Much interested in MTM's lecture at Royal Institution ["On the relation between the abnormal and normal formations in plants", Notes Proc. R. Inst. G. B. 3 (1860): 223–7].
Asks for information about crossing of varieties of peas. Describes his own experimental results: "the offspring out of the same pod, instead of being intermediate, was very nearly like the two pure parents; yet in one, there was a trace of the cross & the next generation showed still more plainly their mongrel origins".
Down Bromley Kent
I hope that you will excuse the liberty which I take in writing to you &
begging a favour.— I have been very much interested by the abstract (too
brief) of your Lecture at Royal Institution. Many of the facts
alluded to are full of interest for me. But on one point I
Now what I want to know whether there is much variation in Sweet Peas which might be
owing to natural crosses. What I sh
I hope that you will forgive me asking you thus to oblige me, & believe me dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin
P.S. | As it seems you have read my ``Origin'', I need not say that, if you have
leisure, how infinitely I sh
- f1 2749.f1Dated by the reference to Masters's lecture at the Royal Institution (see n. 2, below).
- f2 2749.f2Masters was a lecturer in botany at St George's Hospital, London. He read a paper on the relation between normal and abnormal formations in plants on 16 March 1860 at the Royal Institution (Masters 1860). There is an annotated copy of the paper in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. In the lecture, Masters specifically addressed CD's views in relation to the question of whether variability could be considered a natural phenomenon in plants.
- f3 2749.f3In the conclusion of his lecture, Masters stated, on the authority of his father William Masters, that white flowering sweet peas seldom, if ever, vary. He went on to say that `in proportion as the flower becomes darker in colour, so is the liability to vary greater: and these changes are not confined to the colour merely, but affect the pods and other organs.' (Masters 1860, p. 227). The passage is marked in CD's copy of the paper.
- f4 2749.f4John Cattell was a nurseryman in Westerham, Kent, from whom CD frequently ordered seeds. CD cited Cattell's information about sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) in the manuscript of his `big species book' (Natural selection, p. 70).
- f5 2749.f5Masters's father, William Masters, was a nurseryman in Canterbury. CD had made a similar inquiry to William Masters in 1850 (Correspondence vol. 4, letter from William Masters, 3 April 1850) and cited the information in Natural selection, p. 70. Additional information provided by William Masters is given in Variation 1: 329 and 2: 20.
- f6 2749.f6See letter from William Masters, [after 7 April 1860], and letter to M. T. Masters, 13 April .