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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   6 February [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 6th

My dear Sir

Many thanks for all the many valuable kindnesses in your letter.

I certainly shall be very much obliged for an egg or two of any Rumpless Fowl.— I am anxious just to see how early in our domestic breeds a rudimentary organ is rudimentary.2

If you hatch any for yourself, it would save me trouble, & not cost you any more to send me per Post, an egg within (ie before) about 24 hours of the period of hatching; & for this I shd be very much obliged, though it is unreasonable to rob you of your valuable Birds. If you do not intend hatching,, I shd. be very glad of an egg to hatch.—

Very many thanks, also, for Black Drake, for which I cannot send till next Thursday. The carrier shall ask whether he can pay Carstang 6s 6d for it, as it will save my paying you, for it.—3 I have not as yet noticed much difference in skeletons of Ducks, but I shall now have all the principal Breeds.4

I am very glad to hear of Mr Gulliver’s Runt; I am now well off for skeletons of all the Breeds; as I have splendid Carrier from Mr Hayne.5

Your letter is full of good news for me; as I was the other day wishing there had ever been any account of crosses between Pheasants & different breeds of Poultry.—6

With very sincere thanks for your great kindness to me, pray believe me, my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. | By oddest chance this very morning I have heard of a German Pouter on sale! so will not trouble you.—7


Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 11 February [1857].
CD later discussed this topic in Variation 2: 315–18, where he explained the significance of the relatively greater development of rudimentary organs early in life. Rumpless fowls, however, are not mentioned.
Mr Carstang of Ship Tavern Passage, Leadenhall Market, London (CD’s Address book (Down House MS)).
The osteological differences of ducks are discussed in Variation 1: 282–6.
Watson W. Hayne.
Tegetmeier described a cross between a male of the common wild pheasant and a hen of the domestic Hamburgh fowl, reported to him by Edward Hewitt, in part 10 of Tegetmeier 1856–7, which had appeared in January 1857. CD’s copy of the work is in the Darwin Library–CUL. This passage is annotated (ibid., pp. 123–4).
In a deleted postscript to this letter, CD had requested a common Dutch or German pouter (see Manuscript alterations and comments).


Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1856. On the remarkable peculiarities existing in the skulls of the feather-crested variety of the domestic fowl, now known as the Polish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 24: 366–8.

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


Would welcome eggs of any rumpless fowl so that he can investigate how early in development rudimentary organs are rudimentary.

Has not noticed much difference between skeletons of ducks.

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 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2048,” accessed on 20 June 2024,

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