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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes   18 December 1868

Milton Brodie | Forres | N.B.

18 Decr. 1868

Dear Darwin,

I sent you yesterday the V.S. letter about the supposed hybrid.1 I was dining with a neighbour on Tuesday and talking about it. He is a very little more of a naturalist than I, so you may set him very low, he said “I should entirely have disbelieved such a report, but this beast speaks for herself and carries her own evidence in her face”— Such is my own opinion, worthless though it is— If not part deer it is a wonderful natural imitation

You could not possibly hav〈e〉 done otherwise than withhold my circular as it is not taken up and I am much obliged by your having communicated with Mr. Allen.2

I can do nothing more as the case stands. Of course I cannot suggest such a matter to the Church-wardens, saying that I have heard it, and giving no clue for investigation. No doubt if there is any foundation for rumour the Ch-wardens would hear it, and it is their duty to present to the Bishop. They incur no responsibility whatever by doing so nor could an action be brought 〈ag〉ainst them if the rumour should prove utterly false— Neither can I write to Robinson3 about it without some ground to go on. I know too much of reports in general and Downe reports in particular to credit anything which people say behind a man’s back & are afraid to say to his face. Of course I have no opinion myself in the matter. His leaving the Parish twice in a short time and his own letters to me caused me to think he was not suited to the place & to advise him to resign. This was before I heard a word abou〈t〉 him, but certainly if it eve〈r hap〉pened to me as a layman to know, or reasonably belie〈ve〉 that a clergyman was not moral in his conduct, I think as an honest man there are only two courses open— To say what I know right out—or hold my peace entirely. You and I know nothing, and can only try to excite those who say they know to act honestly—

You may not be aware that a vicar has no power over a licensed curate.4 To cause his removal the Bishop must revoke his licence, which he can do summarily without any legal judicial proceeding, and would 〈    〉s do for such cause as is reported now to exist in Downe. He would desire the Rural Dean to enquire, and act at once on his report. I much hope there may very soon be a resident vicar, and the services of a Curate dispensed with—

Very many thanks for your kind invitation.5 I could do no good by coming up on purpose just now, or I would at any inconvenience to myself. When I do come I hope it will be for a more satisfactory reason and it will, if you happen not to be full at the time, give me the greatest pleasure to avail myself of your hospitality—

With our kindest regards | Believe me Dear Darwin | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes


See letter from S. McLean, a veterinary surgeon, to J. B. Innes, 15 December 1868.
John Warburton Robinson. See letters to J. B. Innes, 10 December [1868] and 16 December 1868.
Innes was vicar of Down; Robinson was curate.


Has forwarded a veterinary surgeon’s description of the supposed hybrid [of cow and deer, see 6504]. A neighbour who has seen it is convinced it is genuine.

JBI can do no more about John Robinson.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 24
Physical description
6pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6507,” accessed on 22 June 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16