skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Patterson   10 March [1857]1


March 10th. [1857]


I am going to beg a great and troublesome favor of you,—I have been collecting skeletons of all varieties of Rabbits, & I want very much a real Irish Rabbit,2 the L. veomicule of our poor friend Thompson—3 Would you have the great kindness to take the trouble to procure me one. The only care requisite to be to get one not very severely shot, but especially not struck on the back of the head to kill it, as that part is easily injured & is very characteristic.

I enclose an address; and you will know whether to steamer to Liverpool & then per Railway, will be the cheapest and quickest route— I am fearful you will think me rather unreasonable in begging this favor.

Truly believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | CH. DARWIN


The date as given by Praeger 1935.
In a note dated 7 March 1857 (DAR 45: 76), CD recorded that: ‘Irish Rabbit in Brit. Mus is named Lepus vermicula of Thompson.— so marked var.’ In his continuation of William Thompson’s work on Irish natural history (see n. 3, below), Patterson classified this rabbit as Lepus cuniculus (Thompson 1849–56, 4: 30).
Thompson, who had died in 1851, had specified in his will that his manuscript and notes for the remaining volume of his Natural history of Ireland were to be given to Patterson and James R. Garrett to prepare for publication. After Garrett’s death in 1855, Patterson assumed the task and published volume four in 1856.


Praeger, William E. 1935. Six unpublished letters of Charles Darwin. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 20: 711–5. [Vols. 4,5,8]

Thompson, William. 1849–56. The natural history of Ireland. 4 vols. (Vol. 4 edited by Robert Patterson.) London.


Asks RP’s help in procuring a specimen of a real Irish rabbit, L. veomicule [Lepus vermicula]?.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Patterson
Sent from
Source of text
W. E. Praeger 1935, p. 714

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2062,” accessed on 23 February 2020,

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