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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edward Blyth   13 September 1869

21 Chalcot Crescent, | Regent’s Pk,

Sept 13 /69

Dear Mr Darwin,

I find that I have an unanswered letter from you dated so long back as May 28th1 Meanwhile, I have been much away, & have had much trouble to undergo, entirely through the misconduct of others. You ask me about the mandrils at Antwerp, & I have since passed more than a fortnight at Antwerp,2 as you will probably have seen by the last three Nos. of the Field, for which paper I write now instead of Land and Water, to my own great pecuniary advantage.3 One reason that I did not reply to you before was that I rather expected to revisit Antwerp, but I found that the mandrils, parents & infant, were all dead, & I could get no satisfactory answer to your queries. When I saw the animals they were half-concealed in deep straw, which answered the purpose of a garment. My impression is that both wild boar and elephant are polygamous, but I could not undertake to speak positively.4 However, I think that there is hardly a doubt that such is the case. I was exceedingly ill treated by a vulgar upstart Glass, who calls himself “manager” of the Land & Water concerning 〈th〉e [getter] up of the paper. His object was to put J K. Lord in my place, & he succeeded, for I could brook his impertinence no longer, & besides I had no end of trouble in getting paid by him for my contributions.5 Now I receive considerably more than double from the Field.

Trusting that this will find you better in health, I remain | Yours Sincerely | E. Blyth


CD’s letter to Blyth has not been found.
The mandrill is Mandrillus sphinx. See letters from Edward Blyth, 17 April 1869 and n. 2, and 26 April 1869.
Blyth’s article, ‘The Zoological Garden at Antwerp’, appeared in three parts in the Field under the pseudonym ‘Zoophilist’ (28 August, 4 and 11 September 1869, pp. 175, 191–2, 215–16).
CD described the polygamy of the Indian elephant and wild boar during the breeding season in Descent 1: 267.
John Keast Lord had been a member of the staff of Land and Water since the journal was launched in 1866 (ODNB). Glass has not been further identified, but see also the letter from Edward Blyth, 17 April 1869.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Gives some observations and opinions on the appearance and behaviour of mandrills.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edward Blyth
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Chalcot Crescent, 21
Source of text
DAR 160: 225
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6887,” accessed on 28 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17