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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   13 May [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 13th

Dear Galton

I have in simple truth been quite unreasonable in begging favours of you; but yet I am going to beg one more.—   I remember that you said that you knew Mr M. Parkyns.2 If you know him well enough to supplicate an answer to the enclosed query, will you do so for me?3 If you do not, tear up the question; I would not trouble you if I were not really anxious for information on the point—

Humbly begging forgiveness, I am | Dear Galton | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is suggested by CD’s work on his pigeon manuscript during 1860 (see n. 3, below).
Mansfield Parkyns had travelled in Abyssinia from 1843 to 1846; he had been an attaché in the British embassy in Constantinople between 1850 and 1852. CD had read Parkyns’s description of his travels (Parkyns 1853) in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 14). Parkyns and Galton were both active members of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
The enclosure has not been found, but a passage in Variation 1: 183 indicates that CD received information from Parkyns about doves in Abyssinia. Parkyns informed CD that Columba guinea was not domesticated in Abyssinia, contrary to some reports. CD worked on his chapters on pigeons (Variation 1: 131–224) from March to June 1860 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Parkyns, Mansfield. 1853. Life in Abyssinia: being notes collected during three years’ residence and travels in that country. 2 vols. London.

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


Does FG know Mansfield Parkyns well enough to submit query to him? [Probably about domestication of Columba guinea in Abyssinia. See Variation 1: 183.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
UCL Library Services, Special Collections (GALTON/1/1/9/5/7/6)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2799,” accessed on 19 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8