Requests that JEG secure the assistance of Samuel Birch in regard to information about varieties of domesticated animals and plants in China. Encloses memorandum.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
You have often helped me, will you be so kind as to help me
this time in regard to the enclosed memorandum, with
My dear Gray | Yours very truly | C. Darwin
Is there any translation of any Chinese work, ancient or modern, descriptive, or even simply enumerative, of the varieties of domestic Pigeons & Fowls or Ducks kept by the Chinese; & likewise of the Dogs, sheep, cattle &c; but I care more about the former even than the latter.— And the same in regard to the varieties of cultivated plants, but more especially of tobacco & maize; for these latter plants, the work, of course, must not be ancient.—
If any such Chinese agricultural work or Encyclopædia exists in the British
Museum but has not been translated, would it be possible for M
- f1 1820a.f1Dated by the relationship to subsequent letters to Samuel Birch and William Darwin Fox (see n. 4, below).
- f2 1820a.f2In particular, Gray had assisted CD in obtaining permission to borrow the British Museum's collection of Cirripedia while CD was working on his monograph of the group (see Correspondence vol. 4, letters to J. E. Gray, [18 December 1847], 18 December 1847, and [5 or 6 February 1848]).
- f3 1820a.f3Samuel Birch was assistant keeper of the department of antiquities, British Museum. Gray was keeper of the zoological collections.
- f4 1820a.f4See letters to Samuel Birch, 6 February  and [12 March 1856], and to W. D. Fox, 15 March . In both Origin and Variation, CD cited Birch as having translated for him passages from ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Egyptian texts that described breeds of pigeons and fowls. See Origin, pp. 27–8, and Variation 1: 205, 230, 238, 246 n. 33, and 247.