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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. C. Eyton   [6 January 1840]

12 Upper Gower St


Dear Eyton

You must have been surprised at my not having sooner answered your letter; but I have not been very well for the last week, having had a headach every day, which has not left me now.— I am delighted to hear what progress you have made— the results you briefly mention, appear very curious.— I am exceedingly glad, & obliged to you, that you undertook the task.—1

I cannot say when the next (& last) number of Birds will appear, as it does not depend upon myself.— It may be 1st of March or 2 or 3 months later.—2

With respect to the plate of engravings, the drawings for which you so kindly offer to execute, I must leave it to yourself to decide—with this statement, that I am anxious to spend the government grant in the best way for science, & I think I have already given rather too much proportionally to the birds & Mammalia.— But, if you think the details require illustration, most decidedly they shall have it.— Will you have the kindness to decide for me, and if in the affirmative I need not say how much obliged I shall be to you for the drawings.—3

With respect to the bones, & scraps—if you set much value on them, undoubtedly the museum of the describer has the best claim for them.— otherwise I should present them to Coll. of Surgeons, with references to your description.— Please to decide this for me, & excuse my briefness, as I am not very well

Ever yr. C. D.

P.S. Perhaps you have not heard, that I am become a Father: the event occurred last Friday week: it is a little Prince4


CD refers to Eyton’s appendix to Birds, pp. 147–56.
The last number of Birds was delayed because G. R. Gray was occupied with his own work on birds (Gray 1840). See letter to G. R. Gray, [20 November – 11 December 1840]. Birds No. 5 was not published until March 1841 (Freeman 1977).
No illustrations by Eyton appeared in the volume.
William Erasmus Darwin was born 27 December 1839.


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

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.

Gray, George Robert. 1840. A list of the genera of birds, with an indication of the typical species of each genus. London: Richard and John E. Taylor.


Has been unwell.

Thanks TCE for his descriptions [of specimens for Birds]. Has already expended a high proportion of Government grant on birds, but if TCE thinks engravings are needed, he shall have them. He may keep the bones.

CD has become a father.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.20)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 549,” accessed on 8 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2