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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   29 November [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 29th

My dear Sir

I have got skins of common black (handsome) Persian Cock & Hen, & Cock & Hen of larger breed, called Lâri from S. Persia, sent me by Honble. Ch. Murray.—2 I hear some Poultry skins are on their voyage from Natal for me; & that a large collection is making for me by Mr Gabriel (Her. M. Commissioner) on the W. & S. coast of Africa.—3 Would you like the Persians to be sent to you at once or wait till I receive others? If I do not hear I shall understand they may wait.—

I really now think I shall have materials to judge of Poultry of World, for Mr Wallace is collecting in the Malay Archipelago;4 but the carriage is costing me a fortune! The Persian Box alone cost £4 s 4 d 10.—

Though I had originally intended to describe these breeds myself; I am convinced it will be better for science that you shd. do it, & everything which I can get, (if you think it worth while to give up your valuable time to it) shall be placed at your disposal; & I think it will at least in the eyes of scientific men, be a new & valuable feature in your Book, & will be quoted years after we are both in our graves.— But you must not for science sake, & still less for my sake, give up time to this, if you do not think it worth your while.

Your’s very sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter from W. F. Daniell, 14 November 1856.
CD had asked Charles Augustus Murray for specimens of domestic birds and animals in 1855 (Correspondence vol. 5, letter to C. A. Murray, 24 December 1855). These pigeons were mentioned in letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 3 November [1856] and 19 November [1856]. On 25 November 1856, CD recorded a payment in his Account book (Down House MS): ‘Wheatley & Co. Persian Pigeons *All Repaid by Brit Mus & Wheatley [interl]’.
Alfred Russel Wallace had left England to collect in the Malay Archipelago in 1854, and his name was included in CD’s list of individuals to ask for specimens (see Correspondence vol. 5, CD memorandum, [December 1855]). In 1856 Wallace visited the islands of Bali and Lombok on his way to Celebes. From there, in a letter dated 21 August 1856 (Cambridge University Library (Add. MS. 7339/234)), he told his agent Samuel Stevens that his latest shipment of specimens included items for CD: ‘The domestic duck var. is for Mr. Darwin & he would perhaps also like the jungle cock, which is often domesticated here & is doubtless one of the originals of the domestic breed of poultry.’ Wallace evidently also wrote directly to CD, for CD referred to a letter from Wallace, dated 10 October 1856, when he wrote to Wallace in May 1857 (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 1 May 1857). The letter of 10 October has not been found.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Has received some poultry from various parts of the world.

CD is glad that WBT is describing the birds that he acquires.

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. 2004,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

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