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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   2 June [1865]1

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

June 2d

My dear Sir

I have become a little uneasy for fear that you might have despatched the Pigeon M.S & I never received it.—2 I am in no hurry but shd. be glad of it before very long.—

I have lost five weeks by illness, & done nothing but I hope soon to resume some work.

Your hints in my Fowl M.S. were very useful.3

Have you published on their skulls, besides the paper in Zoolog. Proc.?4

I cannot avoid quoting occasionally Wingfield Book, when I have to allude to statements quoted from Mr Hewitt & Ballance.—5

If you have any communication with Mr Zurhorst, pray give him my cordial thanks for his kind information.—6

This wd be experiment worth trying, cross a young white Pouter which always breeds true, or red barb, once & for first time with a blue barred pigeon; then pair her, after she has reared her Mongrel offspring, with her own breed & observe whether her subsequent progeny is affected by the first impregnation.—7

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Have you seen Dr Chapuis’s French work on Belgian Carriers: he has sent it to me.—8


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 10 April 1865.
CD sent his manuscript of the section on pigeons for Variation to Tegetmeier on 7 April 1865 (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, [7 April 1865], and letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 10 April 1865).
Tegetmeier had read and commented on CD’s manuscript of the section on fowls for Variation (see Variation 1: 225–75; CD acknowledged Tegetmeier’s assistance in a note on page 225). See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 27 [February 1865], and letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, [7 April 1865].
A notice of Tegetmeier’s presentation of living specimens and preparations of skulls of Polish fowl at the 25 November 1856 meeting of the Zoological Society of London appeared in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Tegetmeier 1856). No other paper on fowls by Tegetmeier has been found. CD discussed the perforations in the skulls of Polish fowls in Variation 1: 262–5 and 2: 332–3, and cited Tegetmeier 1856 in Variation 1: 262.
Tegetmeier had begun editing and revising Wingfield and Johnson 1853, but the project was never finished because the publisher went out of business. An unbound annotated copy of the eleven instalments that were published (Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7) is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 798–800). Tegetmeier had asked CD to cite him personally, instead of Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7, if CD thought fit (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [29 March – 7 April 1865] and n. 6). Edward Hewitt and Charles Ballance, well-known poultry fanciers, are cited in Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7 and in Variation. Owing to the delay in publishing Variation, CD was able to use Tegetmeier 1867 in all his references to poultry, including information from Hewitt and Ballance. Tegetmeier 1867 was originally published in fifteen instalments in 1866 and 1867. CD’s unbound annotated parts are in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 800–3). See also Correspondence vol. 14, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 22 January [1866].
Frederick William Zurhorst had supplied Tegetmeier with information on the colour of chicken down, presumably for CD (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 10 April 1865 and n. 5).
There is no evidence that Tegetmeier ever performed such an experiment on CD’s behalf. In Variation 1: 405, CD noted that Félicien Chapuis claimed that the influence of a first male is sometimes perceived in succeeding broods (Chapuis 1865, p. 59); CD warned that the statement required confirmation.
The reference is to Chapuis 1865. CD’s annotated copy of this work is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 165).


Chapuis, Félicien. 1865. Le pigeon voyageur belge. Verviers: Imprimerie de Ch. Vinche.

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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1856. On the remarkable peculiarities existing in the skulls of the feather-crested variety of the domestic fowl, now known as the Polish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 24: 366–8.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1867. The poultry book: comprising the breeding and management of profitable and ornamental poultry, their qualities and characteristics; to which is added ‘The standard of excellence in exhibition birds’, authorized by the Poultry Club. London and New York: George Routledge & Sons.

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


Has lost time through illness.

Suggests an experiment to see whether the progeny of a pigeon cross are affected by a previous impregnation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4848,” accessed on 24 June 2021,

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