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Darwin Correspondence Project

To M. T. Masters   10 October [1876]1

Bassett, Southampton

Oct. 10th.

My dear Sir

I have been wandering about which will explain the delay in thanking you for your kind note of the 5th., and in returning the enclosed.—2 Until you can see the actual specimens and pronounce judgment, I shall altogether suspend mine. Mr. Maule’s notion of tumors is not more absurd than if he were to say that our heads were inherited tumors produced by the spinal column.—3 I am extremely glad that you continue to draw attention to the subject of graft-hybrids, and I saw the late article by Mr. Meehan:4 I feel sure that the subject is of the highest physiological importance.

My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Meehan 1876 (see n. 4, below).
The letter and the enclosure from Masters have not been found. CD was at Leith Hill Place, Surrey, from 4 to 7 October, and in Southampton from 7 to 20 October (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Alexander James Maule suggested that tubers were a diseased condition analogous to tumours in animals; he was trying to produce hybrid potatoes that were resistent to disease by grafting tuberless species of Solanum with cultivated varieties (see Gardeners’ Chronicle, 22 April 1876, p. 532, and Maule 1876).
Masters was the editor of Gardeners’ Chronicle; Thomas Meehan’s claim to have produced hybrid potatoes by grafting was reported in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 30 September 1876, pp. 422–23 (see also Meehan 1876). In his discussion of graft hybrids in the potato in Variation 2d ed. 1: 420–4, CD referred to several cases that had been published in Gardeners’ Chronicle.


Maule, Alexander James. 1876. The potato: what is it? The probable cause of the disease and the most likely means to employ to effect a cure. [Bristol: n.p.]

Meehan, Thomas. 1876. Graft hybrids. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 25: 254–5.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Discusses views of [Alexander James] Maule on potatoes.

Discusses graft-hybrids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Maxwell Tylden Masters
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 347
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10637,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24