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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alfred Newton   27 February [1868]1

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

Feb 27

My dear Professor Newton,

I am very much obliged to you for your corrections of my errors which are serious enough.2 That about the Chinese goose was a scandalous piece of idleness on my part, for I had a notion that it was described in the Amur expedition; but I was at that time so sick of my book that I had not the heart to enquire.3 These valuable corrections, I am sorry to say, are too late for the 2nd Ed. which is now printed off.4

I return the printed paper with thanks; I once bred a pigeon like that described, but the case of the buzzard, if not a hybrid, wd be very interesting.

With many thanks for your kindness believe me | yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the second printing of Variation (see n. 4, below).
Newton’s letter to CD has not been found.
In Variation 1: 237, CD mentioned the Chinese goose (or swan goose), Anser cygnoides, as the only domesticated bird whose wild parent form was said to be still unknown, or extinct. In the second edition of Variation this passage was removed. A scientific expedition to the Amur, a river of eastern Asia forming part of the border between Russia and China, was undertaken from 1854 to 1856; the birds of the region, including A. cygnoides, are described in Schrenk 1858, 1: 561 and pl. XV.
A second printing of Variation was ordered after all copies of the first edition had been sold (see letter from John Murray, 6 February [1868]).


Schrenk, Leopold von. 1858. Reisen und Forschungen im Amur-Lande in den Jahren 1854–1856. 2 vols. St Petersburg: Akademie der Wissenschaften zu St Petersburg.

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


Thanks for corrections of errors [in Variation].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Newton
Sent from
Source of text
Cambridge University Library (MS Add. 9839/1D/57)
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5941,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

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