instead of reaching
Aberdeen that night, as he had intended, he rested near Stonehaven.
He went through the town, and got into a corner of the toll-bar dyke,
where he sat or lay until daybreak. He then got up and commenced the
last stage of his journey.


On reaching the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, he went to the hole in the
bank by Deeside, where he had left his week-day clothes, and found them
all right. But before going home, instead of going down Deeside, he
turned up by Scraphards to look at a laverock’s nest, which was still
there. Then he went past Ferryhill House, by Dee village, and struck
the water-side by the path now known as Affleck Street, and got home at
breakfast time, after an absence of a week.

His mother was in. “Where ha’e ye been now, ye vagaboon?” “At my
uncle’s.” “Where?” “At the Kettle.” “And ha’e ye been a’ the way to
Fife, ye vagrant?” Tom then told his story; his mother following it up
with a long and serious lecture. She reproached him for the dishonesty
which he had committed, in taking the sixpence out of the box when he
went away. “Weel, mother,” said he, “here’s the sixpence for the one
I took.” He had saved the sixpence out of the eighteenpence his uncle
had given him when he left Kettle. “No,” she replied, “the crime is the
same after all, and you are sure to be punished for it yet.”

Then she urged him to go back to his trade, for he was far better at
work than stravaigin[20] about the country like an evil-doer. Edward
asked if his father would not consent now to his going to sea. She did
not think he would; she thought that to go back to his work was the
best thing of all. She herself would not hear a word more about his
going to sea.


[19] _Beild_—shelter.

[20] _Stravaigin_—idle, wandering, or strolling.



INSTEAD of going directly back to his work, Edward went down to the
harbour to ascertain whether any of the captains would accept of his
services as a sailor. He went from ship to ship for three days. Some
captains were willing to take him with an indenture, which would have
to be signed by his father. Others were willing to take him without
his father’s consent; but in that case they required two sureties to
sign the indenture. These were serious obstacles—too serious to be got
over,—and on the third afternoon he left the harbour with a sorrowful
heart. There were several skippers of coasting vessels, and of lime and
coal hulks, who would have taken him for four years; but these were not
the kind of ships that he wished to sail in.

Being thus forced, though very reluctantly, to give up all thoughts of
going to sea, he now considered whether it might not be possible to
learn some other trade less hateful to him than that of a shoemaker.
But his parents would not hear of any change. They told him that his
former master was willing to take him back, and to give him a shilling
a week more during the ensuing year, and two shillings more during
his last, or fifth year. But Edward strongly objected to return to the
master who had so cruelly used him.


Not wishing, however, to withstand his parents’ advice any longer, he
at last consented to go on with his trade. But, instead of serving out
his time with his former master, he found a pupil-master in Shoe Lane,
who was willing to employ him, and to improve him in his business.
Edward agreed to give the master, for his trouble, a percentage of his
earnings, besides his pupil-money, and a share of the fire and light.

Edward’s work at this place was mostly of the lighter and smaller sort.
His employer was of a much kindlier nature than the last, and he got
on very well with him. Edward was also in a measure his own master.
He could still look after his bird-nesting. That was his strongest
attraction out of doors. He did not rob the birds of their eggs. His
principal pleasure was to search for their nests, and to visit them
from time to time. When the eggs were hatched, and the little birds
were grown and ready to fly, he would take one or two, if they were
singing birds, and rear them for himself, or for other bird-fanciers.


It was about this time that Edward began what he called his Wild
Botanical Garden. His parents had left the Green and removed to another
quarter of the town. Behind the house, and behind the adjoining houses,
was a piece of waste ground about ten feet wide. It was covered with
stones, bits of bricks, and broken tiles. Edward removed these from
the ground, and put them in a corner by themselves, covering them with
earth. He dug over the ground, manured it, and turned it over again.
Then he divided the space into compartments for the reception of plants
and flowers. These were brought from the fields, the woods, and the
banks adjoining the Dee and the Don. He watered and tended them daily;
but alas! they would not flourish as they had done on their native
soil. He renewed them again and again. The rasp, the wild strawberry,
the foxglove,—or dead men’s bells as it is there called,—the hemlock,
some of the ferns, and many of the grasses, grew pretty well; but the
prettiest and most delicate field flowers died away one by one.

His mother, who delighted in flowers, advised him to turn the ground
into an ordinary garden. Now, although Edward loved garden flowers, he
very much preferred those which he found in the woods or growing by
the wayside, and which he had known from his infancy. Nevertheless, he
took his mother’s advice; and knowing many of the places near the town,
where the gardeners threw out their rubbish, he went and gathered from
thence a number of roots, flowers, and plants, which he brought home
and planted in his garden. The greater number of them grew very well,
and in course of time he had a pleasant little garden. He never planted
more than one specimen of each flower, so that his garden was various
in its beauty. The neighbours, who had at first sneered at him as a
fool, on seeing his pretty garden, began to whisper that the “loon” was
surely a genius, and that it was a pity that his father had not made
him a gardener instead of a shoemaker. Edward himself often wished that
his parents had been of the same mind as the neighbours.

Near the back of the house in which Edward lived, was an old tannery,
with a number of disused tanning pits, full of water. These, he
thought, would be a nice place for storing his powets and puddocks.[21]
He got a large pail, went to a place where these creatures abounded,
and brought back a large cargo, heaving them into the pit. But they did
not thrive. They nearly all died. He next put about thirty newts there,
but he never saw them again, dead or alive. At last he gave up this

[Sidenote: _THE PICTURE SHOPS._]

About the same time, he used to make a tour among the booksellers of
the town, to inspect the pictures which they had in their windows.
These visits proved a source of great profit and pleasure to him. He
learned something from the pictures, and especially from the pictures
of animals. He found that there was more to be gained from a visit to
the picture shops than from a visit to the public-house. When he saw a
book that he could buy, he bought it, though his means were still very


[Sidenote: _THE CASTLEGATE._]

It was in this way that he became acquainted with the _Penny Magazine_.
He bought the first number,[22] and liked it so well that he continued
to take it. He especially liked those parts of it which related to
natural history. Among the other publications which he bought, was one
called the _Weekly Visitor_. It cost only a halfpenny. It had good
pictures, and gave excellent stories, which were usually of a religious
tendency. He read this little publication over and over again. Nor did
he ever lose the opportunity of going to the Castlegate on Fridays, to
see the pictures and picture books, which were usually exposed for
sale on market days.


The gunmakers’ windows were also a source of attraction, for they often
had stuffed birds exhibited in them. There was also a window devoted
entirely to stuffed birds near the entrance to the police office in
Watch Lane, and another in Meal Market Lane, both of which attracted
a large share of his attention. The sight of these things first gave
Edward the idea of preserving animals. The first beast he stuffed was a
mole, and he was very proud of it.

The shoemaking trade having become very flat, Edward left Shoe Lane
after having been there for about twenty months. He then went to work
at a shop on the Lime Quay, near the harbour. He had steady work there
for some time, at set wages. Though he had less time to attend to his
natural history pursuits, he still managed to attend to his garden and
his “family,” as his mother termed his maingie[23] of beasts. Trade
again recovering, he went back to work at the old place. But this did
not continue long. The men had to be paid off; and then Edward did not
know what to do.

[Sidenote: _TRIES TO EMIGRATE._]

At that time, emigration to America was the rage. Trade was very
depressed throughout the country. There were bread riots in many of
the manufacturing towns. Numbers of labourers were without work, and
without the means of living. Aberdeen shared in the general depression;
and many persons emigrated to the United States, where there was a
better demand for labour. Edward wished to emigrate too; but he had no
money. He had only a few shillings to spare. But might he not contrive
to emigrate as a Stowaway?

This course is frequently adopted at the ports from which ships sail
for America. A boy gets on board, conceals himself in the hold, and
after the ship has got out of sight of land he makes his appearance on
deck, usually half-starved. Edward determined to try this method of
escaping from Aberdeen, and more especially from his shoemaking trade.
He knew one of the sailors on board the ship which he had selected;
and although the sailor was strongly opposed to the project, Edward
prevailed upon him to make an opening in the cargo, so as to admit him
into a hole near the bow of the ship. Here, amidst some boxes and coils
of rope, Edward deposited three dozen biscuits and two bottles of water.

He waited outside, hovering about the quay, until the day of sailing
arrived. But the ship did not sail until five days after the advertised
time. When the emigrants went on board, Edward went with them. For
three days and nights he lay amongst the coils of rope, feeding upon
his biscuits and water. On the forenoon of the fifth day he was in
his berth; and just as the vessel was about to be loosed from her
moorings, Edward’s friend came along the hold in breathless haste, and
inquired (for he was in the dark) “if he was there.” “Surely,” replied
Edward. “For the love of God,” said the sailor, “come out at once, and
get on shore. You have time yet. Simon Grant (the town’s officer) and
a lot of his sharks have come, and they are about to rummage the ship
from stem to stern for runaways. So make haste, and come out; you have
no chance now!”

Edward still delayed. He did not like to leave his hole. But hearing an
unusual commotion going on, amidst a great deal of angry speaking, and
fearing the worst, he at last very unwillingly crept from his berth,
went on deck, and leapt on shore just as the ship was leaving the quay.
He afterwards learnt that the town’s officer was in search of another
class of stowaways, who, it seems, had been carried on board in boxes
or barrels. Edward found that he could not see the world after this
method; and he returned home defeated and mortified.


The Aberdeenshire Militia having been called out in 1831, Edward
enlisted in the regiment. He was only about eighteen years old at the
time. When the men assembled, they were found to be a very bad lot—mere
riff-raff—the dregs of the neighbourhood. They were regardless both of
law and order. Seldom a night passed without the patrol bringing in
numbers to the guardhouse for being drunk and disorderly. Even during
parade, many of the men were put under arrest for insubordination,
chiefly because of the insulting language they used towards their


The militia were only embodied for four weeks. During the first
fortnight, the regiment was drilled without arms of any sort. It was
only during the last fortnight that the men were provided with muskets
and bayonets. The company to which Edward belonged was drilling one day
on the links. It was a bright sunny afternoon. The company was marching
along near the lower part of the links, when a large brown butterfly
flitted past. Edward saw it in an instant. He had never seen the like
of that butterfly before![24] Without thinking for a moment of what
he was doing, he flew after it,—among the bents and sand hillocks,
grasping after it with his hand.

    “A very hunter did he rush
     Upon the prey: with leaps and springs
     He followed on from brake to bush.”

[Sidenote: _IS APPREHENDED._]

The butterfly eluded him; it flew away before him. Again he rushed
after it, losing his bonnet in the hunt. He was nearing the spot where
it had alighted. He would catch it now,—when suddenly he was gripped by
the neck! He looked round, and saw it was the corporal of his company,
with four militiamen behind him.

Looking Edward sternly in the face, the corporal said, “What’s up,
Edward?” “Nothing.” “The deuce!” “No, it wasn’t that, it was a
splendid butterfly.” “A butter-devil!” “No! it was a butter-_fly_!”
“Stuff!” said the corporal; “are you mad?” “No; I don’t think I am.”
“You look like a madman; and I’ll tell you what it is, you’ll have to
pay for this.” “For what?” “For breaking away from the ranks during
drill. I am sent to arrest you and take you to the guardhouse: so come
along!” And away they marched; two militiamen before, two behind, and
Edward and the corporal in the centre. By this time a number of persons
had collected, the younger people calling out to their companions to
come and see the mad militiaman.

On crossing the links, the prisoner and his escort encountered one
of the officers of the regiment, accompanied by a group of ladies.
“Where are you going with that boy?” said the officer, addressing the
corporal. “To the guardhouse!” “What? more insubordination?” “Yes!”
“This is most dreadful; what has he done?” “He broke the ranks during
drill, and although Sergeant Forbes called him back, he ran away after
what he calls a butterfly!” There was a short silence, after which
the ladies were observed tittering and laughing. “What did you say,
corporal?” “He ran out of the ranks after a butterfly.” “What? ran
away from his exercise for the sake of an insect! Most extraordinary.
Is he mad, corporal?” “Well, the sergeant thinks so; and that’s the
reason why I have got four men to help me to take him; but I don’t
think that he’s mad.” “He must be drunk then?” “No, I don’t think he’s
drunk either.” “He must be either mad or drunk: did he ever behave so
before?” “No, not to my knowledge.”

The officer and the ladies retired, and talked together. After
about five minutes had elapsed, the officer returned and said to
the corporal, “Are you quite sure that the prisoner behaved himself
properly before his ridiculous chase after the butterfly?” “I know of
nothing whatever against him, sir.” “Call him forward.” Edward advanced
towards the officer. “Well, sir, what have you to say about breaking
the ranks during drill, and running after the butterfly? are you
subject to fits of insanity?” Edward did not reply. “Can’t you speak,
sir?” cried the officer angrily. “Yes, sir,” replied Edward, “but you
have asked questions that I cannot answer.” “What induced you to leave
the ranks, and run after a harmless insect?” “I really do not know,
unless it was from a desire to possess the butterfly.”

[Sidenote: _HIS LIBERATION._]

Looks were exchanged between the officer and corporal, when the former,
calling Edward aside, said to him, “I dare say, young man, you are
not aware that the crime which you have committed against military
discipline is a very severe one. This constant disobedience to orders
must be put a stop to. But as this is your first offence, and as these
ladies have interceded for you, I shall endeavour to obtain your
acquittal, in the hope that you will closely attend to your duty in
future.” Addressing the corporal, he added, “Take him back to the
ranks, and tell Sergeant Forbes that I will speak to him about this
affair.” This was Edward’s first and last military offence; and he
served out the rest of his time with attention and diligence.


Edward disliked returning to his trade. His aversion to it was greater
even than before. He disliked the wages, which were low; but he still
more disliked the manner in which the masters treated their men. They
sometimes kept them idle for days, and towards the end of the week,
they would force them to work night and day in order to finish their
jobs. Edward liked his militia life much better; and, in order to get
rid of the shoemaking and continue his soldier’s life, he enlisted in
the 60th Rifles. When his mother heard of the decision he had come to,
she expressed herself as strongly opposed to it; and, working upon
the young man’s feelings, which were none of the hardest, he at last
promised not to go, and arrangements were made to get him off. Thus
ended Edward’s military career.

Before he left Aberdeen, he assisted his father as beadle (or
pew-opener) in the North Church, King Street. He continued in this
office for about two years. He liked the occupation very well, and was
sorry to leave it when he finally left Aberdeen to settle at Banff.


[21] Tadpoles and frogs.

[22] The _Penny Magazine_ was published in 1832, when Edward would be
about eighteen years old.

[23] _Maingie_—many—“a great lot.” From the German word _Menge_.

[24] It proved to be a _Brown Fritillery_.



EDWARD was about twenty years old when he left Aberdeen, and went to
Banff to work at his trade. He found a master there willing to employ
him. Shoemaking had not improved. Men worked long hours for little
wages. The hardest worker could only earn a scanty livelihood. Though
paid by the piece, the journeymen worked in the employers’ shops.
Their hours were from six in the morning till nine at night. They had
scarcely an interval of time that they could call their own.

Edward found the confinement more miserable than the wages. And yet
he contrived to find some time to follow his bent. He went after
birds, and insects, and butterflies. He annoyed his shopmates almost
as much as he had annoyed his schoolfellows. In summer time, he
collected a number of caterpillars, and put them in a box beside him
in the workshop, for the purpose of watching them, and observing their
development into the chrysalis state.

In spite of his care, some of the caterpillars got out, and wandered
about the floor, sometimes creeping up the men’s legs. Some of
the workmen did not care, but one of them was almost thrown into
convulsions when he knew that a “worm was out.” The other men played
tricks upon him. When any of them wanted a scene, they merely said,
“Geordie, there’s a lad oot!” Then Geordie would jump to his feet, and
would not sit down again until he was assured that all the worms were
fast in their boxes.

Edward was forced to keep his caterpillars in the workshop, as the
landlady with whom he lodged would not allow any of his “vermin,” as
she called them, to enter her house. He had one day taken in about a
dozen caterpillars of the Puss Moth, and asked her for a box to hold
them in. The landlady told him at once to get out of the house with his
“beasts.” She never could understand her lodger. She could not fathom
“fat kin’ o’ a chiel he was. A’body tried to keep awa frae vermin but


The idea again recurred to Edward of saving money enough to enable him
to emigrate to the United States. But this was prevented by his falling
in love! Man proposes: God disposes. He met with a Huntly lass at the
farm of Boyndie. He liked her, loved her, courted her, married her, and
brought her home to the house which he had provided for her in Banff.

Edward was only twenty-three years old when he brought his wife home.
Many may think that he was very imprudent in marrying so early. But
he knew nothing about Malthus on Population. He merely followed his
natural instincts. What kept him, would keep another also. It turned
out, however, that he married wisely. His marriage settled him for
life. He no longer thought of emigrating to America. Then his marriage
gave him a happy home. His wife was bright and cheerful, and was always
ready to welcome him from his wanderings. They were very poor, it is
true; but mutual affection makes up for much. Perhaps they occasionally
felt the bitterness of poverty; for Edward’s earnings did not yet
amount to more than about 9s. 6d. a week.


Another result of Edward’s marriage was, that it enabled him to carry
on his self-education in Natural History. While he lived in lodgings,
he had few opportunities for collecting objects. It is true, he
explored the country in the neighbourhood of Banff. He wandered along
the sands towards Whitehills, and explored the rocky cliffs between
Macduff and Gamrie. He learnt the geography of the inland country and
of the sea-coast. He knew the habitats of various birds and animals.
Some of the former he procured and stuffed; for by this time he had
acquired the art of preserving birds as well as insects. But while he
lived in lodgings he had no room for stuffed birds or preserved moths
and butterflies. It was only when he got a home of his own that he
began to make a collection of these objects.

[Sidenote: _WANT OF EDUCATION._]

It was a great disadvantage to him that his education should have been
so much neglected in his boyhood. He had, it is true, been at three
schools before he was six years old, but, as we have already seen, he
was turned away from them all because of his love of “beasts.” He had
learned comparatively little from his schoolmasters,—who knew little
themselves, and perhaps taught less. He was able to read, though with
difficulty. Arithmetic was to him a thing unknown. He had not even
learnt to write. It was scarcely possible that he could have learned
much in his boyhood, for he went to work when he was only six years old.

An attempt was made to teach him writing, whilst he was apprenticed to
Begg, the drunken shoemaker. He asked leave to attend a writing school
held in the evening. His master could not, or would not, understand the
meaning of his request. “What!” said he, “learn to write! I suppose
you will be asking to learn dancing next! What business have you with
writing? Am I to be robbed of my time to enable you to learn to write?”
Edward’s parents supported the application, and at last the master gave
his consent. But there was always some work to do, or something to
finish and carry home to the master’s customers, so that Edward rarely
attended the writing school; and at the end of the quarter, he knew
very little more of penmanship than he did at the beginning.

Edward had to begin at the beginning with everything. As we have
already said, he knew next to nothing of books. He did not possess a
single work on Natural History. He did not know the names of the birds
and animals that he caught. For many years after he had begun his
researches, his knowledge of natural objects was obtained by chance. He
knew little of the nature and habits of the creatures that he went to
seek; he scarcely knew where or how to find them. Yet his very absence
of knowledge proved a source of inexhaustible pleasure to him. All
that he learnt of the form, habits, and characteristics of birds and
animals, was obtained by his own personal observation. His knowledge
had been gathered and accumulated by himself. It was his own.


It was a misfortune to Edward that, after he had attained manhood, he
was so shy and friendless. He was as solitary as Wordsworth’s Wanderer.
He had no friend of any sort to direct him in his studies; none even to
lend him books, from which he might have obtained some assistance. He
associated very little with his fellow-workers. Shoemakers were a very
drunken lot. Edward, on the contrary, was sober and thoughtful. His
fellow shoemakers could not understand him. They thought him an odd,
wandering, unsettled creature. Why should he not, as they did, enjoy
himself at the public house? Instead of doing this, Edward plodded
homewards so soon as his day’s work was over.

[Sidenote: _A LOVER OF NATURE._]

There was, however, one advantage which Edward possessed, and it
compensated him for many difficulties. He was an intense lover of
Nature. Everything that lived and breathed had charms for him. He loved
the fields, the woods, the moors. The living presence of the earth was
always about him, and he eagerly drank in its spirit. The bubbling
brooks, the whispering trees, the aspects of the clouds, the driving
wind, were all sources of delight. He felt himself free amidst the
liberty of Nature.

The ocean in its devious humours,—sometimes peacefully slumbering,
or laving the sands with murmuring kisses at his feet; then, full of
life and motion, carrying in and out the fishermen’s boats along the
shores of the Firth; or, roaring with seeming agony, dashing itself
in spray against the rockbound coast,—these sights and scenes were
always a source of wonderment. As his wanderings were almost invariably
conducted at night, he had abundant opportunities of seeing, not only
the ocean, but the heavens, in their various aspects. What were these
stars so far off in the sky? Were they worlds? Were they but the
outposts of the earth, from which other worlds were to be seen, far
beyond the ken of the most powerful telescope?

To use Edward’s own words, “I can never succeed in describing my
unbounded admiration of the works of the Almighty; not only the
wonderful works which we ourselves see upon earth, but those wondrous
and countless millions of orbs which roll, both near and far, in the
endless immensity of space—the Home of Eternity.

“Every living thing that moves or lives, everything that grows,
everything created or formed by the hand or the will of the Omnipotent,
has such a fascinating charm for me, and sends such a thrill of
pleasure through my whole frame, that to describe my feelings is
utterly impossible.”

Another advantage which Edward possessed, besides his intense love of
Nature, was his invincible determination. Whatever object in Natural
History he desired to possess, if it were possible to obtain it, he
never rested until he had succeeded. He sometimes lost for a time
the object of which he was in search, because he wished to observe
its traits and habits. For this purpose, he would observe long and
carefully, before obtaining possession of it. By this means he was
enabled to secure an amount of information in Natural History, such as
no book, except the book of Nature, could have supplied him with.


Edward proceeded to make a collection of natural objects early in the
spring of 1838. He was then twenty-four years old, and had been married
about a year. He had, a short time before, bought an old gun for four
and sixpence; but it was so rickety that he had to tie the barrel to
the stock with a piece of thick twine. He carried his powder in a horn,
and measured out his charges with the bowl of a tobacco-pipe. His shot
was contained in a brown paper bag. A few insect bottles of middling
size, some boxes for containing moths and butterflies, and a botanical
book for putting his plants in, constituted his equipment.

As he did not cease shoemaking until nine at night, nearly all his
researches were made after that hour. He had to be back to his work in
the morning at six. His wages were so small, that he could not venture
to abridge his working hours. It was indispensably necessary for him
to husband carefully both his time and his money, so as to make the
most of the one and the best of the other. And in order the better to
accomplish this, he resolved never to spend a moment idly, nor a penny

[Sidenote: _HIS EQUIPMENT._]

On returning home from his work at night, his usual course was to equip
himself with his insect boxes and bottles, his botanical book and his
gun; and to set out with his supper in his hand or stowed away in his
pocket. The nearest spring furnished him with sufficient drink. So long
as it was light, he scoured the country, looking for moths, or beetles,
or plants, or birds, or any living thing that came in his way.

[Sidenote: _HIS WORK AT NIGHT._]

When it became so dark that he could no longer observe, he dropped down
by the side of a bank, or a bush, or a tree, whichever came handiest,
and there he dozed or slept until the light returned. Then he got up,
and again began his observations, which he continued until the time
arrived when he had to return to his daily labour. It was no unusual
circumstance for him—when he had wandered too far, and come upon
some more than usually attractive spot—to strip himself of his gear,
gun and all, which he would hide in some hole; and thus lightened of
everything, except his specimens, take to his heels and run at the top
of his speed, in order to be at his work at the proper time.

On Saturdays he could only make his observations late at night. He must
be home by twelve o’clock. Sabbath-breaking is an intolerable sin in
Scotland, and Edward was never a Sabbath-breaker. It was a good thing
for his mental and physical health that there was a seventh day during
which he could not and would not work. But for his seventh day’s rest,
he would have worked night and day. On Sundays he went to church with
his wife and family. After evening service he took off his best clothes
and donned his working dress. Then he took a few hours’ sleep in his
chair or lying across his bed, before setting out. He thus contrived to
secure a few hours’ observation on Monday mornings before six o’clock.

His neighbours used to say of him, “It is a stormy night that keeps
that man Edward in the house.” In fact, his neighbours were completely
bewildered about his doings. They gave vent to all sorts of surmises
about his wanderings by night. Exaggerated rumours spread about amongst
the town’s people. He went with a gun! Surely he couldn’t be a poacher
or a burglar? That was impossible. It was well known that he lived
soberly and honestly, denying himself many things, and never repining
at his lot, though living a life of hardship. But what could he mean
by wandering about at night amongst wild, lonely, and ghost-haunted
places? They wouldn’t have slept in Boyndie churchyard for worlds! And
yet that was one of Edward’s favourite spots!

[Sidenote: _HIS AMBUSCADES._]

He went out in fine starlit nights, in moonlight nights, and in cold
and drizzling nights. Weather never daunted him. When it rained, he
would look out for a hole in a bank, and thrust himself into it, feet
foremost. He kept his head and his gun out, watching and waiting for
any casualties that might happen. He knew of two such holes, both in
sandbanks and both in woods, which he occasionally frequented. They
were foxes’ or badgers’ dens. If any of these gentry were inside
when he took up his position, they did not venture to disturb him.
If they were out they did the same, except on one occasion, when a
badger endeavoured to dislodge him, showing his teeth. He was obliged
to shoot it. He could often have shot deers and hares, which came
close up to where he was; but they were forbidden animals, and he
resisted the temptation. He shot owls and polecats from his ambuscades.
Numbers of moths came dancing about him, and many of these he secured
and boxed,—sending them to their long sleep with a little drop of
chloroform. When it rained heavily, he drew in his head and his gun,
and slept until the first streaks of light appeared on the horizon; and
then he came out of his hole and proceeded with his operations.


At other times he would take up his quarters for the night in some
disused buildings—in a barn, a ruined castle, or a churchyard. He
usually obtained better shelter in such places than if he were seated
by the side of a stone, a bush, or a wall. His principal objection
to them was, that he had a greater number of visitors there than
elsewhere,—such as polecats, weasels, bats, rats, and mice, not to
speak of hosts of night-wandering insects, such as molluscs, beetles,
slaters, and centipedes. Think of having a polecat or a weasel
sniff-sniffing at your face while asleep! Or two or three big rats
tug-tugging at your pockets, and attempting to steal away your larder.
These visitors, however, did not always prove an annoyance. On the
contrary, they sometimes proved a windfall; for, when they came within
reach, they were suddenly seized, examined, and, if found necessary,
killed, stuffed, and added to the collection.

The coldest places in which Edward slept at night, were among the rocks
by the seaside, on the shingle, or on the sea-braes along the coast.
When exposed to the east wind, these sleeping-places were perishingly
cold. When he went inland he could obtain better shelter. In summer
time, especially, he would lie down on the grass and sleep soundly,
with the lock of his gun for his pillow, and the canopy of heaven for
his blanket. His ear was always open for the sounds of Nature, and when
the lark was carolling his early hymn of praise, long before the sun
had risen, Edward would rise and watch for daybreak—

              When from the naked top
    Of some bold headland he beheld the sun
    Rise up, and bathe the world in light.

In the course of his wanderings inland, he was frequently overtaken by
storms in the hills. He carried no cloak, nor plaid, nor umbrella, so
that he often got completely soaked before he could find shelter.


One of the most remarkable nights Edward ever spent, was under a
gravestone in the churchyard of Boyndie. The church of this parish
was at one time situated in the midst of the churchyard; but as it
was found inconvenient, and at a considerable distance from the bulk
of the parishioners, it was removed inland, leaving but a gable end
of the old church standing. The churchyard, however, is still used as
a burying-place. It stands on a high piece of ground overlooking the
sea, about two miles west of Banff. In clear days, the bold, rugged,
precipitous coast is to be seen, extending eastward as far as Crovie
Head. But the night of which we speak was very dark; the sky was
overhung with rolling clouds; the sea was moaning along the shore.
Edward expected a wild night, as he had seen the storm brewing before
he left home. Nevertheless he went out as usual.

[Sidenote: _A TERRIBLE NIGHT._]

He had always regarded a thunderstorm as one of the grandest sights. He
rejoiced in the warring of the elements by day, and also by night when
the inhabitants of the earth were wrapped in sleep. As he approached
old Boyndie, the storm burst. The clouds were ripped open, and the
zigzag lightning threw a sudden flood of light over land and sea.
Torrents of rain followed, in the midst of which Edward ran into the
churchyard and took shelter under a flat tombstone supported by four
low pillars. There was just room enough for him to lie down at full
length. The storm was not yet at its height. The thunder pealed and
crashed and rolled along the heavens, as if the universe were about to
be torn asunder, and the mighty fragments hurled out into infinity.
It became louder and louder—nearer and nearer. The lightning flashed
in red and yellowish fiery streams; each flash leaving behind it a
suffocating sulphurous odour. Then followed torrents of rain and hail
and lumps of ice.

After the thunderstorm, the wind began,—lightly at first, but,
increasing rapidly, it soon blew a hurricane. The sea rose, and lashed
its waves furiously along the coast. Although Edward had entertained no
fear of the thunder, he now began to fear lest the tremendous fury of
the wind would blow down the rickety gable end of the old church of
Boyndie; in which case it would have fallen upon the tombstone, under
which he lay.


[Sidenote: _A MYSTERY SOLVED._]

The hurricane lasted for about an hour, after which the wind fell.
Midnight was long past, and morning was approaching. Before leaving
the tombstone, Edward endeavoured to obtain a few minutes’ sleep. He
had just begun to doze, when he was awakened by a weird and unearthly
moaning. He listened. The moaning became a stifled scream. The noise
grew louder and louder, until it rose into the highest pitch of
howling. What could it be? He was in the home of the dead! Was it a
ghost? Never! His mind revolted from the wretched superstition. He
looked out to see what it could be; when something light in colour
dashed past like a flash, closely followed by another and a darker
object. After the screaming had ceased, Edward again composed himself
to sleep, when he was wakened up by a sudden rush over his legs. He
looked up. The mystery was solved! Two cats—a light and a dark one—had
been merely caterwauling in the graveyard, and making night hideous
according to their usual custom.

By this time the day was beginning to break, and Edward prepared to
leave his resting-place and resume his labours. He felt very stiff as
he crept from under the tombstone, where he had been lying in a cramped
position. He was both cold and wet; but his stiffness soon wore off;
and after some smart running in the open air, his joints became a
little more flexible; and, shortly after, he returned home.

[Sidenote: _MOTH-HUNTING._]

Edward had frequent mishaps when he went out on these nocturnal
expeditions. One summer evening he went out moth-hunting. The weather
was mild and fair; and it gave promise of an abundant “take” of
moths. He had with him his collecting-box under his arm, and a phial
of chloroform in his pocket. His beat lay in a woody dale, close by
the river’s side. He paced the narrow footpath backward and forward,
snapping at his prey as he walked along the path.

The sun went down. The mellow thrush, which had been pouring forth his
requiem to the parting day, was now silent. The lark flew to its mossy
bed, the swallow to its nest. The wood-pigeon had uttered his last coo
before settling down for the night. The hum of the bee was no longer
heard. The grasshopper had sounded his last chirp; and all seemed to
have sunk to sleep. Yet Nature is never at rest. The owl began to
utter his doleful and melancholy wail; the night-jar (_Caprimulgus
Europæus_) was still out with his spinning-wheel-like _birr_, _birr_;
and the lightsome roe, the pride of the lowland woods, was emitting his
favourite night bark.

The moths continued to appear long after the butterflies had gone to
rest. They crowded out from their sylvan homes into the moth-catcher’s
beat. These he continued to secure. A little drop of the drowsy
liquid, and the insect dropped into his box, as perfect as if still
in Nature’s hands. Thus he managed to secure a number of first-rate
specimens—amongst others, the Oak Egger moth, the Wood-Tiger moth, the
Cream-spot Tiger moth, the Bee-Hawk moth, the beautiful China-mark, the
Green Silver-line, and many other specimens. He hoped to secure more;
but in the midst of his operations he was interrupted by the approach
of an extraordinary-looking creature.


He was stepping slowly and watchfully along his beat, crooning to
himself, “There’s nae luck aboot the house,” when, looking along the
narrow footpath, he observed something very large, and tremendously
long, coming towards him. He suddenly stopped his crooning and came
to a stand-still. What could the hideous-looking monster be? He could
not see it clearly, for it had become dark, and the moon was not yet
up. Yet there it was, drawing slowly towards him. He was totally
unarmed. He had neither his gun nor even his gully knife with him. Fear
whispered, “Fly! fly for your life!” but courage shouted, “No! no!
stand like a man and a true naturalist, and see the worst and the best
of it!” So he stood his ground.


At length the animal gradually approached him. He now observed that it
consisted of three large and full-grown badgers, each a short distance
behind the other, the foremost being only about sixteen yards from
where he stood. He had for some time been on the look-out for a badger
to add to his collection, and now he hoped to be able to secure one.
He rushed forward; the badgers suddenly turned and made for the river
alongside of which his beat had extended. He wrapped a handkerchief
round his hand to prevent the animals biting him, threw off his hat,
and bolted after the badgers. He was gaining on them rapidly, and as he
came up with the last, which was bolting down into the river, he gave
it a tremendous kick; but, in doing so, he fell suddenly flat on his
back in the midst of the path. When he came to himself he began to feel
if his legs were broken, or if his head were still on. Yes, all was
right; but, on searching, he found a tremendous bump upon the back of
his head, as big as a turkey’s egg.

Such was the end of his night’s moth-hunting. But his head was so full
of badgers, and he was so confused with his fall, that when he reached
home and went to sleep, he got up shortly afterwards, loaded his gun
for the purpose of shooting a badger, and, as he was in the act of
putting a cap on the nipple, he suddenly awoke!



ALTHOUGH it is comparatively easy to observe the habits of animals by
day, it is much more difficult to do so at night. Edward, as we have
already said, was compelled by circumstances to work at shoemaking by
day, and to work at Natural History by night.

“It would have been much easier work for me,” said Edward, in answer
to an inquiry made as to his nocturnal observations, “had it been my
good fortune to possess but a single trustworthy book on the subject,
or even a single friend who could have told me anything about such
matters. But I had neither book nor friend. I was in a far worse
predicament than the young and intending communicants at the parish
church of Boyndie were, who, when asked a question by the good and
pious minister, and returning no answer, were told that they were
shockingly in the dark—all in the dark together. Now, they had a light
beside them, for they had their teacher in their midst. But I had no
light whatever, and no instructor. It was doubly dark with me. It was
decidedly the very blackness of darkness in my case. The only spark
or glimmer I had was from within. It proceeded from the never-ceasing
craving I had for more knowledge of the works of Nature. This was the
only faintest twinkle I had to lighten up my path, even in the darkest
night. And that little twinkle, together with my own never-flagging
perseverance, like a good and earnest pilot, steered me steadily and
unflinchingly onward.”


Although Edward was frequently out in winter-time, especially in
moonlight, his principal night-work occurred between spring and
autumn. The stillest and quietest, and usually the darkest part of
the night—unless when the moon was up—was from about an hour after
sunset until about an hour before sunrise. Yet, during that sombre
time, when not asleep, he seldom failed to hear the sounds or voices,
near or at a distance, of midnight wanderers prowling about. In the
course of a few years he learnt to know all the beasts and birds of
the district frequented by him. He knew the former by their noises and
gruntings, and the latter by the sound of their wings when flying. When
a feathered wanderer flew by, he could tell its call-note at once,
and often the family as well as the species to which it belonged. But
although he contrived to make himself acquainted with the objects of
many of these midnight cries and noises, others cost him a great deal
of time and labour, as well as some dexterous manœuvring.

The sounds of the midnight roamers, as well as the appearance of the
birds and animals, were invariably more numerous during the earlier
part of the year. In the spring and early part of summer they were
always the most lively. Towards the end of summer the sounds became
fewer and less animated; and the animals themselves did not appear
so frequently. Woods were the principal lodging-places of birds and
animals. There were fewer in the fields; still fewer among the rocks
or shingle by the sea-shore, except in winter; and in the hills, the
fewest of all.

[Sidenote: _THE ROE-DEER AND HARE._]

When he made his first night expeditions to the inland country, the
hoarse-like _bark_ of the Roe-deer, and the timid-like _bleak-bleak_ of
the Hare, puzzled him very much. He attributed these noises to other
animals, before he was able by careful observation to attribute them
to their true sources. Although the deer wanders about at all hours
of the night, occasionally grunting or barking, it does not usually
feed at that time. The hare, on the other hand, feeds even during the
darkest nights, and in spring and the early part of summer it utters
its low cry of _bleak-bleak_. This cry is very different from that
which it utters when snared or half-shot. Its cry for help is then most
soul-pitying: it is like the tremulous voice of an infant, even to the
quivering of its little innocent lips.

While Edward found that the deer and the hare were among the animals
that wandered about a good deal in the dark, he did not find that the
Rabbit was a night-roamer, although he occasionally saw it moving
about by moonlight. He often watched the rabbits going into their
burrows at sunset; and he also observed them emerging from them a
little before sunrise. But there was one thing about the rabbit that
perplexed and puzzled him. It did not emit any cry, such as the hare
does; but he often heard the rabbit _tap-tap_ in a particular manner.
How was this noise caused? He endeavoured to ascertain the cause by
close observation.

[Sidenote: _THE RABBIT._]

Early one morning, when he was lying under a whin bush, about twenty
yards from the foot of a sandy knoll, where there were plenty of
rabbits’ holes, he was startled by hearing a loud tap-tapping almost
close to where he lay! The streaks of day were just beginning to
appear. Parting the bush gently aside, and looking through it, he
observed a rabbit thud-thudding its hind feet upon the ground close to
the mouth of another rabbit’s hole.

Edward continued to watch the rabbit. After he had finished his tapping
at the first hole, he went along the hillock and began tap-tapping at
another. He went on again. He would smell the ground about the hole
first, and would sometimes pass without tapping. At last he got to a
hole where his progress was stopped. After he had given only two or
three thuds, out rushed a full-grown rabbit, and flew at the disturber
of the peace. He rushed at him with such fury that they both rolled
headlong down hill, until they reached the bottom.

[Sidenote: _A RABBIT-FIGHT._]

There they had a rare set-to—a regular rabbit-fight. Rabbits are fools
at fighting. Their object seems to be to leap over each other, and to
kick the back of their enemy’s head as they fly over; each trying to
jump the highest, and to kick the hardest. It is a matter of jumping
and kicking. Yet rabbits have an immense power in their hinder feet.
They often knock each other down by this method of fighting. They also
occasionally fight like rams—knocking their heads hard together. Then
they reel and tumble, until they recover, and are at it again, until
one or the other succumbs.

Edward is of opinion that the method pursued by the male rabbits,
of tapping in front of their neighbours’ holes, is to attract the
attention of the females. When the male comes out, instead of the
female, a fight occurs, such as that above described. At other times,
the rabbit that taps is joined by other rabbits from the holes, and a
friendly conference takes place. But, besides this loud beating with
their heels, the rabbits possess another method of communicating with
their fellows. They produce a sound like _tap-pat!_ which is the sign
of danger. Edward often saw numbers of them frisking and gambling
merrily about the mouths of their burrows, but when the sound of
_tap-pat_ was heard, the whole of the rabbits, young and old, rushed
immediately to their holes.

[Sidenote: _THE FOX._]

Amongst the true night-roamers are the fox, the otter, the badger,
the polecat, the stoat, the weasel, the hedgehog, the rat, and almost
the whole family of mice. These are, for the most part, nocturnal
in their habits. No matter how dark or tempestuous the night, they
are constantly prowling about. Even at the sea-shore,—the otter, the
weasel, and the mice, often paid Edward a visit. When on the hills or
moors, he often saw the weasel, and sometimes the fox; but the fields
and the sides of woods were the places where they were most frequently
met with. All these animals, like the deer and hare, have their
peculiar and individual calls, which they utter at night.

Thus the Fox may be known by his _bark_, which resembles that of a
poodle dog, with a little of the yelp in it; and he repeats this at
intervals varying from about six to eighteen minutes between each. When
suddenly surprised, the fox gives vent to a sharp harsh-like growl, and
shows and snaps his teeth. “I once,” says Edward, “put my walking-staff
into the mouth of a fox just roused from his lair—for foxes do not
always live in holes—to see how the fellow would act. He worried the
stick and took it away with him. I have, on three different occasions,
come upon two foxes occupying the same lair at the same time—twice on
the cliffs by the sea, and once among the bushes in an old and disused
quarry. In one instance I came upon them in mid-winter, and in the
other two cases during summer.”


The Badger utters a kind of snarling _grunt_. This is done in quick
succession. Then he is silent for a short time, and again he begins in
the same strain. The Otter, and most of the other night-roamers, have
a sort of _squeak_, which they utter occasionally. But though there
is a difference between them, which Edward could distinguish, it is
very difficult to describe it in words. Their screams, however, differ
widely from their ordinary call. The scream is the result of alarm or
pain, perhaps of a sudden wound; the call is their nightly greeting
when they hold friendly converse with each other; but the difference
in the screams can only be learnt by the ear, and can scarcely be
described by words.

The Field Mice—the “wee timorous beasties” of Burns—besides their
squeaking, lilt a low and not unmusical ditty for hours together.
Edward often heard them about him, sometimes quite near him, sometimes
beneath his head. He occasionally tried to clutch them, but on opening
his hand he found it filled with grass, moss, or leaves. The result of
his observations was, that several, if not the whole of the mouse race,
are possessed, more or less, of the gift of singing.

The otter, polecat, stoat, and weasel, have a knack of _blowing_ or
_hizzing_ when suddenly come upon, or when placed at bay. The three
latter stand up on their hind feet in a menacing attitude. Sometimes
they suddenly dart forward and give battle when they see no other
way of escape. This is especially the case with the females when they
have their young about them. Edward once saw a weasel, after hiding
her family amongst a cairn of stones, ascend to the top, and muttering
something all the while, by her threatening attitude and fierce showing
of her teeth, dared any one to approach her under penalty of immediate


A bite of a weasel, or polecat, or badger, or otter, is anything but
agreeable. The bites of the weasel and the polecat are the worst.
There seems to be some poison in their bites, for the part bitten
soon becomes inflamed, and the bite is long in healing. The whole of
this group of animals are of the same bold, fearless, and impetuous
disposition. They are also remarkably impertinent and aggressive, not
hesitating to attack man himself, especially when they see him showing
the slightest symptoms of cowardice. Take the following illustrations,
communicated by Edward himself:—

[Sidenote: _ATTACK BY A WEASEL._]

“Returning one morning from an excursion in the Buchan district, when
between Fraserburgh and Pennan, I felt so completely exhausted by
fatigue, want of sleep, and want of food (for my haversack had become
exhausted), that I went into a field near the road, lay down by a
dyke-side, and fell fast asleep. I had not slept long, however, when
I was awakened by something cold pressing in betwixt my forehead and
the edge of my hat. There were some small birds in my hat which I
had shot, and they were wrapped in wadding. On putting up my hand to
ascertain the meaning, I got hold of a Weasel, which had been trying
to force its way in to the birds. I threw him away to some distance
amongst the grass, and went to sleep again. The fellow came back in a
few minutes, and began the same trick. I gripped him hard this time,
and tossed him across the dyke[25] into another field, but not before
he had bitten my hands. I began to close my eyes once more, when again
the prowler approached. At last, despairing of peace, I left the spot
where I had been seated, and went into a small plantation about a
hundred yards off, and now, I thought, I would surely get a nap in
comfort. But the weasel would not be refused. He had followed in my
track. I had scarcely closed my eyes before he was at me again. He was
trying to get into my hat. I awoke and shoved him off. Again he tried
it, and again he escaped. By this time I was thoroughly awake. I was a
good deal nettled at the pertinacity of the brute, and yet could not
help admiring his perseverance. But, thinking it was now high time to
put an end to the game, instead of falling asleep, I kept watch. Back
he came, nothing daunted by his previous repulses. I suffered him to go
on with his operations until I found my hat about to roll off. I then
throttled, and eventually strangled, the audacious little creature,
though my hand was again bitten severely. After getting a few winks of
sleep, I was again able to resume my journey.”

Edward was once attacked by two pertinacious Rats in a similar manner.
He was making an excursion between Banff and Aberdeen, and had got
to a place near Slains Castle, beyond Peterhead. It had been raining
all day. It was now growing dark; and he looked about for a place to
sleep in. He observed a dilapidated building, which looked like the
ruins of a threshing-mill, as it stood near a farm-steading. He entered
the place, and found only a small part of the roof still standing. It
was, however, sufficient to protect him from the rain, which was still
falling. There was a pile of stones and rubbish immediately under the
roof, and having gathered together as much dry grass as he could find,
and spread it on the stones, he lay down in a reclining position. In
this position he soon fell fast asleep.

[Sidenote: _A BAD NIGHT’S SLEEP._]

How long he had slept he did not know; but he was awakened by a
quivering sort of motion about his head. He at first thought it was
caused by the sinking of the stones, and that his head was going down
with them. He sat bolt upright, clutched his gun and wallet to save
them, and felt the stones with his hands to ascertain whether they had
sunk or not. They were quite undisturbed. He again lay down, thinking
that he had only been dreaming. But before he could fall asleep, the
movement under his head again commenced. Thinking it might be a
weasel, and not wishing for his company, he moved to one side, adjusted
his bedding, moved the grass, and prepared to lie down again.


His sleep this time was of very short duration, for the tug-tugging
again commenced. He now raised his hand, at the same time that he
opened his eyes, and seized hold, not of a weasel, but of a rat. He
threw him away, thinking that that would be enough. Being assured that
there were no weasels there—for rats and weasels never associate—he now
thought he should be able to get a little sleep. He had no idea that
the rat would return.

But in this he was disappointed. He was just beginning to sleep when
he heard the rat again. He looked up, and found that two rats were
approaching him. So long as there were only two, he knew he could
manage them. He allowed them to climb up the stones and smell all about
him. One of them mounted his face, and sat upon it. They next proceeded
to his wallet, and endeavoured to pull it from under his head. They had
almost succeeded in doing so, when he laid hold of his wallet and drove
them off.

Being now in a sort of fossilised state from wet and cold, Edward did
not attempt to sleep again, but rose up from his bed of stones, secured
all his things, and marched away to recover his animal heat and resume
his explorations.

[Sidenote: _THE OTTER._]

Speaking of the Otter as a night-roamer, Edward observes:—“I am not
aware who first burlesqued the Otter as an amphibious animal. He must
have known very little of the animal’s true habits, and nothing at all
of its anatomical structure. The error thus promulgated seems to have
taken deep root. That the Otter is aquatic in habits is well known.
He goes into the water to fish, but he is forced to come up again to
breathe. In fact, a very small portion of the Otter’s life is spent
in the water. There are many birds that are far more aquatic than the
Otter. There are some, indeed, that never leave the water night nor
day; yet no one calls them amphibious birds. I have seen the Otter, in
his free, unfettered, and unmolested condition, both in the sea and
the river, go into the water, and disappear many a time, and I have
often watched for his reappearance. The longest time that he remained
under water was from three to four minutes; the usual time was from
two to three minutes. I have also watched numbers of water birds, who
have also to descend for their food, and I must say that the greater
number of them exceed the Otter in the time that they remain below
water. Some of them remain double the time. I once saw a Great Northern
Diver remain below water more than nine minutes. A porpoise that I
once watched, remained down about ten minutes; and so on with other
sea-birds and animals.”

Many of these night-roaming animals—such as the weasel, rat, badger,
otter, and polecat—are seen during the day; but these may only be
regarded as stray individuals, their principal feeding time being at
night. The rat may forage in the daytime, and the weasel is sometimes
to be seen hunting when the sun is high. But there was one circumstance
in connection with the manners and habits of these creatures which
surprised Edward not a little, which was,—that although he very seldom
saw any of them in the evening, or until after it was dark,—he never
missed seeing them in the morning, and sometimes after it had become
daylight. The same remark is, in a measure, applicable to many of the
night insects, to land crustaceans, beetles, many of the larger moths,
sandhoppers, and slaters.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF THE BOYNE.]

[Sidenote: _THE FUMART._]

One of the most severe encounters that Edward ever had with a nocturnal
roamer was with a Polecat or Fumart[26] in the ruined castle of the
Boyne. The polecat is of the same family as the weasel, but it is
longer, bigger, and stronger. It is called Fumart because of the fœtid
odour which it emits when irritated or attacked. It is an extremely
destructive brute, especially in the poultry-yard, where it kills far
more than it eats. Its principal luxury seems to be to drink the blood
and suck the brains of the animals it kills. It destroys everything
that the gamekeeper wishes to preserve. Hence the destructive war that
is so constantly waged against the polecat.

[Sidenote: _BOYNE CASTLE._]

The ruined castle of the Boyne, about five miles west of Banff, was
one of Edward’s favourite night haunts. The ruins occupy the level
summit of a precipitous bank forming the eastern side of a ravine,
through which the little river Boyne flows. One of the vaults, level
with the ground, is used as a sheltering place for cattle. Here Edward
often took refuge during rain, or while the night was too dark to
observe. The cattle soon got used to him. When the weather was dry,
and the animals fed or slept outside, Edward had the vault to himself.
On such occasions he was visited by rats, rabbits, owls, weasels,
polecats, and other animals.

One night, as he was lying upon a stone, dozing or sleeping, he was
awakened by something pat-patting against his legs. He thought it must
be a rabbit or a rat, as he knew that they were about the place. He
only moved his legs a little, so as to drive the creature away. But the
animal would not go. Then he raised himself up, and away it went; but
the night was so dark that he did not see what the animal was. Down
he went again to try and get a sleep; but before a few minutes had
elapsed, he felt the same pat-patting; on this occasion it was higher
up his body. He now swept his hand across his breast, and thrust the
intruder off. The animal shrieked as it fell to the ground. Edward knew
the shriek at once. It was a Polecat.


He shifted his position a little, so as to be opposite the doorway,
where he could see his antagonist betwixt him and the sky. He also
turned upon his side in order to have more freedom to act. He had in
one of his breast pockets a water-hen which he had shot that evening;
and he had no doubt that this was the bait which attracted the polecat.
He buttoned up his coat to his chin, so as to prevent the bird from
being carried away by force. He was now ready for whatever might
happen. Edward must tell the rest of the story in his own words:—

“Well, just as I hoped and expected, in about twenty minutes I observed
the fellow entering the vault, looking straight in my direction. He was
very cautious at first. He halted, and looked behind him. He turned
a little, and looked out. I could easily have shot him now, but that
would have spoilt the sport; besides, I never wasted my powder and
shot upon anything that I could take with my hands. Having stood for
a few seconds, he slowly advanced, keeping his nose on the ground. On
he came. He put his fore-feet on my legs, and stared me full in the
face for about a minute. I wondered what he would do next,—whether
he would come nearer or go away. When satisfied with his look at my
face, he dropped his feet and ran out of the vault. I was a good
deal disappointed; and I feared that my look had frightened him. By
no means. I was soon reassured by hearing the well-known and ominous
_squeak-squeak_ of the tribe. It occurred to me that I was about to be
assaulted by a legion of polecats, and that it might be best to beat a


“I was just in the act of rising, when I saw my adversary once more
make his appearance at the entrance. He seemed to be alone. I slipped
quietly down again to my former position, and waited his attack. After
a rather slow and protracted march, in the course of which he several
times turned his head towards the door—a manœuvre which I did not at
all like—he at last approached me. He at once leapt upon me, and looked
back towards the entrance. I lifted my head, and he looked full in my
face. Then he leapt down, and ran to the entrance once more, and gave a
_squeak_. No answer. He returned, and leapt upon me again. He was now
in a better position than before, but not sufficiently far up for my
purpose. Down went his nose, and up, up he crawled over my body towards
the bird in my breast pocket. His head was low down, so that I couldn’t
seize him.

“I lay as still as death; but, being forced to breathe, the movement
of my chest made the brute raise his head, and at that moment I gript
him by the throat! I sprang instantly to my feet, and held on. But I
actually thought that he would have torn my hands to pieces with his
claws. I endeavoured to get him turned round, so as to get my hand to
the back of his neck. Even then, I had enough to do to hold him fast.
How he screamed and yelled! What an unearthly noise in the dead of
night! The vault rung with his howlings! And then what an awful stench
he emitted during his struggles! The very jackdaws in the upper stories
of the castle began to _caw!_ Still I kept my hold. But I could not
prevent his yelling at the top of his voice. Although I gripped and
squeezed with all my might and main, I could not choke him.


“Then I bethought me of another way of dealing with the brute. I had
in my pocket about an ounce of chloroform, which I used for capturing
insects. I took the bottle out, undid the cork, and thrust the ounce of
chloroform down the fumart’s throat. It acted as a sleeping draught. He
gradually lessened his struggles. Then I laid him down upon a stone,
and, pressing the iron heel of my boot upon his neck, I dislocated
his spine, and he struggled no more. I was quite exhausted when the
struggle was over. The fight must have lasted nearly two hours. It
was the most terrible encounter that I ever had with an animal of his
class. My hands were very much bitten and scratched; and they long
continued inflamed and sore. But the prey I had captured was well
worth the struggle. He was a large and powerful animal—a male; and I
desired to have him as a match for a female which I had captured some
time before. He was all the more valuable, as I succeeded in taking him
without the slightest injury to his skin.”[27]

The Birds that roam at night are more easily described. Although the
Bat comes out pretty early in the evenings, it is not on night insects
that he chiefly feeds. It is rather on the day insects which have not
yet gone home to their rest. The bat flies mostly at twilight, and
inhabits ruins and buildings as well as hollow trees in the woods.

[Sidenote: _THE LONG-EARED OWL._]

The Owl is a nocturnal bird of prey. It flits by, as the twilight
deepens into night, and hoots or howls in hollow and lugubrious tones.
Though Edward was by no means given to fear, he was once scared at
midnight by the screech of a Long-eared owl (_Strix otus_). It was
only about the third or fourth night that he had gone out in search
of specimens. When he began his night-work, he was sometimes a little
squeamish; but, as he became accustomed to it, he slept quite as
soundly out of doors as in bed. He was as fearless by night as by day.
No thought of ghosts, hobgoblins, water-kelpies, brownies, fairies,
or the other supposed spirits of darkness, ever daunted him. But, on
this particular night, he had one of the most alarming and fearful
awakenings that he had ever experienced.

There had been a fearful thunderstorm, during which he had taken
shelter in a hole in the woods of Mountcoffer. He had fallen asleep
with his head upon the lock of his gun. Before he entered the burrow,
he had caught a field-mouse, which he wished to take home alive. He
therefore tied a string round its tail, attaching the other end of the
string (which was about six feet long) to his waistcoat. The little
fellow had thus the liberty of the length of his tether.

[Sidenote: _THE OWL’S SCREECHES._]

While Edward was sleeping soundly, he was awakened by something
tug-tugging at his waistcoat; and then by hearing a terrific series
of yells, mingled with screeches, close at his head. He was confused
and bewildered at first, and did not know where he was, or what the
dreadful noises meant. Recovering his recollection, and opening his
eyes, he looked about him. He remembered the mouse, and pulled back the
string to which it had been attached. The mouse was gone. Nothing but
the skin of its tail remained. He looked up, and saw an Owl sitting on
a tree a few yards off. He had doubtless begun to scream when he found
that his capture of the mouse was resisted by the string attached to
its tail. Edward emerged a little from his burrow, and drew out his
gun for the purpose of shooting the owl; but, before he could do this,
the owl had taken to his wings and fled away with his booty.

Besides the Long-eared owl, Edward also met with the Brown owl,—the
only two species that he met with in his district, or of which he can
speak from personal observation. Both of these owls uttered a _too-hoo_
when sinking down upon their prey; and, after they had secured it, they
would fly away without any further noise; but, if obstructed, they
would both set up a loud screech. Edward had many opportunities of
witnessing this trait in their characters. The best instance occurred
in the wood of Backlaw.


“Near the centre of this wood,” he observes, “and not far from the
farm of the same name, there is a small piece of stagnant water. I was
reclining against a tree one night, listening to a reptilian choir—a
concert of frogs. It was delicious to hear the musicians endeavouring
to excel each other in their strains, and to exhibit their wonderful
vocal powers. The defect of the concert was the want of time. Each
individual performer endeavoured to get as much above the concert
pitch as possible. It was a most beautiful night,—for there are
beautiful nights as well as days in the north,—and I am certain that
these creatures were enjoying its beauty as much as myself. Presently,
when the whole of the vocalists had reached their highest notes,
they became hushed in an instant. I was amazed at this, and began to
wonder at the sudden termination of the concert. But, looking about, I
observed a Brown Owl drop down, with the silence of death, on to the
top of a low dyke close by the orchestra.

[Sidenote: _THE BROWN OWL._]

“He sat there for nearly half an hour, during which there was perfect
silence. The owl himself remained quite motionless, for I watched him
all the time. Then I saw the owl give a hitch, and move his head a
little to one side. He instantly darted down amongst the grass and
rushes, after which he rose with something dangling from his claws.
It was a frog: I saw it quite distinctly. He flew up to a tree behind
the one against which I was leaning. I turned round a little, and
looked up to see how the owl would proceed with his quarry; whether he
would tear him in pieces, or gobble him up whole. In this, however,
I was disappointed. Although I moved very quietly, the quick eye
or ear of the owl detected me, and I was at once greeted with his
_hoolie-gool-oo-oo_ as loud as he could scream. I might have shot him;
but my stock of powder and lead was very low, and I refrained. Besides,
he soon put it out of my power by taking wing and flying off with his

[Sidenote: _NIGHT BIRDS._]

There were two other birds which Edward often observed prowling about
in the twilight in search of food,—namely, the Kestrel and Merlin. On
one occasion he shot a specimen of the latter, when it was so dark
that he could scarcely see it. He did not know that it was a hawk. He
thought it was a goatsucker by its flight. Many of the birds of prey
roamed about by night as well as by day. The harsh _scream_ of the
heron, the _quack_ of the wild duck, the _piping_ of the kittyneedy
(common sandpiper), the _birbeck_ of the muirfowl, the _wail_ of the
plover, the _curlee_ of the curlew, and the _boom_ of the snipe, were
often heard at night, in the regions frequented by these birds. Then
again, by the sea-side, he would hear by night the shrill _piping_
of the redshank and ring-dotterel, and the _pleck-pleck_ of the
oyster-catcher, as they came down from their breeding-grounds to the
shore, to feed or to hold their conclaves.

The Coot and Water-hen sometimes get very noisy after sunset. The
Landrail _craiks_ the whole night through, until some time after
the sun rises. The Partridge too either moves about or is on the
alert during spring and summer, as may be known by its often
repeated _twirr-twirr_. “The only bird we have here,” says Edward,
“that attempts to give music at the dead hours of night, is the
Sedge-warbler. It appears to be possessed of the gift of song during
the night as well as the day, and it is by no means niggardly in
exercising its vocal powers.

“Well do I remember,” he continues, “how the little mill-worker, of
scarcely ten years of age, was struck with admiration and almost
bewildered with delight, at the first of this species he had ever
heard exhibiting its mimicking powers; whereas now, I considered this
to be neither more nor less than the bird’s own natural melody. And if
there be any change in the delight with which I hear the Sedge-warbler,
although I have now turned the corner of ten times six, and have become
an old cobbler instead of a juvenile factory operative, yet when I hear
the little songster, I drink in the pleasure with even greater delight
than I did in those long-past years.”

[Sidenote: _THE ROOK._]

The Rook, too, is in a measure nocturnal in his habits during a certain
term of the year, especially when building his nest or when bringing
up his progeny. From the time when the foundation of the nest has been
laid, to the end of the matrimonial proceedings for the year, and
until the last chick has left the nest, the rookery is in a state of
continual _caw-cawing_ from morning till night. As the young brood of
rooks grow up, their appetites increase, and hence the incessant labour
of their parents in scouring the country for worms and grubs to furnish
them with their late supper or their early morning breakfast.

“I once,” says Edward, “during one of my country excursions, slept
beside a very large rookery in the woods of Forglen. Slept? no, I
could not sleep! I never was in the midst of such a hideous bedlam of
cawings. I positively do not believe that a single member of that black
fraternity slept during the whole of that night. At least I didn’t. If
the hubbub slackened for a moment, it was only renewed with redoubled
vehemence and energy. I found the rookery in the evening in the wildest
uproar, and I left it in the morning in the same uproarious condition.
I took good care never to make my bed so near a rookery again. Still,
in all justice, I must give the rook the very first and highest
character for attention to its young. It is first out in the morning to
search for food, and the last to provide for its family at night. The
starling is very dutiful in that way; but the rook beats him hollow.”


