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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   16 September 1867

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

Sep. 16th. 1867

My dear Sir,

First let me thank you for your very kind and honourable little Biography of myself, which you were so kind as to send me.1

With respect to the clean sheets, you may rely on it that they shall be sent the very day I receive them.2 Three or four sheets were returned ready for the press several months ago, and why they have not been printed off I know not. I have almost finished the first proofs of the whole work and on October 1st hope to begin on the second proofs or Revises, so there will be some delay after you receive the next two or three clean sheets, about which I have written to the printers today.

I have difficulty in answering about the Dogs, partly from not knowing the foreign breeds, and partly from the changes which the English breeds have undergone during the last century.

Our Bulldog perhaps is nearest to the Canis molossus, as figured by Brehm in his Illust. Thierleben Vol. I, yet differs greatly, and I suspect is peculiar to England.3 My son has made a tracing from a photograph of a first rate dog.4 The German badgerhound is figured by Brehm p. 365 and resembles a turnspit in form of body, though the turnspit figured by Brehm is not characteristic. The German badger hound is not known in England and therefore I added this epithet.5 The fox hound is figured by Brehm p. 376.6 The deer hound is a term applied to two animals viz: the common deer-hound like a large fox hound; & the Scotch deer-hound which is a gigantic rough greyhound.—

The retriever is believed to be a cross of Newfoundland and Spaniel. The Spaniel (a small vary.) is figured by Coll. Ham. Smith plate 15.7 The Setter is well figured by Brehm & by Col. Ham. Smith p 379,8 and is no doubt descended from the Spaniel, but differs greatly in size form and instinct. Please observe that the Canis avicularius according to Brehm p 370 is the pointer. Perhaps I translated Rütimeyer’s Jagdhund &c wrongly.9

With respect to pigeons what you propose about the frill-back seems correct.10 The carrier is the Turkische taube, and the barb is the Indische taube   But I will send by this post Neumeister’s work, which please sometime to return to me.—11 I have marked with red letters the English names about which I am certain. I never attended much to the Toy pigeons— You will see an archangel figured. The dragon is a subvar. of the carrier. I do not think the Germans have any quasi-generic name for Runts; the French call them “pigeons romains”.12

It will always give me pleasure to do my very best in answering your questions. Do not be too much discouraged by my first volume for I really think the second is more interesting.

Pray believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

You are a most conscientious Translator, & I am sure I am grateful for all the trouble, which you have taken.—




From photograph of “Harold” a two-year old dog weighing 45 pounds


Carus had written a biographical entry on CD for a German encyclopaedia (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter from J. V. Carus, 15 November 1866). The encyclopaedia has not been identified and the version of the biography sent to CD has not been found.
Carus was translating Variation into German, and had asked CD to have the next set of clean proof-sheets sent to him (see letter from J. V. Carus, 11 September 1867).
CD refers to the first volume of Alfred Edmund Brehm’s illustrated guide to animal life (Brehm et al. 1864–9). CD had received the first four volumes of the work from his Russian translator, Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (see letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 24 June [1867]). Carus translated ‘bulldog’ as ‘der Bullenbeisser’ (Carus trans. 1868, 1: 52).
It is not known which of CD’s sons made the enclosed tracing.
See Brehm et al. 1864–9, 1: 365. In Variation 1: 28, CD referred to ‘the turnspit-like German badger-hound’, which Carus translated simply as ‘deutsche Dachshund’ (Carus trans. 1868, 1: 35).
See Brehm et al. 1864–9, 1: 376.
Plate 15 of C. H. Smith 1839–40 has figures of both a spaniel and a setter. The page reference is to Brehm’s illustration of a setter (Brehm et al. 1864–9, 1: 379).
Brehm et al. 1864–9, 1: 370. In Variation 1: 19, CD had translated a passage from Ludwig Rütimeyer’s study of the fauna of prehistoric Switzerland (Rütimeyer 1861). He translated ‘Jagdhund und Wachtelhund’ as ‘hounds and setters or spaniels’.
For Carus’s suggested translation, see the letter from J. V. Carus, 11 September 1867.
Carus had been unable to find a copy of Gottlob Neumeister’s book on pigeon breeding (Neumeister 1837: see letter from J. V. Carus, 11 September 1867). CD’s annotated copy of Neumeister 1837 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 640–1).
Neumeister 1837 included fifteen coloured plates showing different pigeon breeds organised into groups. Each plate in CD’s copy is heavily annotated by CD and the English names of some breeds added in red pencil. The figure of the archangel pigeon (Gimpel-Taube) is on plate 13. Plate 14, which includes carrier pigeons, does not include a dragon. Carus translated ‘runts’ as ‘Runt-Tauben’ (Carus trans. 1868, 1: 175); the word ‘Römertauben’ is generally used today.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

Neumeister, Gottlob. 1837. Das Ganze der Taubenzucht. Weimar: B. F. Voigt.

Rütimeyer, Ludwig. 1861. Die Fauna der Pfahlbauten in der Schweiz. Untersuchungen über die Geschichte der wilden und der Haus-Säugethiere von Mittel-Europa. Basel, Switzerland: Bahnmaier’s Buchhandlung (C. Detloff).

Smith, Charles Hamilton. 1839–40. The natural history of dogs: Canidæ or genus Canis of authors. Including also the genera Hyæna and Proteles. 2 vols. (Vols. 4 and 5 of Mammalia in The naturalist’s library, edited by William Jardine.) Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars.

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


Thanks JVC for his biography [of CD].

Has almost finished first proofs of Variation.

Has difficulty in answering JVC’s queries about dogs because of differences in German names and breeds. Refers him to A. E. Brehm’s Illustrirtes Thierleben [1868] and, on pigeons, to Gottlob Neumeister’s book [Das Ganze der Taubenzucht (1837)].

Hopes JVC is not discouraged by first volume. Thinks second will be more interesting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Julius Victor Carus
Sent from
Source of text
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Slg. Darmstaedter Lc 1859: Darwin, Charles, Bl. 10–13)
Physical description
LS(A) 5pp encl

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5628,” accessed on 30 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15