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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Fletcher Hance   3 September 1868

British Vice Consulate, | Whampoa, China,

3. Sept. 1868.

Dear Sir,

Feeling sure you will be gratified to obtain any reliable information or facts bearing on the domestication of animals as affecting change of form and producing varieties, I beg to forward, under a separate cover, a copy of the last no: of a very interesting little periodical published at HongKong, in which, in reply to a query I inserted after reading your section on Gold Fish, you will find the early domestication and ‘culture’ of these animals distinctly asserted, from Chinese literary sources.1

In cases where you might desire information on Chinese matters, and the early & unbroken civilisation of the nation would, I imagine, render their testimony in regard to domesticated animals & plants of peculiar value in your laborious & wonderful researches, I think you might find it well to make use of this journal as a medium of inquiry.2

I am, | Dear Sir, | Yours faithfully | H. F. Hance.

Charles Darwin, Esqre.


CD discussed goldfish in Variation 1: 296–7. Hance sent CD the August 1868 issue of Notes and Queries in China and Japan vol. 2; the note, ‘Gold fish cultivation’, by William Frederick Mayers, Canton, appeared on pp. 123–4. These two pages are in the Darwin Archive–CUL (DAR 193: 55), and are annotated. Hance’s query appeared on page 55 of the April 1868 issue. In Variation 2d ed., 1: 312, CD quoted Mayers’s reply. CD also included some of Mayers’s information in Descent 2: 17 n. 26. No further correspondence with Hance has been found.
There is no evidence that CD again used Notes and Queries in China and Japan.


Sends CD an article [missing] on the early domestication and culture of the goldfish.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Fletcher Hance
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Vice Consulate, Whampoa
Source of text
DAR 166: 96
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6348,” accessed on 20 June 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16