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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. V. Carus   5 October 1867


Oct 5th. 1867

My dear Sir,

I am sorry I pother you again, but I cannot help it. It is so very difficult to get the technical terms for many breeds which are either unknown in Germany or only described in pamphlets or periodicals unknown or inaccessible to me. You mention a breed of the game-fowl as “Duckwings”. Now first of all, game-fowl is the race of the “fighting cocks”; isn’t it? I imagine “duckwing” means having similar markings on the wings as the wild duck. Am I right? What then is “Piles”?1 The Hamburgh breed has “spangled” and “pencilled” forms. Is “spangled” synonymous or pretty nearly so with “shining”? I think “pencilled” is something like “marked with narrow short lines”, what we should call “gestrichelt”.2 Does any technical, zoological term exist for hackles? I know these feathers, but as you speak of hackles in the loins, I think there ought to be a more general name for this kind of feathers.3 The 13th. breed of your list is the Sooty fowl.4 I find in “Drechsler, die Zucht-Hühner” a breed called negro-fowl. I rather doubt if these two breeds are the same, as you say, that the hens alone are characterized so as you describe the breed; but I find no other breed in any way agreeing with your description.5

For the present I must stop with the translation, as I have no sheets. About a fortnight ago I got the last. Almost at the same time Schweizerbart wrote me, that the first volume was nearly printed off according to an answer he got from Murray.6 Most likely the rest (pp. 257–420) will come together.

May I keep Neumeister till the sheets of the translation containing the pigeons are corrected?7

I beg your pardon that I troubled you anew. Believe me | Yours most truly, | J. Victor Carus

CD annotations

1.5 “fighting cocks”] underl pencil
1.6 “Piles”] underl pencil
1.7 “spangled”] underl pencil
2.3 first … Murray. 2.4] scored pencil
3.1 May … corrected? 3.2] scored pencil


‘Duckwings’ and ‘piles’ are mentioned as game breeds of fowl in Variation 1: 227. In Carus trans. 1868, 1: 279, the former is translated as ‘entenflüglige’ with the original English term in parentheses, while the latter term is left untranslated.
In Carus trans. 1868, 1: 282, ‘spangled’ is translated as ‘geflitterte’ and ‘pencilled’ as ‘gestrichelte’.
In Carus trans. 1868, 1: 314, ‘hackles’ is translated as ‘die Schuppenfedern’.
See Variation 1: 230.
Drechsler and the book on fowl breeding have not been identified. In Carus trans. 1868, 1: 284, ‘sooty fowl’ is translated as ‘schwarzes Huhn’.
Carus had requested proof-sheets from CD in his letter to CD of 11 September 1867; the German publisher, Christian Friedrich Schweizerbart, had made the same request of CD’s publisher, John Murray (see letter from John Murray, 23 September [1867]).
Carus refers to Gottlob Neumeister’s book on pigeon breeding (Neumeister 1837), which CD had recently sent him (see letter to J. V. Carus, 16 September 1867).


Neumeister, Gottlob. 1837. Das Ganze der Taubenzucht. Weimar: B. F. Voigt.

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


Asks CD’s help in translating names and descriptions of fowls [in Variation].

Letter details

Letter no.
Julius Victor Carus
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 61
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5641,” accessed on 29 September 2021,

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