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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   [14 January 1856]1



Dear Lubbock

Very many thanks for the Books; I had meant to have sent you a line on Sunday, but quite forgot it myself.— Indeed we are all sick & miserable, & I hardly care even for Pigeons, so may guess what a condition I am in! Nevertheless, I have life left in me to ask whether you ever saw the Chinese Mr. Smith:2 pray do not trouble yourself to write, if you have to send a negative; but if affirmative I would write to him, if you think there is any chance of his helping me in the domestic Bird line.—

Yours most truly | C. Darwin

Did you ever give orders to preserve corpses of Sebright Bantams?—3

Forgive so much trouble.— | Adios


The endorsement is confirmed by the reference to CD’s ill health: according to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 January [1856], he had been ill for the past week. The first Monday in January was the 7th, but it is unlikely that this letter was written then because CD was well enough to attend the Philoperisteron Society Show on 8 January (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 1 January [1856], n. 2).
Probably George Smith, bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, who was the son-in-law of the rector of Beckenham, Kent.
John Saunders Sebright had crossed a common bantam with a Polish fowl, then recrossed the offspring with a hen-tailed bantam to obtain the famous Sebright bantam, a small fowl in which the cock lacks male plumage (see Variation 2: 54).


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


Inquires about a Mr Smith, who might prove helpful "in the domestic bird line".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 6 (EH 88206455)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1884,” accessed on 14 July 2024,

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