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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. S. Dallas   8 December 1867


8 Decr. 1867

My dear Sir

On Page 104 of Vol. I. I think notes 4 & 5 are transposed.— Will you look at them & send me word?.—1 On page 132, are acknowledgments of indebtedness with regard to Pigeons,—these I have taken no notice of.— On Page 275 you refer to Phasianus Amherstii, which I think should be Amherstiæ,—it is Lady Amherst’s Pheasant.—2 On p. 282 the Egyptian goose is said to be Tadorna ægyptiaca,— Is this intentional?— Tadorna is the genus of the Sheldrakes according to general acceptation, & the Egyptian Goose does not seem to me to be a Sheldrake.—3 These are questions or remarks that I am obliged to make.—

In speaking of Pigeons you use the term Dragon for one of the breeds,—this was originally Dragoon, but I have adopted the Dragon.—4

I venture also to mention that the expression “In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful” referred to at p. 205, is the common adjuration at the opening of all works among the Arabs,— you will find it given or noticed by Lane in his translation of the Arabian nights,5—together with a concluding phrase “God is all knowing” which is peculiarly appropriate to the contents of many of those tales—6

I am pushing on with the second volume, having completed the first notes & all,— you were in the right in one of your letters to speak of the names in notes as making the work almost interminable.—7 I fear I shall be causing delay in the publication, but the nature of the work is such that it cannot be hurried over.—8 I hope the Index when done may be regarded as worthy of the work, which will be the highest praise that could be given to it,— the further I advance the more I am astonished at the wonderful array of facts brought together & at the manner in which you bring them to bear.—

Believe me, yours’s very truly | W. S. Dallas.

CD annotations

1.1 On … transposed.—] ‘yes’ pencil, circled pencil
1.3 On … Pheasant.— 1.5] ‘7 from bottom’ pencil
1.5 On … Sheldrake.— 1.7] ‘14 from top’ pencil


Dallas refers to Variation; he was using the proof-sheets to compile the index. No reply to this letter has been found. Dallas’s correction was incorporated in the published text (see also letter to J. V. Carus, 10 December [1867]).
The correction was incorporated in the published text (see also letter to J. V. Carus, 10 December [1867]).
The name Tadorna aegyptiaca for the Egyptian goose is used in Variation 1: 282 and 2: 68; however, Tadorna is not used in the index, both references instead being indexed under Anser aegyptiaca. In the second printing of Variation, CD changed Tadorna to Anser in the text. See also letter to J. V. Carus, 10 December [1867].
‘Dragon’ is the term used in the index (Variation 2: 448).
In his notes on the introduction to the Arabian Nights, Edward William Lane stated that it was customary for Muslims to begin books with this phrase (Lane trans. 1839–41, 1: 16).
According to Lane, Arab writers used the phrase ‘God is all knowing’ when giving information of uncertain veracity (Lane trans. 1839–41, 1: 24).
For Dallas’s account of the reasons for delay in his indexing of Variation, see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from W. S. Dallas, 8 January 1868.


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

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


Some corrections and queries about Variation text. Is pushing hard to finish, but CD is right that the names in the notes make the work interminable. Fears he is causing delay in publication. Is astonished at "the wonderful array of facts brought together and at the manner in which you bring them to bear".

Letter details

Letter no.
William Sweetland Dallas
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 5
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5712,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

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