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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   24 June [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

June 24th

My dear Sir

I brought home the Laughers quite safely:2 I shd. have written sooner, but I feared to give rather a bad Report of one, which seemed ill the next morning, but is now better, but yet not quite well.— I shall be very curious to hear their coo.—

The Scanderoons have a very large massive frame, & if, as I suspect, they are youngish Birds, will be ultimately very large.—3 I shall be really pleased to let you have a pair, whenever they breed; but shd. they lay only one egg the first time, I shall most likely sacrifice that, as I am very anxious to compare soon all very young Pigeons: but afterwards you may rely on my keeping the very first pair for you.—

If it shd. turn out that you could spare a pair of Mr Gullivers Runts,4 they would be very valuable to me. I have a pair of poorish Runts from Mr Baily,5 but the Hen seems to be quite sterile; & I shall kill her before long for skeleton, if she does not improve her ways.— I am really glad to hear so good an account of your Polands: mine are Hatched, but I have not seen them yet as I was forced to send them to Farm House; we not then having a broody Hen.

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I counted my Pigeons the other day & I have 89!

P.S. | Do you ever see Mr Gulliver, if so, I wish you would kindly remind him, what a valuable treasure to me an old dead Bird would be.— I did once venture to ask him—


Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 25 April [1856], in which laughing pigeons and the possibility of acquiring the eggs of Polish fowl were mentioned.
CD had been in London from 18 to 21 June 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II). The pigeons were probably the ones mentioned in letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 25 April [1856]. For CD’s description and history of this breed, see Variation 1: 155, 207.
See Variation 1: 142–3.


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


Now has 89 pigeons. The laughing pigeons are safe at Down. Can WBT spare a pair of Mr Gulliver’s runts?

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. 1909,” accessed on 20 May 2024,

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