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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   [28 February – 5 March 1865]1

Muswell Hill. N

My dear Sir.

I was much grieved at receiving a letter from you not in your own hand writing—although the postscript was more assuring than the letter itself.—2 I will carefully go over your MSS. and make any observations that occur to me either in the margin in pencil or on slips of paper—3

Thanks for your kind wishes   I am getting on fairly, being very busy with new and tolerably profitable work,4 but I have had the misfortune to cut completely across and through the cornea of my right eye—and I have as yet only partially recovered the sight, the eye being very intolerant of light—

I send you spangled feathers of crested birds—and pencilled feathers of the genuine dutch breed

Our North country genuine spangled fowls, have larger and better spangles, of which I will send you samples soon—

There are no spangled game now bred—nor am I aware of any well established of that particular variety existing—5

I am now editing the Poultry and some other departments of the Field, and should you feel disposed to use the paper in any way as a means of eliciting information—We (for in this case I may safely use the editorial pronoun as I speak for every one connected with the paper) should feel much pleased if we could in any manner assist you.6

I have seen no account of your paper on Tendrils7   I should much like to read it if it is published8

If you could give me all next week for the reading of the MS. I should be glad as my accident caused my work to accumulate to a rather overwhelming extent

Trusting to hear that your health is improving | Believe me Very sincerely Yours etc | W B Tegetmeier

CD annotations

2.2 I have had … eye— 2.3] cross in margin, red crayon
4.1 Our … soon— 4.2] scored red crayon
6.1 I am … Field,] cross in margin, red crayon
7.1 I have … published 7.2] cross in margin, red crayon


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 27 February [1865] and 6 [March 1865].
Only the signature and postscript of the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier of 27 February [1865] were in CD’s hand.
The reference is to CD’s manuscript on fowls for Variation (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 27 February [1865] and n. 2).
In 1864, Tegetmeier became the editor of the pigeon and poultry department of the Field (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from B. P. Brent, 2 September 1864).
See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 27 February [1865] and n. 5. CD described the game breed, the spangled Hamburgh breed, and the pencilled Hamburgh breed of fowls in Variation 1: 226–8. For a discussion of pencilling and spangling, see ibid., pp. 243–4, and for a discussion of the feather colours of the game breed, see ibid., pp. 251–2. CD noted the tipped feathers of a game breed variety in ibid., p. 254.
See n. 4, above. The letter was written on Field stationery with the heading crossed out. The Newspaper press directory for 1865 describes the Field as ‘a gentleman’s paper, devoted to sports, pastimes, natural history, and all country pursuits’. Published weekly, the Field had its offices at 346 Strand, London (Newspaper press directory 1865). For CD’s long-standing relationship with plant and animal breeders, including poultry breeders, see J. Secord 1985.
An abstract of ‘Climbing plants’ was read at the Linnean Society on 2 February 1865.
‘Climbing plants’ was published on 12 June 1865 as a double issue of the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) (General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society, p. vi). An author’s offprint inscribed by CD was sent to Tegetmeier (Freeman 1977, pp. 116–17).


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society: General index to the first twenty volumes of the Journal (Botany), and the botanical portion of the Proceedings, November 1838 to June 1886, of the Linnean Society. London: Linnean Society of London. 1888.

Newspaper press directory: The newspaper press directory and advertiser’s guide. The newspaper press directory … A directory of the class papers and periodicals. London: C. Michell. 1856–1900.

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


Encloses some poultry feathers.

Will read over and return CD’s MS on fowls. Has been delayed by an eye injury.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Muswell Hill
Source of text
DAR 178: 64
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4787,” accessed on 19 January 2021,

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