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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. M. Rodwell   11 November 1871

Douglas House. | Highbury New Park. N.

Nov. 11. 1871

Dear Sir/

I scarcely like to trouble you with what may not be worth recording—but as at p. 63 of Vol. 1. of your Animals under domestication you mention having seen “two cases of distinct 〈though〉 slight forking” in the ass1—〈I thin〉k it worth while to mention that I noticed a most distinct bifurcation on the shoulders of a donkey, the property of a Clergyman at Dallington Sussex,2 which I saw this summer—in this fashion.


I also observed in the same animal five distinct (and one rather indistinct) circular zebra like markings on the legs. They were clearest on the fore legs.

The animal was of rather a dark grey.—

I am | dear Sir | with many thanks for your interesting Vol’s—all of which I have perused wi〈th〉 I think greatest interest | Yours faithfully | J M Rodwell


In Variation 1: 63–4, CD described forking and angular bending in the shoulder-stripe of the ass.
The clergyman was possibly Ralph Raisbeck Tatham, the vicar of St Giles in Dallington, and the only resident clergyman in the village (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1871).


Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has read Variation and reports on markings on donkeys similar to those in vol. 1, p. 63.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Medows Rodwell
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Highbury New Park
Source of text
DAR 176: 189
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8063,” accessed on 28 February 2020,

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