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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. E. Gray   4 February [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Febr 4th

My dear Gray

I remember reading in Molina about the Huemul & enquired about it in the S. parts of S. America.2 It must be in most parts rare, for I heard such vague accounts that I concluded it did not exist.— I am glad that you have made out what it is.—3 I hope that you keep pretty well: you retain indomitable activity.—4

Pray give my kind regards to Mrs Gray5 & believe me | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the allusion to Gray’s paper on the huemul (see n. 3, below).
The huemul or guemul, an Andean deer species (now Hippocamelus bisulcus), was first described by Juan Ignacio (Giovanni Ignazio) Molina (Molina 1782, p. 320). The huemul is also described in Molina 1788–95, 1: 364–5; CD’s annotated copy, which he acquired in 1834 in Valparaiso while on the Beagle voyage, is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 595).
The first part of Gray’s paper ‘On the guémul’ appeared in the December 1872 issue of Annals and Magazine of Natural History (J. E. Gray 1872–3; two further parts appeared in March and April 1873).
In 1869, Gray had suffered a paralytic stroke, from which he never fully recovered. He carried on as keeper of the zoological department of the British Museum until 1874 (ODNB).
Maria Emma Gray.


Gray, John Edward. 1872–3. On the guémul (Huamela leucotis). Annals and Magazine of Natural History 10 (1872): 445–6; 11 (1873): 214–20, 308–10.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Molina, Giovanni Ignazio. 1782. Saggio sulla storia naturale del Chili. Bologna: Stamperia di S. Tommaso d’Aquino.

Molina, Juan Ignacio. 1788–95. Compendio de la historia geografica, natural y civil del reyno de Chile. Translated by Domingo Joseph de Arquella da Mendoza and Nicolas de la Cruz. 2 vols. Madrid: A. de Sancha.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Is glad JEG has made out what the guemul is ["On the Guémul", Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 4th ser. 10 (1872): 445–6; 11 (1873): 214–20, 308–10].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Edward Gray
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.411)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8758,” accessed on 2 April 2020,

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