skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Henry Flower   13 April [1863]1

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

April 13th

My dear Sir

I have been so long familiar with your name, that I trust you will excuse me addressing you, as if we were acquainted.

Several years ago I presented to the College the skull of the Niata Ox.2 This day I received a letter from M. Quatrefages, asking me, if I possibly could get for him a photograph of this skull, or a cast for the Museum.—3

Would it be possible to make so huge a cast & would it not be very expensive? Will you have the great kindness to assist M. Quatrefages & greatly oblige me.—

Do you know any photographer & could you get a photograph (I presume side & front view would be necessary) made.4 If you will take this trouble I shd. be very much obliged. Perhaps, also, you can give me some information about a cast: if permission were granted & it could be made, I think I had better give M. Quatrefages some idea of cost. He could judge best after seeing Photographs.— I hope that you will forgive me thus troubling you. I would have come to London; but my health is so indifferent that this is no slight fatigue to me.—

My dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. H. Flower, 15 April 1863.
CD presented a niata skull, collected on the Beagle voyage, to the Royal College of Surgeons in January 1840 (see letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863 and nn. 7 and 8). Flower was curator of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons (DNB).
See letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863. Quatrefages was professor of the natural history of man at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris (DSB). See also letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 14 May [1863].
CD sent photographs of the niata skull to Quatrefages in May (see letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 14 May [1863], and letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 19 May [1863]).


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.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.


Asks WHF to obtain photographs of skull of ox for J. L. A. Quatrefages de Bréau.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Henry Flower
Sent from
Source of text
Quaritch (dealers) (2007)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4090,” accessed on 16 October 2019,

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