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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Dawkins   26 August [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Aug 26

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for the present of your two papers. I have not had time as yet to do more than glance at them & refer to the case of the Galloways.1 I had heard something of this latter case, but not in such detail. I have nearly finished printing a book on the Variation of domestic animals;2 but I am sorry to say for my own sake that the chapter on cattle is printed off, so that I shall not be able at present to profit by your papers.3 I have been interested by all your previous work, & I am sure I shall be so in an especial degree on the descent of the species of Rhinoceros.4

As far as I understand your plans of ascertaining the amount of difference between existing & extinct forms, it seems to me very good; & I feel sure that the attempt will be valuable & very interesting.5

Permit me to add that your letter has pleased me much, for from your previous papers I supposed that you considered species to be immutable, & as I am an advocate for mutability, the opinion of so able a judge as yourself was a great discouragement to me.

With my best thanks & sincere respect for your scientific labours I remain | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

W. Boyd Dawkins

Upminster | Romford


Dawkins sent an essay on fossil British oxen that had been published in two parts (Dawkins 1866 and 1867). In the second part, Dawkins had quoted the account by Dunbar James Douglas of the disappearance of horns from Galloway cattle (see letter from W. B. Dawkins, 22 August 1867 and n. 1).
CD refers to Variation, which was published in January 1868.
CD refers to Dawkins 1867 in Variation 2d ed., 1: 85.
Dawkins was attempting to establish the relationship between modern and extinct members of the family Rhinocerotidae by a study of changes in dentition (see letter from W. B. Dawkins, 22 August 1867 and n. 2).
See letter from W. B. Dawkins, 22 August 1867.


Dawkins, William Boyd. 1866. On the fossil British oxen. Part I. Bos urus, Caesar. [Read 21 March 1866.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 22: 391–401.

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.


Thanks for information on Galloway cattle. [See 5614.]

Interested in WBD’s work on descent of the rhinoceros; is pleased to learn that he does not consider species to be immutable.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Boyd Dawkins
Sent from
AU 26 67
Source of text
DAR 249: 79
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5616A,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15