Responds to CD's queries on Sierra Leone: fertility of European animals introduced to W. Africa, relationship of health and complexion of Europeans, etc.
Marine View. Ventnor | Isle of Wight
My dear Sir
I have just received your letter and am much pleased that any cursory observation of mine may prove of utility to you, and as I am now just out of bed after a weeks very severe sickness, I think there is no better opportunity than the present when the mind is purified by this physical tornado. Any observations contained in my letters are always at your service for publication if you think them sufficiently worthy. The pigeons although procured from different houses evidently belong to the same breed, in fact the only domesticated one in Sierra Leone. With regard to the wild fowls I am of your opinion that they originally came from a domesticated breed, and were set free by the ravages of civil commotions in the neighbour where they abound. It is a country which has always been famous for intestinal wars, and even now is a kind of “debateable land”. I think it may therefore be assumed with some confidence that their descent may be claimed from the African domestic fowl.
European women also become frequently pregnant in S. Leo on the whole I should think there might be a temporary infertility but only for a brief period, or until the animals were fully acclimated—
2. With regard to your 2
London. Oct 20
The only notices you can find of the Mammalia of the Isles of Anno Bon Principe and St Thomas, will be in some Portuguese works published on the subject, a general view of the animals (most of which have been imported from the main-land, and blended with European species) will be found in Barbot Astleys or Churchills collection of voyages— I have been to all these islands, and see no difference in the live stock from the main land. The voyagers (D. J. Santarem and Don Juan Escobar) were the first Portuguese that discovered and visited the island of Princes' &c I published a work some years since with the information relative to the earlier Portuguese voyagers, but it is unfortunately out of print or you should have had a copy with pleasure. I will however look out the information you require.
With regard to the soundings between Fernando Po, and the mainland, they vary from 24 to 36 or 40 fathoms, clayey mud, black or dark green, nearer the lowlands or alluvial flats— The soundings between Anno Bon and the continent are so deep that they have not been recorded. The water is blue [having] frequently passed down in that direction in sailing vessels.
Nov. 7. I hope you will excuse this imperfect account, the greater part of which has been written while laboring under sickness— With the exception of a slight enlargement of the spleen, I am now quite recoved, and have my usual John Bull looks—
Trusting to have the pleasure of seeing you in town soon | I remain
| Yours ever sincerely | W. F. Daniell
C. Darwin Esqr. | Down—
- f1 1970.f1This letter has not been located, but it was presumably written after CD received the pigeons and fowls Daniell sent from Sierra Leone (see n. 2, below).
- f2 1970.f2CD received live fowls and pigeons sent by Daniell from Sierra Leone (Natural selection, p. 80). CD later gave some of them to William Bernhard Tegetmeier (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 19 October ). Information from this letter was repeated in Variation 2: 161.
- f3 1970.f3This information was cited by CD in Natural selection, p. 80, and in Variation 2: 161.
- f4 1970.f4Daniell's information was used by CD in Descent 1: 244–5.
- f5 1970.f5John Barbot's description of his travels in western Africa was published in several collections of voyages. Barbot 1732 is volume 5 of the collection published by Awnsham Churchill. Astley 1745–7 extensively cites Barbot's work and that of his brother James Barbot, who travelled in the same region.
- f6 1970.f6Daniell 1849.
- f7 1970.f7This abstract is preserved with the letter in DAR 205.2 (Letters). CD marked it ‘18’ in brown crayon, the number of his portfolio of notes on the means of dispersal of plants and animals.