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Letter 1793

Darwin, C. R. to Eyton, T. C.

9 Dec [1855]

    Summary Add

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    Vexed he cannot find head of [Chinese] dog.

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    First took up skeletonising to see how much young pigeons and poultry differed from the old.

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    Wishes to ascertain differences in skeletons of pigeons, poultry, covey birds, and rabbits. William Yarrell has shown CD breastbones. W. B. Tegetmeier has shown him skulls of fowls.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Dec 9th

Dear Eyton

I have been looking everywhere for the Dog's Head. As a few years ago I made a clearance of specimens, which I sent to the British Museum, I fear the head must have gone. But I cannot remember having sent it, so it may sometime turn up.— I am vexed at this. I know when I got it some 12 years ago, I meant it for you, but if I sent it off I must have forgotten your pursuit. Indeed till I had the great satisfaction of meeting you at Glasgow I thought you had given up skeletonising. I took to the nice work, first owing to my wish to see how much the young of Pigeons & Poultry differed from the old, & I have a collection in Brine of nestling Pigeons & chickens.—

I feel that I am rather poaching on your manor; & I do not suppose I shall go further than just ascertaining & giving very briefly what differences I can see in the skeletons of Pigeons, Poultry, Covey Birds & rabbits. Your very kind offer of lending me skeletons of other species of pigeons (& that of the splendid Almond Tumbler) may be of the greatest possible use to me, but I have not gone far enough yet to profit by them, & you very likely may publish on the subject before I do, for I am a very slow worker & certainly shall not publish for some years.—

I see Yarrell has done a good deal in the bone line in British Birds; he showed me a lot of breast-bones the other day.— The plan I am following for birds, I shd think would be worth your adoption in regard to Dogs, &c viz to offer some sum sufficient to make it worth while to a Dealer to send you any curious Dogs which might die; for I suppose there are dealers in Dogs in London.—

A Mr Tegetmeier is going to publish a paper on the skulls of Fowls & he showed me a collection the other day, & gave me a small series.—

Your's most truly | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1793.f1
    The Chinese dog's head referred to in letter to T. C. Eyton, 3 December [1855].
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    f2 1793.f2
    See letter to T. C. Eyton, 3 December [1855], n. 3.
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    f3 1793.f3
    See letter to T. C. Eyton, 26 November [1855], n. 1.
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    f4 1793.f4
    CD continued to study variations in pigeons and fowls up to the preparation of the manuscript of Variation in 1867. The work was published in January 1868.
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    f5 1793.f5
    Eyton published the first volume of his Osteologia Avium in 1858 and the second in 1867. CD's copy is in the Darwin Library–Down.
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    f6 1793.f6
    William Yarrell had published A history of British birds in 1839 (2d ed. 1845). CD had earlier read the first volume of the second edition (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *119: 13v.).
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    f7 1793.f7
    Tegetmeier 1856.
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