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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. C. Eyton   2 November [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

November 2d.

Dear Eyton

Will you forgive me troubling you with a question, which you can answer by “yes” or “no”. Did you observe that your hybrids between the Chinese & common form, were at all wilder or less tame than both parents?2 I have been informed that this is sometimes the case with hybrids, as with those from common & Musk Duck.3

Yours most truly | C. Darwin


The information given in this letter was used by CD in chapter 10 of his species book, completed in March 1858 (‘Journal’; see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II).
Eyton had described these hybrid geese in Eyton 1837b and 1840. The question posed in the letter was evidently answered by Eyton, for CD reported that the offspring were not wilder than their parents (Natural selection, p. 486).
See Natural selection, p. 486, where CD wrote: ‘Mr. Garnett of Clitheroe in a letter to me states that his hybrids from the musk & common Duck “evinced a singular tendency to wildness.”’


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

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Has TCE observed whether hybrids of Chinese and common forms [of geese] were wilder, or less tame, than both parents?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Sent from
Source of text
Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham (EYT/1/42)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2164,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6