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Letter 7100

Darwin, C. R. to Newton, Alfred

9 Feb [1870]


Was gratified “beyond measure” by AN’s comments on his pigeon chapter [in Variation] in the [Zoological] Record [5 (1868): 94–6]. AN is the first man capable of forming a judgment who seems to have thought anything of this part.


Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Feb. 9th

Dear Newton

I suppose it wd be universally held extremely wrong for adefendant to write to a Judge to express his satisfaction at ajudgment in his favour; & yet I am going thus to act.— I havejust read what you have said in the Record about my Pigeonchapters, & it has gratified me beyond measure.f2 I havesometimes felt a little disappointed that the labour of so manyyears seemed to be almost thrown away, for you are the first man,capable of forming a judgment (excepting partly Quatrefages), whoseems to have thought anything of this part of my work.f3

The amountof labour, correspondence, & care, which the subject cost me,is more than you could well suppose.— I thought the article in theAthenæum, written I have no doubt by Owen, was very unjust;f4 but now I feelamply repaid, & I cordially thank you for your sympathy & too warmpraise.—What labour you have bestowed on your part of the Record! I ought to beashamed to speak of my amount of work.—

I thoroughily enjoyed the Sunday which you & the others spent here,f5 &

I remain | Dear Newton | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

DAR 185: 90



The year is established by the reference to Newton’s review ofVariation in Zoological Record (see n. 2, below).
Newton wrote the section on birds in the ZoologicalRecord. In the volume for 1868 he included a brief description ofVariation, and summarised CD’s chapters on pigeons. He concluded that these were ‘two of the mostremarkable chapters ever written on any zoological subject’, andadded, ‘few reflective men will deny the utility of such anaccumulation of facts relating to one species, and none will presumeto question the ability with which they are presented’ (ZoologicalRecord 5 (1868): 33, 94–6). The Zoological Record for 1868 waspublished at the end of 1869.
For Armand de Quatrefages’s response to Variation, seeCorrespondence vol. 16, letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 4 March1868, and Correspondence vol. 17, letter from Armand de Quatrefages,29 March 1869. Quatrefages discussed Variation in Quatrefages 1868–9, pp. 209–25, and CD’s pigeon work in ibid., pp. 211–14; heconcluded that in this work CD had rendered science a signal service(ibid., p. 114).
The review of Variation in the Athenæum was in fact by JohnRobertson ([Robertson] 1868), not Richard Owen. The attribution isbased on the publisher’s marked copy of the Athenæum (CityUniversity Library, London), and on LL 3: 110.
Newton, Robert Swinhoe, Joseph Dalton Hooker, and Albert Güntherwere all at Down on Sunday 23 January 1870 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
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