To Robert Ball 25 March 1
Down Farnborough | Kent
My dear Sir
I am sorry to say, that you could hardly have applied to one less likely to give you information on the points you require. I wish it had been otherwise: it would have given me real pleasure to have been of the smallest assistance to your good work or to yourself.—2
As you say the Fuegians are the simplest of Fishermen: the women catch many little fish, 3 or 4 inches long, with hairs lines,, baited, but without any hooks: they jerk the fish into their bark canoes whilst entangled with their teeth in the line & bait.3 The women at once clean the fish by the simple process of biting out their whole abdomens.— So numerous are the little fish in the great beds of Kelp in T. del Fuego, that our seamen in the Beagle, lived on them for some time, not taking up their salt-meat & thus pocketing the value.— The Fuegians, also, use well-barbed spear heads made of bone, for harpooning porpoises & I believe large fish.—
On the west coast of S. America, at Chiloe a large simple Ascidia is eated & reckoned a great delicacy: the large Balanus psittacus is, also, eaten: I never heard elsewhere of either these tribes being eaten.
I am sorry to say that I can throw no light on the hook; I never saw such a thing before.—
A suggestion from you, sent me by Mr Mallet, about a place for specimens, being given to officers on board men of War, appears to me very good. I have sent it on to Sir J. Herschel & hope he will mention it to the Admiralty.
I am sorry to hear that you have not been well lately.
Pray believe me, | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin To | R. Ball Esqe
Cannot give information about hook. Fuegian women fish without hooks.
Robert Mallet’s suggestion about space for specimens on board men-of-war forwarded to Sir J. Herschel.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1165,” accessed on 29 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1165