skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   [before 13 June 1857]1

Will any reader of the Gardeners’ Chronicle be so kind as to take the trouble to inform me how Dun or Mouse-coloured Ponys with a dark stripe down their backs are bred? This breed is common in Norway on the banks of the Indus & in the Malayan archipelago, & is in some respects very interesting in relation to the origin of the domestic Horse.2 Is this peculiar colour thrown from Ponys of any other colour, or must one or both parents be Dun?

Occasionally ponys of this colour have a cross stripe on the shoulder, like that on the Ass, & likewise bars on the legs. If anyone who has bred ponys of this colour, would inform me whether their stripes are more distinct in the colt than in aged ponys, I shd. be greatly obliged. The transverse bars sometimes seen on the legs of the Ass are said to be plainest during growth.

Ch. Darwin Down, Bromley Kent


This letter appears to be the original of the notice published in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 13 June 1857, p. 427. There are discrepancies between the manuscript and the published text, presumably resulting from changes made by the editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle.
For CD’s interest in this subject, see the letter to T. C. Eyton, 9 June [1857], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 5 June [1857], and to T. C. Eyton, 26 [June 1857]. The issue was further discussed in Natural selection, pp. 328–32.


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.


Requests information from readers on breeding of dun or mouse-coloured ponies with a dark stripe down their backs. Must one or both parents be dun?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gardeners’ Chronicle
Sent from
Source of text
Gloucestershire Archives (T. C. Morton deposit D1021/8/4)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2105,” accessed on 26 January 2022,

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