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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Trevelyan Buckland   26 January [1863]1

– – [letter …  to Francis Buckland, Down, 26 January n.y., recalling that they were introduced ‘by your late honoured Father’ many years ago,2 writing as a fellow-naturalist to ask Buckland’s help in identifying an article in The Field about the fins of fishes growing again after being cut off,3 and enquiring whether he has heard of the re-growth of organs ‘such as tail or finger or toe’ in the mammalia or birds, ‘I am privately informed that regrowth occurs with monstrous additional fingers with men’4]

I hope that you will excuse my venturing thus to trouble you, & I beg leave to remain, Dear Sir | Yours faithfully, | Charles Darwin

A friend sent me a few days ago the Field with your5

[Darwin in a postscript refers also to Buckland’s letter in The Field about a ‘Dog-Lion’ and a reported sighting in Russia.]6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to F. T. Buckland, 1 February [1863]. See also n. 3, below.
Buckland’s father, the geologist William Buckland, died in 1856 (DNB).
The reference has not been identified. See letter to J. J. Briggs, 2 February [1863]. In the chapter on inheritance in Variation, CD stated (Variation 2: 15–16): Lastly, as I have been informed by Mr. J. J. Briggs and Mr. F. Buckland, when portions of the pectoral and tail fins of various freshwater fish are cut off, they are perfectly reproduced in about six weeks’ time.
See Variation 2: 16, 57.
The letter text from ‘I hope’ to ‘with your’ is transcribed from a partial facsimile which accompanies the catalogue description.
See letter from Francis Boott, 23 January 1863, and nn. 2, 3, 5 and 6.


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.

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


Asks FB’s help in identifying an article in The Field about the fins of fishes growing again after being cut off, and inquiring whether he has heard of the re-growth of organs in the mammalia or birds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Trevelyan (Frank) Buckland
Sent from
Source of text
Christie’s, London (dealers) (23 June 1993, lot 146)
Physical description
** 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3948F,” accessed on 19 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11