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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-6312

To Charles Alexander Johns   13 August [1868?]1

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.2 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.3

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

Footnotes

1
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).
2
The letter from Johns has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. The specimen has not been identified.
3
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.

Summary

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.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6312
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Johns, C. A.
Sent from
Freshwater Down letterhead
Source of text
Mitchell Library, Sydney (ML ref.A27 p. 60: CY Reel 2846)
Physical description
3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6312,” accessed on 28 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6312

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