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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. E. Gray   13 February 1868


13 Feb 1868

My Dear Darwin

Thanks for sending the Narthusius1 I have packed it ready for your man when he calls next Thursday—2 It agrees with my own observations that all Domestic Pigs have short head & concave forehead nose keeled on sides—3 He evidently has not seen pliciceps in which these characters are carried to a greater extent4   I said in describing of it in the Proceedings Z. S that the Berkshire hog was nearest to it5

The Berkshire pig was known to the Greeks   Newton Brought three statue of a Pig like the Berkshire from Cnidus, they have curly tail & male & female have a crop of bristles that is not the way the sculptors represents bristle generally   they name them “Pig Sacred to Persephone Temenos of Demeter”. the statues are in the BM.6

The Assyrian slabs in BM represent the flat sided pig perhaps Wild among the Reeds, with young Pig— Representing Sennacerib superintending the movements of a gigantic Bull.7

Ever Yours sincerely | J E Gray

You will find my observations on the African & Indian Cats in the P. Z Soc for 1867 entirely founded on the examination of the specimens in BM, There are two Papers one on their skulls, the other on their skins—& there is an appendix to the latter on some India Cats left out by the Printer.8


Nathusius 1864. See letters from J. E. Gray, 4 February 1868 and 6 February 1868.
George Snow operated a carrier service between Down and London (see Freeman 1978, p. 261).
See the descriptions of domestic pigs in J. E. Gray 1868, p. 38.
See letter from J. E. Gray, 4 February 1868 and n. 4.
The Berkshire breed is not mentioned in Gray’s paper on Sus pliciceps in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society (J. E. Gray 1862b). Gray evidently refers to the description of S. pliciceps in Bartlett 1861; this paper, which Gray cited as his own in J. E. Gray 1868, p. 41, notes that a male S. pliciceps was crossed with three sows of the Berkshire pig, resulting in offspring.
Charles Thomas Newton acquired antiquities for the British Museum in the 1860s while stationed in Greece as a consul (ODNB). Cnidus or Knidos was a city in ancient Greece. In Greek myth, Demeter was the goddess of corn and agriculture, and the mother of Persephone (Oxford companion to classical literature). She was often depicted carrying, or accompanied by, pigs, which were considered to be embodiments of the corn-spirit. Gray described the ancient Greek depictions of pigs in J. E. Gray 1868, p. 39.
Sennacherib was king of Assyria from 704 to 681 BCE. On the Assyrian collections in the British Museum, see J. E. Curtis and Reade eds. 1995.
Gray refers to J. E. Gray 1867b, 1867c, and 1867d. See letter from J. E. Gray, 6 February 1868 and n. 7.


Bartlett, Abraham Dee. 1861. Remarks on the Japanese masked pig. [Read 11 June 1861.] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1861): 263–4.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Nathusius, Hermann von. 1864. Vorstudien für Geschichte und Zucht der Hausthiere zunächst am Schweineschädel. 1 vol. and atlas. Berlin: Wiegandt und Hempel.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Oxford companion to classical literature. 1997. 2d ed. Edited by M. C. Howatson. \Oxford: Oxford University Press.


JEG and Nathusius on pigs.

Reference to JEG’s paper on African and Indian cats [Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. (1867): 258–77, 874–6].

Letter details

Letter no.
John Edward Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 165: 215
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5875,” accessed on 4 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16