skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Leonard Jenyns   [before 18 April 1858]1

Copy of some rough notes & references about species

collected from difft authors.

(Some of which, but I believe not all are alluded to

in my paper. L.J.)2

Mr Gould, when exhibiting to the Zool. Soc. a collection of Raptorial Birds from Australia & the adjacent Islands, observed that most of the forms would be found to bear a striking resemblance to those inhabiting Europe; indeed the similarity was so strikingly obvious as to leave no doubt of the influence of temperature on the forms of animals.3

See some remarks on local varieties & demispecies, & the importance attached to the study of them, &c. by Is. Geoff. St Hilaire in Ed. Phil. Journ. n.s. no 55. pp. 55 & 65.—4

It appears probable, from certain observed facts, that, among the lower cryptogams, the same germ may assume several distinct forms usually regarded as distinct species according to the circumstances under wh. it is developed.— (Carpenter. Princ. of Physiol. p. 61.)5

See also on the subject of species, the entire 14th Ch. of the above work of Carpenters,—entitled—“Subordinate laws regulating the exercise of the reproductive function;—distinction of species &c—Propagation of acquired peculiarities.”—p. 414.

Mr Yarrell mentions an instance of a Common Tern, killed in December with a black head,—thus, from some morbid cause, carrying the strongest mark of its breeding plumage during the Winter. (Brit. Birds, vol. 3. p. 342)6

See some remarks on Hybridism by Westwood in Entom. Trans. vol. 3. p. 195,—with several instances adduced of insects of difft species breeding together—but nothing is mentioned wh. invalidates the generally received law.7

“The objections drawn from the differences observed between the different races of domestic animals cannot in any way weaken the general principle of the fixity of species”.— See some remarks by Agassiz on species in connexion with their fossil prototypes of by-gone ages, in Ed. New Phil. Journ. vol. 33. p. 391.—8

Difference of size alone is no sure indication of difference of species. Temminck9 says (quoted by Yarrell, Brit. Birds. 3. 467.) that specimens of the Lesser black-backed Gull from the Cape of Good Hope are larger while those from the Eastern counties are smaller, than the average size of birds obtained in Europe—

See some remarks on Species & Races by Selys De Longchamps in his Faune Belge Introd. pp. vi–viii.)—10 He mentions the remarkable fact of the Fringilla domestica being the progeny of the F. cisalpina, when the latter was brought to Paris, & made to build & rear its young there.

See a List of Birds found in Corfu in Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. vol. 12 p. 416;—notice especially a yellow wagtail differing from our common one in having the head in the breeding season of a jet black, at other times of a lead-colour;— thus combining the chars. of two other species; compare with Mr Stricklands note in margin.—11 Does not the whole go to throw doubt on the supposed difference of species amongst the yellow wagtails, as laid down by Gould, Yarrell, & others?—

In the same vol. of the Annals last referred to, is a record of a female Partridge that was cut off for one season from the society of the other sex,—& the circumstance was sufficient to cause a temporary assumption of a plumage resembling that of the male. (vol. 12. 453.)12

In the Zoologist for 1844 (p. 682) are some curious statements by Newman respecting the 3 supposed species of Butterfly—called Polyommatus agestis, P. Salmacis, & artaxerxes,—by which it appears that the first gradually passes into the last, thro’ the intermediate Salmacis,—as specimens are taken more & more northward, in passing from the S. coast of England (where Agestis wears its typical aspect)—to Edinburgh, (where Artaxerxes becomes typical.) 13

H. Doubleday has related that he found in his breeding-cage Smerinthus ocellatus, male, & Sphinx Ligustri, female, in copulan , whilst several individuals of both sexes, & both species, were found at the same time in the same cage. Reports of Zool. & Bot. (Ray Society) p. 243.)14

Guénée has observed that in the summer brood of Ennomos illunaria, the male moth only is slightly sprinkled with atoms, & the ground colour is a yellow, varying into rose red; on the under side, the brighter lines are rose red instead of white, the female instead of grey-green is ochre yellow; the lines of the under wings rusty yellow, often scarcely observable, & the fringes of all the wings are a lively rust-yellow, both sexes are also somewhat smaller. A similar proportion is found in illustraria. He is inclined to consider delunaria. Hub. as a corresponding variety of lunaria. Zoly p. 246. 15

