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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   24 February [1862]

Down Bromley Kent Feb. 24th Dear Innes.

Many thanks for your friendly note.1 You seem all very prosperous, & we are very glad to hear of it.— I have heard of the mule from the canary & other finches occasionally breeding; but it is very rare (except with the siskin where the case is not so rare) & there is hardly one quite well authenticated case of two such mules breeding together.2 I will not forget your offer if I should wish for any observations or enquiries made in the north.

Life rolls on, as you know, very uniformly in Down, & we have no news. Yes, we have, the Butcher has jilted his old love, & is going to be married to a new one!3

We went a few days ago to lunch with the John Lubbocks & they evidently seem thoroughily to enjoy their new home & freedom.4 They gave us a good account of poor Montague.5

We have had the Influenza here very badly— 16 were sick in this house, & at one time six in bed. Etty keeps capital;6 but now we have Horace failing badly with intermittent weak pulse, like four of our other children previously.7 It is a curious form of inheritance from my poor constitution, though I never failed in exactly that way.— I am glad to hear that Mrs. Innes (to whom pray give our kind remembrances) has been out to dinner;8 she beats me, for I have not ventured on such a bold step for an age.

Believe me Dear Innes | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Letter from J. B. Innes, 19 February [1862].
In Variation 2: 154, CD wrote of finches kept in confinement that ‘more than a dozen species could be named which have yielded hybrids with the canary; but hardly any of these, with the exception of the siskin … have reproduced their own kind.’
The name of the butcher’s shop in Down was Osborne & Whitehead (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862); the reference is to Alfred James Osborne (Census returns 1861 (Public Record Office, RG9/462: 71)).
CD refers to a lunch party held by the Lubbocks on 15 February 1862 (see letter from John Lubbock, 13 February 1862). In 1861, John and Ellen Frances Lubbock moved from the Lubbock family home, High Elms, near Down, to Chislehurst, several miles north of Down (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 52).
John Lubbock’s younger brother, Montagu, had been seriously injured in a carriage accident in 1861 (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 178). See also Correspondence vol. 9.
Henrietta Emma Darwin had been ill throughout 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9).
For an account of Horace Darwin’s symptoms, see the letter to W. E. Darwin, 14 February [1862].


Has heard of mules of canary and other finches breeding occasionally, but it is rare, and there is hardly one authenticated case of two such mules breeding together.

Sixteen of the household at Down are sick with influenza.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3457,” accessed on 22 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10