Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
in Foreign Countries (S31: 1857)
"The birds have, however, interested me much more than the insects, as they are proportionably much more numerous, and throw great light on the laws of geographical distribution of animals in the East. The Islands of Baly and Lombock, for instance, though of nearly the same size, of the same soil, aspect, elevation and climate, and within sight of each other, yet differ considerably in their productions, and, in fact, belong to two quite distinct zoological provinces, of which they form the extreme limits. As an instance, I may mention the cockatoos, a group of birds confined to Australia and the Moluccas, but quite unknown in Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Malacca; one species, however (Plyctolophus sulphureus), is abundant in Lombock, but is unknown in Baly, the island of Lombock forming the extreme western limit of its range and that of the whole family. Many other species illustrate the same fact, and I am preparing a short account of them for publication. My collection here consists of sixty-eight species of birds, about twenty of which are probably not found west of the island, being species either found in Timor and Sumbawa or hitherto undescribed. I have here, for the first time, met with many interesting birds, whose structure and habits it has been a great pleasure to study, such as the Artamidæ and the genera Ptilotis, Tropidorhynchus, Plyctolophus and Megapodius.
[[p. 5416]] "The islands of Baly and Lombock are inhabited by Malayan races, closely allied to the Javanese. Baly has several rajahs, who are under the protection of the Dutch; Lombock has one rajah, who governs the whole, and is quite independent. These two islands are wonderfully cultivated,--in fact, they are probably among the best cultivated in the world: I was perfectly astonished when, on riding thirty miles into the interior, I beheld the country cultivated like a garden, the whole being cut into terraces, and every patch surrounded by channels, so that any part can be flooded at pleasure; sometimes a hollow has the appearance of a vast amphitheatre, or a hill-side of a gigantic staircase, and hundreds of square miles of an undulated country have been thus rendered capable of irrigation, to effect which almost every stream has been diverted from its channel and its waters distributed over the country. The soil is a fine volcanic mould of the richest description, and the result of such a mode of cultivation is an astonishing fertility; the ground is scarcely ever unoccupied; crops of tobacco, Indian corn, sugar cane, beans and cucumbers, alternate with the rice, and give at every season a green and smiling appearance to the island: it is only on the summits of the hills and on the tops of the undulations, where water cannot be brought, that the ground is left uncultivated, but in these places a short turf gives food to the cattle and horses, which are very abundant, and clumps of bamboos with forest and fruit trees have all the appearance of an extensive park, and a pleasing contrast to the more regularly cultivated districts. I have been informed by parties capable of forming a judgment that in the best cultivated parts of Java so much labour has not been expended on the soil, and even the industrious Chinese can show nothing to surpass it: more than half the Island of Lombock consists of rugged volcanic mountains, which are quite incapable of cultivation, yet it exports more than 20,000 tons of rice annually, besides great quantities of tobacco, coffee, cotton and hides. Our manufacturers and capitalists are on the look-out for a new cotton-producing district: here is one to their hands. The islands of Baly, Lombock and Sumbawa can produce from ten to twenty thousand tons of cotton annually; it costs here uncleaned about 1 1/2 cent a-pound; the qualities are various,--some, I believe, very good, so it can easily be calculated whether, after cleaning, it would pay.
"A. R. Wallace."