“As a rule,” says Edward, “so far as I have been able to observe, the
Skylark is the first songster in the morning, and the Corn-bunting the
last at night. It was no uncommon thing to hear the lark carolling
his early hymn of praise high up in the heavens, before there was any
appearance of light, or before I thought of rising to recommence my
labours. Nor was it unusual to hear the bunting stringing together
his few and humble notes into an evening song long after sunset, and
after I had been compelled to succumb from want of light to pursue my
researches. So far as I can remember, I do not think that I have heard
the Skylark sing after sundown.


“Amongst the sylvan choristers, the Blackbird is the foremost in
wakening the grove to melody, and he is also among the latest to retire
at night. As soon as the first streaks of grey begin to tinge the
sky, and break in through the branches amidst which he nestles, the
Blackbird is up, and from the topmost bough of the tree he salutes the
newborn day. And when all the rest of the birds have ended their daily
service of song and retired to rest, he still continues to tune his
mellow throat, until darkness has fairly settled down upon the earth.

[Illustration: FRASERBURGH.]

“After the Skylark and Blackbird have heralded the coming day, the
Thrush rises from her couch and pours out her melodious notes. The
Chaffinch, the Willow-wren, and all the lesser songsters, then join the
choir, and swell the chorus of universal praise.”


[25] _Dyke_ or _dike_, in the North, means a stone or earth wall, not a
ditch, as it means in the South.

[26] _Fumart_, from _ful merde_, old French.

[27] An encounter between an eagle and a polecat in the forest of Glen
Avon, Banffshire, is thus described in the _New Statistical Account of
Scotland_. “The eagle builds its eyrie in some inaccessible rock, and
continues from year to year to hatch its young in the same spot. One
of these noble birds was killed some years ago, which measured upwards
of six feet from tip to tip of the wings. One of the keepers of the
forest being one day reclining on the side of a hill, observed an eagle
hovering about for his prey, and, darting suddenly down, it caught hold
of a polecat, with which it rose up, and flew away in the direction
of an immense cliff on the opposite hill. It had not proceeded far,
when he observed it abating its course, and descending in a spiral
direction, until it reached the ground. He was led by curiosity to
proceed towards the spot, which was about a mile distant from him, and
there he found the eagle quite dead, with its talons transfixed in the
polecat. The polecat was also dead, with its teeth fixed in the eagle’s



BANFF was the central point of Edward’s operations. Banff is a pleasant
country town, situated on the southern shore of the Moray Firth. It
lies on a gentle slope inclining towards the sea. In front of it is the
harbour. Although improved by Telford, it is rather difficult of access
and not much frequented except during the fishing season. Westward of
Banff, a low range of hills lies along the coast. The burns of the
Boyne, Portsoy, and Cullen cross the range, and run into the sea.

The fishing town of Macduff, which may be considered the port of Banff,
lies about a mile to the eastward. To reach it, the river Deveron is
crossed by one of Smeaton’s finest bridges. The harbour of Macduff
is more capacious and more easy of entrance than that of Banff. Many
foreign vessels are to be seen there in the fishing season, for the
purpose of transporting the myriads of herrings which are daily brought
in by the fishermen.

[Sidenote: _CLIFFS OF GAMRIE._]

Eastward of Macduff, the coast becomes exceedingly rocky. The ridges
of the hills, running down towards the sea, seem to have been broken
off by the tremendous lashings of the waves at their feet, and thus
the precipitous rocks descend in several places about six hundred feet
to the shore. The coast scenery at Gamrie is unrivalled on the eastern
shores of Scotland. The cliffs are the haunts of myriads of sea-fowl.
“On a fine day,” says Edward, “and under the mild influence of a vernal
and unclouded sun, the scene is particularly beautiful. The ocean
lies tranquil, and stretched out before the spectator like an immense
sheet of glass, smiling in its soft and azure beauty, while over its
surface the kittywake, the guillemot, the razor-bill, and the puffin,
conspicuous by the brilliant orange and scarlet of its bill and legs,
are beheld wheeling with rapid wing in endless and varying directions.
On firing a gun the effect is startling. The air is immediately
darkened with the multitudes of birds which are roused by the report.
The ear is stunned by the varied and discordant sounds which arise. The
wailing note of the kittywake, the shrill cry of the tammy-norie, and
the hoarse voice of the guillemot, resembling, as it were, the laugh
of some demon in mockery of the intrusion of man amid these majestic
scenes of nature;—all these combined, and mingled occasionally with the
harsh scream of the cormorant, are heard above the roar of the ocean,
which breaks at the foot of these tremendous and gigantic precipices.”


The view from the heights of Gamrie on a summer evening is exceedingly
fine. The sea ripples beneath you. Far away it is as smooth as
glass. During the herring season, the fishing-boats shoot out from
the rocky clefts in which the harbours are formed. Underneath are the
fishing-boats of Gardenstown; to the right those of Crovie. Eastward,
you observe the immense fleet of Fraserburgh vessels, about a thousand
in number, creeping out to sea. Westward, are the fishing-boats of
Macduff, of Banff, Whitehills, Portsoy, Cullen, Sandend, Findochtie,
and the Buckies, all making their appearance by degrees. The whole
horizon becomes covered with fleets of fishing-boats. Across the Moray
Firth, in the far distance, the Caithness mountains are relieved
against the evening sky. The hills of Morven and the Maiden’s Pap are
distinctly visible. The sun, as it descends, throws a gleam of molten
gold across the bosom of the firth. A few minutes more and the sun goes
down, leaving the toilers of the sea to pursue their labours amidst the
darkness of the night.

Gamrie Head is locally called Mohr Head.[28] The bay of Gamrie is a
picturesque indentation of the coast, effected by the long operation
of water upon rocks of unequal solidity. The hills, which descend to
the coast, are composed of hard grauwacke, in which is deeply inlaid
a detached strip of mouldering old red sandstone. The waves of the
German Ocean, by perpetual lashing against the coast, have washed out
the sandstone, and left the little bay of Gamrie—the solid grauwacke
standing out in bold promontories—Mohr Head on the one side, and Crovie
Head on the other.


The fishing village of Gardenstown lies at the foot of the Gamrie
cliffs. It is reached by a steep winding path down the face of the
brae. The road descends from terrace to terrace. The houses look like
eyries, built on ledges in the recesses of the cliff. As you proceed
towards the shore, you seem to look down the chimneys of the houses
beneath. The lower and older part of the village is close to the sea.
The harbour seems as if made in a cleft of the rocks. The fishers of
this village are a fine race of men, with a grand appearance. They
are thorough Northmen; and but for their ancestors having settled at
Gamrie, they might have settled in Normandy and “come in with the
Conqueror” at the other end of the island.

A little eastward of Gardenstown is the little fishing village of
Crovie, containing another colony of Northmen. Farther out to sea
is the majestic headland of Troup. It is the home of multitudes of
sea-birds. Its precipices are penetrated with caves and passages, of
which the most remarkable are Hell’s Lum and the Needle’s Eye. Hell’s
Lum[29] consists of a ghastly opening on the slope of the hill near
Troup Head. From this opening to the sea there is a subterranean
passage about a hundred yards long, up which, on the occasion of a
storm, the waves are forced with great fury, until they find their
escape by the “Lum” in the shape of dense spray. The other opening, the
Needle’s Eye, runs quite through the peninsular rocky height. It is
about a hundred and fifty yards long, and is so narrow that only one
person at a time can with difficulty make his way through it.

Eastward of Troup Head the scenery continues of the same character.
The fishing village of Pennan, like Gardenstown, lies at the foot of a
ledge of precipitous rocks, and is enclosed by a little creek or bay.
From the summit of the Red Head of Pennan the indentations of the coast
are seen to Kinnaird’s Head in the east, and to the Bin Hill of Cullen
in the west.

[Sidenote: _THE NORTHERN DENS._]

The scenery of this neighbourhood, besides its ruggedness and wildness,
is rendered beautiful by the Glens or Dens which break through the
ridges of rock, and form deep ravines,—each having its little streamlet
at the bottom, winding its way to the sea. The water is overhung
by trees or brushwood, sometimes by boulders or grey rocks like
buttresses, which seem to support the walls of the Den. These winding
hollows are rich to luxuriance with plants and flowers,—a very garden
of delight to the botanist. Heaths, furze, primroses, wild rasps, wild
strawberries, whortleberries, as well as many rare plants, are to be
found there; whilst the songsters of the grove—thrushes, blackbirds,
and linnets—haunt the brushwood in varying numbers.

[Illustration: BAY OF ABERDOUR.]

[Sidenote: _DEN OF ABERDOUR._]

The most picturesque and interesting of these Dens are those of Troup,
Auchmedden, and Aberdour. The Dens, when followed inland, are found
to branch out into various lesser Dens, until they become lost in the
moors and mosses of the interior. The Den of Aberdour is particularly
beautiful. At its northern extremity, near where it opens upon the sea,
the rift in the glen is almost overhung by the ruins of the ancient
Church of Aberdour,[30] said to have been founded by St. Columbanus,
who landed on this part of the coast to convert the pagan population to
Christianity. The bay of Aberdour, with its bold headland, forms the
sea entrance to this picturesque valley.


The coast-line of Banffshire, without regarding the indentations of the
bays, extends for about thirty miles along the southern shores of the
Moray Firth. This was the principal scene of Edward’s explorations.
His rounds usually extended coastwise, for about seven miles in one
direction, and about six in another. He also went inland for six miles.
But he very often exceeded these limits, as we shall afterwards find.

Having referred to the coast-line, we may also briefly refer to the
inland portion of the county. Banffshire is of an irregular shape, and
extends from the southern shores of the Moray Firth in a south-westerly
direction toward Cairngorm and Ben Macdhui,—the highest mountain knot
of the Grampians. The middle portion of the county is moderately hilly.
Glen Fiddick, Glen Isla, and Strath Deveron, follow the line of hills
which descend in a north-westerly direction from the Grampians towards
the sea.


[Sidenote: _THE COUNTY OF BANFF._]

The county generally is under cultivation of the highest order. The
valleys are intersected with rich meadows and pasture-lands, which are
stocked with cattle of the choicest breeds. There are numerous woods
and plantations, both luxuriant and verdant, though there is a great
want of hedges. Agriculture is gradually extending upwards towards the
mountains. Moors and morasses are fast disappearing. In places where
the wail of the Plover, the birr of the Moorcock, and the scream of the
Merlin, were the only sounds,—the mellow voice of the Lark, the Mavis,
and the Blackbird, are now to be heard in the fields and the woods
throughout the country.

[Illustration: MAP OF BANFFSHIRE]

[Sidenote: _BEN MACDHUI._]

In the extreme south-western district lies the great mountain knot
to which we have already referred. The scenery of this neighbourhood
can scarcely be equalled, even in Switzerland, though it is at present
almost entirely unknown. Cairngorm, Benbuinach, Benaven, and Ben
Macdhui, surround Loch Avon and the forest of Glen Avon. The Banffshire
side of Ben Macdhui forms a magnificent precipice of 1500 feet, which
descends sheer down into the loch. This lonely and solemn lake is fed
by the streams flowing from the snows that lie all the year round
in the corries of the mountains above. These streams leap down from
the bare and jagged cliffs in the form of broken cataracts. One of
these falls has a descent of 900 feet. The parish of Kirkmichael,
in which this scenery occurs, is almost unpeopled. It has only one
village—Tomintoul—the highest in Scotland. The people who inhabit
it and the other hamlets of the parish, are of a different race and
religion, and speak a different language, from those who inhabit the
middle and lower parts of the county.[31]

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S ROUNDS._]

To return to the labours of our Naturalist. For about fifteen years
Edward made the greater part of his researches at night. He made them
in the late evening and in the early morning, snatching his sleep at
intervals between the departing night and the returning day.

His rounds, we have said, extended coastwise along the shore of the
Moray Firth, for about seven miles in one direction, and about six in
another. His excursions also extended inland for about five or six
miles. He had thus three distinct circuits. Although he only took one
of them at a time, he usually managed to visit each district twice a

Having sometimes wandered too far, as he frequently did, he divested
himself of his hunting paraphernalia, rolled them up together, hid them
in a hole or some convenient place, and then ran home as fast as he
could, in order to be at his work at the proper time. He once ran three
miles in twenty minutes. He measured the time by his watch,—for he had
a watch then, though, like himself, it is worn out now.

Occasionally, when kept late at work, he was prevented from enjoying
his evening ramble. After going to bed, and taking a short sleep,
he would set out in the dark, in order to be at the place where he
had appointed; from whence he worked his way homeward in the morning
towards Banff.

[Sidenote: _THE TWO GEESE._]

But though he made it a general practice during his nightly excursions
to return home in time for the morning’s work, he occasionally found it
necessary to deviate a little from this rule. When he was in search of
some particular bird, he was never satisfied or at rest until he had
obtained it. On one occasion two Geese, the first of their kind that he
had ever seen, caused him to lose nearly a whole week before he could
run them down.

He first saw them whilst walking out one Sunday afternoon. They were
swimming about on a piece of water near the town. He went out before
daylight next morning to the same place. But he saw no geese. He waited
for an hour, and then they made their appearance. They alighted on the
water within a short distance of the bar, where he was sitting. Had his
object been to secure them at once, he could easily have shot them, for
they were both within reach of his gun. But he wished to observe their
habits, and he waited for some time. Having satisfied himself on this
head, he next endeavoured to possess them. He shot one of them; the
other flew away.

He now desired to possess the other bird; but it was with extreme
difficulty that he could accomplish his object. Though the goose
returned, it was so extremely shy that it could scarcely be approached.
It was only by making use of many precautions, and resorting to some
very curious stratagems, that Edward was able to capture the bird. A
week elapsed before he could secure it. He shot it on Saturday; but he
did not recover it until the following morning.

[Sidenote: _THE LITTLE STINT._]

On another occasion a Little Stint (the least of the Sandpipers) cost
him two days and a night. It was the first bird of the kind he had ever
seen,—and it was the last. Though he was occasionally within a mile
or two of Banff during the pursuit of the bird, and though he had not
tasted food during the whole of his absence, lying during part of the
night amongst the shingle on the sea-shore, yet he never once thought
of leaving the chase until final success crowned his efforts. We must
allow him to tell the story in his own words.

[Sidenote: _FLOCK OF BIRDS._]

“I once had a desperate hunt after a Little Stint (_Tringa minuta_).
Returning home one evening along the links,[32] I heard a strange cry
coming, as it seemed, from the shore. I listened for some time, as I
knew it was the season (September) for many of our migratory species
to visit us. Never having heard the cry before, I was speedily on the
beach. But it was growing dark, and I had not cat’s eyes. The sound,
too, ceased so soon as I had gained the beach. After groping about
for some time, I thought I espied a rather large flock of birds at
some distance along the shore. I approached cautiously, and found
that I was correct; the flock consisting chiefly of ringed plovers,
dunlins, and sanderlings. From the latter circumstance, and from the
fact that the cry was that of a sandpiper, I was pretty sure that a
stranger was amongst them. Although I could see well enough that the
birds were on the wet sand between me and the water, I could not make
them out distinctly. Once or twice I thought I could distinguish one
considerably smaller than the others, but I soon felt that I had been
mistaken. I was now in a state of great excitement. Every limb shook
like an aspen leaf, or a cock’s tail on a windy day. What was I to do?
True, I might have fired at them, but the odds were greatly against my
being successful.


“It was now fairly dark, and the birds had retired to rest on a ridge
of rocks which intervenes between the sands and the links. Instead of
returning home, as any one else would have done, I laid myself down in
a hollow till morning, to wait their first appearance, in the hope of
attaining my object. It proved a wet and windy night, but daylight
brought with it a fine morning. With it also came two gunners from
Banff, striding along the beach on a shooting excursion. This vexed
me to the very heart. The birds were not yet astir, but I knew they
would rise at the approach of the men, who would doubtless attempt to
shoot them. Just as I anticipated, up went the birds; crack, crack went
the shots; and down fell several birds. Rising from my stony couch, I
rushed at once to the spot to see the victims, and found them all to
consist of sanderlings, dunlins, and one ringed plover. The gunners
were strangers to me, but I ventured to ask them to abstain from
firing until I had satisfied myself about the bird I sought; but they
seemed unable to understand why one bird could be of more interest
than another, and they told me that, as there were plenty of them, I
could fire away, and take my chance. I declined to shoot with them, but
eagerly watched each time they fired, and if a bird fell I went and
examined it; but I did not meet with the one I sought. The men at last
got tired, and went away.

“It was now my turn; but unhappily the birds, from being so often fired
at, had become extremely shy, so that to get near them for my purpose
was all but impossible. By perseverance, however, I at length made out
one, as I thought, a good deal smaller than the others. I succeeded
in creeping a little nearer. They rose; I fired, and down fell four.
I rushed breathless, hoping to pick up the bird in which I took such
interest. But, alas! no. It was not there. Away went the remaining
birds to the sea; then turning, they rounded a point or headland called
Blackpots, and disappeared from view. From this and from their not
returning, I knew that they had gone to the sands at Whitehills, about
three miles distant, to which place I proceeded. But no sooner had I
reached there, than back they flew in the direction from which they had
come. Back I went also, and found them at the old place.


“Just as I reached them, away they flew once more, and of course away
I went likewise. In this way we continued nearly the whole day,—they
flying to and fro, I following them. Towards evening, my strength
beginning to fail, and feeling quite exhausted, I gave up the chase,
and once more took up my abode amongst the shingle, in the hope that
they might again return there for the night. Just as I wished and
expected, and while it was yet light, they came and alighted about
thirty yards from where I lay. Away went fatigue, hunger, and thoughts
of home! In fact, the sight of this object of my day and night’s
solicitude made me a new creature. Off went the messengers of death.
Two of the birds fell; the rest fled once more to the sea. I followed,
but had not proceeded far when I observed one falter. Leaving its
companions, it bent its course towards where I stood, and suddenly
dropped almost at my feet. As I picked up the little thing, I could
not but feel thankful that my patience and perseverance had at last
been crowned with success. It was the first Little Stint I had ever
shot, and the only one I have ever seen in this neighbourhood.”

[Sidenote: _SHOEMAKING WORK._]

In thus pursuing his researches Edward lost much of his time, and, in
proportion to his time, he also lost much of his wages. But his master
used to assist him in making up his lost time. It was a common remark
of his, “Give Tam the stuff for a pair of pumps at night, and if he has
any of his cantrips in view, we are sure to have them in the morning
ready for the customer.” Edward took the stuff home with him, and,
instead of going to bed, worked at the shoes all night, until they were
finished and ready for delivery. He had another advantage in making
up for lost time. His part of the trade was of the lightest sort. He
made light shoes and pumps. He was one of those who, among the craft,
are denominated _ready_. He was thus able to accomplish much more
than those who were engaged at heavier work. This, together with his
practice of spending not a moment idly, was much in his favour.

He also contrived to preserve his specimens during his meal hours, or
in his idle times “betwixt pairs,”—whilst, as shoemakers would say,
they were “on the hing.” During the long winter nights, he arranged
the objects preserved, and put them in their proper cases. In order
the better to accomplish this work, he did not go to bed until a very
late hour. As he was not able to afford both fire and light, he put out
the lamp when engaged upon anything that could be done without it, and
continued his labours by the light of the fire.

When forced to go to bed, he went at once, and having slept at railway
speed for an hour or an hour and a half, he was up again and at work
upon his specimens. He felt as much refreshed, he said, by his sound
sleep, as if he had slept the whole night. And yet, during his sleep,
he must have had his mind fixed upon his work, otherwise he could not
have wakened up at the precise time that he had previously appointed.
Besides stuffing his own birds, he also stuffed the birds which other
people had sent him,—for which he was paid.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S TRAPS._]

One of the objects which he had in view in making his “rounds” so
frequently, was to examine the traps he had set, in order to catch the
beetles, grubs, and insects, which he desired to collect. His traps
were set with every imaginable organic material,—dead birds, rats,
rabbits, or hedgehogs; dead fish, crabs, or seaweed. He placed them
everywhere but on the public roads,—in fields and woods, both on the
ground and hung on trees; in holes, in old dykes, in water, both fresh
and stagnant. Some of these traps were visited daily, others once a
week, whilst those set in water, marshy places, and in woods, were only
visited once a month. He never passed any dead animal without first
searching it carefully, and then removing it to some sheltered spot.
He afterwards visited it from time to time. Fish stomachs, and the
refuse of fishermen’s lines, proved a rich mine for marine objects. By
these means he obtained many things which could not otherwise have been
obtained; and he thus added many rare objects to his gradually growing


He was, however, doomed to many disappointments. One of these may be
mentioned. Among his different collections was a large variety of
insects. He had these pinned down in boxes in the usual manner. He
numbered them separately. When he had obtained the proper names of the
insects, his intention was to prepare a catalogue. He knew that there
were sheets of figures sold for that and similar purposes, but he
could not afford to buy them. He accordingly got a lot of old almanacs
and multiplication tables, and cut out the numbers. It was a long and
tedious process, but at length he completed it.


When the insects were fixed and numbered, Edward removed the cases into
his garret preparatory to glazing them. He piled them, one upon the
other, with their faces downwards, in order to keep out the dust. There
were twenty boxes, containing in all 916 insects. After obtaining the
necessary glass, he went into the garret to fetch out the cases. On
lifting up the first case, he found that it had been entirely stripped
of its contents. He was perfectly horrified. He tried the others. They
were all empty! They contained nothing but the pins which had held the
insects, with here and there a head, a leg, or a wing. A more complete
work of destruction had never been witnessed. It had probably been
perpetrated by rats or mice.

His wife, on seeing the empty cases, asked him what he was to do next.
“Weal,” said he, “it’s an awfu’ disappointment, but I think the best
thing will be to set to work and fill them up again.” To accumulate
these 916 insects had cost him four years’ labour! And they had all
been destroyed in a few days, perhaps in a single night!

It will be remembered that Audubon had once a similar disappointment.
On leaving Henderson in Kentucky, where he then lived, he left his
drawings, representing nearly a thousand inhabitants of the air, in the
custody of a friend. On returning a few months later, and opening his
box, he found that a pair of Norway rats had taken possession of the
whole, and gnawed up the drawings into little bits of paper. Audubon
did what Edward now determined to do. He went out into the woods with
his gun, his notebook, and pencils, and in the course of about three
years he again filled his portfolio.

Edward duly carried out his purpose. He went moth-hunting as before; he
hunted the moors and the woods, the old buildings and the graveyards,
until, in about four more years, he had made another collection of
insects; although there were several specimens contained in the former
collection, that he could never again meet with.


Edward had now been observing and collecting for about eight years. His
accumulations of natural objects had therefore become considerable.
By the year 1845, he had preserved nearly 2000 specimens of living
creatures found in the neighbourhood of Banff. About half the number
consisted of quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fishes, crustacea, starfish,
zoophytes, corals, sponges, and other objects. He had also collected
an immense number of plants. Some of the specimens were in bottles,
but the greater number were in cases with glass fronts. He could not
afford to have the cases made by a joiner; so he made the whole of them
himself, with the aid of his shoemaker’s knife, a saw, and a hammer.

In order to make the smaller cases, he bought boxes from the merchants;
and in breaking them up, he usually got as many nails as would serve
to nail the new cases together. To make the larger cases, he bought
wood from the carpenters. He papered the insides, painted the outsides,
and glazed the whole of the cases himself. The thirty cases containing
his shells were partitioned off,—each species having a compartment
for itself. This was a difficult piece of work, but he got through it
successfully. There were about 300 cases in all.

His house was now filled with stuffed birds, quadrupeds, insects, and
such like objects. Every room was packed with the cases containing
them, his shoemaking apartment included. What was he to do with them?
He had, indeed, long had a project in his mind. In the first place,
he wished to abandon the shoemaking trade. He was desirous of raising
money for the purpose of commencing some other business. He also wished
to have some funds in hand, in order to prosecute his investigations
in Natural History. How could he raise the requisite money? He thought
that he might raise a part of it by exhibiting his collection. Hence
his large accumulation of specimens, and his large collection of cases.


There was a feeing fair held twice a year at Banff, on market
days,—called Brandon Fair. Young lads and lasses came in from the
country to be feed, and farmers and their wives came in to fee them.
It was a great day for Banff. All the shows and wild beasts, the
dwarfs and giants, the spotted ladies and pig-faced women, accompanied
by drums and trumpets, converged upon Banff on that day. The town,
ordinarily so quiet, became filled with people—partly to hire and be
hired, and partly to see what was to be seen. The principal streets
were kept in a continual row until the fair was over.

Edward gave an exhibition of his collection at the Brandon Fair in May
1845. He took a room in the Trades’ Hall, and invited the public to
inspect his “Collection of preserved Animals, comprising Quadrupeds,
Birds, Fishes, Insects, Shells, Eggs, and other curiosities.”

The local paper called the public attention to the rare and beautiful
objects contained in Edward’s Collection—“the results of his own
untiring efforts and ingenuity, without aid, and under discouraging
circumstances which few would have successfully encountered. . . . Our
young friends especially should visit the Collection: it will both
amuse and instruct them. They will learn more from seeing them in
half-an-hour, than from reading about them in half-a-year.”

Edward took the inhabitants by surprise. They had never been able
to understand him. His wanderings by night had been matter of great
wonderment to them. The exhibition fully explained the reason of his
frequent disappearances. When his public announcement was advertised,
some of the better classes called at his house in Wright’s Close, to
ascertain if it was true. True, indeed! He pointed to the cases of
stuffed birds and animals which nearly filled his house. Then the
question came—“What made you a Naturalist?”


“When I was first asked this question,” says he, “I was completely
dumfoundered! I had no notion that a Naturalist could be _made_. What!
make a Naturalist as you would make a tradesman! I could not believe
that people became Naturalists for pecuniary motives. My answer to
those who put the question invariably was, and still is, _I cannot
tell_. I never knew of any external circumstance that had anything
to do with engendering, in my mind, the never-ceasing love which I
entertained for the universal works of the Almighty; so that the real
cause must be looked for elsewhere.”


In preparing for the exhibition of his Collection, Edward brushed up
his specimens, and cleaned his cases, before removing them to the
Trades’ Hall. But in looking over his Collection, he found that he
had sustained another serious loss. He regarded it at the time as a
heartrending catastrophe. Some time before, he had put nearly 2000
dried and preserved plants into a box, which he had placed at the
top of the stair, in order to be out of harm’s way. The plants were
all dried and preserved. They were the result of eight years’ labour
employed in collecting them. But when he went to overhaul the box,
he found that the lid had been shoved to one side, and that numerous
cats had entered it and made it their lair. The plants were completely
soaked, and rendered utterly worthless. The box smelt so abominably,
that he was under the necessity of making a bonfire of it in the


All this was exceedingly disheartening. Nevertheless he removed his
remaining collection to the place appointed for exhibiting it. He
had no allurements,—no music,—no drums nor trumpets, as the other
show-people had. His exhibition was held in an upper room, so that
the sight-seers had to mount a long stair before they could see the
Collection. Nevertheless, many persons went to see it; and the result
was, that Edward not only paid his expenses, but had something laid by
for future purposes.

He went on collecting for another exhibition, and increased his
specimens. He replaced, to a certain extent, the plants which had been
destroyed by the recklessness of the cats. He obtained some wonderful
fishes and sea-birds. His collection of eggs was greatly increased. He
now prepared for a second exhibition at the Brandon Fair, 1846. On that
occasion he was able to exhibit many old coins and ancient relics.

This exhibition was more attractive and more successful than the first.
It yielded a better remuneration; but, what was more satisfactory,
Edward was much complimented by those who had inspected his Collection.
It excited general applause. In short, it was considered by Edward
himself to be so successful as to induce him to remove the Collection
to Aberdeen, for exhibition in that important city.


[28] The Celtic name for _Big Head_.

[29] _Lum_, or chimney.

[30] The modern church is at New Aberdour, nearer the centre of the
population; but the churchyard at Old Aberdour is still used as the
parish burying-ground. Nothing can be more disgraceful than the state
of some of the country burying-places in Scotland. The graves at
Aberdour are covered with hemlocks and nettles! And yet some money
seems to have been spent in “ornamenting” the place. The ruins of the
ancient church have actually been “harled”—that is, bespattered with
a mixture of lime and gravel! Think of “harling” Melrose Abbey! The
money spent in whitewashing the ruins would certainly have been better
expended in removing the bits of old coffins, cutting down the hemlocks
and nettles, and putting the burying-ground into better order. The
Queen has shown a good example in ordering the churchyard of Crathie to
be improved. But that of Braemar is still in a wretched state, being
covered with hemlocks and nettles.

[31] Their race is Celtic, whereas the inhabitants of the sea-shore are
for the most part Scandinavian. Their language is Gaelic, whereas that
of the rest of the county is Scoto-English. Their religion is Roman
Catholic, whereas that of the lower part of the county is Protestant.
There are many districts in Scotland where, in consequence of the
inaccessibility of the roads, the Reformation never reached.

[32] _Links_—sandy flat ground, sometimes covered with grass, lying
along the sea-shore.



BANFF was a comparatively small and remote town; whereas Aberdeen was
the centre of northern intellect and business. At Banff, comparatively
few persons knew much about natural history or science; whilst Aberdeen
had two universities, provided with professors, students, and all the
accompaniments of learning. It also contained a large and intelligent
population of educated business men, tradesmen, and artizans.

Edward was sanguine of success at Aberdeen. It was his City of
Expectations. He was now doubly desirous of giving up shoemaking,
and devoting himself to Natural History. For this purpose, he wanted
means and a settled income. He intended to devote the proceeds of his
exhibition in several ways. He had, indeed, almost settled them in his
own mind. He would, in the first place, make arrangements for opening
a coffee-house or provision shop for the employment and support of his
family. He would next purchase some works on Natural History by the
best authors. He would probably also buy a microscope and some other
necessary scientific instruments. Alnaschar, in the _Arabian Nights_,
with the basket of glass at his feet, did not dream more of what he
would do with his forthcoming income, than Edward did of what he would
do with the successful results of his exhibition at Aberdeen.


But Edward must now be up and doing. The cases had to be put in order;
new objects had to be added to the collection; new birds had to be
stuffed. Some of the groups had to be arranged in dramatic form. One
of these consisted of the Death of Cock Robin. There was the Sparrow
perched upon a twig, warrior-like, with his bow in one of his feet, and
his arrow-case slung across his back. There was the red-breasted Robin
lying on a green and mossy knoll, with the arrow shot by the sparrow
sticking in his little heart; and in a burn meandering close by, there
was a silvery fish with its little dish, catching Robin’s life-blood.
There was also a great black beetle, with a thread and needle, ready to
sew his shroud.

In another case, the Babes in the Wood were represented,—two Robin
Redbreasts covering their tender bodies with leaves. There was a case
of mice, entitled “Pussy from Home:” the mice, large and small, were
going into and coming out of a meal-bag, which they were rifling. There
was another large case, containing a number of small birds in a state
of great excitement, darting and pecking at an object in the middle
of the case, which proved to be a Weasel, attempting to rob a yellow
Bunting’s nest, containing six eggs, one of which the weasel had
rolled out. Perhaps the best case was the one containing a Pheasant,
with six young birds,—all beautifully stuffed. For this Edward was
offered three guineas before he left Banff.


At length all was ready, and Edward, with a light heart, left Banff
for Aberdeen. The collection was taken in six carriers’ carts,—the
largest that could be found. Edward could not take it by railway, for
there were no railways then in Banff. The whole family accompanied
the collection. It consisted of Edward, his wife, and five children.
They set out early in the morning of Friday, the 31st of July 1846,—a
memorable day in Edward’s history. The six cartloads arrived safe at
Aberdeen on the evening of the following day.

Edward had previously taken the shop No. 132, Union Street, for
the purposes of his exhibition. This street is the finest in
Aberdeen—perhaps the finest in Scotland. It is wide and broad, and
about a mile long. The houses are of hewn granite; some of them of
massive and noble architecture. Union Street is the representative
street of the Grey City.


Handbills were issued, and advertisements published in the local
journals, announcing the opening of the exhibition. In the handbill
it was stated that “the objects comprising this collection have been
collected in the counties of Banff and Aberdeen, and preserved by a
single individual, and that individual a journeyman shoemaker. They
have been exhibited by him in Banff, to the delight and admiration of
every visitor—all being surprised at the beauty, order, and multitude
of the various objects,—some going so far as to doubt the fact of
the proprietor being a shoemaker, saying that it was impossible for
a person of that trade being able to do anything like what they saw
before them!”

“Thomas Edward takes the liberty of stating that the Collection is
allowed by eminent Naturalists to be one of the greatest curiosities
ever offered for public inspection in this quarter, amounting, as
it does, to above two thousand objects; and being the work of one
individual, who had to labour under every disadvantage, having none
to tell how or where to find the different objects, none to teach him
how to preserve these objects when found, no sound of promised reward
ringing in his ears to urge him on his singular course, no friend to
accompany him in his nightly wanderings; help from none; but solely
dependent on his own humble abilities and limited resources.

“Were it possible for words to describe, in adequate terms, the
unexampled assiduity and unwearied perseverance with which Thomas
Edward has laboured in the formation of his Collection, it would
surprise every individual capable of reflection. Such not being the
case, a visit to the Exhibition can alone enable the public to form
any idea of the extent of his labours. The ocean, the rocky shore,
the shingly and sandy beach, the meadows, the cultivated fields, the
whinny knowes, the woods; the running brooks, the stagnant pools,
the muddy and unsavoury ditches, the marshy flats; old walls, ruined
towers, and heath-clad hills, have all been visited and anxiously
searched in order to procure the objects which compose the Collection.”


Such was Edward’s appeal to the people of Aberdeen to come and see his
Collection. The terms were very moderate,—“Ladies and Gentlemen, 6d;
Tradespeople, 3d.; Children, half-price.” The _Aberdeen Journal_ thus
noticed the Collection—“We have been particularly struck with the very
natural attitudes in which the beasts and birds of prey are placed;
some being represented as tearing their victims, others feeding their
young, and some looking sideward or backward, with an expression of
the eye which indicates the fear of interruption. The birds are very
beautiful, and the entomological specimens will be found exceedingly

On the Thursday following his arrival in Aberdeen, Edward opened his
collection. He was in hopes that there would be a rush to see the
objects which he had collected with so much difficulty during the last
eight years. He believed in himself, though others did not yet believe
in him. But there was no rush—no eager multitude crowding the door of
No. 132. Indeed, very few persons called to see the Collection. These
might, however, tell their friends of its interest, and the rush might
still come. But he waited in vain. The rush never came.


The principal people who called upon him during the first ten days
were stuffed-bird sellers, and persons who pestered him to buy nearly
everything of a bestial kind, alive or dead. Some of the articles
offered were monstrosities or delusions, such as double chickens,
double mice, a kitten with a rat’s head, a double-headed dog, a rat
with two tails, both curled up like a pig’s,—and such like objects.
These people were all bowed to the door.

Several ladies called upon Edward to consult him about their favourite
pets. One had a lapdog that was sick; another a bird that was lame;
others had crippled or diseased cats. He was asked to come and see a
pig that had broken one of its legs. A gentleman called upon him one
day about an old and favourite rabbit whose front teeth had grown so
forward that it could not eat,—“Would he come and cut them off?” “No!
he had not time. He must attend to his exhibition.”

Very few people came. Those who did come, knew very little about
natural history. Their ignorance of the works of nature seemed to
Edward surprising. Only a few knew anything, excepting about the
commoner sorts of animals. As to the number, and nature, and habits
of living creatures, they appeared to know next to nothing. The
transformation of insects was a mystery to them. They could not see
how it was possible for an ugly caterpillar to become transformed into
a beautiful butterfly. Edward felt very much for the ignorance of men
of his own class: it was simply deplorable.


Dr. Macgillivray, Professor of Natural History in Marischal College,
Aberdeen, called upon Edward, and was much pleased with his collection
of Banffshire fauna. The professor told him that the inhabitants of
Aberdeen were not yet prepared for an exhibition of this kind. There
was not even a public museum in the city; no collection of natural
objects; no free library; nothing for the enlightenment of the higher
and nobler faculties of man! To this cause Edward, in a great measure,
attributed the failure of his exhibition. Some of the professors who
afterwards called to see the collection, told Edward that “the people
of Aberdeen were not yet prepared for such an exhibition, especially as
it had been the work of a poor man. He had come several centuries too

Several of the persons who examined the exhibition, did not believe
that it had been the work of Edward at all. Among his better-class
visitors was a gentleman who frequently came in as he passed,
and carefully examined the specimens. He sometimes gave Edward
half-a-crown, and would not take any change back. The gentleman was
an inveterate and persistent interrogator. His questions were usually
of a personal character. But Edward had by this time prepared a _bag
of forgetfulness_, into which he put all the disagreeable things that
were said to him; and once there, he remembered them no more. Edward
believed that his visitor belonged to the medical profession, and that
he was connected with a neighbouring dispensary.[33]


One day the visitor arrived, and without looking at the specimens,
he went directly up to Edward and asked, “Well, how are you getting
on?” “Very poorly,” was the answer. “And no wonder!” said the visitor.
“How?” “How!” he almost shouted, “because the people here don’t believe
in such a thing. I am sure of it from what I know and have heard

“But if they would only come!”

“Come? that’s the very thing. It seems they’ll not come. And although
they did, what satisfactory evidence is there that what they see is
the result of your own unaided and individual labour? You are quite a
stranger here. You should have had some persons of high standing in
the city to take you under their patronage: say the professors of both
colleges, or the provost and town-council. Oh! you needn’t shake your
head and look at the floor. It would have been much better.”

“I never considered myself in a position,” said Edward, “to ask such a

“Then you’ll not succeed here unless you do something of the sort.”

“In that case, then,” said Edward, “I’ll be plain enough to tell you
that I never will succeed.”


“You are too stiff—too unbending,” said the Doctor. “Then, you
know very well, that you have nobody in Aberdeen to confirm your
extraordinary statement. You say that the whole of this collection is
entirely the work of your own hands, and that it is your own exclusive

“Yes! I bought the game birds; and as regards the others, I procured
the whole of them myself,—preserved them and cased them, just as you
see them.”

“And had you to work for your living all that time?”

“Yes; and for the living of my family too.”

“Then you have a wife and a family?”

“Yes, I have five children.”

“The devil!”

“No, sir, I said children.”

“Ah, yes, I know; I beg your pardon. But do you mean to say that you
have maintained your wife and family by working at your trade, all the
while that you have been making this collection?”


“Oh, nonsense! How is it possible that you could have done that?”

“By never losing a single minute, nor any part of a minute, that I
could by any means improve.”

“Did you ever hear of any one else who had ever done the like before?”

“No. But thousands might have done it, and much more too.”

“Well, I don’t believe it. I have never heard of such a thing, and I
have never read of such a thing!”

“But I never thought,” said Edward, “that I was doing anything, that
any one else might not have done. I was quite unaware of the fact that
I was doing anything in the least way meritorious. But if I have, as a
journeyman shoemaker, done anything worthy of praise, then I must say
that there is not a working man on the face of the earth that could not
have done much more than I have done; for of all the occupations that
are known, that of shoemaking is surely the very worst.”


“Had you been an outside-worker, I would not have thought so much about
it; but even then it would have been surprising. But having to work
from morning to night in a shoemaker’s shop—where these things can
neither be seen nor found—the thing is perfectly inconceivable. I’ll
give my oath that, so far as Aberdeen is concerned, or I believe any
other place, there is not a single working-man who could, by himself,
have done anything of the sort. I tell you, that there is no person
who knows the labouring people and their circumstances, better than
I do; and I tell you again, that, situated as they are, the thing is
quite impossible. They have neither the learning nor the opportunities
necessary for scientific pursuits; nor yet the time nor the money to
spare for the purpose. No, poor devils! they need all their time and
all their money to eke out their bare and half-starved existence.”

“I quite agree with you,” replied Edward, “in some of your remarks;
but I am sorry to say that the wretchedness you allude to, is in too
many cases attributable to themselves, and also to their slatternly
and improvident wives. They do not go into the fields to drink in the
sweets of nature, but rush unthinkingly into the portals of hell, and
drown their sorrows in whisky. In this way they beggar themselves and
pauperise their families.”

“There is doubtless something in that,” said the doctor, “but I spoke
in general. Of course, there are exceptions. It would appear that
you are one, and a most extraordinary one too. And here it is that
I am most puzzled. I can’t understand how you have done all this
single-handed. Besides, you must have read a great deal. You must
have had access to the best scientific works; and you must also have
possessed sufficient means to enable you to collect and arrange these
things as they now are.”


“Permit me to say, sir,” said Edward, “that I am not a book-learner,
nor have I ever read any scientific works. I never had any access to
them. Nor do I possess any means besides those that I have earned by
hard and constant work.”

“What! have you had no education? no access to scientific works?”

“No, sir.”

“Then, how the deuce did you manage?”

“Well, I think I have told you that several times before. But I’ll tell
you again,—this time in a few words. My chief school was the Earth, and
my principal teacher was Nature. What I have been able to do, has been
done by economising every farthing of money, and every moment of time.”

“Do you mean to say that you got no education, and had no money but
what you worked for?”

“I do, and”——

“Confounded nonsense!”


“Allow me to proceed! It is not always those who have the most money
and the best education, that do the most work, either in natural
history or anything else.”

“Oh yes! That’s all very well; but it’s not to the point. But (looking
at his watch) I find I must go. I’ll call again; for I am determined to
be at the bottom of this affair.”

The next time he called, Edward was standing at the door. “Well,” said
he, “I can’t wait to-day, for I have to go into the country, and I
can’t be home for a week. But here’s your fare.” “No, no,” said Edward;
“you haven’t been in.” “Very well, here goes!” and he pitched the fare
in amongst the birds. When Edward went to look at the fare, instead of
a penny, he found a crown-piece. The gentleman never called again. By
the time he returned from the country, the exhibition was at an end.


As Edward had announced in his handbill that he had been an inhabitant
of Aberdeen, and worked at the Grandholm Mills in his boyhood, some of
his old companions called upon him at the Exhibition. The paragraph in
the handbill was as follows:—“The idea of having a collection of the
Works of Nature was first formed by him (the Exhibitor) in very early
life, and whilst traversing the country in the vicinity of Aberdeen,
but more particularly when wandering amongst the delightful haughs
of Grandholm, where he went to work when little more than nine years
of age. Should this come under the notice of any of those who were
mill-mates with Thomas Edward, they perchance may remember the boy they
all wondered at so much, because he would not join in their youthful
sports, but rather chose to wander alone through the woods or by the
banks of the Don, in quest of those objects, the pursuit of which in
after years cost him so much labour, time, and expense.”


As nearly twenty years had passed since Edward had worked at the
spinning-mills, he failed to recognise his early companions when they
called, until they mentioned some circumstance or conversation which
brought them to his recollection. Some walked round the collection
before they made themselves known to him, whilst others did so as they
entered. But one and all agreed, that though they might have imagined
that Edward had done something towards making the collection, they
could not believe that he had done it all by himself, whilst working
at his trade. They were working men themselves, and knew what they
had to contend with, in the form of want of time, want of means, and
difficulties of all sorts. These considerations only tended to heighten
their sense of astonishment the more.

Some of Edward’s other acquaintances also called, and they, like the
others, declared that it was perfectly impossible for any working-man
to have made such a collection by himself without any extraneous aid.
One of his old shopmates called frequently, and Edward endeavoured to
convince him that the thing was quite feasible; but he insisted that he
must have got assistance or help in some way or another.

“Well,” said Edward, “you remember how I worked beside you in the
old garret in Shoe Lane, how I was never idle, and was always busy
at something, whether I had shoemaking to do or not. Very well! I
continued the same practice after I left you; and when I got a wife,
instead of growing lazier, I became more ardent than ever. I squeezed
the pith and substance out of every moment to make the most of it; and
raxed and drew every farthing out like a piece of india-rubber, until I
could neither rax nor draw it any more. I have thus endeavoured to make
the most and the best of everything.”


A new idea seemed to strike the man. “But did ye no get some bawbees
wi’ yer wife?”

“No,” said Edward, “not a bawbee! But, though poor in cash, she brought
me a dowry worth more than all the money ever coined!”

“Trash, man, trash! Fat could be better than siller till a puir man?”

“Well, I’ll tell you. She brought me a remarkably sound and healthy
body,—strong bones, and a casket well filled with genuine common
sense, or rather a mind far superior to that usually possessed by the
majority of her sex. Now that’s what I call better than money. And I
can tell you also, that if young men were to look out for such wives,
they would be able to lead their lives to much better purpose than
they now do. Your tap-rooms, and dram-shops, and public-houses, would
then have fewer and far less eager customers. And, if I am not much
mistaken, there would be many more happy homes and happy families,
especially amongst the poor; instead of the miserable, heart-sickening,
disease-engendering hovels, which are a curse and a stain upon our
so-called civilisation.”

“Ye’ll be a temperance man, then, are ye?”

“Yes; I’m temperate enough. And if wives would look more to their
husbands’ comfort, as well as to the interests of their own families,
there would be far more temperance men, as you call them, than there
are now. I’m not a member of the Temperance Society; nevertheless I am
in favour of everything that would make people more sober and diligent,
and tend to man’s good, both here and hereafter.”

“But,” continued the man, “are ye satisfied that ye got nae help in the
way I hinted?”

“None whatever!”

“But far did ye learn the wrightin’ (carpentering), the paintin’, and
the glazin’?”

“At my ain fireside, where everything good should be learnt. My
teachers were,—first, ‘Necessity,’ and, secondly, another teacher, of
whom you may not have heard, called WILL.”

[Sidenote: _EDWARD “A MYSTERY.”_]

“Ye’re a mystery,” said the man.

“Perhaps I may be,” answered Edward; “but I’ll just tell you three
things, whether you may understand the ‘mystery’ or not. My neighbours
in Banff say of me, that ‘that man surely means to tak’ the world by
speed o’ fit.’ My shopmates say, that ‘Tam is just the lad for taking
time by the forelock;’ and many of the inhabitants say, ‘Whoever may be
seen lounging about at the lazy corners, you’ll never see Edward among
them.’ Now, these are three little nuts, which I hope you will crack
amongst your shopmates; and I hope they will do them good.”

[Sidenote: _A LADY VISITOR._]

One day two ladies came to see the Exhibition. They looked over the
collection, and one of them came up to Edward, and looked him straight
in the face. She asked him if he belonged to Aberdeen.

“Well,” he replied, “although I was not born in Aberdeen, still I may
say I belong to it. My mother was an Aberdeen woman, and I was brought
up here, until I went to Banff,” “Ah,” said the lady, “I thought so.
Your countenance and appearance are very much the same as they were
when I last saw you.” “Indeed!”

“Were you not at one time a private in the Aberdeenshire militia?” “I
was; but what of that?” “Allow me to explain: Do you remember running
out of the ranks one day while at drill, and flying after a butterfly?”
“I do,” said Edward.

“And of being pursued and taken prisoner by a corporal and four men of
your company, when you were brought up before the officer, who gave you
your liberty?”

“Yes,” said Edward, “all that is true.” “And perhaps you remember that
there was a group of ladies with the officer?” “Oh yes, I remember
that.” “Well, then, I was one of those ladies; and I first proposed to
the others that we should intercede with the captain to let you off.”

The lady then proceeded to explain that she herself was an
entomologist, and had been greatly pleased with the collection. Edward,
on his part, thanked her most cordially for the good service she had
been able to do for him on the links that day, now so long past.
“But now,” she added, “as one good turn deserves another, will you
come and take your tea and supper with us some evening?” Edward was
thunderstruck at this proposal, for he was an exceedingly shy and
bashful man, though he had been such a “hempy” in his youth. “Oh no!”
said he, “I cannot venture on taking such a liberty.” “I’ll have no
denial,” said the lady; “there will be only a few friends who wish to
make your acquaintance.”

[Sidenote: _REFUSES TO BE A “LION.”_]

The idea of being exhibited as a Lion was perfectly revolting to
Edward; so he again protested that he could not accept the invitation,
however kindly it was meant. “No, no; you _must_ come. There’s my
card and address, and when I have fixed the day, I’ll send you an
invitation. Good-day. Now remember! one good turn deserves another!”
And away she went, leaving Edward looking rather sheepish, and fumbling
in his hand a piece of elegantly-got-up and highly aromatic pasteboard.

When the servant came with the invitation two days later, Edward
returned a message that it was impossible for him to accept the
invitation, because he could not leave his collection. The servant
again returned, and invited him to attend the party after the
exhibition had been closed for the night. He again politely refused.

The lady never returned to the exhibition; and Edward felt that he had
grievously offended her by refusing her invitation. Yet, had she known
of his position at the time, her heart would have melted with pity at
his sufferings. But this was of too touching and too delicate a nature
to be explained to her. By that time, although Edward’s doom was not
altogether sealed, still he knew, humanly speaking, that his fate was
inevitably fixed, and that he had no visible means of escape from his
lamentable position.


We have said that when Edward opened his exhibition in Aberdeen, he
expected that there would be a large influx of visitors to see the
collection of objects in natural history, which he had made with
so much labour and difficulty. But there was no rush whatever. The
attendance was always very small. The exhibition-room was for the most
part empty. Edward at first thought that he had fixed the price too
high. But he could remedy that defect. The better classes had failed
him; now he would try the working-people. He would call “the millions”
to his aid. Accordingly he reduced the entrance-price to a penny.


But “the millions” never came. So far as Edward’s collection was
concerned, their minds seemed as hard and impenetrable as the
adamantine houses in which they lived. Their hearts, he thought, were
made of their native granite. Still he would make another effort.
He now advertised more widely than before, thinking that extended
publicity might prove successful. He had bills printed by the thousand;
he employed sandwich-men to carry them about, to distribute them in the
market, in the principal thoroughfares, at the gates of the factories
and principal working places, and in every place resorted to by
working people. To accommodate them, he opened the exhibition at eight
instead of ten in the morning; and kept it open until ten o’clock at

It was of no avail. The millions did not come. The attendance even fell
off. Some days only a few pence were taken; on other days nothing.
Days, weary days, went on, and still there was no success. Yet Edward
had plenty of advisers. Some thought that the collection should have
been exhibited near the centre of the town, where the working classes
lived. Edward was fain to think that there might be something in this.
He found a large room which he thought would answer the purpose; but he
was required to pay the rent beforehand, and to give security for ten
pounds. This was entirely out of the question, for he could not give
security for “ten bawbees.” One person, who had been a showman, advised
him to have immense placards outside, and to have a band of music to
attract the people. He must have show and hubbub. “That was the thing
that attracted folk; whereas his exhibition was all in the inside.” But
Edward would not have any of such attractions.

In short, the exhibition was fast approaching its end. The rent of the
shop had to be paid, and he had no money to pay it. His wife and family
had to be maintained, and he had no means of maintaining them. All
that he took at the door, was required to pay the cost of the bills
and advertisements. By the end of the third week, he was deep in debt.
Though he had been earning small wages, he had never before been in
debt. To think of being in debt was in itself an agony. What was he to
do? He was sinking deeper and deeper, with no prospect of deliverance.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD IN DESPAIR._]

By the Friday of the fourth week, he had altogether lost hope. He
had taken nothing in the shape of money that day. His exhibition was
entirely deserted. He sank into the lowest state of despondency.
About three o’clock he received a letter from his master at Banff,
telling him that if he did not return immediately to his work, he
would be under the necessity of giving his employment to another.
“Return immediately?” That was impossible. What was he to do with his
collection? How was he to defray his debt?

It is scarcely to be wondered at, if, under these deplorable
circumstances, despair—despair of the worst description—should have got
the better, at least for a time, of his over-taxed and over-sensitive
brain. He was in a strange place,—a place which had once known him,
but knew him no more. His wife and his five children were altogether
dependent upon him, though they were at present living with his aged
and infirm parents. He was deep in debt, for which, if not liquidated,
his collection would be seized,—a collection, rather than part with
which, he would have sacrificed his life. At the same time, the loss
of work, starvation, and ruin, stared him in the face. Is it surprising
that, thus situated, despair should for a time have got the mastery
over his better and sounder judgment?

The afternoon was far advanced. His dinner, which had been brought
to him an hour before, still lay untasted. He was pacing up and down
the apartment, pondering over his miserable position, when his father
entered. Edward was looking so agitated, that the old man inquired
“what ailed him?” He said he was going out, and went towards the door,
fearing lest his wife or any of his children might appear. His father
stepped between him and the door, remonstrating with him, and saying
that he was not fit to go out in such a state. But a woman entering,
attracted his father’s attention, and Edward was thus allowed to slip
away unobserved.

[Sidenote: _RUNS TO THE SEA-SHORE._]

Edward rushed down Union Street, on his way to the sands. At first
he thought of going to the Dee at the Craiglug; but he bethought him
that it would be better to go to the sea-shore, where it might be
thought his death was accidental. From the time of his leaving the shop
in Union Street until about four hours after, when he recovered his
senses, his memory remained almost a complete blank. He had a vague
idea of crossing the links, and seeing some soldiers at the foot of the
Broadhill. But beyond that, he remembered next to nothing. Unlike a
dream, of which one remembers some confused ideas, this blank in his
mental life was never filled up, and the purpose for which he wandered
along the sands left little further impression upon his memory. He
remembered, however, the following circumstances:


He had thrown off his hat, coat, and waistcoat, before rushing into
the sea; when a flock of sanderlings lit upon the sands near him. They
attracted his attention. They were running to and fro, some piping
their low shrill whistle, whilst others were probing the wet sand with
their bills as the waves receded. But amongst them was another bird,
larger and darker, and apparently of different habits to the others.
Desirous of knowing something of the nature of this bird, he approached
the sanderlings. They rose and flew away. He followed them. They lit
again, and again he observed the birds as before. Away they went, and
he after them. At length he was stopped at Don mouth. When he recovered
his consciousness, he was watching the flock of birds flying away to
the farther side of the river. He had forgotten all his miseries in his
intense love of nature. His ruling passion saved him.


How long the chase lasted he never could tell. It must have occupied
him more than an hour. He found himself divested of his hat, coat, and
vest; and he went back to look for them. He had no further desire to
carry out the purpose for which he had descended to the sea. His only
thought was about the strange bird among the sanderlings: “What could
it be?” Perhaps the bird had been his Providence. He tried to think so.

In the meantime, he was very cold. He found his coat, vest, and hat,
a long way down the beach. On his return, he found that he had been
followed by some people, who were watching him. When he returned,
they followed him until he reached his clothes. And when they saw him
dressed, and ready to depart, they disappeared. Not wishing to cross
the links again that night, he turned and went up Don side to the new
bridge, and took the road from thence into the town.

[Illustration: THE MOUTH OF THE DON.]

It was late before he got home. Being still very much depressed, and
feeling very unwell, he went almost immediately to bed, thinking that
he might be able to hide his grief yet a little longer from those who
were near and dear to him,—dearer to him now than ever. But, alas! the
ordeal he had passed through during the day, had been most dreadful;
and he was racked by conflicting and torturing thoughts during the
whole of his sleepless night.

Morning, anxiously-wished-for morning, came at last. Although still
feverish from excitement, and very unsettled in his mind, he got up,
dressed, and went down to the sea-shore a little after daylight,
eagerly searching for the strange bird of the preceding evening. But
although he walked several times along the sands, from the bathing
machines to the mouth of the Don, he never saw it. He saw its
companions, the sanderlings; but the providential bird had gone. So far
as Edward knew, he never saw the like of that bird again.

Although chagrined at his disappointment, he felt himself, on the
whole, more refreshed and settled in his mind than when he left
home. After breakfast—the first food he had taken since the previous
morning—he went to Union Street to open his exhibition. As he was not
disturbed by visitors, he had plenty of time for reflection. He had now
to consider how he could honourably extricate himself from the trap
into which he had so unwittingly and so unfortunately fallen.


The only way which presented itself was by making a terrible
sacrifice,—namely, by selling the whole of his collection. It took
him many long and bitter heart-pangs before he could arrive at
this conclusion. But force, stern force, prevailed over all other
considerations. He must, so far as he could, get honourably out of
debt, although not a farthing of balance might remain. Yes! his eight
years’ collection of birds and natural objects must go, so that he
might stand upright before the world. Accordingly, an advertisement
appeared in the newspapers offering the collection for sale.

After the announcement appeared, several gentlemen called and told
him that he was quite wrong in offering his collection for sale. He
had several letters from Banff, to the same effect. Some of his
correspondents there offered their suggestions and advice. They said
that as the collection had been made in Banffshire, it properly
belonged to Banffshire; and that it would be an everlasting slur
upon the county if it were allowed to go elsewhere. One gentleman of
influence requested Edward to delay the sale for a few days, in order
that he might be enabled to obtain subscriptions, so as to secure the
collection for Banff. Twenty pounds could easily be collected in Banff
for such a purpose. If the subscribers did not themselves buy it, there
was a Scientific Society in Banff that would certainly buy it, to form
the nucleus of a collection of Banffshire fauna.


Edward accordingly postponed the sale for some days. He had great
faith in his correspondent, who was himself a member of the society in
question. The gentleman had considerable influence in the district,
and would doubtless do what he could to raise the requisite money to
purchase the collection. But, alas! how futile are promises. Words!
mere words! Days passed, and no further communications arrived. Edward
was now pressed for his debts, and he could no longer postpone the
sale of the collection. The spark of hope that had been kindled in his
breast, died out. All hope of salvation from any quarter had fled. He
must meet his difficulties as he best could. It was now the middle of
the sixth week, and his expenses were increasing daily. Accordingly, he
accepted the offer of £20:10s. for the whole of his collection!


It was a bitter pang to part with it; but the thing must be done.
Howling was of no use. Edward was even glad to get that paltry sum,
in order to be at last set free. The gentleman (Mr. Grant) who bought
the collection, wished it for his boy, who had a taste for natural
history. The specimens were removed to his house at Ferryhill. They
were afterwards packed up and sent to his place in St. Nicholas Street,
where they were stored up in some damp and unsuitable room; and,
being otherwise neglected, it is believed that the whole collection
eventually went to ruin.

Perhaps Edward might have got more money for his collection if he had
broken it up, and offered it in lots. Professor Dickie was willing
to buy a number of his specimens, and to pay a good price for them;
but this would have involved a considerable loss of time, and also a
considerable increase of expense. He was therefore under the necessity
of disposing of the whole at once.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S APOLOGY._]

“Whatever,” says Edward, “may have been the real cause of my ruin and
want of success, I must say that, although I was not supported and
encouraged, I had no real claim upon the inhabitants of Aberdeen. I
certainly do owe many of them—particularly those of the upper and
middle classes of society—a deep debt of gratitude for their courteous
attention and their offered hospitality. Although circumstances did not
allow me to avail myself of their kindness, I have never forgotten the
unfeigned favours which they proffered me. I know that some of them
were deeply offended at my refusing their invitations; but, had they
known of my deplorable position at the time, I feel certain that their
feeling of offence would have given place to the deeper and softer
feeling of pity for the unfortunate.”



[33] It was afterwards found that the visitor was Dr. Cadenhead, one of
the principal physicians and oculists of the city.



EDWARD had left Banff on the 31st of July 1846, full of hope; after
six weeks he returned to it, full of despair. He had gone to Aberdeen
with his collection, accompanied by his wife and family; he returned
from it alone and on foot, without a single specimen of his collection,
and without a penny in his pocket that he could call his own. He felt
ruined, disappointed, beggared,—his aims and hopes in life blasted. He
was under the necessity of leaving his wife and children at Aberdeen;
for they could not travel fifty miles to Banff on foot.

Edward felt terribly crushed on re-entering his desolate home. A
strange-like heaviness of mind came over him. The place was drear and
lonesome. It was so different from what it had once been. It was no
longer enlivened by the prattle of his children, or the pleasant looks
of his wife. There was neither fire, nor food, nor money. The walls,
which, only a few weeks before, had been covered with his treasures—the
results of the hard labour of years—were bare and destitute. The house
was desolation itself.

After remaining there for a short time, a neighbour came in, and
asked Edward to come to his house and get some food. He most gladly
assented to the proposal. He afterwards went to see his master, and
arranged with him as to the re-commencement of his work. This was
easily accomplished, as Edward was considered a Don at his trade.[34]
After this had been settled, he went to pay a short visit to a friend
at Gardenstown, until his wife and family had returned from Aberdeen.
Edward could not bear to remain in his house until they had come back.
Nor could he yet pay for their journey. But the carrier, who had taken
the collection and the family to Aberdeen, cheerfully consented to
bring the latter back free.

