Letter from R.H. Nancarrow, Whipstick, July 31st 1865
To Professor McCoy
Director of the National Museum
I beg most respectfully to thank you for your kindness in answering my inquiries respecting the Freckled Duck - I am pleased that the hastily sketched portrait was recognisable and if you would permit me to send to you again under similar circumstances I should be happy indeed. I cannot claim to be a naturalist and yet few can love Natural History more ardently than I do - but while I have been in this country I have had to read Nature instead of books and however much knowledge I may have thus acquired I feel unable to communicate the results of my observations, on account of my almost total ignorance of scientific nomenclature. What I should fail to do with my pen, I might to a certain extent succeed in doing with my pencil and if, Sir, you would kindly allow me to submit to you from time to time, drawings of anything I may meet with that appears to be new or very rare I have thought it is possible I might thus be the means of now and then adding a new species to the Fauna of Victoria.
Influenced by this hope I once more take the liberty of enclosing a drawing. It is a beautiful little snake which is found, although but rarely, in this neighbourhood. I have never seen it described and a friend informed me a short time since that he could find nothing like it in the National Museum. I saw the first specimen of it eight years ago - since then I have seen but two others.
Having never meet with it in my extensive rambles through the bush at all hours of the day- and from the fact of the three specimens above mentioned having been found early in the morning in digger's holes - into which they must have fallen during the night as the men were sinking till late on the previous evening - I have been led to suppose it must be of nocturnal habits.
The drawing may not please an artist's eye, but it is correct, as regards size and number of bands and in color as near as I could judge under the circumstances the specimen from which it was taken being hung by the neck in a bottle of spirits.
I would add that one of the specimens was somewhat longer and much slenderer than that represented in the drawing- with blacker bands, and the muzzle and tip of the tail, white instead of dark.
Trusting you will not think me obtrusive, I beg to subscribe myself.
Yours very respectfully
July 31st 1865