From Robert Swinhoe 5 August 1867
5 August, 1867.
My dear Mr. Darwin
Your letter of 27 February with its enclosure on human expression has a long time been before me;1 and has my attention— I am taking long to make observations, but it is your wish that such should not be made in a hurry. To make them as complete as I can I am enlisting the services of Surgeons, Missionaries &c The skin on a Chinaman’s countenance is so tightly stretched that it is often difficult to detect the wrinkles, and it is the study of the mandarins & literati to affect a stolid look, often under the most trying circumstances. The lower classes will I expect give the best opportunities for experiment. I will do my best for you any way.
I have taken the following note for you under date 13 June. Mr. Gisbert, the Spanish Consul at Amoy,2 visited me this afternoon. He 〈 〉s me that when he was an engineer on the roads in Spain some years ago, he was fond of shooting and roaming about the country. That in the Sierra Morena, a Strawberry-tree (Arbutus unedo?) was very abundant, and bore large quantities of a red fruit like fine large red strawberries. These gave quite a glow to the woods. The spot on the mountain chain he speaks of is on the divisional line between the provinces of Seville and Badajos.3 Under these trees Hedgehogs occurred innumerable and fed on the fruit, which the Spaniards call Madroño. 4 He has often seen an Erizo (Hedgehog)5 trotting along with at least a dozen of these Strawberries sticking on its spines. He supposes that the Hedgehogs were carrying the fruit to their holes to eat in quiet and security, and that to procure them the Hedgehogs must have rolled themselves over the fruit which was scattered in great abundance all over the ground beneath the trees.
Let me call your attention to the Red domestic Pigs in the Zoological Gardens— They are the Pigs and only domestic animal of the Formosan Savage. I have seen white patched and white varieties, but the Red is the prevalent colour. It seems to me that these pigs are direct descendants from the wild pig of the Formosan Mountains Sus taivanus;6 but I have found them breed freely with the curious long-haired Pig of North China.7 The red mother in two cases produced each time 8 young, all black like their sire. There has not been time yet to see if the offspring are prolific.
The wild pig of Formosa is blackish-brown with a whitish moustache streak. The latter disappears or shows very faintly in the domestic state. The colour of these animals would seem to show that with them at least erythrism is the first stage in domestication as in the gold-fish; albinism the second; at melanism they have not yet arrived— In the sty they are shy and wildish.
The Chinese in Formosa import the black long-faced and curved-back breed of Amoy and have not much fancy for the savages’ breed.
Dr Sclater on noting the arrival of these Pigs from Formosa unfortunately stated that they were the wild Formosan Pig, and that he therefore could not understand the fact of one of them having a white patch.8 We have also sent the wild pig, which I hope will reach safe and give an opportunity for comparison—
I sent a Bear from Chefoo (N. China)9 noting how like it was to & probably the same as the Himalayan (Ursus tibetanus). I suppose Chefoo (one of the ports open to trade) was taken for some place in Formosa, & the Society were informed that it was sent to illustrate my Ursus formosanus but unfortunately turned out to be U. tibetanus. I have lately sent a true Formosan Bear to put the matter straight. I think no one will deny that it is a good species.10 Insular forms of Bears, Flying Squirrels, Jays & many other animals, you can with almost certainty indicate as distinct from those of the adjacent main.11
I trust your health is fast reestablishing, and that the work we are all looking forward to will appear ere long—12
Your’s very sincerely, | Robert Swinhoe
Will do his best to get observations on expression among the Chinese.
Reports observations on hedgehogs collecting fruit with their spines.
Discusses the domestic pig of Formosa, its wild ancestors, and its capacity to breed with other races.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5598,” accessed on 1 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5598