It was during this interval that Edward lived for a few days with his
friend, Mr. Gordon of Gardenstown. The place had long been one of
Edward’s favourite haunts. He was able, in a sort of way, to enjoy
the coast scenery, to see the busy fishermen going out to sea in the
evenings, and to listen to the noisy clamour of the sea-fowl at Gamrie


When Edward knew that his wife and family had reached Banff, he
returned home, and was joyfully met by his wife and bairns. Home had
already begun to look more homely. There was a fire to sit down beside,
and a family circle to converse with. Care, despondency, and despair,
had already to a certain extent been cast aside. There would yet be
peace and plenty about the fireside. Edward threw off the showman’s
garb, and donned that of the hard-working sutor.[35] Next morning he
was busy at his trade, sewing, hammering, and “skelping away at the

[Sidenote: _BEGINS AGAIN._]

During the ensuing autumn and winter, he passed his time at his
ordinary daily work. He refrained from going out at night. He had
parted with all his objects in Natural History, and he did nothing as
yet to replace them. But his mind had been at work all the while. As
spring advanced, he found it impossible to check his ruling passion.
His day’s work done, he again started with his gun on his shoulder, his
insect boxes and appendages slung round his back, his plant case by his
side, and a host of pill boxes, small bottles, and such like, packed in
his pockets. Away he went, with heart as light as a feather, to search,
as long as light remained, for tenants of the woods, the fields, and
the sea-shore.

When daylight faded into darkness, he would sit down as usual for a
nap—it did not matter where,—by the side of a rock, on a sand-bank,
in a hole in the ground, in a dry ditch, under the cover of a bush,
behind a dyke, in a ruined castle, or by the side of a tree: it was all
the same to him. There he lay until the first peep of morning appeared,
when he started up, and was at work again. He continued, until he
thought he had just sufficient time left to get to his workshop by the
appointed hour.


His zeal was more than renewed. It was redoubled. He proceeded with
even greater perseverance than before. His few friends warned him in
vain. They thought he might spend his energies to some better purpose.
If their advice staggered him, it was only for an instant. “One look,”
he says, “at my cobbler’s stool, dispelled every consideration. My wish
was, at some time or other, to wrench myself free from my trade.”

He adopted the self-same plan that he had formerly employed. As soon as
his day’s work was over, he started on his nightly expedition. During
five months of the year he slept out,—excepting on Saturday and Sunday
nights, or when the weather was stormy. To his former equipment he
added a small trowel for digging up plants and grubs, and a hammer for
splitting fossils or chipping off parts of any rock that he might wish
to preserve.


At first he used chip-boxes, to carry the insects which he collected
during his tours; but he found them such a worry that he was obliged to
use something else. He once bought so many chip-boxes from a druggist,
that he refused to sell him any more until his stock was replenished.
Edward carried in them slugs, caterpillars, snails, worms, spiders,
shells, various sorts of insects, eggs of small birds, and every other
little nick-nack that he wished to preserve. Here is his description of
his hunting paraphernalia:—

“My coat had eight pockets, four outside and four inside. The two lower
inside ones were ‘meal-pocks’ for size. My waistcoat, too, had four
rather big receptacles: the term ‘waistcoat pockets’ could scarcely
describe them. Besides these, I had a number of bags or wallets, hung
over my shoulders, or tied round my middle, or under my coat, according
to their intended uses. I had also several queer-looking things which
I carried in my hands and called ‘accessories;’ for there is no other
specific name for the articles. Nevertheless, all had their quota of
chip-boxes, except my butterfly and moth-case, and my plant book. These
were generally kept sacred for their respective purposes.”


On one occasion Edward went out for a three days’ ramble among the
Balloch hills, between Keith and Huntly, about twenty miles south-west
of Banff. The object of his journey was to collect butterflies, moths,
and various objects. He had not his gun with him, but he had many more
chip-boxes than usual. A friend of his had often urged him to bring him
a lot of ants for some birds, and Edward determined to satisfy him. He
had been very successful in his search, and had also filled many boxes
for his friend.

On the afternoon of the third day, while he was busily engaged on a
wild, wide, and desolate moor, he was startled by a sudden flash of
lightning. Had he been attending to the weather instead of to his own
pursuits, he might have seen the brooding clouds wending their way
towards him from the south. He might then have found some convenient
shelter from the impending storm. But after the first flash of
lightning, it broke upon him almost at once. He had scarcely got his
things put in order, and the ant-boxes deposited in his coat pocket,
when down came the deluge! None but those who have been under the
influence of hill-rains, can have any idea of their tremendous force.
It is like the downpour of a cataract. The rain falls in sheets, in
waves, almost solid. Nothing but the stiffest weather-proof can keep
the water out.

[Sidenote: _A FURIOUS STORM._]

Edward’s first thought was shelter! But where could he find it? Not a
house was to be seen; not a wall, not a tree, not a bush. He could not
find even a hole in a sandbank. There was nothing that he could see
around him but a dreary, bleak, widespread moor. Nevertheless he set
off, running as fast as he could, in the hope of at length reaching
some friendly haven. After having run a long time amidst thunder and
lightning, through water, moss, and heather, he stopped for a moment
to consider where he was running. There was still no sign of a house,
or hut, or shealing. The place where he stood was crossed by numerous
paths, but he knew just as much of the one path as he did about the
other. The country round him was one wide expanse of moorland. There
was nothing before him but moor, moor, moor! He saw no object that
could serve to guide him. He merely saw the outlines of the nearest
hills faintly visible through the watery haze; but he did not recognise
them. He began to feel himself lost on a lonesome moor.

He was now at his wits’ end. Having been for some time without food,
he was now becoming faint. And yet he could not remain where he was.
He again began to run. The sky was now almost as black as night, and
the sheets of rain were falling as heavily as before. Only the vivid
flashes of lightning enabled him to trace the direction in which he was
going. He plunged into bog after bog; extricated himself; and then ran
for life. Sometimes he came to a likely track and followed it; but it
led to nothing,—only to a succession of tracks which led off in various
directions across the moor. At last he ran straight forward, without
paying any regard to tracks. By continuing in this course he eventually
came to a road,—a gladsome sight, because it must lead to some dwelling
or other. But which way should he go? He knew nothing of the direction
of the road, for he had altogether lost his reckoning, and every
landmark was invisible.

[Sidenote: _REACHES A HAVEN._]

After a few moments’ consideration he bethought him of the direction
in which Huntly might possibly lie; and as that town was his intended
destination, he faced about, as he thought, in that direction, and
commenced running again at full speed. After having run for about a
mile, he came in sight of his destined haven,—a house. It stood on a
slight elevation, with its back to the road, and was surrounded by a
turf-and-stone wall. Collecting his remaining strength he ran up the
slope, cleared the dyke at a bound, and rushed into the house without
further ceremony.

He found two little maidens inside, who looked rather frightened at
his sudden appearance. And no wonder! He must have looked more like a
Lunatic than a Naturalist. Being completely exhausted, he threw himself
right down on a seat without speaking a single word. When he recovered
his breath, he asked pardon of the little damsels for running in so
unceremoniously; “he had been overtaken by the storm.” He asked them if
he might be allowed to rest there until the storm ceased?

“I dinna ken,” said one of the girls, “oor mither’s nae in. She’s oot
breakin’ sticks; but,” she added, “I daresay ye may.”

There was a good fire of sods and peats on the floor. Edward went
towards it, with his dripping clothes, to dry himself. He now began
to look at his belongings. He first took off his hat, which was the
hiding-place for many of his treasures. He found that the bundles of
rare moss which he had picked up on the moor, and also the flies which
he had pinned into the crown of his hat, were all right. His hat was
usually two-storied; we wish we could have given a section of it. The
lower part contained his head, and the other, above it, separated by
a thin piece of board, contained mosses, birds’ eggs, butterflies,
insects, and such like.


He next proceeded to take off some of his wallets. But, just as he had
begun to remove them, he heard the girls behind him twittering and
giggling. Turning round, he saw one of them pointing to his back, and
trying to suppress her mirth. He could not imagine the reason. Another,
and yet another stifled laugh! On his looking round again, they rushed
out of the room; and then he heard them exploding with laughter. The
cause of their merriment was this. The storm of rain had soaked Edward
to the skin. Every pocket and wallet was full of chip-boxes and water.
The glue of the boxes had melted; the ants, worms, slugs, spiders,
caterpillars, and such like, had all escaped, and were mixed up in
a confused mass. They shortly began to creep out of the innumerable
pockets in which they had been contained. It was because the girls
had seen the mixture of half-drowned spiders, beetles, ants, and
caterpillars, creeping up the strange man’s back, that they rushed from
the place, and laughed their full out of doors.

[Sidenote: _A TERRIBLE WOMAN._]

Edward was now left to himself. The girls had doubtless gone to fetch
their mother. He began to think of beating a retreat, as he seemed
to have been the cause, in some way, of the girls leaving the house.
But at that moment, a woman, of prodigious size and attitude, appeared
at the threshold. She stood stock still, and looked at the stranger
furiously. He addressed her, but she gave no reply. He addressed her
again, louder; but she was still silent. He looked at her again. In one
hand she grasped a most formidable-looking axe; whilst in the other she
held what looked like the half of a young tree. She was tall, stout,
and remarkably muscular; her hair was of a carroty-red colour, and
thickly matted together. Her dress was scanty; she was bare-legged,
but wore a pair of old unlaced boots, such as are usually worn by
ploughmen. With her axe in one hand and her pole in the other—with her
clenched teeth, and fierce aspect—Edward could entertain no other idea
of her than that she was mad; and that her intention was to brain him
with her axe! He could not rush past her. Her space filled the doorway.
He could not overpower her, for she was much more powerful than he was.
His suspense was dreadful.

At last she moved one step forward; then another, until Edward thought
he might plunge past her, and escape. But no; she opened her lips and
spoke, or rather yelled—“Man, fat the sorra brocht ye in here, an’ you
in siccan a mess! Gang oot o’ my hoose, I tell ye, this verra minit!
Gang oot!” This appeal brought Edward to himself again. He apologised
to her for entering her house, and begged her to let him remain until
the rain had ceased. “Not a minit,” was the sharp rejoinder; “ye’ll pit
my hoose afloat. Ye’re a’ vermin, an’ ye’ll pit’s in a hobble if ye
dinna gang oot!”


He protested that he had nothing to do with vermin; but as he spoke
he lifted up his hand to wipe something off his cheek. It was a hairy
oobit! He was in a moment alive to the woman’s expostulations. On
looking to his clothes he found that he was a moving mass of insect
life. He cleared the room in a bound, regardless of the woman’s axe and
cudgel. He went into an old shed, threw off his coat and waistcoat,
and found them a mass of creeping things. On searching his pockets, he
found that all the chip-boxes had given way, and that the whole of the
collection which he had made during the last three days was lost. He
might have collected the insects from his clothing, but he had nothing
to put them in. He now found that he was the lunatic, and not the
woman. Before he departed, he apologised to her for the trouble he had
caused her, and then he departed homewards,—a sadder if not a wiser man.

After this adventure, he never again resorted to _chip_-boxes. He used
little bottles for holding beetles and various insects. He had also
a light flat box, about nine inches square, for containing the more
fragile portion of the insect tribe, such as butterflies and moths.
Before he pinned them down, he gave them a drop of chloroform to put
them to sleep, and prevent them destroying their beautiful plumage.
When he met these tender creatures reposing on a flower, he would
always, if possible, drop a little chloroform upon them, and thus end
their struggles. Then he boxed them. By this means he secured many
splendid specimens.

[Sidenote: _HOW TO PRESERVE._]

His hat was also an excellent insect-box, and a convenient receptacle
for many things. He had a false crown put in the upper part of it, well
stored with pins. And even when he went out to walk with his wife and
children, he would occupy part of his time in looking for and storing
up moths and butterflies, so that not an opportunity nor a moment’s
time was lost.

He carried his caterpillars in a tin box, with several compartments;
and his snails in a similar box of smaller dimensions. His eggs, after
being emptied, were put into a sort of canister, and being well packed
with cotton wool, they very seldom broke, although he carried them
about with him for days together.

Whenever he shot a bird or animal, his first business was to fill up
the mouth and nostrils with cotton wadding, and then to search for the
wounds and fill them up. By this means he always got his specimens home
clean. This he found to be indispensably necessary with sea birds, if
he wished to bring them home unsoiled.

Being unable to purchase presses for his plants, he used heavy flat
stones, and boxes filled with gravel and dry sand. These answered very
well, and were all the presses he ever had.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD A REFEREE._]

After his first exhibition at Banff, Edward became a general referee
as to all natural and unnatural objects found in the district. People
of all sorts brought “things” to him, to ascertain what they were.
Sometimes they were rare objects, sometimes they were monstrosities.
His decision did not always satisfy the inquirers; and then they sent
the objects to some other person, who, they thought, knew better. They
always found, however, that Edward had been right in his decisions.
When he knew with certainty, he gave his opinion. When he did not
know the object, he said he could not give an opinion. And this was,
doubtless, the best course to adopt.

Several of his friends told him that he ought to extend his
investigations into Aberdeen, and even into Elgin. They did not offer
to help him, but they advised him to go. He had now eight of a family,
and his wages, allowing for extra work, only amounted to about fifteen
or sixteen shillings a week. To range the counties of Aberdeen,
Banff, and Elgin, in search of objects in Natural History, while he
was maintaining his family on such slender wages, was therefore an
altogether impossible task.

His wife was his best helper. She bound all his upper leathers, and
also the upper leathers of several of the other workmen. The wages
paid to her were distinct from the wages paid to Edward. Very often,
instead of spending her earnings on clothes or bringing the money
home, she would buy for her husband bottles for his insects, wood for
his bird-cases, or powder and shot for his gun. None of his advising
friends ever helped him in this way.


And yet Edward did extend his investigations farther into Banffshire,
and even into Aberdeenshire. With that view he obtained a certificate,
drawn up by the Clerk of the Peace, and signed by sixteen Justices of
the Peace, enabling him to go over the country with his gun, in search
of birds and other things. He always carried this certificate with him;
and when he presented it to a gamekeeper, he was allowed to go wherever
he pleased. The certificate was as follows:—

    “These are to certify that the bearer, Thomas Edward,
    shoemaker, who is in height about five feet six
    inches, has dark eyes and hair, much pock-pitted,
    round-shouldered, and about thirty-five years of
    age—is, in addition to his other calling, engaged
    in collecting and preserving various objects of
    Natural History, particularly those objects which
    relate to Ornithology (Birds), Oo-ology (Eggs),
    Entomology (Insects), Helminthology (Worms, etc.), and
    Conchology (Shells);—That, for the purpose of procuring
    Ornithological Specimens, he is under the necessity of
    using a Gun, but in doing so, We, the undersigned, have
    never heard of a single case of poaching being brought
    against him, and, as far as we know, he is not in the
    habit of killing Game of any sort, nor of destroying
    property of any description, which, were he in the
    practice of so doing, being so frequently out with
    his Gun, he could not, we think, have escaped public
    notice so long,—having resided in this town for a
    period of sixteen years, during which time he has borne
    an unimpeachable character.

    “JAMES DUFF, J.P.,
    &c. &c.

    “BANFF, _March 1850_.”


Edward was now in the prime of life, yet he was drawing very heavily
upon his constitutional powers. Sleeping out of doors nightly, whether
the weather was fair or foul, subjected him to many attacks of cold
and rheumatism. Yet he had no sooner recovered, than he was out again
at his nightly work. He was still as wild a bird-nester as he had ever
been in his youth. He would go to any distance or to any place, to find
a bird or a bird’s nest that was new to him. He would run up a tree
like a squirrel, and come down again with the birds or the nest.

He would also walk or climb up a precipice when a nest was to be had.
Of course he had many falls. But what of that, if the object was
gained? The most dangerous fall that he ever had was at Tarlair. The
circumstance may be described, as a specimen of the dangers which
Edward ran in his pursuit of Natural History. The author went to see
the place, and was afraid to look down into the chasm amongst the rocks
into which the Naturalist had fallen.

[Sidenote: _TARLAIR._]

The little valley of Tarlair is about three miles east of Banff. It
is not far from Macduff. The road to Tarlair is along the bare bluff
coast; and when you reach the top of a lofty point, you see beneath
you a green grassy valley indenting the rocks. At the inner end of
the valley is a little well-house, where inland people come during
summer-time, to drink the mineral waters.[36] Eastward of Tarlair the
rocky cliffs ascend higher and higher,—rising to their loftiest height
in the almost perpendicular cliff of Gamrie Mohr.

[Illustration: TARLAIR]

The place at which Edward met with his accident, occurred at the
projecting point of the valley above mentioned, where the rocks begin
to ascend. Not far from the mouth of the valley there is, in the face
of the rock, a very large, high, and wide-mouthed cave or chasm,
fronting the sea. The back wall of the cave, as well as the sides,
contain a number of strange-like openings, and fantastical projections,
one of which is called “the pulpit.” Edward often sat in the cave, and
also slept in it; but he never preached in it, though he several times
brought down sea-gulls and hoodie-crows with his gun. The bottom of the
cave is thickly covered with stones and boulders thrown in by the sea,
which, in storms, dashes with great fury into its innermost recesses.

In the roof, and near the front of the cave, a few martens build their
nests every season. As Edward was coming home one morning from his
night’s work, and while he was walking under the cliff, intending to
come out at Tarlair, he observed one of the martens flying out of the
cave, and shot it. Instead of dropping at his feet, it fell on the top
of the cliff. How was he to get at the bird? He might have gone round a
considerable way, and thus reached the top of the rock. But this would
have involved the loss of considerable time; and he was anxious to get
home to his work.


There was another way of getting at the bird, and that was by
scrambling directly up the face of the cliff. He determined on adopting
the latter course. Usually, when ascending rocks, he used to tie his
gun to his back, as both hands were required to grip and clutch the
edges of the rock above him. But, on this occasion, not wishing to lose
further time by buckling on his gun, he determined, dangerous though
it was, to ascend the precipice gun in hand. By grasping the stones
above him with his hands and nails, and putting the tips of his shoes
into the crevices of the rocks, or sometimes only on to a little tuft
of grass, he contrived to haul himself up. He managed very well until
he reached about the middle of the ascent, where a bend occurs in
the rocks. There he became fixed. To come down, unless headlong, was
impossible; and to go up seemed equally impracticable. In that case
he would have had to drop his gun, and smash it to bits on the rocks
below. This he could not afford to do. Still, he could not stay there.
With bated breath and steady eye, he clutched a little projection of
rock standing out far above him. He caught it, clambered a little way
up, then secured a firmer footing, and at last reached the summit in

[Sidenote: _FALLS FROM A CLIFF._]

His troubles were not over. They were only beginning. He looked about
for the bird. It lay only a few yards from him. It was on the edge of
the cliff, and seemed apparently dead. On stooping to pick it up, it
fluttered, raised one of its wings, and went over the precipice. In
his eagerness to catch it, or perhaps from the excited state in which
he was from mounting the cliff, Edward grasped at the bird, missed it,
lost his footing on the smooth rock, and fell over the precipice. His
gun fell out of his hand and lodged across two rocks jutting out from
the beach below. Edward fell upon his gun, and smashed it to pieces;
but it broke the force of the blow, and probably saved his life. A fall
of at least forty feet on rocks and stones would certainly have killed
most men, or at least broken many of their bones. When afterwards
endeavouring to recall his feelings on the occasion, Edward said,—“I
remember that, on losing my balance, my gun slipped from my hand, and I
uttered the exclamation, ‘O God!’ Then my breath seemed to be cut by a
strong wind, which made me compress my lips. I shut my eyes, and felt
a strange-like sensation of a rushing sound in my ears; and then of
coming suddenly and violently, with a tremendous thud, upon the stony

His breath was gone, and it was long before he could recover it. He was
for a time utterly senseless. On slightly recovering consciousness, he
thought he was under the influence of a night-mare. He seemed to be in
bed, and saw before him hideous faces, grinning and grimacing, like so
many demons. He tried to shake them off, to shut them out. But no! the
monsters were still there in all their hideousness, and still he was
utterly helpless.


At length two ploughmen, who had been working in the adjoining field,
and seen Edward fall over the cliff, came forward to its edge, and
looked down upon him wedged among the rocks. “Ye’re no dead yet, are
ye?” said one of the men. Edward was unable to make any answer. “Fa
is’t?” said the other man. “Ou! it’s that feel chiel[37] that’s aye
gaun aboot wi’ his gun and his wallets!” The men looked down again in
consternation, with eyes that seemed about to leap from their sockets.
Edward at length began to feel about him. He felt himself wedged, as in
a vice, between two long and oval pieces of rock, and quite unable to
set himself free. The two countrymen went round by the Tarlair pathway,
in order to get Edward out of his fixture. It seemed to him an age
before they arrived.


They at first took him by the shoulder and tried to lift him out. But
this was so painful to him, that at last they desisted. They then
tried to remove one of the rocks, between which he lay clasped. This
also proved fruitless. Edward then observed that the other rock,
which they had not yet tried to remove, consisted of a loose shale.
It had either dropped from the cliff, or been tossed inshore by the
sea. Edward desired them to try and move it a little. But their joint
efforts proved unavailing. Many attempts were made to no purpose. A
stout fisherman then appeared on the scene. He put his shoulder to the
rock, and the block was at last moved sufficiently far, so as to enable
Edward to be dragged out of the vice.

He sat down and felt himself all over. His left shoulder and left side
were extremely sore. The back of his head was also very painful. But he
was thankful to find that neither his arms nor his legs were broken. He
was not so sure about his left ribs. He was very much bruised and cut
on that side. One of the splinters of the gun-stock was found sticking
through his coat. An old copper powder-flask, which he had in his left
pocket, was as flat as a flounder; all its contents were dashed out.

Edward entreated the men to help him to get to the cave. He thought
that, if left there for a time, he would soon recover. He got upon his
feet with difficulty, and found that his spine had been hurt. With the
help of two of the men, he was at last able to walk very slowly to the
cave. They urged him to allow them to carry him to the cottage near the
Mineral Well. But he preferred to rest in the cave. They prepared a
bed of seaweed for him, on which he lay down. His protectors then left
him, and, spite of his pain, he fell asleep. He must have slept some
time, for he was awakened by the murmuring of the sea, which was fast
approaching the cave.

[Sidenote: _LEAVING THE CAVE._]

Feeling that his sickly feeling had left him, and that he was on the
whole much better, although his left side and shoulder were still
very painful, he gathered himself together and rose to his feet. He
staggered about a little at first; but he was at last able to return in
search of his gun. He found it in a woeful plight. The stock was broken
to bits, and the barrel and lock were laid in the hollow. He gathered
up the fragments of the companion of his travels for so many years;
and, divesting himself of the heaviest of his wallets, he left them in
a corner of the cave. Then, keeping hold of the rocks, he contrived to
reach the inner side of the Tarlair valley. From thence he had a weary
walk to Banff. He took many rests by the way, and at length reached
home in the afternoon, sore, sick, and weary; and went to bed. His
wounds were then looked to. It was found that none of his ribs were
broken, and that he had only sustained some severe contusions. It
was, however, nearly a fortnight before he could do any work. A month
elapsed before he could walk to Tarlair for the wallets and remains of
his gun which he had left in the hollow of the cave.

To support his family during his illness, he was forced to sell a
considerable portion of the Collection which he had made during
the last few years. Although it was not so large as that which he
had exhibited at Aberdeen, it contained many rarer birds, insects,
crustacea, zoophytes, and plants; and it was on the whole much better
got up. He sold about 100 cases at this time, consisting chiefly of
preserved birds, insects, and eggs. He also sold about 300 plants, and
more than 200 zoophytes; besides about 100 minerals or fossils. Among
the plants, were a great number unnamed. He had as yet no botanical
books; and the friends to whom he applied could not supply the names.
They considered them very rare, if not new and unnamed.


It was a great blow to him to sell a portion of his second Collection.
But he had no help for it. It was his only Savings Bank. When other
means failed him, he could only rely upon it. He had no friends in his
neighbourhood to help him. His specimens went to many places, far and
near. A considerable portion of them went to Haslar, near Southampton,
where one of the hospital surgeons was making a collection of objects
in Natural History.


[34] Master shoemakers, in those days, employed Men’s men (that is men
who made Men’s shoes), Women’s men, Boot men, and Pump men, according
to the branch they worked at. Those who excelled in proficiency were
called Dons. Edward was a Don Pump man. Few excelled him at that part
of the business. It was for this reason that his master objected to
his leaving the shop so often on his Natural History excursions; as he
could find no one else to do this part of the work so well.

[35] _Sutor_—Shoemaker.

[36] This is the place so well described in _Johnny Gibb of
Gushetneuk_. “There was a little house, too, at the foot of the
north bank, where a drop of whisky could be got somehow in cases of
emergency, as when the patient got ‘hoven’ with the liberal libations
of salt-water previously swallowed, or when the taste lay strongly in
that direction; but this was no part of the recognised regimen.”

[37] _Feel chiel_—foolish fellow.



SHORTLY after Edward’s return from Aberdeen, his old and much esteemed
friend, the Rev. James Smith, of the Manse of Monquhitter, situated
about ten miles south-east of Banff, lent him some works on Natural
History. These enabled Edward to ascertain the names of some of the
birds which he discovered in the neighbourhood.

One day, while walking along the sea-coast, Edward shot a Bridled
Guillemot (_Uria lachrymans_),—a bird not before known to frequent the
district. When he informed Mr. Smith of the circumstance, the reverend
gentleman thus wrote to him: “The discovery of the Bridled Guillemot
at Gamrie is very interesting, and affords another confirmation of the
remark that there are many things yet to be found out, almost at our
doors, by those who have a relish for the works of Nature, and who
will make a good use of the faculties which the Almighty has bestowed
upon them. In my own case, I have now almost _no_ opportunity in my
power for prosecuting researches in Natural History out of doors; and,
even if I had, there is so little sympathy for any proceedings of
this nature, that I should to a certainty be regarded, by almost all
my parishioners, as half-mad, or at least as childish, and neglecting
my more serious duties. Still, I always feel a strong interest in the
subject, and in any discovery which is made in regard to it.”


As Edward had no narrow-minded parishioners to encounter, he went on
with his researches. Mr. Smith strongly encouraged him to persevere. He
also advised him to note down the facts which came under his notice;
and to publish the results of his observations. This surprised Edward.
“Why,” said he, “I cannot write for the publishers.” “You must learn to
write,” said Mr. Smith; “and in order to write correctly you must study

He importuned Edward so much, that at last he said he “had no use
for grammar.” “You cannot write without it,” said Mr. Smith. “But,”
returned Edward, “I have no intention of writing.” “You _must_ write,”
said Mr. Smith. “You must write down all that you learn respecting the
objects you are collecting. It is a duty that you owe to society, and
it will be very selfish on your part if you do not publish the results
of your observations.”

After about half-an-hour’s arguing, Edward asked, “How long do you
think it would take me to learn grammar?” “Well,” said Mr. Smith, “I do
not think you would take very long to learn it. But,” he added, “you
will require to relinquish your out-door pursuits during that time.”
“If that be the case, Mr. Smith, I am afraid that I cannot become a
pupil. But, if I have any time left after I have done with Nature, then
perhaps I may begin to study grammar; but not till then.”

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S SCRAPS._]

Mr. Smith’s advice, however, was not without its good results. Edward
_did_ begin to note down his observations about natural objects, and he
published them from time to time in the local paper, the _Banffshire
Journal_. When the present author asked for a sight of the articles,
Edward replied, “I think I could supply you with scraps of a good
number, although, on looking over my stock, I find that a great many
have disappeared. My family and friends have dealt very freely with
them. In fact, they were found good for ‘kinlin’.[38] The most of what
I wrote in the local papers is lost, for ever lost.”

[Sidenote: _THE DEATH’S-HEAD MOTH._]

Among the articles which he was able to collect, we find descriptions
of rare moths, rare birds, and rare fishes. Perhaps one of the first
articles which he published, was a description of a “Death’s-head Moth”
found in the parish of Ruthven—one of the most wonderful, as it is one
of the most extraordinary of insects.

“In its caterpillar state,” says Edward, “it has the power of making a
pretty loud snapping-like noise, which has been compared by some to a
series of electric sparks. The chrysalis squeaks, but more particularly
when about to change. And, as to the perfect insect itself, it is
gifted with a voice which it has the power of modulating at pleasure,
being sometimes of a plaintive nature, then mournful, then like the
moaning of a child, then again like the squeaking of a mouse. This,
together with the fact that it carries on a portion of its back,—that
part called the thorax,—an impression of the front view of a human
skull (hence its name of Death’s-head), has made it an object of the
greatest terror and dislike amongst the ignorant and superstitious.
It is looked upon, not as the handiwork of the Almighty, but as the
agent of evil spirits. The very shining of its large bright eyes, which
sparkle like diamonds, is believed to represent the fiery element from
which it is supposed to have sprung. On one occasion these insects
appeared in great abundance in various districts of Bretagne, and
produced great trepidation among the inhabitants, who considered them
to be the forerunners, and even the causes, of epidemic diseases and
other calamities. In the Isle of France it is believed that any down or
dust from their wings falling on the eyes causes immediate blindness.
All this is, of course, merely the result of superstitious prejudice.


“The Death’s-head is said to be the largest moth we have, and is, in
fact, the largest found inhabiting Europe, save the Peacock moth. Be
this as it may, it is a very large insect, measuring from five to six
inches across the wings, and having a body proportionately long and
thick. The caterpillar, which is smooth, and of a greenish-yellow,
with minute black dots all over, and with seven or eight bluish
stripes on the sides, having a horn above the tail, is likewise very
large,—being, when full grown, about six inches long. It feeds on the
potato, the deadly-nightshade, the jasmine, and the _Lycium barbarum_,
and other plants of as dissimilar a nature.”

In another article he mentioned the Herald Moth (_Scaliopteryx
libatrix_), a specimen of which was presented to him by Mrs. G.
Bannerman. He describes this beautiful insect as occurring in great
profusion in some of the southern parts of England, but as very rare
in the north. It is called the “Herald” moth, because it is said to
indicate the approach of winter.


The Peacock Butterfly (_Papilio Io_), was caught in Duff House garden,
close to Banff. Although common in England, this butterfly is very rare
in Scotland. Morris makes no mention of its ever having been seen in
the north. A great flock of these butterflies passed over a part of
Switzerland in 1828, when they were described as a swarm of locusts.
This circumstance led Edward to insert some observations regarding that
destructive insect, the _Locusta migratoria_, which passed over this
country in the year 1846, the ever-memorable potato-famine year.

“Great numbers,” he says, “were found in the counties of Aberdeen,
Banff, and Moray. Several were also got in the sea at Aberdeen, as
well as near Banff. Some of those found were very large, being two
and a half inches long, and nearly as thick as one’s little finger;
their wings expanding to about four inches in breadth. Nine of this
size were found by one individual in a turnip-field at the Stocket,
near Aberdeen. They were brought to me while I was there with my
first unfortunate Collection. But, large though this may seem, it
is nothing to others. We are told that in India there are locusts
of a yard in length. I do not vouch for the fact; it is no story of
mine. Pliny tells it; and from him we have it. Some found in the sea
at Aberdeen were offered there for sale as ‘fleein’ fish,’ and no
less a sum than ten shillings was sought for them. Strange sort of
flying-fish this! Truly it may have been said that the entomological
and ichthyological schoolmasters were both abroad in those days. It
may, however, be remarked, that something of a similar kind took place
amongst ourselves not very long ago, so that we have little room to
laugh at the Aberdonians. A person having picked up a _galerite_ (a
species of fossilised sea-urchin of the Cretaceous system), near by our
harbour, was showing it to some individuals, when one of them, no doubt
puzzled, said, ‘O! it’s just something that _somebody has made_.’ But
to return to the locusts. Those of which we have been speaking arrived
in the month of August and the beginning of September. Now, this year
it would appear that something of the same kind had taken place, as
numbers have been picked up in various parts of the country. Three
have, at least, been found with us, viz. two near the Moss of Banff,
and one at Cornhill; another at Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire. I have also
one from Lerwick, where it is said they have been rather plentiful in
the corn-fields; as also in the Zetland Islands, in Unst, and the rest
of the bare and isolated Skerries. In some of the Western Isles, I
believe, they have actually proved a complete pest.


“As may be expected, there are many species of this creature, as there
are of everything else: but those here alluded to are perhaps the
most redoubtable of them all, as being the most destructive, the best
known from their migratorial flights, and being, as already hinted,
the species that constituted one of the awful plagues of Egypt in the
days of Moses. They were doubtless the same that wasted the land of
Canaan, and caused such a terrible famine, of which we read in the book
of Joel. A wind drove them into the sea; their dead bodies were again
cast on shore in such heaps that the Hebrews were obliged to dig large
pits in which to bury them. In this country, we have about twenty-five
different kinds belonging to the same family, of which the foregoing
is one; but of course they are all of small size, and therefore may be
said to be comparatively harmless.”

[Sidenote: _SAW-FLIES._]

In another article, Edward mentions another insect almost equally
destructive. A friend of Edward at Turriff found four _Saw-flies_
in a piece of a fir tree that was being cut up for firewood. They
are called _Saw-flies_ “from the fact that the female possesses,
posteriorly, an instrument by which she perforates, or rather saws,
holes in trees, into which she drops her eggs. From this it will be
seen that the larvæ are woodfeeders. In this country they are by no
means numerous, and it is well that they are not, or our forests
would shortly disappear; for, in places where they abound, such as in
Norway, they destroy hundreds of thousands of trees in a season. It
is only the growing and not the dead wood that they attack. The young
grubs, as soon as they emerge from the egg, cut their way right into
the very heart of the solid timber, and there they gnaw and bore in
every possible direction. By this means, the tree is either killed,
or so injured, that ultimately it pines and dies. The fly itself has
no English name, but is known to entomologists by the term of _Sirex


In another article, Edward mentions the fact of a Spider (_Aranea
domestica_) having lived in one of his sealed-up cases for twelve
months without food. He had before written to his reverend friend
on the subject, but Mr. Smith informed him that he had no books on
Entomology, and could give him no information. Edward says of his
spider, that after the case had been sealed up, he saw him walking over
the birds contained there, until at last he became stationary in one of
the corners. “Towards noon of the second day of his incarceration, he
commenced operations, and by breakfast time of the day following, his
web was completed. The little artizan was then observed to walk slowly
and very sedately all over the newly formed fabric, seemingly with the
view of ascertaining if all was secure. This done, the aperture was
next examined, and with more apparent care than was bestowed upon the
rest of the structure. This wonderful mechanical contrivance,—which
serves at least the fourfold purpose of storehouse, banqueting hall,
watch tower, and asylum in times of danger,—being found all right, the
artificer then took up his station, within it, no doubt to await the
success of the net which he had spread, and from whence, had fortune
proved kind, he would boldly have rushed out to secure his struggling
prey. There was, however, no fly to be caught within the case. He was
the only living thing in it; and there the patient creature remained
without food, for the space of more than twelve months.”[39]


The notices on Natural History which appeared from time to time in the
local journal, had the effect of directing general attention to the
observation of natural objects; and numerous birds, fishes, insects,
caterpillars, shells, and plants, were sent to Edward for examination.

In one of his notes he mentions a Cinereous Shearwater (_Puffinus
cinereus_) found on the beach near Portsoy. This led him to give a
very vivid account of the Stormy Petrel. Another of the specimens sent
to him was a _Dyphalcanthus longispinus_, from the fossil diggings of
Gamrie. “How strange!” he says. “Here we have an animal, or perhaps
I should rather say a stone, part of which had once been a creature
enjoying life,—but now how changed! How long is it since it lived,
died, and became thus transformed? Years ago, nay ages, many ages, long
anterior to the creation of man. How wonderful, and yet how true!”

Of another specimen he says—

“Here, again, is a black, pink, yellow, and brown creature, with crests
and ornaments like a duchess—just, in fact, like a lady of the olden
time, dressed up and decorated for a ball, with her head stuck full
of feathers, her ribbons flying, and fan in hand; in other words, a
caterpillar of the Vapourer Moth found in a garden at Buckie.

“And lastly, though not least, a specimen of the Mountain Bladder
fern (_Cystopteris montana_), found on Benrinnes by a gentleman from
England, and sent to me as a rarity. It was only in 1836 that this fern
was made known as British, having then been for the first time met with
by a party of naturalists on Ben Lawers. Since that time, however,
it has been found in a ravine between Glen Dochart and Glen Lochy,
Perthshire. It is also found on the mountains of North Wales, on the
Alps, and on the Rocky Mountains of North America.”

[Sidenote: _RARE BIRDS._]

Many rare birds were sent to him for examination, notices of which he
recorded in the local paper. Thus, he obtained the Little Crake (_Crex
pusilla_), a bird that had not before been found in the neighbourhood,
from a land-surveyor at Whitehills. The Mountain Finch (_Fringilla
montifringilla_) was sent to him from Macduff, where it had been driven
ashore during a recent storm. A Greater Shrike or Butcher bird (_Lanius
excubitor_)—a bird that had not before been found in Scotland,—was
found dead at Drummuir Castle, and sent to him for preservation.
The Spoonbill (_Platalea leucorodia_) and Bee-eater (_Merops
apiaster_)—very rare birds—were also found at Boyndie.

Of the latter bird, Edward says, “This is a splendid bird, as rare as
the last, if not more so. If we except the breast, which is of a bright
yellow, encircled by a black ring, and some other orange and brown
scattered here and there, it may be said to be of a beautiful verdigris
green. The two middle tail feathers are about an inch longer than the
others. The bill is longish and pointed. Though termed bee-eaters, they
also feed on beetles, gnats, grasshoppers, and flies, etc. The most
of these they capture on the wing, somewhat after the fashion of the
Goatsucker and Swallow. Although a scarce bird with us, they are common
in their native countries. In Asia Minor and the adjacent lands to the
north, and in Northern Africa, they are said to be so abundant as to be
seen flying about in thousands.”


Among the rarer birds found in the district, were the Bohemian Waxwing
or Chatterer (_Bombycilla garrula_), whose native home is Bohemia,—the
Black Redstart (_Phœnicurus Tithys_), a bird that had never before
been met with in Scotland. Edward, in describing this bird, says, “It
is quite possible that it may have visited the country before; but
from the neglect, or rather contempt, with which natural science is
regarded in this part of the country, it may have visited us, and even
bred amongst us, unknown and unrecorded. There is plenty of work among
us for Naturalists. A great deal has yet to be learnt regarding the
various branches of natural science. There is nothing better calculated
for the purpose than _attentive and accurate local observers_.”

On one occasion, when out shooting on the sands west of Banff, Edward
brought down a very rare bird. It was a brown snipe (_Macroramphus
griseus_), a bird well known in North America, but not in Britain. Here
is Edward’s story:—


“Taking a stroll the other day to the west of the town, with my gun in
hand, to get the air, I crossed the sands at the Links, and looking
along them I observed a pretty large group of my old and long-loved
favourites—birds. Wishing, instinctively as it were, to know what they
were, I went cautiously forward to take a nearer view. I found that
they consisted for the most part of ring-dotterels and dunlins, with a
few golden plovers. I was somewhat astonished at seeing the plovers,
for they are by no means a shore bird with us at this season of the
year,—nor, in fact, at any time, except when driven by snow. But there
they were, and no mistake. Not yet satisfied, however,—for I thought
I could distinguish one that did not exactly belong to any of those
already mentioned,—I wished to go a little nearer, and on doing so was
glad to find my conjectures fully confirmed; but what the stranger
was I could not tell. I saw enough, however, to convince me that it
was a rare bird. There is no getting an easy shot at a stranger.
The dotterels are constantly on the out-look for squalls, and when
anything suspicious appears, they immediately rise and fly away. A
shot, however, after a good deal of winding and twisting, was fired,
and although at rather long range, broke one of the stranger’s legs.
This had the effect of parting him from his companions,—they flying
seawards, and he to the shingle which intervenes betwixt the sands and
the Links. Here he dropped, seemingly to rise no more.

[Sidenote: _A BROWN SNIPE._]

“Having reloaded in case of need, I then ran, as well as I was able,
to pick him up. I gained the place, and after some difficulty, having
passed and repassed him several times, I at last found my bird lying
stretched out at full length amongst the pebbles, and to all appearance
a corpse. It was now that I ascertained with satisfaction and pride,
that the great rarity I had met with was neither more nor less than
a specimen of the Brown Snipe, and a splendid one it was too, being
evidently an old bird. Being almost intoxicated with delight, I sat
down, and having taken some cotton wadding from my pocket to wrap
round the injured leg, and stop up any other wound that he might have
received, I took him up for that purpose. But, alas! there is many a
slip between the cup and the lip.

[Sidenote: _THE SNIPE ESCAPES._]

“Away flew the bird just as I was about to lay him on my knee; he
actually slipped out from amongst my very fingers. I fired both barrels
as soon as I could get a hold of my gun, sitting though I was. But
on the bird went, whistling as he flew, despite the dangling of his
shattered limb, but whether in derision at my stupidity, or exulting in
his own miraculous and fortunate escape, I cannot tell. Reaching the
burn mouth of Boyndie, he again alighted amongst the tumbling waves
there. It was now gloaming, and what between one thing or other, I
was rather like an aspen leaf than anything else. Follow, however, I
did; I searched the place, and was just on the eve of giving up the
pursuit as hopeless—having, as I thought, beat the ground over and
over again to no purpose,—when up rose the bird from amongst my very
feet. Both barrels were again emptied, but with little apparent effect.
The last one made him scream somewhat harshly, and falter a little in
his flight, but that was all. On he sped. Darkness now put an end to
any further operations for that day. Next day, however, and for many
days after, I was out, but, although I searched the coast as far as
the sands of Whitehills on the one side, and the burn of Melrose on
the other, I could find no traces of the bird. And thus I lost perhaps
one of the greatest ornithological rarities that has ever visited the

One of the most vivid descriptions which Edward inserted in the
_Banffshire Journal_, was a narrative of a day’s adventures on Gamrie
Head. The editor, in introducing it to his readers, said that it reads
not unlike a chapter of Audubon or Wilson. The reader will judge for


“Having promised to visit some friends in Gardenstown to partake of
their hospitality during the festive season of the New Year, I left
home with that object on the morning of the 31st of December 1850.
I passed through Macduff, and took the path which leads along the
cliffs, hoping thereby to meet with something rare or strange in the
ornithological world, and worthy of my shot. In this way I had nearly
reached the highest point of Gamrie Head without meeting with anything
but the common tenants of these rocky braes, when my attention was
attracted by the screaming of a number of birds at the bottom of the
cliff. On looking over I observed that they consisted of several hooded
and carrion crows, together with two ravens, two Iceland gulls (_Laurus
Islandicus_), and a number of other dark-coloured gulls, apparently
immature specimens of the great black-backed species, one of which,
in perfect plumage, was standing and picking at an object floating
in the water close to the rock, and about which all the other birds
were screaming. It appeared to me, and it afterwards proved to be the
case, that they were making food of the object about which they were
fighting; but the black-backed bird kept them all at bay, allowing none
to approach, not even the ravens themselves.

[Illustration: GAMRIE HEAD.]

[Sidenote: _A FOX’S LAIR._]

“Having feasted my eyes for a while on the Icelanders, the thought
struck me that I would descend the cliff in order to procure one of
them if possible, and also to get a nearer view of the object which
had drawn the various birds together. Accordingly, observing a narrow
track near me, I commenced my descent, but I had only proceeded a
short distance when I found myself on the brink of a precipice. I was
about to return, when, accidentally looking over, I observed a portion
of the rock jutting out a little beyond the one on which I stood,
and about four feet and a half below it. I now concluded that, if
I could gain this rock, I would still find the path to enable me to
continue downwards. With these hopes, and having laid down my gun, I
swung myself down upon the rock. I had no sooner done so, than I heard
a low growl, as if proceeding from a rabid dog; and on looking along
the rock, I was a good deal surprised at seeing two foxes standing in
a rather slouching attitude at the other end of the shelf, apparently
very much discomfited at my unwarrantable intrusion.

“Another look at the place and its surly occupants was enough to
convince me of the unmistakable truth that, instead of having met with
a path leading to the bottom of the cliffs, I had only found one to
a fox’s lair. My first impulse was to ascend the rocks, but in this
I was completely baffled. The brow of the cliff to which I wished to
ascend, was fully as high as my breast, and overhung the rock on which
I stood. I had nothing of the nature of a step to put my foot on to aid
myself up, and nothing to lay hold of with my hands but small tufts
of withered grass and some small stones, all of which gave way so
soon as any stress was put upon them. The last and the only remaining
object within my reach was a stone about twice as large as my head,
and partially embedded amongst the grass. I took hold of the big stone
with both hands, and succeeded in drawing myself about half-way up when
it suddenly gave way. The stone came into collision with my right
shoulder, and would in all likelihood have borne me along with it to
the bottom of the cliff, had it not been that at that instant I got
hold of a short tuft of heath with my mouth, by the aid of which, and
by using my fingers as a beast would its claws, I was enabled to regain
my former position.


“It was now quite evident that I would require to descend the cliff by
some means or other, but how? That was a matter for deep consideration.
I was standing on the brink of a precipice,—had two cunning fellows to
deal with,—had to hold on, at least with one hand, to the rock above in
order to maintain my equilibrium,—and had to keep a steady eye on my
companions for fear lest they should rush at me and throw me over the

“Such being the case, was I not in a pretty fix? If there were any
means of escape, it was from the point near which the foxes were. But
how could I dislodge them to get at that point? The space on which
we stood was only from about two feet and a half to one foot broad,
and about nine feet long, projecting to some distance over the cliff
beneath. To have shot them, and rid myself of their presence in that
fashion, was, from my position, utterly impossible.

“At length a thought struck me, and with the view of putting it in
execution, I laid down my gun close to the back of the shelving, out
of harm’s way; then crouching down with my feet towards my shaggy
friends, who kept up a constant chattering of their teeth during the
whole time, and pushing myself backwards until I reached the nearest, I
gave him a kick with my foot on the hind quarters, which produced the
desired effect; for I had no sooner done so, than I felt first the feet
of one and then of the other passing lightly along my back, and before
I had time to lift up my head, they had bolted up the precipice and


“I was now master of the place, though not of the situation. On
looking over the cliff, I found that there was no way of getting down
but by leaping into a crevice of the rocks, more than eight feet
beneath me, and in a slanting direction from where I was. This was a
doleful discovery, but there was no help now; so, taking off my coat,
shot-belt, and powder-flask, that I might be so much the lighter, and
have the free use of my arms, I threw them down to the bottom of the
rock. I next bound the gun to my back, having previously emptied it
of its contents. I then crawled over the edge of the rock, and hung
dangling in the air for a little, like the pendulum of a clock. I would
have given all that I ever possessed in the world to have been again in
the foxes’ den, stinking though it was. For then, and not till then,
did I discover, to my sorrow, that a rugged portion of a rock projected
over the entrance to the aperture to which I wished to descend,
and that, in leaping, I would require to go beyond it in order to
reach the landing underneath. To accomplish such a feat seemed to me

[Sidenote: _MAKES THE LEAP._]

“I hung thus, being afraid to make the leap, though up I could not get,
until my hands began to give way; when, mustering all my remaining
strength, and having taken the last swing with some force, I let go
my hold to abide by the dreadful alternative,—for I had little hope
of gaining the desired haven. Most fortunately, however, I did gain
it, but, in doing so, I received a severe blow on the left temple from
the rock I had so much dreaded. I also lost my cap, which fell off
when my head struck the rock. From this cavity or chink, which was the
worst that I ever had to deal with, I managed,—by leaping and swinging
from one rocky shelf and cavity to another, and by crawling from crag
to crag, alternately, as circumstances required it,—to reach a huge
stone, which evidently had once formed a part of the higher portion
of the cliff, but had, at a bygone period, by some means or other,
become detached from it, and on rolling down had found a temporary
resting-place there.

“Beyond this stone, I found my leaping was at an end, for I had
now arrived at the top of a rather rough and almost perpendicular
declivity, fully fifty feet from the bottom, and bounded on both sides
by steep and overhanging cliffs. Before me was the sea, behind and
above me was an insurmountable barrier of 300 feet of cliff. Although
I had descended thus far, there was no human possibility of my being
able to re-ascend by the same path. In such a place—alone, and almost
powerless—bruised and nearly worn out with exertion—what could I do?
Throw myself down, and meet my fate at once, or wait till help should
arrive? But where was help to come from? Two boats had already passed
from Gardenstown, both of which I hailed, but they sailed along on
their way. Perhaps they were too far out at sea to hear my cries, or to
notice my signals of distress.


“Despairing of success, I sat down to consider what was next to be
done. While thus resting, I observed a falcon (_Falco peregrinus_)
sailing slowly and steadily along, bearing something large in his
talons. On he came, seemingly unconscious of my presence, and alighted
on a ledge only a few yards from where I sat. I now saw that the object
he carried was a partridge. Having fairly settled down with his quarry
on the rock, I could not help wondering at and admiring the collected
ease and cool composure with which he held his struggling captive (for
it was still alive) until death put an end to its sufferings. There was
no lacerating with his beak at the body of the poor and unfortunate
prisoner, in order, as it were, to hasten its termination; no expanding
of the wing to maintain his equilibrium; although the last and dying
struggle of the bird caused him to quiver a little.


“All being now over, with one foot resting upon his game, and the
other on the rock, silent and motionless as a statue, the noble captor
stood, with an inquiring eye gazing at the now lifeless form of his
reeking prey, seeming to doubt the fact that it was already dead. But
there was no mistake. The blood, oozing from its mouth and wounds,
its body doubtless pierced by the talons of the conqueror, already
began to trickle down the sides of the dark cliffs, dyeing the rocks
in its course. Satisfied at last that life was fairly extinct, an
incision was then made in the neck or shoulder of the victim, and into
this the falcon thrust his bill several times, and each time that it
was withdrawn it was covered with blood. This being done, and having
wrenched off the head, which he dropped, he then began not only to
pluck but to skin his food, from the neck downwards; and, having bared
the breast, commenced a hearty meal by separating the flesh from the
sternum into portions, with as much apparent ease as if he had been
operating with the sharpest surgical instrument. I should have liked
well to have seen the end of the work thus begun; but unfortunately,
a slight movement on my part was detected by the quick eye of the
falcon, and my nearness was discovered. Having gazed at me for a few,
and only for a few seconds, with an angry and piercing scowl, mingled
with surprise, he then rose, uttering a scream so wild and so loud as
to awaken the echoes of the surrounding rocks; whilst he himself, with
the remains of his feast, which he bore along with him, rounded a point
of the cliff and disappeared; and there is no doubt that he ended his
repast in unmolested security.


“I was glad, nay proud, of this unlooked-for occurrence, as I had never
before, on any occasion, had the pleasure of witnessing any of those
noble birds in a state of nature, or while engaged in devouring their
prey, and that too amongst the rugged fastnesses of their natural
retreat. In consequence of having paid particular attention to the
movements of the falcon, I was enabled to bring to maturity an opinion,
the seeds of which were sown many years ago—viz. that, if painters,
engravers, and preservers of animals, would endeavour to get lessons
from nature, and work accordingly, the public would not be so often
duped as they are, by having to pay for false representations and
caricatured figures, instead of the genuine forms of these noble birds.


“The falcon had no sooner fled, than the reality of my own situation
again burst upon my mind. I had as little prospect of relief from
passers-by as ever; and, becoming a prey to evil forebodings, I felt
cold and sick at heart. It was now afternoon, and daylight would soon
be on the wane. I had no time to lose, for it was necessary that
something should be done to extricate myself, if possible, before dark.
The only way of doing so was by sliding down the declivity, be the
consequences what they might. Accordingly, I unloosed the gun from its
place on my back, and having taken my garters, which were very long,
from my legs, I tied them together, then attached one end of them to
the gun, and holding the other end in my hand, I dropped it as far as
the string would allow, and then letting go, I heard the gun clash to
the bottom. I next took the two napkins, which had bound the gun to
my back, and wound them round my head, in order to save it as much as
possible from the edges of the rocks. I then stretched myself upon the
rocky slope, with my feet downwards, and was ready for the descent,
when, repenting, I would again have drawn myself up. But the scanty
herbage which I held by gave way, and I was hurled down, whether I
would or no, and with such violence that, on landing amongst the rocks,
I became quite unconscious.

“On recovering, I found myself lying at the foot of the cliff, sick
and very sore. I found that I had bled profusely from the nose and one
of my ears. My first impulse, on recovering, was to move my limbs to
ascertain if any of them were broken, when, to my inexpressible joy and
thankfulness, I found them whole, though somewhat benumbed. Becoming
thirsty, and observing a pool of water at a short distance, I attempted
to rise, but my spine pained me so much that I was obliged to lie
down again, without being able to reach the desired spot. The thirst
increasing, I dragged myself to the water. I thrust my mouth into it,
and had partaken of a draught before I discovered that, instead of
fresh, I had swallowed _salt water_!

[Sidenote: _LOADS HIS GUN._]

“If I was ill before, I was worse now. Having sickened and vomited
again, I revived a little, and after I had washed the blood from my
face and head, I was enabled to sit up with my back against a rock.
Whilst thus seated, I observed all the articles which had been dropped,
except my cap, which, however, I afterwards found. After sitting for
about half-an-hour, I made another attempt to rise, and succeeded,
though I reeled about like a drunken fellow, and could scarcely stand
steady without the aid of my gun, which I found was not so much bruised
as I had expected. Having again assumed my coat and other appendages, I
then endeavoured to load my gun with the view of procuring one of the
Icelanders which I had seen from the top of the cliff. This, however,
proved a very difficult matter; and when I had loaded the gun I found
to my disappointment that I could not bring it to bear upon the object.
I made the attempt several times, but was at last obliged to abandon
the hope I had entertained of obtaining either of the birds.

[Sidenote: _THE SPINOUS SHARK._]

“I was vexed at this, for both came several times within easy shot.
All my hopes of procuring the birds being at an end, I then proceeded
to view the object in the water round which the birds were hovering,
and I was surprised to find it to be the carcase of an animal of a
very singular appearance. It was not until I had looked at it for some
time that I could bring my memory to bear upon it. I then thought, and
I have since been fully confirmed in the opinion, that I discovered
in it a specimen, or rather the putrid remains, of the Spinous Shark.
It wanted the head, which had been broken off by the fish having
been dashed against the rocks by the waves. The tail was also broken
off, but still hung by a filament to the body. In shape it somewhat
resembled the tail of the common dog-fish, but there evidently had
been two fins on the back, nearer to the posterior than the anterior
portion of the animal, though these had been broken or rubbed off. The
skin, which was of a dark blue colour, and had a leathery appearance,
was thickly beset with curved thorns or spines (whence the animal’s
name), nearly all of which were more or less damaged. I know of
nothing that I could liken these thorns or spikes to, but the thorns
or spikes which may be seen on the stem of an old rose bush,—with this
exception, that the spikes of the fish are larger. From its position in
the water, though close to the rocks, I could not make out its girth
in any part whatever; but, from where the head had joined the body to
the tip of the tail, it was about two yards in length. Having fully
satisfied myself that the present specimen, from its decomposed state
and the holes perforated in it by the gulls, was beyond the state for
preservation, I again left it, that the impatient birds might once
more descend and recommence their banquet.

[Sidenote: _RETURNS HOME._]

“I now wished to get to a sandy beach, at some distance to my left,
known as Greenside, from which I knew that a path led to the top of the
cliff. On my way thither, I met with a very serious obstacle in the
form of a huge rock, whose base extended into the sea; and, as a matter
of course, as I could not get round it, I required to get over it. I
was then far from being in a condition to climb a rock. However, I had
no alternative. The tide, then about to come in, would have shown me
no mercy. Accordingly, my gun was once more on my back, and on hands
and knees, for feet here were of no use, and with the aid of my mouth,
I succeeded in crawling over, and, with some further difficulty, I
contrived to reach Greenside. Instead of holding on to Gardenstown,
I turned my face towards home, where I arrived betwixt five and six
in the evening,—with the impression of the last day of 1850 so deeply
stamped upon my body and mind, that it will not easily, if ever, be
obliterated from either.”


[38] Kindling fires.

[39] “The superstitious notion, that a spider shut up without food for
a year is transformed into a diamond, has probably cost many of these
insects their lives; and if the eradication of ancient prejudices be as
serviceable to science as the discovery of new truths, the poor spiders
may console themselves with the honour of martyrdom as justly as the
innumerable frogs, who betrayed, amid their tortures, the mystery of
galvanism. In this, as in other things, people have obtained a very
different and perhaps more important result than they had expected. It
appears that though spiders do not turn to diamonds, they can live a
long time without food. An insect of this species, inclosed in a box
for this rational purpose, was found alive after the poor sufferer had
been forgotten for five years.”—_Ackermann’s Repository_, January 1815.



THE Reverend Mr. Smith must have felt surprised at the graphic manner
in which Edward described the birds of the district. The truth is,
that Edward, though he had acquired his principal knowledge from
observation, had also learnt something from books. Mr. Smith had lent
him such books as he had in his library, and also referred him to the
articles on Natural History in the _Penny Cyclopedia_. Although Edward
did not accept his friend’s advice as to the study of grammar, yet he
learnt enough for his purpose. It is not so much by recollecting the
rules of grammar that one learns to write, as by the careful reading of
well-written books. After that, grammar comes, as it were, by nature.
Besides, if a man feels keenly, he will be sure to write vividly. This
was precisely Edward’s position.

Mr. Smith thought it unfortunate that Edward’s contributions to Natural
History should be confined to the local newspaper. He asked permission
to send an account of his observations to a scientific journal. Edward
expressed his fears lest his contributions might not be found worthy
of notice. He was always shy and modest: perhaps he was too modest.
There are cases in which shyness is almost a misfortune. A man may
know much; but, because of his shyness, he declines to communicate his
information to others. He hides his secret, and nobody is the wiser for
his knowledge. He is too bashful. He avoids those who might be friendly
to him, and who might help him. Edward often stood in his own light in
this way.


Mr. Smith, however, persevered. He obtained from Edward some notes of
his observations, and after correcting them, he offered to send them
to the _Zoologist_, and publish them under his own name. “I have no
doubt,” he said, “that the articles would be acceptable to the editor;
but, if you do not approve of this plan, I hope you will not for a
moment allow me to interfere with you. At all events, I trust that you
will have no objection to let the information be known to a much wider
circle of readers, and especially of zoologists, than are likely to
consult the pages of the _Banffshire Journal_.”

Edward at last gave his consent; and in the _Zoologist_ for 1850,[40]
Mr. Smith inserted a notice of the Sanderlings which had been shot
by Edward on the sands of Boyndie. In the following year Mr. Smith
inserted, in the same magazine, a notice of the spinous shark which
Edward had seen under Gamrie Head.[41] “In order,” says Mr. Smith,
“to determine whether it was the spinous shark or not, I sent Mr.
Edward the 39th volume of the ‘Naturalist’s Library,’ which contains an
account, by Dr. Hamilton of Edinburgh, of the Squalida, or family of
sharks, and in which there is a coloured engraving of this particular
shark. In reply, Mr. Edward observes—‘I have now no doubt whatever that
the animal discovered and examined by me was the Spinous Shark.’”


In another article, Mr. Smith described Edward in the following
terms:—“I have oftener than once made mention in the _Zoologist_ of
Mr. Thomas Edward, shoemaker in Banff, who is a zealous admirer of
Nature and an excellent preserver of animals. Occasionally he tears
himself, as it were, from the employment to which necessity compels
him, and slakes his thirst for the contemplation of zoological scenes
and objects by a solitary ramble amid the mountains and hills which
so greatly abound in the upper portion of the shires of Aberdeen and
Banff. Of some of his adventures during a ramble of this description,
he has sent me an account. This I consider so interesting, that I have
rewritten it, and now submit it for insertion in the _Zoologist_. The
facts, the ideas, and the reflections, are all his own, and in many
parts I have retained his own impressions. Upon the accuracy and the
minuteness of his observations, and upon his veracity of character, the
utmost reliance may at all times be placed.”


