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Letter 1857

Darwin, C. R. to Wedgwood, Godfrey

21 Apr [1856]

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    Thanks GW for his report about the rabbits at Sandon [Staffs.]. Fears case has broken down, except that it is now known that such a breed has run wild for some years. No need to send bodies since breed is so obscure.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Ap. 21

My dear Godfrey

I am extremely much obliged to you for all the trouble which you have taken about the Rabbits & for your clear Report. I fear the case has broken down, except so far as knowing that such a breed has run wild for some years at Sandon. The only chance of hearing further particulars would be from the agent of the Estate or any old farmer, & such might know that the breed has been there for at least some given number of years. But perhaps it is not worth taking more trouble about; unless you shd come across any one residing at or near Sandon.—

I am very much obliged to you for all your trouble—

Believe me | Yours affectionately | Charles Darwin

P.S. | I have omitted most important part, viz that it is not worth sending the bodies, as the history of the Breed is so obscure.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1857.f1
    Dated from CD's interest in domesticated animals and their reversion to the wild state.
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    f2 1857.f2
    CD was interested in comparing feral breeds with their domesticated ancestors to see the extent to which adaptation to the wild had caused changes. It was generally thought that the wild conditions would cause reversion to the primitive state, a view that CD thought was unproved (see Origin, pp. 14–15, and Variation 1: 111–15). CD mentioned the case of the half-wild rabbits of Sandon Park (about ten miles south of the Wedgwood potteries at Etruria, Staffordshire) in Variation. He later received further information from a gamekeeper at Sandon Park, who told him that the rabbits had been wild for a considerable time and had originated ‘from variously-coloured domestic rabbits which had been turned out.’ (Variation 1: 122 and n. 26).
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