1 – Letter to Smith from Richard Crawshay, Useless Bay [Inutil Bay], Tierra del Fuego, [Chile], 29 Jan 1905

Terms of Use
The copyright of this material belongs to descendants of the creator. Images are permitted for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

Letter 1
FS/3/3/3/1 (1)
Useless Bay,
Tierra del Fuego,



My Dear Smith,
It was a pleasure to have your letter of Oct. 24 about a fortnight ago.
How good you are in writing!
As I respond, I am wondering how I shall be able to acquit myself in this brief letter in giving you some fairly comprehensible account of my being & doing since last I wrote from the “Milton”.
Yet once again have I realised a complete upset to definite [1 word struck through illeg] plans — the outcome of too little knowledge of what lay ahead.
How curious are these such upheavals &


reversals in our lives!
Yet without where we have done our upmost in shaping a course, they cannot but be for the best — or at least be intended by providence for the best?
Until this reaches you, you will have believed me to be in Patagonia, whereas I am — as you will see — in Tierra del Fuego, still nearer the S. Pole.
On landing in Punto Arenas — in winter — the country proved completely [1 word struck through illeg] impassable in the severest winter [1 word struck through illeg] known since its occupation by history recording man.
There was no prospect of being able to penetrate it for 2 months.
I therefore crossed to Tierra del Fuego, to ‘put in’ time here — this being open: the N. it [1 word struck through illeg] of it at least has proved so splendid a field for [1 word struck through illeg] work that I have remained on, foregoing Patagonia altogether [.] Certainly, all things have worked for the best.


I am indeed thankful to have been driven to visit this weird remote [1 word struck through illeg] intensely fascinating land, so little comprehended by the world without — &, I am constrained to add, by its own people within.
How am I to condense the results achieved during 5 month’s [1 word struck through illeg] strenuous work — constantly on the move, & for the first part of my time in the face of nature’s elements which must be experienced to be adequately realized — I am afraid into [1 word struck through illeg] a brief letter?
I am afraid I cannot, so please take this will for the deed wherein I come short, though impelled by the best of intentions.
It did not take me many days in Fuego to grasp the fact that it’s [sic] largest & most interesting fauna are it’s [sic] Birds. I have therefore, directed my energies mainly to collecting these.
My species now number exactly 60 in


duplicate, triplicate, or more examples of some of them.
It would do your heart good to see the result of my labours — all done perforce by my own hand. It has been heavy work, [1 word struck through illeg] but there is [1 word struck through illeg] something solid to show for it.
There is not a single bad skin in all my 109 specimens.
All have been done with scrupulous care — often too under cruelly trying conditions.
Naturally you will like to hear something of them, in detail:-
In game birds I have 3 species: all Grouse — apparently: the largest weighs rather over 1lb: the smallest 2 ½ oz.! The smallest game Bird in the world I should think: smaller than any Bustard Quail I do not include in Game Birds either Snipe or Geese or Duck — all of which I have.
I have 2 sp. [species] Geese, & 5 of Duck — which are not all there are by any means, but all [1 word struck through illeg] I have been able to acquire.


The Most sensational birds I have — to me at least. are a tiny Reed Warbler no larger than a Bumble Bee, a tiny Black Wren from the depths of the forest at the entrance of Admiralty Sound, a tiny tiny owl from the forest weighing exactly 3 oz, probably the largest Bird of Prey in the island — an Eagle measuring 5ft 91/2 in from wing tip to wing tip, a tiny grey Titmouse — 3 examples from the forest & a black Oyster Catcher. All Birds mentioned by Darwin, these are particularly interesting for this reason: – In this connection I have The White faced Oyster Catcher [Haematopus leucopodus]. The little Pink legged Plover [Pleuvianellus sociabilis] — of both of which only the one example collected In 1838 exists in the B.M. [British Museum],


a Scarlet & Black Woodpecker [Symbol for male] & [Symbol for female], Nuthatch [symbol for male] & [Symbol for female] [Oxyyurus], & such common but highly idiosyncratic forms as the ‘Tero-Tero’ Plover, Two species of Starling, a Blackbird. & the curious little mound owl. In Eggs, I have [1 word struck through illeg] done a certain amount
— all indeed that has been possible.
Mammals are a very poor fauna indeed:-
I doubt if there are more than some 20 sp. [species] all told — land & Marine — In & around the Island. What I have are almost exclusively mainly Rodents including the very remarkable Stenomys (?) corresponding to the Tuko-Tuko of Patagonia.
The most interesting valuable acquisition [1 word struck through illeg] is probably a Bat from the forest at the mouth of