The paper that follows consists of the description of a ramble,
extending over several days, in the hill districts near Noth and
Kirknie. It is not necessary to transcribe the whole paper; but we may
select the following passages as showing the keen observation as well
as the character of the man. Edward had entered a narrow glen, at the
bottom of which runs the burn called Ness Bogie. He was listening to
the voice of the cuckoo, and the _clap-clap_ of the ring pigeons, which
rose in great numbers, when an abrupt turn of the road brought him,
suddenly and unexpectedly, within a few yards of a beautiful heron:—

[Sidenote: _CRIES OF THE BIRDS._]

“I immediately stood still,” he says; “the upright and motionless
attitude of the bird indicated plainly that he had been taken by
surprise; and for the moment he seemed, as it were, stunned, and
incapable of flight. There he remained, as if fastened to the spot, his
bright yellow eye staring me full in the face, and with an expression
that seemed to inquire what right I had to intrude into solitudes
where the human form is so rarely seen. As we were thus gazing at each
other, in mutual surprise at having met in such a place, I observed
his long slender neck quietly and gradually doubling down upon his
breast. His dark and lengthened plumes were at the same time slightly
shaken. I knew by this that he was about to rise; another moment, and
he was up. Stretching his long legs behind him, he uttered a scream
so dismal, wild, and loud, that the very glen and hills re-echoed the
sound, and the whole scene was instantly filled with clamour. The
sandpiper screamed its _kittie-needie_; the pigeon _cooed_; the pipit,
with lively emotion, came flying round me, uttering all the while its
_peeping_ note; the moor-cock sprang with whirring wing from his heathy
lair, and gave forth his well-known and indignant _birr birr-bick_;
the curlew came sailing down the glen with steady flight, and added
to the noise with his shrill and peculiar notes of _poo-elie poo-elie
coorlie coorlie wha-up_; and, from the loftier parts of the hills, the
plovers ceased not their mournful wail, which accorded so well with the
scene of which I alone appeared to be a silent spectator. But I moved
not a foot until the alarmed inmates of the glen and the mountain had
disappeared, and solemn stillness had again resumed its sway.”

On the following day, while crossing the Clashmauch, on his way to
Huntly, Edward observed a curlew rise from a marshy part of the hill,
to which he bent his steps in hopes of finding her nest. In this,
however, he was disappointed; but, in searching about, and within a few
feet of the remains of a wreath of snow, he came upon a wild duck lying
beside a tuft of rushes. It may be mentioned that there had been a
heavy snowstorm which had forced the plovers and wild ducks to abandon
their nests, though then full of eggs, and greatly interrupted the
breeding season in the northern counties. Edward proceeds:—


“As I imagined she was skulking with a view to avoid observation, I
touched her with my stick, in order that she might rise; but she rose
not. I was surprised, and, on a nearer inspection, I found that she
was dead. She lay raised a little on one side, her neck stretched out,
her mouth open and full of snow, her wings somewhat extended, and with
one of her legs appearing a little behind her. Near to it there were
two eggs. On my discovering this I lifted up the bird, and underneath
her was a nest containing eleven eggs; these, with the other two, made
thirteen in all; a few of them were broken. I examined the whole of
them, and found them, without exception, to contain young birds. This
was an undoubted proof that the poor mother had sat upon them from two
to three weeks. With her dead body in my hand I sat down to investigate
the matter, and to ascertain, if I could, the cause of her death. I
examined her minutely all over, and could find neither wound nor any
mark whatever of violence. She had every appearance of having died of
suffocation. Although I had only circumstantial evidence, I had no
hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that she had come by her death
in a desperate but faithful struggle to protect her eggs from the fatal
effects of the recent snowstorm.


“I could not help thinking, as I looked at her, how deep and striking
an example she afforded of maternal affection. The ruthless blast had
swept, with all its fury, along the lonesome and unsheltered hill.
The snow had risen higher, and the smothering drift came fiercer, as
night drew on; yet still that poor bird, in defiance of the warring
elements, continued to protect her home, and the treasure which it
contained, until she could do so no longer, and yielded up her life.
That life she could easily have saved, had she been willing to abandon
the offspring which Nature had taught her so fervently to cherish,
and in endeavouring to preserve which she voluntarily remained and
died. Occupied with such feelings and reflections as these, I know
not how long I might have sat, had I not been roused from my reverie
by the barking of a shepherd’s dog. The sun had already set,—the grey
twilight had begun to hide the distant mountains from my sight, and,
not caring to be benighted on such a spot, I wrapped a piece of paper,
as a winding sheet, round the faithful and devoted bird, and, forming a
hole sufficiently large for the purpose, I laid into it the mother and
the eggs. I covered them with earth and moss, and, over all, placed a
solid piece of turf; and having done so,—and being more affected than I
should perhaps be willing to acknowledge,—I left them to moulder into
their original dust, and went on my way.”

Having thus related an instance of maternal affection on the part
of the wild duck, let us cite a still more remarkable instance of
brotherly sympathy and help on the part of the common Tern (_Sterna
hirundo_), called Pickietars in the neighbourhood of Banff.

[Sidenote: _THE PICKIETARS._]

“Being on the sands of Boyndie one afternoon at the end of August, I
observed several parties of Pickietars busily employed in fishing in
the firth. As I was in want of a specimen of this bird, I loitered
about on the beach, narrowly watching their motions, and hoping that
some of them would come within range of my gun. The scene around was
of no common beauty. In the azure heaven, not a cloud was to be seen
as far as the eye could reach; not a breath of wind was stirring the
placid bosom of the firth. The atmosphere seemed a sea, as it were, of
living things; so numerous were the insects that hummed and fluttered
to and fro in all directions. The sun, approaching the verge of the
horizon, shot long and glimmering bands of green and gold across the
broad mirror of the deep. Here and there several vessels were lying
becalmed, their whitened sails showing brightly in the goldened light.
An additional interest was imparted by the herring-boats which were
congregating in the bay; their loose and flagging sails, the noise of
the oars, and the efforts of the rowers, told plainly enough that a
hard pull would have to be undergone, before they could reach their
particular quarters for fishing, in the north-eastern part of the firth.


“While I stood surveying with delight the extended and glorious
prospect, and witnessing with admiration the indefatigable evolutions
of the Terns in their search for food, I observed one of them break
off from a party of five, and direct his course towards the shore,
fishing all the way as he came. It was an interesting sight to behold
him as he approached in his flight,—at one moment rising, at another
descending,—now poised in mid-air, his wings expanded but motionless,
his piercing eye directed to the waters beneath, and watching with
eager gaze the movements of their scaly inhabitants,—and now, as one of
them would ever and anon come sufficiently near the surface, making his
attack upon the fish in the manner so thoroughly taught him by nature.
Quick as thought he closed to his side his outspread pinions; turned
off his equilibrium with a movement almost imperceptible; and, with a
seeming carelessness, threw himself headlong into the deep so rapidly
that the eye could with difficulty keep pace with his descent. In the
least space of time he would be seen sitting on the water, swallowing
his prey. This being accomplished, he again mounted into the air. He
halts in his progress. Something has caught his eye. He lets himself
down; but it is only for a little, for his expected prey has vanished
from his sight.

“Once more he soars aloft on lively wing; and having attained a certain
elevation, and hovering kestrel-like for a little with quick repeated
strokes of his pinions, he rapidly descends. Again, however, his
hoped-for victim has made its escape; and he bounds away in an oblique
direction, describing a beautiful curve as he rises without having
touched the water. Shortly after, he wings his way nearer and nearer
to the beach: onwards he advances with zigzag flight, when suddenly,
as if struck down by an unseen hand, he drops into the water within
about thirty yards of the place where I was standing. As he righted
and sat on the bosom of the deep, I was enabled distinctly to perceive
that he held in his bill a little scaly captive which he had snatched
from its home, and which struggled violently to regain its liberty. Its
struggles were in vain: a few squeezes from the mandibles of the bird
put an end to its existence.


“Being now within my reach, I stood prepared for the moment when he
should again arise. This he did so soon as the fish was despatched. I
fired, and he came down with a broken wing, screaming as he fell into
the water. The report of the gun, together with his cries, brought
together the party he had left, in order that they might ascertain the
cause of the alarm. After surveying their wounded brother round and
round, as he was drifting unwittingly toward the shore with the flowing
tide, they came flying in a body to the spot where I stood, and rent
the air with their screams. These they continued to utter, regardless
of their own individual safety, until I began to make preparations
for receiving the approaching bird. I could already see that it was a
beautiful adult specimen; and I expected in a few moments to have it
in my possession, being not very far from the water’s edge.


“While matters were in this position, I beheld to my utter astonishment
and surprise, two of the unwounded Terns take hold of their disabled
comrade, one at each wing, lift him out of the water, and bear him
out seawards. They were followed by two other birds. After being
carried about six or seven yards, he was let gently down again, when
he was taken up in a similar manner by the two who had been hitherto
inactive. In this way they continued to carry him alternately, until
they had conveyed him to a rock at a considerable distance, upon which
they landed him in safety. Having recovered my self-possession, I
made toward the rock, wishing to obtain the prize which had been so
unceremoniously snatched from my grasp. I was observed, however, by
the Terns; and instead of four, I had in a short time a whole swarm
about me. On my near approach to the rock, I once more beheld two of
them take hold of the wounded bird as they had done already, and bear
him out to sea in triumph, far beyond my reach. This, had I been so
inclined, I could no doubt have prevented. Under the circumstances,
however, my feelings would not permit me; and I willingly allowed
them to perform without molestation an act of mercy, and to exhibit
an instance of affection, which man himself need not be ashamed to
imitate. I was, indeed, rejoiced at the disappointment which they had
occasioned, for they had thereby rendered me the witness of a scene
which I could scarcely have believed, and which no length of time will
efface from my recollection.”


On another occasion, Edward exhibited the same closeness, minuteness,
and patience of observation, with regard to the Turnstone (_Strepsilas
interpres_), a bird which is an inhabitant of the sea-shore, and has a
wide geographical range, though it has rarely been seen on the shores
of the Moray Firth. In Edward’s ornithological excursions, it was
not so much his object to kill birds as to observe their manners and
habits. He very often made his excursions without a gun at all. In a
letter to the author, he observes—“In looking over my printed articles,
you will find a great number of notices of the habits and workings
of various species. I spent so much time in observation, that I had
little time to spare to write out the results. And what I did write,
did not seem to be much appreciated. Perhaps this is not to be wondered
at. It appears that the compilers of works on Natural History in this
country do not care for details of the habits of the animals they treat
of. They rather glory in the abundance of technical descriptions they
can supply. These may seem scientific, but they are at the same time
very dry. In fact, Natural History is rendered detestable to general
readers. We want some writers of the Audubon and Wilson class to render
Natural History accessible to the public at large.”

[Sidenote: _THE TURNSTONE._]

If Edward himself could have been rescued from his shoemaker’s seat,
we might probably have had the book which he indicates. He was full
of love for his subject; he was patient and persevering in his
observations; and, notwithstanding his great disadvantages, it will
be observed that his style of writing was vivid and graphic. With
respect to the Turnstone, which Edward described in 1850,[42] it does
not appear that any ornithological writer, excepting Audubon, had
particularly described it; although Edward had never read Audubon’s
work. The Reverend Mr. Smith observed—“It is consistent with my
knowledge that Mr. Edward has never read the account given by Audubon
of the habits of the Turnstone. I mention this as a proof, amongst
others, of the accuracy and minuteness with which he makes his
observations. He is the only European, so far as I have the means of
ascertaining, who has described the efforts which are put forth by the
bird in question in cases of difficulty, not only with its bill, but
with its breast also.” The following is Edward’s description of the


“The Turnstone is a very interesting bird, from its peculiar form and
singular habits. It is a strong thick bird, with rather short thick
legs, long expanded toes, and full broad breast. Its bill is in the
form of an elongated cone, strong at the base, on the culmen rather
flattened, and with a curve inclining upwards towards the tip. The
habits of the bird are singular, more particularly with respect to the
method which it adopts to procure food,—which is, as its name denotes,
by turning over small stones in search of the insects beneath them, on
which it feeds. When the object which it wishes to turn over is too
large for the bill to do so, the breast is applied; and it would seem
that the birds are willing to assist each other, just as masons or
porters will do in turning over a stone or a bale of goods. I may here
take the liberty of mentioning an incident concerning the Turnstone
which came under my own observation.


“Passing along the sea-shore to the west of Banff, I observed on
the sands, at a considerable distance before me, two birds beside a
large-looking object. Knowing by their appearance, that they did not
belong to the species which are usually met with in this quarter, I
left the beach and proceeded along the adjoining links, an eminence
of shingle intervening, until I concluded that I was almost opposite
to the spot where the objects of my search were employed. Stooping
down, and with my gun upon my back prepared for action, I managed to
crawl through the bents and across the shingle for a considerable way.
At length I came in sight of the two little workers, who were busily
endeavouring to turn over a dead fish which was fully six times their
size. I immediately recognised them as Turnstones. Not wishing to
disturb them, and anxious at the same time to witness their operations,
I observed that a few paces nearer them, there was a deep hollow among
the shingle, where I contrived to creep into unobserved.

“I was now distant from them about ten yards, and had a distinct and
unobstructed view of all their movements. In these there was evinced
that extraordinary degree of sagacity and perseverance which comes
under the notice only of those who watch the habits of the lower
creation with patience and assiduity, and which, when fully and
accurately related, is not unfrequently discredited by individuals
who, although fond of Natural History, seem inclined to believe that
everything in regard to animals must necessarily be false, or at least
the result of ignorance, unless it has been recorded in books which are
considered authorities on the subject.

“But to return: having got fairly settled down in my pebbly
observatory, I turned my undivided attention to the birds before me.
They were boldly pushing at the fish with their bills, and then with
their breasts. Their endeavours, however, were in vain: the object
remained immovable. On this they both went round to the opposite side,
and began to scrape away the sand from beneath the fish. After removing
a considerable quantity, they again came back to the spot which they
had left, and went once more to work with their bills and breasts, but
with as little apparent success as formerly. Nothing daunted, however,
they ran round a second time to the other side, and recommenced their
trenching operations with a seeming determination not to be baffled in
their object, which evidently was to undermine the dead animal before
them, in order that it might be the more easily overturned.


[Sidenote: _TURN OVER THE COD._]

“While they were thus employed, and after they had laboured in this
manner at both sides alternately for nearly half-an-hour, they were
joined by another of their own species, which came flying with rapidity
from the neighbouring rocks. Its timely arrival was hailed with evident
signs of joy. I was led to this conclusion from the gestures which
they exhibited, and from a low but pleasant murmuring noise to which
they gave utterance so soon as the new-comer made his appearance. Of
their feelings he seemed to be perfectly aware, and he made his reply
to them in a similar strain. Their mutual congratulations being over,
they all three set to work; and after labouring vigorously for a few
minutes in removing the sand, they came round to the other side, and
putting their breasts simultaneously to the fish, they succeeded in
raising it some inches from the sand, but were unable to turn it over.
It went down again into its sandy bed, to the manifest disappointment
of the three. Resting, however, for a space, and without leaving their
respective positions, which were a little apart the one from the other,
they resolved, it appears, to give the work another trial. Lowering
themselves, with their breasts close to the sand, they managed to push
their bills underneath the fish, which they made to rise to about the
same height as before. Afterwards, withdrawing their bills, but without
losing the advantage which they had gained, they applied their breasts
to the object. This they did with such force and to such purpose,
that at length it went over, and rolled several yards down a slight
declivity. It was followed to some distance by the birds themselves,
before they could recover their bearing.

“They returned eagerly to the spot from whence they had dislodged the
obstacle which had so long opposed them; and they gave unmistakable
proof, by their rapid and continued movements, that they were enjoying
an ample repast as the reward of their industrious and praiseworthy
labour. I was so pleased, and even delighted, with the sagacity and
perseverance which they had shown, that I should have considered myself
as guilty of a crime had I endeavoured to take away the lives of these
interesting beings, at the very moment when they were exercising, in
a manner so happily for themselves, the wonderful instincts implanted
in them by their Creator. When they appeared to have done and to be
satisfied, I arose from my place of concealment. On examining the fish,
I found it to be a specimen of the common cod. It was nearly three feet
and a half long, and it had been imbedded in the sand to the depth of
about two inches.”

One of Edward’s greatest pleasures was in rambling along the sea-shore,
to observe the habits of the sea birds. The multitude of birds which
frequent the shores of the Moray Firth are occasioned by the shoals of
herrings, which afford food not only for thousands of fishermen but
for millions of sea-birds. To show the number of birds that frequent
the coast, it may be mentioned that during the storm that occurred in
December 1846, Edward counted between the Burn of Boyne and Greenside
of Gamrie, a distance of about nine miles, nearly sixty of the Little
Auk, which had been driven ashore dead, besides a large number of
Guillemots and Razorbills. Numbers of these birds were also found lying
dead in the fields throughout the county.

[Sidenote: _THE LITTLE AUK._]

And yet the Little Auk has a wonderful power of resisting the fury
of the waves. “It is a grand sight,” says Edward, “to see one of
these diminutive but intrepid creatures manœuvring with the impetuous
billows of a stormy sea. Wave follows wave in rapid succession, bearing
destruction to everything within reach; but the Little Auk, taught
by Nature, avoids the threatened danger, either by mounting above
the waves or by going beneath them, reappearing unhurt as they spend
their fury on the shore. The eye for a time wanders in vain amongst
the turbulent surge, to catch another sight of the little sailor bird.
One unaccustomed to such a scene would be apt to exclaim ‘Poor little
thing! It is buried amidst the foam!’ Have a little patience. See,
there it is, once more, as lively as ever, and ready to master the
approaching billow. Its descent amongst the waves may have been merely
in search of food, for it is only betwixt the waves, whilst inshore
during a storm, that the bird can descend for that purpose. The bird is
known in our locality by the curious term of the ‘Nor-a-wa-wifie,’ from
the supposition that it comes from Norway.”

The rocky coasts along the east shore were the most attractive scenes
for our Naturalist. Not only the wildest scenery, but the wildest
birds, were to be found in that quarter. Gamrie Mohr and Troup Head
were especially favourite places. We have already described Edward’s
adventures near the former headland. Here is his description of his
visit to Troup Head:—


“Sailing in a little bark, with a gentle breeze blowing, I had ample
opportunities of viewing the various birds as they approached, and as
they flew past. Passing in front of the several sea-fowl nurseries of
Troup, I beheld scenes truly magnificent—scenes which could not have
failed to create feelings of the deepest interest in a mind capable
of appreciating the sublime and beautiful workings of Nature. Having
landed at the most famed of these nurseries, in order to view the scene
with advantage—here, I thought, as I gazed at the white towering cliffs
which had laughed to scorn the angriest scowl of the most mighty wave
that ever spent its fury at their base, and defied the stormiest blast
from the icy North; where the largest gull in its midway flight appears
no larger than the smallest of its kind; where the falcon breeds beside
and in perfect harmony with the other inhabitants of the rocky cliffs;
where multitudes of birds, of various forms and hues, from the snowy
whiteness of the Kittiwake to the sable dye of the croaking raven, have
found a resting-place whereon to build their nests and deposit their
young;—here, I thought, as I was about to leave the busy throng—even
here, man, the noblest creature, though too often degrading himself
beneath the lowest of animals, might learn lessons of industry and
affection from these humble monitors of Nature.”


During breeding-time the clamour of the sea-birds is tumultuous, though
the lashing of the sea at the foot of the cliffs tends to a great
extent to lull their noise. But towards evening all becomes still
again. Edward frequently ascertained this by personal experience.
Being in the neighbourhood of Pennan one day, he went along the Head,
in order, if possible, to get a sight of the far-famed eagles of the
promontory. He was unsuccessful on the occasion. He had loitered by
the way, and the declining day at length warned him to leave the place
without seeing the coveted sight. His road westward lay along the
coast. With disappointed hopes he trudged along, scarcely thinking how
the hours were flying. At length it became dark as he approached the
broom braes of Troup. He found himself fairly benighted. At the same
time he was tired and weary. He had endured many outs and ins, ups and
downs, that day. His intention was to have gone to the house of his old
shopmate at Gardenstown, and spend the night. But now he felt, from
his worn-out condition, that it would have taken him nearly two hours’
walking to reach the place. He therefore determined to stay where he
was, or rather, to go down to a sleeping-place near Troup Head, to
ascertain how his feathered friends conducted themselves during the
night time.

[Sidenote: _SLEEPS IN HELL’S LUM._]

[Sidenote: _SEA-BIRDS AT NIGHT._]

His sleeping place was a very wild one. It was no other than Hell’s
Lum. He knew the place well. He had entered it both from the sea-side
and from the land-side. He had been in it in storm and calm, in clouds
and sunshine. And now he was about to spend the night in it. The
weather was, however, calm; the sea was like a sheet of glass; so that
he had little fear of getting a wetting during his few hours’ stay.
While in the “Lum,” he was at the back of the cliffs, and in close
proximity with the breeding places of the myriads of sea-fowl. It was
now the busiest part of the season. The birds had been very clamorous
during the day, but as night came on, their clamour ceased. With the
exception of a few screams,—while, perhaps, the birds were being
displaced in their nests,—the night was silent, though Edward kept
awake and listened for nearly the whole time.

But with the first glimmerings of daylight, and just as he was
beginning to move and to creep out of the pit, Edward thought that he
heard some of the birds beginning to whimper and yawn, as if ready for
another day’s work; and by the time he had rounded Crovie Head, he
beheld the cliffs alive, and the multitude of sea-birds again in full

[Illustration: THE RED HEAD OF PENNAN.]


[40] _Zoologist_, 1850 : 2915.

[41] _Zoologist_, 1851 : 3057.

[42] First in the _Banffshire Journal_, December 31, 1850; and
afterwards copied by Mr. Smith in the _Zoologist_, April 1851.



[Sidenote: _THE REV. MR. SMITH._]

A GREAT misfortune befell Edward in 1854: his friend the Rev. Mr. Smith
died. He was a man whose richly cultivated mind and warm heart endeared
him to all with whom he came in contact. He was almost the only man of
culture in the neighbourhood who appreciated the character of Edward.
He not only made himself his friend, but became his helper. Edward was
under the impression that people looked down upon him and his work,
because he was a poor shoemaker. There were other persons who knew of
Edward’s perseverance, self-denial, and uncomplainingness, and also of
his efforts to rise into a higher life. But they did not help him as
Mr. Smith did. The true Christian gentleman treated the poor man as
his friend. He treated him as one intelligent man treats another. The
shoemaker from Banff was always made welcome at the minister’s fireside
at Monquhitter.

Mr. Smith helped Edward with books. He lent him such books as he had,
from his own library; and he borrowed books from others, in order to
satisfy Edward’s inquiries about objects in Natural History.

He wandered about the fields with him, admiring his close observation;
and he urged him to note down the facts which he observed, in order
that they might be published to the world.

In one of the last letters addressed by Mr. Smith to Edward he
observed: “It is, I conceive, the great defect in the natural sciences
that we know so little of the real habits and instincts of the animal
creation. In helping to fill up this gap, your personal minute
and accurate observations will be of no little service; although
individuals, solemn and wise in their own conceit, may look upon some
of them as so strange as to be altogether fabulous; and _that_ for no
better reason than because during all their lives,—having exercised
their faculties only in eating, drinking, and sleeping,—the things
related have never come under the notice either of their eyes or their

We find, from a letter of Professor Dickie, that Mr. Smith endeavoured
to obtain employment for Edward as a preserver of British birds
for the Natural History collection in King’s College, Aberdeen.
Many kindly letters passed between Edward and the minister of
Monquhitter, sometimes about newly-discovered birds; at other times
about the troubles and sicknesses of their respective families. Mr.
Smith’s suggestion that Edward should note down his observations for
publication was not, as we have seen, without effect, as the latter
afterwards became a contributor to the _Naturalist_, the _Zoologist_,
the _Ibis_, the _Linnæan Journal_, and other Natural History

[Sidenote: _THE PARTRIDGE._]

In one of Edward’s articles in the _Zoologist_, he thus refers to a
circumstance which happened during one of the last excursions he took
with his reverend friend. He is referring to the partridge (_Perdrix
cinerea_). “A very cunning and faithful mother is the female; for
when she has eggs, she never leaves her nest without hiding them so
carefully that it is almost impossible to detect their whereabouts; and
if you take her by surprise, away she hobbles on one leg, and a wing
trailing on the ground, as if wounded! . . . Wandering about the Waggle
Hill one day with my friend the Rev. Mr. Smith, I chanced to observe
a moor-fowl squatted on the ground amongst the heather, close to my
feet; in fact, I stood above her before I noticed her. Being summer
time, I at once guessed the nature of the case. On my friend coming up,
I drew his attention to the bird over which I stood. ‘Oh,’ he said,
‘she’s surely dead, Mr. Edward.’ ‘Oh, no,’ said I; ‘there are eggs or
young beneath her.’ ‘Well,’ he answered, ‘if so, it is certainly a
very wonderful circumstance, but we shall see.’ Then, stooping down,
he touched the bird, but she did not move. ‘She must be alive,’ he
said, ‘because she is warm; but she must be wounded, and not able to
rise or fly.’ ‘Oh, no,’ I once more said; ‘she has something beneath
her which she is unwilling to leave.’ The bird allowed him to stroke
her without moving, except turning her head to look at him. On my
friend’s dog Sancho coming up and putting his nose close to her, she
crept away through the bushes for some distance, and then took to
flight, leaving a nest and fifteen eggs exposed to our gaze. Before
leaving, we carefully closed up the heather again, so as to conceal as
much as possible the nest and its beauteous treasure; and I need not
say that we were both delighted with what we had seen. Mr. Smith was
particularly struck with the incident, as he had never seen anything of
the kind before; and he remarked, ‘I verily believe that I could not
have credited the fact if I had not seen it myself,’ and he afterwards
spoke of it with the greatest admiration.”


Edward also numbered among his friends the Rev. Alexander Boyd of
Crimond. It was through the Rev. Mr. Smith that Edward was first
introduced to him. Mr. Smith was anxious that Edward should examine and
observe the birds of Strathbeg, near which the village of Crimond is
situated. Crimond is about thirty-five miles from Banff, ten miles from
Peterhead, and about seven from Fraserburgh.

The loch of Strathbeg was at one time of limited extent. It was
connected with the sea at its eastern extremity; but a hill of sand
having, about the beginning of last century, been blown across the
opening during a furious east wind, the connection between the loch and
the sea was closed, and it became a fresh-water loch, as it remains to
this day. The scenery in the neighbourhood is by no means picturesque;
but the loch is very attractive to sportsmen, in consequence of the
number of wildfowl that frequent it, or which breed among the islands
and marshes at its western extremity.

[Sidenote: _THE REV. MR. BOYD._]

The Rev. Mr. Boyd was the parish minister of Crimond. His hospitable
manse was always open to Edward when he visited the neighbourhood. In
one of Mr. Boyd’s letters to Edward, he said, “We have exactly the sort
of room that will suit you, and you will be left at liberty to pursue
your researches at your convenience; the room being so situated that
you can go out or come in at any hour of the day or night, without any
one being the wiser. There will always be something in the cupboard
to refresh you before starting at daybreak, or when you come home
at night, though every one in the house may be asleep. And you may
continue with us the whole week, if you be so disposed. My coble will
always be at your service, and I hope to be able to accompany you on
some of your rambles, though I am not nearly so agile now as I have
been. . . . Mrs. Boyd is now quite well, though she had a long illness
after you were here;—and we have a young specimen of zoology to show
you, which is worth all the rare birds of Strathbeg put together!”

The number of water-fowl that Edward found about the loch was very
great. During winter time it was the haunt of birds from far and near,
in prodigious numbers. In summer time it was the breeding-place of
numerous birds of a different kind. The people of the neighbourhood
say that “all the birds of the world come here in winter.” In angry
weather, when the ocean is tempest-tossed, the sea-birds fly in, and,
mingling with the natives, constitute a very motley group. The number
of birds is so great that when a gun is fired they rise _en masse_, and
literally darken the air, whilst their noise is perfectly deafening.


The swans are among the largest birds that frequent the loch. Edward
found the beautiful White Hooper (_Cygnus ferus_), and the no less
fair and elegant Polish Swan (_Cygnus immutabilis_). The geese were
innumerable: the Bean Goose (_Anser segetum_), the Pink-footed Goose
(_A. brachyrynchus_), the White-pointed Goose (_A. erythropus_),
the Barnacle Goose (_A. leucopsis_), the Brent Goose (_A. brenta_),
the Canadian Goose (_A. Canadensis_), and even the Egyptian Goose
(_A. Egyptiacus_). The last mentioned was first detected by Mr. Boyd
himself. In a letter to Edward, dated the 24th November 1853, he
said—“One morning lately I was informed that there was a strange bird
of the goose tribe in my mill-dam. I sallied forth with a telescope in
one hand and a double-barrel, loaded with No. 1, in the other. I first
took a leisurely look at him with the former at less than 100 yards
distance, when I made the following observations:—Size and appearance
that of a small wild goose; Head, brown and grey mixed; Back, rich
brown, lightish; Breast and neck, grey; Tail, dark or black; Tips of
Wings, ditto, and glossy; Legs and Bill, reddish; a dark ring round
the neck, and a dark spot right on the centre of the breast. He was
nibbling the tender grass on the dam banks. I then approached nearer.
Instead of flying, he merely swam away to the other side of the pond,
and seemed either very tired or else accustomed to the presence of man.
I was quite within shot of him, but, from his tameness, I conjectured
that he was some fancy animal escaped from a gentleman’s demesne. I
then went for some corn, and scattered it on the banks, and as soon as
I moved away he came to eat it. When startled, he generally makes a
circuit of a quarter of a mile and returns again; but latterly he goes
to the loch of Strathbeg all night and returns in the morning for his
corn. I am afraid he will not be spared long, although I have sent word
in several directions that he is not to be shot. I should be glad if
he would become domesticated. I wish you would look over some of your
books and tell me what he is. I have not seen a bird of the same kind

[Illustration: VILLAGE OF PENNAN.]


From Mr. Boyd’s minute description of the bird, Edward was enabled to
inform him that it could be nothing else than a specimen of that rare
species, the Egyptian Goose. After about two months’ sojourn in Mr.
Boyd’s mill-pond, the bird flew away on the day preceding the great
snow-storm of January 1854, and never returned. Mr. Boyd was afterwards
enabled to ascertain the correctness of Edward’s information. He was
in Liverpool, and while visiting a poulterer’s yard, he observed a
bird exactly like the one that had taken shelter in his mill-pond. On
inquiring its name, he was informed that it was an Egyptian Goose.

[Sidenote: _THE WINTER BIRDS._]

The Mallard, the Widgeon, the Teal, the Garganey, the Pintail, the
Ferruginous, the Harlequin, the Shoveler, the Shieldrake, and the
Eider Duck, visit the loch occasionally in winter. The ducks were ten
times more numerous than the geese. There were the Scaup (_Fuligula
marila_), the Tufted (_F. cristata_), the Red-headed Pochard or Dunbird
(_F. ferina_), and the Golden-eyed Garrot (_Clangula garrotta_). The
Red-necked Grebe and the Black-chinned Grebe also bred in the loch.
Herons, Bitterns, Spoon-bills, Glossy Ibises, Snipes, Woodcocks,
Green Sandpipers, Ruffs, Dotterels, Gray Phalaropes, were also to be
seen. These were the birds that mostly frequented the loch in winter.
There were numerous flocks of Gulls of various species, and other
shore-birds, which only made visits to the loch for shelter during

[Sidenote: _THE RING DOTTEREL._]

When spring approached the birds became restless. The flocks began
to break up, and flights of birds disappeared daily. At length the
greater part of the winter birds left, except a few stragglers. An
entirely different set of birds now began to make their appearance. You
could now hear the shrill whistle of the Redshank, the bright carol
of the Lark, the wire-like call of the Dunlin, the melancholy note of
the Wagtail, the boom of the Snipe, and the pleasant peewit of the
Lapwing. There were also the Black-headed Bunting, the Ring Dotterel,
the Wheatear, the Meadow Pipit, the Reed Warbler, the Rose Linnet,
the Twite, the Red-shank, the Black-headed Gull, and the Arctic Tern,
which bred in suitable localities round the loch. Among the remaining
birds, were several specimens of the Skua, Coots, Water-hens, Swifts,
and several kinds of Swallows. The Whimbrel, Greenshank, Water-Rail,
Pied Wagtail, Roseate Tern, and Water Ouzel, also frequented the
neighbourhood of the loch, but did not breed there.

In an account of “The Birds of Strathbeg,” which Edward afterwards
published in the _Naturalist_, he mentioned the curious manner in which
the Ring Dotterel contrives to divert attention from her nest.

[Sidenote: _A PURSUIT._]

While strolling along the sands in the month of July, a friend who was
with him fired at a Tern. Without knowing what he had fired at, Edward
saw a Ring Dotterel before him, which, he thought, must be the bird.
It was lame, and dragging its wing behind it as if it had been sorely
wounded. It lay down, as if dead. Edward came up, and put his hand
down to secure it. The bird rose and flew away. Then it dropped again,
hobbled and tottered about, as if inviting him to pursue it:—“I stood
a few seconds,” says Edward, “considering whether I would follow or
not; then off I started, determined to have it. Away went the bird,
twiddling and straddling, and away I followed in hot pursuit. Round and
round the sand hillocks we scrambled until I was perfectly wearied.
Nothing but the novelty of the affair could have kept me in pursuit of
the wounded bird.

“In this way we continued, until I saw that I could make nothing of
it by fair means; so I doubled round and met it fair in front. I was
about to take hold of it, when, to my amazement, it rose and flew. Its
flight, however, was of short duration, as it again suddenly dropped
down, and lay on the sand as if dead. ‘You are mine now at last,’ said
I, as I observed it fall. I accordingly proceeded to take it up, in
order to put it in my pocket. But lo, it rose again and flew away; when
once more it suddenly dropped behind one of the larger hillocks. It
was a beautifully-marked specimen, and, fearing lest I should lose it
altogether, I determined to put a stop to the wild-goose chase. Having
put my gun in readiness, I proceeded in the direction in which the bird
fell. But it did not rise. I searched all round, but there was no bird!
I met my friend, and inquired if he had fired at a Ring Dotterel. No,
he had only shot at a Tern. ‘But, by the by,’ he added, ‘I found a nest
and the young of that bird as I came along.’


“In a few minutes we stood beside the young ones. The spot I found to
be only about three yards in advance of where my attention was first
attracted to the apparently wounded bird. Having collected the little
downy things, and placed them in a hollow among the sand, we again took
our departure. In doing so, what should we meet but my old friend the
Dotterel, which again commenced its former pranks! But no! It was too
late; the truth had oozed out. The bird had completely deceived me, and
my friend laughed heartily at my mistake.”

During one of Edward’s visits to Crimond Manse, to which some gentlemen
of the neighbourhood had been invited to meet him, Mr. Boyd, after
dinner, when the ladies had left the room, expressed his surprise
that something had not been done to enable Edward to obtain more time
to pursue his researches in Natural History. The gentlemen present
cordially agreed with him. Mr. Boyd then proposed to insert a notice in
the _Fraserburgh Advertiser_, and to circulate it extensively in the
neighbourhood. The following forms part of the article:—

[Sidenote: _MR. BOYD’S PROPOSAL._]

“During the past month our district has been visited by Mr. Edward from
Banff, a Naturalist of no mean attainments, and one who, we doubt not,
will soon bring himself into public notice, both by his indefatigable
researches into Natural Science, and his valuable contributions to
various scientific periodicals. . . . While there are few branches of
Natural History in which he does not take an interest, it is in
Ornithology that he shines most conspicuously, and in this he was much
encouraged by the late Rev. Mr. Smith of Monquhitter. . . . We cordially
wish Mr. Edward every success in the various fields of research upon
which he has entered. It is but justice to a most deserving person to
draw attention to his praiseworthy endeavours, in the midst of many
difficulties, to perfect his knowledge of Natural History, and to
recommend it to all around him, especially the young. Happy would it
be, if our tradesmen were to take a leaf out of Mr. Edward’s book, and
instead of wasting their time, squandering their means, and embittering
their existence in the haunts of dissipation, they would sally forth
in these calm summer evenings to rural scenes and sylvan solitudes, to
woo Nature in her mildest aspect—to learn a lesson from the moth or the
spider—to listen to the hum of the bee or the song of birds—to mark the
various habits and instincts of animals, and thus to enrich their minds
with useful and entertaining knowledge.”

Mr. Boyd’s object in publishing this notice was to attract the
attention of the working classes to the study of Natural History;
and with this object he was of opinion that Edward should endeavour
to disseminate amongst them the information which he had acquired
during his long experience. He proposed that Edward should get up a
series of rudimentary lectures on Natural History, illustrated by
specimens of birds and other objects. The lectures were first to be
delivered in Banff, and if they succeeded there, they were afterwards
to be delivered in Fraserburgh and other towns. Edward proceeded to
prepare his illustrations. About 200 were put in readiness. He was also
negotiating for the purchase of a powerful magnifying glass, so that
his patrons might better see the minute wonders of Nature as exhibited
in her works.

[Sidenote: _NATIVE GENIUS._]

As there was then an institution at Banff, which had been formed,
amongst other purposes, “For the Discovery and Encouragement of Native
Genius and Talent,” Mr. Boyd believed that the members would at once
give their hearty co-operation to his proposed scheme. He proposed the
formation of a local committee, in order that the rudimentary lectures
might be brought out under their patronage. Edward was requested to
name some gentlemen in Banff with whom Mr. Boyd might communicate on
the subject. This was a poser; for Edward knew only a few hard-working
men like himself. Nevertheless, he did give the name of a gentleman,
who, he thought, might give his assistance. When the gentleman was
applied to, he politely declined. Edward was asked to name another. He
named another, and he also declined. Thus the proposal, from which Mr.
Boyd had expected so much, fell to the ground, and it was no more heard

[Sidenote: _DEATH OF MR. BOYD._]

Shortly after this event, Mr. Boyd died suddenly. Edward thus refers
to the event:—“It was but yesterday, at noon,[43] that my friend the
Rev. Mr. Boyd of Crimond,—while full of life and strength, and with
every prospect of enjoying many, many long years to come,—left his
young and courteous partner and two blooming little ones, to enjoy a
short walk with a neighbouring gentleman. Alas! short was the walk
indeed, and, woe is me! never to return. A few paces, and he dropped
down and almost instantly expired. Alas! another of my best friends
gone. Cruel death! if thy hand continues to strip me thus, thou wilt
soon, very soon, leave me desolate; and then who will take notice of
the poor Naturalist? Well may the parish of Crimond say, ‘We have
lost that which we may never again find.’ Well might Mercy weep, and
Religion mourn his premature departure, for in him they have lost a
friend on earth; and I, alas! a friend too, and a benefactor.”

Edward completed his article on “The Birds of Strathbeg” only two days
after Mr. Boyd’s death. It had been written out at his instance, and
was afterwards published in the _Naturalist_. It was one of the first
papers to which Edward subscribed his own name.


So soon as Edward’s name and address appeared in the _Naturalist_ and
_Zoologist_, he was assailed by letters from all parts of the country.
English dealers asked him to exchange birds with them. Private
gentlemen offered exchanges of moths and butterflies. Professors, who
were making experiments on eggs, requested contributions of eggs of
all kinds. A Naturalist in Norfolk desired to have a collection of
Sternums, or breast-bones, of birds. “I have no doubt,” says Edward,
“that many of my correspondents thought me unceevil, but really it
would have taken a fortune in postage-stamps to have answered their

But although Edward received many applications from Naturalists in
different parts of the country, he himself applied to others to furnish
names for the specimens which he had collected. We find a letter from
Mr. Macdonald, secretary to the Elgin Museum, referring to eighty-five
Zoophytes which Edward had sent him to be named. Edward had no other
method of obtaining the scientific names for his objects. “The naming
of them,” said Mr. Macdonald, “has cost me some time and trouble. . . .
Some of the Zoophytes are fine specimens; others are both fine and
rare. One or two have not as yet been met with on our shores. They
seem to be quite new.” We also find Edward communicating with Mr.
H. E. Staunton, a well-known London Naturalist, relative to Moths,
Butterflies, Beetles, and other insects.

But Edward could not live on Zoophytes and Butterflies. His increasing
family demanded his attention; and shortly after his article on “The
Birds of Strathbeg” had appeared in the _Naturalist_, we find him
applying in different directions for some permanent situation. He was
willing to be a police officer, a tidewaiter, or anything that would
bring in a proper maintenance for his family. With this object, one
of his friends at Fraserburgh made an application to Mr. Charles W.
Peach, Comptroller of Customs at Wick. Mr. Peach was a well-known
Naturalist, and he has since become distinguished in connection with
recent discoveries in Geology. Mr. Peach had once visited Edward, in
company with Mr. Greive, the Customs Collector at Banff. In answer to
the application made to him from Fraserburgh, he said—

[Sidenote: _MR. PEACH’S LETTER._]

“_I do_ know our friend Mr. Edward of Banff, and I have thought a
great deal about him of late. I have wondered how he was getting on
in bread and porridge affairs. Oh, these animal wants! How often do
they ride rough-shod over the intellectual man, not so much on his
own account, as for those dependent on him. I have been thinking of
Edward’s excellent wife and her flock of seven girls, which I saw when
at Banff. They were all neat, and clean, and well cared for, in a wee
bit roomie—the walls covered with cases of birds. When we called,
there was a sweet cake and a glass of wine for myself and Mr. Greive.
I was unhappy at refusing his wine—for you know I am an out-and-out
teetotaller,—but I took his cake with thankfulness. And now, what can
I do for that good man and his wife and family?” . . .

Mr. Peach went on to say that a great many Glut-men were employed
at Wick harbour, to patrol the shore night and day, and prevent the
landing of brandy, tobacco, and other excisable articles; that he could
give Edward employment for a time at that work, but that it could not
be permanent. His age was beyond that which would allow of his being
appointed a tidewaiter. Mr. Peach added—“I will not lose sight of the
appointment of subcuratorship. This would be the very thing. If £40 or
£50 a year could be obtained, that would be glorious!”


These suggestions ended in disappointment. Edward could not remove to
Wick to accept a temporary appointment; and the subcuratorship could
not be obtained. He therefore went on with his old work—Natural History
and shoemaking. But he must have been pressed by the growing wants of
his family, as we find his collection of birds advertised for sale at
the beginning of 1855. Again he had recourse to his Savings Bank; and
again it relieved him,—though he parted with the results of his work
during many laborious years.


He still went on writing for the periodicals. At the end of 1855 we
find an article of his in the _Zoologist_, entitled “Moth-hunting; or
an Evening in a Wood;” and in the following year he commenced in the
same periodical “A List of the Birds of Banffshire, accompanied with
Anecdotes.” The list was completed in eight articles, which appeared
in 1856 and the two following years. Although his publications were
received with much approval, they did not serve to increase his income,
for he never received a farthing for any of his literary contributions.

Before parting with Edward’s descriptions of birds, a few extracts
may be given from his articles in the _Zoologist_. And first, about

“The Song Thrush or Mavis (_Turdus musicus_). Who is there that has
ever trod the weedy dale or whinny brake in early spring, and, having
heard the mellow voice of this musician of the grove, was not struck
with delight, and enchanted at the peculiar richness and softness of
his tones? For my own part, I must say that of all the birds which
adorn and enliven our woods, I love this one the most. There is to me a
sweetness in his song which few if any of the other song-birds possess.
Besides, he is one of the first to hail with his hymn of praise the
young and opening year.

“Next to the Mavis the Lark or the Laverock is the bird for me, and has
been since I first learned to love the little warblers of the woods
and fields. How oft, oh! how oft, has the lark’s dewy couch been my
bed, and its canopy, the high azure vault, been my only covering, while
overtaken by night during my wanderings after nature; and oh! how sweet
such nights are, and how short they seem,—soothed as I have been to
repose by the evening hymn of the lark, and aroused by their early lays
at the first blink of morn.

[Sidenote: _THE FINCHES._]

“The Goldfinch is also a good singing bird. If any one wishes to
have a cage-bird to cheer him with its song, let him get a male
hybrid between this species and the canary, and I am sure he will
not be disappointed. . . . The Goldfinch’s nest is one of nature’s
masterpieces. What a beautiful piece of workmanship! how exquisitely
woven together! how light, compact, soft, and warm in its internal
lining! and how complete! What hand could imitate the woolly, feathery,
mossy, cup-formed, half-ball-like structure? How vain the attempt!

“The Bullfinch, though much admired as a cage-bird, cannot be said
to be much of a songster. It is kept more for its beauty than its
music, though it is sometimes able to ‘pipe’ a very pretty tune. Now,
with respect to its food. Great numbers of bullfinches are annually
destroyed by our gardeners and nurserymen because they are supposed to
be destructive. Now, it is a fact well known to ornithologists that,
although the sparrow, greenfinch, chaffinch, wren, bullfinch, and other
birds, do not themselves actually live on insects, yet these form the
chief food for their young. Such being the case, what an enormous
and countless number of noxious and destructive creatures must they
destroy! But we poor short-sighted mortals do not know this. We are all
in the dark as regards the good they do us. Let them meddle with any
of our seeds or fruits, and the hue and cry is, ‘Get guns and shoot
every one of them.’ I hope a better day will soon arise for these
lovely little birds, when they will be cherished and encouraged rather
than hated and destroyed.”


The story is told of an ancient philosopher having been killed by
an eagle that dropped a tortoise upon his head for the purpose of
breaking its shell. The story seems to be confirmed by the practice
of the Carrion and Hooded Crows, thus described by Edward:—“They are
to be found on certain parts of our coast all the year round. Our
keepers destroy them whenever the opportunity occurs. I wonder that
our fishermen do not destroy them also, as they feed upon a certain
crustacean (_Carcinus mænas_) which is often used for bait. One would
think that the crab’s shell would be proof against the crow; but no!
He goes aloft with the crab, and lets it fall upon a stone or a rock
chosen for the purpose. If it does not break, he seizes it again, goes
up higher, lets it fall, and repeats his operation again and again
until his object is accomplished. When a convenient stone is once met
with, the birds resort to it for a long time. I myself know a pretty
high rock, that has been used by successive generations of crows for
about twenty years!


“Besides being fond of crabs, these carrion crows are fond of fish,
and though they are good fishers themselves, they seldom lose an
opportunity of assailing the Heron when he has made a successful dive.
They rush at him immediately, and endeavour to seize his food from
him. Early in the summer of 1845, whilst loitering about the hills
of Boyndie, I observed a Heron flying heavily along, as if from the
sea—that rich and inexhaustible magazine of nature—and pursued by a
Carrion Crow, followed at some distance by two Magpies. They had not
proceeded far when two Hooded Crows made their appearance and quickly
joined their black associate. The heron had by this time got into an
open space between two woods, and it would appear that his enemies
intended to keep him there until he had satisfied their demands. During
the whole time that the affray lasted, or nearly half an hour, they did
not suffer him to proceed above a few yards in any way, either backward
or forward, his principal movements being in ascending or descending
alternately, in order to avoid the assaults of his pursuers. Having
chosen their battle-ground, I crept behind a whin-bush, from whence I
had an uninterrupted view of the whole affair.


“The manœuvring of the crows with the heron was most admirable. Indeed,
their whole mode of procedure had something in it very remarkable.
So well did each seem to understand his position, that the one never
interfered with the other’s point of attack. One, rising higher than
the heron, descended upon him like a dart, aiming the blow in general
at his head; another at the same time pecked at him sideways and from
before; whilst the third assailed him from beneath and behind. The
third crow, which pecked at him from behind, seized hold of the heron’s
feet, which being extended at full length backwards, formed a very
tempting and prominent object for the crow to fix on. This movement had
the effect, each time, of turning the heron over, which was the signal
for a general outburst of exultation among the three black rogues,
manifested by their louder cawings and whimsical gesticulations,—no
doubt laughing (if crows can laugh) at seeing their opponent turning
topsy-turvy in the air, which, from his unwieldy proportions, was
rather a comical sight.

[Sidenote: _THE HERON ROBBED._]

“During one of his sommersaults, the heron disgorged something, but,
unfortunately for him, it was not observed by any of the crows. When
it fell to the ground, the magpies, which were still chattering about,
fell upon it and devoured it. Finding no relief from what he had
dropped, and being still hard pressed, he again disgorged what appeared
to be a small fish. This was noticed by one of the hooded crows, who
speedily descended, picked it up, and made off with it, leaving his two
companions to fight the battle out. The heron, having now got rid of
one of his pursuers, determined to fly away in spite of all opposition.
But his remaining assailants, either disappointed at the retreat of
their comrade, or irritated at the length of the struggle, recommenced
their attack with renewed vigour. So artfully did they manage, that
they kept the heron completely at bay, and baffled all his endeavours
to get away. Wearied at last of the contest, he once more dropped
something, which, from its length, seemed to be an eel. On its being
observed by his opponents, they quickly followed it. In their descent,
they fell a fighting with each other. The consequence was that the eel,
falling to the ground, was set upon by the magpies. The crows gave
up fighting, descended to the ground, and assailed the magpies. The
latter were soon repulsed. Then the crows seized hold of the eel with
their bills, and kept pulling at it until eventually it broke in two.
Each kept hold of its portion, when they shortly rose up and flew away
amongst the trees. In the meantime, the heron was observed winging his
way in the distance; sick at heart, because he had been plundered by
thieves, and robbed of the food which he had intended for his family.”


The Carrion and Hooded Crows also attack hares and rabbits. “Whilst
walking one morning along the Deveron with a friend, our attention was
attracted by what seemed to us to be the faint cries of a child in
distress. On looking in the direction from which the sounds proceeded,
we beheld two crows pursuing and tormenting a hare, by every now and
then pouncing down upon it. Each blow seemed to be aimed at the head;
and each time that one was given the hare screamed piteously. The blows
soon had the effect of stupifying the creature. Sometimes they felled
it to the ground. We eventually lost sight of the crows, but doubtless
they would at last kill and devour the hare. I remember, while out on
the hills at Boyndie, witnessing another though a less daring attack.
Concealed amongst some trees and bushes, waiting for a Cuckoo which
I expected to pass, I observed a half-grown rabbit emerge from some
whins, and begin to frolic about close by. Presently down pops a
Hoodie, and approaches the rabbit, whisking, prancing, and jumping. He
seemed to be most friendly, courteous, and humoursome to the little
rabbit. All of a sudden, however, as if he meant to finish the joke
with a ride, he mounts the back of the rabbit. Up springs the latter,
and away he runs. But short was his race. A few sturdy blows about the
head, from the bill of the crow, laid him dead in a few seconds.”

By the year 1858 Edward had accumulated another splendid collection.
It was his third, and probably his best. The preserved birds were in
splendid order. Most of them were in their natural condition—flying,
or fluttering, pecking or feeding,—with their nests, their eggs,
and sometimes their young. He had also a large collection of
insects—including many rare beetles,—together with numerous Fishes,
Crustaceans, Zoophytes, Molluscs, Fossils, and Plants.

[Sidenote: _COLD AND WHISKY._]

Although Edward still continued his midnight explorations, he felt
that he must soon give them up. Lying out at night cannot be long
endured in this country. It is not the cold, so much as the damp, that
rheumatises the muscles and chills the bones. When going out at night,
Edward was often advised to take whisky with him. He was told that if
he would drink it when he got wet or cold, it would refresh and sustain
him, and otherwise do him a great deal of good. Those who knew of his
night-wanderings, wondered how he could ever have endured the night
air and been kept alive without the liberal use of whisky. But Edward
always refused. He never took a drop of whisky with him,—indeed, he
never drank it either at home or abroad. “I believe,” he says, “that
if I had indulged in drink, or even had I used it at all on these
occasions, I could never have stood the cold, the wet, and the other
privations to which I was exposed. As for my food, it mainly consisted
of good oatmeal cakes. It tasted very sweet, and was washed down with
water from the nearest spring. Sometimes, when I could afford it, my
wife boiled an egg or two, and these were my only luxuries. But, as I
have already said, water was my only drink.”


In 1858, Edward had reached his forty-fourth year. At this age, men who
have been kindly reared and fairly fed, are usually in their prime,
both of mind and body. But Edward had used himself very hardly; he had
spent so many of his nights out of doors, in the cold and the wet; he
had been so tumbled about amongst the rocks; he had so often, with
all his labours, to endure privation, even to the extent of want of
oatmeal,—that it is scarcely to be wondered at if, at that time, his
constitution should have begun to show marks of decay. He had been
frequently laid up by colds and rheumatism. Yet, when able to go out
again, he usually returned to his old courses.

At last his health gave way altogether. He was compelled to indulge in
the luxury of a doctor. The doctor was called in, and found Edward in
a rheumatic fever, with an ulcerated sore throat. There he lay, poor
man, his mind wandering about his birds. He lay for a month. He got
over his fever, but he recovered his health slowly. The doctor had a
serious talk with him. Edward was warned against returning to his old
habits. He was told that although his constitution had originally been
sound and healthy, it had, by constant exertion and exposure to cold
and wet, become impaired to a much greater degree than had at first
been supposed. Edward was also distinctly informed that if he did not
at once desist from his nightly wanderings, his life would not be worth
a farthing. Here, it appeared, was to be the end of his labours in
Natural History.


Next came the question of family expenditure and doctor’s bills. Edward
had been ill for a month, and the debts incurred during that time must
necessarily be paid. There was his only Savings Bank—his collection of
birds—to meet the difficulty. He was forced to draw upon it again.
Accordingly, part of it was sold. Upwards of forty cases of birds went,
together with three hundred specimens of mosses and marine plants, with
other objects not contained in cases. When these were sold, Edward
lost all hopes of ever being able again to replenish his shattered

Although Edward’s strength had for the most part been exhausted, his
perseverance was not. We shall next find him resorting to another
branch of Natural History, in which he gathered his most distinguished



[43] August 22, 1854.



EDWARD had for some time been extending his investigations to the
tenants of the deep. His wanderings had for the most part been
along-shore in search of sea-birds. But, as early as 1856, we find
him corresponding with Mr. Macdonald of Elgin as to Zoophytes, with
Mr. Blackwood of Aberdeen as to Algæ, and with Mr. C. Spence Bate
of Plymouth as to Crustacea. Now that he had to abandon his night
wanderings, and to give up his gun, he resolved to devote himself more
particularly to the Natural History of the sea-shore.

Here was a great field open for him. The Moray Firth had never been
properly searched for marine productions. It was full of fish, and also
of the various marine objects that fish feed upon.

When Professor Macgillivray called upon Edward at Banff, he expressed
his surprise at the meagreness of the list of Crustacea and Testacea
found along the Moray coast. In fact, the catalogue of Fishes
(excepting herring, cod, haddock, and the other edible fishes) was
almost barren. There was no want of marine objects; the principal want
was, in careful observers. To this extensive field of observation,
Edward now proposed to devote his special attention.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S SEA-TRAPS._]

He had considerable difficulty to encounter in proceeding with this
branch of scientific work. He had no dredge of any sort. He had no
boat, nor could he obtain the loan of one. How then did he proceed? He
gathered together all the old pots, pans, pails, and kettles, which
he could procure in his neighbourhood. He filled these with straw,
grass, bits of old clothes, or bits of blankets. A coat and trousers
cut down were found very useful. These were Edward’s sea-traps. Having
put a heavyish stone at the bottom of the trap to weigh it down, and
attached a rope to the upper part, he lowered his traps into the deeper
rock-pools along the coast. Some of them he threw into the sea from the
point of a rock, attaching the rope to a stone, or to some strong Algæ.

When the traps were drawn up, Edward obtained from them small fishes,
crustaceans, molluscs (with or without shells), starfish, worms, and
the smaller kinds of sea-mice. He took them to a shallow pool, and
shook out the contents; and when he had picked out what he thought
might be useful, he packed the traps again, and set them in their old
places. He usually visited his sea-traps once a month; but in winter he
visited them less frequently, as he rarely took anything at that time
of the year.

Edward visited the rocky shore for many miles east and west of Banff.
He turned over the loose stones, turned up the Algæ, peeped in beneath
the corners and shelves of the projecting rocks. He went to the pools,
and often had the pleasure of seeing the inhabitants working in their
native element. If he observed something that he wanted, he would make
a dive at it, though the water might get up to his head and shoulders.
Sometimes he fell in bodily; but that did not matter much if he secured
his object.


Here is the manner in which he once caught Bloch’s Gurnard (_Trigla
Blochii_). Edward observed one of them swimming in a rock pool. It had
by some means or other come pretty close inshore during high water,
and had got entangled amongst the rocks, so that it had been unable to
make its way out again with the receding tide. The pool, though not
deep, was pretty large, so that it gave Edward a great deal of trouble
and occupied a considerable time to capture the fish. “If it had not,”
says he, “been a rarity, I should most certainly have given in and
acknowledged myself beaten long before my object was accomplished; for
between water and perspiration I was in a pitiable plight before I
gained the victory. As it was, however, I was well repaid in the end,
besides the fun; that is, if there is any other person than myself
so foolish as to call splashing up to the shoulders and eyes amongst
brine, seaweed, and slippery rocks, ‘fun.’ Although the fish is not
large, mine is a splendidly-marked specimen. In the water, and whilst
shooting across and athwart the pool, its bright colours had a most
beautiful appearance. The spot on the first dorsal is rather of a
dark-purplish colour than black, and very conspicuous when the animal
is swimming. I am not aware of this species ever before having been
detected on this part of the coast.”

[Sidenote: _THE INCOMING WAVE._]

Knowing from observation that many marine objects are cast on shore at
the rising of each tide, especially when the weather is stormy, Edward
walked along the margin of the incoming wave, ready to pick up anything
that might be driven ashore. Sometimes he would observe some object
in the water—a fish or a shrimp of some unusual kind—which he desired
to capture. He followed it into the sea with a piece of gauze tied on
a small hoop; and fished for it until he had caught it. He discovered
many new objects in this way.

It is almost incredible what may be got along the sea-margin, by
carefully searching the incoming wave. This, however, required
unwearied assiduity. Edward discovered many of his rarest insects
amongst those driven ashore by the wind. It was thus that he obtained
most of his rare Crustaceans. He himself had no doubt, that, had his
health been prolonged, he would have discovered many more.

Besides these methods for collecting marine objects, he found that
tangle roots were a special hiding-place for many species that were
beyond the power of the dredge, and that never entered the traps set
by him along shore. They were not, however, beyond the power of
the elements. But for the tempest, that tears them from the rocks,
and dashes them on shore, such objects would never have been found.
Whenever a storm occurred in the Moray Firth, Edward immediately went
out, collected the tangle which had been driven in, cut off as many
roots as he could carry with him, and carefully examined them at home.


He was also greatly helped by the fishes themselves, as well as by the
fishermen. It is true that he had no dredge and no boat. But big fish
were themselves the best of all dredgers. They fed far out at sea, at a
depth where the dredge could scarcely reach. The fishermen caught them,
and brought them into port, full of what they had swallowed. Edward
therefore endeavoured to obtain the contents of their stomachs. For
this purpose he sent some of his daughters to the neighbouring fishing
villages. They went to Macduff and Whitehills twice a week, and to the
Banff fishermen daily. The object of their visits was, to search the
fishermen’s lines, to bring away the sea-weed and all the stuff that
was attached to them, and to secure as many of the fish stomachs as
they could find. One of his daughters was sent to Gardenstown, where
she lived with a friend. From thence, she sent home her collection
of fish stomachs twice a week by the carrier. All this rubbish (as
most people called it) was carefully examined by Edward. From these
searchings he obtained most of his rarest crustaceans. “It is quite
wonderful,” he says, “what is to be got in this way. Indeed, no one
would believe it who has not made the experiment.”

[Sidenote: _THE COD’S BILL OF FARE._]

[Sidenote: _CODS AND HADDOCKS._]

Take, for instance, the Cod’s bill of fare. “It is to the stomach of
this species,” says Edward, “that I am most indebted for many of the
rarest of the testaceous and crustaceous specimens that I possess.
I will only mention what I have myself seen: crabs and lobsters of
almost every description (except _Homarus vulgaris_, which I have
never yet found), from the prickly Stone Crab (_Lithodes maia_) up
to the hard Parten (_Cancer pagurus_), and the larger the better.
Shells of every sort, particularly _Fusus antiquus_ and _Buccinium
Undatum_; no matter whether inhabited by their original possessor,
or by a hermit in the form of a Pagurus,—it is no obstacle to the
voracious Cod. Shrimps, fish-lice, sea-mice (_Aphrodita aculeata_),
sea-urchins, with now and then a starfish; ‘Dead Men’s Paps,’ as they
are called here (_Alcyonium_), and Actinias—no matter what they may be
attached to, whether a shell or a stone,[44] provided these are not
themselves fixtures,—all are gulped by this most unceremonious fish.
The eggs, capsules, or purses of the Dog-fish (_Scyllium_) and the
Skate, with the roe and the ova of other species, particularly when
deposited on seaweed; the Algæ and the Zoophytes also walk down the
Cod’s gullet, so that nothing may be lost. As for the _Holothuridæ_ or
Sea-cucumbers, few if any of them escape. Now and then fragments of
the Medusæ are swallowed; feathers, with the remains of sea-fowl; and,
on one occasion, the skeleton of a _partridge_, with the wings, feet,
legs, and head adhering. Pieces of pewter and of cloth occasionally;
and once a cluster of beech-nuts, with part of a domestic fowl. As for
fish!—why, the fish does not swim that the Cod, when hungry, will not
attack, and, if successful, swallow. In short, nothing seems to come
amiss. But this outline of the Cod’s bill of fare does not include all
that the animal preys upon and devours. It is enough, however, to show
its epicurean propensities. The Cod is extensively fished for along
this part of the coast, and may be termed _the poor man’s salmon_.
Great numbers are salted and dried, and in that state are sent to the
southern markets. The Haddock, like the Cod, is extensively taken,
and largely cured and forwarded south. Like the Cod, the stomach of
this species is also a rich mine for the Naturalist, as the reader may
already have anticipated from the foregoing list.”[45]


In order to obtain all these products of the sea, Edward went round
among the fishermen from Crovie to Portsoy, and pressed them to help
him in his researches. He told them that many an object of great
interest to Naturalists was daily thrown away. Though it might be of
no use to them, it might prove of great use to science. “Oh!” said the
fishermen, “we canna tell what the fellow wants: we get so muckle trash
upon our lines. Are we to keep it all?”

