States his requirements with regard to pigeons and his interest in ducks and rabbits. Inquires about poultry seen at Leith Hill.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
In accordance with your kind offer, I write to say that what I want far most of all is
one or two good Carriers, & secondly a Runt of largest size & thirdly a
first-rate Fan-tail. I hope to get latter from M
I am become as much interested in Rabbits as in Pigeons & sh
Would you object at any time to put in Cottage Gardener, a query whether any one in England has Finnikin or Turner Pigeons?
At Leith Hill I noticed some very fine rather dark-coloured Dorkings with 5 toes, & all the quarter-grown chickens had hardly any tail at all, but which comes subsequently. Did you know that this was characteristic of any breed: I went to a Farm House whence my Brother got this breed & the good woman assured me that this was their general, but not quite invariable characteristic. The old Birds seemed all alike & true, so that I can hardly suppose the tailless condition to be owing to cross with Cochin, but so it may be.
I have only got as yet 1
My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin
- f1 1957.f1Dated by the reference to Leith Hill Place, the home of CD's sister Caroline Sarah Wedgwood. CD stayed there from 13 to 19 September 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
- f2 1957.f2Harrison Weir.
- f3 1957.f3Matthew Wicking.
- f4 1957.f4E. L. Corker Esq. of 11 Queen Street, Cheapside was mentioned as having won the prize for the best carrier pigeons at the Anerley poultry show, 29 July – 1 August 1856 (Cottage Gardener (1856) 16: 340). In Variation 1: 132 n. 2, CD recorded that: ‘Mr. Haynes and Mr. Corker have given me specimens of their magnificent Carriers.’
- f5 1957.f5See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 24 June .
- f6 1957.f6Tegetmeier was a regular contributor to the Cottage Gardener, which included the Poultry Chronicle. Tegetmeier complied with CD's request (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 3 November ). In Variation 1: 156, finnikins and turners were mentioned as having existed ‘until recently’ in England and possibly in France and Germany.
- f7 1957.f7See n. 1, above.
- f8 1957.f8Tegetmeier 1856–7. The first number was issued in May 1856. By September, three further numbers had been issued. Owing to an error by his bookseller, CD did not actually acquire a copy of the Poultry book edited by Tegetmeier until the summer of 1857 (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 18 May ). Eleven numbers, all that were published, are in the Darwin Library–CUL.