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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   28 March [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

March 28

My dear Sir

I am in truth grateful to you for so frankly & kindly acquiesing in my proposal & request.2 My M.S. will not be ready for a considerable time, as I work abominably slowly from many reasons.—

I can see that I shall have many points to investigate; & as you have opportunity you can investigate them; & I will have no scruple in asking, as you with real & true kindness will allow me to make up for your loss of time. You will have to endeavour to give me some idea of how much time I cause you to lose.—

Hearty thanks for what you have already done & written about Rabbits & Malays.— In rabbits my skeleton work has much interested me.— I am glad to hear that you are going to write on Hen-tailed cocks.3 By an odd coincidence, yesterday I was thinking of an experiment which I shd. like to see tried, viz to cross a cock Hamburgh Hen-tail & Seabright Hen tailed-Hen,4 & see whether the Hen-tail wd be inherited under such trying circumstances; & likewise to see effect on colour of chickens.— I would gladly pay all direct & indirect expences, but I know it is very troublesome with poultry to make such crosses, & so hardly worth while. I would do it myself; but I have more experiments with plants in Hand, than I fear with my poor health I can attend to.—

With cordial thanks | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

If you do not hear, you will understand that your skulls have come safe.—

The skulls have arrived & Live Rabbit—5 Cordial thanks—


The year is given by the reference to CD’s manuscript on fowls for Variation, which he finished in 1861. See ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix II).
CD had asked Tegetmeier to read and make comments on the chapter on fowls that he was preparing (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 22 March [1861]).
See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 2 April [1861]. Sebright fowl were named after their breeder, John Saunders Sebright (DNB).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1861. Undescribed variations in plumage. The Field, the Farm, the Garden, the Country Gentleman’s Newspaper 17: 313.

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


Thanks for agreeing to read MS.

Outlines poultry breeding experiment he would like to see tried.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3103,” accessed on 30 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9