To T. C. Eyton 26 November 
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Eyton
As you have had such great experience in making skeletons,1 will you be so kind as to take the trouble to give me some pieces of information. But I must premise that I have been making a few,2 & when I took the body out of the water, the smell was so dreadful that it made me reach awfully.3 Now I was told that if I hung the body of a bird or small quadruped up in the air & allowed the flesh to decay off, & the whole to get dry, that I could boil the mummy in water with caustic soda, & so get it nearly clean, but not white, with very little smell. What do you think of this plan? And pray tell me how do you get the bones moderately clean, when you take the skeleton out, with some small fragments of putrid flesh still adhering. It really is most dreadful work.— Lastly do you pluck your Birds?—4
I am getting on with my collection of Pigeons, & now have pairs of ten varieties alive & shall on Saturday receive two or three more kinds.—
Do pray help me with your advice, & forgive this trouble.
Your’s very truly | C. Darwin T. C. Eyton Esqe
Asks TCE’s advice on preparation of birds’ skeletons.
His pigeon collection is growing; now has pairs of ten varieties.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1784,” accessed on 16 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1784