2 autograph letters signed to Whitaker

Millais, J. G.

Publication Date: 1904
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Introducing the Word "Krill" in the Context of Whale Investigations Millais, John Guille (1865-1931). Two autograph letters signed to British ornithologist Joseph I. S. Whitaker (1850-1936). 8pp. total. Shetland and Horsham, n.d. [ca. 1904]. 177 x 116 mm. and 140 x 107 mm. First leaf of one letter unevenly faded, but very good. From naturalist John G. Millais, son of the the famous pre-Raphaelite painter J. E. Millais and one of the most respected British ornithologists and bird artists of his time, to fellow ornithologist Joseph I. S. Whitaker, author of The Birds of Tunisia (1905). The letters are not dated, but were written around the time that Millais was working on his three-volume Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland (1904-6), a work notable for containing some of the first scientific studies of whales. Millais mentions his whale investigations in the letter written from Shetland, dated "Fby.(?) 15th": "Am studying whales & smaller mammals here both very interesting. Whale station half a mile away. I have already drawn B. [.] & Megaptera boops [humpback] . . . Pictures of these great beasts are very incorrect in books. Have just returned from a 4 days cruise after whales . . . I saw a big Finner feeding within 20 yards a wonderful sight. He turned over on his side went full speed ahead & took a huge mouthful of "kril"-seemed to take little notice of us & spun round the steamer so fast we could not get a shot at him." Millais was responsible for introducing the Norwegian word "krill" into the English language: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage of "krill" in English was in Millais's Newfoundland and its Untrodden Ways, published in 1907. Millais's letter most likely was written before that date, as in it Millais discusses his mammal studies and notes that "Vol. I [of Mammals, which appeared in 1904] . . . is now published." In the second letter, dated "March 31st," Millais writes, "I am so glad that you like the 'Mammals' & think you will consider Vol. 2 a great deal better in many ways than Vol. 1. The col. plates alone have turned out 50 per cent better." He warns Whitaker not to assume that "deer and white cattle" are descendants of the extinct wild aurochs; "there is not the smallest assumption that I can see, that they are even remotely descended from Urus (Bos primigenius)." Lastly Millais complains about plagiarism: "I have made a point of giving credit to every man's work when I have made reference to them, as much as anything else to try & check the selfish spirit of plagiarism which seems to be growing amongst scientific naturalists. It is the commonest thing to come upon whole passages (put into [.] words) which are undoubtedly stolen. There is no other word for it.". Bookseller Inventory # 43838

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Title: 2 autograph letters signed to Whitaker

Publication Date: 1904

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

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