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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. B. Innes   5 October 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct 5. 1877

Dear Innes,

It is a curious story about the tree.1 I am sorry that I am not a botanist; but I think the bush is the wild or single Guelder-rose,2 which is said to be very rare in Scotland. Next summer you could know whether it is the guelder-rose, as the exterior flowers on the corymb or head have considerably larger petals than the interior flowers.

I wish indeed you back here, but that I know is an idle dream.3 Our present man has been at peace with all mankind, wonderful to say, for several months.4 We are glad to hear that Mr Hoole will soon be here; some one, but I cannot remember who, was speaking to us in the highest terms about him.5

I cannot think of any local news to tell you. I am going on just as usual & working very hard with Frank,6 at plants—

Believe me | dear Innes, | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


Innes had evidently told CD a story about a preacher at Loch Carron foretelling the growth of a tree on the site of his pulpit, and prophesying the outbreak of war when the tree grew higher than a nearby wall; the story and Innes’s query about what species of tree it was (he sent a sprig and berries) was published in Journal of Horticulture, 18 October 1877, p. 307. See also letter from J. B. Innes, 20 October 1877.
Viburnum opulus.
Innes had been vicar of Down until 1869, but from 1862 had resided in Scotland after inheriting the estate of Milton Brodie, near Forres (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. B. Innes, 2 January [1862] and n. 1).
George Sketchley Ffinden, who had become vicar of Down in 1871, had a fractious relationship with CD and Emma Darwin (see Correspondence vols. 23 and 24).
Stanley Hoole was living at Down Lodge in 1878 (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1878); his wife, Alice Mary Hoole, was Innes’s niece. Francis Darwin had moved out of Down Lodge following the death of his wife in September 1876 (see Correspondence vol. 24).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


CD’s opinion of a specimen sent by JBI from an unknown tree, and the Ross-shire tale about it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Brodie Innes
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11168,” accessed on 25 July 2024,