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SPORT, AND TRAVEL.
BENGAL CIVIL SERVICE, LATE MAGISTRATE OF MONGHYR.
WILLIAM H. ALLEN AND CO.,
13 WATERLOO PLACE, PALL MALL, S.W.
On arrival in England after spending the best part of my life in the Bengal Civil Service, I was cautioned, on the risk of being voted a bore, never to mention India ; and the proprietor of one of the leading journals, who for many years has taken great interest in literature connected with the east, on hearing that I proposed writing a book about India, warned me that I had no chance whatever in securing readers in England, unless I told my story briefly, and in the lightest possible style.
Believing this advice to be sound, I have followed it as far as possible here, particularly
as I shall be glad if I can attract the attention of those who have an India career before them to the study of natural history, a subject which at present appears insufficiently developed in the education of youth.
In illustration of this I may mention that during twenty years' service, although I constantly heard people regretting their ignorance of botany, with the exception of a short interview which I had two years ago with Dr. Watt, the Professor of Botany at the Hoogly College, I have never, in India, met an Englishman who could identify any but the most common trees and plants which grew around us, much less arrange them according to their affinities or natural orders. This has always been a source of wonder, considering the intense pleasure which even a desultory study of the fauna and flora of
my district has always afforded me. Some of the incidents which I have mentioned have previously appeared in the Calcutta
Englishman,” and in “Land and Water," and the “Field,” whose columns are read all
over India, and which have given a stimulus to the study of natural history more than any other previous publications.
The account which I have given of the Mahwa tree, corresponds with a paper which I read early in the year before the Linnean Society of London.
In his beautiful edition of “White's Selborne, Mr. Frank Buckland says: “ There is hardly a parish in England or Wales where the clergyman has not opportunities of writing a local · White's Selborne.?” The idea of writing the following pages was here suggested, for I thought that if a country clergyman has opportunities of writing anything interesting on the natural history of his parish, how much greater opportunities has the Indian District Officer, with thousands of square miles under him.
The last chapter, giving a short account of a tour made by myself and my wife in Palestine, is inserted in order to show how easily officers and others returning to England from India overland, can visit by far the most interesting