“Yes,” replied Edward, “keep it all. Lay it carefully aside, and I or
my daughters will call for it.” A few of the fishermen did what Edward
told them to do; but the others “couldna be fashed.”

Edward published his advice to the fishermen in the _Banffshire
Journal_. “How little trouble,” he said, “would it be for any fisherman
who might find a rare fish, crab, shell, or zoophyte, or such like
object attached to his lines, to get it examined and named, so that its
occurrence might be recorded. This could be done, and then he could, if
so minded, dispose of it to the best advantage. Or what great ‘fash’
could it be for them to keep the cleanings of their lines for a like
scientific purpose?

“It is quite astonishing what amazing numbers of minute creatures are
at times to be found amongst the refuse of only one boat’s lines. No
one would believe it, except those who are in the habit of carefully
examining such things. The ocean is, as it were, one vast and boundless
expanse of life, and the inhabitants thereof about as numberless as
the sands by the sea-shore. I have myself, and that too under the most
disadvantageous circumstances, picked off from a dead valve of _Cyprina
Islandica_ nine distinct species of shells, three different kinds of
starfish, and five separate sorts of zoophytes, besides worms and
a number of other parasitical animals. Yet this is nothing to what
is at times to be met with; and yet such things are, I may say, all
but universally thrown away for no other or better purpose than that
of being trod upon and destroyed. I will now, in order to show the
truthfulness of my statement, enumerate a few of the objects which
have thus been cast aside by those who had brought them on shore, but
which were again picked up by my _gleaners_, and thereby redeemed,
as it were, for a time from destruction, by being deposited in my
collection:—_Anomia patelliformis_, _Circe minuta_, _Venus casina_,
_Venus fasciata_, _Tellina proxima_, _Tellina crassa_, _Mangelia
linearis_, _Pentunculus glycimeris_, _Psammobia tellinella_, _Astarte
compressa_, _Corbula nucleus_, _Emarginula reticulata_, _Thracia
villiosulca_, _Chiton lævis_, etc. etc.

“Now, I don’t say that these are all new species, but I say that they
are amongst the rarest of our shells. The two first named are, if I
mistake not, new, not only to us, but new to this northern part of the
island. In works on Conchology, no mention is made of either having
been previously found on the shores of the Moray Firth, although they
are not unfrequent on other parts of the British coast.”


The fishermen of Macduff helped him greatly. Amongst the rare fishes
caught by them were the Sandsucker (_Platessa limandoides_); the Small
Spotted Dog-fish (_Scyllium canicula_); the Blue-striped Wrasse
(_Labrus variegatus_), a very rare fish; a specimen of the Cuttle-fish
(_Loligo vulgaris_), the length of which was four feet, with a splendid
Gladius of above fifteen inches long. In enumerating these fishes
brought to him by the fishermen of Macduff, Edward asked, “What are
our own Banff fishermen and those of Whitehills about, that they never
bring in any rare objects of this sort? Do they never get anything
attached to their lines worthy of notice—worthy of a place in a
Naturalist’s cabinet, or in a corner of the Museum? Why won’t they help
us? Just because of their want of Will. They, like many more, go about
in what might be termed a state of daylight somnambulism; that is, with
eyes and ears both open, and yet they neither see nor hear of any of
these things.”


[Sidenote: _THE SAURY PIKE._]

Edward’s appeal was at length responded to. The fishermen began to
collect things for him, and they allowed his girls to strip their nets
of “the rubbish” they contained. One evening some unknown fisherman
sent him a present of a Saury Pike (_Scomberesox saurius_). Edward’s
family were surprised at hearing some person, very heavily shod,
ascending the stairs. One said it was a horse and cart; another said
it was the Rooshians. The door was suddenly opened and flung bang
against the wall, when in rushed—neither the horse and cart nor the
Rooshians,—but a little urchin, out of breath, with his mouth wide
open. There he stood, staring bewildered round the room; but with a
fish of a silvery hue dangling from his hand. After he had regained his
breath he roared out, “Is Tam in?” “No.” “’Cause I ha’e a beast till
him.” “Fa gi’ed ye’t?” “A man.” “Fatna man?” “Dinna ken!” “Fat like
was he?” “Canna tell.” “Fat had he on?” “Dinna mind; only that he had
a coat ower his airm.” “Fat said he t’ye when he gi’ed ye the beast?”
“Oh, he bade me take it till Tam Edward, and get a penny for’t till

The fish was accepted, the penny was given, and the boy tramped
downstairs again. On returning home, Edward found a splendid specimen
of the above rare fish. The next number of the _Journal_ acknowledged
receipt of the fish. In the article describing it, Edward said—“By
whom the fish was sent, or where it was found (though doubtless in the
neighbourhood, from its freshness), remains as yet a mystery. However,
thanks to ‘the man with the coat ower his airm’ in the meantime, and
to many others whose kindness and attention, though their gifts are
not particularised here, are nevertheless duly appreciated: Likewise,
and in an especial manner, thanks to the fishermen generally of the
district, particularly to our own and those of Whitehills, not only for
their now unremitting attention in securing whatever they deem worthy
of notice themselves; but also, and above all, for their very valuable
assistance given, and their warm-hearted kindness shown to my young
folks when they go a-gleaning amongst them.”


Indeed, Edward’s young folks were of great help to him at this time.
Several of his eldest girls went about from place to place in search
of rare fish, and they were sometimes very successful. For instance,
one of them, whilst living with Mr. Gordon at Gardenstown, went on a
zoologising excursion towards the village of Crovie. As the two were
rounding the Snook, they observed a small fish being washed ashore.
Mr. Gordon kicked it with his foot, thinking it was of no use, and
remarking that it was a young sea-cat. “Na,” said Maggie, “it’s nae
sea-cat; it’s ower thin for that. I dinna ken fat it is, but I’ll take
it and send it hame to my father, for he bade me never to miss naething
o’ this kine.” So the fish was sent home, and it proved to be a very
fine specimen of Yarrell’s Blenny.


On another occasion she sent home a specimen of the Black Goby or
Rock-fish (_Gobius niger_), which had been taken from the stomach of a
friendly cod. This was the first fish of the kind found in the Moray
Firth; and of the six species of Gobies found along the coasts of Great
Britain, it is the one most seldom met with. Maggie also made a good
“find” at Fraserburgh, while on a zoological tour with her father.
She was rummaging about amongst the sands, near Broadsea, accompanied
by some of her acquaintances, when she observed something sticking
up out of the sand. At first she thought it was a piece of tangle.
She was about to leave it, when, prompted by curiosity, she gave it
a pull, when, lo and behold! instead of a seaweed, she brought out a
long spindle-like fish. She at once took it to her father, who found
it to be a splendid specimen of the Equoreal Needle-fish (_Syngnathus
æquoreus_), a fish that had never before been found in the Moray Firth.


A thought may here strike the reader. How was it that Edward knew that
there were six Gobies found along the coasts of Great Britain? How did
he know that the Equoreal Needle-fish had never been found in the Moray
Firth before? And, last of all, How was it that he knew the scientific
names of the Fishes, the Zoophytes, and the Crustacea, which he
collected? The names were, for the most part, Latin. Yet he had never
learnt Latin. He must then have learnt them from books. No! He had no
books. He often ardently desired books; but he was too poor to buy
them. His earnings were scarcely sufficient to enable him to feed and
clothe his children. Under such circumstances a man cannot buy books.
Sometimes his children fared very badly, especially when he was laid up
by illness. At such times they had almost to starve.


How was it then that, under these difficult circumstances, and amidst
his almost constant poverty, Edward was enabled to carry on the
study of science without the aid of books? He did so by the help of
correspondents at a distance. When he collected a batch of objects, he
sent them off by post to Naturalists in different parts of the country,
for the purpose of obtaining from them the proper names. They referred
to their scientific works, and furnished him with the necessary

Edward sent his specimens of Crustacea to Mr. Spence Bate, of Plymouth,
Devonshire; his fishes to Mr. Couch, of Polperro, Cornwall; and
many other objects to correspondents in Norwich, York, Newcastle,
Birmingham, and London. The Rev. George Gordon, of the manse of
Birnie, Elginshire, was one of his first correspondents respecting
the Crustacea. Mr. Spence Bate was then engaged (in conjunction with
Professor Westwood) in writing the _History of the British Sessile-eyed
Crustacea_. Mr. Gordon first forwarded to him some of Edward’s
specimens, and Edward afterwards corresponded directly with Mr. Bate.
Thus he obtained his scientific knowledge, not from the books in his
own neighbourhood, but from the books of gentlemen sometimes living at
the opposite ends of the island.

[Sidenote: _HOW TO HELP HIM._]

There was, indeed, some talk of supplying Edward with books, to enable
him to pursue his scientific researches. At a public dinner in Banff,
the principal speaker, after paying a high compliment to Edward for his
wonderful perseverance, and his devotion to Natural Science, proceeded
to describe the great influence which books exercised in developing
the powers of the human mind. After informing his audience that they
did not know the value of the man they had got amongst them, he said,
“Assist and encourage him by all the means in your power, but”—here
he paused, and all eyes were turned upon him;—“but,” he continued,
“give him no money—(loud cheers). I know him, as you all do, to be no
drunkard, no idler, but a sober hard-working man. But still, I again
say, give him no money. Give him Books; provide him with the means
of reading, and he is just the man to make money for himself.” The
auditors thought that they had done sufficient justice to Edward by
cheering the proposal of the orator; but it was words—mere words; for
Edward neither got a book, nor even the leaf of a book, from any of his
local admirers.


How different from this cold counsel, was the enthusiasm of Edward
when speaking of his favourite science. In an article which appeared
in the _Naturalist_ on the Rayed Echinodermata of Banffshire, after
regretting the small amount of observation and research which had been
made along the shores of the Moray Firth, he said, “It is a great pity
that the Moray Firth was never dredged by naturalists, as I am led to
believe it never was, on a scale worthy of its waters. If such were
done, and done as it should be, I am quite sure, from what I know,
that many a valuable rarity, and, I have no doubt, many new species,
would be procured, and better got than those already known. If I were
but possessed of half the means that some are, it should not long be
so. Wind and weather permitting, I should have it dredged from the one
end to the other, over and over again. Alas! that Nature, that fair
and comely damsel, whom I supremely admire and love so well, should
have called me into existence at the very moment when _Want_ and
_Starvation_ stood hand in hand, ready to stamp the unconscious heir of
immortality with their accursed brands. Money, it is said, is the root
of all evil; but tell me, ye who know, what the want of it is!”

[Sidenote: _HIS LOST LETTERS._]

We have already said that Edward, because of his want of books on
Natural History, obtained the principal knowledge of the objects
which he discovered from gentlemen at a distance. But even this was
not accomplished without difficulty. It was not always a pleasant
task, and sometimes it was rather expensive,—expensive at least for
a poor man. He occasionally encountered disagreeable rebuffs. Some
complained that they could not read his writing, and that what he said
was unintelligible. Another hindrance was, that when he sent a number
of new specimens to Naturalists at a distance, they were often kept,
and thanks only were returned. But he was scarcely in a position to
resent this conduct. At last he sent none but those of which he had
duplicates, preferring to keep them without a name rather than run the
risk of losing them altogether.


Mr. Edward Newman of London, editor of the _Zoologist_, was one of
those who helped Edward with books. He also named many of Edward’s
Beetles and other Insects, which were sent to him for identification.
The correspondence[46] between them originated in Edward’s articles on
the Birds of Banffshire, which began to appear in the _Zoologist_ in
August 1856. Mr. Newman sent Edward several books on Natural History,
together with his own _List of British Birds_. In February 1858 we
find Mr. Newman sending Edward a copy of the _Insect Hunters_, his
most successful book. Mr. Newman said to Edward, “I think it really
wonderful that you should have acquired the great knowledge you have
obtained under the circumstances in which you have been placed.” Mr.
Newman asked for some information about fishes, which Edward promised
to supply. The result was, that many new fishes were found in the Moray
Firth, simply from Edward’s determination to search, collect, and
preserve them.

Edward had also much correspondence with Mr. Alexander G. More, with
respect to the distribution of birds in Great Britain during the
nesting season. Edward was appointed the observer for Banffshire
and the northern part of Aberdeen. He communicated a great deal
of information about Birds and Bird-nesting, which was afterwards
published in the periodical called _The Ibis_.

But his most important communications were with Mr. Couch as to
Fishes; and with Mr. Spence Bate, and the Rev. A. Merle Norman, as to
Crustacea; which will form the subjects of the following chapters.


[44] “It is only about nine months since I took from the stomach of a
Cod a stone which weighed above three pounds, to which the remains of
an Actinia were still attached.”

[45] _Naturalist_, 1855.

[46] Most of Edward’s correspondence has been lost, destroyed, or used
for “kindling.” He never had the least idea that old letters could
be useful. When the author made inquiry about them, Edward said, “I
fear there will be a great blank there. I am not aware when I began
to correspond; and as for keeping letters, I had no reason for that;
still, I may have some, and I will try and find them.” After about a
week, he said, “I have found no old letters yet; but my wife tells me
that she saw a box, about two years ago, in an old lumber garret, which
she thinks may contain some useless old papers of mine. I will try and
get it out, and make a search. I might have had many hundreds, if not
thousands, if I had kept them. The postman, as well as my master and
shopmates, were all surprised at the great number of letters I received
for many years.” At last the box in the garret was discovered, and a
small collection of letters was found in it, which the author has made
use of in writing the latter part of this Memoir.



THE reader will find this chapter, as well as the next, rather
uninteresting. But it is necessary that the chapters should be written,
in order to show the contributions which Edward made to the scientific
discoveries of his day.


Mr. C. Spence Bate of Plymouth, the well-known zoologist, entered into
correspondence with Edward in 1856, while the latter was engaged in
collecting marine objects along the sea-coast of Banff. It appears that
Mr. Bate had sent to Edward some publications on Natural History, and
that Edward requested Mr. Bate to name the various Crustaceans which
he sent him. To this Mr. Bate willingly assented, and a correspondence
began between them, which continued for many years. Most of the letters
have been lost, and those which have been preserved “in the box in the
lumber garret” are not of very great interest.

Edward seems to have been particularly busy between the years 1861
and 1865. Multitudes of bottles were sent, during that interval, from
Banff to Plymouth. The bottles were often smashed in passing through
the post. Sometimes there was only a mass of debris to examine. In one
batch there was a new species of Leucothoe; in another, part of an
Eusirus—“the _first_ British specimen.”

In one of his letters, Mr. Bate says: “There are two minute specimens
of a prawn which I do not recognise. They are too much damaged for
examination; but if you can find any perfect ones like these, I should
like you to send them to me. I will send you shortly a paper that I
have recently published in the _Annals of Natural History_ on the
“Nest-Building Crustacea.” If you know or meet with any anecdotes
relative to these animals, I should be glad if you would communicate
them to me, as I am endeavouring to collect all of that kind that
I can. I assure you that your letters are always welcome, and much

In the midst of Edward’s explorations, he discovered a new Isopod,
which he forwarded to Mr. Bate. It was specifically named, in honour of
the discoverer, _Praniza Edwardii_.[47] On subsequent examination, and
after comparing it with the Anceus, Messrs. Bate and Westwood changed
the name into _Anceus Edwardii_.[48]

[Sidenote: _THE ANCEUS._]

The Anceus is only about a sixth of an inch in length. But, in Natural
History, size goes for nothing. The minutest animal is equal to the
largest, in point of value and interest. The Anceus creeps on the
bottom of the sea; but it swims with great rapidity,—propelling itself
forward by the quick motions of a series of ciliated fins placed
beneath the tail. The Anceus, in its young state, is parasitical, and
is furnished with a sharp process at the apex of the anterior lip,
to form a strong lanceolate organ, with which the animal cuts its
way through the skin of the fish on which it preys. It was at first
thought that _Praniza Edwardii_ was a female, and that the male had
not yet been discovered. On seeing this stated in the number of the
_Sessile-eyed Crustacea_ in which the Praniza was noticed, Edward wrote
the following letter to Mr. Spence Bate:—

[Illustration: PRANIZA EDWARDII.



    “My dear Sir—Some considerable time ago I sent you
    amongst other things, what I believed to be two
    distinct species of Anceus,—the one being considerably
    smaller than the other. Of the lesser, there were
    several specimens; but of the larger, only two. The
    answer which you gave me was, that they were _Anceus
    maxillaris_. At this I was somewhat disappointed. I
    admit that the larger were of that species, but not
    the smaller. And since I received your last number,
    which treats on this subject, I am now more than
    ever convinced that they are distinct. I consider
    the smaller specimen to be the male of the _Praniza
    Edwardii_. I may be wrong, but that is my conviction.
    I need not, of course, attempt to point out the
    distinctions to you; but perhaps you will allow me to
    state a few words on the subject, and what makes me
    think that he is the male of _Praniza Edwardii_.

    “In the first place, I would say that this little
    fellow is decidedly a deep-sea species,—that is, so far
    as my experience goes. I have never found him but on
    the old shells and stones brought up by the fishermen’s
    lines. There he seems to prowl about seeking what he
    may devour,—prying into every crevice and corner in
    search of food, and also into the tenantless worm-cases
    with which these old shells and stones are generally
    encrusted. Now these are exactly the habitats and
    manners of the _Praniza Edwardii_ when adult. Where
    I find the one, I am almost sure to find the other.
    I have found them together, and taken them out of
    the same worm-tube. But though this does not amount
    to an entire proof, still it helps to strengthen my
    conjecture that they are male and female.

    “In the second place, besides the striking disparity
    in size, the mandibles in this species appear to me
    to differ considerably from the same organs in the
    _Anceus maxillaris_. Here I have never seen them to
    overlap each other as they do in the one just named.
    And, having frequently kept them alive, I have seen
    their mandibles open and shut times without number;
    and, so far as I could make out, they never crossed
    each other in the least. Indeed, I do not think they
    could have done so, from their construction. They seem
    to me, when they do shut, to go together in the fashion
    of a rat-trap when closed. And besides several other
    distinctions which I have been able to discern, there
    are two or three small bunches of stiff hairs or spines
    projecting from the front of the head which I do not
    see in _Anceus maxillaris_ and the others which you
    describe. I would also point out that there is a most
    remarkable similarity in the tail or hind-part of this
    species and the same portion of the _Praniza Edwardii_.”

In support of his views, Edward forwarded some further specimens of the
supposed male to Mr. Bate, for his inspection. We have not been able to
find Mr. Bate’s answer. It has doubtless been lost, like many of the
missing letters. But we gather from a future letter of Edward, that
Mr. Bate considered the specimens to be _Anceus rapax_. “Never having
seen a description or plate of that species,” said Edward, “I can say
nothing as to that matter. . . . But, call him what you like, I am more
than ever persuaded that he is the tight little husband of _Praniza
Edwardii_; and, as such, I now intend to place them together, and to
name them accordingly.”

[Sidenote: _THE CRUSTACEA._]

Many of the Crustacea which Edward collected, did not belong to the
Sessile-eyed order, which Mr. Bate was studying and classifying. These
Crustaceans he sent to other observers. For instance, when Mr. Bate was
about to set out for Paris to examine Milne-Edward’s typical Crustacea,
he received from Edward a letter containing some Entomostraca which had
been collected from the stomach of a mackerel. “I do not,” replied Mr.
Bate, “study the Entomostraceous Crustacea myself; so I gave some of
those you sent me to Mr. Lubbock, and some to Dr. Baird of the British
Museum, from both of whom I hope you will hear.”


In a future letter, Edward sent Mr. Bate some worm-like parasites found
on a Short Sun Fish taken near Banff. “The genus,” said Edward, “is
very little known in this country. It has hitherto been found only on
the Flying Fish. It seems, however, to frequent the Sun Fish. This was
not previously known. When once these creatures take a firm hold, it
is impossible to shake them off or get rid of them,—they sink so deep
into the animal’s body. There are from two to three longish barbs which
protrude from the neck, close to the head, and which appear to serve
exactly the same purpose as the barb does on the hook. One which I cut
out—and no easy matter it was—had its head sunk at least an inch and a
half into the fatty ridge of the fish. In the _Illustrated London News_
of July 10th, 1858, there is an illustration given of a Flying Fish
with a parasite attached to its back, and having a lot of barnacles
adhering to it. The fish here figured is said to have leapt from the
sea into the mizen chains of the East Indiaman _Monarch_, whilst on
her homeward voyage from Calcutta. The parasite in that case was quite
different from the one I obtained from the Sun Fish. It was there
called _Pennella Blanvillii_.”

[Sidenote: _THE MICROSCOPE._]

In one of his communications, Edward sent Mr. Bate some parasites which
he had taken from the gills of a Crab. Many of the Crustaceans found
by him were so minute that they could scarcely be examined in detail
with the naked eye. Mr. Bate accordingly, with great kindness, made
Edward a present of a microscope to enable him to carry on his minute
investigations. “It is,” said Mr. Bate, in his letter announcing the
departure of the parcel, “what we call a simple microscope, and I think
you will find it adapted for examining things out of or in doors. It is
made portable, and can be used upon the rocks as well as in a parlour.
It is similar to one which I use myself for everything, excepting when
I examine into structural anatomy. I was not able,” added Mr. Bate, “to
have it prepaid farther than Bristol; so I beg to enclose a few stamps,
which I hope will cover it for the remainder of the way.”

Edward at first found a difficulty in managing the microscope, on which
Mr. Bate sent him a long letter illustrated by diagrams, informing him
how he was to use it. “I am sure,” he said, “you are too sharp a fellow
not to understand it thoroughly after these few hints have been given
you. . . . I will also send you a pocket lens, which you will find very
useful. . . . You will find it convenient during this cold weather (24th
November) to bring home anything, and then look at it at your leisure,
rather than study it upon the sea-shore.”


Mr. Bate must have been a thoroughly kind and good-hearted man. He may
possibly have heard something of the circumstances of Edward, and he
was now on the look-out for some higher vocation for the Naturalist
than that of “ladies’ shoemaker.” The Rev. George Gordon, also a
zoologist, who was in constant communication with Mr. Bate, may have
probably informed him of Edward’s ambition, which was, to be appointed
curator or sub-curator of some important museum. Hence Mr. Bate’s
letter to Edward. After informing him that Mr. Lubbock would shortly
ask him to make a collection of Crustacea, and advising him to send
certain fishes in proof spirit to the British Museum, he proceeded,—

“I have one thing more to say; but I write in ignorance of your
circumstances, and therefore, if I tread upon a _corn_, pray forgive
me. I have been asked if I can recommend a person to the College
of Surgeons, whose duty will be to attend upon the Curators and
Professors, and make preparations, and do other work in Natural
History. The salary is £1 : 10s. a week. If such a thing will suit
you, let me know, and I will write to propose you. If the place is not
filled up, I think it might be got.”

This letter raised a glimmer of hope in Edward’s breast. Was he really
to be rewarded at last for his efforts in Natural History, by an
appointment which would bring him into communication with scientific
men? It may be mentioned, that Edward had already been appointed
keeper of the Scientific Society’s museum at Banff, at a salary of £2
: 2s. per annum. This was of course merely a nominal remuneration,
and the occupation did not tend to feed Edward’s thirst for further
knowledge in Natural History. He was therefore most willing to accede
to Mr. Bate’s proposition; and he sent in his application, accompanied
by testimonials, to Professor Quekett of the Royal College of Surgeons.


Unfortunately Mr. Bate had been misinformed as to the nature of the
proposed appointment. “I am fearful,” said Professor Quekett, in his
letter to Edward, “that some of your kind friends have misinformed
you as to the nature of the appointment which is vacant. It is only
that of fourth museum porter. The duties are: to keep the room clean,
dust bottles, etc., at the wage of a guinea a week. Now, from what I
learn of you through your testimonials, and from what I have heard of
your reputation and high standing as a Naturalist, I think such an
appointment is far beneath your notice.”

Edward’s hopes were once more blighted. Science could do nothing for
him, and he returned once more to his cobbler’s stool. He had become
accustomed to disappointment; nevertheless he continued to pursue his
work as a Naturalist. In fact, he went on working harder than before.
As Mr. Bate was only engaged with one branch of the Crustacea—the
Sessile-eyed,—and as other Naturalists were engaged in investigating
other branches of Marine Zoology, Edward was referred to these
gentlemen,—more particularly to the Rev. A. Merle Norman of Sedgefield,
Ferryhill, county of Durham; Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys of London; and Mr.
Joshua Alder of Newcastle-on-Tyne,—all of whom were great sea-dredgers.

[Sidenote: _ZOOLOGISTS._]

Zoologists usually take up some special subject and work it up. They
freely correspond with their fellow-zoologists in different parts
of the country with the object of obtaining their help,—which is
rarely or never withheld. There is a sort of freemasonry amongst
Naturalists in this respect. Thus, when Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys opened his
correspondence with Edward, he said, “No introduction can be necessary
from one Naturalist to another.” While artists and literary men form
themselves into cliques, and cut each other up in social circles and
in newspapers, Naturalists, on the contrary, seem to be above such
considerations of envy and uncharitableness.

[Sidenote: _REV. A. M. NORMAN._]

There is also a fellow-feeling amongst them, and they are ready to
help each other in various other ways. Thus, when Edward was informed
by Mr. Spence Bate that the Rev. Mr. Norman was working up the British
Entomostracous Crustacea, including the Fish Parasites, Edward
immediately began to scour the coast, and wade along the waves as the
tide came in, plunging into the rock-pools, in order to procure the
animals of which Mr. Norman was in search. He did this, regardless of
his health, and also regardless of his pocket.

A long correspondence had already taken place between Edward and Mr.
Norman; but, in the midst of it, Edward was again laid up by illness,
which lasted for about six weeks. The correspondence dropped for a
time; but it was afterwards renewed. Mr. Norman, in his letter of
May 12th, 1862, observed, “I have been absent from home ever since I
received your last note, or I should have answered it before. I am
extremely sorry to hear of the cause, your serious illness, which
prevented your answering my two last letters, and seemed to end a
correspondence from which I had derived so much pleasure,—finding in
yourself such a kindred, nature-loving spirit. I am rejoiced, however,
that God has mercifully raised you up again after so much suffering,
and that you are recovering the blessings of health and strength.

“Many thanks for the promise of your kind offices for me in procuring
Fish Parasites. Our knowledge of them is at present but limited, and
a large number of species new to our Fauna, may, I am satisfied, be
found, if properly looked after. I trust, therefore, that you may
extend your knowledge of the Crustacea of the Moray Firth to this
branch of the subject.”

It would occupy too much space to detail the contents of the letters
which Edward received from Mr. Norman and Mr. Spence Bate while their
respective works were in process of publication. But there are several
facts in them worthy of being noticed. There was one Crustacean about
which some difficulty had arisen. It was the _Mysis spinifera_, which
Edward had first found in the Moray Firth in the year 1858. He had
sent it to one of his correspondents, in order that he might give it
its name. But it remained unnoticed and unknown for a period of about
four years, when it was re-discovered in Sweden by M. Goes, who at once
published the fact. “Thus,” says Edward, “the first finder, as well as
the country in which this Crustacean was first found, have both been
ignored in the records of science.”


Edward discovered many new species, some of which had never been
met with before, and others which had not been met with in Britain.
Some were recognised and named, but others were not. “The number of
specimens I collected,” says Edward, “was immense. It must have been so
from the various methods I adopted to procure them, and from the fact
that I never lost a single opportunity of obtaining even but one object
when it could be got. Labour, time, cold, wet, privation, were nothing,
so that I could but secure the specimen that I sought for. . . . There
are still several new species which I discovered and sent to gentlemen
years ago. All I knew about them, from letters I received in return,
is that they were _new_; but whether they have ever received names, or
whether the discoveries have been made public, I do not know.”


Mr. Spence Bate did every justice to Edward in the discoveries which
he made of _new species_, in connection with his branch of the
Sessile-eyed Crustacea. In one case, Edward caught only the anterior
moiety of a small Crustacean (_Protomedeia hirsutimana_), and yet Mr.
Bate includes it in his list, and gives a drawing of it. Mr. Bate also
did every justice to the accurate, description of the habits of the
species which Edward forwarded to him. For instance, Edward discovered
the _Vibilia borealis_, a new species, in the Moray Firth, on which Mr.
Spence Bate observes—

“Hitherto the species of this genus have been taken only as pelagic,
in tropical or sub-tropical latitudes. It is an interesting fact that
this species should have been taken off the coast of Banff, from whence
it was sent us by that very successful observer Mr. Edward, who, in
writing, says: ‘I can say little as to its habits. I took eleven,
and kept a few alive for a short time, but observed nothing in their
manners beyond that which may be seen in the majority of species. I
supplied them with plenty of sand, and also with a few marine plants,
but they neither seemed to be burrowers nor climbers, as they never
went into the one nor appeared to care for the other. They, however,
swam a little. This they do somewhat after the manner of _Callisoma
crenata_; in other words, they rise gradually from the bottom until
they reach the top; then, putting on more power, they swim round and
round the vessel. With close observation I observed that the superior
antennæ were kept pretty well up, and very widely apart, whereas the
inferior were always directed downwards. All the legs were kept doubled
up. I never saw them stretched out. They would then sink once more
to the sand at the bottom. There they would rest sometimes for a few
minutes, sometimes longer, when they would again repeat their voluntary
evolutions. They did not, however, always rise to the surface. The
journey was sometimes performed to about mid-water. They are, when
alive, a most beautiful coloured species, variegated not unlike
_Urothroë elegans_, and rivalling that animal in brightness of tints. I
took one, however, that was all over a most brilliant red. I have been
told that this species has never been found outside the Medusa. However
this may be, all mine were. And what appears to be most extraordinary
is, that we have had no Medusæ here this season.” Edward found another
species, new to Britain, _Themisto Crassicornis_, which exist in large
quantities in July, August, and September. Mr. Bate says, “Mr. Edward
informs us that he has seen specimens of these Crustaceans thrown on
shore in extraordinarily large quantities. After a storm one night he
saw them forming a band an inch and a half deep for thirty yards along
the beach.”[49]


Mr. Bate so much admired Edward’s enthusiasm in the cause of Natural
History, that he more than once urged him to publish his observations:
“I received from you,” he says, “a few days since, a parcel of
_Eurydice pulchra_, in sand, one of which only was alive. I have been
much interested in watching its active habits, and the manner in which
it buries itself in the sand. . . . I wish that you would write some
papers on the habits of these creatures. Keep a few at home under as
favourable conditions as possible. I am sure much is yet to be learnt
about them. I know no one better fitted to work out the subject than
yourself. For instance, get some of the _Podocerus capillatus_, and
find out how it spins the web that makes the nest; and closely watch
all their ways.”


Edward might no doubt have written and published many papers in the
scientific journals. He might have gained praise, fame, and honour.
But what mattered these to him? The principal thing that he wanted
was time—time not only for his investigations, but to earn money for
the maintenance of his family. He had now a wife and eleven children
to support. He earned nothing by science: he earned everything by his
shoemaker’s awl. What could the _Podocerus capillatus_ do for his
family? Nothing whatever! His entire labours were gratuitous. Properly
speaking, Naturalists should be gentlemen of independent fortune. At
all events, they should have some profession to live by; whilst Edward
had nothing but his wretchedly-paid trade of shoemaking. The wonder
is, that, with all his illnesses, arising for the most part from the
results of exposure, he should have done so much, and continued his
self-sacrificing investigations so long. But he seems to have been
borne up throughout by his scientific enthusiasm, and by his invincible



The _Podocerus capillatus_, to which Mr. Bate repeatedly directed
Edward’s attention, is a very interesting Crustacean. It is about a
quarter of an inch long. It is beautifully variegated, and builds its
nests in a very bird-like manner in submarine forests. Edward found it
in the rock-pools off Banff, where it built its nests on _Corallina
officinalis_. The nest consists chiefly of a fine thread-like material
woven and interlaced. The form of the nest is somewhat oval, the
entrance being invariably at the top. “These nests,” says Mr. Bate,
“are evidently used as a place of refuge and security, in which the
parent protects and keeps her brood of young until they are old enough
to be independent of the mother’s care.” The accompanying illustration
is taken from Messrs. Bate and Westwood’s book. In this case, the nests
were built in Plumularia, off Polperro, Cornwall.

A few extracts from Mr. Norman’s and Mr. Bate’s letters will serve to
show the numerous new species which Edward continued to forward to
these eminent zoologists.

Mr. Norman (September 24, 1862) writes: “The Mysis I referred to
in my last letter is undescribed; and I propose to call it _Mysis
longicornis_. Might I be allowed to keep the specimen? I retain it at
any rate for the present, in order to draw up a description and figure.

[Sidenote: _NEW SPECIES FOUND._]

“I have made a most important discovery since I last wrote. On looking
again at the specimens (of the Parasites taken by Edward from the
Sun-fish) I find that I had confused two species together as _Læmargus
muricatus_, and had passed by as the male of that species (looking at
them only with the naked eye) a distinct species, which is _new_ to
Britain, and which I am at present unable to name.”


Mr. Norman wrote again (January 3, 1863): “Thanks for the Hyperia,
which belongs to a different species to those you previously sent me.
At present I cannot name them. The Annelid—a very curious fellow—I
know nothing of. I will name the Sea-spider _Nymphon_. The treasure
of the bottle was, however, the little white shrimp. It is _new_ to
Britain, and possibly to science. We will call it, at any rate for
the present, _Thysanopoda ensifera_, New Species. The genus is a very
interesting one, and only one species, _Thysanopoda couchii_, was
previously known in our seas.”

A few days later Mr. Norman wrote to Edward: “I gladly accept your
suggestion that the Thysanopoda should be called _T. Batei_ (instead of
_ensifera_), and I am as glad as you are to pay the compliment to Mr.
Bate. . . . Your observations on the habits of the Thysanopoda are very

Edward evidently supplied his correspondent with abundant examples,
for, on the 27th of January 1863, Mr. Norman writes: “The parasite on
the fin is _Anchorella rugosa_—not a common species. I hope you will
procure more. The _Pagurus cuanensis_ bore on its back an example of
a highly interesting genus of parasitic Crustacea, _Peltogaster_. The
specimens do not belong to the species hitherto recognised in our seas;
perhaps they are still undescribed.”

Mr. Bate also wrote to Edward during the same month of January: “I
think that your last long-legged shrimp may be a new genus. If so,
I propose calling it _Polledactylos_. . . . There are other things of
much interest also. Do try what you can do in the way of collecting
specimens of the young of crabs, etc. Your species of _Stenothoë
clypeatus_ is new to Britain.”


During the next few months Edward was in constant communication with
Mr. Bate and Mr. Norman, who named for him an immense number of
Crustacea. Many of them were new to Britain; some of them were new
to science. On March 6th Mr. Bate writes: “The little fellow was a
_Pettidium purpureum_. The long-legged Mysis are handsome chaps. The
second is, I think, _Œdiceros sasignatus_: if so, it is _the first_
taken in Britain.” Again, shortly after, Mr. Bate asks, “Do you
recollect a little fellow just like this? [giving a diagram]. I never
saw the like of it before. Where did you get it? Do get me more! Is it
a wood-borer? I am afraid that you will scold me when I tell you that
I have not yet examined the green bottle which you sent me previously.
I am just in the midst of describing a number of Crustacea put into my
hands, belonging to the Boundary Commission between America and British
Columbia. When I finish this work I will write to you again.”

A few days later Mr. Bate examines the green bottle, and writes
a letter to Edward, in which he gives him the names of seventeen
Crustacea which it contained. Mr. Bate was as voracious for further
discoveries, as Edward himself was. In a letter of 10th December 1863,
after giving an account of the various works on which he was engaged,
he says: “Now, because I am working hard in the path that you love so
well and labour so industriously in, and so adding to your own fame, do
not say that I don’t deserve the results of your researches.”

Fame! that “imagined life in the breath of others”! What could fame do
for poor Edward? What about his bread and cheese?

Curiously enough, the letter last mentioned did not at first reach
Edward. It was re-posted by Mr. Bate, with the observation, “This has
just come back to me as a returned letter, because Banff was unknown at
the Post-office.”


Mr. Norman also continued to furnish Edward with the names of his
various Crustacea, though he could not name some of them. For instance,
on the 13th May 1863, he wrote to Edward: “The shrimps you have sent
completely puzzle me. I must wait for a time until I can solve the
mystery. I believe that they all belong to one species, yet there are
three, if not four, distinct forms. The general characters are so
much the same, that I cannot think there are two species. . . . But
the curious thing is, that I have not yet seen a single specimen of
the species carrying eggs. I hope that you will yet find some, as it
will be most interesting to clear up not only the question of sex, but
also to find out the manner in which the eggs are carried. These forms
are amongst the most interesting things I have seen for a long time,
because it would almost seem as though we had a Crustacean with three
phases, just as the bee has—male, female, and worker.” After giving a
number of names, Mr. Norman proceeds: “And lastly, the parasite from
the Common Gurnard is a species _new_ to Britain.”

In his next letter Mr. Norman informs Edward that he is again going to
Shetland on a dredging expedition with his friend Mr. Jeffreys. They
are to go in a steamer, and “ought to do good work.” How Edward envied
them—going dry-footed, well fed, well-clad, and in a steamer,—while he
was working along shore, with no tools, but his hands and his bag-net.


Mr. Norman returned from Shetland in July, and immediately recommenced
his correspondence with Edward. “One of your shrimps,” he said, “is
_Caligus isonyx_, _new_ to our Fauna, and a very interesting one it
is. The male is as yet unknown. I hope you may succeed in meeting with
it.” Towards the end of the year Edward forwarded a number of species
new to Britain,—amongst others _Eurycercus hamellatus_ (obtained from
the stomach of the perch), _Chondracantha solex_, _Mysis mixta_, and
others. In one bottle of Crustaceans _three new species_ were found.
The zoologists were evidently in ecstasies. Mr. Norman exhibited
the results of his researches at the next meeting of the British
Association. In a letter, dated the 15th September 1863, he observed:
“I enclose a list of _fifteen_ Moray Firth Amphipoda, which you have
found, and which are unknown to me. If you now, or at any future time,
should be able to favour me with specimens of any of them, I shall be
extremely obliged.” The specimens were afterwards sent to Mr. Norman.

On the 6th of February 1864 Mr. Bate wrote to Edward: “You will be glad
to learn that your little specimen is _Opis Essichtii_, and that it has
not been found previously in Britain. I have reconsidered the little
Hyperia, and think that you are right; your remarks convince me that my
first opinion was the more correct. You will therefore call it _Hyperia


Mr. Bate was then publishing in parts his work on _The Sessile-eyed
Crustacea_. He sent Edward the several parts as they appeared. About
the beginning of 1855 Mr. Bate says: “You will soon get a new part of
Crustacea, and then you will find that all my time and attention has
been occupied with the Isopods. So _do_ try and look out for some of
these, and leave the Amphipods alone for a little while.”

And again: “Please never apologise for writing to me about Natural
History. We have now been such long correspondents, that unless I
hear from you now and then, I begin to fancy myself forgotten. Your
letters always give me pleasure. The crustacean that you speak of is a
_Vibilia_, the _first_ taken in the British Islands. Please let me know
its habitat, and as much of its habits as you can.”

In the meantime Mr. Norman was appealing to him for specimens of the
Echinoderms, as he was about to prepare a paper on the subject. “I want
your aid,” he said; “I know you will kindly give it me. The _Urothoes_
are extremely difficult, and I want specimens from as many parts of the
coast as possible, of all varieties and sizes, and from all depths of
water. Will you collect for me some from your neighbourhood, from young
to the largest size of all you can meet with, keeping distinct those
from the shore and those from the deep water? It is important that
they should be well preserved. . . . Please get the specimens as soon as
possible, and send them to me by rail.”

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S INDUSTRY._]

Edward obeyed the behests of his several correspondents. He searched
the rock pools, fished with his bag-net along the shore, and found
various new specimens, which he sent to his friends. But he could not
find the Echinodermata in deep water, for he had no means of reaching
them. He had no boat, no dredging apparatus. Perhaps his correspondents
forgot—perhaps they never knew—that he was a poor hard-working man,
labouring at his trade during the day, with only a few hours in the
early morning and a few hours at night, which he was able to employ in
their service.

Not only did he work for his correspondents so industriously, but he
also worked for others to whom they referred him. Thus Mr. Norman
desired him to send his Sponges to Mr. Bowerbank, and his Ascidians
to Mr. Alder of Newcastle, who were engaged in working up these
subjects. The investigators did not know—for none of them ever saw
him—that Edward had the greatest difficulty in earning money enough to
maintain his large family. Sometimes, in fact, he was on the brink of
starvation. And yet he worked for his naturalist friends as willingly
and as hardly, perhaps more hardly, than if he had been a gentleman of
independent fortune.

[Sidenote: _MR. BATE’S EULOGIUMS._]

When the _History of the Sessile-eyed Crustacea_ came out, the
assistance which had been rendered by Edward to Mr. Bate was fully and
generously acknowledged. Let any one look over the book, and he will
find of how much service Edward was to Mr. Bate while he was preparing
the work for publication. Mr. Bate frequently speaks of Edward as “our
valued, able, and close observer.” In addition to the references to
Edward already mentioned, we may subjoin the following. In speaking of
the _Lysianassa longicornus_, Mr. Bate says that it “has been forwarded
to him by that obliging and indefatigable naturalist, Mr. Edward of
Banff;” that his only specimen of _Anonyx obesus_ has been sent to him
by Mr. Edward; that the _Phoxus Holbelli_ has been sent to him from
Banff “by that indefatigable lover of nature, Mr. Edward;” that the
species of _Darwinia compressa_ was first taken by Mr. Edward at the
entrance to the Moray Firth; that the first species of the _Calliope
Ossiani_ had been received from Mr. Edward, “from which specimen the
original description in the catalogue in the British Museum has been
drawn up.” Mr. Bate also stated that he only knew of the genus Eurisus
through an imperfect specimen which had been taken by Mr. Edward in
the Moray Firth, “the first and only British representative of the
genus that we have seen.” So too with the genus Protomedia, of which
“only two specimens were collected at Banff by Mr. Edward.” A moiety
was obtained of the first species, which was called _Protomedia
hirsutimana_. In the second case, the entire Crustacean was obtained,
of which Mr. Bate made a drawing and description, and he named it
_Protomedia Whitei_, “in compliment to Mr. Adam White, author of a
popular history of the British Crustacea.” Only a single specimen of
the _Cratippus tenuipes_ was sent him by Mr. Edward, who knew nothing
of its habits. Mr. Bate also stated that he “had only seen three
specimens of the _Phoxus fusticaudatus_, which were discovered by his
valued correspondent, Mr. Edward of Banff, attached to the brachiæ of
the common Soldier Crab.”


Besides these discoveries, Edward found an immense variety of
Crustaceans of other orders in the Moray Firth, which had never been
found before. Some of these were new to Britain, some of them new
to science. But we will not bewilder the reader by introducing the
jaw-breaking names of the newly-discovered Crustaceans. We have thought
it right, however, to mention a few of those introduced in Messrs.
Bate and Westwood’s _History of the Sessile-eyed Crustacea_, for the
purpose of confirming the statements which we have made as to the
indefatigable enthusiasm of Edward in the pursuit of Natural History.
It must also be mentioned that the Sessile-eyed Crustacea constitute
only a single order, and that on the one side of them there are the
Stalk-eyed Crustacea and on the other the Entomostraceous Crustacea.


There is one point, however, that must be referred to before we
conclude this heavy chapter. The impression prevailed at one time that
the Hyperiidæ were parasites of the Medusa or Jelly Fish. In 1862 Mr.
Bate acknowledged the receipt of a Crustacean, which he denominated
_Hyperia medusarum_. He said, “If I am correct, this is the first
time that I have known it as British.” In a subsequent letter (23d
December 1863), Mr. Bate said, “It is an interesting circumstance that
you should have found the Hyperia and Lestrigonus free on the shore;
inasmuch as they have previously only been known as inhabitants of the
floating Medusa. I wish you would direct your attention further to the
subject. . . . Hunt and be successful.”

The Rev. Mr. Norman also communicated with Edward about the same
time, and informed him “that the Atylus is not a parasitical species,
though there _are_ some Crustacea (Hyperia) which are parasitical upon


Upon further investigation, Edward came to the conclusion that the
Hyperia is no more the parasite of the Medusa, because it is sometimes
found upon it,—than a crow is the parasite of a tree because it
sometimes lights upon it. As Edward’s name was now frequently quoted
in matters of Zoology, he thought that it might be of some use to give
the results of his observations to the world on the subject. Hence the
appearance of his “Stray Notes on some of the Smaller Crustaceans,”
which shortly after appeared in the Journal of the Linnean Society.[50]

It is probable that the facts in that paper, as stated by Edward, had
some influence on the minds of Professor Westwood and Mr. Spence Bate;
as _Hyperia medusarum_ does not appear in their list of Sessile-eyed
Crustacea, the last part of which was published at the end of 1868.

To give an idea of the indefatigable industry of Edward in his
researches among the Crustaceans, it may be mentioned, that of 294
found in the Moray Firth, not fewer than _twenty-six new species_ were
added by Edward himself!


[47] _Annals of Natural History_, vol. ii.

[48] _History of the British Sessile-eyed Crustacea_, ii. 201.

[49] _History of the British Sessile-eyed Crustacea._ By C. Spence Bate
and J. O. Westwood. Vol. ii. pp. 525-6.

[50] Linnean Society’s Journal (_Zoology_), vol. ix. pp. 143-7.



AT the same time that Edward was occupied in searching out new species
of Crustaceans for Mr. Spence Bate and Mr. Norman, he was also
collecting marine objects for other naturalists. He found numerous
Star-fish, Zoophytes, Molluscs, and Sponges, which he sent to his
naturalist correspondents to be named.

Edward always endeavoured to bring home the fishes, crustaceans, and
other sea objects that he captured, alive; for the purpose of watching
their manners and habits. He had always plenty of dishes in readiness,
filled with sea-water,—some having sand on the bottom, some mud, some
bits of gravel, and others bits of rock,—the latter being covered with
Algæ or Zoophytes. Into one of these vessels he would put his living
specimens, in order that he might watch and learn something of their
various characteristics. Some of his observations were published in
the _Zoologist_, and were regarded as highly interesting; many of them
being new to science.

This could hardly have been otherwise, for it was his habit, first
to _observe_, and then to kill. He never had any mercenary object in
view in wandering about with his gun and his traps; he only desired to
obtain knowledge; and what he observed he told as plainly and clearly
as he could, without knowing whether his observations had been printed
before or not. He only regretted that he had so little time to publish
his descriptions of the habits of animals, fishes, and crustaceans.

[Sidenote: _THE STAR-FISH._]

One of Edward’s most delightful studies was that of the Star-fish. He
published an article on the subject in the _Zoologist_. His object in
doing so, he said, was to induce others to employ their spare time in
discovering the Star-fishes found along the Banffshire coast, and to
make them publicly known. “If this,” said he, “were done generally
throughout the country, we might, ere long, be able to form something
like an adequate notion of what we really do possess; but until that
be done, we cannot expect to arrive at anything like a perfect idea
of what our British Fauna consists of, or where the objects are to be
found. Let Naturalists then, and observers of Nature everywhere, look
to and note this, that all who can may reap the benefit.”

[Sidenote: _THE BRITTLE STARS._]

Edward was as enthusiastic about the Star-fish as he was about any
other form of animated being. He would allow none of them to be called
“common.” They were all worthy of the most minute investigation;
and also worthy of the deepest admiration. Of the Daisy Brittle
Stars (_Ophiocoma bellis_) he says: “They are the most beautiful
of this beautiful tribe which I have ever seen. Their disks differ
considerably from the Star-fishes ordinarily met with, being of a
pyramidal or conical form, sometimes resembling the well-known shell
_Trochus tumidus_. In colour, they are like the finest variegated
polished mahogany; their disks exhibiting the most beautiful carved
work. The rays are short in proportion to the size of the disk—strong,
and closely beset with short, thick, hard spines. I may add that the
specimens I allude to, were procured from that heterogeneous repository
of marine objects, the stomach of a cod, which was taken about thirteen
miles out at sea.”

Edward’s children also helped him to procure Star-fishes. “I remember,”
he says, “my young friend Maggie, and three of her sisters, once
bringing me a large cargo of the Granulated Brittle Star (_Ophiocoma
granulata_)—nearly two hundred of them, which they had gathered up
where the fishermen clean their lines. I remember being particularly
struck with the numerous and brilliant colours displayed by the cargo,
exhibiting, as they did, all those tints—perhaps more than it is
possible to name—from the brightest scarlet down to the deepest black,
scarcely two being alike. Their disks, too, were remarkably varied;
some were of a perfect oval, whilst others were pentangular; some were
flat, whilst others were in a measure pyramidal, and what, in truth,
may be termed triangular in form.”

[Sidenote: _THE NEW STAR-FISH._]

Of all his daughters, Maggie seems to have been the most helpful. She
went down to Gardenston to obtain the refuse from the fishermen’s
lines, to collect fish, crustacea, and such like, and send them home
to her father by the carrier. She sometimes accompanied him along the
coast as far as Fraserburgh and Peterhead. One evening, while Edward
was partaking of his evening meal, Maggie entered and accosted him
joyfully—“Father, I’ve got a new Star-fish t’ ye, wi’ sax legs!” “I
hope so, Maggie,” he answered, “but I doubt it.” After he had finished
his supper, he said, “Now, Maggie, let’s see this prodigy of yours.”
After looking at it, “Just as I thought, Maggie,” said he, “it’s _not_
a new species—it’s only an _Ophiocoma Ballii_, but rather a peculiar
one in its way, having, as you said, ‘sax legs’ instead of five.”

Of the Rosy-Feather Star (_Comatula roseacea_)—which Edward had long
been searching for, and at last found—he says: “What a pretty creature!
but how brittle! and oh, how beautiful! Does any one wonder, as I used
to do, when he hears of a stone-lily or of a lily-star, as applied to
this genus? Then let him get a sight of a Crenard-star, and sure I
am that his surprise will give place to admiration. And how curious!
It was once supposed to have been the ’most numerous of the ocean’s
inhabitants,’ whereas now there are only about a dozen kinds to be
found alive,—one only in the British seas, and that but rarely met
with. Well, I am proud to be able to record its occurrence on the
Banffshire coast. The specimen I allude to, was taken from the stomach
of a cod.”


But still more wonderful is that rare species, the Great Sea-Cucumber
(_Cucumaria frondosa_), the king of the Holothuridæ family, found
on the Banffshire coast. Edward’s specimen was brought up on the
fishermen’s lines. “When at rest,” he says, “it is fully sixteen
inches long. It is of a very deep purple on all except the under side,
which is greyish. It is a most wonderful, and at the same time a most
interesting animal. What strange forms and curious shapes it assumes at
will! Now it seems like a pear, and again like a large purse or long
pudding. Sometimes it has the appearance of two monster potatoes joined
endways,—from which it diverges into a single bulb, with no suckers
visible; and again it looks as long as my arm, rough and warty-looking.
Its tentacula too, how curious they are! Simple to appearance, yet
how complete and how beautiful withal. What strange forms and what
beauteous creatures and inconceivable things there are in the ocean’s
depths! What a pity it is that we cannot traverse its hidden fields and
explore its untrodden caverns!”

[Sidenote: _THE DEAD-MAN’S PAPS._]

Edward found numerous Zoophytes along the coast, which excited his
admiration almost as much as the Star-fish. Of one species, called
“dead-men’s paps, sea-fingers, etc.” (_Alcyonium digitatum_), he
says, “It is frequently brought ashore by the fishermen, attached to
shells and stones. It is curious to observe the strange and fantastic
forms which these creatures at times assume. They are loathed by the
generality of people when found on the sands. But were they to be seen
in their proper element, with the beautiful leaf-like tentacula of
the little polyps, thousands of which compose the living mass, these
feelings of loathing would give place to wonder and delight. Touch
one of those polyps, and it instantly contracts and withdraws its
tentacles, while the others continue their movements. But touch them
again and again, and they will shrink and hide themselves in their
fleshy home, which becomes greatly reduced in bulk. Wait a little,
and you will observe the pap assume its natural size, and the surface
will appear roughish and covered with small protuberances. From these
asperities the numerous polyps may now be noticed, slowly, and almost
imperceptibly, emerging one by one; and having gained a sufficient
height, their slender and fragile arms, or tentacula, will also be
observed cautiously expanding, which, when nearly fully developed,
gives to the whole mass the enchanting appearance of a bouquet of
flowers of the richest dye, or of a gaudy-coloured wreath of beautiful
and delicate blossoms, combined in one cluster, enough to excite wonder
and admiration even in the dullest mind.”

[Sidenote: _THE ASCIDIANS._]

Without following Edward farther in his description of the Zoophytes,
we may proceed to state that he was for some time engaged in collecting
Molluscs for Mr. Alder of Newcastle, who was engaged in writing a
paper on the subject. Having observed the great number of Tunicata, or
acephalous Molluscs, found upon the fishermen’s lines, Edward proceeded
to collect and examine these lower productions of marine life. As
usual, he wished to have them named, and he sent a large number of
specimens to Mr. Alder for the purpose. Some of Mr. Alder’s letters
have been preserved, from which a few extracts are subjoined:—

“I have received yours of the 16th inst. (October 1864), and also two
parcels of Ascidians. I shall be most happy to receive and name for
you any Tunicata you may send. Our communications may be mutually
advantageous, as I should like to have information concerning the
Tunicata of your coast, being engaged upon a work on the British
species. In the first parcel that came, I could only find one
specimen, though you mention parts of two or three. It was, I think,
a Botryllida encrusting the stem of a seaweed, but of what species I
cannot say. In the second parcel, received this morning, there is a
piece of _Leptoclinum punctatum_, and also part of an Ascidian which
appears to be _A. parallelogramma_. The Botryllida are very difficult
to distinguish unless they are quite fresh. I have never heard of
_Aplidium lobatum_ being found in this country. It is a Red Sea and
Mediterranean species. . . . I am much obliged to my friend Mr. Norman
for recommending you to send specimens to me, and I shall be glad to
hear from you again.”

The specimen of _Aplidium lobatum_ which Edward sent to Mr. Alder, was
cast ashore at Banff; though its usual habitat is the Indian Ocean, the
Red Sea, and the Mediterranean.

In a future letter Mr. Alder says: “I received your box containing
a specimen of _Ascidia sordida_ (young), and also a Zoophyte, the
_Alcyonidium gelatinosum_, for which accept my thanks. I see that you
have been very successful in discovering small fish. Your account
of them is very interesting. I wish any one on our coast would pay
attention to these things, but we have no one living permanently on the
coast that cares anything about Natural History.”

[Sidenote: _WANT OF OBSERVERS._]

Edward afterwards discovered a fine specimen of the _Onychoteuthes
Bartlingii_ or _Banksii_. It was the first met with in Britain,—the
range of the species being said to be from Norway to the Cape and
Indian Ocean. This specimen was found on the beach betwixt the mouth
of the river Deveron and the town of Macduff. Doubtless many other
specimens of this and other marine animals had been cast upon the beach
before, but no one had taken the trouble to look for or observe them.
Many, also, of the fishes and marine objects which Edward was the first
to discover, had probably been haunting the Moray Firth for hundreds
or thousands of years; but science had not yet been born in the
district, and there were none who had the seeing eye and the observant
faculties of our Banffshire Naturalist.


Edward also discovered a specimen of the _Leptoclinum punctatum_ which
had been thrown on shore during a severe storm. It was of a most
beautiful greenish colour, variegated with steel blue. This specimen
he sent to Mr. Alder, who answered him in the following letter:—“The
Ascidian which you have sent me is a Leptoclinum, and may probably be
a new species. There are few of that genus with star-shaped calcareous
crystals embedded in them. The species that you have sent has the
star-shaped crystals, and differs in colour from any I have seen, being
of a greenish-blue colour. I put it into water to moisten it after it
came, and it stained the water of a blue colour. I presume, therefore,
that it would be of that colour when fresh. It seems, from the seaweed
to which it is attached, to be a littoral species. I shall be glad of
any other information which you can give me about it.”

This was the last letter Edward received from Mr. Alder. As he was
about to send off another large cargo of Tunicata to Newcastle,
containing three new species, he received notice of Mr. Alder’s sudden
death; and knowing of no other person who could name his Ascidians,
he ceased collecting them; although there is still a rich field for
students of Mollusca along the Banffshire coast. “It is young, ardent,
and devoted workers,” said Edward, “that are wanted to bring such
things to light.”

[Sidenote: _MR. COUCH OF POLPERRO._]

We next proceed to mention Edward’s researches as to new fishes.
Having discovered a specimen of Drummond’s Echiodon—the first that
had ever been found in the Firth,—Edward published an account of it
in the _Zoologist_ for April 1863, and offered to afford Naturalists
the opportunity of examining it. The article came under the notice of
Mr. Jonathan Couch, of Polperro, in Cornwall, who was then engaged in
writing his celebrated work on British Fishes; and he entered into a
correspondence with Edward on the subject. The first letter that Mr.
Couch wrote to Edward did not reach him. It was returned to Polperro.
Banff seems not to have been known at the General Post Office. Another
letter, with “N. B.” added, reached its address. Mr. Couch requested an
inspection of the curious fish, together with an account of its exact
colour when fresh from the sea, and also the particular circumstances,
of weather or otherwise, under which so large a number of the fishes
had been taken. The information asked for, was at once furnished by
Edward. Dr. Gray also requested a specimen for the British Museum,
which was forwarded to London.

[Sidenote: _THE WRASSES._]

Now that Edward had found another opening for his discoveries, he
proceeded to send numerous new specimens of fish for Mr. Couch’s
identification. Mr. Couch having informed him that he was then
employed upon the Wrasses, Edward immediately began to search for
Wrasses, and shortly after he despatched numbers of them to Polperro.
Among the specimens of Wrass (_labrus_) which Edward sent to Mr. Couch,
there was one which Cuvier described as being found only in New Guinea,
on the farther side of the world. “And yet,” said Mr. Couch, after
examining the fish, “I cannot suppose that fishes from New Guinea can
have visited you.” The finding of this fish at New Guinea and at the
Moray Firth furnished only another illustration of the scarcity of
observers in Natural History; for it must certainly, like most other
species, have existed in numerous other parts of the world besides

[Sidenote: _A JUMPING WRASSE._]

In describing his little fish, Edward says: “Although I cannot say
much of importance concerning the traits of our little friend, still
there is one which cannot be passed over in silence. It is this—on
coming out of the water after I took the prize, I had occasion to lay
it down upon the sand until a bottle was prepared for its reception and
exclusive use, as I was anxious to take it home alive, so that I might
see and learn as much of its habits as possible. Whilst thus employed,
I was rather surprised at seeing it frequently leap several inches at
a time. Thinking that the damp sand might have in some way or other
aided the operation, when I got home I placed it on a dry board to see
how it would perform there. It did just the same. Away it jumped, jump
after jump, until I was fully satisfied that there was no difference
as to place; after which I put him again into his little aquarium. I
now observed, however, that the tail, which is pretty large, was the
chief and most important object used. The head and shoulders were first
raised a little, and then, by a doubling of the tail, which acted as
a kind of spring, the animal was, by a slight jerk, enabled to raise
and propel itself forward, or to either side, and not unfrequently
right over. In the water, too, when touched with anything, instead of
swimming away as fish generally do, it merely leaped or jerked to one
side in order to avoid the annoyance. I am not exactly aware whether
this gymnastic performance is a common propensity with this family of
fishes or not, but it was so with this specimen.”

