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Letter 5916

Wilson, Edward to Darwin, C. R.

22 Feb 1868

    Summary Add

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    CD's queries on expression.

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    Sends photo of a native Australian.


Hayes | Bromley, Kent.

22d. Feby 1868

My dear Mr. Darwin.

Enclosed is the only black fellow I have got.

``Mr Tincan'' is a capital specimen of the race & very characteristic of the better tribes in Victoria.

He was a very steady & intelligent fellow, for a black fellow, & live<d, for> some time as a stock keeper, with a friend of mine; a perfect mode<l of> propriety, except, for a few weeks periodically, when, like almost every other ``civilised'' black fellow that I ever heard of, he insisted upon having his ``fling'' & taking to his Opossum skin would run quite wild amongst his dusky companions. He had rather a ludicrous taste for the fine arts, & I have got some pictures of his which I should be glad to rout out some day & shew you.

Please let me have the Photograph back when you have done with it.

In addition to the list of enquiries as to the emotions, of which I enclosed a reply in my last, I have sent a list of them to a gentleman in <Quee>nsland & also to one in South Australia, who will I am sure take great pains about them, so that you should be very thoroughly informed as to the Australian natives.

A mention in yr. great new work of the cross of the bulldog having been introduced to give courage & tenacity to a breed of the Greyhound, reminds me of a very laughable story that occurred under my own knowledge.

For some years I had a cattle station of my own & between my place & some almost inaccessible ranges, a little settler sat down & earned an honest livelihood by breeding a few cattle. <He> was greatly annoyed by the wild dogs which in those days, were <very nu>merous particularly amongst the hills, & finding <    > <Kangeroo> dogs, altho very good for their principal <pu>rsuit, had not courage enough to deal with the wild dogs <h>e took up to his station a very fine bull dog of a high pedigree, with a view of introducing the necessary spirit. He chained up his prize close to his hut & doubtless hugged himself in the belief, that he should soon be upon a much better footing with his enemy. But the wild dogs did not enter into the experiment at all in a corresponding spirit, & almost directly after the arrival of the bull dog they held a cabinet council amongst themselves to consider the merits of the case, & after voting by acclamation an entire want of confidence in the new arrival, they took the

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 5916.f1
    CD had requested photographs of Australian aboriginal people in his letter to Wilson of 20 February [1868].
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    f2 5916.f2
    On the aboriginal peoples of Victoria, Australia, see Barwick 1972. `Mr Tincan' has not been identified.
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    f3 5916.f3
    The gentleman in Queensland was probably Dyson Lacy (see letter from Dyson Lacy, [before 13 August 1868]). In Expression, p. 20, CD noted that through Wilson he had received thirteen sets of answers to his queries.
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    f4 5916.f4
    Wilson refers to Variation 1: 41.
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