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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Gold Appleton   2 March [1866]1

Down Bromley Kent

Mar 2.

My dear Mr Appleton

I am very much obliged to you for your kind note & wish to aid my heretical transmutation doctrines.2 I hope you will be so good as to give my sincere thanks to Mr C. C. Fuller for all the trouble which he has taken.3

The creature I am sorry to say is not a fish; but the larva of some Batrachian or Frog-like animal.

I have sent the specimen to the British Museum where they are glad to have it for they have nothing exactly the same, but tell me that it is closely allied to the Axoltl of Mexico & to the Mud devil of the lakes of N. America.4

We often remember the very pleasant visit you paid us many years ago, & sincerely wish it cd be repeated.5

My wife joins in very kind remembrances to you & I remain | my dear Mr Appleton | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. E. Gray, 28 February 1866.
Colonel Charles C. Fuller gave Appleton a specimen of a ‘very curious fish’ with legs, which Appleton forwarded to CD (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from T. G. Appleton, 5 December [1865]). Fuller has not been further identified.
For the report on the specimen by John Edward Gray of the British Museum, see the letter from J. E. Gray, 28 February 1866.
Appleton had visited Down House in October 1849 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). Emma Darwin’s cousin, Robert James Mackintosh, had married Appleton’s sister (Wedgwood and Wedgwood 1980, pp. 248–9).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Wedgwood, Hensleigh. 1980. The Wedgwood circle, 1730–1897: four generations of a family and their friends. London: Studio Vista.


The specimen is not a fish but the larva of some batrachian or frog-like animal. Has sent it to British Museum, which says it resembles the axolotl of Mexico.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Gold Appleton
Sent from
Source of text
Boston Public Library Rare Books and Print Departments–Courtesy of the Trustees
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5427,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14