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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. C. Oxenden   11 September 1862

Broome | nr Canterbury—

Sept. 11. 1862

Dear Sir

I wonder whether the following Anecdote will interest you—

I passed the year 1821 in Arctic regions, & chiefly, between the Arctic Circle, and Spitzbergen

At the End of June in that year, I was at a place called


Lat: 70 North—which is the extreme Northern point of the Mainland of Europe

—In the Pine Forest there, (which is the Northernmost Pine Forest in the World) I found, in full bloom, one or two specimens of that very rare Cryptogs. Plant

Splachnum luteum”—

& these I brought to England—

last Spring, at a Dinner Party in Kent, I heard some one say that a Kentish Gentleman, Major Dyne, of Gore Court, Sittingbourne,2 was just about starting for the Mouth of the “Alten River”, for Salmon Fishing—which River Alten meets the North Sea at about 2 miles from the aforesaid place “Bossecop

—& it struck me that Major Dyne might possibly bring me a specimen of this most beautiful “Splachnum luteum”—

—I accordingly sent to him as close and minute a description of the precise spot where I found it, as it was possible to give of a plant not 3 inches high, extremely rare, inhabiting an Arctic Forest 1600 miles from England—& finally, after the lapse of 40 years from the time when I myself found it—

—Nevertheless—this morning, by the Open Post, I received a mere letter from Major Dyne, enclosing two charming specimens of the much coveted Splachnum—

—I enclose to you his letter, in which he gives me the credit of having furnished him with extremely accurate data to work upon—3 But I think he has shewn rare intelligence

—Have you ever seen this “Splachnum? & have you any desire to see it— If you have this desire, I will try & manage it for you—if you will tell me that you are likely to be at home—

I remain, with my kind regards, Your’s | G. Chichester Oxenden

Please to return to me Major Dyne’s letter—


Bossekop is a fishing village on the Alta Fjord in Norway (Seltzer ed. 1952).
Musgrave James Bradley Dyne.
The enclosure has not been found.


He collected Splachnum luteum north of Spitzbergen 40 years ago. Now an acquaintance has brought the plant back from the identical spot.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Chichester Oxenden
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Broome, Canterbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 58
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3716,” accessed on 24 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10