skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   11 November 1871

Nov 11. 1871

My dear Father,

I send you a note from Capt Jones with answer from his father, who I believe farms at Bala.1 If this is not enough, I will write again to him.

I have not received any proofs from Murray for some days, I suppose there is some delay.2

Your affect son | W. E. Darwin

What is the meaning of Prof. Cope’s “origin of genera” in Nature3



8. 11 71

My dear Darwin.

My governor4 writes to me. “Of course Castration produces a great effect on the horns of Sheep—as the horns do not grow to so large a size, or so strong— The lambs, are castrated when they are from one to two months old—& the older they are before they are castrated, the larger & stronger will become the horns—& the rule applies to cattle the younger the calf is castrated, the finer (i.e thinner) becomes his horn5

Is this sufficient for your purpose, as I can get you what evidence you like— I do not know whether you want any data as to Ewes horns?

Perhaps you would like measurements length & girth &c taken.—if so let me know, and, I can get these carefully done for your father

Sincerely yrs | R. O. Jones

CD annotations

1.1 I send … Nature 4.1] crossed ink
1.1 My … strong— 1.2] crossed pencil
1.2 The lambs, … old— 1.3] scored pencil
Top of enclosure: ‘Effects of Castration on Rams’ ink
End of enclosure: ‘Ruck says about 136ink


William refers to Robert Owen Jones and Robert’s father, William Jones. Bala is a town in north-west Wales.
William was reading proofs of the sixth edition of Origin (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [November 1871]).
William refers to the essay ‘On the origin of genera’ by Edward Drinker Cope (Cope 1868). A separately published version (Cope 1869) was reviewed in Nature, 9 November 1871, pp. 21–2.
Governor (slang): father.
CD added information on the effects of castration on the size of the horns of Welsh sheep in Descent 2d ed., p. 506, but he did not give the source.
CD refers to the letter from Lawrence Ruck, [after 29 April 1869?] (Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement). Ruck wrote that the horns of castrated rams were one third the length of those of intact rams.


Cope, Edward Drinker. 1868. On the origin of genera. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (1868): 242–300.

Cope, Edward Drinker. 1869. On the origin of genera. Philadelphia: Merrihew & Son, printers.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Forwards a letter from R. O. Jones on the effects of castration on horns of male lambs.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 88: 121–2
Physical description
1p, encl ALS 3pp †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8061,” accessed on 9 May 2021,

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