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CD memorandum   [December 1855]



Requests skins of domestic breeds or races of poultry, pigeons, rabbits, cats, and dogs from any unfrequented region. [Attached is a list of people to whom CD has written for pigeon and poultry skins.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Unidentified
Date:  [Dec 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 206: 34–5
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1812

To ?   7 December [1855–7?]


Concerning specimens he wants collected in the Azores.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Unidentified
Date:  7 Dec [1855-7]
Classmark:  DAR 249: 93 (photocopy)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-13867A

From William Henry Benson   5 December 1855


Observations on shells in India, listing some specimens with particular regard to their locality, elevation, and relationship to other known types.

Author:  William Henry Benson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  5 Dec 1855
Classmark:  DAR 160: 150
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1790

To W. B. Tegetmeier   6 December [1855]


Variation in cats.

Is comparing skeletons of poultry.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Date:  6 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1791

From Edward Blyth   8 December 1855


What does CD think of A. R. Wallace’s paper in the Annals & Magazine of Natural History ["On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species", n.s. 16 (1855): 184–96]? EB considers it good on the whole.

Japanned variety of peacock.

Regional variations in bird species.

EB has little faith in the aboriginal wildness of the Chillingham cattle.

Races of humped cattle of India, China, and Africa.

Indian and Malayan gigantic squirrels, with various races remaining true to their colour, would afford capital data for Wallace, as would the local varieties of certain molluscs. Has Wallace’s lucid collation of facts unsettled CD’s ideas regarding the persistence of species?

Bengal hybrid race of geese is very uniform in colour and as prolific as the European tame goose [see Natural selection, p. 439].

Will see what he can do for CD with regard to domestic pigeons.

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Dec 1855
Classmark:  DAR 98: A104–A107
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1792

To T. C. Eyton   9 December [1855]


Vexed he cannot find head of [Chinese] dog.

First took up skeletonising to see how much young pigeons and poultry differed from the old.

Wishes to ascertain differences in skeletons of pigeons, poultry, covey birds, and rabbits. William Yarrell has shown CD breastbones. W. B. Tegetmeier has shown him skulls of fowls.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Thomas Campbell Eyton
Date:  9 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.117)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1793

To Edgar Leopold Layard   9 December 1855


Is collecting facts for Variation; would be grateful for skins of local [Cape of Good Hope] breeds of pigeons, ducks, and poultry.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edgar Leopold Layard
Date:  9 Dec 1855
Classmark:  Auckland Public Library (Grey collection GL D8 (3))
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1794

To George Henry Kendrick Thwaites   10 December 1855


Mentions seeing GHKT at BAAS meeting at Oxford [1847].

Reports he is working on variation of species. Asks about varieties of pigeons and other poultry, and asks for specimens from Ceylon.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Henry Kendrick Thwaites
Date:  10 Dec 1855
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.118)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1795

To George Gulliver   18 December [1855]


Sends blood of pigeons for examination. Discusses variation of blood in related animals.

Would like copy of book edited by GG [The works of W. Hewson (1846)].

Suggests investigation of blood in varieties of domesticated animals.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Gulliver
Date:  18 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  Houghton Library, Harvard University (Autograph File, D)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1796

To J. S. Henslow   18 [December 1855]


Has received the seeds safely.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  18 [Dec 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A47
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1797

To Charles Augustus Murray   24 December 1855


CD has "for many years been working on the perplexed subject of the origin of varieties & species".

Asks CAM if he can help procure skins of domestic pigeons, poultry, ducks, and rabbits from Persia. Gives general instructions for anyone he might employ to obtain skins.

CD would also welcome descriptions of the larger, native quadrupeds.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Augustus Murray
Date:  24 Dec 1855
Classmark:  Arthur Houghton Jr (private collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1798

From George Gordon   24 December 1855



Reports success of hybrid cross with Vallota and the failure of another cross.

Author:  George Gordon
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  24 Dec 1855
Classmark:  DAR 205.7: 281
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1799

To H. N. Shaw, Secretary, Royal Geographical Society   25 December [1855]


Has followed correspondent’s useful suggestions of sources of information [on variation in domesticated animals in various regions of the globe].

Asks him to sound out [Mr Consul Brand?] about skinning some bird specimens for him.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Henry Norton Shaw
Date:  25 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  Royal Geographical Society
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1800

To J. S. Henslow   26 December [1855]


Sends a book on clubs, which has raised some worrisome questions about the [Down Friendly] Club. Asks JSH’s advice.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  26 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A48–A49
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1801

To George Gulliver   27 December [1855]


His thanks for the present [The works of William Hewson, edited by GG, 1846]. [See 1796.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Gulliver
Date:  27 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  Josh B. Rosenblum (private collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1801A

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   [before 29 December 1855]


Cites [from Gärtner’s Bastarderzeugung (1849), p. 157] a report that seeds from graves of ancient Gauls germinated.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Gardeners’ Chronicle
Date:  [before 29 Dec 1855]
Classmark:  Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 52, 29 December 1855, p. 854
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1802

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   [before 29 December 1855]


CD requests accurate information on the extent to which the different varieties of fruit-trees produce seedlings like their parents. Do some varieties of pears and apples tend to produce truer offspring than other varieties?

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Gardeners’ Chronicle
Date:  [before 29 Dec 1855]
Classmark:  Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 52, 29 December 1855, p. 854
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1803

From Edward Blyth   [22 October 1855]


Gives references to William Allen’s narrative of the Niger expedition [William Allen and T. R. H. Thompson , A narrative of the expedition sent by Her Majesty’s Government to the river Niger in 1841 (1848)]: common fowl returning to wildness, details of domestic sheep, ducks, and white fowl.

Range of the fallow deer; its affinity to the Barbary stag.

Natural propensity of donkeys for arid desert.

Indian donkeys often have zebra markings on the legs.

Believes the common domestic cat of India is indigenous.

Occurrence of cultivated plants from Europe in India; success of cultivation. Ancient history of cultivated plants.

[CD’s notes are an abstract of this memorandum and indicate that it was originally 20 pages long.]

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [22 Oct 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 98: A93–A98
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1811

To John Lubbock   14 [July 1855]


CD has more specimens of Helix pomatia.

Thanks for Lepidoptera book.

Invites JL to dinner.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Date:  14 [July 1855]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.621)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1831

To William Henry Benson   7 December [1855]


Discusses distribution of shells.

"Dr Gully did me much good." Hopes WHB profited by water cure.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Henry Benson
Date:  7 Dec [1855]
Classmark:  DAR 143: 89
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4354
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