To Edward Blyth 23 February 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Mr Blyth
I have been very much interested by your remarks on the “Origin”; many of which are quite new to me, such as those on mimicry.2 I knew already some few of the other facts which you mention. I am thinking of writing a short essay on Man & have consequently been much struck with your remarks on the Orang. Do you know C. Vogt’s nearly similar remarks on the origin of Man from distinct Ape-families, founded on Gratiolet’s observations on the brain? I think you cannot object to my cautiously alluding to your observation on the similarity of the Orang & Malay &c: I think the similarity must be accidental, & I would confirm this by your observation on the S. American genus with respect to the Negro.3 I do not know what to think about the almost parallel case of Bats. If I had known that you wd have cared for a copy of the new Edit. of the Origin assuredly I wd have sent you one: you will of course receive my book on “Dom. Animals &c” whenever published.4 I regret much that I did not meet you in London, but during the two last days I was unable to leave the house.5
You gave me long since two printed pages Royal 8vo with a black line round the page with notes in very small type, it contains some excellent remarks on sexual plumage of birds evidently by yourself. Please to tell me the title that I may refer to it.6
I have picked up more facts on sexual characters, even when you are not discussing the subject from your writings than from those of any one else. Thus in the last No of “Land & Water” there is a notice which I am sure must be written by you, in which you indicate that the summer plumage of Gulls, Plovers &c is nuptial plumage common to both sexes like that confined to the Drake. This is a new idea to me, if I understand you rightly.— But I presume that you admit that winter plumage, as with the Ptarmigan, may be acquired for a special end.7
How I wish that you wd always sign your name to whatever you write. Can you guide me to any papers on sexual differences, especially in colour, in Mammals? I have picked out two cases by you on Bos & Antelopes in the “Indian Field”.8
Can you tell me whether the canine teeth differ in the sexes in the true Carnivora? But I must not ask any more questions except one:—Do you still maintain the law on sexual plumage in Birds as given in the sheets above referred to? Yarrell gives a rather different law, dependent on there being an annual change in plumage.9
But I have written to you at quite unreasonable length— pray forgive me & believe me yours very sincerely— | Ch. Darwin
Many of EB’s remarks about Origin [4th ed. (1866)] are new to CD.
Thinks of writing a short essay on man.
Struck by EB’s remarks about orang. They are similar to Carl Vogt’s remarks on origin of man from distinct ape families.
Thinks similarity of orang to Malay must be accidental.
Will send Variation when it is published.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Blyth, Edward
- Sent from
- Source of text
- McGill University Libraries, Rare Books and Special Collections Division
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5413,” accessed on 30 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5413