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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. C. Eyton   21 August [1856]1

Down Farnborough Kent

Augt 21st

Dear Eyton

I have just been using your capital facts on the skeletons of Pigs in Zoolog. Procs. 2 & I want very much to beg a favour of you,—it is to know whether the offspring of the African pig & common were fertile.3 If you do not know, would it be asking too great a favour to beg you to enquire of Lord Hill;4 & let me publish the answer on your authority; for this would complete the evidence in regard to fertility.5

Also can you tell me whether Ld. Hill’s African pigs appeared domesticated? Do you know what part of Africa they came from?

I am getting on with my collection of Pigeon skeletons & have every breed alive. I have not yet compared carefully the skeletons; but when I do I shall probably have occasion to beg your assistance; for it would greatly add to value of any few remarks which I might make, if I could say that you had seen them & thought my remarks accurate.

I am working away very hard in compiling my Book on Variation, but hardly know when I shall be ready to go to press, for I find it very slow work.—

I hope Mrs. Eyton6 is better than when I last heard of her, now sometime ago.—

How I wish that we lived nearer each other & could sometimes meet. Believe me | Dear Eyton | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Dated by CD’s reference to writing his chapter on variation (see n. 3, below).
Eyton 1837a. CD’s annotated copy of the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London in which the article appeared is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD had previously noted Eyton’s argument that although the bone structure and number of vertebrae in African and English pigs were very different, they could interbreed (see Notebook B, p. 162 (Notebooks)). During the summer of 1856, CD was busy writing up his material on variation for his species book; by October, he had finished the section on ‘variation under domestication’, which formed the first two chapters of the manuscript of Natural selection (‘Journal’; Appendix II). From the table of contents CD made for these two chapters, it appears that CD had discussed the variation of the domestic pig (Natural selection, p. 25).
Rowland Hill was a Shropshire neighbour of Eyton’s.
CD wrote on Eyton’s authority that ‘cross-bred animals from the African and English races were found by Lord Hill to be perfectly fertile’ (Variation 1: 74).


Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.

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


Asks whether offspring of cross between African pig and common pig are fertile. Are Lord Rowland Hill’s African pigs domesticated?

Mentions pigeons’ skeletons.

Is working at a book on variation [Natural selection].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.135)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1942,” accessed on 29 January 2023,

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