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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   30 October [1878]1

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

Oct. 30th

My dear Dyer

I am heartily glad to hear so good an account of Mrs Dyer, & I trust of yourself, for I heard that you were much worn out when you started.2

Many thanks for seeds now sown, & I want to beg some of Impatiens noli-me-tangere, if you have such.3 There is no peace in this world, & from what Pfeffer says I ought to look to the cotyledons.—4 What you tell me about Lynch is bad news for my precious self & all of you.— The man must be a fool to expect such a rise of salary.5

Ever yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

If I do not receive seed of Impatiens, I shall understand, so do not think of writing.—

I have sent to Germany for Siegesbeckia.—6

I wonder when your new Edit. of Sachs’ Translation, will come out.7 I had hoped that it wd. have appeared before this.— I get to detest the German language more & more. What a job it is to read Pfeffer.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 24 October [1878].
The letter from Thiselton-Dyer has not been found but see the letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 24 October [1878] and n. 2. Thiselton-Dyer and his wife, Harriet Anne, had recently returned from a month-long tour of Switzerland.
See letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 24 October [1878] and n. 7. CD was sent seeds of Chenopodium album (common lambsquarters) and Amaranthus retroflexus (red-root amaranth). Impatiens noli-me-tangere (a synonym of Impatiens noli-tangere) is western touch-me-not.
CD had been reading Wilhelm Pfeffer’s work on the periodic movements of plant organs (Pfeffer 1875). CD may be referring to Pfeffer’s discussion of the observable differences in movement accompanied by growth and purely periodic movement (ibid., pp. 3–13).
Richard Irwin Lynch was foreman of the propagating department at Kew. He left Kew in 1879 to become curator of the Cambridge Botanic Garden, where he remained until his retirement in 1919 (see Walters 1981, p. 75).
See letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 24 October [1878] and n. 7. In Pfeffer 1875, p. 29, Pfeffer had mentioned movements of a plant he referred to as Siegesbeckia flexuosa.
The second English edition of Julius Sachs’s Text-book of botany was published in 1882 (Sachs 1882b); it was based on the fourth German edition (Sachs 1874), but with additional material by the editor, Sydney Howard Vines (see Sachs 1882, p. [vii]).


Pfeffer, Wilhelm. 1875. Die periodische Bewegungen der Blattorgane. Leipzig: Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann.

Walters, Stuart Max. 1981. The shaping of Cambridge botany. A short history of whole-plant botany in Cambridge from the time of Ray into the present century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Wants Impatiens seeds, in order to observe movements of cotyledons.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Thiselton-Dyer, W. T., Letters from Charles Darwin 1873–81: 189–90)
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11731,” accessed on 11 April 2021,