To Thomas Rivers 28 December 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
Permit me to thank you cordially for your most kind letter.2 For years I have read with interest every scrap which you have written in Periodical & abstracted in M.S. your book on Roses,3 & several times I thought I would write to you, but did not know whether you would think me too intrusive. I shall indeed be truly obliged for any information you can supply me on bud-variation or sports.4 When any extra difficult point occurs to me in my present subject (which is a mass of difficulties), I will apply to you; but I will not be unreasonable. It is most true what you say that any one to study well the physiology of the life of plants, ought to have under his eye a multitude of plants. I have endeavoured to do what I can by comparing statements by many writers & observing what I could myself. Unfortunately few have observed like you have done. As you are so kind I will mention one other point on which I am collecting facts, namely the effect produced on the stock by the graft; thus it is said that the purple-leaved Filbert affects the leaves of the common hazel on which it is grafted (I have just procured a plant to try) so variegated Jessamine is said to affect its stock.5 I want these facts partly to throw light on the marvellous Laburnum Adami—Trifacial oranges &c. That Laburnum case seems one of the strangest in physiology: I have now growing splendid, fertile yellow Laburnums (with long racemes like the so-called Waterer’s Laburnum) from seed of yellow flowers on the L. adami.—6
I do so wish I could accept your invitation; I will see in Spring what I can do; but I suffer severely from ill-health of a very peculiar kind, which prevents me from all mental excitement, which is always followed by spasmodic sickness, & I do not think I could stand conversation with you, which to me would be so full of enjoyment. I send a little pamphet on a subject on which I am at work, & on which I shall soon publish some much more striking cases.— These cases show how little we yet know on fertilisation.—7
To a man like myself who is compelled to live a solitary life & sees few persons, it is no slight satisfaction to hear that I have been able at all interest by my books, observers like yourself.—
As I shall publish on my present subject, I presume within a year, it will be of no use your sending me the shoots of Peaches & nectarines which you so kindly offer; I have recorded your facts.—8
Permit me again to thank you cordially; I have not often in my life received a kinder letter.— | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Thanks for letter [missing] and help.
Asks about the effect said to be produced on the stock by a graft.
Health prevents accepting TR’s invitation.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3879,” accessed on 7 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3879