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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   14 April [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

Ap. 14th

My dear Sir

Many thanks for Scotch Fawn Rabbit received yesterday & examined to day: I have been very glad to see it. How shall I return it? Can you find out two points for me,—was it wild & was it (as I suppose) a single odd individual?—2

The Angora has just been examined: before making skeleton, for several reasons (great size large ears &c) I suspected that it had been crossed with a large Fancy rabbit; & now I think this still more strongly.— Could you get me a pure albino rabbit? I shd be very glad of another specimen.

Also please do not forget a half-lop, with one ear erect & smaller than the other.—

I have got (but not yet read) the Field to day & see your curious Cock, which I have quoted in my M.S.3 I have now done external characters & shall commence on skeletons.

I plainly see that I shall consume much of your valuable time.— I now enclose a string of questions: some few easy to answer but mostly troublesome & requiring special examination of several Fowls.—

You will see several apply to Shangais; also some to Polands   these will be easy to you.— My M.S. will, also, be a much longer job for you than I had anticipated.4 I have kept list of my Queries, which may shorten your answers.—5 Could you visit any one who keeps several Shangais & Malays? All my queries are founded on what I have seen or heard; but it would take too much space to give my reasons for asking.—

Your assistance will be invaluable to me.—

My Dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. | I have just opened your Box with Skulls. What a magnificent collection!6 I suppose that I have a score more, so that I shall have good materials. I notice that some as Bantams, are not clean enough.— I will assume that I may boil them & clean them, though of course there is always some risk in this, in relation to the articulated bones at the base. But the loss would not be irremediable & I will take care. I must confess that some of my own became disarticulated, but this to me was no injury.—

How did you saw so neatly the skull of Poland?


(19) Though the cock which conquers, naturally gets first choice of wives, yet from analogy with other Birds, & from one account, I imagine the Hen has to be won or charmed to grant her favours.— Can you throw any light on this point, which interests me much.?— There can hardly be a doubt that the beauty of male Bird is to charm the female. Now it has occurred to me to ask you to observe, whether Hens yield to your Hen-tailed Game, as readily as to other cocks. He would be victor, & so have enormous advantage, but would his want of beauty at all interfere with his amatory success, supposing any other & gorgeous cock were present.— I formerly thought of clipping and mutilating the feathers of a cock & observing, but I could not spare time to observe.

Do you know anyone who has kept many Hen-tailed Games & other Game-cocks, such a man might have observed on this point.—


Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 2 April [1861], and by the reference to CD’s manuscript on fowls. CD was composing the chapter on variation in domestic and wild fowls for Variation (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II).
CD included measurements taken from the wild, fawn-coloured rabbit from Scotland in the chart on osteological differences between various breeds published in Variation 1: 127.
Tegetmeier had agreed to read CD’s manuscript on fowls (see letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 22 March [1861] and 28 March [1861]).
The list of CD’s queries has not been found; only part of the enclosure has been located.
CD had asked to examine Tegetmeier’s extensive collection of the skulls and skeletons of various breeds of fowl (see Correspondence vol. 8, letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 17 April [1860] and 20 July [1860]).
The enclosure is in DAR 84.1: 145. Tegetmeier’s response to CD’s queries is written on the back (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [28 May 1861]). The annotations that CD made on the enclosure pertain to Tegetmeier’s response: see the letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [28 May 1861].


Inquires about rabbits.

Sends list of queries on poultry.

WBT’s fowls’ skulls have arrived.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
New York Botanical Garden Library (Charles Finney Cox collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3118,” accessed on 18 October 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9