To Thomas Rivers 23 December 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
I do not know whether you will forgive a stranger addressing you. My name may possibly be known to you.— I am now writing a book on the Variation of Animals & Plants under domestication; & there is one little piece of information, which it is more likely that you could give me, than any man in the world, if you can spare half an hour from your professional labours & are inclined to be so kind.2 I am collecting all accounts of what some call “Sports”, that is, of what I shall call “bud-variations”,3 ie a moss-rose suddenly appearing on a provence rose—a nectarine on a peach &c &c.— Now what I want to know, & which is not likely to be recorded in print, is whether very slight difference, too slight to be worth propagating, thus appear suddenly by buds. As every one knows in raising seedlings you may have every gradation from individuals identical with the parent, to slight varieties, to strongly marked varieties.— Now does this occur with buds? Or do only rather strongly marked varieties thus appear at rare intervals of time by buds? I shd. be most grateful for information.—4
I may add that if you have observed in your enormous experience any remarkable “bud-variations” & could spare time to inform me, & allow me to quote them on your authority, it would be the greatest favour. I feel sure that these “bud-variations” are most interesting to anyone endeavouring to make out, what little can be made out on the obscure subject of variation.
I hope that you will forgive the liberty which I have taken, & I remain, with much respect, Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin
P.S. I have read with greatest interest your communication in the last G. Chron; & venture to express an earnest hope that they will be followed by others.—5
CD is collecting [for Variation] all accounts of what some call "sports" and what he calls "bud-variations". He asks whether very slight variations in fruit appear suddenly by buds, or whether only rather strongly marked varieties thus appear.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3874,” accessed on 27 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3874