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Darwin Correspondence Project

To B. P. Brent   1 April [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

April 1.

My dear Sir

Again I have to thank you for your extreme kindness, in sending me so much information.2 I daresay I shall have to use & quote some of your remarks on combs: indeed I see some already which will be useful to me.—3 Thank you much for your offer of the Pigeon; but your information will suffice, & I shall quote it, as I am glad to show variability in structure of tail.4

Many thanks for C. Gardeners, (returned by this Post), I see you have asked my questions.— The Angora seems very amiable & I presume not stupid.—5 What a pleasant article you have written on Canaries & Gold-finches! I am too ignorant to attempt to say a word on Canaries.—6

It could not have been I, who told you about G. Bankiva having sometimes tuft of feathers on back of Head.— Mr Blyth has examined in India hundreds of specimens, & has mentioned every trifling point in which the wild birds vary.—7 Indeed I cannot believe that G. Sonneratii has had anything to do with parentage of our fowls; because not only does the comb & curious hackles differ so much; nor solely because the hybrids for G. Sonneratii & the domestic fowl are very sterile; but chiefly because the voice is utterly & entirely different.—8

With cordial thanks | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S Again I have to thank you for letter just received; but I have had not had time yet to consider it: but I can see that it will be very useful.—9


The year is established by the references to articles in the 26 March 1861 issue of the Cottage Gardener (see nn. 5 and 6, below).
The letter from Brent has not been found.
CD discussed fowl combs in Variation 1: 253–4. He cited Brent in note 50 (ibid., p. 253): ‘I am much indebted to Mr. Brent for an account, with sketches, of all the variations of the comb known to him, and likewise with respect to the tail …’
Brent may have offered CD an Indian game-cock; in Variation 1: 255, CD noted that Brent had received some from Germany. For CD’s citation of Brent’s account of fowl tails, see n. 3, above, and ibid., p. 255 n. 53.
CD returned the issue of the Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman for 26 March 1861; for the notice of the Angora rabbit, see pp. 388–9. CD cited this discussion of the Angora in Variation 1: 106 n. 9, giving a different page number, and the name the journal acquired in April 1861 (CD wrote Journal of Horticulture for Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener).
CD refers to B. P. Brent 1861, an article on goldfinches, on breeding goldfinches with canaries, and on the resulting hybrids; this article was part of a series Brent was writing on ‘The canary and the British finches’, appearing in consecutive issues of the Cottage Gardener. CD discussed canaries in Variation 1: 295, citing Brent; he also mentioned canaries several times in the second volume of Variation, occasionally citing Brent.
CD refers to the wild fowl Gallus bankiva, and to Edward Blyth. CD cited Blyth in his description of G. bankiva in Variation 1: 235–6. For Blyth’s correspondence with CD on fowls, see Correspondence vols. 5 and 6.
For CD’s description of Gallus sonneratii and for his argument that G. bankiva is the ancestor of all domestic fowl, see Variation 1: 233–9. See also Correspondence vol. 5, letters from Edward Blyth, [30 September or 7 October 1855] and 8 October 1855, Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Edward Blyth, 23 February 1856 and n. 21, and this volume, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 27 February [1865], n. 5.
The letter from Brent has not been found.


Thanks for informatiion about birds and for copies of the Cottage Gardener (26 March 1861). Discusses ancestor of domestic fowl.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Bernard Peirce Brent
Source of text
Richard Brent (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3107F,” accessed on 26 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)