Thanks JJW for his paper on apterous insects [see 5939], which contained much new information.
Asks JJW for any information he may have on sexual selection.
Describes an experiment, still untried, of staining tail-feathers of male pigeons in bright colours to find the effect on courtship.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
I must thank you for y
Pray believe me— | my dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin
P.S. I may give an instance of class of facts, that Barrow
asserts, that a male Emberiza(?) at the Cape has immensely
long tail-feathers during breeding season; & that if these are cut
off, he has no chance of getting a wife. I have always felt an
intense wish to make analogous trials, but have never had an
opportunity, & it is not likely that you or anyone would be
willing to try so troublesome an experiment. Colouring or
staining the fine red breast of a bull-finch, with some
innocuous matter into a dingy tint w
A friend promised, but failed, to try a converse experiment
with white pigeons, viz to stain their tails & wings with magenta
or other colours & then observe what effect such a prodigious
alteration would have on their courtship. It w
- f1 5942.f1Weir's paper, `Apterous Lepidoptera', opened with the remark: `until the Darwinian Theory was given to science, the possession by many creatures of obsolete organs formed one of the profoundest puzzles to the naturalist' (Weir 1867, p. 3). CD's annotated copy of the paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL.
- f2 5942.f2Weir described how the thoracic spiricula functioned in connection with the tracheae to inflate the wings of Lepidoptera newly emerged from the larval state (Weir 1867, p. 9).
- f3 5942.f3The spurs are mentioned in Weir 1867, p. 3.
- f4 5942.f4CD refers to the description of Emberiza longicauda (now Euplectes progne, the long-tailed widowbird) in John Barrow's An account of travels into the interior of Southern Africa (Barrow 1801--4, 1: 243--4). Widowbirds are also called whydahs. CD cited Barrow's description of the male `widow-bird' in Descent 2: 97 and 98 n. 88.
- f5 5942.f5See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 21 February  and n. 5.