Mr. Stevenson in a Memoir on the Entomology of New Zealand, observes that there are but few Lepidoptera, some of which are very analogous to the English species, such as the painted lady & Red admiral butterflies. Ann. & Mag. N. H. vol. 17. p. 285.) 16

A writer in the “Zoologist” (Vol. 3. p. 888) has inserted the following note respecting the Vanessa antiopa—in Silesia— “This is, in general, the most plentiful butterfly here (in Silesia.) There appears to be two distinct varieties; those which appear in Spring having the border of the wings sulphur yellow, whilst the autumnal brood, like British specimens, have a white margin. 17

See also “The Zoologist” (Vol 3. p. 1198.) for a note respecting influence of the various rays of light upon the caterpillar of Vanessa io.— Several caterpillars were confined in different boxes covered with glass of different colours—and this treatment seems to have affected the development & colours of the imago. Some kept wholly in the dark, these last produced imagos in general larger than the others, & their colours brighter: other results are recorded—tho’ not being very decisive ones.—18

Mr. Sundevall says, respecting our common Kingfisher, (Alcedo ispida) which is found in Bengal,—“all the specimens which I have seen from Bengal are distinguished by somewhat brighter or purer colours from the European ones which I have had an opportunity of seeing. This is evidently an effect of the warmer climate but, besides this, the Bengalese ones always have smaller, tho’ not shorter feet than the European ones. &c— The resemblance is too great for one to assert any specific difference. (See Ann. & Mag. N. H. vol. 18. p. 419

See a Memoir on Species (in Botany.) by Mr. Chevreul in Ann. des Sciences. Nat. (Botanique) 3rd. Series. tom. 6. (Sept. 1846) p.p. 142.—214.— The title of it is as fol-lows.— “Considerations generales sur les variations des Individus qui composentles groupes appelés en Histoire Naturelle,—Variétés, races, sous especès et espèces”.20

“The storks which I saw in Bengal had the beak & legs red as with us, but it occurred to me that the black between the beak & the eye in the males was somewhat broader”.— (Sundevall on the birds of Calcutta.— Ann. & Mag. N. H. vol. 19. p. 91.)21

A writer in the Zoologist (p. 1731) observes that “the colour of insects is little to be depended upon in the discrimination of species, since some of the most common insects in the North are of a most beautiful deep & dark colour, totally different from that of the same species taken near London, even so different as to be supposed new species; this deep colour is given them by quantity of iron in the soil which is taken up by the vegetation on which they feed.”22

See some remarks by Mr. Strickland on some of Mr. Gould’s supposed new species of Australian birds in Report of British Association. 1844. p. 190— He says that—“Peculiarities of Climate & food will always exert a certain influence on the stature & on the intensity of colour in the same species, & so long as the proportions & the distribution of the colours remain unaltered, we should hesitate in raising the local varieties thus produced to the rank of species.”23

See an important paper by Professor Pictet—On the succession of Organized Beings on the surface of the Earth. In Jameson’s Edinb. New Philosophl. Journl. vol. 46. p. 102.— In this memoir the subject of species is discussed at some length, & the limits of their variation in the instance of both fossil & living animals.24

Mr. Gould has described a new species of Heron from India & Australia, differing only from the common Heron of Europe in being larger, and in the line of the bill having an upward tendency. (Ann. & Mag. N. H. 2nd. Series. Vol 3—p. 307—25

See some remarks by Mr. Mc Andrew on the Variation of Characters in certain Mollusca, as dependant upon the depth of Sea they inhabit.— (On Marine dredging Ed. New Phill. Journal. Vol 46. p. 355 &c)— He observes that the most general characters of Mollusca obtained from a great depth, compared with individuals of the same species inhabiting shallow water consist in smallness of size, & deficiency in colour.— In the common Whelk (Buccinum undatum) the form becomes more elongated the greater the depth of habitat, which appears to be a law applying only to that particular species. In Fusus corneus the very reverse occurs, as it is found invariably shorter in proportion to the greater depth it frequents.—26

