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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Jonathan Peel   10 December [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham. Kent.

Dec: 10.

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged for your kindness in writing to me.

Your case of the sheep is interesting to me, as possibly affording some evidence that the Horns were aboriginally a sexual character.—2

It is extraordinary the number of cases, of which I have now heard of death from bodies becoming impacted within the vermiform appendage.—3

I am aware that I am in error about the snipes: indeed as a boy I have heard the males drumming in the air; but I suspect that they now breed more frequently (like woodcocks) in this country than formerly.4

Pray believe me | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 December 1873.
Peel found that when he bred Lonk sheep (which have horns) with some hornless breeds of sheep, the male offspring retained the horns while the females lost them (see letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 December 1873.
See letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 December 1873 and n. 1. Vermiform appendage: the appendix.
Peel had denied CD’s statement that snipe did not breed in Britain (see letter from Jonathan Peel, 4 December 1873 and n. 3).


Obliged for letter about horns of sheep.

Mentions case of death from objects impacted in appendix.

Is aware of his error about snipe breeding.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Jonathan Peel
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 241
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9178,” accessed on 3 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21