From W. D. Fox 8 March 1
Delamere | Northwich
My dear Darwin
I have anxiously inspected My Dorking & Cochin friends Yards for an old Cock of Each, & written to Captain Hornby2 —but I fear you have not received any yet. There must be some die before long I think.
Have you a Sebright Bantam yet?3 If not I have an old Gentleman I will send you shortly. You should have an old White Dorking also, as they are quite distinct from the other in form.
I forget whether I ever told you that I had long considered the Scotch Deer Hound a mongrel, par Excellence. Dont tell any Scotch so, or I shall be murdered. It has long been a pet idea of mine, & I have often said I could breed them without any Deer Hound blood in them. I have also always thought the Irish Deer or Wolf Dog, was merely a cross with the Scotch & a Mastiff.
Some months ago in a conversation on this head with a Mr Lister near here,4 he told me to my great delight that he had a Bitch Deer Hound & Mastiff. On looking at her it is wonderful how little the Mastiff is recognisable in her. On minutely examining however, you find her mastiff Blood in neck & shoulder. I much wished this Bitch crossed back with Deer Hound. This has been done, & the result, as shown in a splendid Bitch puppy, is to completely restore the Scotch Deer Hound. I dined there last week, & met a stranger who was enthusiastic about Scotch Dogs—of which by the way he gave a pretty story as having happened to himself. Walking one day in Regent St he felt something cold in his hand, & on looking, found a Scotch Dogs nose there, who had been with him Deer stalking &c 2 years before in the Highlands, & was then walking in London with his Master.
Lister, rather spitefully introduced me to this Captain Warren5 —as being one who believed in the Scotch Dogs being mongrels. Of course I maintained my ground, when, to my intense amusement he (after warning me not to go to Scotland & especially Badenoch,6 with such views) quoted the puppy as an Example of pure blood, as might be seen by any one, & which he said was well worth 40£. He was so enthusiastic that I was obliged to break the fact by degrees, “that her Grandfather was a Mastiff.”
I am trying now to get the breed Scotch & Mastiff Bitch put to a pure Mastiff—& I expect either the produce of that—or the next cross at all events, to be the Irish Wolf Dog.
I would defy any Scot to detect the false blood in this puppy Bitch— She is quite a perfect Scotch Deer Hound.
I see Tegetmeyer—or some such name, who doctors all the Fowls in England—says he is engaged with you in examining the anatomy of Fowls.7 He seems to know a great deal about them from his letters in Cottage Gardener—but I often think his prescriptions rather foolish. You are not meddling with Geese I think yet, are you.
Tell me how Mrs Darwin & your little ones all are—also Susan Catherine & Mrs Wedgwood8 & Believe me always Yours affecly W D. Fox.
Is trying to procure some cocks for CD.
Believes Scotch deerhounds are mongrels.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1646,” accessed on 29 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1646