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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   5 August [1859]1

Down Bromley Kent

Augst 5th

My dear Sir

When shall I return the Spanish Cock for which I am so much indebted to your kindness?2 He seems to me grown into a magnificent bird. The reason I more especially ask is that my cook tells me he is beginning to fight with his elder sons,—sons of the game-hen & therefore I presume rather extra bellicose. Whenever quite convenient I could send him carriage-paid to anywhere in London & I could repay you for any extra expence.—

I have an astonishing lot of mongrels, mostly black, some white & but a very few mottled. One of the young cocks, however, has lately acquired a few reddish brown freckles; & all these mongrels seem very liable to change their plumage greatly as they grow older.— I rather expect that the offspring of my mongrels next year will make some approach to the plumage of Gallus bankiva.—3

I hope you are well, & that your Bees & all Hobbies prosper.— I have had a very bad summer for my health & this has greatly delayed my volume, which will not now be finished till quite the autumn. Whenever completed, a copy shall be sent you; not that I suppose it will interest you much.—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated by CD’s reference to the forthcoming publication of Origin.
CD had borrowed a young Spanish cock from Tegetmeier for use in his breeding experiment to test whether cross-breeding certain fowls resulted in reversion to the wild type (see letter to W. D. Tegetmeier, 24 December [1858]).
The details of the crosses that CD made between selected breeds of poultry are given in his Experimental book, pp. 41–2 (DAR 157a). CD wanted to determine whether the plumage of the offspring would revert to that of the ancestral Gallus bankiva. The reversion appeared in the cocks, but the hens from the crosses showed ‘hardly any tendency to revert to the mottled-brown plumage of the female G. bankiva’ (see Variation 1: 242). See also Variation 1: 239–46, and 2: 39–40.


Has an astonishing lot of mongrel poultry and expects next generation to approach Gallus bankiva in red-brown plumage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Tegetmeier, W. B. ser.2: 2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2479,” accessed on 18 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7