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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Jardine   20 December 1859

Jardine Hall

20th.— Decr | 1859.

Dear Sir,

I only returned from Edinr.—on Saturday when I found your note of 14th. 1 I am very glad to hear from you and take the opportunity although I cannot agree with all your views of thanking you for the Book you have given to us— I had an opportunity of hastily reading the greater part of it when lately in London, and think that I said to generl. Sabine2 that Too much had been made of Galapagos and that their ornithology was not exclusively confined to them and that that peculiarity would break down still farther—3 Of the three remarkable forms belonging to these islands Geospiza, Camarhynchus & Cactornis only the Camarhynchus has been discovered on the mainland since you gave the account of the Fauna of the islands but taking the specimens brought home by yourself and figured by Mr Gould—4

Craxirex we look upon as Buteo borealis—Otus galapagoensis as the European & North american short Eared owl, and the American ornithologists who consider the North american bird & that found on the pacific side distinct, acknowledge the Galapago and (pacific) continental birds to be Identical—

While the Progne modesta is not distinct from p. purpurea & is recorded from Chili by Prince Bonaparte5

Your Book is now beside me I am reading it carefully (and I hope impartially) & will mark whatever occurs to me as ornithologically incorrect and I shall be glad to hear from you and answer any ornithological Query that I can—

believe me sincerely | Yours | Wm Jardine

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘19’6 brown crayon


CD’s letter has not been found. Jardine was a noted ornithologist and an influential publisher of works on natural history, including the Annals and Magazine of Natural History and the Naturalist’s Library (40 vols., Edinburgh, 1843). He was also one of the editors of the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal.
Edward Sabine was treasurer of the Royal Society.
The birds of the Galápagos Islands were discussed by CD in Origin, pp. 390, 397–8. For CD’s attempts to ascertain the distribution of Galápagos birds elsewhere on the mainland of South America, see Correspondence vol. 8, letters from P. L. Sclater, [3? February 1860] and 11 February 1860.
John Gould described the finches that CD had collected on the Galápagos under separate generic names in Gould 1837b. These and the other birds mentioned were described in the volume Birds, part 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (1838–41). See Correspondence vol. 2.
Bonaparte 1850–7, 1: 337. Gould identified the Galápagos southern martin, Progne modesta, as a new species in Birds, p. 39.
CD’s portfolio 19 contained notes on the geographical distribution of animals.


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

Bonaparte, Charles Lucien. 1850–7. Conspectus generum avium. 2 vols. Leiden.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Cannot agree with all of CD’s views [in Origin].

Thinks too much is made of the Galapagos. The peculiarity of their ornithology will break down.

Offers to answer any questions on ornithology.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Jardine
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Jardine Hall
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 278
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2590,” accessed on 7 December 2021,

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