skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   8 October [1867]1

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

Oct 8.

My dear Sir

The game cock is the same as what you call the fighting cock. The “duck-wing” is a sub-breed of the game with wings marked as you suppose. “Piles” is another sub-breed of the game with much white about it, & which I do not think worth describing to you. I would suggest in these cases to use within inverted commas the English names.2 “Pencilled” fowls have feathers marked with narrow transverse, dark lines: “Spangled” fowls have feathers tipped with a spot of dark colour; these feathers are said to be “laced” when the dark colour runs some way up both margins.3

I do not know any proper term for “hackles”; you will see nearly the same elongated feathers on the neck & loins of the cock; those on the loins are often called by Breeders “saddle-feathers”.4 There are two breeds of fowls with black bones; I know of no European name for the breed in which the hens alone are thus characterized.5 You will I hope have received by this time some additional clean sheets.6

Pray keep Newmeister as long as you like.7

I beg you always to ask me any questions you like & believe me my dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 5 October 1867.
Carus reported receiving additional proof-sheets of Variation in his letter to CD of 7 October 1867.
CD refers to Gottlob Neumeister’s book on pigeon breeding, which he had sent to Carus (Neumeister 1837; see letter from J. V. Carus, 5 October 1867 and n. 7).


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

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


CD provides explanations and advice on translating names and descriptions of breeds of fowls.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5644,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

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