ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.
The land of the orang-utan, and the bird or paradise.
A narrative of travel, with sketches of man and nature.
To CHARLES DARWIN,
AUTHOR OF "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES,"
I dedicate this book,
Not only as a token of personal esteem and friendship
To express my deep admiration
His genius and his works.
My readers will naturally ask why I have delayed writing this
book for six years after my return; and I feel bound to give them
full satisfaction on this point.
When I reached England in the spring of 1862, I found myself
surrounded by a room full of packing cases containing the
collections that I had, from time to time, sent home for my
private use. These comprised nearly three thousand birdskins of
about one thousand species, at least twenty thousand beetles and
butterflies of about seven thousand species, and some quadrupeds
and land shells besides. A large proportion of these I had not
seen for years, and in my then weakened state of health, the
unpacking, sorting, and arranging of such a mass of specimens
occupied a long time.
I very soon decided that until I had done something towards
naming and describing the most important groups in my collection,
and had worked out some of the more interesting problems of
variation and geographical distribution (of which I had had
glimpses while collecting them), I would not attempt to publish
my travels. Indeed, I could have printed my notes and journals at
once, leaving all reference to questions of natural history for a
future work; but, I felt that this would be as unsatisfactory to
myself as it would be disappointing to my friends, and
uninstructive to the public.
Since my return, up to this date, I have published eighteen
papers in the "Transactions" or "Proceedings of the Linnean
Zoological and Entomological Societies", describing or
cataloguing portions of my collections, along with twelve others
in various scientific periodicals on more general subjects
connected with them.
Nearly two thousand of my Coleoptera, and many hundreds of my
butterflies, have been already described by various eminent
naturalists, British and foreign; but a much larger number
remains undescribed. Among those to whom science is most indebted
for this laborious work, I must name Mr. F. P. Pascoe, late
President of the Entomological Society of London, who had almost
completed the classification and description of my large
collection of Longicorn beetles (now in his possession),
comprising more than a thousand species, of which at least nine
hundred were previously undescribed and new to European cabinets.
The remaining orders of insects, comprising probably more than
two thousand species, are in the collection of Mr. William Wilson
Saunders, who has caused the larger portion of them to be
described by good entomologists. The Hymenoptera alone amounted
to more than nine hundred species, among which were two hundred
and eighty different kinds of ants, of which two hundred were
The six years' delay in publishing my travels thus enables me to
give what I hope may be an interesting and instructive sketch of
the main results yet arrived at by the study of my collections;
and as the countries I have to describe are not much visited or
written about, and their social and physical conditions are not
liable to rapid change, I believe and hope that my readers will
gain much more than they will lose by not having read my book six
years ago, and by this time perhaps forgotten all about it.
I must now say a few words on the plan of my work.
My journeys to the various islands were regulated by the seasons
and the means of conveyance. I visited some islands two or three
times at distant intervals, and in some cases had to make the
same voyage four times over. A chronological arrangement would
have puzzled my readers. They would never have known where they
were, and my frequent references to the groups of islands,
classed in accordance with the peculiarities of their animal
productions and of their human inhabitants, would have been
hardly intelligible. I have adopted, therefore, a geographical,
zoological, and ethnological arrangement, passing from island to
island in what seems the most natural succession, while I
transgress the order in which I myself visited them, as little as
I divide the Archipelago into five groups of islands, as follows:
I. THE INDO-MALAY ISLANDS: comprising the Malay Peninsula and
Singapore, Borneo, Java, and Sumatra.
II. THE TIMOR GROUP: comprising the islands of Timor, Flores,
Sumbawa, and Lombock, with several smaller ones.
III. CELEBES: comprising also the Sula Islands and Bouton.
IV. THE MOLUCCAN GROUP: comprising Bouru, Ceram, Batchian,
Gilolo, and Morty; with the smaller islands of Ternate, Tidore,
Makian, Kaiķa, Amboyna, Banda, Goram, and Matabello.
V. THE PAPUAN GROUP: comprising the great island of New Guinea,
with the Aru Islands, Mysol, Salwatty, Waigiou, and several
others. The Ke Islands are described with this group on account
of their ethnology, though zoologically and geographically they
belong to the Moluccas.
The chapters relating to the separate islands of each of these
groups are followed by one on the Natural History of that group;
and the work may thus be divided into five parts, each treating
one of the natural divisions of the Archipelago.
The first chapter is an introductory one, on the Physical
Geography of the whole region; and the last is a general sketch
of the paces of man in the Archipelago and the surrounding
countries. With this explanation, and a reference to the maps
which illustrate the work, I trust that my readers will always
know where they are, and in what direction they are going.
I am well aware that my book is far too small for the extent of
the subjects it touches upon. It is a mere sketch; but so far as
it goes, I have endeavoured to make it an accurate one.