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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Ford    [before 4 April 1874]1

The delay has not signified at all, as my work has turned out ten times as long as I expected. I like the general appearance of the cut, but it is so far from doing justice to your original & quite accurate drawing, that it is of no use to me, & I cannot publish it, unless it can be corrected. My object is to show an intermediate step in the formation of a perfect ocellus.2 Now pray compare the middle one, on the cut, with this on the feather clearly marked by an ink cross.— You will see the black ring consists of 4 separate & defined portions: in the cut, there is only one break in the ring & the whole upper part very continuous & ill-defined or hazy. So it is but in a less bad degree with a drawing of the ocelli above & below; the black rings in the upper part, being in each case continuous & with hazy margin. I am very anxious to be able to give your drawing; will you therefore be so kind as to see Mr Pearson3 & consult with him whether the cut can be rectified; & after you yourself have compared a corrected proof with the feather, & are satisfied please let me see it with the feather.— If it wd make the correction more easy, 2 of the ocelli would be sufficient; & these might be cut cleanly I can publish only what is correct. I am heartily sorry to trouble you thus, as your drawing was perfect: but the trouble is caused solely by the engraver. Wd it not be well for the engraver to have the feather?—

When you write again pray tell me how your health is, for I had a bad account of you from Dr G. some time ago.—4 Do not take time to reply to


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 4 April 1874.
Ford had produced illustrations of the feathers of the argus pheasant for Descent (see Descent 2: 143 fig. 56; 144 fig. 57; 146 fig. 58, and 149 fig. 59; see also Correspondence vol. 18, letter to Albert Günther, 13 January [1870]). For the second edition, CD wanted an additional illustration showing a further stage of gradation in the shape and shading of the ocelli (see Descent 2d ed., p. 439 fig. 60).
George Pearson was an engraver who specialised in works of natural history and travel.
Ford was a friend of Albert Günther.


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

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.


Regrets that a cut [for Descent] does not do justice to TWW’s original drawing and if it cannot be improved then CD will have to omit it. [Refers to fig. 60 in Descent (1874).]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Henry Ford
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97: C41
Physical description
Adraft 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9220,” accessed on 19 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22