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Letter 2801

Darwin, C. R. to Henslow, J. S.

14 May [1860]

    Summary Add

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    Thanks JSH for his defence [see 2794].

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    He is not hurt for long by what his attackers say. His conclusions were arrived at after long study. He has certainly erred, but not so much as "Sedgwick and Co." think.

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    Asks JSH to send names of plants that vary greatly in length of pistil.


Down Bromley Kent

May 14th

My dear Henslow

I have been greatly interested by your letter to Hooker; & I must thank you from my heart for so generously defending me as far as you could against my powerful attackers.—   Nothing which persons say hurts me for long, for I have entire conviction that I have not been influenced by bad feelings in the conclusions at which I have arrived. Nor have I published my conclusions without long deliberation & they were arrived at after far more study than the publick will ever know of or believe in.—   I am certain to have erred in many points, but I do not believe so much as Sedgwick & Co. think. Is there any Abstract or Proceedings of the Cambridge Phil. Soc. published? If so & you could get me a copy I shd like to have one.—

Believe me my dear Henslow I feel grateful to you on this occasion & for the multitude of kindnesses you have done me from my earliest days at Cambridge.—

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin

P.S. I think I remember your observing that the pistil in different flowers of cowslips & Primroses varies much in length. From observations which I have been making I have strong suspicion that they (& Auriculas) are dioicous; but I shall know this autumn, for I have marked what I consider the male & female plants. Why I mention this to you, is that I have a vague remembrance of your stating that some other plants varied greatly in length of pistil; if so I shd much like to know what, that I might carefully observe them. Do not think of writing unless you can tell me of any such plants.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2801.f1
    Letter from J. S. Henslow to J. D. Hooker, 10 May 1860. Henslow had asked Hooker to send it on to CD.
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    f2 2801.f2
    Adam Sedgwick's paper criticising Origin was not published in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but a report of its contents was given in the Cambridge Chronicle, 19 May 1860, pp. 4--5, and in the Literary Gazette, 12 May 1860, p. 582. See letter to J. S. Henslow, 17 May [1860].
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    f3 2801.f3
    Henslow 1830.
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    f4 2801.f4
    CD's Experimental book, p. 54 (DAR 157a) contains an entry dated 12 May indicating that CD examined `some common Auriculas supplied by Mr Cattell'. See also letter from John Cattell, 12 May 1860.
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    f5 2801.f5
    See the following letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 May [1860]. In a paper on the dimorphic condition of Primula published in 1861, CD suggested that these hermaphroditic plants were possibly in the process of becoming dioecious. Contrary to his expectations, the short-styled flowers produced more seed than the long-styled forms, and hence were more likely to become the future females. See `On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations', Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77--96; Collected papers 2: 45--63.
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