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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce   13 May [1840–2]


I beg leave in inform you that at the request of Mr. W. Walton I wrote to him all the little information on the subject of the Guanaco,1 which I possess. I do not doubt he will communicate this to you, as at the time of making his request, he asked me whether I had received any enquiries from the Soc: of Arts.—2

I am much obliged by the invitation to attend the meeting of the Society, which I should have had great pleasure in doing, had not the present state of my health rendered it impossible—a circumstance which I must further offer in excuse for referring you to Mr Walton for my knowledge concerning the meat of the Guanaco, instead of rewriting my letter to you.—

I have the honour to remain | Sir | Your obedient serv | Charles Darwin 12 Up Gower St

May 13th.—


See letters to William Walton, [1840–2]. Walton (1844) maintains that the llama and alpaca are varieties of the wild guanaco. In Natural selection, p. 442, CD refers to Walton’s claim (p. 29) that alpaca and llama often breed together, but that their offspring are quite sterile. CD doubted this claim, but said that, if true, it would confirm the view that they are ‘distinct species, now utterly exterminated in their wild state.’
At a meeting of the Society’s Committee, 24 April 1841, Walton referred to the manufacture of guanaco woollen cloth. He may have asked CD for information on the subject (Royal Society of Arts, Minutes of the Committee of Colonies and Trade).


Informs correspondent that he wrote to William Walton all that he knew about the guanaco.

Present state of his health prevents his acceptance of invitation to attend the meeting of the Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Royal Society of Arts (RSA/PR/MC/104/10/28)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 567,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2