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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Bartholomew James Sulivan   11 January 1867


Jany. 11 | 67.

My dear Darwin

I went to Southampton to see Mr. Stirling off,1 and on giving him your paper he reminded me that I gave him a somewhat similar one from you before2—and from his and our catechists notes he had written some answers for you, but they were so incomplete that he did not think them worth sending. On searching his desk he found the questions & answers written by Mr. Bridges which I now send you.3 He will look out again for the points you mention & ask Mr. Bridges the catechist to do the same.

Your last question about the cattle I think I can answer.4 I believe the calves shew their colour from the first, the white cows had white calves. The cow that got me down once after I killed her calf was white with black head—& her calf was just like her. it was about two months old. I recollect in the South—where the cattle are nearly all white—after killing a white cow, a little calf not more than three or four days old ran alongside us to the boat; it was quite white or nearly so—5

when at Southampton I recollected your eldest son had settled there, so I paid him a visit at his Bank.6 I should have known him, though I had not quite recollected how many years have passed, & therefore was surprised to see him look older than I expected.

I hope when he wants a holiday he will run down here for a few days.

With kind regards | Believe me | very sinly yours | B. J. Sulivan


Waite Hockin Stirling was returning to the Falkland Islands, where he would resume the post of missionary to Tierra del Fuego, based at the mission station on Keppel Island (Hazlewood 2000). Sulivan became acquainted with Stirling in 1857, when Sulivan was head of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade and Stirling was secretary of the Patagonian Mission Society (Sulivan ed. 1896, p. 387).
In his letter of 25 December 1866 (Correspondence vol. 14), Sulivan had written that he had gone to see their ‘Mission schooner’ preparing to go to sea, and had mentioned Stirling (see n. 1, above). CD asked Sulivan whether he would ask Stirling to observe the expressions of Fuegians, and enclosed a list of questions in his letter of 31 December [1866] (ibid.). The enclosure has not been found, but the questions were probably similar to the queries about expression sent to several correspondents in February 1867. For CD’s earlier questions, see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Thomas Bridges, 6 January 1860.
The replies to the queries on human expression and the breeding of animals that CD posed in the letter to Thomas Bridges, 6 January 1860, are published in Correspondence vol. 8, in the letter from Thomas Bridges, [October 1860 or after]. At the end of that letter, CD wrote ‘Information from Mr Bridges, Catechist to Fuegian Mission, through Mr Stirling—’. Thomas Bridges had been a missionary based on Keppel Island in the Falklands since 1856 (see E. L. Bridges 1948).
In the list of questions sent in the letter to Bridges of 6 January 1860 (Correspondence vol. 8), CD had asked: ‘What colour are the calves of the wild White cattle with red ears, in the Falkland Islands?’; Bridges’ reply, dated [October 1860 or after], stated that he could not answer the question. Sulivan had resided on the Falkland Islands from 1848 to 1851, and had previously surveyed them (DNB).
CD did not publish Sulivan’s comment on the Falkland Islands calves. However, he did publish in Variation Sulivan’s observations of the colour of Falklands cattle that Sulivan sent in his letter of [10 May 1843] (Correspondence vol. 2; see Variation 1: 86).
William Erasmus Darwin, CD’s eldest son, was a partner in the Southampton and Hampshire Bank.


Bridges, Esteban Lucas. 1948. Uttermost part of the earth. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Hazlewood, Nick. 2000. Savage. The life and times of Jemmy Button. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has given CD’s queries about expression to W. H. Stirling. Thomas Bridges, the catechist, had previously answered some questions incompletely [see 2643]; BJS forwards them [see Expression].

BJS answers CD’s query about when some calves show their adult colour.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 288
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5357,” accessed on 27 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15