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Querquedula hottentota

William Burchell, Descending from the Sneeuberge near Graaff-Reinet (ca. 1813)


Arma uirumque cano


Of gentle Burchell will I sing

And Stoffel Speelman

His Khoekhoe (Hottentot) aide, or wing

man, traversing

South Africa, collecting

Stuff, the wizard,

That might shed light

On Nature named and pondered on in Fulham:

Burchell's zebra, Burchell's coucal, Burchell's sandgrouse, Burchell's courser,

Pedioplanis burchelli—a lizard,

And, needless said, forget we can't,

Eciton burchelli—the ant.

Stoffel's credited with zeal,

And, of course, his novel hat:

Sic biscuitus disintegrat!*



The blue-billed or spotted teal

(or duck)

Anas punctata Burchell called his,

but in 1838,

Perhaps recognizing Stoffel's part in this,

Tom Eyton renamed the bird Querquedula or Spatula hottentota.

Eyton was a friend of Darwin's and played county cricket for Shropshire

So naturally that stuck.



*"That's the way the cookie crumbles" in Latin.

For William Burchell's is

“Portrait of Speelman, a Hottentot,” see https://library.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/africa/burchell/burchell-images.html. Stoffel, short for Christoffel, or Christopher, is a fairly common Afrikaans name, and Speelman was reportedly a Dutch occupational name for a musician tumbler or jester, from spelen "to play" + man. Since he would obviously have been born under VOC rule, Speelman could have been a name gratuitously bestowed on a slave forefather. Stoffel must thus presumably have been what later generations would call a Cape Coloured rather than the Khoekhoe/Hottentot Burchell identifies him as.



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