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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Raphael Meldola   13 August [1873]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [Bassett, Southampton.]

Aug. 13th

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your present which no doubt I shall find at Down on my return home.—1 I am sorry to say that I cannot answer your question; nor do I believe that you could find it anywhere even approximately answered. It is very difficult or impossible to define what is meant by a large variation.2 Such graduate into monstrosities or generally injurious variations. I do not myself believe that these are often or ever taken advantage of under nature.

It is a common occurrence that abrupt & considerable variations are transmitted in an unaltered state, or not at all transmitted, to the offspring or to some of them. So it is with tailless or hornless animals, & with sudden & great changes of colour in flowers.— I wish I could have given you any answer.

Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

See letter from Raphael Meldola, 11 August 1873 and n. 1. Meldola sent a copy of Meldola 1873, a paper on variable protective colouring in insects.
See letter from Raphael Meldola, 11 August 1873 and n. 2. Meldola had asked whether large variations were more frequently inherited by one sex than small ones.

Summary

Thanks RM for his paper on mimicry.

Cannot answer RM’s query because he believes it impossible to define large variations.

Believes monstrosities are generally injurious and are not often, if ever, taken advantage of in nature.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-9006
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
Raphael Meldola
Sent from
Bassett Down letterhead
Source of text
Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Hope Entomological Collections 1350: Hope/Westwood Archive, Darwin folder)
Physical description
3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9006,” accessed on 25 April 2018, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9006

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21

letter