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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   [after 26 January 1863]1

Muswell Hill | London N

My dear Sir

I never heard of such a case nor can I believe it possible,2 but I think the idea very likely to have arisen from many dorkings having two or three extra toes partially developed, one of these (the longest) may have been removed accidentally and the others having been noticed afterwards may have been mistaken for new growths—3 Some old Dorking breeders always used to cut off the extra toes and they never grew again.

I have been to Ireland or should have replied to your former letter before— I should be very glad to undertake the Spanish and Silk hen experiment, and will at once fit up a place for their reception—.4

I cannot see your motive for suggesting turbits and carriers for the pigeon experiment as I do not think there would be any probability of a sterile cross— doubtless however you have some good reason5

The Pigeon at the Philoperisteron was very peculiar— I wrote the account in the Cottage Gardener.6 And will get you a much more detailed account of measurement—. Mr Wallace7 was there and examined it with some interest.

I shall not see owner for fortnight but will ask him to bring bird to town and supply you with full details

Believe me | Yours very truly | W B Tegetmeier


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 26 [January 1863].
See letter to William Bernhard Tegetmeier, 26 [January 1863].
Dorkings were a square-bodied breed of poultry, typically with five claws on each foot (Variation 1: 227).
Alfred Russel Wallace.


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

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


Does not believe in regeneration of monstrous toe.

Pigeon and poultry experiments.

Peculiar pigeon at Philoperisteron [pigeon fanciers’ club].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Muswell Hill
Source of text
DAR 178: 56
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3949,” accessed on 5 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11