Capable of displaying deep affection for earthworms and describing encounters with tortoises as if they were passers-by in the street, Darwin nevertheless mobilizes a rhetoric of disgust for describing carrion-hunting buzzards and vultures and, in particular, for snakes and lizards. Many travel accounts feature heightened descriptions of reptiles, particularly snakes, and offer dramatic anecdotes of encounter and combat. Maria Riddell silence on the subject of slavery is hardly admirable, but nor is it surprising, and her investment in the natural world is an interesting (if evasive) strategy for generating meaning and purpose in an otherwise disempowering world. Ushering in the Victorian age, and inheriting a long line of eighteenth-century travel narratives, Charles Darwin’s 1839 The Voyage of the Beagle, had dealt, by contrast, with some emphatically real reptiles. The anthropological parallels which Atkins draws with the Israelites render the West Africans much less alien, as does his discussion of their religious similarities to the ancient Egyptians.