RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1877. [Letter on Stock Dove]. In Kingsley, Fanny E., ed. Charles Kingsley: his letters and memories of his life. London: Henry S. King & Co. Volume 2: 135-6.
REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 7.2007. RN3
TO CHARLES DARWIN, ESQ., F.R.S., &c. &c.
January 31, 1862.
"We have just returned from Lord Ashburton's at the Grange, where the Bishop of Oxford, the Duke of Argyle, and I,1 have naturally talked much about you and your book.*
"As for the Bishop, you know what he thinks. The Duke is calm, liberal, and ready to hear all reason; though puzzled, as every one must be, by a hundred new questions which you have opened.
"What started us on you and your theory was the shooting in the park of a pair of 'blue rocks,' which I was called to decide on. There were several men there who knew blue rocks. The Duke said that the specimen was different from the blue rock of the Hebrides. Young Baring, that it was different from the blue rock of Gibraltar and of his Norfolk rabbit warrens (which I don't believe, from the specimens I have seen, to be a blue rock at all, but a stunted stock dove, which feeds in rabbit holes), and I could hardly swear that this was a blue rock (as the keeper held), till I saw, but very weakly developed, the black bars on the wing cornets.
"Do you care enough about the matter to have a specimen of the bird? He comes in twos and threes (from the Isle of Wight, I suppose) to the heart of South Hants, and feeds on ivy berries.
"My own view is—and I coolly stated it, fearless of consequences— that the specimen before us was only to be explained on your theory, and that cushat, stock dove, and blue rock, had been once all one species; and I found—to show how your views are steadily spreading—that of five or six men, only one regarded such a notion as absurd.....
"At least believe me, differing now and now agreeing,
In answer to this query, Mr. Darwin writes:
"With respect to the pigeons, your remarks clearly show me (without seeing specimens) that the birds shot were the stock C. Œnas,2 long confounded with the cushat and rock pigeon. It is in some respects identical in appearance and habits; as it breeds in holes in trees and in
* "Origin of Species," recently published.
1 Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), Anglican clergyman, author and naturalist. He was the 'celebrated author and divine' quoted in Origin 2d ed., p. 481 See Correspondence vol. 10, p. 71.
2 Columba Œnas or Stock Dove.
rabbit warrens. It is so far intermediate that it quite justifies what you say on all the forms being descendants of one....."
Return to homepage
Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
File last updated 2 July, 2012