The Zoologist/4th series, vol 3 (1899)/Issue 702/Editorial Gleanings
We recently (ante, p. 478) drew attention to the forthcoming publication of a series of volumes on the Fauna of South Africa, and mentioned that the first volume would be on the Birds, and written by Dr. Stark. News has unfortunately just been received of the violent death of Dr. Stark, caused by a shell at Ladysmith during the Boer bombardment of that British town. Dr. Stark was the eldest son of the late Mr. John Cowell Stark, of Torquay. He was educated at Blundell's School, Tiverton, and at Clifton College, with a view to becoming a civil engineer. Comparatively late in life, however, he determined to become a doctor, and he matriculated at Edinburgh University. For ten or a dozen years he had been prominently identified with life in South Africa. He had a practice at Capetown, and he was well known and respected at the Cape and in Natal. The deceased gentleman had travelled extensively, not only in South Africa, but in Spain, Morocco, Turkey, and other countries. He was an ardent naturalist and^accomplished ornithologist, and possessed a splendid collection of birds of prey. Dr. Stark was recently in England, and only returned to South Africa last September. Whilst he was at Durban war was declared, when he volunteered for service in assisting the wounded, and was placed in charge of an ambulance.
A well-known and highly respected officer will be missed from the entomological library of the British Museum in the person of Mr. John Saunders, who has been connected with that establishment for nearly sixty years. In 1840, Dr. J. E. Gray applied to the schoolmaster at Hounslow for a boy who could "write a good plain hand," and young Saunders, though barely thirteen years of age, was nominated for the post, and entered on his duties in September of that year. The British Museum—then Old Montagu House—much impressed the young assistant by the fine old entrance-gate with its massive iron knocker, and on each side of the gate a sentry-box and a grenadier with fixed bayonet. There was also a gateporter to open and shut the gate during the day, and three watchmen on duty during the night, who alternately every hour from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. walked round with club and lantern, and called the hour, "All's well." His first occupation was in assisting Dr. Gray in soaking off the Mollusca from old tablets of a very miscellaneous size, and placing them on new ones, previously to their being properly named. In 1847 he was appointed to overhaul the osteological collection, registering, &c, till 1857, when he was transferred to the insect room, and took charge of the library, at that time very small compared with its present dimensions. Thus Mr. Saunders has largely witnessed the evolution of our Zoological Museum, and retires on a moderate pension incidental to a never highly paid position. He has always been greatly esteemed, and the Museum staff presented him with a testimonial on his leaving, which was handed over to him in appreciative terms by another veteran of the establishment—Dr. A. Günther.
On the occasion of the unveiling of the monument dedicated to Johannes Müller, which took place on Oct. 7th at Coblentz, the daughter of the celebrated zoologist presented to the Stadtbibliothek fourteen volumes of drawings, containing upwards of nine hundred zoological sketches made by her father in the years 1850-1854 in various countries.
Mr. Henry O. Forbes, the Director of the Liverpool Museums, has issued his Report upon the Scientific Expedition to the Island of Sokotra during 1898-1899, which, under the generous auspices of the Royal and Royal Geographical Societies of London, and of the British Association, in conjunction with Mr. Ogilvie-Grant, representing the British Museum, he undertook at the direction of the Committee for investigating and making collections of the natural history of that island. The Director truly observes, "that among scientific circles, especially among geographers and biologists, there has everywhere been expressed the warmest appreciation of the liberality and public-spirited action of the Liverpool Museum Committee and the Council in taking part in the exploration of Sokotra."
The share of the results of the expedition which comes to Liverpool may be summarized as follows:—Of mammals, there are examples of one or two species of Rat, of one species of Civet Cat, of one species of Bat, and of the Wild Ass. Of birds, there are some three hundred specimens, out of which seven species have been diagnosed as new to science; a large series of reptiles has been acquired, which contains one genus and eight species new to Herpetology. Numerous Scorpions, Millepedes, and Spiders have been obtained, among which there turn out to be at least one new genus and seven new species; the land-shells number several thousands, of which Mr. Edgar Smith, of the British Museum, has already described eight species as new to his department of Zoology. Of insects—almost the whole of which were collected by Mr. Ogilvie-Grant—there are several thousands, which in butterflies have included a new species of a very beautiful and large Charaxes.