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From Edward Blyth   [1–8 October 1855]


Notes on Lyell’s Principles, vol. 2.

EB does not believe in connecting links between genera; there is no tendency to gradation between groups of animals.

Does not believe shortage of food can directly produce any heritable effect on size.

Comments on significance of variations discussed by Lyell. Variation in dentition and coloration.

Behaviour of elephants and monkeys.

When varieties are crossed EB considers that the form of the offspring, whether intermediate or like one or other of the parents, depends upon how nearly related the parents are.

Thinks that in the struggle for existence hybrids, and varieties generally, must be expected to give way to the "beautiful & minute adaptation" of the pure types.

Colours of Indian birds.

Vitality of seeds.

Variation among palms.

Fauna of Malaysia and New Zealand. Ranges of bird species.

[Memorandum originally enclosed with 1760.]

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [1–8 Oct 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 98: A37–A50
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1762

To William and Julius Fairbeard   [October 1855 – May 1856]



Five questions on variability in peas.

W & JF recommended to CD by Mr Cattell.

CD planted an experimental pea garden this summer.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William & Julius Fairbeard
Date:  [Oct 1855 – May 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 206: 38
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1467

From H. C. Watson   2 October 1855


Expresses his general opinion on the relative closeness of species in large and small genera. Warns that the size of a genus is dependent upon the locality and extent of the flora studied, that definitions of close species are not consistent, and that peculiarities of botanical classification will influence any attempt to assess the comparative closeness of species in different genera.

Author:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  2 Oct 1855
Classmark:  DAR 181: 30
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1758

From Robert McAndrew   6 October 1855


Answers questions presumably sent in CD’s letter [missing] of 5 Oct 1855 after reading RMcA’s work on the geographical distribution of testaceous Mollusca.

Author:  Robert McAndrew
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  6 Oct 1855
Classmark:  DAR (Pamphlet collection: bound in McAndrew, Robert 1854)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1759A

From Edward Blyth   8 October 1855


Encloses two sets of notes [see 1761 and 1762]. EB believes that as a general rule species do not inter-mix in nature whereas varieties, descendants of a common stock, do. Origin of varieties. Geographically separated species are sometimes obviously distinct and sometimes apparently identical. EB does not believe that species or races of independent origin need necessarily differ. Local distribution of species of black cockatoo contrasts with the widespread white cockatoo. The occurrence of distinct but related species in different regions of a zoological province, preserved because of geographical barriers. Instances of interspecific hybrids and intraspecific sterility. Local varieties of species. Varieties are subdivisions of the main branches of the tree of organisms, dividing irregularly but remaining independent of the twigs from another branch.

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Oct 1855
Classmark:  DAR 98: A99–A103
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1760

To J. D. Hooker   10 October [1855]



Sick of seed-salting.

Reading Candolle with great interest.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  10 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 151
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1763

From H. C. Watson   11 October 1855



Sends London catalogue of British plants with close species marked.

Charges E. Forbes with fraudulent appropriation of others’ work.

Comments on, and cites possible cases of, CD’s imagined rule that individuals of one or more species in a genus vary in some of those characters by which the species of that genus are distinguished.

Author:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  11 Oct 1855
Classmark:  DAR 47: 163a–b
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1764

To J. S. Henslow   12 October [1855]


Is impressed by all JSH is doing with his lectures and exhibitions at Hitcham.

Has read admirable Hooker MS on variation, geographical range, etc. [Introductory essay to the Flora Indica (1855)].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  12 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A117–18
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1765

To W. D. Fox   14 October [1855]


CD now has a sufficiently large collection of [skeletons of] chickens to be able to tell how far the young differ proportionally from the old.

He goes on accumulating facts; what he will do with them "remains to be seen".

Attended Glasgow BAAS meeting. "Duke of Argyll spoke excellently" [Rep. BAAS (1855): lxiii–lxxxvi].

Lists his pigeon collection.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  14 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 96)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1766

To J. D. Hooker   18 [October 1855]



Seeds of two tropical island plants have floated for ten days.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  18 [Oct 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 146
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1742

To Henry Tibbats Stainton   20 October [1855]


Would be useless to insert CD’s name [on masthead of Entomologists’ Annual] since he does not work on insects.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Henry Tibbats Stainton
Date:  20 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  Natural History Museum (General Special Collections MSS DAR 15)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1767

From Edward Blyth   [22 October 1855]


Gives references to William Allen’s narrative of the Niger expedition [William Allen and T. R. H. Thompson , A narrative of the expedition sent by Her Majesty’s Government to the river Niger in 1841 (1848)]: common fowl returning to wildness, details of domestic sheep, ducks, and white fowl.

Range of the fallow deer; its affinity to the Barbary stag.

Natural propensity of donkeys for arid desert.

Indian donkeys often have zebra markings on the legs.

Believes the common domestic cat of India is indigenous.

Occurrence of cultivated plants from Europe in India; success of cultivation. Ancient history of cultivated plants.

[CD’s notes are an abstract of this memorandum and indicate that it was originally 20 pages long.]

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [22 Oct 1855]
Classmark:  DAR 98: A93–A98
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1811

To Thomas Campbell Eyton   25 October [1855]


Unable to give information on Mrs Shaw of Crayford.

Mentions TCE’s interest in dog- and pig-skeleton researches.

Interested in seeing the Eyton Museum.

Reminisces about entomology [at Cambridge].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Thomas Campbell Eyton
Date:  25 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.114)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1769

To J. S. Henslow   29 October [1855]


Gives directions for sending seeds collected at Hitcham. The Lychnis and Myosotis have come up. Will begin their "torments" next spring [i.e., experiments to produce "sports"].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  29 Oct [1855]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A101–A102
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1770
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