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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   1 November [1867]1

50, Albemarle St. | W.

Nov. 1.

My Dear Sir

Our thoughts about the Index jumped together, as they say, as you will perceive by the enclosed from Mr Dallas2—to whom I wrote 2 days ago— By this post I send you his Specimen—3 Will you address him direct at York to save loss of time? I hope he is working to your satisfaction.

Here is a matter wch may interest you—not a “Cock & a Bull” but an Ass & a Bull— I have a MS journey in Asia Minor—the writer of wch a respectable American Missionary4—met with the offspring of these two animals & has made a drawing of the specimen & states that it is of common occurrence in that country.

I must confess—I do not believe it & if you do not—I shall advise the author to suppress the phenomenon

I shd like to know what opinion you entertain, & whether you are acquainted with any such instance of extra-breeding

I am | My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | John Murray

Chas Darwin Esq


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. S. Dallas, 4 November 1867.
The enclosure has not been found. Murray had engaged William Sweetland Dallas to prepare the index for Variation (see letter from John Murray, 23 September [1867], and letter to John Murray, 19 October [1867]).
In his letter of 19 September [1867], Murray had told CD that he would ask for a sample of the index for CD’s approval. The specimen CD received was returned to Dallas and has not been found (see letter to John Murray, 2 November [1867]).
Murray refers to a manuscript later published by him as Travels in little-known parts of Asia Minor: with illustrations of biblical literature and researches in archaeology by Henry John Van Lennep (Van Lennep 1870). The published version did not contain the ‘ass and bull’ story.


Van Lennep, Henry John. 1870. Travels in little-known parts of Asia Minor: with illustrations of biblical literature and researches in archaeology. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

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


Sends Dallas’ specimen of indexing [for Variation].

Asks CD’s opinion of likelihood of a hybrid of ass and bull, reported in a MS of a journey to Asia Minor he is reading.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50
Source of text
DAR 171: 352
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5661,” accessed on 23 January 2022,

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