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Letter 848

Darwin, C. R. to Bell, Thomas

[26 Apr – Aug 1845]

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    Asks for Gabriel Bibron's address. He has two questions about snakes in S. America for which he wants answers, as he is preparing a new edition of his Journal of researches.




My dear Bell

Would you kindly take the trouble to send me a line (to 7. Park St. Grosvenor Square) to tell me Bibron's address, without indeed, which wd be much better, you could tell me the two points, I am anxious about.—viz, the name of the Trigonocephalus from B. Blanca and secondly whether there be more than one species of snake at the Galapagos, & whether such have a S. American physiognomy.

I am right, in thinking that you sent all my snakes to Bibron?

My reason for wanting to know is that I am preparing a second Edit. of my Journal for Murray's Colonial Library.

I hope you are well; does not this rain gladden your heart, when you think of the meadows of Selbourne?

Pray give my kind compliments to Mrs Bell, and believe me | Ever yours truly | C. Darwin

Wd you let me have a line soon.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 848.f1
    The date range is that of the composition of Journal of researches 2d ed. (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II).
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    f2 848.f2
    Gabriel Bibron. Bell had sent CD's Beagle collection of snakes to him (see Reptiles, p. vi) for use in Duméril and Bibron 1834–54, vols. 6 and 7: in vol. 6, p. xii, the authors acknowledge having received specimens from Bell.
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    f3 848.f3
    Trigonocephalus was the then accepted term for a genus which included pit vipers. The snake in question interested CD because, though it lacks a rattle, it displays the rattlesnake's habit of rapidly vibrating the end of its tail when irritated or surprised: ‘showing how every character, even though it may be in some degree independent of structure, has a tendency to vary by slow degrees’ (Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 96). In a note at the end of the volume (p. 506) CD reports that Bibron thought it to be a new species, which he proposed to call T. crepitans.
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    f4 848.f4
    ‘There is one snake which is numerous; it is identical, as I am informed by M. Bibron, with the Psammophis Temminckii from Chile’ (Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 381).
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    f5 848.f5
    Bell, a great admirer of Gilbert White, had purchased White's house, ‘The Wakes’, in Selborne, Hampshire.
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