In a paper entitled “Notes on the Ornithology of Madeira”— by E. Vernon Harcourt—in the Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. Series 2. vol XV. p. 430. (No. 90 for June 1855.) is the following passage on the influence of climate on the tints of the plumage of birds. “With one exception, Madeira possesses no birds peculiar to its own shores; altho’ the influence of its genial climate exercises such a modifying power over the tints of its feathered denizens as analogy would lead us to expect. For example, the Greater Redpole, or Linet which is very abundantly met with in the island, retains its bright carmine plumage through the year; the Herring Gull, also very common, is, according to Dr. Renton, quicker by some months in obtaining its mature garb than with us; & the Black cap Warbler assumes in some instances, an intensity of colour, which has led to its being described by Sir. W. Jardine as a new species.”—27

Mr. Gould in a communication to the Zool. Society in May last, respecting some birds from the Upper Amazon, remarked “that the colours of some of the more brilliant species, from a district situated towards the centre of the South American Continent, were far more splendid than those of the species representing them in countries nearer to the sea, & from this circumstance he took occasion to observe that birds from the central parts of Continents were always more brilliantly coloured than those inhabiting insular or maratime countries. This rule applies equally to birds of the same species the Tits of Central Europe being far brighter in colour than British specimens. Mr. Gould has observed that the like difference existed between specimens of the same species inhabiting Van Diamen’s Land, & the continent of Australia. He attributed this principally to the greater density and cloudiness of the atmosphere in islands & countries bordering the sea. (Ann. & Mag. N. H. June 1856. vol 17. p. 510.)28

See a paper by Alfred Wallace in the Ann. & Mag Nat. Hist. No. 93. for Septr 1855. p. 184.) “On the law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species”.29

CD annotations

1.1 Mr Gould … peculiarities.”—p. 414. 4.4] crossed pencil
6.1 See some … in Europe— 8.4] crossed pencil
9.1 See some … there.— 9.4] double scored pencil; ‘— also think 24 American Birds are only races of European forms’ added pencil
10.1 See a List … other species; 10.4] double scored pencil
12.1 In the Zoologist … typical.)] double scored pencil
14.1 summer brood] ‘summer’ underl pencil
15.1 Mr. Stevenson … p. 285.) 15.4] double scored pencil; ‘Copied out Glacial Chapter’30 added pencil
16.1 A writer in … margin. 16.5] double scored pencil
18.1 Mr. Sundvall … Vol 3— p. 307— 24.3] crossed pencil
25.3 He observes … colour.— 25.6] double scored pencil ‘Copied out Ch. 7’31 1 added pencil
26.1 In a paper … plumage of birds. 26.4] crossed pencil
26.7 For example, … through the year; 26.8] double scored pencil
26.8 the Herring Gull, … to the sea, 27.5] crossed pencil
27.7 maratime] altered to ‘maritime’ pencil
27.8 same species the Tits] comma added after ‘species’ pencil
27.12 in islands … p. 510.)] double scored pencil
28.1 See a … Species”. 28.3] crossed pencil