After further observations, Edward came to the conclusion that these
little fishes were inhabitants of our own seas, but that they differed
from those which Cuvier had described. He was of opinion that, from the
differences which he had observed between the true Wrasses and the fish
in question, it might yet be necessary, after further investigation, to
place it in a _new_ or _sub-genus_. In that case a portion of the name
would require to be changed, and until then, Edward held that its name
should be the “Microscopical Wrasse of the Moray Firth.”

[Sidenote: _A NEW MIDGE._]

Another batch of little fishes which Edward sent to Mr. Couch led to
an interesting correspondence. Edward no sooner found an opening for
further work on the sea-shore, than he went into it with enthusiasm.
As Mr. Couch was approaching the conclusion of his work, Edward seemed
to become more energetic than before. Thus Mr. Couch had written out
and sent off his history and description of the Echiodon to be printed,
before he knew of Edward’s discovery. And now there arrived from Banff
another batch of specimens, containing a little fish, which Mr. Couch
declared to be a _new species_, and even a _new genus_. At first he
supposed it to be the Mackerel Midge, but after a careful examination,
he declared it to be entirely new. Mr. Couch concluded his letter,
containing his views as to the new fish, with these words:—“You will
perceive that I set a great value on your communications, and I shall
take care to acknowledge them when I speak of these different species.”

Edward, in his reply to Couch, observed: “I was aware that the new fish
was not the Mackerel Midge, for I have examined it. But this is a far
more splendid species; in fact, its colours and resplendence equal, if
they do not excel, those of the pretty Argentine. The one I sent you
first, I kept alive for two days. It was one of the most restless and
watchful fishes I had ever seen. I took it with a small hand-net, which
I use for taking the smaller crustaceans. I only took one at first;
but a few days after, I took several together. I also found some cast
ashore on the sands. Those that I send now are old and young. There
is a little thing just out of the egg; it has the ovary sac still
attached. Be kind enough, when you write me, to let me know the name of
the fish.”


In replying to Edward, Couch said: “Your last box has reached me, with
its contents in good order, for which I heartily thank you. I have
already written an account of the fish. My intention is to give it the
name of _Couchia Thompsoni_; and as I shall particularly refer to you,
I think it may prove to your advantage to obtain as many specimens
as possible, to answer any demands that may be made upon you. . . . The
reason why I have not answered you sooner is, that I have been much
distressed by the loss of my eldest son—an eminent surgeon, living at
Penzance, in attendance on whom I was at that town for a fortnight.
He was eminent in many departments of science, and was only forty-six
years of age when he died. You may judge from this, that I have had but
little disposition to active exertion for some time past. I submit,
as he was able to do, to the will of God, but there is difficulty in
saying from the heart, ‘His will be done.’”

[Sidenote: _THE NEW FISH._]

Edward discovered the above new fish in May 1863. After a few weeks, it
disappeared from the coast, and nothing further was seen of it until
the following May, when Edward took a few specimens. It disappeared
again, and reappeared towards the end of August. “As this,” he says,
“was a lucky chance, and one not to be lost, I took a considerable
number, not with the intention of destroying the beautiful little
creatures—as beautiful they truly are,—but for the purpose of
ascertaining how they now stood as to size. Being satisfied as to this,
I committed the most of them again to their native element, and right
glad they were to be set once more at liberty. I found that, although
late in the season, they had not in any way increased in bulk, as
compared with those which were taken in spring. From this important
and opportune circumstance, too, it is now my firm and decided belief
that their average length does not exceed an inch. It would seem that
they are a deep-water fish, and, herring-like, only visit the shore
occasionally. Like that fish, too, they are gregarious—that is, they
go in small shoals. They seem to be about the fleetest, most active,
and most vigilant of the finny tribes. Besides what I observed in
the sea itself, I kept a number of them alive, placed in the window
before me when at work, so that I had both the pleasure as well as the
satisfaction of observing their habits at my leisure; and I was well
repaid for my time and patience.”

So soon as this discovery became known to the scientific world,
numerous inquiries were made to Edward for specimens of the “New Fish;”
and amongst others, Dr. Gray sent for some specimens for the Home
Department of the British Museum.

Edward continued to ply Mr. Couch with new species of fish. On the 5th
September 1864, he said: “I herewith send you another small fish, which
I hope you will give me your opinion upon at your leisure. I freely
confess that I am at a loss about it. Although small, it is so well
proportioned in every respect, so firm, and so compact, that I cannot
believe it to be a young specimen. I took it about a fortnight since,
in a small shoal of Thompson’s Midge; and though I have been netting
each day since then, I have not yet met with another.”

Mr. Couch was equally at a loss with Edward. At first he said, “It
appears to be a _Wrass labrus_, but it is not exactly like any of the
known kinds.” In his next letter he said, “I think your little fish is
the young of the Rock Goby.” This did not satisfy Edward. He answered
that “the fish, though little, was a full-grown fish; and that it
might possibly be one of Thompson’s Irish fish.” “No,” replied Couch;
“it will be plain to you that it is not Irish from Mr. Thompson’s own
description,” which he then gave. At last he thought it to be “the true
Mackerel Midge.” He examined the little fish again, and finally came
to the conclusion that it was a long-lost fish—Montagu’s Midge, or the
Silvery Gade.

[Sidenote: _COLONEL MONTAGU._]

Colonel George Montagu was an old soldier and sportsman, who had
flourished in Devonshire some seventy years before. Living in the
country and by the sea-shore, his attention was directed to the pursuit
of Natural History. At first it was his hobby, and then it became
his study. He observed birds carefully; this was natural to him as
a sportsman. He published an _Ornithological Dictionary of British
Birds_. But his range of study broadened. The sea-shore always presents
a great attraction for Naturalists. The sea is a wonderful nursery of
nature. The creatures that live in and upon it are so utterly different
from those which we meet with by land. Then, everything connected with
the ocean is full of wonder.


Colonel Montagu was an extraordinary observer. He was a man who
possessed the _seeing_ eye. He forgot nothing that he once clearly
saw. He was one of the best Naturalists, so far as logical acumen and
earnest research were concerned, that England has ever seen. The late
Professor Forbes said of him that “had he been educated a physiologist,
and made the study of Nature his aim and not his amusement, his would
have been one of the greatest names in the whole range of British
science. There is no question about the identity of any animal that
Montagu described. . . . He was a forward-looking philosopher; he spoke
of every creature as if one exceeding like it, and yet different
from it, would be washed up by the waves next tide. Consequently his
descriptions are permanent.” We might also say of Edward, that although
comparatively uneducated, he possessed precisely the same qualities
of observing and seeing. Nothing that once came under his eyes was
forgotten. He remembered, and could describe fluently and vividly, the
form, habits, and habitats of the immense variety of animals that came
under his observation.

[Sidenote: _MONTAGU’S MIDGE._]

Now, this Colonel Montagu had in 1808 discovered on the shore of South
Devonshire the same Midge that Edward rediscovered in 1864 on the
shore of the Moray Firth. Colonel Montagu had clearly and distinctly
described the fish in the second volume of the _Memoirs of the
Wernerian Natural History Society_; but he had not given any figure of
it. He named it the Silvery Gade (_Gadus argenteolus_). The Colonel
passed away, and with him all further notice of his fish. It was never
again observed until, fifty-six years later, it was rediscovered by
Edward. Future writers on British fishes ignored it. They believed
that Colonel Montagu had been mistaken, and had merely described
the young of some species already known. Even Mr. Couch, the most
accomplished ichthyologist of his time, had swept it out of his list of
British fishes. But Montagu was too close an observer to be mistaken.
As Professor Forbes had said of him—“There is no question about the
identity of any animal that he described; consequently his descriptions
are permanent.”


Hence the surprise of Mr. Couch on receiving from Edward the identical
fish that had so long been lost. “There is one of your little fishes,”
he said in his reply to Edward’s letter, “that I am satisfied about,
and the history of which is a matter of much interest. You are
well acquainted with the little Mackerel Midge, first made known by
myself, and which has been denominated _Couchia glauca_ by Thompson.
But previously to this, Colonel Montagu had published an account of a
species much like it, but differing in having only two barbels on the
snout. It does not appear that any figure was given, but he speaks of
them as occurring in Devonshire, where he lived. No one has seen a fish
which answers to his description since that time—I suppose more than
fifty years ago; and it has been judged that some mistake was made,
especially as he never gave a notice of the Midge with four barbels.
Yet Montagu was a good Naturalist, and a correct observer. He calls his
fish Silvery Gade; for he wrote before Cuvier made these fishes into a
new genus, termed Motella. But your fish answers closely to Montagu’s
lost fish. When I inform you that Montagu gives the number of rays
in the fins, you may judge how closely he examined this fish. When
my _History of British Fishes_ is ended, I intend to give a few as a
supplement, and as ascertained too late to fall into the regular order.
This little fish will find a place there, when I shall take care to
mention your name as its rediscoverer.”

In a notice which Edward afterwards gave of the fish he observed: “I
may mention that this genus of little fishes, designated with the
appellation of _Midges_ from their small size, and containing three
species, are now authentically known to be inhabitants of the Moray
Firth, all three, both young and old of each, having been procured
here,—a circumstance which perhaps can be said of no other single
district but our own. This, not so much for the lack of the fish
themselves, as from the want of _searchers_ for these things; for we
cannot allow ourselves to think for a single moment, that they could be
found in so widely distant localities as Cornwall, Belfast, Devon, and
here, and not be met with at intermediate places. Such a thing appears
to me to be one of those affairs called _impossibilities_. Let those
then who live on the coast, and have time and a mind for these things,
or whether they have time or not, if they have the Will,—let such, I
say, look better about them, and I doubt not but they will find many of
these little gems, as well as other rarities of a similar and kindred


Edward had not yet finished his discovery of Midges in the Moray
Firth. In November 1865 he sent to Mr. Couch a specimen of a little
fish which he had caught, and which seemed quite new to him. Mr. Couch
replied that it was not only new to him, but new to science. Mr. Couch
expressed his regret that the Midge “had come too late to find a place
by the side of its near relation, Montagu’s Midge, in his work, the
last number of which had just been published.” He also added: “As your
little fish is certainly new, I have thought of sending an account of
it to the Linnean Society, in which case I should think it only a
piece of justice to affix your name to it.”

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S MIDGE._]

[Illustration: EDWARD’S MIDGE—_Couchia Edwardii._]

Mr. Couch accordingly prepared a paper for the Linnean Society,[51]
in which he embodied Edward’s description of the fish, and of its
habits and habitat. He also attached to it the name of Edward’s Midge,
_Couchia Edwardii_. In the course of Mr. Couch’s paper, he says:—


    “Long before the discovery of the Mackerel Midge as
    a separate species, an account had been given by
    Colonel Montagu of a kindred fish, which he supposed
    to be common to the coast of Devonshire, and which he
    described as being distinguished by the possession of a
    pair only of the frontal barbs; and yet for more than
    half a century this species of Midge had remained in
    obscurity, until it was again brought to light by the
    diligent and acute observation of Mr. Thomas Edward
    of Banff, who found it in some abundance in the Moray
    Firth, and kindly supplied the writer with examples,
    which enabled him to give an account of it, with a
    figure, in the concluding portion of the fourth volume
    of his _History of the Fishes of the British Islands_.
    The five-bearded species had been already represented
    in a coloured figure in the third volume of the same
    book, as also in Mr. Yarrell’s well-known volumes.
    But a vacancy still existed in the analogy between
    the species of the nearly allied genera _Motella_
    and _Couchia_; and it is this, again, we are able to
    supply through the persevering diligence of Mr. Edward,
    whose intelligence enabled him to detect the existence
    of another species, and whose kindness has, with an
    example, communicated materials which enable the writer
    to produce, with a satisfactory likeness, a somewhat
    extended notice of its actions, the latter of which
    will be described, as far as can be, in this attentive
    observer’s own words. The length of the example from
    which my notes were taken is an inch and five-eighths;
    and as half a dozen others were about the same size,
    it may be judged to be their usual magnitude, as it
    does not differ much also from that of _C. glauca_ and
    _C. Montagui_. Compared with the latter, its shape is
    more slender, the pectoral fin rather more lengthened
    and pointed, the ventral fins longer and slender, the
    cilia on the back, along the edge of the membrane, more
    extended, apparently more numerous, and very fine; barb
    on the lower jaw long; but what especially marks this
    little fish as distinct from the other species is,
    that, besides the pair of barbs in front of the head,
    there is a single one of much larger size in front
    of the upper lip, and which points directly forward
    with a slight inclination downward, thus analogically
    answering to the middle barb that projects from the
    snout of the four-bearded Rockling (_Motella cimbria_).
    It is probable that there are teeth in the jaws, but
    they can scarcely be seen, and there is a row of pores
    along each border of the superior maxillary bone. Some
    further particulars of this fish I prefer to give in
    the words of its discoverer, who describes its colour
    as a beautiful deep green along the back when caught,
    the sides brilliantly white; but when it reached me,
    preserved in spirit, it was blue, with a tinge of the
    same along the lateral line. In some examples in Mr.
    Edward’s possession the colour on the back was a faint
    yellow, with a narrow stripe of bluish purple on the
    side, and in all of them the silvery hue of the lower
    portions of the body is found to rise nearer the back
    than in the other species of this genus. The back also
    and head were thickly covered with very small, dark,
    star-like spots, which, together with two narrow yellow
    streaks extending from the top of the head, above the
    mouth, and diverging to the eyes, had disappeared when
    subjected to my examination. Iris of the eye silvery,
    the pupil bluish-green; the fins dull grey, as also the
    pair of barbs; but the single one on the lip at its
    root is almost of as deep a colour as the top of the
    head and back. . . .

    “I regard it as no other than an act of justice to
    the discoverer of this fish to assign to it the name
    of Edward’s Midge (_Couchia Edwardii_), of which the
    specific character is sufficiently obvious.”

Mr. Edward followed up this paper by a fuller description of the Midge,
after he had had an opportunity of observing a much larger number of

[Sidenote: _OTHER NEW FISHES._]

It is scarcely necessary to describe at length the large number of new
fishes belonging to the Moray Firth which Edward for the first time
recognised and described. For instance, the Bonito, the Tunny—fishes
for the most part found in the Mediterranean,—the Pilot-fish, the
Bear-fish, the Short Sun-fish, the Bald-fish, the Scald-fish,
and several species of Sharks. Strange fishes such as these had
occasionally been found before; but Edward never missed the opportunity
of carefully observing them and describing their habits, sometimes
in the _Zoologist_ and the _Naturalist_, and at other times in the
_Banffshire Journal_. He also endeavoured to secure as many specimens
as possible for the Banff Museum, of which he was curator.


When Edward informed Mr. Couch of the struggles and difficulties he
had to encounter in the formation of a museum, the latter replied:
“I can sympathise with you, with a smile, at your annoyances and
disappointments as regards your attempts at a museum; but a real
love of nature, and even a wish for anything beyond a very slight
acquaintance with it, are rare; and can scarcely be infused into any
one not naturally endued with so great a blessing. With your museum
there ought to be a collection of books on Natural History. . .
What you say about the new Midge reminds me of what occurred when I
first announced the discovery of the Mackerel Midge. A paper on it
was read before the Linnean Society, but they hesitated to publish
it—thinking, I believe, as in the present case—that the fish was a
young condition of some other known species. . . There is much in the
internal structure of fishes that is not known generally, but which
can only be ascertained by dissection. In fact, the riches of nature
are inexhaustible; but if we cannot discover all, there is no reason
why we should not continue our search after more of them. The most
unsatisfactory part of the subject is, to find how greatly in some
instances our best authorities are mistaken.”


The works of Mr. Couch and Mr. Spence Bate being now published,
and both of these gentlemen having been so much indebted to the
investigations of Edward, it occurred to both of them to endeavour to
get him elected an Associate of the Linnean Society, as a reward for
his labours. Mr. Couch, in his letter to Edward of the 1st November
1865, says: “There is another thing which I think worthy of your
notice; for, as the world goes, honour is of some value; and the honour
I refer to is of intrinsic value, at the same time that it will cost
you nothing. In the Linnean Society there is a company of Associates
(A.L.S.) limited to thirty; but at this time I think there are no more
than twenty-eight. These Associates are entitled to several privileges
in the society; and in order to be elected, it is necessary to obtain
the recommendation of at least three of the Fellows, which I suppose
you can procure. I shall feel a pleasure in signing the necessary
application, and, if applied to, I have no doubt Dr. Gray will do the

Mr. Bate warmly concurred in the proposal. The application was drawn
up, signed, and sent to the Linnean Society. Dr. Gray was of opinion
that a similar application should have been made to the Zoological
Society for Edward’s admission as an Associate. But this does not
seem to have been done. At length the day of the election arrived,
and on the 5th of April 1866, Edward was unanimously elected an
Associate.[53] Mr. Couch wrote to congratulate him. He said: “The
number of Associates is now limited to a few, so that it is very
difficult to get elected, but then it is a greater honour.”

It never rains but it pours. A few months later, Edward was unanimously
admitted a member of the Aberdeen Natural History Society, at its
monthly meeting, held in Marischal College; and in March 1867, he was
furnished with the diploma of the Glasgow Natural History Society.


“But a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country.”
Although Banff possessed an “Institution for Science, Literature, and
the Arts, and for the encouragement of native genius and talent,” the
members did not even elect Edward an honorary member. The Linnean
Society—perhaps the most distinguished Association of Naturalists in
the world—had discovered Edward’s genius and talent, and elected him
an Associate. But the scientific men of Banff fought shy of the native
shoemaker. It may, however, be added, that the Banff Institution,
finding no native nor any other genius and talent to encourage, became
defunct in 1875, and handed over their collection to the corporation,
whose property it now is.


[51] _Linnean Society’s Journal_; “Zoology,” vol. ix. p. 38.

[52] “A few additional Particulars regarding _Couchia Edwardii_. By
Thomas Edward, A.L.S.” _Linnean Society’s Journal_; “Zoology,” vol. x.

[53] On looking over the records of the Linnean Society, we find that
on the 1st of February 1866, Thomas Edward was proposed as an Associate
by C. Spence Bate, Jonathan Couch, A. Hancock, W. N. Brady, J. E. Gray,
and M. W. Baird. He was elected by ballot on the 5th of April 1866.



EDWARD had now been working for about ten years along the
sea-shore—collecting Crustacea, Molluscs, Fish, and marine objects.
He had won his honours, and lost his health. His medical attendant
had often warned him to give up night work, and avoid exposure of all
kinds. But though Edward had given up night work and partly recovered
his health, he would not give up the study of Nature.

He was now, however, compelled to abandon it altogether.[54] The doctor
was called in again, and found him utterly prostrate. It was the old
story—fever and sore throat, the results of exposure, and perhaps of
insufficient sustenance. His illness was more serious now than it had
been before. In course of time, however, he recovered. The doctor again
had a serious talk with him. He even threatened him with a lunatic
asylum if he did not altogether abandon his out-door researches.

When Edward was able to move about, he learned to his unutterable
grief the truth, which he would fain have concealed from himself, that
his career was at an end as regarded his further researches into the
mysteries of nature. Though his mind remained as vigorous as ever,
his bodily constitution had been seriously injured. He had lost the
elasticity of manhood, and never recovered it again.


Edward was so completely broken down, that he was in a great measure
disabled from working at his trade. What, then, was he to do? His
doctor thought that it would be better for him to give up the trade
of shoemaking, and try something else. He advised him to study
electricity, with the view of setting up a galvanic battery. He
gave Edward books for the purpose of studying the subject. But on
considering the matter, Edward came to the conclusion that he did
not know enough of the mechanism and economy of the human system to
apply the power medicinally. Still the doctor urged him. Numerous
patients came to him to be galvanised, and he had not time to attend
to them himself; he would send all his customers to Edward. But
Edward had no desire to be a quack, and to pour galvanism, of which
he knew little, into a body of which he knew less. At length he came
to the determination not to take up the system of treating disease by
electrical methods.[55]

He was next advised to obtain some situation in connection with
Natural History,—such, for instance, as the curator of a museum. He
was already the curator of the Banff Museum, but the remuneration was
almost nominal. In 1852, he had been appointed curator at a salary
of two guineas a year. After about twelve years’ service, his salary
was increased to four guineas a year.[56] Even that was but a nominal
consideration. Edward naturally desired to obtain some position with
a salary sufficient to maintain him. But he possessed no influence;
he was too shy to push himself forward; he had no one to help him
to obtain any situation; and he eventually gave it up as a hopeless


His attention was next turned to photography. He obtained a treatise on
the subject; he read and studied it; and then he purchased chemicals
and a camera. To obtain these, he again drew upon his savings bank by
selling another portion of his Natural History collection. He found the
practice of photography very agreeable, and he was at length enabled
to take a very fair portrait. But he found that really good portraits
could not be taken except in a glass-windowed apartment provided for
the purpose. He had no such apartment, and he had not money enough to
build one. His portraits were taken in the open air. Perhaps, too, he
wanted that deftness of hand and delicacy of treatment which, had he
been younger, he would more readily have mastered. For, by this time,
Edward was growing old and stiff-handed. Besides, there were other
photographers in the town, better provided with capital and machinery,
and it is scarcely to be wondered at if his trade in photographic
pictures should have been but small. Yet some of his portraits, more
particularly of himself and his family, are exceedingly well done.


In the meantime, however, the activity of his mind and the closeness
of his observation would not allow him to remain at rest. He had done
what he could for science. But there were other things to be thought
over and written about. One of the subjects that attracted him was
Antiquities; and he began with the Antiquities of Banff. Several
articles on the subject appeared in the _Banffshire Journal_, which
were thus introduced by the editor:—“We recently mentioned that our
townsman, Mr. Thomas Edward, was engaged in preparing notes on the
Antiquities of the town and neighbourhood. We have pleasure in giving
the following extract from his MSS. The extract, it will be seen,
embodies two important practical suggestions—one as to the obtaining
and re-erecting in the town the Old Cross of the Burgh; and the other
as to the erection of a Drinking Fountain.”

What Edward said about the ancient cross of Banff and the proposed
drinking fountain may best be given in his own words:—

[Sidenote: _THE CROSS OF BANFF._]

“Banff, like every other town, had its ‘Cross.’ Where this ancient
relic of ours had stood during the various revolutions of the burgh, we
are not aware. We are told, however, that its last stance was on the
Low Street, nearly opposite the foot of the Strait Path. From this we
believe it was suffered to be removed (to our praise as a community be
it spoken) to adorn the top of a dovecot about a mile from the town,
and on ground with which the public have nothing to do. On inquiry, we
learn that it is still the property of the town. If this is correct,
then we say, Get it back. Yes, we say get back our venerable and
time-honoured Cross. No one can fail to observe the almost universal
restoration of the old works of antiquity which is going on throughout
the country. Although nothing of this kind has yet taken place here,
our ancient Cross must be redeemed, and the sooner it is done, the
greater will be the credit due to those who accomplish it.

“Our charitable bequests, as is well known, are many and valuable.
Still, we lack at least one—one which would cost but little, and at the
same time be a universal good. There are many very wealthy individuals
in and belonging to the burgh, some of whom may yet be persuaded to
give us this desideratum. We allude to a Drinking Fountain. These
things, too, be it remembered, are becoming universal, although we have
none of them. We maintain that it would be a great and an inestimable
boon to the place.


“But some may ask, What has this to do with Antiquities? Well, perhaps
not much yet, but we trust it will soon have. We have said that a
drinking fountain would cost but little. Once erected, the interest of
a small sum annually would pay for the water, and keep the place in
repair. And besides tending to be a blessing to thousands, it would
be an interesting and conspicuous ornament to the town,—and one of
the most refreshing which modern ingenuity and gratitude could devise
or rear. Supposing that some of our philanthropic friends, who may
wish to have their names carried down to future generations as being
benefactors and lovers of their species, might yet think well of our
suggestion, and give us a fountain,—could not our Cross be placed upon
it as a crowning stone? We think so. And sure we are that no better
emblem, nor one more expressive, could be given to a place of the kind.
But although nothing of this kind may take place, still we would urge
the restoration of our old and venerable Cross.”

The article produced no results. The suggestion about the Cross trod
upon the toes of some person of local influence, and the idea of its
restoration was soon stamped out. The Drinking Fountain also remains to
be erected.

[Sidenote: _KJÖKKEN-MÖDDING._]

Edward was more successful in his investigations of the Kjökken-mödding
at Boyndie,—a much more interesting piece of antiquity.
Kitchen-middens, or refuse heaps, have been discovered in large
numbers along the shores of the Danish islands. Not less than a
hundred and fifty have already been found in Denmark. They consist
chiefly of castaway shells,—of the oyster, mussel, cockle, and
periwinkle,—intermixed with the bones of quadrupeds, birds, and fish.
Some of them also contain fragments of pottery and burnt clay, and rude
implements of stone and bone, which have evidently been dropped by
those who took their meals in the vicinity of the heaps, or who have
thrown them away as useless.

These shell-mounds vary in height, in breadth, and in length. They are
from three to ten feet high, and sometimes extend to a thousand feet in
length, while they vary from a hundred to two hundred feet in width.
It is evident, from these remains, that some pre-historic people were
accustomed to live along the sea-shore, or to frequent it when food
failed them in the interior, and live upon molluscs and fish. That they
ventured out to sea in canoes hollowed out of the trunk of a single
tree (such as are occasionally found in Danish peat-bogs) is obvious,
from the fact that the bony relics of deep-sea fish, such as the cod,
the herring, and the skate, are occasionally found in the shell-heaps.
No remains of any agricultural produce, nor of domesticated animals
(excepting the dog), have been found in them; so that it is probable
that the people who then occupied the land, were exclusively hunters
and fishers, and that they knew nothing of pastoral or agricultural

[Sidenote: _THE LAPPS OR FINNS._]

Who these ancient people were, has been the subject of much conjecture.
It is not improbable that they were Lapps or Esquimaux. The most
ancient skulls which have been found in Denmark, near the shell-mounds,
are small and round, indicating the small stature of the people. Sir
Charles Lyell says that they bear a considerable resemblance to those
of the modern Laplanders. It is probable that a great part of Europe
was originally peopled by Lapps; and that they were driven north by
the incoming of a more civilised race from the east. There are still
remnants of the Lapps in the island of Malmön, off the coast of Sweden,
in North Connaught and the island of Aran in Ireland, in the island of
Lewis off the western coast of Scotland, and in several of the Shetland

When the discoveries in Denmark came to light, and were republished in
this country, investigations began to be made as to the existence of
similar shell-mounds on the British coast. We do not know whether the
first investigations were made along the shores of the Moray Firth; but
they are the first of which we have any account. Numerous shell-heaps
had long been observed along the coast. They were raised above the
level of the highest tides; and the impression which prevailed was,
that they had been collected there at some early period by an eddy of
the ocean. The shelly deposits were also adduced in proof of a raised


The Kitchen-midden at Boyndie, near Banff, had long been known as a
famous place for shells. Hence, probably, its name of Shelly-bush.
About forty years since, Edward’s attention was drawn to it by a man
who had picked up shells from it when a boy. Edward set it down in
his mind as an old sea-margin, and although often passing it in his
journeys by the sea-side, he never thought of it as anything else. When
Professor Macgillivray, of Aberdeen, was walking with Edward along
the Links, about the year 1850, the latter pointed out to him the
shell-bank. The Professor remarked, that it did not look like any other
raised beach that he had ever seen.

Years passed; but what with cart-wheels going over it, and rude hands
picking at it, the shells and bones which it contained at length became
more clearly exposed. Still it was held to be but an ancient sea-beach.
Then came the news from Denmark about the Kitchen-middens. A paper by
Mr. (now Sir John) Lubbock, appeared in the _Natural History Review_
for October 1861, which had the effect of directing the attention of
Archæologists to the subject. “Macgillivray’s remark,” says Edward,
“instantly flashed upon me. I looked at the Shelly-bush shells in our
collection, and compared them with the raised beaches of King Edward,
and Gamrie. I saw the difference in a moment, and smiled at my own
stupidity. Away I went to the Bush, and the happy result was, that
before I returned, I had the inexpressible delight of ascertaining
that the old sea-beach was neither more nor less than a veritable


[Sidenote: _THE LOCH OF SPYNIE._]

The Rev. Dr. Gordon of Birnie, near Elgin, had already found a
similar accumulation of shells on the old margin of the Loch of
Spynie,—formerly an arm of the sea. The mound is situated in a small
wood on the farm of Brigzes. It had been much diminished by its
contents having been carted off from the centre of the heap, as
manure or top-dressing for the adjoining fields. The mound—or rather
couple of mounds, for it has been cut into two parts—must have been
of considerable extent. It measured about a hundred yards in length,
by about thirty in breadth. The most abundant shell found was the
periwinkle, or the edible “buckie,” as it is usually called. Next in
order was the oyster; and magnificent natives they must have been. The
bay of Spynie was then a productive dredging-ground. On the extensive
flat around it, wherever a canal or ditch is dug up, the shells of
oysters are yet to be met with, seemingly on the spots where they
lived. Yet the oyster, as well as the primitive people who fared on it,
have long since passed away.


The third shell in order, in this bank of shells, is the mussel,
and then the cockle,—all edible. “There is evidence enough in these
mounds,” says Dr. Gordon, “to show that they have been the work of
man, and not the effect of any tidal current, or any other natural
cause. The shell-fish which the remains represent are, with scarcely
an exception, edible, and continue to be eaten to this day. In all
deposits by the sea, there is abundance of species that have ever
been rejected as food. The shells are full-grown, or adult shells. In
collections made by the sea, the young animals are abundant, and often
predominate. Now, no movements of wind and water could have thus
selected the edible and the adult, and left behind the noxious and the
young. They must have been gathered by man, and for the purpose of
supplying his wants. Many other arguments have been brought forward
to prove this, so that no doubt is now entertained about the matter.
One strong proof is, that the periwinkle and the oyster are never
found living and mingled together in the same part of the sea. The
former exists between tide-marks, the other in deep water. The cockle
delights in sand; the mussel must be moored to a rock or hard bottom.
In different parts of the masses of shells at Brigzes, there are to be
seen many stones that have been subjected to considerable heat. They
probably have been used in this state for cooking, as is known to be
the case among people of primitive habits to this day.”


The shells found by Edward in the kitchen-midden at Boyndie
corresponded in a great measure with those found by the Rev. Mr.
Gordon at Brigzes. Thus, he found the Periwinkle, the highly-esteemed
Buckie, the Limpet, the Horse Buckie (in some places called the Dog
Periwinkle), the Mussel; bones of various kinds of wild animals,
such as the Deer, the Hare, and the Rabbit; the remains of several
species of fish, such as bones of the Skate; a few of the Crab family;
fragments of Pottery, and small bits of charred wood and ashes. The
ashes are just like those left from a wood or peat fire. Small stones,
also, were got, partially blackened, as if they had been used for
cooking purposes. One very common ingredient among the fish was that
part of the head known as the “lug been,”—a bone usually given to the
children of the family to pick.


“A remarkable fact,” says Edward, in his account of the Boyndie
kitchen-midden, “and one not mentioned in any account of a similar
place, is, that whilst some of the shells crumble to dust almost with
the least touch, others are still so hard that they would require the
fingers of a giant to pound them. The enamelling of some of the limpet
and mussel shells is still as beautiful as almost to persuade one that
the animal had been but newly taken out. On the other hand, some are
so far gone and so soft, as to feel like a piece of wet blotsheet. But
what appears to be the most remarkable peculiarity in these two very
opposite extremes is, that the shells thus spoken of may be found in
the same handful and from the same spot. Another very striking feature
is, that in handling the old ‘muck,’ one’s fingers soon get nearly as
black as ink. Here also, as in all the other shell-accumulations, the
larger bones are broken—not cut, but broken up longitudinally, or what
might rather be called splintered. This has been done, it is thought,
to get at the fat or marrow, of which these early people seem to have
been very fond. They broke the bone just as we break up with some heavy
instrument the large toes of a lobster or parten in order to reach the

[Sidenote: _HUMAN BONES._]

M. Engelhardt, in describing the Kiökkenmöddings of Denmark, says that
no human bones have been found among the shell-heaps. Sir John Lubbock
has also said that “the absence of human remains satisfactorily proves
that the primitive population of the North were free from the practice
of cannibalism.” Recent investigations have, however, cast some doubts
upon this statement. For instance, Mr. Laing, M.P., read a paper
before the Ethnological Society on the 14th December 1864, in which
he described the results of his investigations of the kitchen-middens
at Keiss in Caithness, about eight miles north of Wick. Large masses
of periwinkle and limpet shells, mixed with bones, flint splinters,
and bone instruments of the rudest sort, were found. Among the bones,
part of the jaw of a child was discovered, which had been broken as
if to get at the marrow; and affording ground for presumption that
cannibalism was prevalent, or, at least, was occasionally resorted to
among the race to which the remains refer.

[Sidenote: _THE STONE PERIOD._]

No human bones were found in the shell-heaps of either Boyndie or
Brigzes; so that Mr. Laing’s remarks may, after all, prove to be a
mere conjecture. “One thing,” says Edward, “must be observed—that
no implements have as yet been found mixed up with our shells; but
whether this would indicate an earlier or a later date, it would be
premature even to hint. Flint flakes, a portion of a flint knife, and
a stone-axe or hatchet, have been found near some of the Morayshire
mounds, but not in them. They are, however, considered to belong to the
same period. In the same way, the flint flakes, arrow-heads, elfshots,
found in the lower part of Banffshire, as also the two curious
rough-looking bits of stones formed like knives, lately dug up near
Banff, and now placed in the Banff Museum, doubtless belong to the same
bygone days. Of this, however, we have a proof beyond doubt, that those
who had for a time sojourned at Boyndie had, like the men of Denmark,
gone out to sea fishing. This we learn from the fact that spines of
large rays or skate, bones of other big fish, such as the cod, ling,
and haddocks, bits of old sponge-eaten shells, as the scallop (Pecten
maximus and opercularis), the cow shell (Cyprina Islandica), and the
roaring buckie (Fusus antiquus), are found in our shell-mound. Now
these cannot be got except in pretty deep water; and although no traces
of any of their vessels have as yet been met with near the mound, still
one, a _canoe_—very similar to the ancient Danish canoe—was dug up some
years ago from a piece of marshy ground betwixt Portsoy and Cullen.

“During a recent excavation of the mound in the presence of a clerical
friend, we came upon the two following species of shells not previously
noticed—the flat-topped periwinkle (Littorina littoralis) and the
grey pyramid shell (Trochus cinerarius). These shells are both very
common amongst the rocks at the present day. As the list indicates,
the periwinkle was the most frequent shell in the mound; but we went
deeper down, and the farther we went into the bank the limpet was most
predominant, and in fact was almost the exclusive shell.


“Taking all these circumstances into account, and weighing the matter
carefully over, we cannot come to any other conclusion than that the
Kitchen-middens must be of a very remote age. We know nothing of the
people who formed these mounds of shells and bones. Tradition and
history are altogether silent. Archæology seems powerless to help us,
and ethnology’s vision fails to penetrate the depths of obscurity. It
would appear to be one of those mysteries of the past which baffles
even the wisest.”

[Sidenote: _AN OLD BONE._]

Edward collected further samples of articles taken from kitchen-middens
for the Museum, including a series of shells—the oyster, the cockle,
the periwinkle, and the brown buckie or whelk—gathered from the
shell-heaps on the farm of Brigzes, near Elgin. He had also several
other fragments of antiquity collected in the Museum, one of the most
interesting of which was the joint-bone of some extinct animal. The
story connected with this bone is rather curious.

Before Edward had any official connection with the museum, he visited
it one day in company with his master; and there he first saw this
particular bone. He was struck by its size, thickness, and peculiar
shape. The idea flashed across his mind that he had seen something like
it in a picture; but he could not remember where. Seeing his intent
glance, the curator asked him if he knew anything about it? “Nothing,”
said he, “except that it appears to me to be a semi-fossilised bone
of some of the pre-Adamite monsters that are dug up now and then; but
what it is I cannot tell.” “It looks to me,” said the curator, “to be
nothing more than the root of a tree: in fact I am sure it is. If it
were a bone, as you say, surely some of the gentlemen composing the
Scientific Society would know.” “Give it time,” replied Edward, “and
some one will yet be able to tell us all about it.” “Time indeed!” said
the curator, “we have had it lying here far too long. I have often
thought of throwing it into the fire, and I will do so when I have next
the opportunity. It would never have been here but for that old fool
(naming a previous curator), whose only aim seems to have been to get
the place filled up with useless trash.”

In the meantime the previous history of the bone may be given. Some
sixty years before, when a mill-dam was being enlarged at Inverichny,
in the parish of Alvah, near Banff, one of the workmen came upon a
dark-looking object embedded in the bank amongst clay and shingle,
about six feet from the surface. After being disengaged, it was found
that the object was very like a large hour-glass, though not tapering
so much towards the middle. There were differences of opinion amongst
the workmen about the nature of the thing. One said it was a “been,”
another said it was “an auld fir knot.” One man tried to break it
into pieces with a spade, but he failed. The hard bone turned up the
edge of the spade. It was handed about, to ascertain if anybody could
make anything of it. At last it got into the hands of Captain Reid of
Inverichny. He showed it to the three most important persons in his
neighbourhood—the minister, the doctor, and the dominie.


The minister, though he could say nothing about the bone, knew that
there were great leviathans in the waters, for he had read about them
in the Scriptures; but he had never seen any notice of such things
being found in clay banks. The doctor, after looking at it, and turning
it round and round, said that if it was a bone, at least it did not
belong to the human structure. The dominie, like his other learned
friends, could throw no greater light upon the subject. He did not
think it was a bone at all, but only a monstrous piece of petrified
bamboo! Then the men of science of the Banff Institution were applied
to, but they could make no more of the object than the minister, the
doctor, and the dominie. Finally Captain Reid presented it to the
museum of the Banff Scientific Society; and there it remained until
Edward first saw it.


It would appear, however, that the curator had become tired of the
bone, or whatever else it was, and wished to get rid of it. He removed
it from the case in which it was deposited, and threw it among the
rubbish of the museum. When Edward was appointed sub-curator of the
museum, about nine years afterwards, his first natural impulse was to
go to the table where the bone had been deposited, but lo! it had been
removed. He searched the whole place, but no bone was to be found. He
feared lest the curator had carried out his intention, and burnt it.

Next morning, Edward received orders to destroy a lot of useless
stuff which lay on the floor, consisting of broken-down astronomical
and philosophical instruments, moth-eaten beasts, birds, and fishes,
together with other wrecked specimens of the long-neglected museum.
Edward went to work, and whilst groping amongst the rubbish at the
bottom of the heap, he came upon a round dark object. He brought it up,
and lo! it was the “auld been”—in other words, the old bone! It had not
been burnt! He cleaned it and put it in the old place.

When the curator next made his appearance to ascertain how far the
burning had gone, he gave a glance at the case where the bone had
been replaced. He stood aghast. “You have put this thing on the table
again!” he shouted. “Yes,” replied Edward. “Do you know,” rejoined the
curator, “that by so doing you are insulting myself, and the gentlemen
of the Society, who requested all objectionable matter to be removed
from the collection?” “I am very sorry for that,” said Edward. “Then
remove it at once, and burn it with the rest.” Edward removed it
accordingly, but he did not burn it. He took it home, and kept it there
until he was able to replace it in the museum.

[Illustration: THE “AULD BEEN.”]

[Sidenote: _THE “AULD BEEN.”_]

When the curator next entered the apartment, he glanced at the place
where the bone had been, and seeing that it had been removed, he said
nothing further about it. Shortly after, Edward was himself appointed
curator, and having the control of the collection in his own hands, he
restored the bone to its former place. He was still most anxious to
know of what animal the bone had constituted a part. He never failed to
direct the attention of visitors to the bone, and to inquire of them
whether they could give him any information about it. Thus time rolled
on, and despite of all his endeavours, the bone still remained unknown
and unnamed.


At last Sir Roderick Murchison and Professor Ramsay honoured the museum
with a visit, in September 1859. Edward was sure that Sir Roderick
would be able to tell him all that he wanted to know respecting the
bone. It was the first thing that he put into Sir Roderick’s hands.
“Can you tell me what that is, sir?” He took it up, turned it round and
round, and over and over, and remarked, “That is a most extraordinary
bone;” and then he asked when and where it had been found. Edward
told him all the facts he knew respecting it, and added: “But can you
tell me to what animal it belonged?” “No, I cannot tell,” replied Sir
Roderick. Neither did Professor Ramsay know anything about the bone.
“You see,” said Sir Roderick, “this does not lie in my way. This is not
exactly a geological specimen. I am more a _stone_ man than a _bone_
man. Besides, it is often a difficult matter to distinguish small
fragments or single bones of a skeleton, especially such a remarkable
one as this, and to determine with certainty to what creature it
belonged. But,” he added, “if you have any stones in your collection
unnamed, or any particular rock in your neighbourhood that you can show
us, and which you and the stone men of the district are in any doubt
about, my colleague and I will be most happy to sort them out for you.
As regards the bone, I’ll tell you what to do. Send the bone to London,
to Professor Owen. He’s your man. He’s made up of bones. He’ll soon
tell you all about it. And more, you can give him my compliments, say
you saw me, and that I told you to send it.”

Edward did not, however, send the bone to London. He knew from
experience, that such things, when sent so far away, rarely came back.
That had been the case with many of his Crustacea. He therefore kept
the bone at home, and continued his inquiries of the _savans_ who from
time to time visited the museum; but he never succeeded in obtaining
any favourable answer to his questionings.


Years sped on, and still the bone remained unknown. At last, when
Edward was rummaging over some old books, he came upon the second
volume of the _Penny Magazine_. Whilst turning over the pages by
chance, he saw a picture of old bones which had much puzzled his brains
some thirty years before. And now he remembered that it was the picture
of the bones here drawn, that had first given him the idea that this
bone in the museum was the remnant of some extinct animal. And here
was the creature itself from which the bone had been taken. It was the
_Plesiosaurus dolichodeiras_; the bone in the museum being one of the
femurs of the fore-paddle of that long extinct monster.

[Sidenote: _THE BANFF MUSEUM._]

To make assurance doubly sure, Edward took a photograph of the bone,
and sent it to a scientific correspondent in London; when he had the
pleasure of being informed there was no doubt whatever that the bone
was one of the femurs of the fore-paddle of the Plesiosaurus. Here,
then, was a discovery well worth all the care, the trouble, and the
anxiety which the bone had occasioned. It may also be mentioned that,
so far as is known, no other fragment of the Plesiosaurus has yet been
found in Scotland. They have been met with in England in the secondary
strata, and on the Continent, principally in the Oolite and Lias. The
bone in question is now one of the most cherished relics of the Banff

[Illustration: BANFF MUSEUM.]


[54] This must have been about the beginning of 1868. The last letter
which Edward received from Mr. Spence Bate was dated the 3d March 1868.
In that letter Mr. Bate referred to some specimens of the Eisclados
and Themisto which Edward had sent him about three months before. The
correspondence then ceased.

[55] Of the mischievous results of treating disease by electricity
without medical knowledge, a remarkable instance is to be found in the
Life of the Rev. F. W. Robertson, Brighton.

[56] When the Museum was handed over to the Corporation, Edward’s
salary was, in May 1866, increased to £13 : 13s. Seven months later
Edward resigned the situation.

[57] Dr. Beddoes, in his _Stature and Bulk of Man in the British
Isles_, says, “The Black-haired Shetlanders are of low stature,
with features approaching the Finnish type, and of a melancholic
temperament” (p. 13). The island of Lewis also, in the Hebrides,
indicates an aboriginal substratum of population of Finnish type and
short stature.



EDWARD’S labours were now drawing to a close. He had fought the fight
of science inch by inch, until he could fight no more. He had also
fought the fight of honest poverty—a great triumph and a great glory.

    The honest man, though e’er sae poor,
    Is king o’ men, for a’ that.

It is said that the man who can pay his way is not poor. Edward could
always do that. He was in no man’s debt. He had lived within his means,
small though they were. Towards the end of his life, he could only earn
about eight shillings a week. But his children were now growing up; and
as he had helped them in their youth, they now helped him in his age.

He had become prematurely old. His constitution had been seriously
injured by his continuous exposure to the night air. He had repeated
illnesses—inflammations of the throat and lungs, inflammations of the
stomach and bowels—each attack rendering him weaker than before, until
at last he altogether gave up his researches, and confined himself to
shoemaking,—occasionally attending as curator at the museum.


Yet he never could get rid of his love of Nature. He continued to
admire the works of the Creator as much as ever. On recovering from
one of his illnesses, he went to Huntly for a change of air. His wife
accompanied him. When she proposed doing so, he asked the reason. “O!”
she replied, “just to keep ye company, and to help ye.” Accordingly
she went with him. While at Huntly, he felt his old craving for Nature
returning upon him. He wished to go out and search the woods, the
mosses, and the burns, as before; but his wife never left him.

Whenever he indicated an intention of penetrating a hedge or leaping a
wall, she immediately interfered. The hedge would tear his clothes, and
she could not accompany him in jumping dykes. He demurred, and said,
that if he went across, he would “come back again.” But that did not
suit her purpose, and she would not let him go. As evening approached,
she said, “We’ll awa back noo.” He protested that he would rather stay
out. “No, no,” said she, “I’m no gaun intill a hole like a wild beast;
and, besides, the nicht air would kill me.” In fact, as he afterwards
observed, “he had fallen into the hands of the Philistines.”

[Sidenote: _TRAPS AT TARLAIR._]

Edward still took pleasure in wandering along the coast, and surveying
the scenes of his former exploits. One day he took a friend round to
Tarlair, to look at the rock from which he had fallen. Standing on
the high ground above the shore, and looking down upon the rock-pools
beneath the promontory, he observed: “I set many of my traps down
there. I filled them with seaweed, and sometimes with a piece of dead
fish. The sea came in and filled my traps, and sometimes brought in
many rare Crustacea. I set my traps along the coast for about ten
miles, from Portsoy to Melrose Head. Many a time have I scrambled
amongst these rocks. But when I took ill, and the inflammation went to
my brain, I had to leave all my traps, and there they are still.”

“What a fine chance that will be for some future Ichthyologist,” said
his friend; “he will find the traps ready-made, and perhaps full of new
species of crustaceans!” “Weel,” said Edward, “it may be sae; but I
dinna think there’ll be sic a feel as me for mony a lang year to come!”

Although he had long given up searching along shore for new specimens
of Fish, Crustaceans, or Molluscs, yet he had still another discovery
to announce. There was a new fish remaining in his possession which had
been entirely lost sight of. He had taken it in 1868, whilst searching
amongst the rock-pools at the Links. He kept it alive for two days,
and when it died he put it into a bottle, intending to send it to Mr.
Couch; but somehow or other the bottle got lost, and, though he turned
the house almost upside down, he could never find it.

[Sidenote: _THE NILSSON’S GOBY._]

Only about a year ago, while turning over his papers to find the
letters referred to in the preceding pages, he found the bottle
containing the new fish at the bottom of the box. How great was his
delight! But what was he to do with it? Mr. Couch was dead, all his
fish friends were dead, and he did not know to whom to apply, to name
the new fish. But as he was about to proceed to Aberdeen to see Mr.
Reid, who was so kind as to offer to paint his portrait, he took the
fish with him. Mr. Reid procured an introduction for him, through Dean
of Guild Walker, to Professor Nicol of Marischal College. The Professor
did not at first recognise the fish, but on referring to his works
on Ichthyology, he found that it was a specimen of Nilsson’s Goby, a
species not before known to have been taken in British seas.

Notwithstanding the thousands of specimens and the hundreds of cases
that Edward had been obliged to part with during his successive
illnesses,[58] he has still sixty cases filled with about two thousand
specimens of natural objects. During his lifetime he has made about
five hundred cases with no other tools than his shoemaker’s knife and
hammer, and a saw; and he papered, painted, and glazed them all himself.


As to the number of different species that he has accumulated during
thirty years of incessant toil, it is of course impossible to form an
estimate, as he never kept a log-book; but some idea of his persevering
labours may be formed from the list of Banffshire Fauna annexed to this

Many of his discoveries have already become facts in history, but a
large proportion of them can never be known. His specimens were sent to
others to be named, but many of them were never afterwards heard of.
This was particularly the case with his shrimps, insects, zoophytes,
corals, sponges, sea-slugs, worms, tunicata or leathern-bag molluscs,
fossils, and plants. “Had any one,” he says, “taken pity on me in time
(as has sometimes been done with others), and raised me from the dirt,
I might have been able to name my own specimens, and thereby made my
own discoveries known myself.”

Many of Edward’s friends told him that he should have extended his
inquiries into Aberdeenshire and the northern counties; and that he
should have explored the coasts of the Moray Firth in all directions.
Others told him that he should have written and published much more
than he did, or was ever able to do; and that he should have given many
more facts to the public. The only reply that he gave to such advisers
was, that he had neither the opportunity nor the means of doing so,
having to work for his daily bread all the time that he was carrying on
his researches.


He had another difficulty to contend with, besides his want of time and
means. When he did publish what he had observed with his own eyes, and
not in books through the eyes of others, his facts were often disputed
by the higher class of Naturalists. He was under the impression that
this arose from the circumstance that they had never been heard
of before, and that they had now been brought to light by a poor
shoemaker—a person of no standing whatever. This deterred him, in a
great measure, from publishing his observations, as he did not like his
veracity to be called in question. And it was not until years after,
when others higher up the ladder of respectability had published the
same facts, that his observations were accredited,—simply because they
could no longer be denied.

Towards the close of his labours, Edward, on looking back, was himself
surprised that in the midst of his difficulties—his want of learning,
his want of time, his want of books—he should have been able to
accomplish the little that he did. He had had so many obstructions
to encounter. His bringing up as a child, and his want of school
education, had been very much against him. Then he had begun to work
for daily bread at six years old, and he had continued to labour
incessantly for the rest of his life. Of course there was something
much more than the mere manual labourer in him. His mind had risen
above his daily occupation. For he had the soul of a true man. Above
all, he loved Nature and Nature’s works.

[Sidenote: _SELF-RELIANCE._]

We need not speak of his stern self-reliance and his indomitable
perseverance. These were among the prominent features of his character.
Of his courage, it is scarcely necessary to speak. When we think of
his nightly wanderings, his trackings of birds for days together, his
encounters with badgers and polecats, his climbing of rocks, and his
rolling down cliffs in search of sea-birds, we cannot but think that he
taxed his courage a great deal too much.

A great point with him, was his sobriety. For thirty-six years he never
entered a public-house nor a dram shop. He was not a teetotaller.
Sobriety was merely his habit. Some of his friends advised him to take
“a wee drap whisky” with him on cold nights; but he never did. He
himself believes that had he drunk whisky, he never could have stood
the wet, the cold, and the privations to which he was exposed during so
many years of his life. When he went out at night, his food consisted
for the most part of plain oatmeal cakes; and his drink was the water
from the nearest brook.

He never lost a moment of time. When his work for the day was over, he
went out to the links or the fields with his supper of oatmeal cakes in
his hand; and after the night had passed, he returned home in time for
his next day’s work. He stuffed his birds, or prepared the cases for
his collection, by the light of the fire. He was never a moment idle.

[Sidenote: _EDWARD’S FAMILY._]

Another thing must be mentioned to his credit,—and here his wife must
share the honour. He brought up his large family of eleven children
respectably and virtuously. He educated them much better than he
himself had been educated. They were all well clad and well shod,
notwithstanding the Scottish proverb to the contrary.[59] Both parents
must have felt hope and joy in the future lives of their children.
This is one of the greatest comforts of the poor,—to see their family
growing up in knowledge, virtue, industry, well-being, and well-doing.
We might say much of Edward’s eldest daughter, who has not only
helped to keep her parents, but to maintain her brother at school and
college. It is families such as these, that maintain the character and
constitute the glory of their country.

But to return to Edward and his culture. In one of the earliest letters
which the author addressed to him, he made inquiry as to the manner in
which he had become acquainted with the scientific works which are so
necessary for the study of Natural History. “You seem to wonder,” he
said in his reply, “why I did not mention _books_ in my memoir. You may
just as well wonder how I can string a few sentences together, or,
indeed, how I can write at all. My books, I can tell you, were about as
few, as my education was brief and homespun.

“I thought you knew—yes, I am sure you knew—that any one having the
Mind and the Will, need not stick fast even in this world. True, he may
not shine so greatly as if he were better polished and better educated;
but he need not sink in the mire altogether.

[Sidenote: _HIS POWER OF WILL._]

“You may very likely wonder at what I have been able to do—being only a
poor souter,[60]—with no one to help me, and but few to encourage me in
my labours. Many others have wondered, like yourself. The only answer
I can give to such wonderers is, that I had the WILL to do the little
that I have accomplished.

“If what I have done by myself, unaided and alone and without the
help of books, surpasses the credulity of some, what might I not have
accomplished had I obtained the help from others which was so often
promised me! But that time is past, and there is no use in saying
anything more about it. If I suffered privations, I had only myself and
my love of Nature to blame.”

He was sometimes told that it was his “pride” which prevented him from
being assisted as he should have been. His answer was, that he did not
know anything about pride. But if it consisted in not soliciting aid
when in want, and in endeavouring to conceal his poverty even when in
need of help,—in order that the world might not know of the misery
which himself, his wife, and his family suffered,—then he did not
hesitate to say that he and his wife were proud. They never refused a
kindly gift, but they always refused public charity.

[Sidenote: _NEVER DESPAIR!_]

“Although,” he says in a recent letter, “I have not known the pangs
of want for some time, thanks to my children, I could scarcely have
failed to do so in the years that are past. It would have been beyond
the common run of things, if I had not. What working-man, especially
what journeyman shoemaker, could have brought up and educated a large
family, without at times feeling privation and the pressure of poverty?
There are other trades which have their dull seasons; but, unlike most
other tradesmen, shoemakers are not, from their low pay, able to lay
anything by, even when they have plenty of work. And, as a matter of
course, this made the struggle, when it did come, all the worse to bear.

“From these facts and others which I have told you before, I say, and
am ready to maintain against every opposition, that no one who steps
this earth, or even crawls upon it, need ever despair, after what I
have done, of achieving whatever of good they have once set their minds
on. Firmness of purpose and the Will to do and dare, will accomplish, I
may say, almost anything. The Will is the key that opens the door to
every path, whether it be of Science or of Nature, and every one has it
in his power to choose the road for himself.”


Notwithstanding Edward’s power of will and indomitable perseverance,
and the amount of useful scientific work which he has accomplished, it
was easy to see that he was rather disappointed at the results of his
labours. It is true that his zoological labours did not enable him to
earn money: indeed, he had not worked for money considerations. Natural
science is always unremunerative, especially to those who have to work
for their daily bread.[61] Nor had his self-imposed labours lifted him
above his position in any way. He began life as a shoemaker, and he
continued a shoemaker to the end. Many called him a fool because he
gave himself up to “beasts.” He himself says, “I have been a fool to
Nature all my life.”

“If it had not been for the industry of my children,” he says, “my
wife and myself would have been in starvation these many years back,
as all that I have been making could scarcely have kept myself in
bread. So that is something. But if ever I complained about my life, I
never meant it to be in that way. Had the object of my life been money
instead of Nature,—had I pursued the one with half the ardour and
perseverance that I did the other,—I have no hesitation in saying that
by this time I would have been a rich man.


“But it is not the things I have done that vexes me so much, as the
things that I have _not_ done. I feel that I _could_ have accomplished
so much more. I did not want the will, but I wanted the means. It
is that consideration that hurts me when I think about it, as I
sometimes do. I know what I have done, and from that I can conceive
how much more I might have done had I got but a little help. Think
yourself—only think for a few moments—of a poor illiterate working man
struggling against every sort of privation for so many years, with
no other object in view but simply to gain a little knowledge of the
works of creation,—think of that, and say if I can be blamed because
I occasionally grieve that I had no help, when it would have enabled
me to do so much more than I have already done. For these reasons I
sometimes consider my life to have been a blasted one—like a diamond
taken from the mine, and, instead of being polished, crushed to the
earth in a thousand fragments.”

[Sidenote: _EDWARD AT HOME._]

Still, Edward must, to a great extent, have enjoyed a happy life. He
was hopeful and cheerful. He had always some object to pursue, with a
purpose. That constitutes one of the secrets of happiness. He had an
interesting hobby: that is another secret. Natural History is one of
the most delightful of hobbies. He had the adventure, the chase, the
capture, and often the triumph of discovery. He must have found great
delight in finding a new bird, a new star-fish, a new crustacean,
a new ascidian. It must also have been a pleasure to him to be in
correspondence with some of the most enlightened men of the time; to
have received their congratulations upon his discoveries; and to have
been rewarded with the titular honours which they had to bestow.

But what did they think of him at home? A man may be a well-disposed
man out of doors, yet altogether different in his domestic circle.
Follow him home, and see what he is there. We have seen that Edward was
a happy father and a happy husband. His children, as we have said, were
brought up well and virtuously. There was no better conducted family in
Banff. When young they assisted him in his labours amongst his fishes
and crustaceans; and, when old, they were proud to help him in all
ways. Is not this a great feature in a man’s character?

What did his wife say of him? When reminded of his wanderings about at
night, and asked what she thought of them, she replied, “Weel, he took
such an interest in beasts, that I didna compleen. Shoemakers were then
a very drucken set, but his beasts keepit him frae them. My man’s been
a sober man all his life; and he never negleckit his wark. Sae I let
him be.” Wise woman!

Scotch people are very reticent. They rarely speak of love or
affection. It is all “understood.” It is said that a Scotchman will
never tell his wife that he loves her, until he is dying. But you can
always tell, from the inside of a house, what the woman is, and how her
husband regards her. In these respects, it may be said, that Edward,
though poor and scrimp of means, has always enjoyed a happy home; and
that is saying a great deal.


It is not, however, the amount of love and respect with which a man
is regarded at home, that satisfies him,—so much as the esteem with
which he is regarded by his fellow-men. When a man works gratuitously
for science, and labours for the advancement of knowledge, he seems
entitled to admiration and respect. But Edward did not think that his
labours had been properly recognised. This seems to have vexed him very
much. He had often been promised aid in the shape of books. But no such
aid ever came. “All my honours,” said he, “have come from a distance.
I have kept the museum of the Banff Institution for about twenty-one
years, for I may say almost nothing; and though the Linnean Society
thought me worthy of being elected an Associate, the people here did
not think me worthy of being an honorary member of their Society.
Still, I am not complaining. The people of Banff had no right to make
me a gentleman.”

The truth is, that it was a misfortune for Edward to have lived so far
from the centre of scientific pursuits. Banff was a place comparatively
unknown. In the pursuit of science, a man requires fellowship. He
especially requires the fellowship of books. Banff could do little for
him in this respect. Had he lived in a larger town, with a library at
his command, he could have acquired the friendship of scientific men,
who are rarely disposed to be narrow in their “encouragement of native
genius and talent,” however poor the student may be.

[Sidenote: _HIS FAILURES._]

But it was difficult for Edward to remove to any other place. He
had his family to provide for, and he had not the means of removing
them elsewhere. He was tied like a limpet to its rock. Still, he did
all that he could to improve his position where he was. He tried to
secure an appointment in connection with the police; but having no
influence, he failed. He applied to the London College of Surgeons for
a curatorship, but Mr. Quekett having informed him that it was only a
fourth portership that was wanted, he failed there too. Then he studied
electricity, for the purpose of assisting a doctor in electrifying his
patients; but thinking that he might kill more than he could cure, he
gave up the idea of proceeding further. He next tried photography, but
not being provided with sufficient capital, he gave up that too. The
last application he made was for an appointment as sub-curator of the
City Industrial Museum of Glasgow, but he received no encouragement.

[Sidenote: _RESIGNATION._]

After abandoning photography as a means of subsistence, he returned to
his old trade. “As a last and only remaining source,” he said in June
1875, “I betook myself to my old and time-honoured friend, a friend of
fifty years’ standing, who has never yet forsaken me, nor refused help
to my body when weary, nor rest to my limbs when tired—my well-worn
cobbler’s stool. AND HERE I AM STILL on the old boards, doing what
little I can, with the aid of my well-worn kit, to maintain myself and
my family; with the certainty that instead of my getting the better of
the lapstone and leather, they will very soon get the better of me.
And although I am now like a beast tethered to his pasturage, with a
portion of my faculties somewhat impaired, I can still appreciate and
admire as much as ever the beauties and wonders of Nature, as exhibited
in the incomparable works of our adorable Creator.”

[Illustration: “AND HERE I AM STILL.”]


