skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   12 July 1878

Trin Coll.

July 12 78

My dear Father,

I enclose the drawings I have made.1 The poisoned specimen withered up so quick that it was all shrivelled before I could put in the shading & therefore the complex folding of the petal near the base of the nectaries is not done quite so well as I cd. wish—as I had to work from memory.

It is rather better in the second one, wh. seemed to survive drying much better.

I borrowed a microscope from F. B & used a pretty high power so that I cd’nt see the whole of it at once.2 I drew what I thought I saw as well as I cd but it was’nt very easy & I only hope it has hit off the right thing pretty fairly. I don’t the least understand the working of it or how on earth the bees get at those curious nectaria   You must explain it when I come home. If you want any more drawings please send them. I don’t think it has taken me more than 3 or 4 hours to do those six. I have got several new ideas in my work—there seems no end to it—but they are luckily little things, wh I can despatch in a few words 3

Yours affec. | G H Darwin

[Enclosure 1]


[Enclosure 2]


CD annotations

Enclosure 1:

Top of page: ‘Edge of petal more serrated’ pencil

Beside upper right-hand diagram: ‘upper nectary shorter than lower’ pencil
the elbow … side] ‘too prominent’ added above, pencil
Below lower right-hand diagram: ‘Whole thing too prominent’ pencil

Enclosure 2:

Top of page: ‘Edge of petal more serrated’ pencil

Below left-hand diagram: ‘Upper nectary shorter’ pencil
Upper right-hand diagram: ‘too prominent’ inserted by elbow, pencil
Beside lower right-hand diagram: ‘Very good’ pencil
Bottom of page: ‘Whilst held within perianth stigma & anthers vertical’ pencil


CD had sent George specimens of the floral organs of Thalia dealbata (powdery alligator-flag) to observe under the microscope and draw (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 10 [July 1878]).
Francis Maitland Balfour was professor of animal morphology at Cambridge University and, like George, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
George was probably working on his paper on the precession of a viscous spheroid (G. H. Darwin 1878d; see letter to G. H. Darwin, 11 [July 1878] and n. 6).


Sends drawings of specimens [of Thalia] CD requested.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Trinity College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 209.13: 14–15, DAR 210.2: 69
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11602,” accessed on 15 April 2024,