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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Henry Binstead   17 April 1868

Sandal Wakefield

April 17. 1868

My dear Sir

I have had during the past few days the pleasure of reading your valuable & interesting book on “The Variation of Animals &c under domestication”—1

—As an ornithologist in a very small way I have read with great interest your Chapter on Ducks &c   But I do not notice that you have observed a change that I fancy takes place in Mallards when becoming domesticated— it is this   that in the wild Duck the claws are black whereas in the tame ones they are white   I think I have noticed this in several cases & take the liberty of informing you—as it may have escaped your observation &—should there be anything in it & your book reaches a 2nd Edition—it may be of service to you in rendering the same more complete.2

I have taken the liberty of forwarding you this letter through the hands of your publisher Mr. Murray.3

I am Dr Sir | Yours very faithfully | Chas. H. Binstead

The | Revd. C. Darwin M.d.


The reference is to Variation.
For the section on ducks, see Variation 1: 276–87. CD discussed changes in wild ducks under domestication in Variation 2: 262–3; no changes were made in the second edition (Variation 2d ed., 2: 250).
John Murray.


Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

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


In reading Variation, notices CD has not observed that after mallards have been domesticated their claws turn from black to white.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Henry Binstead
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 185
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6126,” accessed on 28 February 2020,

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