Letter icon
Letter 2256

Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D.

16 Apr [1858]

    Summary Add

  • +

    Asks WDF for facts about stripes in horses and ponies.

  • +

    Health has been very bad.


Down Bromley Kent

Ap. 16th

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

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 2256.f1
    Fox was rector of Delamere, Cheshire.
  • +
    f2 2256.f2
    Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton, of Oulton Park, Cheshire, was a neighbour and friend of Fox's.
  • +
    f3 2256.f3
    See letters to W. E. Darwin, 11 [February 1858] and 27 [February 1858].
  • +
    f4 2256.f4
    CD 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.f5
    CD 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.f6
    CD had borrowed a copy of Hewitson 1831–44 from Fox (see letters to W. D. Fox, 14 January [1858], 31 January [1858], and 22 February [1858]). He had made a day trip to London on 15 April (see the following letter).
  • +
    f7 2256.f7
    CD left for Moor Park hydropathic establishment on 20 April 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Maximized view Print letter