[58] After parting with the greater part of his third collection in
1867, Dr. Gray of the British Museum wrote to him: “I wish I had known
that you had one or more collections to dispose of, as I should have
been very glad to have purchased specimens of the Mollusca, Annelids,
Star-fish, Holothurea, Echina, and small fishes of the coast of
Banffshire, as I like to get specimens from the different parts of the
coast. Should you have any more, please let me know.” But the request
came too late.

[59] “The Smith’s meer and the Shaemakers’ bairns are aye the worst

[60] _Souter_—a shoemaker. _Ne sutor_, etc.

[61] We are sorry to observe that the late Mr. Jonathan Couch, for
whom Edward made so many of his researches at Banff, died in reduced
circumstances,—rendering it necessary for his daughters to go out in
search of employment.


    [Only a selection of the Fauna is given in the
    following pages. Had the Insects, Reptiles, Starfishes,
    Zoophytes, Molluscs, Plants, etc., which Edward found
    in Banffshire, been given, it would have more than
    filled the present volume.]




MELES TAXUS [_Badger or Brock_]. See p. 102.

    Sparingly met with in our wooded districts.

MUSTELA MARTES [_Pine Marten_].

    Found chiefly in the higher parts of the county. One
    was observed, in 1848, to descend from a tree in the
    hills of Boyndie, and go into a rabbit’s hole. The hole
    was stopped up, and a spade was brought to dig the
    animal out. It had, however, escaped by another outlet
    from the burrow.

MUSTELA PUTORIUS [_Polecat or Fumart_].

    See page 116.

MUSTELA VULGARIS [_Weasel or Whitret_].

    More frequent than the polecat. Whilst the latter would
    seem to delight more in plantations and whins, the
    other would appear to think more of old dykes, grassy
    hillocks, and small cairns of stones. Both are very
    destructive, killing much more than they devour. See p.

MUSTELA ERMINEA [_Ermine or Stoat_].

    This species is often mistaken for the weasel. They
    are very similar during summer, their colours being
    then the same. In winter, however, the ermine changes
    to a pure white, excepting in a portion of the tail,
    which is always black. In this state they are all
    but universally called “_White_,” or rather “_Fite
    Futrates_.” The true weasel never changes.


    Often met with in suitable localities along the
    sea-shore, as well as by many of our streams and
    streamlets. See p. 115.

CANIS VULPES [_Fox, Tod Lowric, or Reynard_].

    A well-known animal, especially in the country
    districts. See pp. 109, 219.

FELIS CATIS [_Common Wild Cat_].

    The wild cat is now, perhaps, extinct with us, though
    at one time it was frequently found in the woods
    and rocky glens of the more alpine portions of the
    interior. One which I had the pleasure of seeing, and
    which was killed in Glen Avon, measured over four feet
    in length, and was well proportioned in every other
    respect. It was altogether a very formidable looking

TALPA EUROPÆA [_Mole or Mowdiewort_].

    This harmless creature is often met with. It is very
    useful to agriculturists by turning up the fertile
    soil, yet they constantly wage war against it. Pure
    white varieties are sometimes met with.


    Even since I remember, “hedgey” was altogether unknown,
    or at least very seldom seen, in Banffshire. Now he is
    plentiful, and seems to be still on the increase. See
    p. 102.



    These are both to be found here. The first is the most
    common. It appears that we have another species of bat
    here. It is larger than either of the other two. I have
    met with it in our woods.


    It is only of late that this agile and tricky little
    quadruped has become domiciled in this county.


    I am not quite sure whether we have this animal or not;
    I think I have taken it, but am not able to ascertain
    the fact with certainty.

MUS MUSCULUS [_Common Mouse_].

    There is no doubt about this sly little domestic.
    Specimens of various colours—such as white, gray
    stripped with white, reddish, and yellow—sometimes
    occur. Musical individuals of the genus are not
    infrequent. See p. 110.

MUS SYLVATICUS [_Long-tailed or Wood Mouse_].

    Is to be found in almost every conceivable situation,
    except in towns.

MUS MESSORIUS [_Harvest Mouse_].

    This sleek little thing, the smallest of British
    quadrupeds, is now well ascertained to be a native of
    Banffshire. I have myself taken it several times.

MUS RATTUS [_Black Rat_].

    This, the native British rat, though at one time
    very abundant, is so no longer. It has been expelled
    or driven back, as the Celts have been by the
    Scandinavians, by the Norway rat. The black rat is
    seldom seen now. Pure white varieties have been found.

MUS DECUMANUS [_Norwegian Rat or Rottin_].

    Very plentiful, and bids fair, erelong, to extirpate
    his weaker relative, the Black Rat. See p. 113.


    To be found on the banks of all our streams. It is
    sometimes turned up with the plough, at a considerable
    distance from the water. It is a curious circumstance
    that the water rats of England are mostly of a light
    brown colour, whilst those of Scotland are usually jet

ARVICOLA AGRESTIS [_Short-tailed Field Mouse_].

    Plentiful, and very destructive to young trees.


    Like the last in appearance and habits. It is
    recognisable by its much longer tail.

SOREX ARANEUS [_Common Shrew_].


SOREX FODIENS [_Water Shrew_].

    Found along burnsides, and occasionally in ditches.

SOREX REMIFER [_Black Water Shrew_].

    Not so frequently found as the last. The water shrew
    is very difficult to be taken. I never could manage
    to trap any of them. They baffled all my ingenuity.
    My only resource was the gun, and even with it I have
    often had enough to do. I have sat for from six to
    seven hours without moving, watching for an opportunity
    of shooting the water shrew, and been doomed to
    disappointment at last.

LEPUS TIMIDUS [_Common Hare or Maukins_].

    Very plentiful in the low grounds. See pp. 106, 274.

LEPUS VARIABILIS [_Blue or Alpine Hare_].

    This species is only to be met with in the hills
    and mountains, except when driven down by stress of
    weather. In very severe winters they occasionally
    descend in great numbers to the lower part of the
    county, at which time they are of a pure white.


    Very plentiful, in every conceivable spot, from the
    rocky shore, the sandbank, the quarry hole, the stony
    cairn, the old dyke, the garden, the orchard, and the
    open field, to the thickest woods. White, black, cream
    coloured, stripped, and pied varieties, occur. See pp.
    106, 275.

CERVUS ELAPHUS [_Stag, Red or Highland Deer_].

    This, perhaps the fleetest, as he is the noblest of
    our wild animals, still holds his place in the county,
    though not now so numerous as he used to be.


    The roe seems to be more widely distributed than the
    red deer; and whilst the latter usually inhabits the
    more sequestered heath, grassy dells, and wooded glens
    of the higher lands, the other is mostly found in the
    plantations and copses of the lower levels. See p. 106.

PHOCA VITULINA [_Seal or Selch_].

    Stray individuals of this aquatic tribe pay us a visit
    now and then. They are common in Cromarty Firth.

DELPHINUS PHOCÆNA [_Porpoise or Sea Hog_].

    This is another watery visitant, much more frequently
    seen than the seal.

DELPHINUS DELPHIS [_Striped Porpoise or Dolphin_].

    A specimen of this beautiful porpoise was taken here in

DELPHINUS TURSIO [_Bottle-nosed Porpoise_].

    This species is said to have been taken here, though
    there are some doubts as to the fact.


    Several of these have from time to time been met with.
    There are other species of whales which have been
    captured here. One, reported to have been a monster for
    size, is said to have been found amongst the rocks,
    so far back as about the beginning of last century,
    betwixt the Boyne and the point known as the King’s
    Head, but of what species is not accurately known. It
    is stated in the “Statistical Account of the Parish of
    Rathven,” which extends about ten miles along the coast
    west of Cullen, that the porpoise, the grampus, and the
    spermaceti whale, are frequently seen along the shore.


AQUILA CHRYSAETOS [_The Golden Eagle_].

    The eagle breeds in the highest parts of the county, in
    the rocky heights near Ben Avon (see p. 121). They have
    also been seen hovering about the sea-braes between
    Banff and Portsoy.

AQUILA ALBICILLA [_The Erne or Sea-Eagle_] has also been found.

    AQUILA HALIAETUS [_The Osprey, Fish Hawk, or Fishing
    Eagle_] has also been found. A very fine male specimen
    was shot amongst the high cliffs of Gamrie Head.
    Another was seen at Melrose, a few miles from where the
    other was obtained.

FALCO PEREGRINUS [_The Peregrine Falcon, Blue or Hunting Hawk_].

    The Peregrine is one of our native hawks, and breeds
    annually, though very sparingly, and usually in
    inaccessible places in some of our highest headlands.
    Peregrine falcons have been taken from their nests in
    Troup Head. As to the manner in which they devour their
    prey, see p. 223.

FALCO ÆSALON [_The Merlin_].

    A daring little fellow that breeds on several of
    our hills, more particularly on the Knock, the Bin
    (Huntly), Auchindoon, and Benvennis. When strolling
    along our sea-braes early one morning, I heard a
    tremendous noise of rooks and jackdaws ahead of me, and
    on coming to the spot I found them attacking a little
    merlin. One would have thought that such a host would
    have smothered the little creature in a twinkling.
    But such was not the case. The crows did not assail
    him all at once, nor yet singly; but three, four, and
    as many as seven, would be on him at a time, the main
    body keeping at a short distance, encouraging their
    companions, as it were, with their cawings. After a
    while, one of these storming parties would retire,
    and then another would sally forth to the charge. The
    merlin, however, being of lighter mettle and swifter
    of wing, managed, with wonderful dexterity, generally
    to avoid their attacks; now rising, now descending,
    and now turning in a zigzag direction, first to one
    side, then to the other; and succeeding, whilst doing
    so, in giving one or other of his adversaries a
    pretty severe peck, which had the effect of sending
    him screaming away. At last, however, a crow, which
    seemed more courageous than the rest, rushed at the
    merlin with such fury that I actually thought he
    would have swallowed him up at once, or sent him
    headlong into the sea. But no! the merlin withstood
    the shock, and contrived to deal his assailant a
    thrust as he approached and passed him. The merlin
    now rose considerably higher, and was followed only
    by this single opponent, who returned with redoubled
    fury to the combat. Up, up they soar, fighting as
    they go. They close, they scream, they grapple, and
    their feathers fly like dust. Down they come, locked
    in deadly embrace. I run to catch them both. But no!
    See! they part, mount again and again, scream, close,
    and, as before, fall, but not this time to the earth;
    they part and mount again. But ’tis now their last
    time; for the hawk, rising several yards above his bold
    and venturous antagonist, rushes down upon him with a
    yell, such as hawks alone, when irritated, know how to
    utter, and with such force that both fell right down
    into the sea, above which they were then fighting. I
    looked to see them rise again; but they did not. After
    a little splashing, all was over with the crow, but
    not with the hawk: he was still alive, although in a
    very precarious situation, from which he made several
    unsuccessful attempts to rise, but could not. It would
    seem that in dealing the death-blow to his tormentor
    he somehow or other got himself entangled, perhaps by
    his talons entering some of the bones of the crow,
    from whence he could not extract them. Both met with a
    watery grave, for on my leaving the place, they were
    both fast drifting seaward, a breeze blowing off the
    land at the time, with the crows hovering over them and
    still cawing.

FALCO NISUS [_The Sparrow-Hawk_].

    This is another daring individual. When standing on
    our Links not long since, and speaking to one of our
    keepers, something struck me on the breast and fell to
    the ground. Instantly, and like a flash of lightning,
    down rushed a sparrow-hawk, and picked up a thrush from
    betwixt us; it rose with its booty, and was out of
    sight before we could raise our guns to fire at it. The
    keeper grumbled a great deal at our seeming stupidity.


    This mouse-, insect-, and caterpillar-eating bird,
    or hawk if you will, is very common with us. When
    a boy I kept, amongst a host of others, several of
    this species. I remember that when a mouse, a young
    rabbit, a leveret, and a middle-sized rat, were
    presented at the same time, either of the former was
    sure to be pounced upon, whilst the latter usually
    lay unheeded. Since then, during my thirty years of
    taxidermal practice, I have often dissected this bird,
    and found in its stomach the remains principally of
    the smaller quadrupeds, insects (chiefly beetles), and
    caterpillars. Yet this poor bird is persecuted with as
    much severity as birds of the most destructive kind.


    One was shot at Tomintoul a short time ago, and two
    others—one at Hillton, the other at Macduff. It is
    rather a rare bird.

FALCO MILVUS [_The Kite_].

    This bird was once plentiful here, but it is now rarely
    seen. A splendid specimen was recently shot at Eden,
    about four miles from Banff.

FALCO BUTEO [_The Buzzard_]. Occasionally met with.

FALCO LAGOPUS [_The Rough-Legged Buzzard_].

    More frequent than the last. One in my collection was
    killed on the hill of Dunn, and another in the museum
    was shot at Forglen. The nests of this species have
    also been found in the neighbourhood, though rarely.

FALCO APIVORUS [_The Honey Buzzard_].

    A still rarer species. A splendid specimen was shot at
    Gamrie a few years ago. They are usually termed “Gleds”
    with us.

FALCO ÆRUGINOSUS [_The Marsh Harrier_].

    Specimens of these birds are occasionally shot in this

FALCO CYANEUS [_The Hen Harrier_].

    Occasionally met with. The male is known here by the
    names of gray, blue, and lead hawk; the female by the
    name of ring-tail.

FALCO CINERASCENS [_Ash-coloured Harrier_].

    I have only met with one of this species here. It was a
    first-rate specimen,—a male, and a very pretty bird.

STRIX OTUS [_The Long-eared Horned Owl_].

    Plentiful. I once found a nest of this bird with eggs
    about the middle of March. See p. 121.

STRIX BRACHYOTUS [_The Short-eared Owl, Woodcock, or Grass Owl_].

    A migrating species with us. Specimens are frequently
    met with by sportsmen when out shooting snipes,
    woodcocks, etc.

STRIX FLAMMEA [_The Barn Owl_].

    This bird, though common in England, is very rare
    with us. I know of only four being procured within
    twenty-four years. One is in my own collection.

STRIX ALUCO [_The Tawny or Brown Owl_].

    Almost equal in numbers to the long-eared owl, which is

STRIX NYCTEA [_The Snowy Owl_].

    One of the most magnificent of the owl tribe. What a
    splendid and showy bird! I think the term “glistening”
    or “spangled” might, with all truth and justice, be
    applied to this shining species. What a noble-looking
    bird! What beautiful eyes! the pupil dark, and the iris
    like two rings of the finest burnished gold, set, as it
    were, in a casket of polished silver. I am glad, nay
    proud, of being able to give this king of British owls
    a place in my list, and of being able, perhaps for the
    first time, to say that at least one pair have been
    known to breed within the district. A few miles west
    of Portsoy, and not far from Cullen, stands the bold
    and towering form of Loggie Head. In connection with
    this rocky promontory, and about midway up its rugged
    height, there is a narrow cave or chasm called “Dickie
    Hare.” In this cave a pair of these owls bred in 1845.
    Unluckily, however, for them, a party of fishermen
    belonging to Cullen, returning one morning from their
    vocation discovered their retreat, by observing one of
    the birds go in. This was too good to lose sight of,
    so up the dangerous and jagged precipice scrambled one
    of the crew, and managed to reach the aperture where
    the bird disappeared; but instead of only one, as he
    expected, he was not a little surprised to find that
    he had four to deal with, two old and two young ones
    well fledged; and the apartment was so narrow that only
    one person could enter at a time, so that help was out
    of the question; and his ambition grasped the whole.
    What was he to do, or what could he do? Turn?—then
    the birds would have flown. No! but, just as I would
    have done had I been in his place, he set upon them
    all; and, after a prolonged and pretty severe battle,
    in which he got himself a good deal lacerated and his
    clothes torn by the claws of the birds, he succeeded
    in capturing them all alive, except one of the young
    ones, which fell a sacrifice to the struggle. The state
    of excitement which the little town was in as the man
    landed with his prizes, and the news of his morning’s
    achievement spread, may in some measure be imagined,
    but can hardly be described.

STRIX PASSERINA [_The Little Owl_].

    I give this bird a place on the authority of a Mr.
    Wilson, who informs me he saw one in a wood near this

MUSCICAPA GRISOLA [_The Spotted Fly-Catcher_].

    It is somewhat strange, but not less strange than true,
    that this sylvan and garden-loving species should also
    be found nestling and inhabiting our wild and rocky
    ravines; yet such is the case. I have met with them


    I have a specimen of this bird, a male, in my
    possession, which was shot about thirteen miles from
    this place.

CINCLUS AQUATICUS [_The Dipper, or Water-Cockie_].

    Every means has been put in requisition to destroy
    this little bird. It was abundant thirty years ago;
    but it is now rarely to be seen. It was supposed to
    destroy the young salmon, hence it has been shot down
    wherever found. But I have never as yet found anything
    appertaining to fish in its stomach, and I have
    dissected about forty,—water insects and their larvæ
    being what I have most frequently observed.

TURDUS VISCIVORUS [_The Missel Thrush_].

    About twenty years ago such a bird was scarcely known
    among us, but now it bids fair to outnumber the common
    species; for as the one gains ground, the other seems
    to lose it.

TURDUS PILARIS [_The Fieldfare_].

    A winter visitor. We call them “Hielan’-pyats,” that is
    “Highland piets.” They arrive in October, and depart
    in April. Some seasons they occur in thousands, but in
    others only sparingly.

TURDUS MUSICUS [_The Song Thrush or Mavis_].

    Usually very common in this neighbourhood, but
    becoming superseded by the missel thrush. (For its
    singing propensities see p. 269.) There is one fact
    in connection with the rearing of these birds which I
    must not omit to mention,—namely, that if any of the
    young refuse to open their mouths to receive food when
    offered, the old one knocks them soundly on the head
    with his bill until they did so. I have observed this
    frequently, and was not a little amused at it.

TURDUS ILIACUS [_The Redwing_].

    A winter visitor, like the fieldfare, but not nearly so

TURDUS MERULA [_The Blackbird, Blackie_].

    Generally distributed, but not in great plenty in any
    place. White varieties have occasionally been met
    with, as well as pied. When the winter storms send the
    thrushes to the sea-shore to seek for food, this bird
    betakes himself to farm-steadings and stable-yards, so
    that he never suffers so much as the thrushes do.

TURDUS TORQUATUS [_The Ring Ouzel_].

    Rare. A few breed now and then among the higher
    districts of the county.

ACCENTOR MODULARIS [_The Hedge Sparrow_].

    Generally distributed, but nowhere in abundance.

SYLVIA RUBECULA [_Robin Redbreast_].

    This rather bold, red-breasted gentleman, or cock-robin
    as we call him here, is somewhat more numerous than the


    Frequents our gardens, and breeds there.

SYLVIA TITHYS [_The Black Redstart_].

    I am only aware of two of these birds having been seen
    in our county.

SYLVIA RUBICOLA [_The Stonechat_].

SYLVIA RUBETRA [_The Whinchat_].

    Neither of these birds are very numerous with us;
    but they may occasionally be seen in suitable
    localities,—the first is with us all the year, and the
    other, though migratory, is occasionally seen in winter.

SYLVIA ŒNANTHE[_The Wheatear_].

    A summer visitor. Wheatears generally appear on the
    sea-coast first, from whence they disperse inland. They
    are called with us the “Stone Chatterer.”

SYLVIA PHRAGMITIS [_The Sedge Warbler_].

    Comparatively rare. It is only of late years that this
    bird has visited us. How pleasant and enchanting it is
    to wander by the margin of the running stream either
    at latest even, or at earliest morn, or even during
    summer’s midnight hours, and hear the sedge warbler
    pouring forth his long harmonious song,—himself all the
    while hid in some neighbouring bush. See pp. 51, 125.


    Rarer even than the last. A most noble songster, though
    I prefer the thrush.

SYLVIA CINEREA [_The Whitethroat_].

    More numerous than either of the two last. It arrives
    about the same time.


    Very rare. It is only seen at intervals, though it is
    supposed to breed here.

SYLVIA TROCHILUS [_The Willow Wren_].

    Common throughout the whole county. It is found
    in plantations, whins, brooms, and in gardens and
    orchards. It generally nests on the ground. It is a
    very lively songster.

SYLVIA RUFA [_The Chiffchaff_].

    The only bird of this kind that I have seen, is one
    that I took myself in the Duff House policies.

REGULUS CRISTATUS [_The Golden-crested Regulus or Wren_].

    Wherever there are suitable woods, this bird is to be
    found among us in pretty fair numbers.

PARUS MAJOR [_The Great Titmouse_],

PARUS CÆRULEUS [_The Blue Titmouse_],

PARUS ATER [_The Cole Titmouse_], and

PARUS CAUDATUS [_The Long-tailed Titmouse_].

    These birds all exist in the county in about equal
    numbers. It is rather an interesting and pleasant
    sight, and one which I have often witnessed, to see
    small bands of these lively, active little birds,
    together with the goldcrests and creepers, all in
    company, foraging about amongst the leafy trees in
    winter; the tits on the branches, the creepers on the
    trunk, and, if there is no snow on the ground, the
    goldcrests generally lower down, near about the roots.
    All is life, bustle, and animation, each cheering the
    other with its tiny note. See p. 69.

PARUS PALUSTRIS [_The Marsh Titmouse_].

    This bird is very seldom seen among us.

PARUS CRISTATUS [_The Crested Titmouse_].

    This rare British Tit is an inhabitant of the higher
    and middle districts of the county, where it breeds


    This bird is an occasional winter visitor. Some
    seasons large flocks appear, then only a few; then,
    again, perhaps none; and this may be the case for many
    succeeding seasons.


    Wherever there is a stream or a quarry, you will meet,
    in summer, with a pair or two of these active little
    insect-eaters. During winter, they are invariably to be
    seen on lawns, or about mills and farm-steadings. They
    remain with us all the year round.

MOTACILLA BOARULA [_The Gray Wagtail_].

    This is our yellow wagtail, being known by no other
    name. Though generally distributed throughout the
    country, it is not nearly so abundant. It sometimes
    breeds in company with the sand martin.


    Only an occasional visitor with us. They breed
    plentifully amongst the hillocks which stretch along
    the line of coast between the Don (Aberdeenshire) and
    Newburgh,—then again from Peterhead to Fraserburgh.

ANTHUS ARBOREUS [_The Tree Pipit_].

    This bird is frequently seen; it breeds near
    Inverkeithnay, Rothiemay, and Inveraven.

ANTHUS PRATENSIS [_The Meadow Pipit_].

    Plentiful throughout the whole county.

ANTHUS OBSCURUS [_The Rock Pipit_].

    Known all along our coast.

ANTHUS RICARDI [_Richard’s Pipit_].

    I have only seen this bird once, at the foot of the
    Knock Hill.

ALAUDA ARVENSIS [_The Skylark or Laverock_].

    Universally distributed along the whole length and
    breadth of the county. It is, I think, the most
    numerous bird we have. Towards the months of October
    and November a great diminution of its numbers takes
    place. But a little after New Year’s Day they again
    begin to make their appearance. Where they have been
    in the meantime, I have never been able to ascertain;
    one thing is certain, however, that I have seen them
    returning from the east and from the north, in immense
    numbers. (See pp. 127, 269.)

ALAUDA ARBOREA [_The Wood Lark_].

    I have seen but one of these birds, in the avenue of
    Duff House. It was alone and in song at the time—May
    27, 1850.

EMBERIZA NIVALIS [_The Snow Bunting_].

    Seen in large flocks during winter, and exhibiting a
    motley mixture of pure white, jet black, dull tawny,
    and deep chestnut,—a beautiful band across the wings
    being conspicuous only in flight. They arrive about the
    beginning of November, and depart about the first of
    April. They sing beautifully, in a sweet low lilt.

EMBERIZA MILIARIA [_The Corn Bunting_].

    This bird is not very numerous with us.

EMBERIZA SCHŒNICLUS [_The Black-headed Bunting or Ring Fowl_].

    It frequents the mosses. I have found their nests in
    bushes, amongst reeds, or on the ground. It is called
    the “Moss Sparrow” by the country people. I once saw a
    black variety of this bird, and another almost yellow.

EMBERIZA CITRINELLA [_The Yellowhammer_].

    More numerous than either of the two last. The common
    name here is “Skite.” It is not particular as to the
    place where it builds its nest. I have seen one built
    in a rut on a cart-track, close by the wayside. On
    passing afterwards, I found the nest had been destroyed
    by a cart-wheel passing over it.

EMBERIZA CIRLUS [_The Cirl Bunting_].

    Very rarely found in this quarter.

FRINGILLA CŒLEBS [_The Chaffinch_]. Abundant.


    A winter visitor. A few may be met with every season.

FRINGILLA MONTANA [_The Tree Sparrow_].

    To be found in several localities throughout the county.

FRINGILLA DOMESTICA [_The House Sparrow_]. Numerous.

FRINGILLA CHLORIS [_The Green Finch_].

    Pretty generally distributed throughout the country,
    and especially in woody places. The bird is easily


    A rare bird with us.

FRINGILLA CIRIS [_The Painted Finch_].

    A migratory species. Only one specimen has been seen.


    These birds have in a great measure been captured by
    the bird-catchers. (See p. 270.)


    Fewer than before. They have been thinned by the
    bird-catchers. A tamable bird.


    There is no house bird that possesses so many names as
    this one. It is the rose lintie so long as it retains
    its red breast; but when that is gone or wanting, it
    is then the gray lintie, the whin lintie, the brown
    lintie, and so on. Cultivation is driving the linties
    away, by tearing down every whin, knoll, and brae,
    where it is possible for the plough and spade to work
    their way.

FRINGILLA LINARIA [_The Lesser Redpole_].

    This is found most plentifully in the higher districts
    of the county; but in severe winters, large flocks of
    them descend to the lower grounds.

FRINGILLA BOREALIS [_The Mealy Redpole_]. A rare species.


    Another mountain as well as sea-shore rocky species. It
    is the most elegant of all our linnets.

LOXIA PYRRHULA [_The Bullfinch_].

    This is another prize for the trapper. But great
    numbers are annually destroyed by gardeners and
    nurserymen, who believe that they are destructive. Yet
    their principal food consists of insects; and insects
    are also the chief food for their young. I hope a
    better day will arrive for these lovely little birds,
    when they will be cherished and encouraged rather than
    hated and destroyed. The bullfinch is easily taught to
    whistle, or to “pipe” familiar tunes.

LOXIA CURVIVOSTRA [_The Crossbill_].

    This bird is on the increase. They nest with us, and
    have done so for some years. There is a great diversity
    of colour and size amongst them.

LOXIA PYTIOPSITTACUS [_Parrot Crossbill_].

    While walking one morning round the Whinhill, and just
    as I reached the south side, I was rather surprised at
    hearing the voice of what I knew to be a stranger. On
    looking to a low, bare wall, about three or four yards
    in front of me, I beheld, in all his pride and beauty,
    a male parrot crossbill. This is the only instance, to
    my knowledge, of its existence amongst us.

LOXIA LEUCOPTERA [_White-Winged Crossbill_].

    About fifty years ago, a large flock of these birds
    suddenly made their appearance on the “Castle trees,”
    in this neighbourhood. Their strange appearance and
    gaudy plumage soon attracted notice,—nearly the whole
    town flocking to see the “foreigners.” They appeared
    quite exhausted, many of them dropping from the trees.

STURNUS VULGARIS [_The Starling_].

    The starling has been rapidly increasing of late years.
    At one time single starlings were rarely to be seen,
    whereas flocks of this bird now appear towards the
    close of every season.

STURNUS PREDATORIUS [_The Red-Winged Starling_].

    A pretty bird which occasionally visits this county.

PASTOR ROSEUS [_Rose-Coloured Pastor_].

    This is another rare beauty, occasionally seen in this

CORVUS CORAX [_The Raven_].

    A few of these birds inhabit the precipitous parts of
    the coast, where they breed in company with the falcon,
    kestrel, gull, guillemot, etc. The raven will tame
    pretty well; it will talk hoarsely, and do mischievous

CORVUS CORONE [_Carrion Crow_], and

CORVUS CORNIX [_Hooded Crow_].

    Both occur in about equal numbers. (See p. 271.)


    Many large rookeries exist in the county. (See p. 126.)

CORVUS MONEDULA [_The Jackdaw_].

    Very plentiful. (See p. 25.)

CORVUS PICA [_Magpie_].

    One of the most bashful of birds. It is very sparingly
    distributed, and in some places is scarcely known. Our
    keepers both shoot and trap them wherever found.

PICUS MAJOR [_Greater Spotted Woodpecker_].

    Several pairs of this showy bird have been procured
    within our district. It is also found in the higher
    parts of the county. A specimen was shot near Banff,
    and when dissected, its stomach was found crammed with
    two species of grub, of a creamy or grayish colour. It
    contained also several beetles and a small spider.

PICUS MINOR [_Lesser Spotted Woodpecker_].

    More rare than the last. One sent to me, fourteen years
    since, from Mayen, where it was shot, and another seen
    on the Lodge hills, are all that I am aware of. Very
    probably others have occurred.


    The late Professor Macgillivray, of Marischal College,
    Aberdeen, informed me that one was taken at or near
    Portsoy, by a pupil of his. One, now in the Banff
    Museum, was taken six years ago, about fourteen miles
    from the town.


    Wherever there are suitable woods, these birds are
    sure to be found. We sometimes read and hear as
    extraordinary occurrences, that nests have been found
    in the hearts of trees that have been sawn up. Now,
    to those acquainted with the facts, these occurrences
    are easily accounted for. I know a tree myself which
    contains _two_ nests, both with eggs. About seventeen
    years ago there was in the side of this tree a small
    aperture, about six feet from the ground, which led
    downwards to a cavity in the centre of the trunk. The
    opening was so narrow outwardly that it only admitted
    two of my fingers, but widened as it proceeded to the
    bottom, a distance of about eighteen inches. In this
    hole, at the time referred to, a pair of creepers built
    their nest and laid eggs, after which they disappeared.
    Next season a pair of blue titmice acted in a similar
    manner; and they also disappeared, doubtless in
    consequence of being tormented by boys, and of the
    narrowness of the entrance. The growth of the tree
    caused the hole to get less and less every year, and it
    has been for several years so completely closed that
    the point of the finest needle cannot be inserted.
    The tree, a sturdy beech, has the two nests and eggs
    in its very core. It is thus evident how easily these
    “extraordinary occurrences” may be accounted for.


    The dear little wren, the lion of small birds, with his
    short, jerking little tail, I have known and admired
    from childhood. Who that has trod the woods in spring
    or summer has not heard a very loud, though by no
    means inharmonious song, proceeding from some bush or
    bank, and not admired it?—and who is there, if he did
    not know the bird, that would not be surprised beyond
    measure at so small a creature being able to make such
    a loud noise? Of all the deserted nests I have ever
    met with, those of the wren would, I am sure, count
    twenty per cent over any other species. I am unable
    to account for this, but perhaps it arises from their
    building several before they get one to please them.
    I once found one of their nests in an old tin kettle,
    which had become fixed amongst the branches of a holly.
    The wren, like other birds, does not sing so well in
    confinement. When in their native haunts, there is a
    pathos in their voice and a music in their melody,
    which makes the heart thrill with pleasure.

UPUPA EPOPS [_Hoopoe_].

    Three or four of these pretty birds have occurred here:
    one was taken at Duff House, in 1832, by a Mr. Mackay,
    in such a state of exhaustion as to allow itself to
    be captured by hand; another was seen by myself, a
    few years back, in the same place; and two others are
    said to have been since obtained in other parts of the


    This is another sweet and darling gem. Well do I
    remember, when only a little fellow, rummaging about
    the Den of Rubislaw, near Aberdeen, how surprised I was
    on hearing the sound of “Cuckoo, cuckoo,” from a small
    plantation close by, and how overjoyed I was when I
    obtained a sight of the bird; and now that I am old,
    the sweet voice of the harbinger of sunny days still
    cheers me. They are not very numerous with us along
    the sea-coast, but are very frequent in the higher
    districts. They generally appear about the end of
    April. It is said that they can retain their eggs for
    a number of days after they are ready for extrusion. I
    will relate, without comment, a circumstance of this
    sort which came under my own observation:—A female
    specimen, shot in a garden here, was brought to me
    to be preserved. On dissecting it, I was agreeably
    surprised at finding in the oviduct an egg as perfect
    as if it had been obtained from a nest.


    I am only aware of one specimen of this pretty and rare
    bird being obtained in our county; it was a splendid
    specimen killed on the hills of Boyndie.


    I give this species a place here from having heard that
    a greenish bird, somewhat less than a thrush, with a
    longish bent bill, and with two feathers of the tail
    longer than the rest, was killed in a garden between
    Huntly and Dufftown, about seven years ago. It has
    since been found at the hills of Boyndie, about two
    miles from Banff.

ALCEDO ISPIDA [_Kingfisher_].

    Several of these sparkling gems have been taken here at
    different times. (See p. 52.)

HIRUNDO RUSTICA [_Swallow_], and


    These birds are in about equal numbers. The latter
    generally nestles in the corners of windows, the former
    in barns, etc.; they also breed along the sea-shore
    wherever there is a cave or projecting rock suitable.
    White and cream-coloured varieties are sometimes met

HIRUNDO URBICA [_Sand Martin_].

    Wherever there is a bank of any height and not too
    hard, whether along the sea-shore or river-side, or a
    quarry or sand-hole, a colony of these active little
    creatures are almost sure to be met with during summer.
    It is surprising to see how they perforate these
    places, and the depth to which they will sometimes
    go, especially when we consider the remarkably feeble
    instruments with which they do it—namely, a very small
    and slender bill, and feet equally small and tender.


    Of all our migratory species this is generally the
    last to arrive, and the first to depart. Next to the
    skylark, the swift appears to ascend highest in his
    aerial flights; and a very beautiful sight it is to
    see it, on a clear, still evening, gambolling about
    so far above the earth, and, it may be, screaming its
    farewell requiem to the departing sun. The swift is the
    first to depart, towards the end of August or beginning
    of September, and it returns about the middle of May;
    the sand martin next, or about the second or third
    week in September, and it usually returns about the
    third week in April; and the swallow and house martin
    commonly about the first week or middle of October,
    and it reappears about the 1st of May. Before I part
    with this interesting tribe I must become a little
    arithmetical. We are frequently told, and justly, of
    the great benefit swallows and other insect-feeders do,
    by the countless herds of noxious creatures which they
    destroy. I will relate an instance of my own experience
    in this respect. Picking up a swallow which had been
    shot by a friend, I found that its mouth was crammed
    with gnats and flies. Some of them were alive. They all
    seemed attached to the mouth by a glutinous fluid. The
    bird had apparently been catering for its young. Being
    desirous of making a further examination, I wrapped
    it in paper and put it in my pocket. On reaching home
    I opened the paper, when a number of the gnats buzzed
    out into my face, much to my regret; but I succeeded in
    counting upwards of 70, and I am quite sure there were
    more than 100 in all. Now it is a well-known fact that
    both birds assist in rearing their young. Well, say
    that they visit the nest every ten minutes (which is
    under the mark), and that every time of doing so, each
    bird conveys 70 insects; this in an hour amounts to
    840; in a day of twelve hours, which is but a short day
    for a swallow at that season of the year, to 10,080; in
    a week of seven days, to 70,560; and in a fortnight,
    to 141,120. But if we carry the calculation a little
    further, by supposing that the birds rear two broods in
    a season, although the number is often three, we have,
    at the ratio at which we have been counting, a total
    of 282,240 insects destroyed in one year by _two birds
    alone_, while rearing their two broods!


    Of late years this species would appear to have become
    more numerous, but it is still very far from plentiful.


    Or, as we have it, _Cushie Doo_. This bids fair to
    become one of the greatest pests of the farmers. The
    wild pigeons have increased amazingly within the last
    few years, and the damage they do is incalculable. This
    increase is caused by the almost total destruction of
    the hawk tribe, which tended greatly to thin their

COLUMBA LIVIA [_Rock Dove_].

    A few pairs breed in the caverns along our coast. It
    is a rare case, however, to get a pure specimen; as
    domestic pigeons from the farms near, sometimes breed
    with them. I have seen white specimens, as well as
    those of a sand colour.

COLUMBA TURTUR [_Turtle Dove_].

    Three or four specimens of this species are said to
    have been seen, and some of them obtained, within the
    county; but whether wild ones, or individuals that had
    escaped, has not been ascertained.


    Introduced, but seems to thrive very well; it is a
    beautiful ornament to parks and woods. Partially pied
    varieties sometimes occur, and another called the
    “silver pheasant.”

TETRAO TETRIX [_Black Grouse_].

    Exists chiefly in the higher districts.


    Exists on all our moors and hills, but not in great

TETRAO LAGOPUS [_Ptarmigan_].

    Less frequent than either of the two last. Ptarmigans
    inhabit the summits of our highest mountains; they
    are seldomer seen than those which frequent the lower
    ground. Like all others of the grouse tribe, they are
    yearly decreasing in number.

PERDIX CINEREA [_Partridge_].

    Pretty common. A very cunning and faithful mother is
    the female; for when she has eggs she never goes out,
    if time permits, without hiding them so carefully that
    it is almost impossible to detect their whereabouts;
    and if you take her by surprise, away she hobbles
    on one leg, and a wing trailing on the ground as if
    wounded. (See p. 254.)

PERDIX RUFA [_The Red-legged Partridge_].

    Commonly called the French Partridge; it has been
    recently found in Banff.


    That this species is a regular visitor I am not
    prepared to say; but that it is an occasional visitor
    and breeds here is beyond all doubt. Nests and eggs of
    this species are sometimes met with in cutting grass;
    they are generally passed over as those of the landrail.


    Where moorfowl occur, the golden plover is generally
    to be met with. When the hills, heaths, and fields
    are covered with snow, the plover comes down from his
    alpine abode, and stays at the sea-side, where great
    numbers fall an easy prey to the gun of the sea-side


    Occasionally met with. On once asking an old keeper
    from the higher grounds as to where this species
    breeds, he replied, “On the gray slopes of the highest
    mountains, far above all the other birds, except the
    ptarmigan.” I am doubtful whether it breeds with us at


    These breed with us, and remain all the year round.
    I have found their eggs on the sand by the beach,
    and forty miles inland. They likewise nestle on the
    shingly banks and islands along our river-courses. They
    are known here by the names of “sea lark” and “sanny


    Rather rare, and I believe only a winter visitor.


    Found on heaths and moors, and in fields, where they
    breed. Many of them leave us towards winter. This
    is another species which endeavours to mislead you
    when searching for its eggs. Of all our field and
    heath birds, the lapwing is one of the most useful
    in destroying destructive insects, such as _Zabrus
    gibbus_, etc.


    An occasional visitor, generally in winter. (See p.


    A regular visitor, generally arriving in August, a few
    of them remaining through the winter. I have met with
    them, too, in summer, when their predominant colour,
    instead of being whitish, is a most beautiful reddish
    fawn. On their first arrival here they are very tame,
    allowing you to approach within a yard or two. (See p.


    Why this bird is called oystercatcher, I cannot
    understand. Had it been named “limpetcatcher” I could
    have understood it. I have crawled amongst the rocks
    in order to see them feed; when I have seen the limpet
    driven from its hold, and scooped out of its shell
    with as much apparent ease as I could have picked up a
    _Gammaris locusta_; but I have never seen it attempt
    to catch an oyster. On this part of the coast its food
    generally consists of the limpet, and very rarely of
    _Acmæa testitudinalis_. I have counted as many as
    forty-one of the former in the stomach of a single
    bird, whilst of the latter I have not met with more
    than three or four examples. The oystercatcher is a
    summer visitor with us, arriving here to breed. Now and
    then it may be seen during winter. Large flocks visit
    us some seasons, generally in September, and after
    remaining for a day proceed farther south. “Sea piet”
    is the name the bird is known by here.


    We have some small spots where these birds breed,
    but which hardly deserve the name of heronries. At
    one time, however, they were in greater numbers.
    I remember taking from the stomach of one a large
    water-rat, three middle-sized trout, and fifteen
    minnows. Some time ago, a person belonging to this
    town, whilst passing through one of the streets, was
    startled at being hit on the head by something which
    had fallen from above, and which proved to be a small
    fish, the five-bearded rockling, apparently quite
    fresh. On looking up he saw nothing but a “craigie”
    passing over the houses, pursued by a number of crows.
    Of course the fish had dropped from the heron; but the
    man could not be persuaded that it had not dropped from
    the clouds.

ARDEA PURPUREA [_Purple Heron_].

    One of these birds is said to have been shot about
    thirteen miles from hence. My late friend, the Rev. Mr.
    Smith, saw fragments of the bird some time afterwards,
    and believed it to be of this species.

ARDEA EGRETTA [_Great White Heron_].

    Two of these birds were observed to frequent various
    parts of our coast about twenty-six years ago; but a
    specimen has not since been procured.


    Three or four of these birds are known to have paid us
    a visit. One in the Banff Museum, a very pretty one,
    was killed near Banff about twenty-four years since;
    another in the Moss of Park, and one or two at Balveny.


    One of these rarities was found in a ditch in a wood
    near here, by a young naturalist; he says it could
    easily have been shot, for he approached quite close to
    it, and it did not appear at all shy. It has since been
    found in this neighbourhood.


    On one occasion I perceived three of these birds
    hovering about the coast for a whole day, but I could
    not get a shot at them; it was in winter and during a
    very severe storm.


    Plentiful in certain localities along the shore in
    winter; they retire in spring to the alpine and
    sub-alpine districts Their note in winter is simply
    “Whaup,” with sometimes a loud scream when come
    upon suddenly. In summer, however, and whilst among
    the moors and hills, it is more varied, being then
    “Poo-l-ie, poo-l-ie,” then “Coor-lie, coor-lie,” with a
    long “Wha-a-up” at the end. They are not then so shy as
    when seen by the sea-shore.


    Seldom a summer passes but a whimbrel or two may be
    met with along the shore, and sometimes in some of our
    mosses. I think they breed with us. They are generally
    very shy, and not easily approached. Their call-note
    at once distinguishes them from the curlew.


    We have this red and long-legged gentleman rather
    sparingly with us, but we have him all the year. There
    are certain spots coastwise not much frequented, where,
    for seven or eight months in the year, you will seldom
    if ever fail to meet with a few; and when disturbed
    their wild scream accords well with the solitary
    places which they frequent, especially where there is
    a low hollow murmuring from the ocean. This is another
    species, which, lapwing-like, will flap about you when
    in the way of their nest, and for noise they exceed
    them completely. They generally breed in marshy and
    boggy places and about the grassy margins of lochs,
    but I have also found them amongst bents and dry sandy
    places by the sea-shore.

TOTANUS HYPOLEUCOS [_Common Sandpiper_].

    The common sandpiper (or, as we have it,
    “Kittie-needie,” from its cry) is one of our summer
    birds; there is scarcely one of our streams but has its
    “kittie-needies” in the season. They breed on the banks.

TOTANUS GLOTTIS [_Greenshank_].

    This is a rarity with us. I have one in my possession,
    out of two which were shot in the moss of Banff.

RECURVIROSTRA AVOCETTA [_Avocet_]. More rare than the preceding.

LIMOSA MELANURA [_Blacktailed Godwit_].

    Only two specimens have been taken here.

LIMOSA RUFA [_Bartailed Godwit_].

    A few of these may generally be observed every autumn,
    either by the sea-side or in our mosses. They do not
    stop long with us; a few days at most sufficing.
    Perhaps we have not suitable localities for them.


    Rare. Three, I think, have been obtained, all birds of
    the year, and all in autumn.


    Though a pair or two have been known to breed, the
    woodcock can hardly rank with us but as a winter
    visitor. In some seasons they are more numerous than
    in others. Does the snow affect the colouring of this
    species? My reason for asking this question is because,
    in very severe and snowy weather, I have seen many
    of them of a remarkably light colour; but in milder
    seasons, and when there were little or no storms or
    frost, I have never seen any of them with the same
    gray-like coating.


    Though many of these breed and remain with us all the
    year, still we receive great additions annually from
    elsewhere, and generally towards the end of autumn; but
    neither during summer nor winter are they so plentiful
    as they were. Drainage is said to be the cause of their
    comparative scarcity.

SCOLOPAX GRISEA [_The Brown Snipe_].

    Some specimens of this bird have been met with near
    Banff, but it is rarely seen.


    A winter visitor only, so far as I am aware,—and by
    no means so numerous as the preceding. The jack snipe
    would appear to be a solitary animal; at least I have
    never seen more than two of them together (of course in
    winter), but more commonly only one; in fact, they are
    nearly always seen single. Unlike the others, however,
    I have seen them return to the same spot three times,
    after being as often fired at.

TRINGA SUBARQUATA [_Curlew Sandpiper_].

    I have only met with one specimen of which I can speak
    with certainty.


    A few generally visit us every autumn on their
    southward passage. They are remarkably easy of approach.

TRINGA MINUTA [_Little Stint_].

    A very fine little fellow. I once had a desperate hunt
    after one. (See p. 140.)

TRINGA TEMMINCKII [_Temminck’s Stint_].

    Mr. Taylor, gamekeeper to the Earl of Fife, once shot a
    specimen on the Deveron bank.


    This bird breeds in a few of our marshy places, and
    may now and then be met with along the coast. Towards
    autumn large flocks appear, but they do not remain
    long. Specimens may be picked up occasionally, during
    winter, almost pure white, except the bill, legs, and
    feet, which retain their usual colour. This species
    appears to differ considerably in size, the legs and
    bills included,—the larger birds often having the
    shortest bills.

TRINGA MARITIMA [_Purple Sandpiper_].

    A rock-loving species whilst with us, never leaving the
    rocks unless from necessity. They are gregarious, and
    huddle so closely together that I have known as many
    as twenty-three killed at one shot. I have killed them
    occasionally during summer, their colour being then
    of a rufous or rusty character, or more like that of
    the dunlin, the purple gloss and dark gray plumage of
    winter having all but disappeared.

GALLINULA CREX [_Landrail_].

    “Corn craig” or “crake.” Very sparingly distributed
    here. It arrives generally at the beginning of May,
    and departs usually in September, but I have seen
    it as late as December. These birds often feign
    themselves dead, when hard pressed, rather than fly,—a
    fact that may seem incredible to those who have paid
    no attention to such things. Is it possible that
    these birds remove their eggs on its coming to their
    knowledge that their nests have been discovered? I
    knew of a nest which contained seven eggs. I took one,
    and, wishing to get all that the hen would lay, left
    the remainder untouched; I also carefully obliterated
    all my foot-marks, to prevent others from suspecting
    anything if the nest was found. I went back three days
    afterwards, when, although there were no signs of human
    footprints, all the eggs were gone.


    Only one of this British rarity has been procured
    here, so far as I know. It occurred at a place called
    Thornton, on the banks of the Isla.


    The “waterhen.” In consequence of our having but few
    lochs, and those very small, we have not many of this
    species. As skulkers, they almost rival the landrail.


    Far more scarce than the last; in fact it is almost a
    rarity. Perhaps their skulking habits prevent their
    being oftener seen.


    An occasional visitor. On the loch of Strathbeg
    (Aberdeenshire), where they are pretty numerous,
    they breed, and remain all the year round. In very
    wet summers the water of this loch rises at times
    considerably above the usual level; on such occasions
    I have seen the coot sailing nobly along with her nest
    beneath her.


    Three specimens were procured on the sands of Sandend.

PHALAROPUS HYPERBOREUS [_Rednecked Phalarope_].

    One specimen, a male, was shot on the beach here, in
    the spring of 1855.


    Of the genus Anser we are remarkably scanty. Several
    kinds of geese have from time to time been procured,
    and not an autumn or spring passes without many large
    flocks being seen passing and repassing, but to what
    species they belong it is difficult to say. That the
    _Graylag_ (ANSER FERUS), the _Brent_ (A. BERNICLA), the
    _Egyptian_ (A. ÆGYPTIACUS), and the _Spur-winged_ (A.
    GAMBENSIS), have been met with, is beyond doubt; but
    that these are all that have visited us, it is hard to
    say. The _Brent_ is very numerous in certain seasons
    along the coast.


    The genus Cygnus is still more scantily represented.
    Some of them visit us in passing to and from their
    breeding grounds.

ANAS TADORNA [_Common Shieldrake_].

    This pretty bird is only a winter visitor with us, and
    then not in large numbers.

ANAS CLYPEATA [_Shoveller_].

    This pretty bird is quite a rarity here. In the latter
    part of the winter of 1837-8, which was of great
    severity, a mutilated specimen of the shoveller was
    found dead amongst the rocks at Blackpots.

ANAS STREPERA [_Gadwall_].

    Another great rarity, so far as I am aware; one, a
    female, procured in the Deveron by Dr. Leslie, about
    the time the shoveller above alluded to was picked up,
    is the only one I know of.

ANAS ACUTA [_Pintail Duck_].

    I remember being roused rather early one morning, many
    years ago, by a loud knocking at the street door, and
    a person calling at the top of his voice, “Rise, man,
    Tam! I’ve brought a rare bird t’ ye—a Duke.” Being
    awake, I immediately jumped up. On seeing the bird, I
    was delighted to observe a beautiful male pintail. It
    had been shot that night on the Deveron.

ANAS BOSCHAS [_Wild Duck_].

    Plentiful, especially in winter. Among the sandy bents
    almost close to the ocean’s verge, and on the tops
    of our heath-clad hills and moors, I have found this
    species breeding; as well as on a tree about thirteen
    feet from the ground, and on a rock in the craigs of
    Alvah. This latter nest was placed on a ledge fully
    thirty feet above the water, and had eight or nine
    feet of perpendicular rock above it. There is a hill
    near here, which I believe they used frequently to
    nestle on, but which they have now quite deserted—viz.
    Fern or Whin Hill, better known as Gallow Hill. It
    was on this hill,—or rather piece of ground, for it
    hardly deserves the name of hill,—that the celebrated
    free-booter M’Pherson finished his earthly career. It
    is a rough and stony place where he lies, covered with
    heath and whin. The pheasant and wild duck used not
    unfrequently to breed on his very grave. On a small
    island on the Deveron stood a tall old poplar. About
    five feet from the ground it divided into two arms,
    one stretching upwards, whilst the other bent over the
    river, and it is with this one that I am now concerned.
    In 1839 the Deveron, like the other rivers in Scotland,
    rose far above its usual height, so far indeed that it
    reached the arm of the tree alluded to, on which it
    deposited a good deal of rubbish. A female wild duck
    built her nest, a few years afterwards, amongst the
    _debris_ thus left, and succeeded in rearing a brood
    of thirteen young ones. Neither nest nor bird, though
    known of by some salmon-fishers who had a station close
    by, was disturbed. One morning the female was observed
    by these men to leave her nest and fly up and down the
    water in an unusual manner. Presently she was joined
    by the male, and both disappeared beneath a bank a
    little above where the nest was. The fishermen, who
    had watched them, observed the female reappear alone,
    and, after flying up and down once or twice, again
    settled down on the water, just below the tree which
    contained the nest. After sailing about for a few
    minutes, she was heard to give a “quack,” when down
    went something into the water, and presently a young
    one was seen by her side. Away she swam with it to
    the bank referred to, consigning it to the charge of
    the male; after which she returned, and, having again
    sailed about for a short time, gave another “quack,”
    when down came another youngster, which she also led
    away to the bank. In this way she continued until all
    were safely removed. The female never gave more than
    one “quack,” and she never carried more than one young
    one at a time; nor did she return after taking away the


    Two specimens of this species were shot in December
    1840; and one is said to have been obtained at Cullen,
    in the spring of 1841.

ANAS CRECCA [_Teal_]. Occasionally met with in winter.


    One of our rarest duck visitors. A splendid male
    specimen was killed at Boyndie in September 1853.

ANAS AMERICANA [_American Wigeon_].

    A mutilated male specimen of this rare duck, shot on
    the Burn of Boyndie, in January 1841, was for many
    years in my possession.

ANAS MARILA [_Scaup Duck_]. Pretty frequent during winter.

ANAS FULIGULA [_Tufted Duck_]. Very rare.

ANAS CLANGULA [_Goldeneye_].

    A regular winter visitor, generally coast-wise, but
    they are also met with on mill-dams some miles inland.

ANAS GLACIALIS [_Long-tailed Duck_].

    Abundant, but always keeping near the coast. I have
    shot them when in their full breeding dress, which
    gives them quite a different appearance. In spring
    they are very clamorous, pursuing each other through
    the water, and diving and skipping about like Merry
    Andrews. The noise they make on such occasions is so
    loud that I have heard it, on a still morning, nearly
    three miles off. They are generally among the first
    birds to arrive and the last to leave.

MERGUS CUCULLATUS [_Hooded Merganser_].

    I was told by an old gunner and bird-stuffer that he
    had shot a specimen of this species, but I cannot vouch
    for his accuracy.

MERGUS SERRATOR [_Redbreasted Merganser_].

    Not very plentiful. All along the coast, in suitable
    localities, they are met with, singly, and two or three
    together, rarely more.


    A winter visitor. The male is a very showy gentleman.
    As many as seven or eight specimens were procured at
    one shot, on the Deveron. I have seen as many as live
    or six together.

PODICEPS CRISTATUS [_Great Crested Grebe_]. An occasional visitor.


    Of more frequent occurrence, but generally in immature

PODICEPS AURITUS [_Eared Grebe_]. Less frequent than the last.

PODICEPS MINOR [_Little Grebe_].

    A winter seldom passes without an opportunity occurring
    to obtain this species. It is one of the most expert
    divers we have.

COLYMBUS GLACIALIS [_Great Northern Diver_].

    Some seasons pretty plentiful. Splendid specimens are
    at times procured, but they are generally immature.

COLYMBUS ARCTICUS [_Blackthroated Diver_], and


    Winter visitors, in about equal numbers. A few of
    them gradually fall victims every spring to getting
    entangled in the bag-nets set for salmon. They not
    unfrequently visit our larger streams, where they make
    great havoc among the smaller of the finny tribe.

URIA BRUNNICHII [_Brunnich’s Guillemot_] has been once met with.

URIA TROILE [_Common Guillemot_],

URIA LACHRYMANS [_Ringed Guillemot_],

URIA GRYLLE [_Black Guillemot_],


ALCA TORDA [_Razorbill_].

    All these species breed with us, but the black
    guillemot only rarely. I have procured several ringed
    guillemots both in winter and summer; I have also been
    shown places in the cliffs where the fishermen say they

ALCA ALLE [_Little Auk_].

    A winter visitor. In December 1846 a terrific sea-storm
    raged here for the greater part of the month; at its
    termination I counted between the Burn of Boyne and
    Greenside of Gamrie, a distance of about nine miles,
    nearly sixty of these little birds lying dead, besides
    a number of guillemots and razorbills. Great numbers
    were also found dead in the fields throughout the


    Frequent, except for a short time during summer. A pair
    or two may breed with us, but that is all. Like the
    divers, they destroy great numbers of fish.


    Only, I believe, an occasional visitor.

SULA BASSANA [_Gannet_].

    A spring and autumn visitor, and occasionally during
    summer and winter. When overtaken, as they sometimes
    are, by strong north winds, I have known them driven
    to great distances inland, where they are frequently
    seen lying dead. Immature specimens are now and then
    procured during their autumnal passage. From their
    different plumage they are looked upon as distinct from
    the “solan goose,” as the gannet is here called.

STERNA CANTIACA [_Sandwich Tern_].

    An occasional visitor, generally in summer.

STERNA DOUGALLII [_Roseate Tern_].

    Two specimens have been obtained between Banff and

STERNA HIRUNDO [_Common Tern_].

STERNA ARCTICA [_Arctic Tern_].

    Annual visitors, generally in autumn. During some
    seasons they come in immense numbers. Although they
    do not breed with us, they do so on part of the sandy
    shores of the adjoining counties of Aberdeen and Moray.

STERNA MINUTA [_Lesser Tern_].

    This pretty little lady-like bird does not breed with
    us, but does so in the places mentioned for the two
    preceding. It is only an occasional visitor.

STERNA NIGRA [_Black Tern_].

    I know of only one instance of its having been found

LARUS SABINI [_Sabine’s Gull_].

    I had an exciting chase after a specimen, but failed in
    capturing it; it was the only one I have seen or heard
    of here.

LARUS MINUTUS [_Little Gull_].

    I believe only two specimens have been met with.


    I am informed that two of these birds were killed about
    thirty years ago.

LARUS RIDIBUNDUS [_Black-headed Gull_].

    Like the common and arctic terns, this species,
    although it has no breeding-grounds with us, breeds on
    either side in great numbers, and is a frequent visitor
    here, chiefly in spring and autumn.


    Breeds with us, but not in such numbers as formerly.

LARUS EBURNEUS [_Ivory Gull_].

    Several specimens have been shot near Gamrie. It is a
    polar bird, almost pure white.

LARUS CANUS [_Common Gull_].

    Abundant during winter and spring. The gull may be met
    with all the year round, though I believe it does not
    breed with us.


    Sometimes, during winter, a specimen of this northern
    bird may be obtained, but mostly in an immature state
    of plumage.

LARUS FUSCUS [_Lesser Blackbacked Gull_].

    Met with now and then, but not in great plenty. It does
    not nestle here.

LARUS ARGENTATUS [_Herring Gull_].

    Breeds at Gamrie Head and at Troup. Numbers are taken
    when young by the fishermen and their children, and
    brought up quite tame, walking about the villages like

LARUS MARINUS [_Great Blackbacked Gull_].

    Like his lesser brethren, this gentleman is but a
    visitor here, and generally goes before he gets his
    black coat.

LARUS GLAUCUS [_Glaucous Gull_].

    A female, in an immature state of plumage, was killed
    in Gamrie.

LESTUS CATARRACTES [_Common Skua_], and

LESTUS RICHARDSONI [_Richardson’s Skua_].

    Both are to be met with as visitors, the latter the
    rarer of the two.


    An occasional winter visitor. I had a specimen sent me
    from Gamrie, which approached a boat so closely that
    one of the fishermen knocked it down with an oar; this
    was several miles out at sea.

PUFFINUS MAJOR [_Great Shearwater_], and

PUFFINUS OBSCURUS [_Dusky Shearwater_]. Only winter visitors.


    A visitor, like the rest of its kindred, but more
    frequent, and may be met with at intervals all the year
    round. The superstitious dread of this little bird by
    sailors and fishermen is well known.

       *       *       *       *       *

With the stormy petrel ends my List of the Birds of Banffshire. Many
species given as “rare” may turn out to be of frequent occurrence, and
many given as “occasional visitors” may prove to be natives. Species,
too, not mentioned in this List may have to be included in the birds of
the county; and no one will be more pleased to hear of such additions
than myself.


LABRAX LUPUS [_The Basse or Sea Perch_].

    This is a rare species with us, only three having come
    under my notice. One of these, a beautiful specimen,
    was found dead in our river, the Deveron, not far from
    its mouth, in 1839.

ACERINA VULGARIS [_The Ruffe or Pope_].

    One is said to have been obtained off Troup Head about
    forty-two years ago.

TRACHINUS DRACO [_The Great Weever_].

    Occasionally found. The fish is said to be possessed
    of very poisonous qualities, insomuch that a prick or
    even a mere scratch from either of the rays (which are
    hard and spinous) of the first dorsal or back fin,
    causes the severest pain imaginable. On the continent,
    where they are more numerous than they are here, and
    where they are used as an article of food, there is a
    very stringent law which forbids them being brought to
    market, or even exposed for sale in any shape whatever,
    unless these spines are all cut off; and in order to
    enforce obedience, parties found transgressing the law
    are severely punished.

TRACHINUS VIPERA [_The Little Weever_].

    Specimens of the little weever are not unfrequently met
    with; which would seem to indicate that they are more
    numerous in the Firth than the preceding.

MULLUS BARBATUS [_The Bed Surmullet_].

    This and the striped red mullet (M. SURMULETUS) have
    both been obtained, the latter being the most frequent.

TRIGLA CUCULUS [_The Red Gurnard_] is pretty frequent; as is also

TRIGLA HIRUNDO [_The Sapphirine Gurnard_].

    Some splendid specimens of this latter fish are
    annually brought on shore by our fishermen towards the
    end of autumn.

TRIGLA GURNARDUS [_The Gray Gurnard_].

    This is our commonest gurnard; and, judging from
    the numbers taken, must be very numerous. They are
    known here by the term of ‘Crunack.’ They are not
    much esteemed as an article of food, even among the
    peasants; and they are, in consequence, seldom brought
    to market.

TRIGLA PŒCILOPTERA [_The Little Gurnard_].

    Somewhat rare. I remember once taking one from the
    stomach of a great northern diver, which was shot
    between Findochtie and Speymouth, in the spring of
    1840, and which was sent me for the purpose of being

COTTUS SCORPIUS [_The Short-spined Cottus_].

