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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. J. Weir   29 June [1870]1

Down, Beckenham, Kent. S.E. [6 Queen Anne Street, London]

June 29

My dear Sir

I was very sorry to hear of your illness. From what I have been told poisoning of the blood is most dangerous and often causes extreme suffering. Now that you have begun to recover (and indeed must have a good deal of strength to have so kindly written me so long a letter) I trust and suppose that there is no risk in your complete and early recovery. Your letter is most rich in facts even for you; and I can say nothing stronger than this.2 What you tell me about the erection of the feathers is exactly what I wanted to learn. It seems in all cases, and more especially with Birds, to be more closely connected with anger than fear.3 I have seen the Ratel turning head over heels; and if it was really established that they thus free themselves from Bees, the case would be capital for me: I am writing this in London and shall go to Z. G. tomorrow morning and will ask Bartlett whether he has ever heard any authentic accounts from Travellers.4 The Cytisus case ought to be well watched: At present, without some intermediate form, I know that Botanists would simply declare that there was some blunder. I am watching a tree in which the bud of C. purpureum died and the stock pushed forth shoots close beneath.5

You do not say so, but I supose the fatter of the litter of 4 long-haired rabbits had the blood of the first long-haired rabbit in his veins. I think there can be no doubt now that variegation is contagious; but yours is rather a new case.

I shall go to press very soon with my Man Book and Sexual Selection and keep Expression for a separate Essay.6

With cordial thanks | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.


The year is established by the relation between this letter and the letter from J. J. Weir, 27 June 1870.
Abraham Dee Bartlett was superintendent of the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, London. See letter from J. J. Weir, 27 June 1870 and n. 7.
See letter from J. J. Weir, 27 June 1870 and n. 9. ‘C. purpureum’: Cytisus purpureus.
CD refers to Descent and Expression, published in early 1871 and late 1872 respectively.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


On birds erecting feathers.

Comments on production of buds in Cytisus.

Discusses case of rabbit-breeding which affected subsequent progeny of female.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Jenner Weir
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 327
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7253,” accessed on 8 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18