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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Gordon to John Hutton Balfour 1 July 1861

Manse of Birnie, Elgin

1 July 1861

My dear Sir,

Last year, at Mr. H. C. Watson’s instance I sent a parcel of Goodyera to Mr. Darwin.1 He (Mr. D.) has just applied to me for living specimens of Corallorhiza,2 which I regret I cannot supply.

Our friend Mr Stables3 has suggested that some of your pupils could procure them from Ravelrig bog.4 “A few flowers in large bud” is what Mr. D. wants,5 and his present address is Charles Darwin Esqr. (of Down, Kent) at Torquay, Devonshire”.—6

I shall be happy to repay your pupil any expense he may be at in procuring & forwarding this plant;—and trusting you will excuse the liberty I have now taken I am | Yours truly | George Gordon

Profr Balfour &c &c


See Correspondence vol. 8, letter to George Gordon, 17 September [1860]. Gordon’s assistance in obtaining the specimen is acknowledged in Orchids, p. 112.
See Correspondence vol. 9, letters to George Gordon, 17 June [1861] and 22 June [1861].
Gordon probably refers to the Scottish naturalist and botanist, William Alexander Stables (R. Desmond 1994).
The bog was probably located in the area of Ravelrig Hill, near Balerno, about seven miles south-west of Edinburgh (Ordnance Survey Map, Edinburgh (Midlothian), 6”: 1 mile scale, 1853). See this volume, Supplement, letter from H. C. Watson to George Gordon, 27 June 1861 and n. 1.
See Correspondence vol. 9, letter to George Gordon, 22 June [1861].
CD was in Torquay from 2 July to 27 August 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to George Gordon, 22 June [1861] and n. 6, and Appendix II).


Asks whether one of Balfour’s students could obtain specimens of Corallorhiza from Ravelrig bog outside Edinburgh for CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hewett Cottrell Watson
John Hutton Balfour
Source of text
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Physical description
1p & AdraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3198F,” accessed on 22 March 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)