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Darwin Correspondence Project

To P. L. Sclater   4 November [1870]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 4th

My dear Mr Sclater

I am going to beg a favour of you which will cost you little trouble proportionally to the great service it will be to me.— I have a most unfortunate weakness, though I strive against it, to copy proper names incorrectly. In my present book on sexual difference I have to give a host of names of Birds.2 Will you run your eye over the enclosed list & see that names are spelt rightly?— I enclose envelope addressed to save you as much trouble as possible.— You can return the list without a word; except indeed, if you will add that I may send another list for another one or two chapters.—3 I have checked all names occurring in books which I possess (except one or two just now mislaid) but I have not Jerdon or the Ibis from which many names are taken.4

I hope & think this will not cause you much trouble.

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to P. L. Sclater, 5 December 1870.
CD refers to Descent; the chapters on birds are in Descent 2: 36–238. CD thanked Sclater for his help in Descent 2: 238 n. 59.
Sclater also checked the two chapters on mammals (Descent 2: 239–315).
CD refers to Thomas Claverhill Jerdon’s Birds of India (Jerdon 1862–4), and to Ibis, the journal of the British Ornithologists’ Union.


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

Jerdon, Thomas Claverhill. 1862–4. The birds of India; being a natural history of all the birds known to inhabit continental India, with descriptions of the species, genera, families, tribes, and orders, and a brief notice of such families as are not found in India, making it a manual of ornithology specially adapted for India. 2 vols. in 3. Calcutta: the author.


Asks PLS whether he will look over list of names of birds [for Descent] to make sure they are spelled correctly. "I have a most unfortunate weakness … to copy proper names incorrectly".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Philip Lutley Sclater
Sent from
Source of text
Zoological Society of London (GB 0814 BADD (Darwin))
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7356,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

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