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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-725

To Ernst Dieffenbach   16 December 1843

[Down]

– “… You will have been sorry to have seen in the newspapers, the disturbances & fightings with the Newzealanders.—1 I have lately been much interested in reading your Chapters2 on the slow decrease in numbers … of these poor people. The case appears to me very curious, especially as the decrease has commenced or continued since the introduction of the potato— the relation between the amount of population & of food is hence inverted.— it would have been a case for the great Malthus to have reflected on …”

Footnotes

1
See Mellersh 1968, p. 206. The violent Maori outbreak occurred while FitzRoy was still on his way to the colony.
2
According to Dieffenbach an increase in diseases had occurred since the arrival of Europeans and the changes they brought about in the native way of life. ‘In one word, instead of an active, warlike race, they have become eaters of potatoes, neglecting their industrious pursuits in consequence of the facility of procuring food and blankets, and they pass their lives in eating, smoking, and sleeping. No medical man will deny that in this mode of living alone a sufficient cause is found to account for many of the diseases which prevail.’ (Dieffenbach 1843, 2: 19–20).

Summary

"You will have been sorry to have seen in the newspapers, the disturbances & fightings with the New Zealanders. – I have lately been much interested in reading your chapters on the slow decrease in numbers … of these poor people. The case appears to me very curious, especially as the decrease has commenced or continued since the introduction of the potato – the relation between the amount of population & of food is hence inverted. It would have been a case for the great Malthus to have reflected on".

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-725
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Dieffenbach, Ernst
Sent from
Down
Source of text
J. A. Stargardt (dealers) Cat. 574 1965.11.11–13

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 725,” accessed on 1 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-725

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