Jean-Henri FABRE Letter from Charles DARWIN to J.-H. FABRE of February 20, 1880

Down, February 20th, 1880.

My Dear Sir,

I thank you for your kind letter, and am delighted that you will try the experiment of rotation. It is very curious that such a belief should be held about cats in your country (M. Fabre had written from Sérignan, Vaucluse: "Parmi la population des paysans de mon village, l'habitude est de faire tourner dans un sac le chat que l'on se propose de porter ailleurs, et dont on veut empêcher le retour. J'ignore si cette pratique obtient du succès."), I never heard of anything of the kind in England. I was led, as I believe, to think of the experiment from having read in Wrangel's 'Travels in Siberia' (Admiral Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangell, "Le Nord de la Sibérie, Voyage parmi les Peuplades de la Russie asiatique, etc." Paris, 1843.) of the wonderful power which the Samoyedes possess of keeping their direction in a fog whilst travelling in a tortuous line through broken ice. With respect to cats, I have seen an account that in Belgium there is a society which gives prizes to the cat which can soonest find its way home, and for this purpose they are carried to distant parts of the city.

I am extremely glad to hear that your book will probably be translated into English.

Here would be a capital opportunity for trying rotation.

Charles Darwin.

P.S. I shall be much pleased to hear the result of your experiments

source :
"MORE LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN" - London, 1903, vol. I - Edited by Francis DARWIN and A.C. SEWARD
Thanks for the e-text : Sue ASSCHER - Australia - Project Gutenberg.

Jean-Henri Fabre, Virgil of insects

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