Allan O. Hume, C.B.
Edited by Eugene William Gates
Author of “A Handbook to the Birds of British Burmah and of the Birds
in the Fauna of British India,”
With Four Portraits.
[Illustration: Allan Octavian Hume]
[Illustration: ALERE FLAMMAM]
I have long regretted my inability to issue a revised edition of ‘Nests and Eggs.’ For many years after the first Rough Draft appeared, I went on laboriously accumulating materials for a re-issue, but subsequently circumstances prevented my undertaking the work. Now, fortunately, my friend Mr. Eugene Gates has taken the matter up, and much as I may personally regret having to hand over to another a task, the performance of which I should so much have enjoyed, it is some consolation to feel that the readers, at any rate, of this work will have no cause for regret, but rather of rejoicing that the work has passed into younger and stronger hands.
One thing seems necessary to explain. The present Edition does not include quite all the materials I had accumulated for this work. Many years ago, during my absence from Simla, a servant broke into my museum and stole thence several cwts. of manuscript, which he sold as waste paper. This manuscript included more or less complete life-histories of some 700 species of birds, and also a certain number of detailed accounts of nidification. All small notes on slips of paper were left, but almost every article written on full-sized foolscap sheets was abstracted. It was not for many months that the theft was discovered, and then very little of the MSS. could be recovered.
It thus happens that in the cases of some of the most interesting species, of which I had worked up all the notes into a connected whole, nothing, or, as in the case of Argya subrufa, only a single isolated note, appears in the text. It is to be greatly regretted, for my work was imperfect enough as it was; and this ’Selection from the Records,’ that my Philistine servant saw fit to permit himself, has rendered it a great deal more imperfect still; but neither Mr. Oates nor myself can be justly blamed for this.
In conclusion, I have only to say that if this compilation should find favour in any man’s sight he must thank Mr. Oates for it, since not only has he undergone the labour of arranging my materials and seeing the whole work through the press—not only has he, I believe, added himself considerably to those materials—but it is solely owing to him that the work appears at all, as I know no one else to whom I could have entrusted the arduous and, I fear, thankless duty that he has so generously undertaken.