Asks to borrow C. L. Brehm's book [Handbuch der Naturgeschichte aller Vögel Deutschlands (1831)]. Wants to see how far Brehm went in splitting species.
Took finches from Madeira to British Museum.
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Sir
I think you told me long ago that you had Brehm's Book on German
ornithology. If this be so, & you can spare it, will
you be so kind as to lend it me for a fortnight.— In this case will you put on
enclosed address & send it by Parcels Deliv.
If you have it not, or cannot spare it, tear up the address & I shall understand why it does not come.—
I want to see how far Brehm goes in splitting species.—
I have been thinking over the many curious facts which you told me, & wish more than ever that you would publish a paper on the subject.—
I took some of the little finches from Madeira to Brit Mus. & found the Goldfinch, Linnet & greenfinch rather smaller than the British specimens; but not the Blackbird,—nor, as you saw the Swift.—
I wish I had taken more for comparison.—
My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
- f1 1451.f1The recipient is identified by CD's reference to Madeiran birds (see n. 7, below).
- f2 1451.f2Dated from the reference to Brehm 1831. CD recorded having read this book on 30 August 1856 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 20). CD's notes on the volume are in DAR 71: 162–3.
- f3 1451.f3Brehm 1831. CD had skimmed Christian Ludwig Brehm's work ten years earlier and was aware of his tendency to split species (Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Leonard Jenyns, 17 October ).
- f4 1451.f4See letter to E. W. V. Harcourt, 23 August .
- f5 1451.f5CD referred to Brehm 1831 in relation to taxonomic practice in Natural selection, p. 114. Brehm was cited as having added 576 species of birds to the German avifauna.
- f6 1451.f6See the concluding paragraphs of the letter from E. W. V. Harvourt, 31 May 1856.
- f7 1451.f7CD probably refers to Harcourt's remarks about the peculiarities of distribution in the letter from E. W. V. Harcourt, 31 May 1856. Harcourt had already published two works on Madeiran ornithology, both of which CD read. CD's notes on Harcourt 1851 are in DAR 71: 87–8, and an annotated copy of Harcourt 1855 is in DAR 196.4.