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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   19 October [1856]1

Downe Bromley Kent

Oct. 19th

My dear Sir

I am glad you think the young Cock worth having: it will do for the Pot, after you have looked at it.— It shall be at Carstangs on Thursday morning, which is first day our Carrier goes up.—2 These Fowls came from interior village of Sierra Leone, & please state that they were sent to me by the kindness of Staff-Surgeon Dr. Daniell.3 He states that they offer a good idea of the pure fowls of that country & for some way north of it. The fowls further S. on the west Coast, viz at Congo &c are smaller, not much larger than Bantams & are very beautiful of red, white & black colours. But since I wrote, I have on making further enquiry heard that he has some fears that another cock had access to the Hen, & this may account for one of my two Hens having more of the Malay aspect. He says these Cockrels quite resemble in plumage the pure mother.— I observe that they are very pugnacious even the hens chasing my other fowls.— It is odd that they do not seem to have felt the prodigious change of climate, & from the first have been very amorous! I notice they eat the leaves of the Dandelion,—a plant they could never have seen before arriving here.

I cannot think of anything else to tell you about them.—

If you kill the cockrel, you had better keep the head.—

I am truly pleased that the Scanderoons have been worth your receiving.—4

I shd. like to have a Catalogue of poor excellent Mr Yarrells Library &c—5

Yours in Haste | C. Darwin

P.S. I shd. be extremely glad of a few pure Malay Eggs.


Dated by the reference to the sale of William Yarrell’s books (see n. 5, below).
See letters from W. F. Daniell, 8 October – 7 November 1856 and 14 November 1856.
See letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 23 August [1856] and 30 August [1856].
William Yarrell had died on 1 September 1856. His collection was sold by John Crace Stevens, natural history auctioneer, 4–6 December 1856. The catalogue was nineteen pages long (Chalmers-Hunt 1976, p. 96).


Chalmers-Hunt, J. M. 1976. Natural history auctions 1700–1972. A register of sales in the British Isles. London and New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications.


African fowls from Sierra Leone are pugnacious and amorous.

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. 1976,” accessed on 21 May 2024,

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