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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Everest?1   18 June [1856]2

Down Bromley Kent

June 18th.

Dear Sir

Our mutual friend Dr. Falconer has told me that I might use his name as an apology for troubling you.—3 I am very much interested on the subject of the variation of our domestic animals; & I have seen in several works, statements on the degeneracy of dogs in India & that Bull-Dogs, for instance, not only lost courage, but actually changed in form.4 I never could quite believe this, but Dr. Falconer says he feels pretty sure that it is true.5 He thinks that you could give me reliable information on this head; & it would be a very great kindness, if you could.—6

The danger of a cross seems the obvious source of error. If you would be so kind, when at leisure, to answer this note, I should feel extremely much obliged.— I have sometimes gone so far as to doubt whether climate has any direct influence even on colour.—

Pray believe me | Dear Sir | Your’s faithfully & obliged | Charles Darwin


The correspondent is conjectured on the basis that CD cited Everest in Variation on the deterioration of European breeds in India. Everest, a keen geologist and author of papers on the geology and climate of India, was listed in the Clergy list 1855 as residing in Calcutta (see n. 3, below).
Dated from CD’s particular interest in eliciting information about domestic animals in other countries at this time (see letter to E. L. Layard, 8 June [1856]).
Hugh Falconer, at the time resident in England, had been superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden and professor of botany at the Calcutta Medical College from 1848 to 1855.
In Variation 1: 36 n. 65, CD cited William Youatt 1845, p. 15, and ‘The veterinary’ (The Veterinarian, or monthly journal of veterinarian science) 11 (1838): 235 (a mistake for p. 535) on the degeneration of dogs in India.
CD cited Falconer on the subject of the bulldog in Variation 1: 38.
In Variation 1: 36, CD cited Everest on Newfoundland dogs (Everest 1834, p. 19) and two pages later stated that: The Rev. R. Everest informs me that he obtained a pair of setters, born in India, which perfectly resembled their Scotch parents: he raised several litters from them in Delhi, taking the most stringent precautions to prevent a cross, but he never succeeded, though this was only the second generation in India, in obtaining a single young dog like its parents in size or make; …


Clergy list: The clergy list … containing an alphabetical list of the clergy. London: C. Cox [and others]. 1841–89.

Everest, Robert. 1834. On the climate of the fossil elephant. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal n.s. 3: 18–24.

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

Youatt, William. 1845. The dog. London.


Seeks to verify whether bulldogs have degenerated in India [see Variation 1: 37–8].

CD has "sometimes gone so far as to doubt whether climate has any influence even on colour".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Everest
Sent from
Source of text
Barbara and Robert Pincus (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1906,” accessed on 26 May 2020,

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