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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   2 February [1864]1

Down Bromley | Kent.

Feb 2.

My dear Sir

I have found the box & will send it tomorrow night to the Hotel. I am ashamed of myself & thought it had been returned long ago.2 Perhaps one or two skulls have been taken out & are placed with specimens to be drawn. They shall ultimately be returned, but I really have not strength now to search for them.3 During the last 5 months I have done actually nothing but I hope I am now slowly recovering.

I am much obliged for your information about the crosses.4 It wd be no use your calling here as it would be 100 to 1 that I shd not be able to see you.5 I am often not able to see even my own children   The box will be at the Hotel on Thursday morning

I am Dear Sir | yours faithfully & sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 1 February 1864 (Correspondence vol. 12).
CD refers to a box of skulls of various poultry breeds that Tegetmeier had sent to CD in April 1861. Tegetmeier wanted to show the skulls at a meeting of the Ethnological Society and asked CD to send them to the Gordon Hotel, Covent Garden (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 1 February 1864 and nn. 2–4).
Some of the skulls were retained to be engraved for Variation and returned in January 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 6 January [1867]).
Tegetmeier had given CD an update on some poultry-crossing experiments. His results had so far shown no lessening of fertility in the progeny of crossed fowls (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 1 February 1864 and nn. 5 and 7).
In his letter of 1 February 1864 (Correspondence vol. 12), Tegetmeier had offered to collect the skulls from CD. CD was in poor health during the second half of 1863 and the early months of 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to Asa Gray, 25 February [1864] and n. 2).


Returns WBT’s box of skulls. One or two skulls may be elsewhere, but CD does not have the strength to search for them.

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
LS(A) 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5389,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)