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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. A. Blair   27 December 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 27. 1877

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for kindly informing me of the case of the goose. It seems to be a remarkable case of inheritance of effects of injury & as such cases are very rare it would be quite worth while to have the parts carefully examined. If you could obtain a wing & would send it me I should be much obliged.1 The wing might be cut off at the joint with the body & dried with feathers on before a hot fire. To make the case of more value it would be very advisable to ascertain whether the goose had any offspring before the injury, & if so whether they were normal & not malformed in any way.

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


Blair’s letter to CD has not been found; it was later sent to William Henry Flower together with a specimen of the wing, and Flower returned the letter with a sketch of the wing drawn on the back (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter to W. H. Flower, 25 February 1878, and letter from W. H. Flower, 12 April 1878). CD was sceptical about the inheritance of injuries, but had reported some cases in Variation 2: 22–4; CD had expanded this section in Variation 2d ed. 1: 466–70.


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

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

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


Asks for the wing of a goose said to have transmitted effects of an injury by hereditary descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Reuben Almond Blair
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.529)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11290,” accessed on 16 September 2021,