RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1855.12. Abstract of letter from Edward Blyth dated 30 September or 7 October 1855. CUL-DAR203.6. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 8.2023. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin. The volume CUL-DAR203 contains abstracts of letters from Edward Blyth. Darwin used Blyth's information in Natural selection, Origin, and Variation.

"Blyth, Edward, 1810-73. Zoologist. Neglected his druggist business at Tooting in favour of natural history and got into financial difficulties. LL2:315. CD discussed evolution with before Origin. Biographical note on: ML1:62. Wrote under pseudonyms "Zoophilus" and "Z". Helped greatly with Variation. 1835, 1837 His early views on causes reminiscent of natural selection maintaining fixity of species Mag. Nat. Hist. 8, 1835, pp. 40-53 and 1837 n.s. 1: pp. 1-9. L." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021.)



Notes from Mr. Blyth. December 1855 abstract of 1st page; rest marked with red.

Thinks the ancon sheep a malconformation hereditary the only difference which I can see that the whole amount of difference supposed to be produced suddenly.— says Turnspit dog has often been casually produced.— Penguin Duck do—

So Turn-crested canaries. (very curious this, so very common)— Distinguishes such as all not analogous to which if f. in wild animals.— Thinks "Breed" restricted to those intentionally produced by the admixture of normal varieties (?) & are with difficulty preserved.

Abnormal varieties, as fat-tailed sheep— polycentric goat &c which do not occur in nature.

But hard to tell always. Fan-tails wd be so

Pointer who can say — Tumblers, this shows must be used with caution— silky coated goat & —solid-hoofed swine — spanish Poodles & amongst dogs — Remarks the number of races of dogs


This abstract only for 1st page of Mr Blyths notes.

(These views of abnormality explain why most systematists considers breed varies as varieties, & why Fanciers, sees during some under their eyes how little is done, cons come ß such different conclusions) In B Th wart Hog wd be [illeg] monstrous.

Tuft of hair on Turkey's Brest crested Pigeons of new green x — Ball on base of Beak of Carpophaga oceanica, in Jardine's Library)

see Glophibus corniculata; a breed with red case & wonderful [illeg] of brest shows that we cannot call Carriers a monster

C. cornata.— Lyn  all stumped tail

Scissor-tail breed of B…. Ag  — Humming Bird with tufts of cotton on legs


seems decreasing litter than increasing, as Bloodhound & Maltese Dog.— He includes all Fancy Pigeons silky. Fizzle, Rumpless 5-toed fowls.— feather legged crested double & multiple-combed fowls— tufted Ducks & Geese — Cutch race of Horses.—

Singular or double-spurred Fowls, (but I am sure I have heard of such), yet these several wild Gallinaceous fowls so characterize, but the double spur variable in them; one tarsus bearing 3 & the other only 1 & then being placed it various height— (variability in sexual character)

(a) example Polyptectron & various African Partridges.

B. wing-spurs also variable — The feathers footed birds have

I believe that considerably & case on Barb often enormously developed case & car……. on Beak of Carrier, which are not fd in any wild Pigeon (?) & therefore to a certain extent may be considered monstrous & therefore probably of domestic origin, & long Beak goes with these, it probably is of domestic origin.—


(a) Spurs variable good case of organ variable when increasing in number—

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 11 October, 2023