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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Chichester Oxenden   13 May 1863


May 13. 1863

Dear & kind Sir

I am just going abroad for some months—so that I shall lose the whole English-Orchid season—1

—If I meet with aught botanically-new to me, I will one day write you—

—Far as it is above me, your gift-book has delighted me incessantly—& I thank you for making it evident that Moths were not made & created solely to fatten “Caprimulgi”—2

—I hope your family sorrows are Overpast—3

Sincerely | G. Chichester Oxenden


During 1861 and 1862, Oxenden supplied CD with information about, and living specimens of, the rarer British orchids (see Correspondence vols. 9 and 10). CD acknowledged his assistance in Orchids, pp. 31–2.
CD sent Oxenden a presentation copy of Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV). Oxenden probably refers to CD’s observations on the pollination of orchids by moths, and his experiments indicating that moths possessed ‘instinctive knowledge’ (see Orchids, pp. 35–47). Caprimulgi are an order of birds that includes the nightjars.
CD and members of his family had suffered ill health during the past year. Leonard and Emma Darwin fell ill with scarlet fever during the summer of 1862, and Horace Darwin had been ill since January 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10). CD’s health had been poor since the end of February 1863.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Going abroad; will miss the English orchid season.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 61
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4163,” accessed on 16 November 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11