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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   28 July [1880]1

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

July 28th

My dear Frank

Many thanks for all your very useful criticisms, all of which adopted except one & has been partly adopted.— It is a good job for you, but an accursed one for me that the Printers have quite ceased sending me slips.2 I shall get my Worm little book done first, if they do not look sharp.—3

Hooker was very much interested about the pulvinus of Desmodium & about the young plants not bearing lateral leaflets. & about their movement at a lower temp. on seedlings.4 By the way the big envelopes which you use are made of such atrociously bad paper, that everyone has arrived more or less burst— one came in fragments, patched up with sealing wax by Post office at Stafford I think.5 Anyone cd pick out anything from within & you had better not use them.—

I send paper by Stahl; he has sent me a copy; if you write pray thank him for me & you may say, if you like, that I fully appreciate the interest of his observations.6

Good Bye— I am tired with writing.—

My kindest remembrances to all your party— you were quite right to send Bernard7 home in my opinion.— | Yours affect. | C. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to proof-sheets and worms (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
Francis was assisting with CD’s corrections of proof-sheets for Movement in plants. William Clowes & Sons were printers to John Murray, CD’s publisher.
CD mentioned that he was ‘putting together some notes on the action of worms’ in his letter to A. C. Ramsay, 17 June 1880. He recorded in his journal for 1880 (Appendix II) that he ‘Began in Autumn on Worms’. Movement in plants was published on 6 November 1880 (Freeman 1977).
Joseph Dalton Hooker probably saw proof-sheets of Movement in plants when he visited Down from 24 to 26 July 1880 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). CD discussed the length of the pulvinus (a swelling at the base of the petiole that acts like a joint) relative to the size of the leaf blade in lateral leaflets of Desmodium as the proximate cause of rapid circumnutating movement (Movement in plants, pp. 364–5). CD had also noted that a sudden fall in temperature caused the terminal leaflet to sink downwards (ibid., pp. 359–60).
Ernst Stahl sent an offprint of his paper ‘Ueber den Einfluss von Richtung und Stärke der Beleuchtung auf einige Bewegungs-erscheinungen im Pflanzenreiche’ (On the influence of the direction and intensity of illumination on some of the phenomena of movement in the plant world; Stahl 1880a), which had appeared in several parts in Botanische Zeitung between 30 April and 11 June 1880. CD cited Stahl 1880a in Movement in plants, p. 446.
Bernard Darwin was Francis’s son.


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.

Stahl, Ernst. 1880a. Ueber den Einfluss von Richtung und Stärke der Beleuchtung auf einige Bewegungserscheinungen im Pflanzenreiche. Botanische Zeitung 38: 297–304, 321–43, 345–57, 361–8, 377–81, 393–400, 409–13.


Thanks FD for criticisms [of Movement in plants]. J. D. Hooker was interested in the observations of movement in Desmodium.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 211: 65
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12672,” accessed on 17 May 2022,