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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. R. Waterhouse   [1839 – 10 February 1840]1

My dear Darwin

I herewith send you Blackwalls book,2 I have not been so much pleased with it as I expected I should, from parts which I had read when I saw you— there is not a little twaddle* about it—it is nevertheless interesting & worth reading—very likely I can’t appreciate it

faithfully yours | Geo R Waterhouse Tuesday night

*book making

P.S. I’ll be bound if there are any marsupials in Java or Sumatra, I see that Temminck3 (who by the bye expects some will be found in those islands) expressly denies that any of the Cuscuses (species forming a subdivision of Phalangista) are found, as has been stated, in Java— The only one he has given the locality of Java to is a species found at van Dieman’s land and Port Jackson— now it so happens that all the Phalangistas as yet found in the islands to the North of Australia belong to a different division of the group4 —a group remarkable, among other characters, for a peculiarly wooly frizzled (I think that is a new word) fur—like a black man’s head—and no doubt serves to keep off the hot tropical sun— there is I am sure some mistake— Judging from the Zoological Productions you may depend upon it Java and Sumatra are India— I have got plenty of Java Birds and several quadrupeds from Singapore—and New Guinea—most probably the Moluccas, Celebes, Banda & Amboina are Australia, at least they have a strong smell of that Continent— I say this to call your attention to the matter in a Geological point of view—

I hope to goodness you are better5 —and I hope all goes on well


The letter is addressed to ‘12 Upper Gower St’, CD’s residence from January 1839 to September 1842. The date range is fixed by CD’s record that he read Blackwall’s book (see n. 2, below) by 10 February 1840 (Vorzimmer 1977, p. 123 and DAR 119).
Blackwall 1834. CD’s copy is preserved in Darwin Library–CUL; his annotations show that he was interested mainly in the chapter on instincts of birds, but many other pages are noted on the inside back cover.
CD had made similar notes (in February–July 1838, from Quoy and Gaimard 1830–4, 1: 60) in Notebook C: 13e and 225e.
CD records frequent periods of illness in his ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II) during 1839–42.


Blackwall, John. 1834. Researches in zoology, illustrative of the manners and economy of animals. London.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Notebook C. See de Beer 1960; de Beer and Rowlands 1961; de Beer, Rowlands, and Skramovsky 1967; Notebooks.

Temminck, Coenraad Jacob. 1827–41. Monographies de mammalogie, ou description de quelques genres de mammifères, dont les espèces ont été observées dans les différens musées de l’Europe. 2 vols. Paris and Amsterdam (vol. 1); Leiden (vol. 2).

Vorzimmer, Peter J. 1977. The Darwin reading notebooks (1838-1860). Journal of the History of Biology 10: 107–53.


Sends John Blackwall’s book [Researches in zoology (1834)]. Discusses his reasons for doubting that there are any marsupials in Java or Sumatra.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Robert Waterhouse
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 295
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 475,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2