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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Julius Herschel1   17 December 1872

2, Montague Place, | Russell Square. W.C.

le 17 Decbre 1872.

Monsieur,

Je viens de recevoir de mon correspondant, de Rio de Janeiro, une réponse à la question que je lui fis, au mois de Décembre de l’année dernière, au sujet de la mortalité des singes atteints de la fièvre jaune— Voici cette réponse qui, cela va sans dire, ne tranche nullement la question—at issue—qui, probablement, ne saurait être résolue que par l’expérimentation directe sur les intéressans bipèdes—

Anglo-Brazilian Times, Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 22–1872.

Monkeys and Yellow fever”.

“A statement has appeared in some Engl. scientific periodicals, to the effect that the monkeys of Brazil have been dying of yellow fever. We have made inquiries from a number of the most eminent scientific gentlemen of Rio who should be most likely informed in such a matter, and they all agree that they are not aware of any grounds existing for such an assertion, and that, although deaths from consumption (sic) are not unfrequent among the monkeys of Brazil, no case of death from yellow fever has ever come to their knowledge—”

“Moreover, a little consideration would show that, as yellow fever is a disease whose local is a few populated seasides, and its attacks are nearly confined to unacclimated foreigners, the probabilities of a yellow fever epidemic breaking out amongst the monkeys of Brazil are extremely small”—2

Mon correspondant, vous le voyez, Monsieur, n’est point un savant.3 C’est un journaliste et la réponse à ma question, il me l’a donnée dans son journal que je m’empresserai de vous envoyer sous peu.—

Agréez, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentimens les plus distingués. Dr. J. Herschel

[Enclosure]

Rio de Janeiro

22 Nor 1872

My dear Sir

I regret that I have not been able until now to give a definite reply to your enquiry respecting the alleged death from yellow fever of Monkeys in Brazil   I have recently had communications on the subject from different parts of the interior and in no single instance have I learned that death has resulted from this cause. I refer you to a pa〈ra〉graph in the “Anglo Brazilian Times’ of this day which I have caused to be inserted—a copy of which paper I take the liberty of sending to your address.

Please remember me very 〈    〉 to Mrs. & Miss H〈erschel〉4 And 〈    〉 Yours very truly 〈    〉

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix I.
Herschel’s interest in the deaths of Brazilian monkeys from yellow fever may relate to CD’s claim in Descent 1: 11–12 that humans and animals are liable to the same diseases.
Herschel’s correspondent has not been identified.
Mrs and Miss Herschel have not been identified.

Bibliography

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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Translation

From Julius Herschel1   17 December 1872

2, Montague Place, | Russell Square. W.C.

17 Decber 1872.

Sir,

I have just received a reply from my correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, to the question I put to him in December last year, on the subject of the mortality of monkeys attacked by yellow fever.

Here is the reply which, it goes without saying, does not in any way settle the question—at issue—it probably could only be resolved by direct experimentation on these interesting bipeds—

Anglo-Brazilian Times, Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 22–1872.

Monkeys and Yellow fever”.

“A statement has appeared in some Engl. scientific periodicals, to the effect that the monkeys of Brazil have been dying of yellow fever. We have made inquiries from a number of the most eminent scientific gentlemen of Rio who should be most likely informed in such a matter, and they all agree that they are not aware of any grounds existing for such an assertion, and that, although deaths from consumption (sic) are not unfrequent among the monkeys of Brazil, no case of death from yellow fever has ever come to their knowledge—”

“Moreover, a little consideration would show that, as yellow fever is a disease whose local is a few populated seasides, and its attacks are nearly confined to unacclimated foreigners, the probabilities of a yellow fever epidemic breaking out amongst the monkeys of Brazil are extremely small”—2

My correspondent, as you see, Sir, is no man of science.3 He is a journalist and has given me the reply to my question in his newspaper, which I shall hasten to send you soon.—

Believe me, Sir, yours faithfully. | Dr J. Herschel

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see pp. 574–5; the enclosure was written in English.
Herschel’s interest in the deaths of Brazilian monkeys from yellow fever may relate to CD’s claim in Descent 1: 11–12 that humans and animals are liable to the same diseases.
Herschel’s correspondent has not been identified.

Bibliography

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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Summary

Report of yellow fever among Brazilian monkeys probably untrue; his correspondent is only a journalist.

Encloses letter about monkeys allegedly dying from yellow fever.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8684
From
John Russell
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Russell Square
Source of text
DAR 166: 190, DAR 181: 102
Physical description
4pp (French) encl 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8684,” accessed on 15 December 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-8684.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20

letter