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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. S. Wilson   5 March 1879


March 5, 1879

My dear Sir

I have just returned home after an absence of a week, and your letter was not forwarded to me; I mention this to account for my apparent discourtesy in not having sooner thanked you.1 You have worked out the subject with admirable care and clearness, and your drawings are beautiful.2 I suspected that there was some error in the Russian belief, but I did not think of the explanation which you have almost proved to be the true one.3 It is an extremely interesting instance of a more fertile var. beating out a less fertile one, and in this case one much more valuable to man. With respect to publication I am at a loss to advise you, for I live a secluded life and do not see many periodicals or hear what is done at the various societies. It seems to me that your paper should be published in some agricultural journal; for it is not simply scientific and would therefore not be published by the Linnæan or Royal Societies.

Would the R. Agricultural Socty be a fitting place? Unfortunately I am not a member and could not myself present it. Unless you think of some better journal, there is the Agricult. Gazette; I have occasionally suggested articles for publication to the Editor (though personally unknown to me) which he has always accepted4

Permit me again to thank you for the thorough manner in which you have worked out this case; to kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing a new truth or fact.

Believe me, my dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


No drawings have been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL, but drawings made by Wilson accompany his article ‘Experiments with kubanka and saxonica wheat’, which was published in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 24 May 1879 (Wilson 1879, p. 653).
Wilson had enclosed the results of his experiments on the Russian wheat varieties with his letter of 27 February 1879, but the manuscript has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. A proof copy of Wilson 1879 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
John Chalmers Morton was the editor of the Agricultural Gazette. No letters from CD to Morton have been found, but see the letter from J. C. Morton, 19 March 1877 (Correspondence vol. 25). In the event, Wilson’s research was published in Gardeners’ Chronicle (see n. 2, above).


Wilson, Alexander Stephen. 1879. Experiments with kubanka and saxonica wheat: first year’s experiments and results. Gardeners’ Chronicle, 24 May 1879, pp. 652–4.


Discusses ASW’s discovery of error in Russian belief about wheat varieties. Suggests that he publish paper in Journal of Royal Agricultural Society. [Results actually published in Gard. Chron. n.s. 11 (1879): 622–4.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alexander Stephen Wilson
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 367
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11917,” accessed on 4 March 2024,