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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Kencely Bridgman to John Gwyn Jeffreys   [before 21 January 1869]1


〈    〉

My Dear Sir

Thank you very much indeed for the Autograph— it is curious how often with great thinkers the fingers reveal their inability to keep pace with their “Copy”   it is just the style of writing I should have expected.

With respect to the minor tetraodons2 my Son made one expedition after them some time back but very few were obtainable— the waters were high & the current 〈    〉 that at present it was useless— When the water is low in the summer is the time when they may be had in abundance & I will endeavour then D V not to forget them

Yours faithfully | W K Bridgman

J G Jeffreys Esq

Mr Darwin has told us lots about fertilization by insects but I think I have just made a curious discovery which I don’t remember ever to have seen noticed— Gardening is one of my recreations & last year I procured some Aucubas 〈  〉 from Standish but not succeeding with it I procured 〈    〉 male plants to save my own this year—3 [well] 〈    〉 〈t〉hese is now in flower & I have it in my office to 〈  〉 〈un〉der close inspection— I have cut over 100 flowers 〈I obser〉ved that after the anthers began to burst a drop 〈    〉 made its appearance on the disc enclosed by 〈    〉 〈s〉tamens— I at first thought it was from over 〈    〉or excess of moisture in the plant but a moment’s reflection showed me that it was honey from the nectaries & the object became at once apparent— the Aucuba is Diœcious & consequently the pollen has to be specially carried to the female flowers which are very inconspicuous— the honey appears only when the pol〈len〉 is ready— the bee cannot get it without rubbing its head 〈&〉 proboscis over the pollen— it is curious that no honey appears


until the anthers begin to burst— apparently lest it should be carried off before the pollen is ripe— now does this occur with the fuchsia &c? & does the Bee know of honey being there by 〈th〉e state of the anthers?— is this new? | WKB

CD annotations

1.1 Thank … forget them 2.5] crossed ink
Top of letter: ‘On coincide〈  〉 & secretion 〈    〉’ ink; ‘Dichogamy’ red crayon


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. K. Bridgman, 21 January [1869].
Bridgman refers to the genus Tetraodon of the family Tetraodontidae, puffer fish.
John Standish’s nursery had received plants collected by Robert Fortune in Japan in 1860 (Shephard 2003, p. 145). Fortune had introduced Aucuba japonica (Japanese laurel) to England a few years earlier (ODNB). Bridgman alludes to CD’s book, Orchids.


Gives observations on the coincidence of nectar secretion and the opening of the anthers in Aucuba.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Kencely Bridgman
John Gwyn Jeffreys
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 306
Physical description
4pp damaged †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6562,” accessed on 19 January 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17