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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Preyer   8 July 1877

July 8. 1877

My dear Sir

I am very glad to hear of the subject which you are investigating, as the results will be very interesting. I fear that you will find very little in my paper, which I dispatch by this morning’s post.1 Have you ever heard of Douglas Spalding’s experiments of blinding chickens by placing a little bandage over their heads, as soon as they were removed from the egg. The results were extremely interesting and showed how much was done through inheritance. If you have the volumes of “Nature” for the last five years, you would easily find the article by the index.2

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S.— If you cannot find Spalding’s paper, perhaps I may succeed, but am not at all sure that I can.— There is a curious paper in Nature 1876 by Romanes on a hen bringing up young ferrets.3


In his letter of 6 July 1877, Preyer asked for a copy of CD’s paper, ‘Biographical sketch of an infant’.
See Spalding 1872.
George John Romanes’s remarks were in a letter in Nature, 28 October 1875, pp. 553–4.


‘Biographical sketch of an infant’: A biographical sketch of an infant. By Charles Darwin. Mind 2 (1877): 285–94. [Shorter publications, pp. 409–16.]


Discusses inheritance.

Has WP heard of Douglas Spalding’s experiments of blindfolding chickens ["Instinct – with original observations on young animals", Rep. BAAS 42 (1872): 141–3]?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Thierry (William) Preyer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 268–9
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11042,” accessed on 27 September 2021,