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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Edward Blyth   22 February 1858


Feb. 22/58

My dear Sir,

I have not time to write to you today, more than a word or two; but may mention that I packed off a box of specimens to your address by the Steamer ‘Himalaya’, which left this on the 12th. ulto. for England viâ the Cape. Also a lot of living bi⁠⟨⁠rds⁠⟩⁠ to Mr. J. Thompson, brother of Thompson of the Z. Gns, who is to make over certain Pigeons to you if they survive the voyage.1 A day or two ago I saw a pair of adult hybrid Peafowl, old enough to breed if capable of it, but the male not come to his full beauty as yet. The two species well combined. Neck intermediate in colouring, and facial skin white, with a large yellow spot. Crest intermediate, thus, [DIAGRAM HERE] the feathers [subeven]. The same native has also the Blue and Yellow Maccaw breeding. I saw the hen upon her eggs, on the ground, underneath a raised [home].

In haste, Yours truly, | E. Blyth— C. Darwin Esq | &c—

Down Bromley, | Kent.

CD annotations

crossed pencil
Top of first page: ‘Ch. 9’2 brown crayon


James Thomson was a keeper in the gardens of the Zoological Society of London until 1852 when he was promoted to headkeeper. In 1856 he was sent to India by the Zoological Society to collect Himalayan pheasants for the gardens. He returned in 1857 with a fine collection of live birds (Scherren 1905, pp. 104, 117–18). Blyth had evidently arranged to send a further consignment to Thomson in 1858. Blyth was mistaken in believing that John Thompson, superintendent of the zoological gardens, 1852–9, was James Thomson’s brother.
CD’s annotation refers to chapter 9 of his species book, on ‘Hybridism’ (Natural selection, pp. 388–462).


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.

Scherren, Henry. 1905. The Zoological Society of London: a sketch of its foundation and development and the story of its farm, museum, gardens, menagerie and library. London: Cassell.


Gives some observations on birds; has forwarded a box of specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Edward Blyth
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 202
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2221,” accessed on 16 October 2021,

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