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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   15 March [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

March 15th

My dear Sir

I am going to beg a rather unreasonable favour of you.— I called yesterday at Mr. H. Weirs2 & he told me that some Leghorn Runts are to be sold on Tuesday at Stevens.3 Would you be so kind as to purchase a pair for me (or single bird) that is if the Birds have short tail, long legs & long neck, in short appear of a different shape from your Smyrna Runts, which in shape are like what I already possess.—

I would go as far 20s, or 25, or even 30, if they appear very distinct in shape; but Mr Weir thought that perhaps they would go for under 20s.—

I presume that you could purchase a basket & send them with the enclosed address by some trustworthy Porter to Golden Cross, Charing Cross by 3 oclock.4 & I could repay you immediately for these incidental expences & whatever you paid for them.— But I am well aware that I am asking you to take a very scandalous amount of trouble.—

If by any odd chance a pair of black Carriers, very long in the Beak & narrow in the Head, were to be sold for 20s (I do not care much for wattle) I shd. be glad of them. But the Leghorn Runts are important, as I shd. never be able to pick up skeleton.—5

Forgive me if you can & believe me | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 20 March [1856].
Harrison William Weir was a noted pigeon fancier, animal painter, and member of the Philoperisteron Society who lived in Peckham, Kent. He illustrated Tegetmeier’s Poultry book (Tegetmeier ed. 1856–7) and was to have provided the text for the pigeon and rabbit sections of the work if publication had not ceased prematurely. Weir and Tegetmeier collaborated on a work on pigeons in 1868 (Tegetmeier 1868). CD acknowledged his indebtedness to Weir in Variation 1: 132 n. 2.
The departure point for the coach that called at Farnborough, two miles from Down (Post Office London directory 1858).
CD described the Leghorn runt as a breed of pigeons that was probably extinct in Europe in Variation 1: 144. He knew of it only through the description and illustration in Aldrovandi 1599– 1603 and in [J. Moore] 1765 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

[Moore, John]. 1765. A treatise on domestic pigeons; comprehending all the different species known in England … Carefully compiled from the best of authors. To which is added, a most ample description of that celebrated and beatiful pigeon called the almond tumbler. London.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1868. Pigeons: their structure, varieties, habits and management. London: G. Routledge.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Asks WBT to try to purchase some specific pigeons.

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
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1842,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6