    Pretty frequent.

COTTUS BUBALIS [_The Long-spined Cottus_].

    Rather plentiful. I find them in abundance, in pools
    left by the tide, or beneath stones at low water. Many
    of them exhibit some most beautiful markings.

COTTUS QUADRICORNIS [_The Four-horned Cottus_].

    I have never found this species but in the stomachs
    of other fish; which leads me to conclude that they
    generally inhabit deep water; or, at least, that they
    do not come so near the shore as the preceding species.


    This is another stomach species. But I have found
    these, also, though very sparingly, amongst the rocks
    at low tide.

    GASTEROSTEUS TRACHURUS [_The Rough-tailed, Three-spined
    Stickleback_] and

    GASTEROSTEUS LEIURUS [_The Smooth-tailed Stickleback_]
    are both plentiful. The former along the coast, and the
    latter in our streams and rivulets.

SPINACHIA VULGARIS [_The Fifteen-spined Stickleback_].

    Common amongst the pools along the shore. I have seen
    this species with sixteen and seventeen spines. They
    are known amongst our fishermen by the very peculiar
    denomination of “Willie-wan-beard.”


    I have only seen two specimens of this fish which have
    been procured with us. The one was taken off Buckie in
    1841; and the other was brought on shore at Portsoy, in
    1839. They appear to be scarce, from the fact that the
    fishermen do not know them.


    This is a more common species,—numbers appearing
    annually. In some seasons they appear in greater
    abundance than in others. They are sold here under the
    name of “Perch.”

BRAMA RAII [_Ray’s Bream_]. Rare.

CANTHARUS GRISEUS [_The Black Bream_].

    A few of these are generally procured every autumn, or
    about the beginning of winter. They are known and sold
    here under the term of “Old Wife.”

DENTEX VULGARIS [_The Four-toothed Sparus_].

    Although this species, like many more, bears the name
    “_vulgaris_,” or _common_, it is not so with us. I am
    only aware of one specimen, which was taken off Troup

SCOMBER SCOMBER [_The Mackerel_].

    This beautiful and highly prized fish generally appears
    on our part of the coast about autumn,—in some seasons,
    in great plenty,—in others, not so numerous.

SCOMBER COLIAS? (_The Spanish Mackerel?_)

    As will be seen, I have placed this species here
    as doubtful. A mackerel differing in many respects
    from the one noted above, and which agrees very well
    with _Scomber colias_, was taken off Portknockie,
    but by the time I had the pleasure of seeing it, it
    was a good deal disfigured. Still, as I have already
    said, it exhibited many of the markings and other
    characteristics of the Spanish Mackerel.


    Several specimens of this fish have, from time to time,
    been taken with us. A very large one was captured in a
    salmon-net at Portsoy. It measured over nine feet in
    length, and six feet in girth.

XIPHIAS GLADIUS [_The Sword Fish_].

    A small specimen of this fish—rare on this part of the
    coast—was caught in our harbour by a shrimper.

NAUCRATES DUCTOR [_The Pilot Fish_].

    A very fine specimen of this rare and rather peculiar
    fish was taken in our bay some years ago, and was
    exhibited as a curiosity. It was unknown in the place,
    and also to the person who took it; but an old tar
    chancing to see it, who had seen some service abroad,
    having hitched up his trousers, and rid his mouth of a
    yard or two of tobacco juice, exclaimed, with something
    of a knowing air—“Well, I’ll be blowed if that aint a
    Pilot; and a pretty one it is, too. We used to see them
    often, when sailing in the Mediterranean.”

    CARANX TRACHURUS [_The Scad or Horse Mackerel_], or,
    as it is termed here, the “Buck Mackerel,” is not very
    numerous, and is very seldom used as an article of
    food. Its appearance here, is usually about the time
    of herring-fishing. I once found a rather strange
    variety of this species. It was about the usual size;
    but it was all over of a most beautiful golden yellow,
    finely striped and variegated with numerous lines of
    the brightest blue, except the fins, which were of the
    finest carmine.

    LAMPRIS GUTTATUS [_The Opah or King Fish_] has occurred
    on several occasions; as off Troup Head, at Black Pots,
    on the shore near Portsoy, and at Buckie.

MUGIL CAPITO [_The Gray Mullet_].

    I am only aware of two specimens of this Mullet which
    have been procured within our limits; the one at
    Gardenstown, the other at Cullen.

BLENNIUS MONTAGUI [_Montagu’s Blenny_].

    One specimen taken from the stomach of a haddock.

BLENNIUS GATTORUGINE [_The Gattoruginous Blenny_].

    I have met with this species only on two occasions.

BLENNIUS YARRELLII [_Yarrell’s Blenny_].

    Rarely met with. I have a splendid specimen in my
    collection, which was found cast on shore between
    Gardenstown and Crovie.

BLENNIUS PHOLIS [_The Shanny or Smooth Blenny_],

GUNNELLUS VULGARIS [_The Spotted Gunnel_], and

ZOARCES VIVIPARUS [_The Viviparous or Green Blenny_].

    Are all to be met with amongst the low-lying rocks
    along our line of shore.


    Frequent, but seldom used as food. I find them pretty
    often cast on shore dead, after a storm; which would
    seem to indicate that their habitat is not always in
    deep water.

GOBIUS NIGER [_The Black Goby_].

    These inhabiting the rocky parts of the coast, become,
    at times, the prey of the haddock, etc. Though they do
    not seem to be numerous in this arm of the sea, I meet
    with them occasionally in the stomachs of fishes.

GOBIUS MINUTUS [_The Freckled or Spotted Goby_].

    This is another stomach species; as also the

    GOBIUS RUTHENSHARRI [_The Double Spotted Goby_], which
    appears to be the rarest of the three.

CALLIONYMUS LYRA [_The Gemmeous Dragonet_].

    This splendidly coloured fish is frequently met with;
    and the so-called

    CALLIONYMUS DRACUNCULUS [_Sordid Dragonet_] is found
    in about equal number; for it is a general maxim, that
    where the husband is, there also should the wife be.
    Ichthyologists cling to the idea that these fish are
    distinct species. Out of about one hundred specimens
    which I have dissected, I have never yet found anything
    like _roe_ or _ova_ in those having the long rays on
    the first dorsal, and which are known as the Gemmeous;
    and in like manner I have never yet met with anything
    at all pertaining to a _milt_ in those having the short
    rays, and which are known as the Sordid Dragonet. My
    conclusion is that they are only male and female of the
    same species.

    LOPHIUS PISCATORIUS [_The Angler or Fishing Frog_, or,
    as it is called here, the _Sea Devil_] is frequently
    met with, but is not used as an article of food.

LABRUS BERGYLTA [_The Ballan Wrasse_].

    Pretty frequent during summer.

LABRUS MIXTUS [_The Blue Striped Wrasse_].

    Rare. A very pretty specimen was taken off Macduff.

CRENILABRUS MELOPS [_The Gilthead_]. Rare.


    I have only seen one of this species in the
    neighbourhood. A beautiful specimen which I found one
    winter’s day, was cast on shore at the links.

ACANTHOLABRUS EXOLETUS [_The Small-mouthed Wrasse_].

    Like the last, only one specimen of this fish has, as
    yet, come under my notice, and that one was captured
    off Troup Head.

    CYPRINUS AURATUS [_The Gold and Silver Carps_, as they
    are termed], have been introduced, and have thriven
    pretty well, as at Macduff, where they have propagated
    to an amazing degree.


    This pretty active little fish is to be found in most
    of our streams. It is curious to see it stated in works
    on Ichthyology that this species is not to be met with
    north of the Dee, Aberdeenshire.

BELONE VULGARIS [_The Gar Fish_, or, as it is called here, “The
Greenbeen,”] is by no means scarce, at certain seasons.


    Not so often met with as the last. In fact, it must be
    termed rare.

SALMO SALAR [_The Salmon_].

    This valuable and highly-prized fish is found both
    along our coast and in our fresh waters. At one time,
    they were very numerous in the Deveron. From a _pot_
    or _hole_ which once existed a little below the bridge
    which spans the river, at a little distance from the
    sea, and not far from the town, as many as one hundred,
    and sometimes more, have been taken at a haul. This was
    before stake and bag nets were so thickly planted along
    our sea-shore as they are now.

SALMO ERIOX [_The Bull or Gray Trout_].

    Some large individuals of this species are often taken.

SALMO TRUTTA [_The Salmon Trout_].

    These were at one time believed to be the young of the
    Salmon; and the tacksman gave orders that they should
    not be taken. Previously, they had been fished for with
    small-meshed nets, and sold as Trout, under the name
    of “Finnock.” Time passed and the river beheld another
    tacksman, who, differing from his predecessor, gave
    orders that they should be again taken. Accordingly,
    they are now annually fished for, and are once more
    sold as “Sea Trout,” “White Trout,” and “Finnock.”

SALMO FARIO [_The Common Trout_].

    In all our streams. These also are taken, and sold with
    the last mentioned.

OSMERUS EPERLANUS [_The Smelt_]. Rare with us.

CLUPEA HARENGUS [_The Herring_].

    This species abounds along this coast, towards the
    middle of summer, and the beginning of autumn. The fry
    of this fish is met with nearly all the year round.

CLUPEA LEACHII [_Leach’s Herring_].

    A rather smaller-sized herring than the common species.
    It is generally met with in small shoals in May and

CLUPEA SPRATTUS [_The Sprat or Garnet Herring_].

    This is also met with about the same time, but in
    smaller numbers.

ALOSA FINTA [_The Twaite Shad_].

    Rare. A very fine specimen was taken in our river last
    summer, about a mile from the sea.

ALOSA COMMUNIS [_The Alice Shad_].

    The same may be said of this species,—it is rare. They
    are termed, “rock herring.”


    It is to the stomach of this species that I am most
    indebted for many of the rarer of the testaceous and
    crustaceous specimens which I possess. (For the cod’s
    bill of fare see p. 284.) The cod is extensively fished
    for along this part of the coast, and may be termed
    _the poor man’s salmon_. Great numbers are salted and
    dried, and in that state sent to the southern markets.
    I have occasionally met with a cod of a red colour, in
    all save the fins, which are generally of a yellowish
    tinge, and never larger than a common sized haddock.
    They are known here by the name of “rock codlings.”


    Like the cod, it is extensively taken, and largely
    cured and forwarded south. Our Buckie haddocks are well
    known for their excellence, and are far famed for their
    superior qualities. Like the cod, the stomach of this
    species is also a rich mine for the Naturalist.

MORRHUA LUSCA [_The Bib or Whiting Pout_].

    Frequent; but not often brought to market, although
    they are most excellent eating. The fishermen generally
    cut them up and use them as bait.

MORRHUA MINUTA [_The Power Cod_].

    Not known as an inhabitant of the Firth until recently.
    They are excellent eating. It is a great pity that they
    are so small and scarce.


    Often taken, but not so much admired as the Haddock.

MERLANGUS POLLACHIUS [_The Pollack or Lythe_]. Frequent.


    Like the last; when young, great numbers of them are
    occasionally taken in our harbours, in small-meshed
    nets. They are termed “Gerrocks.”

MERLUCIUS VULGARIS [_The Hake_]. Found occasionally.

LOTA MOLVA [_The Ling_].

    Fished for with the cod, and cured in the same manner.
    When salted and dried they are called “Kealing.”

MOTELLA QUINQUECIRRATA [_The Five-bearded Rockling_].

    Frequent among the pools left among the rocks by the

MOTELLA CIMBRIA [_The Four-bearded Rockling_].

    Rare. I have not met with it often.

BROSMIUS VULGARIS [_The Torsk or Tusk_].

    Taken with the cod and ling, and cured in the same

PHYCIS FURCATUS [_The Great Forked Beard_].

    This fish is of rare occurrence with us, and that only
    at long intervals.


    Plentiful, and highly prized by many for its very
    delicate flesh and agreeable flavour.

    PLATESSA FLESUS [_The Flounder_], or as it is called
    here, the Common Fluke, and the

    PLATESSA LIMANDA [_The Saltwater Fluke_] are also
    pretty frequent. In the stomachs of these fish I
    occasionally find, among other matters, _Tellina
    fabula_, _T. tenuis_, _T. punicea_ (a most beautiful
    little shell), _Natica Montagui_, _N. Alderi_, _Philine
    scabra_, _Cylichna truncata_, _C. cylindracea_, etc.


PLATESSA POLA [_The Pole Dab_] are not so often met with.

PLATESSA LIMANDOIDES [_The Yellow or Rough Dab_], and the

PLATESSA ELONGATA [_Long Flounder_] are of rare occurrence.


    RHOMBUS MAXIMUS [_The Turbot_] are both met with,
    inhabiting deep water. They are seldom taken near the
    shore. The former is the more plentiful. The latter is
    known here as the Roan Fluke, and always commands a
    ready sale and a high price. The other is called the
    Turbot; and though it sells well, it is not so valuable
    as the true turbot, nor yet so eagerly sought after by
    the higher classes.

RHOMBUS VULGARIS [_The Brill or Pearl Turbot_].

    This species is occasionally taken along with the two
    preceding, but must rank as rare with us.

    RHOMBUS HIRTUS [_Muller’s Topknot_] occurs at intervals
    along our whole line of coast.

    SOLEA VULGARIS [_The Sole_] is not so common with us as
    its name would seem to indicate.

SOLEA PEGUSA [_The Lemon Sole_]. Rare.

    MONOCHIRUS LINGUATULUS [_The Solenette_] is of more
    frequent occurrence. I have found it in the stomach of
    the cod and haddock.


    I remember finding a small fish, on one occasion, where
    our fishermen clean their lines, and which resembled
    the above in almost every particular. It is the only
    specimen that has come under my notice.

LEPIDOGASTER BIMACULATUS [_The Two-spotted Sucker_].

    Brought on shore, now and then, amongst the refuse
    entangled in the fishermen’s lines, and occasionally
    in old shells, such as _Fusis antiquus_, _Buccinum
    undatum_, and _Cyprina Islandica_, etc.


    Frequent. Known here by the name of “Paddle Cock.” Not
    used as an article of food.

LIPARIS VULGARIS [_The Unctuous Sucker_]. Of partial occurrence.

LIPARIS MONTAGUI [_Montagu’s Sucker_].

    I have only once met with this beautiful little fish
    here, and that but lately. It was brought on shore in
    an old shell. I should think it rare in the Firth.

ANGUILLA ACUTIROSTRIS [_The Sharp-nosed Eel_] and

    ANGUILLA LATIROSTRIS [_The Broad-nosed Eel_] are both
    found. The former is the most numerous, and brings the
    highest price.

CONGER VULGARIS [_The Conger or Great Eel_].

    This large species is often met with, but is not used
    as food.

AMMODYTES TOBIANUS [_The Sand Eel_], and

AMMODYTES LANCEA [_The Sand Lance_].

    The latter the most numerous. Both these are used by
    our fishermen for bait.

SYNGNATHUS ACUS [_The Great Pipe Fish_] and

    SYNGNATHUS TYPHLE [_The Lesser Pipe-fish_] are both met
    with, and are accounted by the fishermen to be superior
    to any other bait.

    SYNGNATHUS LUMBRICIFORMIS [_The Worm Pipe-fish_] is met
    with; and is not so rare as one might expect.


    This rare and peculiar horse-headed looking creature
    has been met with here. Two were found cast on shore at
    the sands of Boyndie, near Banff, after a severe sea

ORTHAGORISCUS MOLA [_The Short Sun-fish_] and

    ORTHAGORISCUS OBLONGUS [_The Oblong Sun-fish_] have
    been occasionally met with. Several have been brought
    on shore by the fishermen of Gardenstown, Crovie, and
    other places.

ACIPENSER STURIO [_The Sturgeon_].

    Rare. One has been taken in a salmon net.

SCYLLIUM CANICULA [_The Small Spotted Dog-fish_].

    Found occasionally.


    I am only aware of two instances in which this fish has
    been found within our limits: the one near Buckie, the
    other in the bay of Banff.

ACANTHIAS VULGARIS [_The Picked Dog-fish_].

    Plentiful; often too much so.

SCYMNUS BOREALIS [_The Greenland Shark_].

    In May 1849 a large specimen of the above shark was
    captured by some fishermen belonging to Pennan,
    off Troup Head. When brought on shore, it measured
    thirteen feet nine inches in length, and eleven feet in
    circumference where thickest.

ECHINORHINUS SPINOSUS [_The Spinous Shark_]. (See pp. 228, 231.)

    SQUATINA VULGARIS [_The Angel Fish_], or as it is here
    called (like the Angler), “the Sea-devil,” is sometimes
    procured. A large specimen was cast into our harbour
    during the winter of 1851.

TORPEDO VULGARIS [_The Cramp-fish or Electric Ray_].

    A specimen of this fish is said to have been taken
    about six miles off Loggie Head, near Cullen, in 1817.
    Others are stated as having been caught.

RAIA OXYRHYNCHUS [_The Sharp-nosed Skate_].

    Large individuals of this species are sometimes taken,
    with the more frequent of our Rays. One measuring
    upwards of seven feet in length, and over five in
    breadth, was captured by our fishermen some years ago.

RAIA INTERMEDIA [_The Flapper Skate_].

    A small skate, agreeing in many essential points with
    the flapper, was taken, in a bag-net set for salmon,
    some years ago, said to be a young one of the above
    species, and as such I include it here.

RAIA BATIS [_The Blue or Gray Skate_] and

RAIA CLAVATA [_The Thornback_].

    Taken, occasionally, In great numbers; the former being
    the most numerous and the most prized.

RAIA RADIATA [_The Starry Ray_].

    This small species is picked up now and then.

    PETROMYZON MARINUS [_The Lamprey_], or, as it is called
    here, the Lamper Eel, is often met with.


    Considered rare. A very fine specimen was taken in the
    Deveron, some years since.

    PETROMYZON PLANERI [_Planer’s Lamprey or Lampern_]
    has also occurred. These fish are generally termed
    “Nine-ee’d Eels,” and are by no means held in high

GASTROBRANCHUS CÆCUS [_The Myxine or Glutinous Hag_].

    This very curious and singular animal, whether you call
    it a fish or a worm, is of frequent occurrence.



    Several of these fishes have been taken in the Deveron.

    TRIGLA BLOCHII [_Bloch’s Gurnard_] _in the Moray Firth,
    at Banff_. An example of this gurnard (or, as we call
    them, “crunacks”) was captured here in a rock-pool.
    (See p. 281.) I am not aware of the species ever having
    been detected on this part of the coast before.


    One taken off Buckie in 1859 is the only instance of
    this fish having been taken on our coasts.

THYNNUS PELAMYS [_Stripped Tunny_].

    A fine specimen of this tunny is in our Museum, taken
    off Whitehills in 1867.

AUXIS VULGARIS [_The Plain Bonito_].

    Several of these have now come under my notice. One
    taken in a herring-net off Cullen measured over 20
    inches in length and 12 in circumference behind the
    first dorsal. One very peculiar feature connected with
    it was, that if stroked down when wet it gave the
    hand all the appearance of having come across a piece
    of metal newly black-leaded. I am not aware of this
    peculiarity being mentioned in Yarrell or elsewhere.

ZEUS FABER [_The Dory_].

    I have now ascertained that many of these fish have
    been taken here, chiefly in salmon-nets. It would seem
    that the dory is by no means an uncommon summer visitor
    on this part of the coast.

CAPROS APER [_Boar-fish_].

    At least one example of this curious-looking fish is
    now known to have found its way to our shores. It was
    taken in a bag-net near Crovie in August 1862, and was
    sent here to be stuffed and named.

TRICHIURUS LEPTURUS [_Silvery Hair-tail or Bald Fish_].

    A very fine specimen of this fish, which is rare in
    the British seas, and especially on the east coast of
    Scotland, was found in the Firth here in April 1876.
    Although the head and tail were a good deal injured, it
    measured over 12 feet in length.

GOBIUS GRACILIS [_Slender Goby_]. Frequent.

GOBIUS ALBUS [_White Goby_].

    Frequent also. Numbers of these little fish are to be
    met with in our rock and sandy pools, whilst others are
    only to be found at extreme low water.

GOBIUS NILSSONII [_Nilsson’s Goby_]. (See pp. 375-6.)

LABRUS DONOVANI [_Donovan’s Wrasse_].

    A specimen of this wrasse was captured in the bay of
    Boyndie in August 1863. The fishermen said that there
    were more, but they only managed to hook the one, and
    looked upon it as a curious species of mackerel. It was
    mostly of a beautiful pea-green colour, but striped
    with numerous yellowish lines.

LABRUS MICROSCOPICUS [_Microscopical Wrasse_].

    It was during the summer of 1861 that I first observed
    this minute species. It was not, however, until 1864
    that I had an opportunity of submitting a specimen for
    examination to some of our best ichthyologists, amongst
    whom was Mr. Couch. (See p. 334.)

TINCA VULGARIS [_Common Tench_].

    One specimen taken in our bay in 1864 is the only
    example I have seen. It is now in our Museum.


    This beautiful little creature would seem to be a
    regular winter visitor with us. I took it first in
    January 1863; and, since then, I have never missed it
    during that month. It is of various sizes. I have taken
    Argentines from under one inch to about three inches in
    length. I have never seen them in summer.

COUCHIA GLAUCA [_The Mackerel Midge_].

    Of all the little fish that I have yet found, this one
    resembles the Five-bearded Rockling, more than any of
    the Midges do the other Rocklings.

COUCHIA THOMSONI [_Thomson’s Midge_].

    I first took a few of this species in May 1863. They
    were new to me, and as I could not find them in
    Yarrell, nor in other works of the same kind which I
    had an opportunity of consulting, I thought they might
    prove an undescribed form. Since that time, however,
    I have seen Mr. Thomson’s work, and have now no doubt
    but that my fish are identical with those taken by that
    gentleman in Strangford Lough, County Down, in July
    1838, and named as above. (See p. 337.)

COUCHIA MONTAGUI [_Montagu’s Midge_].

    I first obtained this species in October 1864. (See p.

COUCHIA EDWARDII [_Edward’s Midge_].

    First taken at Banff, November 1865. (See p. 344.)


    Several of these are now known to have been found in
    this part of the Firth.


    This species seems to be rather rare with us. I have a
    very fine specimen which I found at the place where our
    fishermen clean their lines.

RHOMBUS ARNOGLOSSUS [_The Scaldfish or Smooth Sole_].

    This would appear to be another very scarce species
    with us. I have never met with it but in fish stomachs,
    and very seldom there. It is about the smallest of
    British flat-fish.


    This species would appear to be met with occasionally.
    Two pretty large ones were exposed for sale in our
    market in September 1860.

ECHIODON DRUMMONDII [_Drummond’s Echiodon_].

    In March 1863 I took the first specimen of this
    strange-looking fish that I had ever seen. Since then,
    however, I have met with it several times, and always
    in winter,—save once, when I obtained it in summer.
    They were unknown in the Firth before. Specimens from
    here are now in the British Museum, London.

ACESTRA ÆQUOREA [_Equorial Pipe-fish_]. This species and the

    ACESTRA ANGUINEA [_Snake Pipe-fish_] are both
    occasionally found. The latter, however, are seemingly
    the most frequent.

CHIMÆRA MONSTROSA [_Northern Chimæra_].

    A specimen of this deep-sea and rather rare species
    was brought into our harbour in 1859 on board a
    herring-boat. It was found floating, and quite dead.
    The first dorsal was somewhat injured, and the
    cord-like portion of the tail was wanting. It was
    unknown to the fishermen who found it, and who, for
    want of a better name, called it the “_devil_.”

SCYLLIUM MELANOSTOMUM [_Black-mouthed Dog-fish_].

    I am led to believe that this species does occasionally
    occur with us. It is generally mixed up with the
    commoner sorts.

ZYGÆNA MALLEUS [_Hammer-headed Shark_].

    A specimen of this strange-looking animal was found
    dead on the shore about two miles beyond Whitehills in
    1861. It was a middling-sized specimen, measuring about
    five feet in length and about eighteen inches across
    the head. It had lain some time, for the skin was
    blackish, and had the appearance of charred or burnt

LAMNA CORNUBICA [_Porbeagle_].

    It is now well known that the Porbeagle finds his
    way here occasionally, and usually about the herring
    season. There is a very fine specimen in our Museum.

ALOPIAS VULPES [_The Fox Shark_].

    So far as I have been able to learn, this shark appears
    to be very rarely met with here. It has, however, been

NOTIDANUS GRISEUS [_Brown or Mediterranean Shark_].

    A large specimen of this shark was taken in the Firth
    here, and brought on shore at Whitehills in December
    1857. After being exhibited in Banff by the fishermen,
    its captors, as an unknown monster, it was bought for
    the Banff Museum, where it now is. This shark is the
    first known to have been found in the British seas.

RAIA MIRALETUS [_Homelyan Ray_]. Occasionally met with.

RAIA SPINOSA [_Sandy Ray_].

    This species is well enough known to the fishermen, but
    they do not often take it.

RAIA CHAGRINEA [_Shagreen Ray_]. This is also occasionally taken.

AMMOCÆTES BRANCHIALIS [_Pride or Mud Lamprey_].

    We have, at least, one species of this peculiar genus
    as an inhabitant of the Deveron.








    EURYNOME ASPERA. From deep water.

    CANCER PAGURUS [_Parten_].

    PIRIMELA DENTICULATA. In rock pools, and from deep

    CARCINUS MŒNAS. See p. 271.

    PORTUMNUS LATIPES. Amongst sand at low tide.








    PORTUNUS PUSILLUS. From stomachs of fish.

    PINNOTHERES PISUM. Inside of Mediola mediolus.

    PINNOTHERES VETERUM. Once from Gamrie; inside of Pinna







    PAGURUS BERNHARDUS. Common in rock pools when young.


    PAGURUS CUANENSIS. Both these are brought in from deep

    PAGURUS LÆVIS. Frequent in the stomachs of flukes.

    PAGURUS FERRUGINEUS. This little fellow was only added
      to the list in 1866.







    MUNIDA BAMFFICA. From deep water.

























    MYSIS MIXTA. First taken as British at Banff, in 1863,
      by T. E.

    MYSIS SPINIFERA. Burrows in sand. First taken at Banff
      by T. E. in 1862, and some years afterwards in
      Sweden, by M. Goes.


    MYSIS HISPIDA. N.S. Taken at Banff by T. E. in December






    THYSANOPODA ENSIFERA. N.S. Taken at Banff by T. E. in

    THYSANOPODA BATEI. N.S. Taken at Banff by T. E. in 1862.




    CUMA COSTATA. Burrows in sand.

    CUMA LUCIFERA. New to Britain. Found at Banff by T. E.
      in July 1865.







    ORCHESTIA BREVIDIGITATA. N.S. First taken at Banff by
      T. E.




    OPIS QUADRIMANA. N.S. First taken at Banff by T. E.


    MONTAGUA MARINA. With eggs in December.


    MONTAGUA POLLEXIANA. Eyes red. With eggs, in November
      and December, of a greenish colour. A most beautiful
      variegated species.

    MONTAGUA NORVEGICA. First taken at Banff as British by
      T. E.




    LYSIANASSA LONGICORNIS. With young in December.

    ANONYX LONGICORNIS. Of a straw colour, spotted with
      red. Eyes large, oblong; white with red markings.

    ANONYX EDWARDSII. Eyes red, with black spots. With eggs
      in December.

    ANONYX OBESUS. N.S. Eyes red, round, and small. First
      taken at Banff by T. E.




    ANONYX PLAUTUS. N.S. First taken at Banff as British by
      T. E.


    ANONYX AMPULLA. Eyes red.

    CALLISOMA CRENATA. With eggs in November.

    LEPIDEPECREUM CARINATUM. N.S. First taken at Banff by
      T. E.

    AMPELISCA GAIMARDII. With eggs in December of a green



    PHOCUS HOLBOLLI. With eggs in December and March.

    PHOCUS PLUMOSUS. Two other new species of this genus
      have been taken at Banff by T. E., but are not yet



    ŒDICEROS PARVIMANUS. With eggs, which are of a bright
      orange colour, in September, October, and November. A

    ŒDICEROS SAGINATUS. With eggs, which are reddish, in
      January. First taken at Banff as British by T. E.

    MONOCULODES LONGIMANUS. N.S. First taken at Banff by T.

    MONOCULODES CARINATUS. N.S. First taken at Banff by T.


    KROYERA ARENARIA. With eggs in August and September.



    DARWINIA COMPRESSA. N.S. First taken at Banff by T. E.


    UROTHOE BAIRDII. Eyes black; with eggs in December.

    UROTHOE MARINA. With eggs in December.

    UROTHOE ELEGANS. Burrows in sand.









    DEXAMINE SPINOSA. With eggs, which are of a greenish
      colour, in April.

    DEXAMINE BEDLOMENSIS. Colour a deep and brilliant
      orange, occasionally mixed with red and brown. The
      eyes, which are slightly raised, are round and of a
      bright crimson. The female, which is similar to the
      male, has eggs, which are of a pea green, in April
      and May, and again in October.

    ATYLUS SWAMMERDAMII. With eggs, which are of a brownish
      colour, in September.






    CALLIOPE OSSIANI. N.S. First taken at Banff by T. E.


    EUSIRUS HELVETIÆ. N.S. Taken at Banff by T. E., the
      first of the genus taken in Britain. A burrower, and
      very sluggish in its habits.


    LEUCOTHOE FURINA. First taken as British at Banff by T.







    PROTOMEDEIA HIRSUTIMANA. N.S. First taken at Banff by
      T. E.

    PROTOMEDEIA WHITEI. N.S. First taken at Banff by T.
      E. With eggs, which are of a very dull green, in






    MELITA PROXIMA. With eggs, which are of a purplish
      colour, in December. Eyes brownish.



    EURYSTHEUS BISPINIMANUS. N.S. First taken at Banff by
      T. E.




























    NÆNIA TUBERCULOSA. With eggs in December. The female
      has the palms of the two first pairs much narrower
      than the male.


    CRATIPPUS TENUIPES. N.S. First taken at Banff by T. E.



    VIBILIA BOREALIS. N.S. First taken at Banff by T. E.

    THEMISTO CRASSICORNIS. First taken as British at Banff
      by T. E. Great hordes of this species occasionally
      visit this part of the coast, and large numbers are
      sometimes destroyed in consequence of coming too near
      the land.

    LESTRIGONUS EXULANS. Occasionally in vast numbers.



    HYPERIA OBLIVIA. In great shoals at certain seasons.
      These are the only species of this family which I
      have ever found on the Medusæ. I consider Lestrigonus
      Exulans to be the male of Hyperia Galba, and L.
      Kinahani the male of H. oblivia.




      All these three new species were first taken at Banff
        by T. E.; the males and females of all three being
        procured. The males differ but little from the females,
        except that they are somewhat larger.



      I look upon these as being male and female of the
        same species.







    TANAIS VITTATUS. On tangle roots.


    PARATANAIS RIGIDUS. On tangle roots.



      I consider these two to be male and female of the
        same species.

    ANCEUS (PRANIZA) EDWARDII. N.S. First taken at Banff by
      T. E. There is another species of Anceus or Praniza
      found here which I take to be the male of A. or P.
      Edwardii. I find them associated, and they have
      precisely the same habits. (See p. 299.)


    PHRYXUS FUSTICAUDATUS. N.S. First found at Banff by T.
      E. on _Pagurus Bernhardus_ and _Cuanensis_.






































    NEBALIA BIPES. From deep water. Burrows.



    NYMPHON HIRTUM.   } Sea-spiders.



    PYCNOGONUM LITTORALE. In rock pools.



      Both these are occasionally met with during summer,
        in millions.

    NOTODELPHYS ASCIDICOLA. Found in the branchial sac of
      Ascidia mentula and communis.

    PELTIDIUM PURPUREUM. From deep water.



    CALIGUS MINUTUS. A variety of the foregoing.


    CALIGUS CURTUS. All these are found on various fishes.

    CALIGUS ISONYX. On the common gurnard. First taken as
      British at Banff in 1864 by T. E.

    LEPEOPHTHEIRUS PECTORALIS. On various flounders.

    LEPEOPHTHEIRUS NORDMANNII. On the short sun-fish.


    TREBIUS CAUDATUS. Found on a Ling, _Lota malva_.

    MONIMA FIMBRIATA, or FIMBRICATA. On the short sun-fish.
      First taken as British at Banff in 1862, by T. E.

    LÆMARGUS MURICATUS. On the Short Sun-fish.

    CECROPS LATTREILLII. Attached to the gills of the
      sun-fish, both _short_ and _oblong_.

    CHONDRACANTHIDÆ SOLEÆ. On the gills of _Platessa
      vulgaris_. First taken as British at Banff, in August
      1863, by T. E.

    LERNENTOMA CORNUTA. On gills of Platessa vulgaris.

    LERNENTOMA ASELLINA. On gills of _Trigla gurnardus_.

    LERNEOPODA SALMONEA. Attached to the gills of the

    BASANISTES SALMONEA. On the gills of the common trout.

    BRACHIELLA BISPINOSA. On gills of Trigla. N.S. First
      taken at Banff by T. E. in May 1863.

    ANCHORELLA UNCINATA. Attached to various fishes, such
      as the cod, haddock, whiting, etc.


    LERNEA BRANCHIALIS. Attached to the gills of the cod
      and haddock.

    PENNELLA FIBROSA? Found on the short sun-fish.


By the same Author, Post 8vo, 6s.,



“_If I had read this look when I was a young man, my life would have
been very different._”—Such was the remark made to me by a friend on
returning Smiles’s ‘Self-Help,’ which I had given him to read. I was
very much struck by the observation; and while thinking of the immense
effect which this incomparable book has produced in England, and of
the universally favourable reception which the Italian translation has
received in this country, I received a letter from signor G. Barbèra,
in which he invited me to write a book similar to the English one, but
illustrated by Italian examples. I was much astonished at his thinking
me equal to the work: but his valuable suggestion greatly delighted me,
and I accepted his proposal with much cordiality.“—MICHELE LESSONA, in
_Volere è Potere_.

“‘_Volere è Potere_’ (‘Will is power’). Such is the title of a very
interesting popular work just issued by the eminent Florentine
publisher, G. Barbèra. The history of this production is rather
curious. It may not be known that the most remarkable literary success
achieved of late years in Italy (where literary successes are the
rarest of all events) has fallen to the lot of Mr. Samuel Smiles’s
admirable ‘Self-Help,’ an Italian version of which, published some
time ago at Milan, has since gone through several editions, and still
appears to be in continual demand. The idea of the book was a novelty
for Italians, and the moral which it inculcates one so eminently
deserving of being enforced upon all classes of the public of Italy,
that the question soon arose whether it would not be advisable to
extend the sphere of its utility by promoting the publication of a
similar book, specially designed for Italian readers, and in which
the examples of patient industry and of untiring perseverance in the
pursuit of a fixed design should be drawn from home materials. An
association founded in Florence with the express object of stimulating
the educational movement among the people, offered a prize of 3000f.
for the best production of the kind, and all the literary men of Italy
were invited to compete. M. Lessona, an agreeable writer upon popular
subjects, has already entered the lists, and printed his work (‘Volere
è Potere’) without waiting for the award of the committee appointed to
decide between the rival competitors.”—_Standard._

“Une grande sagesse qu’on pourrait appeler la splendeur du bon sens,
comme Platon définissait le beau la splendeur du vrai,—tel est le
caractère qui distingue surtout ‘Self-Help.’ Ce livre, si populaire
chez nos voisins, répond admirablement aux idées de la famille
anglo-saxonne. Recevra-t-il chez nous le même accueil? Je l’espère,
mais il aura aussi, je le crains, plus d’un vieux préjugé à combattre.
En France, n’a-t-on point trop compté sur les institutions politiques
malgré la durée éphémère des gouvernements? L’État peut faire du
premier venu un ministre; il ne saurait en faire un grand homme, il
même un fonctionnaire intègre et capable. Il est donc bon de chercher à
d’autres sources ces énergies morales qui développent et régénèrent les
sociétés.”—_Revue des Deux Mondes._

“Mr. Smiles’s book is wise beyond the wisdom of any but a very few
books that we have read. The chapter on the use and abuse of money
we must commend to the reader’s own perusal. It is pregnant with
practical wisdom, and contains, besides, some excellent remarks upon
the improvidence of the working classes, and upon the evils entailed by
the pursuit of vulgar ‘respectability’ among their so-called superiors.
‘Self-Help’ is one of the soundest, wisest, most instructive, and most
wholesome works we have opened for a long time.”—_Leader.

By the same Author, post 8vo, 6_s._,



“There is no book among the current literature of the day we would
rather see in a young man’s hand than this. Although every person
in his daily experience must meet with many instances of the folly
of unthrift, especially among the poorer classes, the frequency of
the text, and it is to be feared the disposition of the age, render
the lesson valueless. Domestic economy as an art and a science is an
unstudied subject, and one few writers have deemed worthy of their
thoughts. We cannot therefore feel sufficiently thankful that the able
writer of ‘Self-Help’ has turned his attention to it, and endeavoured,
in language that has not only a literary charm about it, but bears
the stamp of philanthropic earnestness, to rouse the interest, and
thereby the reflection of the British public, in so important a matter
of national welfare. The dignity of labour, the necessity of inducing
habits of saving, the wickedness of extravagant living, the dangers of
prosperity, and the want of sympathy between employers and employed,
are topics on which Mr. Smiles speaks hard, and it may be unpleasant
truths, accompanied by a fund of illustration. Perhaps no part of the
book is so valuable as the dissipation of the superstitious belief in
goad-luck, and the chapter on the art of living. We trust the work
will be found in every village and public library, that its principles
may be disseminated broadcast among our youth; and we can assure all
that they may enjoy in it many an hour’s pleasant and profitable

“In Mr. Smiles’ latest book he gives us something more than an
illustrative treatise on that homely and excellent virtue, Thrift.
He deals with some of the leading social questions of the day, such
as Co-operation and Association. He sketches the sanitary movement
unsparingly, satirises the feminine follies of fashionable circles,
and lastly concludes with an admirable essay on what may be called the
æsthetics of common life. We all know what a book from Mr. Smiles is
sure to be, anecdotical, practical, and abounding in good sense and
every-day wisdom,—a book that is sure to entertain the old and instruct
the young.”—_Academy._

“Mr. Smiles has produced an interesting volume. His pages bristle with
sage precepts and with admirable illustrations of the virtue he has
undertaken to inculcate on his countrymen. There is no doubt ample room
for a judicious homily on Thrift. The wealth of England was never so
great as at this time, and the thoughtless improvidence of Englishmen
was never so conspicuous. Mr. Smiles complains, as well he may, of the
monstrous folly of highly-paid artizans, who spend half their wages in
selfish pleasure; and he shows that the large gains of such men are
no proof of prosperity, as they do but add to their thriftlessness,
and serve to gratify animal indulgences. Money, like political power,
in the hands of uncultivated men, is certain to be abused. . . . On the
whole, Mr. Smiles’ volume is marked by sound good sense, tersely and
vigorously expressed. There are few readers who will not gain from it
more than one useful lesson; and to young men it may prove specially
serviceable.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“In writing one more good book, in these days when much that is
worthless in literature finds favour with the masses, Mr. Smiles
has added permanency to the lustre of a name which has long been a
‘household word’ amongst us, and entitled himself to the renewed thanks
of every one who is interested in the prosperity, the happiness, and
the well-being of the community. . . . May the lesson he teaches be
deeply grafted in the minds of the rising generation, to whom more
especially we commend the careful perusal and study of the work now
before us.”—_Derby Advertiser._

“Mr. Smiles has done something in the concluding pages of this volume
to give us the supplement which many people have thought was lacking
to his teaching. They are full of the highest thought, replete with
generous sentiment, based on the true conception of man as a being
who only begins his life here below. . . . The book in several ways
supplements the former ones; and it is in one respect, at least,
superior to them.”—_Nonconformist.

By the same Author, post 8vo, 6_s._,



“This work is so exactly fitted for a gift-book (and indeed a
school-boy or a boy leaving school need desire no better one) that we
are inclined to mention it here. The value of character above all mere
intellectual culture, the blessedness of work, the necessity of courage
and self-control, the sense of duty as the guiding star of life—these
are some of the topics discussed in ‘Character,’—not, however, as
abstract propositions, but with the help of a store of illustrations
drawn from the biographies of great men. The book possesses, if we
may use the expression, a _vital_ force, and can scarcely fail to
stimulate the reader. The chapters headed ‘Companionship of Books,’ and
‘Companionship in Marriage,’ will be read with special interest.”—_Pall
Mall Gazette._

“To the lovers of a pure and healthy literature, this invigorating and
high-toned volume from the pen of the author of ‘Self-Help’ will afford
real and genuine enjoyment. In the clear and attractive style which has
rendered his previous writings so deservedly popular, Mr. Smiles has
here shown to what a height of mental and moral excellence our weak and
imperfect nature may attain, and how much true nobility of character it
may develop and sustain. . . . The last two chapters, on Companionship
in Marriage and the Discipline of Experience, form a fitting conclusion
to so excellent a book, and are pregnant with interest and lessons of
the highest wisdom. The breadth and soundness of the views enunciated
in the former on some delicate but universally important topics are
especially commendable, and should be read and pondered over by all
who see a much-neglected source of happiness for the people in the
elevation of their home-life, and a more extens
ive cultivation of the
domestic virtues.”—_Leeds Mercury._

“Uniform in size with the author’s very popular ‘Self-Help,’ this work
is of the same tone and cast of thought. Believing that character is a
great power in the world, the author treats the various points in which
it may be developed, or which call it forth. Hence, we have chapters on
Home Power, Companionship, Temper, Marriage, Experience, and abundant
citations of examples, so that the work is full of interest. It is
difficult indeed to limit the good that may arise from these honest,
earnest books, full of right thinking; plain, sensible, and not too
full of sentiment.”—_Publishers’ Circular._

“Readers of ‘Self-Help’ will need no further inducement to send them
in search of the new work by the author of that charming book. . . .
It would be difficult to select a book more admirably adapted as a
present to a young man or young woman at the outset of life. The
charm of the style is irresistible; the moral conveyed altogether
unimpeachable.”—_Manchester Courier._

“The author of ‘Self-Help’ has produced another little book which will
soon run over the face of the land, and help to inspire the rising
generation with ennobling sentiments. In our hunger for facts, we must
not overlook the value of ideas. While we are striving to give our
young people technical information, we must not omit to teach them to
be truthful, high-thoughted, noble men and women. We must foster their
abilities, but not forget Character. . . . Mr. Smiles, in this very
charming volume, has brought together the opinions and sayings of good
and wise men of all times, as to the various qualities which go to form
character. . . . The result is a valuable book, calculated as well to
give delight as to do good.”—_Builder._

“Mr. Smiles has been fortunate in the choice of his subject: and,
as a work of wise counsel and thoughtful instruction, the new book
is quite as successful as any of its author’s previous works. Nor
is it any less entertaining. It literally teems with apposite and
interesting anecdotes, and the writer’s style is at once so lively
and dignified, that on the one hand he never becomes dry however
earnestly and seriously he discusses life and duty; and, on the
other, he never degenerates into flippancy in his most amusing
illustrations.”—_Manchester Examiner.

By the same Author, post 8vo, 6_s._,



“Mr. Smiles has hit upon a rich vein of ore, and works it with great
success. He has the art of biography, which is by no means so easy
of attainment as, judging from the number of persons who attempt
this species of composition, one would imagine it to be. Memoirs are
countless, but the number of biographies that can be accepted as
successful works of art are very few indeed. Mr. Smiles is not only a
skilful workman, he has chosen a new field of work. Hitherto the great
biographies have been written of soldiers and sailors, and statesmen,
poets and artists, and philosophers. It would seem as if these only
were the great men of the world, as if these only were the benefactors
of mankind, whose deeds are worthy of memory. The suspicion has arisen
that, after all, there may be other heroes than those of the pen, the
sceptre, and the sword. There are, indeed, men in various walks of life
whose footsteps are worthy of being traced; but, surely, considering
what England is, and to what we owe most of our material greatness, the
lives of our Engineers are peculiarly worthy of being written. ‘The
true Epic of our time,’ says Mr. Carlyle, ‘is not Arms and the man, but
Tools and the man—an infinitely wider kind of Epic.’ Our machinery has
been the making of us; our iron-works have, in spite of the progress of
other nations, still kept the balance in our hands. Smith-work in all
its branches of engine-making, machine-making, tool-making, cutlery,
iron ship-building, and iron-working generally, is our chief glory.
England is the mistress of manufactures, and so the queen of the world,
because it is the land of smith; and Mr. Smiles’s biographies are a
history of the great family of smith. Many of the facts which he places
before us are wholly new, and are derived from the most likely sources.
Thus, Maudslay’s partner Mr. Joshua Field, and his pupil Mr. Nasmyth,
supplied the materials for his biography. Mr. John Penn supplied the
chief material for the memoir of Clement, and so of the other memoirs;
though they necessarily go over much well-trodden ground, they contain
also much original information, expressed with great clearness, and
with a practised skill which renders the reader secure of entertainment
in every page.”—_Times._

“This is not a very large book, but it is astonishing how much
individual, conscientious, and thoroughly original search has been
required for its composition, and how much interesting matter it
contains which we possess in no other form. Mr. Smiles rescues no name,
but many histories, from oblivion. His heroes are known and gratefully
remembered for the benefits they have conferred on mankind, but our
knowledge of our benefactors has hitherto been mostly confined to our
knowledge of the benefit. It was reserved for Mr. Smiles to discover in
the workshop, heroes as true as ever hurled their battalions across a
battle-field, and to present us with much-enduring, much-endeavouring,
and brave men, where hitherto we had been content with disembodied,
almost meaningless names. The present work is further distinguished,
not indeed from its predecessors, but from much of the current
literature, by the exquisitely pellucid English, the vigorous but
unobtrusive style, in which the narratives are conveyed, the value of
the work before us is doubled, and the time required for perusing, and
especially for consulting it halved, by the full and minute index in
which its contents are tabulated.”—_Edinburgh Daily Review._

“This is one of the most delightful books we have ever read. It is at
once practical, instructive, and suggestive. Whoever wishes to benefit
his young friends will present them every one with a copy of this book.
Whatever struggling mechanic who, feeling that there is something
beyond what he now knows or can execute, yet hesitates or fears, let
him read this book. It is a sovereign panacea for doubt or cowardice.
Whoever takes delight in watching the development of knowledge and in
ascertaining the sources of the privileges which surround him, let him
possess himself of this book, and we can promise him a treat of no
ordinary character.”—_Sheffield Daily Telegraph.

By the same Author, Crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.



_Illustrated with Two Steel Portraits, and numerous Engravings on Wood._

“It is a singular fate that some of the world’s greatest benefactors
should pass from the world with their history comparatively unnoticed
. . . and we rightly rejoice when the claims of any of them are
vindicated—when, from the hidden company of the Brindleys and Watts,
men risen from the ranks to do world-wide service, and incidently to
be the architects of their country’s later greatness, we can obtain
the authentic history of such a creator as George Stephenson. It is
not too much to say, that by Mr. Smiles, who has performed this office
with eminent success, a considerable void is filled up in the page of
modern history. We see the vast proportions of our modern achievements,
and the epic story of this age of iron, more than half comprised in the
feats of its strongest and most successful worker. The worker himself,
with his noble simplicity and energy, his zeal for his kind, his
native-born gentleness, and indomitable tenacity, would probably have
been eminent in any age or condition of society; but, in virtue of his
actual achievements and the obstacles he surmounted, of his struggles
and triumphs, we may designate him a hero, and ask, in defence of this
arbitrary title, what real conditions of heroism were wanting?”—_The

“We have read this book with unmingled satisfaction. We hardly ever
remember to have read a biography so thoroughly unaffected. There is
no pushing forward of the author himself—he never comes between us and
his subject. The book is an artless attempt to set out the character
and career of one of the most ingenuous, honest, resolute, homely, and
kind-hearted of human beings. We thank Mr. Smiles for having made the
man walk before us in a most life-like picture. The entire style of
the work is unambitious, lucid, thoroughly manly, and good.”—_Saturday

“We should like to see this biography in the hands of all our young
men. One breathes a healthy, bracing atmosphere in reading this
book. It sets before us a fine instance of success in life attained
purely in the exercise of genuine qualities. There was no sham about
George Stephenson. . . . He was a great and good man, and we can
give the ‘Life’ no higher praise than to say that it is worthy of
its subject. Mr. Smiles is so anxious to place the character and
career of Stephenson justly before his readers, that he quite forgets
himself. . . . We do not know that there ever lived an individual to
whom each separate inhabitant of Great Britain owes so much of real
tangible advantage.”—_Fraser’s Magazine._

“It is the fate of few men, even of those who are the most signal
public benefactors, to be known and appreciated by the generation
in which they live. The fame of George Stephenson spread slowly,
and, great as it has at last become, we cannot question that it will
continue to increase with time. Not only is he a surprising example
of a labourer raising himself to wealth and eminence without one
solitary advantage except what he derived from his own genius; but
the direction which that genius took has stamped his name upon the
most wonderful achievement of our age. . . . He died, leaving behind
him the highest character for simplicity, kindness of heart, and
absolute freedom from all sordidness of disposition. His virtues are
very beautifully illustrated, and by no means exaggerated, in his
Life by Mr. Smiles. . . . There is scarcely a single page of the work
which is not suggestive, and on which it would not be profitable to
institute inquiry into the results of past experience as compared
with present practice. The whole ground is novel, and of the highest
interest.”—_Quarterly Review._

“The author of the Railway System—already adopted in every civilised
country, and everywhere bringing forward vast social changes—is the
real hero of the half-century. This instructive and deeply interesting
story of his youth will contribute to keep alive the hopes, incite
the perseverance, encourage the industry, and form the mind of
after generations. It is one of the tales which ‘the world will not
willingly let die.’ The realities of Stephenson’s life, which till
now have found no biographer, are more astounding than the fancies of
even Eastern poets. . . . His life is an admirable model for youth,
supplied by one of the working multitude, while his exertions will help
to relieve them from the extraordinary difficulties which he had to

By the same Author, in 5 vols. crown 8vo, with 9 Steel Portraits and
342 Illustrations on Wood,





History of Inland Communication in Britain, and the Invention and
Introduction of the Steam-Engine and Railway Locomotive.

_A New and Revised Edition._






    ⁂ _Each volume is complete in itself, and may be had separately._

       *       *       *       *       *

“A chapter of English history which had to be written, and which,
probably, no one could have written so well. Mr. Smiles has obtained a
mass of original materials. It is not too much too say that we now have
an Engineers’ Pantheon, with a connected narrative of their successive
reclamations from sea, bog, and fen; a history of the growth of the
inland communication of Great Britain by means of its roads, bridges,
canals, and railways; and a survey of the lighthouses, breakwaters,
docks, and harbours constructed for the protection and accommodation of
our commerce with the world.”—_Times._

“We cannot but refer in passing to the captivating and instructive
volumes which Mr. Smiles has devoted to the ‘Lives of the Engineers,’
a record not before attempted of the achievements of a race of men who
have conferred the highest honour and the most extensive benefits on
their country. ‘Who are the great men of the present age?’ said Mr.
Bright in the House of Commons,—‘Not your warriors—not your statesmen;
they are your Engineers.’”—_Edinburgh Review._

“Mr. Smiles has profoundly studied, and has happily delineated in his
lucid and instructive biographies, that remarkable succession of gifted
minds which has, not by lucky guesses, but by incessant labour and by
lifelong thought, gradually erected that noble example of dominion of
man over the earth—the science of Engineering; and we are proud to
know that there are men yet among us who can wield the arms of the
invincible knights of old, and who will leave no meaner memory behind
them.”—_Quarterly Review._

“Mr. Smiles may fairly claim the merit of having produced one of the
most interesting and instructive works. He has discovered almost
unbroken ground, and has worked it with so much skill and success,
that his readers will recognise in his volumes an illustration of the
truth of Lord Macaulay’s saying, that history, personal or national,
may, when properly written, be rendered as interesting as any
novel.”—_London Review._

“In tracing the history of English engineering from the beginning, Mr.
Smiles really gives a history of English civilisation. He has produced
a kind of philosophical biography, the progress of discovery and
industrial conquest having necessarily a general correspondence with
the mental development of the great representatives of man’s external
action. We think Mr. Smiles has done what was well worth the doing,
with skill, with honesty, with purpose, and with taste.”—_Westminster

“There may be many here who have made themselves acquainted with a
book that cannot be too widely brought into public notice—I mean the
recent publication of a popular author, Mr. Smiles, entitled ‘The Lives
of the Engineers.’ There may be those here who have read the Life of
Brindley, and perused the record of his discouragement in the tardiness
of his own mind, as well as in the external circumstances with which he
determined to do battle, and over which he achieved his triumph. There
may be those who have read the exploits of the blind Metcalfe, who made
roads and bridges in England at a time when nobody else had learned
to make them. There may be those who have dwelt with interest on the
achievements of Smeaton, Rennie, and Telford. In that book we see of
what materials Englishmen are made. These men, who have now become
famous among us, had no mechanics’ institute, no libraries, no classes,
no examinations to cheer them on their way. In the greatest poverty,
difficulties, and discouragements, their energies were found sufficient
for their work, and they have written their names in a distinguished
page of the history of their country.”—_The Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone
at Manchester._

“I have just been reading a work of great interest, which I recommend
to your notice—I mean Smiles’s ‘Lives of the Engineers.’ No more
interesting books have been published of late years than those of Mr.
Smiles—his ‘Lives of the Engineers,’ his ‘Life of George Stephenson,’
and his admirable little book on ‘Self-Help’—a most valuable
manual.”—_The Right Hon. Sir Stafford Northcote at Exeter._

“Mr. Smiles has done wisely to link the names of Boulton and
Watt together in the volume before us. The more we read of the
correspondence between these two great men during the birth of the
new motive power, the more we feel convinced that the world has to be
thankful for their happy partnership. Boulton seemed by some happy
chance to possess all the qualities of mind that were wanting in
Watt. . . . From the heaps of dusty ledgers in the counting—house at
Soho, the author has drawn the materials for these deeply-interesting
lives, and has so handled them as to produce a volume which worthily
crowns his efforts in this most interesting, because before untrodden,
walk in literature.”—_Times._

“Boulton was the complement of Watt’s active intelligence. . . . His
is a memory of which the leaders of industry in Great Britain may well
be proud. His virtues were the common virtues which render the English
character respected throughout the world, but in him they were combined
with admirable harmony, and were unsullied by any of those vices which
too frequently degrade the reputation of our countrymen. We cannot read
of Mr. Boulton’s grand struggle to bring the steam-engine into further
use without a feeling of pure admiration. . . . We lay down this volume
with a feeling of pride and admiration that England had the honour of
producing at the same time two such men, whose labours will continue
to benefit mankind to the remotest generation, and with gratitude to
the distinguished biographist who preserves for the instruction of the
times to come, pictures of them so full of life and reality.”—_Daily

“That Mr. Smiles’s will be the standard life of the great engineer is
simply the necessity of his greater art as an industrial biographer.
His skill in weaving together anecdote and description, representations
of what was known with a distinct specification of what was contributed
by his hero; his dramatic power, in this volume especially, exhibited
in the contrast of the two partners,—the sanguine, speculative
character of Boulton; the anxious, morbid, cautious temper of Watt,—one
full of hope in the very darkest circumstances, the other full of fear
in the brightest,—give the volume a wonderful charm. The life of Watt
is a great epic of discovery: the narrative of it by Mr. Smiles is an
artistic and finished poem.”—_British Quarterly Review._

“We venture to think that this, Mr. Smiles’s most recent work, will
achieve even a higher popularity than those which have preceded it.
We are impressed by this book with the fact that hitherto, however
highly public speakers and writers may have lauded Watt and his
achievements, the general public have really known little or nothing
of this great man’s history, life, and character. These are admirably
and graphically depicted in the volume before us; in the preparation of
which the author appears to have had access to a vast mass of authentic
documents, of which he has made excellent use.”—_Observer.

Just Published, by the same Author, in Crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.




“The cunning of Mr. Smiles’s hand never fails him. He has chosen the
prosaic side of Huguenot history, and has made it as fascinating as
a romance. He has not essayed to depict the religious heroism or the
social tragedy of the Huguenot story—he has restricted himself to the
economical influence of its migrations, and he has made the statistics
and genealogies—of which his work is full—as interesting as Homer’s
lists of ships and heroes, or as Milton’s array of the demigods of
hell. The process seems very simple and easy, but it can be saved from
utter dreariness only by consummate art. Mr. Smiles has pursued his
investigations with a laborious minuteness worthy of the Statistical
Society and of the Heralds’ College; and yet it is as impossible to
skip a page, as in reading his life of Stephenson.”—_British Quarterly._

“Avec un rare déssintéressement national et un sentiment de justice
qu’on ne saurait trop encourager, un écrivain Anglais vient aujourd’hui
rendre aux étrangers ce que la riche et laborieuse Angleterre du
xix^{me} siecle doit aux étrangers. M. Smiles est l’historien de
la vapeur et de toutes les découvertes utiles; ses héros sont les
inventeurs, les artisans célèbres, les ingénieurs, tous ceux, en un
mot, qui out dérobé á la nature un secret ou un force pour étendre le
règne de l’homme sur la matière. Les conquêtes de l’industrie et du
commerce le préoccupent bien autrement que les victoires des armées
Anglaises. . . . Par la tournure de ses idées et l’ordre de ses études,
M. Smiles était done préparé à traiter cet interessant sujet,—la
naissance des arts utiles chez un grand peuple qui, à l’origine,
n’avait pas d’industrie.”—_Revue des Deux Mondes._

“The work of Mr. Smiles embraces a subject which has never been
adequately treated, at least in English literature—the history, namely,
of the French and Flemish Protestant refugees in this country, and
their descendants.

“Of the powerful influence exercised by this immigration on our
industry, commerce, arts, literature, even our usages and modes of
thought, few are aware. The subject is by no means a familiar one among
ourselves. The whole revolution, so to speak, took place so gradually,
the new population amalgamated so readily and thoroughly with the old,
that people hardly attached to the phenomena which passed under their
eyes their real importance. Mr. Smiles’s account of it is, therefore,
admirably calculated to impart, not only new knowledge, but really new
ideas, to most of us.

“To readers who love to dwell on heroic vicissitudes rather than on
mere details of economical progress, Mr. Smiles’s account of the
persecution in France, the sufferings of the many and the marvellous
escapes of the few, will prove the most attractive part of his work.

“How this noble army of emigrants for conscience sake—the truest
aristocracy, perhaps, which has ever developed itself—gradually and
peacefully amalgamated with that mass of the English people which they
had done so much to enrich and to instruct, Mr. Smiles has fully shown.
He recounts their euthanasia, if such it may be termed, as he does
their rise. To one of the great causes of their success, and not in
England only, he does ample justice. They were, as a body, extremely
well educated; and they jealously transmitted that inheritance, which
they had brought from France, to their children. The poorest Huguenot
refugee was almost always a cultivated man. Hence their great advantage
in the fair race of industry.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“Mr. Smiles’s book on the ‘Huguenots’ is an improvement on anything
he has yet done, and it deserves a success which, by reason of its
very merits, we fear it has no chance of attaining. The subject breaks
ground that may almost be called fallow. Many chapters of English
history, and these not the least interesting or important, are for the
first time written, with the care and breadth they deserve, by Mr.
Smiles.”—_London Review._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Ditto marks were replaced in the
Appendix with the actual words. Superscripted letters are preceded by ^
and wrapped in {curly brackets}.

Page xiii, “Pertinaceous” changed to “Pertinacious” (Pertinacious Rats)

Page xiv, “Locustra” changed to “Locusta” (Locusta migratoria)

Page xv, “Entomostracea” changed to “Entomostraca”

Page xvi, “Thompsonii” changed to “Thompsoni” (Couchia Thompsoni)

Page 44, “ask” changed to “asp” (an asp, but it)

Page 207, sidenote, “LOCUSTRIA” changed to “LOCUSTA” (LOCUSTA

Page 253, word originally split over two lines after the first “con”,
“concontributor” changed to “contributor” (afterwards became a

Page 328, “Holothuriadæ” became “Holothuridæ” (of the Holothuridæ

Page 428, parentheses changed to brackets. ([_Edward’s Midge_].)

Page 429, “Chimaera” changed to “Chimæra” ([_Northern Chimæra_])

Page 432, “oth” changed to “other” ( Two other new species)

Page 442, “whch” changed to “which” (it contains which we possess)

Page 443, “laboure” changed to “labourer” (example of a labourer)

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