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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Patterson   12 November [1857]1

Down, Bromley, Kent

Nov. 12 [1857]

My dear Mr. Patterson

The rabbits arrived safely last night after their long journey; & most sincerely do I thank you for the very great trouble you have taken to oblige me.2 Externally they seem to differ extremely little except perhaps in fulness of head, from the rabbit of this neighbourhood. But they shall be skeletonized.

I have now rabbits from Shetland, Madeira & Ireland and hope to receive one soon from Jamaica, so I shall have good means of comparison for ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ to several domestic breeds3

If you remember whenever you see Lord Massarene I hope you will present my thanks for his great kindness.—4 When I have done with the Rabbit Skeletons for my own purpose I shall present ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ to the Brit ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ been thrown away & I well know that you work for Natural History from a pure love of Science

With my very sincere thanks pray believe me.


The date is as given in Praeger 1935, p. 714. It is confirmed by the relationship to the letter to Robert Patterson, 10 March [1857].
In his letter to Robert Patterson, 10 March [1857], CD had asked for a specimen of the Irish rabbit.
In Variation 1: 127, CD gave a table of osteological comparisons between the wild rabbits mentioned in the letter and various breeds of domestic rabbits.
John Skeffington, Viscount Massereene, of Antrim Castle, Northern Ireland.


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 Six unpublished letters of Charles Darwin.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]

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


The [Irish] rabbits arrived safely. "They shall be skeletonized." CD now has rabbits from Shetland, Madeira and Ireland; hopes to receive one from Jamaica.

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. 2168,” accessed on 20 May 2024,

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