[London—Friday, 11 May 1860]

Friday 11th Met Mr Jesse at the British Museum at 1 o’clk. He was able to show us many things we could not otherwise have a obtained a view of particularly our view not only of Professor Owen’s collection but of the man himself.

Mr Jesse knocked gently at the Professor’s door when we came in that direction which was rather reluctantly opened as if a busy man sat behind it. The two had a little chat together in a low tone the result of which was Mr Jesse returned with a smiling face to say Prof. Owen would come out to see us immediately. Certainly it was not long before we heard his kindly voice and saw his figure now slightly stooping coming towards us. He began at once to explain the mysterious problems wh. we found in the bones we saw about us. First, a case containing the Australian Kangaroo. He showed us a small head very perfect, then monster fragments of the same animal and finally perfect skulls of these same monsters. He said a monster tooth was sent him which he was wholly unable to class but finally making a bold push declared it must be a tooth of an extinct race of enormous kangaroos, which was afterwards corroborated by the discovery of the immense skulls we saw before us.

After the Kangaroos we were treated to a talk about the mastodon. The Professor said his theory was that the large animal disappeared from the face of the earth in proportion as the land became necessary for the habitation of man. That these large creatures needed more food and more space and were less prolific than the small ones. Altogether he considered a most kindly provision of Providence when they were supplanted by those of lesser size. We saw a turtle from the Himalayas strong enough to bear an elephant upon his back like the fabled turtles of old and many many wonders too numerous to mention. Nevertheless the Prof. in the kindness of his heart did not find them too numerous to discourse to us about, indeed he sympathized as if he had seen these things for the first time with our admiration for his beauties. We fairly drank sun-shine from the plumage of the Bird of Paradise and looked in wonder at the dust colored wings of the female pheasant which enabled her to sit for weeks undiscovered among the moss and weeds while her gay mate may be descried at a full mile.

We fairly tore ourselves away at last only too thankful for what we had enjoyed and feeling half guilty that we had detained our friend so long. At parting he presented me with a sketch of his cottage with his name written upon it. I should not forget the delight he took in showing us the petrified lightning and rain and wind. Mr O’Sullivan who had joined us there had faith he could show us petrified mind soon! Alas! I fear there is enough of that all about us—the fluent, working mind is what we continually seek.

Some person in authority lately proposed to increase the Professor’s salary. No! he said I have enough while those below me are so illy paid. He is now lecturing before the Queen to the great satisfaction of the Royal family.

We saw some remarkable petrified specimens of the Ichthyosaurus which had been hammered out of the solid rock with infinite care by a deaf man who finds his most congenial occupation in thus assisting science and Prof. Owen. His name is Hawkins.


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