RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1917. [Letter to F. J. Muniz, 1847]. A letter of Ch. Darwin in Argentina. Nature (14 June): 305-306.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2019, 6.2022. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. This letter was published with important editorial notes in Correspondence vol. 4, p. 17.

[page] 305

A letter of Ch. Darwin in Argentina

ON the occasion of the first national meeting of the Sociedad Argentina de Ciencias Naturales, held towards the end of last year in the city of Tucuman, Seňor Juan W. Gez presented the archive of Dr. F. J. Muňiz, together with a biographical narrative.

To that archive belongs the subjoined letter from Darwin which I have transcribed. That letter, as can be seen, has not been included in the "Life and Letters of Ch. Darwin," but a Spanish version of it was published by the first biographer and editor of the papers of Dr. Muňiz-Don Domingo F. Sarmiento, ex-President of this Republic (1868-74).



Museo Nacional, Buenos Aires, April, 1917.

Down, Farnborough, Kent,

February 26, 1847.

Dr. F. J. MUNIZ, Buenos Aires.


Your letter of August 30, with the papers which you were so good as to send me, reached me only a short time since, owing to the protracted illness and absence from London of Mr. Morris, through whom they were sent. I have lately heard from Mr. Morris that you wish to dispose of your fossil remains on some pecuniary arrangement, which I did not fully understand from your own letter to me. I have given Mr. Morris my opinion on this head, so will not here repeat it; but will only say that I conceive the only feasible plan would be to send your fossils here to some agent to dispose of them. No society will purchase anything of the kind without having them inspected, and most societies only receive presents. Your specimen of the Muňi-felis must be a noble one; I suspect it will turn out to be a Machairodus, of which there are some fragments in the British Museum from the Pampas. I will endeavour to get your paper translated and inserted in some scientific periodical. Your account of the earthquake in the Pampas has surprised me; I never heard of one in any part further east of the Cordillera than at Cordoba. If you will inform me whether you read English I shall, be happy to send you a copy (if you will point out some channel) of my "Geological Observations on South America," lately published; I do not think it worth sending them without knowing whether you read English, which I fear is not probable. Your pamphlet on the scarlet fever I will present to the Royal College of Surgeons.

I cannot adequately say how much I admire your continued zeal, situated as you are without means of pursuing your scientific studies and without people to sympathise with you, for the advancement of natural

[page] 306

history; I trust that the pleasure of your pursuits affords you some reward for your exertions. Some time since you were so kind as to send me through Mr. E. Lumb some most curious, and to me most valuable, information regarding the Niata oxen. I should be deeply obliged by any further facts about any of the domestic animals of La Plata; on the origin of any "breed" of poultry, pigs, dogs, cattle, etc. I should be much interested by a brief description of the habits and appearance of the pigs, dogs, etc., which have run wild, and especially on the habits of these wild breeds, when their young are caught and reared. Will a puppy of one of the run-wild dogs, if brought up carefully, be as tame as a common dog? Any information on all such points would be of real service to me; and my address, should you find time to write to me, will always be that at the head of this letter. I most sincerely wish you all  success in your admirable labours, and if at any time I can be of any service, I shall be happy to be so; but I am sorry to say I am not connected with any mercantile establishment and cannot recommend agents, etc., etc.

With much respect. I beg to remain, Sir,

Your obliged and obedient servant,


P.S.—I omitted to state that Prof. Owen has heard that a collection of bones from Buenos Aires some time since arrived at Paris.

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