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Letter 6312

Darwin, C. R. to Johns, C. A.

13 Aug [1868?]

    Summary Add

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    CD not a good enough botanist to form a judgment of specimen. Does not understand whether CAJ supposes the variety to be a result of hybridism or of the present very hot summer, which CD cannot doubt will have an effect on some British plants in their struggle for life.

Transcription

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E. [Freshwater]

Aug 13.

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note; but I am sorry to say that I am not botanist sufficient to form a judgment on the specimen which you have sent. I do not quite understand whether you suppose that the variety is the result of hybridism or of the present peculiar summer, but in any case I shd think it wd be well worth observing.

The thought had not occurred to me, but I dare say this very hot summer will have a marked effect on some British plants in their struggle for life. I am aware that this is a subject to which you have for many years attended, for I remember quoting from you a statement regarding the number, chiefly I think of leguminous plants, which you were able to cover under the circumference of your hat.

With my thanks for your kindness in writing to me, I remain Dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6312.f1
    The year is conjectured from the headed notepaper, which CD used between May 1861 and April 1869, and the reference to a hot summer; the summer of 1868 was unusually hot and dry (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 23 July [1868] and n. 4).
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    f2 6312.f2
    The letter from Johns has not been found in the Darwin Archive--CUL. The specimen has not been identified.
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    f3 6312.f3
    In the Phytologist 2 (1845): 908, Johns said that species of leguminous plants grew so closely together at a spot near Land's End that he could cover growing specimens of eight of them with his hat. CD referred to Johns's observation in the manuscript of his `big book' on species (Natural selection, p. 230), as an exception to his rule that large numbers of closely allied forms did not tend to occupy the same area.
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