RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 'Questions for Mr Wynne'. (1838) CUL-DAR206.42 Transcribed by Paul H. Barrett (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Paul H. Barrett, corrections and editing by John van Wyhe 10.2009; 1.2016. RN2

NOTE: Introduction by Paul H. Barrett :

In 1839 Darwin began to circulate a printed list of "Questions About the Breeding of Animals." A few copies have recently been found and published, together with the answers given by the animal breeders to whom they were sent.* The list was seven pages long with ample room for writing in the answers. The earliest definitely dated reply was written on May 6, 1839, by R. S. Ford, a farmer in the Staffordshire village of Swynnerton. (This was not far from Maer, the home of Darwin's uncle, Josiah Wedgwood, and of Darwin's wife, his cousin Emma Wedgwood.)
Apparently, before he had the questions printed up, Darwin drafted an earlier list, which we reproduce below. While this manuscript is undated, it is logical to suppose that Darwin would not have used a handwritten version if he had the printed one available. There are many differences between the two sets of questions. The questions in the printed list are very general, fully written out, and carefully explained—as would be necessary if they were to be answered in writing by a variety of respondents. The questions for Mr. Wynne are briefer and quite telegraphic in style, almost like an outline for an interview Darwin might have been planning. At a few points the questions turn into notes about his own ideas.

Reproduced from Barrett, P. H. 1974. Early writings of Charles Darwin. In Gruber, H. E., Darwin on man, pp. 382-413. F1582, pp. 424–5. See Correspondence vol. 2, p. 70.

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Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.



Questions for Mr Wynne1

Are offspring like fathers or mothers? How are real nipples?

Is a peculiarity which has long been in blood more easily transmitted, than a newly acquired one?

Does the peculiarity adhere in geometrical progression, in proportion to no of generations

When old variety is crossed with new; or natural one with very artificial one as shepherd dog with Italian Greyhound do offspring partake more of the natural, than artificial kind?—

When wild animal crossed with tame does offspring favour the former. fox with dog?—

Is a breed of half bred animals more subject to variation, than either parent stock? is unusual care required to keep breed constant

Superfœtation cases of?

Idea of beauty in animals: do females prefer certain males? or vice versa when in flock.—

When beauty /strong or puny/ unhealthy animals /or men/ crossed do offspring partake more of former or latter?— Effects of habit on form.— in men as in trades.

Could you get racehorse from carthorse without training?

If horses temper soured, would be handed down.—

1 Rice Wynne (1777-1846) was an apothecary and surgeon who bred horses and Malay fowl. He was a friend of Darwin's father and Mayor of Shrewsbury in 1822. JvW


if temper cowed in horse or dog or cock. hereditary.—

Case of Malay fowls— habits?

Cross of Chinese pigs, are they intermediate in form. as in dogs.—does Mr Wynne believe in dogs

Cases of hereditary monsters? of accidental mutilations being hereditary.

Case of heterogeneous offspring, in fowls, pidgeons, rabbits.—if race horse & cart horse be crossed, will offspring be constant.—

Effects of crossing stocks with different constitutions?

If bull-dog be crossed with greyhound are they as prolific as rather nearer breed— /But/ Are the mongrels prolific.

Breeding in & in Infertility & loss of passion?? in Male?

What would effect be of one brother & sister taken to one country, one pair to other & made different. Would not the cousins cross. No because both would be bred [in] & in. ⇒ now the rule is to pick out opposed animals, ie. animals which have each acquired peculiarities.—

opposed animals, i.e. animals which have each acquired peculiarities Horse

Is there not some strange fact about twin calfs one being neutral. how is it with animals are sexes always same in twins why.

About sporting in pack of Hounds: how much selection??1

Are all or some only of cross-bred animals more prolific??2

1 Written vertically in left-hand margin of page one.

2 Scrawled across upper part of page one.

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