Asks WDF for facts about stripes in horses and ponies.
Health has been very bad.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Fox
I want you to observe one point for me, on which I am extremely much interested & which will give you no trouble beyond keeping your eyes open, & that is a habit I know full well that you have.
I find Horses of various colours often have a spinal band or stripe of different & darker tint than rest of body—rarely transverse bars on legs, generally on under side of front legs—still more rarely a very faint transverse shoulder stripe, like an ass.—
Is there any breed of Delamere Forest Ponies.— I have found out little about Ponies in these respects. Sir P. Egerton has, I believe, some quite thorough bred Chesnut horses: have any of these the spinal stripe. Mouse-coloured ponies or rather small horses, often have spinal & leg bars. So have Dun Horses (by Dun I mean real colour of cream mixed with brown bay or chesnut).— So have sometimes Chesnuts, but I have not yet got case of spinal stripe in Chesnut Race Horse, or in quite heavy Cart-Horse.— Any facts of this nature of such stripes in Horses would be most useful to me.— There is parallel case in legs of Donkey & I have collected some most curious cases of stripes appearing in various crossed equine animals.—
I have, also, large mass of parallel facts in the breeds of Pigeons about the wing-bars.— I suspect it will throw light on colour of primeval Horse. So do help me if occasion turns up.— I have not yet returned your Oology, though I have finished with it; for I have not been in London since, & I did not like to intrust it to Carrier; though perhaps I had now better do so.— My health has been lately very bad from overwork & on Tuesday I go for fortnights Hydropathy. My work is everlasting.
Farewell— My dear Fox, I trust you are well | Farewell | C. Darwin
- f1 2256.f1Fox was rector of Delamere, Cheshire.
- f2 2256.f2Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton, of Oulton Park, Cheshire, was a neighbour and friend of Fox's.
- f3 2256.f3See letters to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858] and 27 [February 1858].
- f4 2256.f4CD had included a long discussion of the aboriginal markings of horses and donkeys and of hybrid crosses in his chapter on the ‘Laws of variation’ (Natural selection, pp. 328–32).
- f5 2256.f5CD refers to the appearance of two black bars on the wings of pigeons of hybrid origin (see Natural selection, pp. 321–3). CD believed this represented a reversion to the ancestral characters of the aboriginal rock pigeon.
- f6 2256.f6CD had borrowed a copy of Hewitson 1831–44 from Fox (see letters to W. D. Fox, 14 January , 31 January , and 22 February ). He had made a day trip to London on 15 April (see the following letter).
- f7 2256.f7CD left for Moor Park hydropathic establishment on 20 April 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).