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Letter 1909

Darwin, C. R. to Tegetmeier, W. B.

24 June [1856]

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    Now has 89 pigeons. The laughing pigeons are safe at Down. Can WBT spare a pair of Mr Gulliver's runts?


Down Bromley Kent

June 24th

My dear Sir

I brought home the Laughers quite safely: I shd have written sooner, but I feared to give rather a bad Report of one, which seemed ill the next morning, but is now better, but yet not quite well.— I shall be very curious to hear their coo.—

The Scanderoons have a very large massive frame, & if, as I suspect, they are youngish Birds, will be ultimately very large.— I shall be really pleased to let you have a pair, whenever they breed; but shd they lay only one egg the first time, I shall most likely sacrifice that, as I am very anxious to compare soon all very young Pigeons: but afterwards you may rely on my keeping the very first pair for you.—

If it shd turn out that you could spare a pair of Mr Gullivers Runts, they would be very valuable to me. I have a pair of poorish Runts from Mr Baily, but the Hen seems to be quite sterile; & I shall kill her before long for skeleton, if she does not improve her ways.— I am really glad to hear so good an account of your Polands: mine are Hatched, but I have not seen them yet as I was forced to send them to Farm House; we not then having a broody Hen.

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I counted my Pigeons the other day & I have 89!

P.S. | Do you ever see Mr Gulliver, if so, I wish you would kindly remind him, what a valuable treasure to me an old dead Bird would be.— I did once venture to ask him—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1909.f1
    Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 25 April [1856], in which laughing pigeons and the possibility of acquiring the eggs of Polish fowl were mentioned.
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    f2 1909.f2
    CD had been in London from 18 to 21 June 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II). The pigeons were probably the ones mentioned in letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 25 April [1856]. For CD's description and history of this breed, see Variation 1: 155, 207.
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    f3 1909.f3
    See Variation 1: 142–3.
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    f4 1909.f4
    See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 21 September [1856].
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    f5 1909.f5
    See letter to W. D. Fox, 3 January [1856], n. 4.
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