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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   10 December [1868]

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

Dec. 10

Dear Innes,

I am much obliged for your letter. I do not think the case worth investigating simply because it is so wonderful & opposed to analogy that no naturalist wd believe it unless the animal was most carefully examined by some well-known, cautious, & experienced zoologist.—1 Even then many wd. disbelieve as the act of union was not observed.

A supposed hybrid was exhibited in London between a Deer & Pony; but when examined by Owen turned out to be a monstrosity of a Pony, aided by some manipulation on the hoofs.—2 All such cases have failed when examined into.—

As I am writing I had perhaps add that rumours are very common in our village about Mr Robinson walking with girls at night.—3 I did not mention them before, because I had not even moderately good authority; but my wife found Mrs Allen4 very indignant about Mr R.s conduct with one of her maids.

I do not believe that there is any evidence of actual immorality. As I repeat only second hand my name must not be mentioned.— Our maids5 tell my wife that they do not believe that hardly anyone will go to Church now that Mr R. has returned.

What a plague this Parish does give you.—

Dear Innes | Very sincerely yours | C. Darwin


CD refers to Richard Owen. CD had mentioned the case in a letter to W. D. Fox, 22 [March 1860] (Correspondence vol. 8).
CD had already notified Innes of John Warburton Robinson’s absence from the parish and raised concern about Robinson’s handling of the school accounts (see letter to J. B. Innes, 1 December 1868).
For more on the maids who may have been employed at Down House at this time, see Atkins 1974, pp. 74–5.


Atkins, Hedley J. B. 1974. Down, the home of the Darwins: the story of a house and the people who lived there. London: Royal College of Surgeons.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Does not think the supposed cow–deer hybrid worth investigating.

John Robinson [the curate at Down] reported to be walking with girls at night.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
DE 11 68
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6497,” accessed on 25 March 2023,

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