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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Skeffington Poole   22 October [1858]1

Down Bromley Kent

Oct 22

Dear Sir

I really do not know how to thank you sufficiently for your great kindness. I never dreamed of receiving so much, & to me such important, information. You cannot imagine how much your communication has interested me.2

You are so kind as to say that I may ask you any other question; but I will not again (ie. after this note) be so unreasonable as to trouble you again.

My last note crossed your communication3   you have fully anticipated my questions about stripes on face.

(1) will you inform me whether the Kattywars are cob-built?

(2) I earnestly hope that you will permit me to quote your name as my authority for such facts as I shall have occasion to give.4

(3) You refer to the wild Ass on the banks of the Runn.5 I presume that this is the Equus Hemionus of Naturalists; if so, it has list down the back, but no shoulder stripe. Is this so? You refer to stripes on the young of this animal: any information on this head would be particularly valuable to me. What is general colour of the young? I have seen it stated that sometimes the faintest trace of a shoulder stripe may be detected on the Hemionus.

The reason why I asked about Duns (with stripes) appearing when horses of other colours are crossed, was because I know a case of a Dun (in my sense of word) Cart-Horse of the Belgian breed with double-shoulder stripe; & a case of very small Dun Welch Pony with treble shoulder stripe (these facts made me ask about double shoulder stripe in Kattywar breed, which latter fact is quite new to me) & I thought it improbable that both great Cart-Horse & small Welch Pony should have had a cross with any fine pure Dun Breed, such as that of Kattywar.6

I asked about face-stripes, from the singular fact of such appearing in two hybrids from the Hemionus & Common Ass.7

I have seen it stated in print that the common domestic ass sometimes has double shoulder stripes, but I know not whether to believe it.8 But perhaps these details may be troubling you as trifling, though so interesting to me, in trying to make out something on the inheritance of characters & variation in general.—

I shall soon be writing to Col. Curtis9 & shall tell him how deeply indebted I am to your very great kindness.—

With my cordial thanks, | I beg permission to remain Dear Sir | Yours faithfully & obliged | Charles Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Skeffington Poole, 20 October [1858] (this volume, Supplement).
CD cited Skeffington Poole by name in Origin, pp. 163, 164, and 166, and Variation 1: 58, 59, 2: 43.
See this volume, Supplement, letter from Skeffington Poole, [21 October 1858] and n. 4.
See Origin, p. 164, and Variation 1: 57. See also Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. E. Darwin, [26 May 1858] and n. 9. CD was interested in collecting examples of stripes appearing in dun-coloured horses as an illustration of reversion to ancestral characters (see Origin, pp. 163–7, and Variation 1: 55–61). He believed that stripes occurred most often in duns.
See Origin, p. 165.
See Variation 1: 63. CD refers to W. C. L. Martin 1845, p. 205. There is an annotated copy of W. C. L. Martin 1845 in the Darwin Library–CUL (Marginalia 1: 568–9).
See this volume, Supplement, letter to Skeffington Poole, 20 October [1858] and n. 4.


Asks supplementary questions about Kattywar (Kathiawari) horses in India.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Skeffington Poole
Source of text
Ronald Levine, Modern 1st Editions

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2346H,” accessed on 17 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)