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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edwards Crisp1   4 April 1857

21 Parliament St

April 4 1857

Dear Sir

I caught the Barbel (several of them) last autumn near a mill-dam and was surprised to find wheat in their stomachs—wondered how the fish could get it—but the mystery was solved by the miller, who told me “that a large quantity of wheat passed into the river from the mill” the largest Barbel (about 2 lbs) had about 200 grains of wheat in its stomach: the greater part of it was entire. If taken soon after it was swallowed, it would probably vegetate, but (as you know) the digestion of a fish is so rapid, that most seeds I imagine would soon be destroyed? Should I meet with any I will not fail to send them—

You are probably aware that a kernel of green wheat is a good bait for roach and probably some other fish— To return to the Barbel an angler of my acquaintance used to eat these fish, and contrary to the general taste he thought them excellent. On one occasion however he caught a big fish, and when he was removing the hook, a large quantity of cowx-dung escaped from its mouth; he has never eaten Barbel since!

Ys very faithfully | Edwards Crisp x The cow often deposits its excrement in the water as you know.

C Darwin Esqre

CD annotations

2.1 green wheat is a good bait] underl pencil
Top of first page: ‘18’2 brown crayon


CD had been directed to Crisp, a fellow of the Zoological Society, by James Tenant (see letter from James Tenant, 31 March 1857).
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the means of geographical dispersal of animals and plants.


Reports on wheat in the stomach of fish he caught.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edwards Crisp
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Parliament St, 21
Source of text
DAR 205.2: 221
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2071,” accessed on 29 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6