skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. T. Buckland   27 February 1868

37 Albany St

Feb 27 | 1868

My Dear Sir—

It affords me great pleasure to think that my humble writings are of use to such a ‘Commanding officer’ as yourself1  

Mr Lee took the score of the fish. I send you another copy.2 There are always more Cocks than hens with Salmon & Trout caught in the net in the winter—but more Lady than gentlemen Salmon caught with Fly in the Summer— Please also recollect that the Smolts that stay in the upper water have something to do in the way of reproduction   All the male smolts have ripe milt   the female smolts never any eggs. & yet each drop of the sperm fluid contains thousands of spermatozoa. I always give my eggs lots of milt because I fancy nature would not have made more cocks than hens if they were not wanted—

Then again—after spawning many cocks die—few hens. this looks as though nature said now you have done your work— “die & make room—for younger males”. The old kelts are the fellows that die not many grilse kelts—

I send you a paper that may be of use.3 I took no notice of it & I forget the date  

Do you know a French book “L’Act de procrier un fils ou une (daughter) a voluntier” or words to that effect.4 I think I have a copy somewhere. I shall take the liberty of sendin you my official report on “Close seasons” & shall be grateful for any remarks.5

Yours obed |F Buckland

I will set this matter going in Land & Water6

C Darwin Esq

There are generally more Boar than Sow Rats. I used to breed hundreds.7 Write J Bush Esq Clapham Retreat Union Road Clapham   a first class fellow   I gave him my stock & he goes on breeding   He is Treasurer to Acclimatisation Society8

CD annotations

1.1 It … yourself 1.2] crossed blue crayon
2.1 There are … Summer— 2.3] scored blue crayon
2.6 I always … Then again 2.31] crossed blue crayon; closing square bracket blue crayon
4.1 I send … Water 7.1] crossed blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘Buckland’ pencil


CD had mentioned that a recent article by Buckland had been helpful in providing information on the proportion of the sexes in trout (see letter to Frank Buckland, 12 February [1868] and n. 2).
CD had received a memorandum from Henry Lee, dated 21 January 1868, with information on the proportion of sexes in trout. See also letter to Henry Lee, 25 February [1868].
No enclosure to this letter has been found.
The reference is to L’art de procréer les sexes à volonté, ou systême complet de génération (Millot 1800).
Buckland refers to The seventh annual report of the inspectors of salmon fisheries (England and Wales) (Buckland and Walpole 1868). Close season: the period of the year when fishing is prohibited.
CD had suggested that Buckland solicit information about sex ratios in animals in Land and Water (letter to F. T. Buckland, 12 February [1868]). No such query has been found in Land and Water.
CD cited Buckland’s remarks on rats in Descent 1: 305.
Buckland refers to John Bush and to the Society for the Acclimatisation of Animals, Birds, Fishes, Insects and Vegetables within the United Kingdom.


On the proportion of sexes in salmon, trout, and rats. [see Descent 1: 305, 308.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Buckland, F. T.
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
salmon Fisheries Office, Westminster
Source of text
DAR 86: A46–8b
Physical description
8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5946,” accessed on 17 January 2017,