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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. T. Buckland   1 February [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Feb. 1st

My dear Mr Buckland

I thank you sincerely for your very kind note & information.2 I will write about the fins.—3 Pray present my thanks to the Editor of the Field;4 & will, if I require it, avail myself of his kind permission. I formerly did occasionally receive some good facts through that channel.5 But my health is very weak & I find myself overdone & almost smothered with facts & necessary enquiries, so that I am trying to restrict, as much as I can, the scope of my present work, which is on a large subject “Variation under Domestication”.—6

As you truly say the power of lying is great; I thought that dog & fox cross did not come under that grand category; but I forget my facts, except that one good observer Hon. & Revd. Dr Herbert assured me that he had seen an animal which he felt assured was such a cross.—7

I should much enjoy having a little talk with you, when in London.— I am coming up this week & will endeavour to see you at Athenæum or elsewhere; but I have not been well enough for nearly a year to stay in London & in consequence have got far more to do than I shall be able to get through.—8

With sincere thanks, pray believe me | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the letter from F. T. Buckland, [before 1 February 1863], and by the reference to CD’s planned visit to London (see n. 8, below).
See letter from F. T. Buckland, [before 1 February 1863], and letter to F. T. Buckland, 26 January [1863].
See letter to J. J. Briggs, 2 February [1863]. Buckland had evidently suggested that CD write to John Joseph Briggs on the subject of fish fins in the missing portion of the letter from F. T. Buckland, [before 1 February 1863].
The editor of the Field, John Henry Walsh, had invited CD to use the paper’s columns for his natural history queries (see letter from F. T. Buckland, [before 1 February 1863]).
The Field published several of CD’s letters in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to the Field, [before 27 April 1861], [before 4 May 1861], [before 25 May 1861], and [before 15 June 1861]). CD cited the information he received from the Field in Variation 1: 58, 253.
The variation of animals and plants under domestication, eventually published in two volumes in 1868, was intended to be the first part of CD’s ‘big book’ on species (see Variation 1: 3–10). CD began writing drafts of the chapters on inheritance (chapters 12–14) in January 1863, completing the work on 1 April (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)).
See letter from F. T. Buckland, [before 1 February 1863]. CD had received information from Brian Houghton Hodgson that dog and fox crosses had occurred in India (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 October 1848; see also Correspondence vol. 2, Questions for Mr Wynne, [February–July 1838]). In reviewing the evidence for the intercrossing of dogs with other species in Variation, CD repeated two further anecdotes indicating that some breeds of dog might interbreed with foxes (see Variation 1: 31–3). William Herbert’s observation of dog and fox crosses (Herbert 1837, pp. 339–40) was not cited, and no letter from Herbert on this subject has been found.
CD was in London between 4 and 14 February 1863 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)).


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

Herbert, William. 1837. Amaryllidaceæ; preceded by an attempt to arrange the monocotyledonous orders, and followed by a treatise on cross-bred vegetables, and supplement. London: James Ridgway & Sons.

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


CD sends thanks for information; will write about the fins.

His health is weak and he is "almost smothered" with facts and inquiries, so is trying to restrict the scope of his present work, on variation under domestication.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Trevelyan (Frank) Buckland
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3961,” accessed on 29 October 2020,

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