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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Victor de Robillard1    20 September 1856

Port Louis, Ile Maurice,

le 20 Septembre 1856.

A Monsieur Charles Darwin. Monsieur,

Mr. Ch. T. Beke2 a communiqué ici à la Société d’histoire naturelle dont je suis l’un des membres, une lettre qu’il a reçue de vous, sur différens points qui sont l’objet de vos recherches. Comme depuis de longues années je m’occupe de former une collection de coquilles, ce qui m’a donné l’occasion d’aller souvent sur les bords de mer, je vais vous communiquer mes remarques, quoique le sujet qui vous occupe, n’attirait pas particulièrement mon attention.

1e. Je n’ai jamais vu d’arbres rejetés par la mer sur le rivage; après les ouragans les débordemens de rivières en charroient quelquefois à leur embouchure, et alors la mer les rapporte sur le rivage, mais on reconnait alors que ce sont des arbres de l’Ile même— Après les ras-de-marée j’ai vu souvent beaucoup de graines sur le rivage, mais elles appartenaient aux plantes marines— Je me rapelle avoir vu cependant des graines d’un assez gros volume, mais je ne les ai pas assez examinées pour savoir si elles appartenaient à des plantes marines ou à des arbres; si elles étaient la graine d’arbres, il pourrait se faire qu’elles arrivent à la mer avec les eaux qui débordent des rivières & qu’elles seraient venues de l’intérieur de l’Ile, dans les parties où les rivières traversent les bois & forêts— Je ne puis donc rien préciser sur ce point.

2e. Il n’est pas à ma connaissance qu’il y ait eu ici des troupes d’oiseaux qui émigrent et arrivent sur l’ile, tous ceux qui vivent ici, ont été introduits de différens pays— Je n’ai jamais su non plus que des espèces nouvelles d’oiseaux aient été trouvées, étant arrivées sur l’île, après s’être égarées en émigrant d’une terre à une autre.

3e. Pour les animaux domestiques & autres, on a introduit beaucoup d’espèces qui se sont acclimatées, venant de diverses contrées— les chevaux nous sont venus du Cap, de l’australie, des Iles Timors, du Pégou,3 d’Angleterre & de France, de Buenos-Ayres—des mules de Buenos-Ayres, de France, de la Mer Rouge, du Cap, du golfe Persique. les bœufs et Vaches nous viennent du Cap, de l’australie, de Madagascar, de l’Inde—les moutons & chevres, de l’Inde, de l’arabie, de l’australie, du Cap, de l’abyssinie; les poules, de l’Inde, de Madagascar, quelques espèces d’Europe et de la cote Est d’afrique. des Pigeons de France, de l’Inde; des chiens, de France, d’angleterre, du Cap—des porcs, de France, d’angleterre, de l’Inde, des Iles Malaises, de chine, de Siam—des Pintades de Madégascar. des Perdrix, de l’Inde—des Canards & des oies, du cap, 〈de〉 l’Inde, de Madagascar—

Voilà, Monsieur, avant de faire des recherches

CD annotations

1.1 Mr… . marines— 2.5] ‘No trees— [’seeds‘ del] except endemic— Has seen seeds, but they may be endemic’ added pencil
3.1 2e… . autre. 3.5] ‘No Birds, [strays] important’ added pencil
Top of first page: ‘19’4 brown crayon; ‘From M. V. de Bobillard’pencil; ‘As there are many land shells, probably Birds do not introduce shells.—’ ink

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix I.  Robillard, a resident of Mauritius, was an active member of the natural history society of the island. He published several papers on Mauritian shells in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius.
Charles Tilstone Beke, an explorer of Abyssinia, had in 1853 become a partner in a Mauritius mercantile house with the intention of opening up trade routes between Britain and Abyssinia. His second wife, Emily Alston, was from Mauritius. CD evidently contacted him in London, although Beke’s name is not on CD’s list of individuals who could provide him with overseas contacts (see Correspondence vol. 5, CD memorandum, [December 1855]).
A district of Burma.
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of animals.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Translation

From Victor de Robillard1    20 September 1856

Port Louis, Ile Maurice,

20 September 1856.

To Mr Charles Darwin.

Sir,

Mr. Ch. T. Beke2 has communicated to the Natural Histroy Society here, of which I am a member, a letter received from you on various points which are the object of your research. As I have been engaged for many years in forming a collection of shells, which has given me the opportunity to go frequently to the sea shore, I will send you my remarks, although the subject that interests you did not especially attract my attention.

1. I have never seen trees thrown up on the shore by the sea; after hurricanes the flooding of rivers sometimes transports some to the estuaries, and then the sea brings them back to the shore, but then they are recognisable as trees of the island itself— After tidal waves I have often seen many seeds on the shore, but they came from marine plants— However, I recall having seen fairly large sized seeds, but I did not examine them enough to know whether they belonged to marine plants or to trees; if they were the seeds of trees, it could be that they reached the sea with river flood-waters and they could have come from the interior of the island, from those parts where the rivers cut through woods and forests— I am therefore unable to say anything precise on this point.

2. I am not aware of there having been here flocks of birds that have migrated and reached the islands; all those that live here have been introduced from other countries— Neither have I ever known of new species of birds having been found that have arrived on the island after losing their way while migrating from one land to another.

3. As far as domesticated animals and others are concerned, many species that have become acclimatised have been introduced from different countries— our horses have come from the Cape, Australia, Timor Islands, Pegu,3 England and France, Buenos Aires—mules from Buenos Aires, France, the Red Sea, the Cape, the Persian Gulf. Cattle from the Cape, Australia, Madagascar, India—sheep and goats from India, Arabia, Australia, the Cape, Abyssinia; poultry from India, Madagascar, some species from Europe and the East Coast of Africa. Pigeons from France and India; dogs from France, England, the Cape—pigs from France, England, India, the Malaysian Islands, China, Siam—guinea-fowl from Madagascar: Partridges from India—ducks and geese from the Cape, India, Madagascar—

Thus, Sir, before doing research

Footnotes

For the transcription of this letter in its original French and CD’s annotations, see Correspondence vol. 6, pp. 225–6. Robillard, a resident of Mauritius, was an active member of the natural history society of the island. He published several papers on Mauritian shells in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius.
Charles Tilstone Beke, an explorer of Abyssinia, had in 1853 become a partner in a Mauritius mercantile house with the intention of opening up trade routes between Britain and Abyssinia. His second wife, Emily Alston, was from Mauritius. CD evidently contacted him in London, although Beke’s name is not on CD’s list of individuals who could provide him with overseas contacts (see Correspondence vol. 5, CD memorandum, [December 1855]).
A district of Burma.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Summary

C. T. Beke has communicated to the Mauritius Natural History Society a letter he received from CD. VdeR attempts to answer questions on transport of seeds by the ocean.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-1956
From
Victor de Robillard
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Mauritius
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 286
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1956,” accessed on 16 December 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-1956.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6

letter