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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. N. Shaw, Secretary, Royal Geographical Society   25 December [1855]1

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 25th

My dear Sir

You have no idea how useful your various suggestions have been to me. When put on the scent, I have followed up several of your men, got some sort of introduction & written to them.—

But I want to beg one other great favour of you, viz. when you see Mr Consul Brand2 to sound him, & see whether there is any one in Angola who could skin a few specimens for me, & if so, whether he would take the trouble, on his return, to give instructions; & I would in that case write to him, & explain what I want; for I presume there is Poultry every where, if not other domesticated birds.—

I really feel it too impudent to write without knowing him in some degree. Can you aid me in this one respect? Of if you were to write him the briefest note & say that I am a respectable person & would repay any small expence to a bird-skinner &c.—

I have now written to each chief quarter of the world, except Arabia. Can you aid me here; being so anciently civilised it wd. be very fine region for me. Is there any semi-scientific man in Aden? I have written to Revd. J. Erdhardt,3 & used your name, & Col. Sykes4 says he will help me by any request or order to Bombay so as to reach the East coast of Africa.—

With very sincere thanks | Your’s truly | C. Darwin


The recipient is conjectured from the letter’s provenance; the date is based on the letter’s relationship to letters to E. L. Layard, 9 December 1855, to G. H. K. Thwaites, 10 December 1855, and to C. A. Murray, 24 December 1855.
George Brand was British vice-consul at Loanda, Angola, 1844–56. See CD’s memorandum, [December 1855].
A Rev. S. Erhardt was cited in Variation 1: 246 n. 33 concerning the aversion to fowl shown by natives on the east coast of Africa.
William Henry Sykes, retired colonel of the Indian army and deputy chairman of the board of the East India Company, studied the zoology of India and sent CD information on variation in Indian domestic animals.


Has followed correspondent’s useful suggestions of sources of information [on variation in domesticated animals in various regions of the globe].

Asks him to sound out [Mr Consul Brand?] about skinning some bird specimens for him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Norton Shaw
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Geographical Society
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1800,” accessed on 16 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5