Dated by the relationship to the following letter.
CD had asked Jenyns for references on variation in animals (letter to Leonard Jenyns, 9 April [1858]). The ‘paper’ is Jenyns 1856.
Gould 1837b.
Carpenter 1854. CD’s annotated copy of this work is in the Darwin Library–CUL. Jenyns refers to an earlier edition.
Yarrell 1839–43. CD recorded reading this work in November 1858 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 22).
Westwood 1838. CD’s copy of the Transactions of the Entomological Society of London in which this paper appeared, containing annotations on Westwood’s article, is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Agassiz 1842. CD’s copy of the journal in which this paper appeared is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Selys Longchamps 1842. Michel-Edmond de Selys Longchamps was cited on another point in Jenyns 1856.
Drummond 1843. The paper was a list of birds found in Corfu drawn up by Henry Maurice Drummond and forwarded to Annals and Magazine of Natural History by Hugh Edwin Strickland, who provided additional notes. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
A letter describing this case, by George Cookson, of Powerstock vicarage, Bridport, Dorset, was published in Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12 (1843): 453–4.
Edward Newman, the editor of the Zoologist, reported on a series of varieties of butterflies and concluded they all belonged to the same species, Polyommatus agestis (Zoologist 2 (1844): 682–3). Polyommatus agestis is a synonym of Aricia agestis, the brown argus; P. salmacis is a synonym of Aricia artaxerxes subsp. salmacis, the Durham argus; P. artaxerxes is a synonym of Aricia artaxerxes, the northern brown.
Reported in Erichson 1845. CD’s copy of Reports on the progress of zoology and botany, 1841–2, published by the Ray Society, is in the Darwin Library–CUL. Smerinthus ocellatus is the eyed hawkmoth; Sphinx ligustri is the privet hawkmoth.
Cited in Erichson 1845, which was published in the zoological portion of Reports on the progress of zoology and botany, 1841–2.
The reference is to an account of a meeting of the Entomological Society on 2 December 1845, published in Annals and Magazine of Natural History 17 (1846): 285. Stevenson’s paper was not otherwise published. The point mentioned in Jenyns’s memorandum has been marked in CD’s copy of the journal in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Included in a letter from J. W. Slater, published in Zoologist 3 (1845): 888. Vanessa antiopa is a synonym of Nymphalis antiopa, the Camberwell beauty.
Vanessa io is a synonym of Aglais io, the peacock butterfly. Jenyns refers to a second letter by J. W. Slater (see n. 17, above), published in Zoologist 3 (1845): 1198.
Alcedo ispida is a synonym of A. atthis, the common kingfisherSundevall 1846–7, p. 403. The passage is marked in CD’s copy of the journal in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Chevreul 1846. CD had read this work in 1847 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 18a).
The reference is to a letter from H. J. Harding that was published in Zoologist 5 (1847): 1731–2.
Strickland 1844, p. 190.
The reference is to a notice of a meeting of the Zoological Society on 9 May 1848, published in Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 3 (1848): 306. At the meeting, John Gould described the new heron (Gould 1848). CD’s copy of this issue of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Harcourt 1855. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD had asked Edward William Vernon Harcourt about the birds of Madeira in 1856 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter from E. W. V. Harcourt, 31 May 1856).
The information, as given in the letter, was printed in a report of a meeting of the Zoological Society (Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 17 (1856): 510–11).
Wallace 1855. CD’s notes on this paper are interleaved with his copy of the issue of Annals and Magazine of Natural History in which it appeared (Darwin Library–CUL). See Correspondence vol. 5, letter from Edward Blyth, 8 December 1855, n. 1, for CD’s comments on Wallace’s paper.
CD included this information in his chapter on ‘Geographical distribution’ (Natural selection, p. 555) as showing that in southern Australia and New Zealand there were among insects ‘only a few very doubtful cases of representatives of northern forms.’
CD refers to chapter 7, on the laws of variation, in his species book (Natural selection, pp. 279–338). The passage has not been located.


Carpenter, William Benjamin. 1854. Principles of comparative physiology. 4th edition. London: John Churchill.

Chevreul, Michel Eugène. 1846. Considérations générales sur les variations des individus qui composent les groupes appelés, en histoire naturelle, variétés, races, sous-espèces et espèces. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 3d ser. 6: 142–214.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Drummond, Henry Maurice. 1843. Catalogue of the birds found in Corfu and the other Ionian islands, also on the coast of Albania; from notes made during a sojourn of four years … With notes by H. E. Strickland. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12: 412–23.

Erichson, Wilhelm Ferdinand. 1845. Report on the contributions to the natural history of insects, Arachnida, Crustacea, and Entomostraca, during the year 1842. In Reports on the progress of zoology and botany 1841, 1842. (Ray Society.) Edinburgh.

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore. 1840. Zoological instructions of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Paris, for the scientific expedition repairing to the north of Europe. Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 28: 53–72.

Harcourt, Edward Vernon. 1855. Notes on the ornithology of Madeira. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 15: 430–8.

Jenyns, Leonard. 1856. On the variation of species. Report of the 26th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Cheltenham, Transactions of the sections, pp. 101–5. [vols. 6,7,8]

McAndrew, Robert. 1849. On marine dredging, with notes and observations, the result of personal experience during the summers of 1846 and 1847. Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 46: 355–61.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Pictet de la Rive, François Jules. 1849. Remarks on the succession of organised beings on the surface of the earth. Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 46: 102–14.

Selys Longchamps, Michel Edmond de. 1842. Faune Belge. Pt 1. Liège.

Sundevall, Carl J. 1846–7. The birds of Calcutta. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 18: 102–10, 168–76, 251–61, 303–9, 397–407, 454–61; 19: 87–95, 164–73, 232–40.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1855. On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 16: 184–96.


[Copy of some rough notes.] References about species. Variations within species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 45: 20–4
Physical description
AmemS 10pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2250,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7