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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton    4 February [1856]1

Down | Bromley | Kent

Feb. 4th

Dear Galton

I am going to trouble you again. I hear from Norton Shaw,2 that you have aided & have influence with Revd. Erdhardt(?), a missionary from East Africa.—3 At Mr Shaw’s suggestion I wrote to Revd. Erdhardt, several weeks ago, asking him whether he could give me any sort of information in regard to the domesticated poultry & animals on East Africa, about which I am very curious & very unable to get any sort of information. I daresay he thought me a very troublesome & impertinent fellow; but anyhow I have had no answer. Now will you see whether you can exert your influence with him? But pray do not take trouble to answer this, as if you can, I know you will help me, & if you cannot I shall so understand it.—4

We have all been here having a very sick house, but are now better. I hope Mrs. Galton is well.5 I had intended calling on you when lately in London, but I am generally overwhelmed with more things to do, than I can anyhow get through.

Believe me | Yours most sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is provided by the relationship to the letter to H. N. Shaw, 25 December [1855] (Correspondence vol. 5), in which CD mentioned having written to ‘Revd Erhardt’.
Henry Norton Shaw was secretary of the Royal Geographical Society from 1849 to 1863.
Jakob J. Erhardt, a German missionary from the Basle Seminary, was sent to East Africa in 1849 by the Church Missionary Society. In 1855, he visited London to convalesce. On 26 November 1855, he exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society a map he had drawn up from the accounts of Arab tradesmen and natives of a vast lake inland from the coast of Zanzibar and requested funds for an exploratory expedition; the society, however, declined his request. Galton had dealt with his request as a member of the council and of the expeditions committee of the Royal Geographical Society (Forrest 1974, p. 72).
Erhardt was transferred to a mission in India in 1856 (Stock 1899–1916, 2: 135). CD evidently did receive information from Erhardt, for in Variation 1: 246 n. 33, he stated that Erhardt had observed an aversion to fowls by the natives of East Africa.
Louisa Jane Butler had married Francis Galton in 1853 (Darwin pedigree).


Can FG use his influence with Rev. [Erhardt] to get information about domesticated poultry in Africa for CD?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
UCL Library Services, Special Collections (GALTON/1/1/9/5/7/4)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3059,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement)