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Letter 2164

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

2 Nov [1857]


Has TCE observed whether hybrids of Chinese and common forms [of geese] were wilder, or less tame, than both parents?


Down Bromley Kent

November 2d.

Dear Eyton>

Will you forgive me troubling you with a question, which you can answer by “yes” or “no”. Did you observe that your hybrids between the Chinese & common form, were at all wilder or less tame than both parents?f2 I have been informed that this is sometimes the case with hybrids, as with those from common & Musk Duck.f3

Yours most truly | C. Darwin

Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham (EYT/1/42)



The information given in this letter was used by CD in chapter 10 of his species book, completed in March 1858 (‘Journal’; see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II).
Eyton had described these hybrid geese in Eyton 1837b and 1840. The question posed in the letter was evidently answered by Eyton, for CD reported that the offspring were not wilder than their parents (Natural selection, p. 486).
See Natural selection, p. 486, where CD wrote: ‘Mr. Garnett of Clitheroe in a letter to me states that his hybrids from the musk & common Duck “evinced a singular tendency to wildness.”’
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