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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Bernhard Tegetmeier   18 March [1862]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

March 18th

My dear Sir

Many thanks for your note.2 Your name has been on my list to write to, for, I am ashamed to say, months. I have been extra busy in preparing & getting through the press a small Botanical work on orchids; & this has taken up my time & driven all other subjects out of my head. I hope now in three or four weeks to resume Domestic Animals.—3 Thank you much for keeping my M.S. I shall not want it for some time, for I have much to do, before going a second time over my M.S.—4

The case about the Hen-feathered Cock, is very interesting, & I am very glad to hear of it.—5 It is very kind in you to offer me a bird, but I have so many irons in the fire that I could not properly attend to it, so I must decline with hearty thanks. I hope we shall meet some day at one of the Shows or elsewhere.—

I long to be at work again at Fowls, Rabbits & such small cattle.—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the publication of Orchids, which occurred in May 1862.
Tegetmeier’s letter has not been found.
CD had suspended work on Variation at the end of May 1861 in order to write up his researches on the fertilisation of orchids (see Correspondence vol. 9, ‘Journal’ (Correspondence, vol. 10, Appendix II)).
CD had sent Tegetmeier his manuscript chapter on domestic fowls, intended for inclusion in Variation (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 June [1861]).
At a meeting of the Zoological Society of London on 26 March 1861, Tegetmeier exhibited a live male specimen of Gallus domesticus that had assumed female plumage; he had been attempting to ascertain how far the disposition to undergo this change was hereditary (see Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1861), p. 102, and Correspondence vol. 9, letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 3 February [1861] and 2 April [1861]). CD discussed the phenomenon, citing Tegetmeier’s case, in Variation 1: 252–3.


Orchids taking up all his time.

He longs to be at work again on poultry and rabbits.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3478,” accessed on 25 June 2019,

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