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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Ogle   25 February [1871]1

34 Clarges Street.

Feb. 25.

My dear Mr. Darwin,

Very many thanks for the Copy of the “Descent of Man”, which you have been so kind as to send to me, and many congratulations to you on having so successfully reached the end of another stage in your work.2 I needly hardly say that I am greedily reading the book, not only with pleasure and admiration, like all the rest of the world, but with compelled assent, which I fear cannot be said equally of all your readers.

To the more important points of similarity between man and quadrumana which you set forth, I think one other small one, also perhaps showing a kinship, may be added. I feel pretty certain, that I have ascertained lately, that in the majority of monkeys, as in the majority of men, there is a certain natural pre-eminence in the right side over the left. I cannot find in your works or in any other authorities on Natural History any information on the point. This leads me to doubt somewhat of the accuracy of my own observations, which I intend to repeat. I shall be very much indebted to you, if ever you can find time to tell me, whether you have made any observations on the matter, and what was the result. I think that it is just possible that the matter may have escaped observation, because I am equally unable to find any record of the more plainly conspicuous fact, that the great majority of Parrots also show dextral pre-eminence. Of 86 parrots that I subjected to repeated trials, 63 invariably supported themselves, when feeding, on the right leg, while the remaining 23, as invariably, supported themselves upon the left.

I feel ashamed however to speak of such small matters in the same letter which thanks you heartily for the copy of your great contribution to Science.

Believe me yours very sincerely | William Ogle.


The year is established by the reference to Descent, which was published on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
Ogle’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Descent (Appendix IV).


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Thanks for Descent.

He believes he has observed a predominance of the right side over the left in monkeys and man. If so, this is another support of their relatedness.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Ogle
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Clarges St, 34
Source of text
DAR 173: 6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7514,” accessed on 29 March 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19