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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alfred Moschkau   19 December 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec 19. 1873—

Dear Sir

I thank you for your very obliging letter, & return the enclosed.1 I have, in my Descent of Man, alluded to parrots speaking, & in a new edition which I am now preparing I have added good evidence of their understanding the words which they use; & I will add, on your authority, the case of the starling.2

I am much out of health, & am overwhelmed with letters from many quarters, & therefore I much regret to say that it is impossible for me to offer to correspond with any one—

With sincere good wishes for your success in all the scientific work which you undertake, I remain | Dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The enclosure has not been found, but see the letter from Alfred Moschkau, 17 December 1873.
See Descent 1: 54, and Descent 2d ed., p. 85 n. 52. Moschkau had evidently described a starling that could say (in German) ‘good morning’ or ‘goodbye, old fellow’ at appropriate times.


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Discusses speech of parrots and starling. [See Descent, 2d ed., p. 85 n.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Otto Carl Alfred (Alfred) Moschkau
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.433)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9184,” accessed on 19 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21