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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. C. Oxenden   [before 21 June 1862]1

Dear Sir

That you are quitting Orchideous life, & launching into realms of Scientific Space, whither I have no hope to follow you, is to me infinite grief—2

I feel like a Servant just discharged from a Good Place, & thrown upon his own resources—

& half the pleasure I have had, in hunting these Chalky Wildernesses, is now lost to me for Ever—

—As a last proof of fidelity, I have just discovered quite a new & rich mine of O. Arachnites & also of “Epipactis palustris”—

—So tell me, if you still care to have either—3

—The latter will not be in full flower for fully three more weeks—4

—The former are now in their very prime5

With most kind regards | G. Chichester Oxenden

Chas. Darwin Esqr


Dated by the relationship to the letters from G. C. Oxenden, 4 June [1862] and 21 June 1862, and by the references to the flowering season of Ophrys arachnites and Epipactis palustris (see nn. 4 and 5, below).
CD’s letter has not been found, but Oxenden probably refers to CD’s intention to return to his work on Variation, which had been interrupted for ten months while he prepared Orchids (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 May [1862] and n. 5). Oxenden had assisted CD’s study of orchids by providing him with a number of specimens (see Correspondence vol. 9 and Orchids, p. 31 n.).
In his letter of 4 June [1862], Oxenden promised to send CD ‘good spikes’ of Epipactis palustris later in the summer. He had already provided CD with specimens of Ophrys arachnites (see letter from G. C. Oxenden, 31 May [1862]), but in his letter of 4 June [1862], he expressed the hope of soon being able to send more.
Epipactis palustris flowers from early July to mid-September (Lang 1989, p. 50). See also letter from G. C. Oxenden, 8 July 1862.
Ophrys arachnites flowers from late June to mid-July (Lang 1989, p. 97). In his letter of [before 30 May 1862], Oxenden reported that it was too early for flowers of this species ‘by two or three weeks—or a Month’.


Sad that CD is quitting his studies of orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 173.2: 52
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3584,” accessed on 17 September 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10