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Letter 1962

Darwin, C. R. to Gosse, P. H.

28 Sept [1856]

    Summary Add

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    Thanks PHG for information about the bald-pate pigeon.

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    Will write to Richard Hill.

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    Can PHG remember any facts relevant to transport of animals and plants to distant islands?

Transcription

Down, Bromley, Kent,

September 28, 1856.

My dear Sir,

I thank you warmly for your extremely kind letter, and for your information about the bald-pate, which is quite sufficient. When we meet next I shall beg to hear the actual coo!

I will by this very post write to Mr. Hill, and will venture to use your name as an introduction, which I am sure will avail me much; so you need take no trouble on the subject, as using your name will be all that I should require.

With my sincere thanks, Yours truly, | Ch. Darwin.

I am very anxious to get all cases of the transport of plants or animals to distant islands. I have been trying the effects of salt water on the vitality of seeds—their powers of floatation—whether earth sticks to birds' feet or base of beak, and I am experimenting whether small seeds are ever enclosed in such earth, etc. Can you remember any facts? But of all cases whatever, the means of transport (and such I must think exist) of land mollusca utterly puzzle me most. I should be very grateful for any light.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1962.f1
    The letter has not been found, but see n. 2, below.
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    f2 1962.f2
    See CD's letter to P. H. Gosse, 22 September [1856]. In Variation 1: 182 n. 8, CD discussed Coenraad Jacob Temminck's assertion that Columba leucocephala was a true rock pigeon and noted that ‘I am informed by Mr. Gosse that this is an error.’
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    f3 1962.f3
    Richard Hill had assisted Gosse with his books about Jamaica, particularly P. H. Gosse 1847 on the birds of the island. See letters from Richard Hill, 10 January 1857 and 12 March 1857.
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    f4 1962.f4
    CD gave the results of his investigations on the possible means of dispersal of land molluscs in Origin, p. 397. The problem was a ‘puzzle’ because the eggs could not withstand sea-water and yet oceanic islands were always well stocked with land shells. CD eventually concluded that the opercular membrane provided a water-tight seal over the opening of the shell and that hibernating molluscs could be floated across the ocean.
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