Item 22 - Letter from Brian Houghton Hodgson to the Secretary of the Bengal Asiatic Society

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Letter from Brian Houghton Hodgson to the Secretary of the Bengal Asiatic Society


  • Spring 185- (Creation)

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To The Secretary Bengal Asiatic Society Spring 185-


When I went to England in 1844 and presented my immense Zoological Collections (10,000 specimens to the National Museum osteological and ordinary) I was immediately asked how many of the species had been named. I answered that all the new Mammals had been so, by myself in the Bengal A.S Journal or in the India Review that a vast number of the new genera and species of Birds had been described in a paper sent from Nepal just before I left it. But that paper it was replied to me had not appeared and I was requested to recast it, so well as I could from rough notes, not having returned a copy of the MS. I did so and the papers was printed. But it did not include the whole of my ornithological [stores?], and it seemed expedient to put at once in print, my own Complete Catalogue of Birds. Accordingly I placed that catalogue in the hands of Mr. Gray for publication and it soon after appeared in London substantially my own, but with its groups disposed according to the system followed in the National Museum [tear in paper] Catalogue. The alterations I think were not always for the better, my own [distribution] having been founded on a [-ful] [tear in paper] examination of the entire [tear in paper] of species in a fresh [tear in paper] vast advantage, though one, no doubt [tear in paper] qualified by my non access to Library [tear in paper] Museum. In due time another [complete] catalogue of all my Collections appeared under the auspices of the Trustees of the National Museum the Museum and therein the Curator of Zoology in that institution made such rectifications of my printed [J].M.S. Catalogue as seemed proper to them. No doubt there was upon the whole much improvement upon my unaided work performed in the Jungles. But for the reason I have already assigned the new determinations of species and allocation of types according to their affinities were not always sound, and students of Himalayan Zoology have accordingly found it expedient to refer consult the priorly made Catalogue of Birds which with notwithstanding the changes made in it also by the same hands yet more clearly than the latter and official one reflected my own conceptions particularly as to novelty of species.

Accordingly I have been frequently asked for copies of this prior Catalogue which is frequently cited by writers in Europe. But I have no more copies left and cannot comply with these requests. It seems to me that the republication of the Catalogue giv[ing?] [tear in paper] it is the great aim of our Journal to as[sist?] [tear in paper] and facilitate; and that this Catalogue giv[ing?] [tear in paper as it does in one view, a complete [?] of Nepalese Species, must a [tear in paper] be convenient for consultation, notwithstanding its errors. I therefore forward for publication if the society see fit and have marginally noted the chief points in which I think Mr. Gray has unwisely deviated from my own allocation of new types

I am Sir
B.H. Hodgson

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