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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edward Blyth   21 September 1863

19 Essex St, Strand—

Septr. 21/63—

My dear Sir,

I have the pleasure to send you some evidently original observations on the variation of our native ferns, by some practical fern-grower,1 which you may consider worth finding place for in your series of exemplifications.2

You have probably not heard of me for some time. I am now fixed in England, having obtained a small annual pension, sufficient to live upon;3 and just now I am trying to find some place of abode at Kew or in its vicinity, where I may have the advantage of proximity to the B. Gn.,4 & be away from the turmoil of London, which I abominate. Eventually I shall probably settle at a greater distance from the metropolis, in some quiet place by the sea-side.

Trusting that your health and strength are such as to enable you to enjoy existence and to continue your valuable la〈bors and〉 researches, | I remain | Ever Sincerely Yours, | E Blyth.


The enclosure was apparently a clipping headed ‘The fern mania’, now in DAR 205.10: 3, which was taken from an unidentified newspaper. The text of the clipping had itself been extracted from an article entitled ‘British ferns and their varieties’, which appeared in the Gardener’s Weekly Magazine and Floricultural Cabinet on 5 September 1863 (Gardener’s Weekly Magazine and Floricultural Cabinet 5 (1863): 286–8; quotation on p. 288); the article was unsigned, but the journal was conducted by Shirley Hibberd. The author stated: ‘It is a fact of no less interest to the philosopher speculating on the origin of species than to the fern-grower, who cares not a jot about that grave question, that to form a complete collection of British ferns and their varieties is simply impossible.’
Blyth apparently refers to CD’s statement, in the introduction to Origin, that the work was an abstract of a larger one that he had been preparing, and that he hoped to publish a work giving ‘all the facts, with references,’ on which his conclusions had been grounded (Origin, p. 2).
Blyth returned to England from India, where he had been curator of the museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, early in 1863 (see letter from Edward Blyth, 27 March 1863 and n. 2). He was granted a pension of £150 by the British government in 1863 (Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 33 (1864): 73). See also Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Edward Blyth, 23 November 1862 and nn. 1, 2, and 4.
The reference is to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


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.


Sends some original observations on British ferns [not found].

Has secured a small pension and hopes to acquire a house near Kew.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edward Blyth
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Essex St, 19
Source of text
DAR 160: 206
Physical description
3pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4300,” accessed on 21 September 2020,

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