Rio McClelland to the S. of the Bay. This is the only one I have seen, & there are men in Fuego who have been here years who have never before seen a bat & who doubted their existence.
I shot my first Guanaco [Anchenia] on Aug 28th.
They are very curious creatures indeed worthy inhabitants of this extraordinary land.
Their thick soft close woolly fleeces are very nice and warm — like nothing else I have ever seen. I cannot say I care much for the flesh.
The stomachs of these animals sometimes contain very extraordinary stones.
I have 5 — 2 large, 3 small — taken from the stomach of an old [symbol for male], shot by a Mr E. C. Clarke who has very kindly given them to me [.]
The material results of my work in other ways have been collections of insects — Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, & Hymenoptera
*I have taken about 150 photos — how these will turn out I don’t know, as they have yet to be developed. Time exposes in the wind, & in forest light, are so difficult to judge R.C. [signature]

…almost exclusively. Earthworms & marine [1 word struck through illeg] fresh water, [1sp] & hard shells. Amongst Odds & ends. I have 3 examples of a Green Lizard.
Darwin I think found neither Lizards nor Earthworms??
Mine¬ has been altogether a most interesting time however hard in the face of [illegible] of conditions.
If I have a regret it is that I have not been able to do more than the work of one man.
My last achievement has been the ascent of Nose Peak at the entrance of admiralty sound.
I’ve never tackled a harder physical task in all my days.
Darwin pronounced this forest “impenetrable”. Practically speaking it is.
I leave for home — D.V — at the end of Feb or the beginning of March, when I hope we shall meet.
This I will address & to the W.O.[War Office] as I think you will be in England by the time this reaches there: if not, it will go on to you without delay.

[Rotated page 8]

I much appreciate your wise & timely remarks on the question of my visit to New York being deferred No! I do not think it will ever come off now. I am myself quite heart whole & philosophic, as becomes one of my age & experience of life; but the lady I can see plainly is much vexed with herself — & at first was furious with me. Any woman who controls my destinies to the extent of being a partner in marriage must take me for what I am & I know I am — a solid honest serious straight man who will not forego what he conceives to be his responsibilities in life for all this woman [and] whoever comes into this world if these cannot see life things from [anywhere?] near the same point of perspective… Do let me put you up for the Savile on my return? It is a club to suit you down to the ground, & the expense — after all — is

[Rotated page 5 ]

With every good wish for you in 1905, yours most sincerely, Richard Crawshay. [signature]

P.S. Congratulations on your book being in type. It will form part of my little library, ere long. By this mail I see Fitzwygram has gone to join the ever increasing majority. What a personality he had!

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

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

Terms of Use
The copyright of this material belongs to descendants of the creator. Images are permitted for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

Letter 2
Melchbourne Vicarage,


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

[rotated the first page of the letter]

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

Richard Crawshay [signature]

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


3 – Letter to Smith from Richard Crawshay, Melchbourne Vicarage, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, 5 Nov 1907

Terms of Use
The copyright of this material belongs to descendants of the creator. Images are permitted for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

Letter 3


Melchbourne Vicarage,



My Dear Smith,

Your kindly words in appreciation of my work are indeed helpful & reassuring coming whence they do.

I hope the remainder of the book will also please you — & I think it will.

From Quaritch yesterday I received two specimen copies beautifully bound in [illegible]: All hand work. Of these I select one for use throughout as regards that number of copies which are to be thus expensively & handsomely ­bound, the remainder being bound in


What is known as “Roxburgh”, a sufficiently pleasing & serviceable binding for practical purposes, & one suited to those libraries & book collections who substitute their non-styles for those of the author & publisher. Tomorrow, I have to be in London to discuss matters with Quaritch, & I might be in town over 2 days — hardly can one return anyhow under that time.

It would be nice to see you & show you the book but it is almost more than I may be able to achieve besides you are yourself fully occupied. As to works on Anthropology, I do not for the moment recollect anything very official beyond ‘Tylor’s “Anthropology” which I seem to remember having sent you to Pretoria.

In writing the little note I did, on the ones, I did not consult any book —


beyond Washington Irving (whose words I quote). & Longfellow in “Hiawatha”. What one says is just one’s own impression received.

I wonder if you know Read [sic] the keeper of anthropology at the B.M (Bloomsbury) — there is no room for this section in the N.H.M, [Natural History Museum] South Kensington –? If not, you would find him a worthy addition to your acquaintances. He is very keen on his charge.

If he is now in town I will go & see him, & ask what books he can recommend.

He was greatly pleased with an Ona arrow

If you care for one, you are most welcome I need hardly add? Indeed, long since I remember — I think — having offered or promised you one. Certainly: I agree with you up to the hilt.


on hygiene in clothing (& in all other ways) not only as applied to equines but to all other creatures — man included.

Aye, truly! It must prove difficult for you to stem the stream of long — established practice, no matter how based on fallacy & misunderstanding & want of common sense.

But, in the end, there can be no question but what you will prevail.

Is not common sense now telling more & more in human hygiene, although only now that nature compels? Look at the “cures” which people are ordered to undergo, involving [illegible] to the most primitive methods of life known amongst mankind!

My more humble ideas I write, with pleasure, formulate [proper?] as best I can, for any purpose these may serve. It is a duty to do so, but, as you know I can only touch on veterinary science on the broad principle of what applies to all living creatures in a state of nature = common sense. Yours most sincerely Richard Crawshay. [signature]

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