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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. R. Jesse   4 May [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

May 4th

Dear Sir

I have at last found passage about the breed of Terriers: it is in Gleanings in Nat. Hist. Third & Last Series—Murray 1835 p. 149.— I gave it correctly “The descendants of a breed of terriers I have had many years, all shew their teeth & put out their paw when they are caressed. This is a peculiarity of the breed.”—2 Now if, without taking much trouble, you cd. find out whether any of the strain still exist & whether they retain the habit, & especially what is exactly meant by “put out their paw”, I I shd. be grateful.—3 Were both paws alternately protruded?— If I receive no answer I will understand that you cannot aid me—so pray do not trouble yourself to acknowledge this.—

Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established on the basis of a note accompanying the letter: ‘Darwin. 4 May 1871’ written in a contemporary hand, perhaps that of G. R. Jesse.
CD refers to Gleanings in natural history, third and last series by Edward Jesse (E. Jesse 1835). The quotation appeared in the posthumously published manuscript of CD’s ‘big book’ on species, in a discussion of the inheritance of unusual mental tendencies and physical movements (Natural selection, pp. 480–1 n. 2).
George Richard Jesse was the nephew of Edward Jesse and had written a natural history of the British dog (G. R. Jesse 1866).


Asks for information about habits of a breed of terriers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Richard Jesse
Sent from
Source of text
Scripps College Library, Claremont
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7739,” accessed on 23 June 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19