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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   22–3 May 1881

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

Sunday 22d. May— 1881

My dear Frank

A parcel of M.S & proofs with enclosed note has come from Murie, which together with M.S. alluded to yesterday, shall be sent registered tomorrow, together with my Chapter IV. This Ch. will not, I hope, cause very much trouble— I enclose Nature— —1

Your papers were despatched on Saturday as by enclosed list.— Four still remain: would it not be well to send one to E. Krause, who has just published in a German Hort. Periodical, with an enormous sale, a really admirable resume of the “Power of Movements”.2 He has picked out all the leading conclusions & facts.— I have been excessively interested by your letter: it is very disagreeable about Elfing, but you could not have anticipated such a result.3 It will be funny three independent papers coming out about the movements of mould.4 It will have the great advantage of convincing everyone on the points in which you agree,— I am particularly glad to hear about Sachs & the circumnutation theory.— I wonder whether he doubts about the tips being sensitive to contact. He wd be more justified about geotropism.5 What a lot of swells in Science you have seen. As for sexual selection I look at Fritz Müller as a host in himself.—6 What a wonderful account you give of the work of your German: it is a marvel how we English can do anything7

It is very curious to see how Dubba clings to Lenny who is here.8 He almost cried when he had to leave him. He evidently carries on his feelings towards you to him, as the human being most like you.—

It is awful to think how near the Lake-Journey is.9 I shall get by the time all first proofs done. The 2 last chapters are quasi-geological.—10

Farewell | Your Father | C. Darwin

Monday— 12o oclock

Bernard quite jolly— was grieved at Leonard going, but did not cry.—


James Murie was the librarian of the Linnean Society. The manuscript and proof-sheets were for Francis’s article, ‘On the power possessed by leaves of placing themselves at right angles to the direction of incident light’ (F. Darwin 1880a), which was published in the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany), June 1881. CD also sent proof-sheets of Earthworms and the journal Nature. No letter from CD to Francis dated 21 May 1881 has been found, but CD had mentioned a manuscript about a klinostat in his letter to Francis of 20 May 1881.
The list has not been found; CD had evidently sent offprints of another article by Francis, ‘The theory of the growth of cuttings’ (F. Darwin 1880b), published in the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany), April 1881. Ernst Krause’s summary of Movement in plants, written under his pseudonym, Carus Sterne, appeared in Die Gartenlaube in April 1881 (Sterne 1881a; see letter from Ernst Krause, 15 May 1881 and n. 4). The paper was a popular German illustrated weekly, not a horticultural journal. (‘Gartenlaube’: bower or gazebo; the title page showed a family group reading at a table under a bower.)
See letter from Francis Darwin, 19 [May 1881] and nn. 3 and 4. Francis had mentioned Fredrik Elfving’s research on the movement of the mould Phycomyces nitens to Julius Wortmann, prompting Wortmann to decide to publish his own research on the topic as soon as possible.
Wortmann 1881 was published in Botanische Zeitung, 10 June and 17 June 1881; F. Darwin 1881b appeared in Botanische Zeitung, 29 July 1881. Elfving 1881 was published in Botaniska Notiser, September 1881.
See letter from Francis Darwin, 19 [May 1881] and n. 7. Wortmann reported that Julius Sachs accepted circumnutation theory with the exception of roots. For CD’s discussion of circumnutation in radicles (embryonic roots), see Movement in plants, pp. 69–71.
Anton de Bary had taken Francis to a meeting of naturalists at which Alexander Goette gave an address on sexual selection. Francis mentioned that Goette spoke as though no one believed in sexual selection, but CD evidently felt that having the support of Fritz Müller counted for more than a multitude of detractors. Francis also met Friedrich Leopold Goltz and Oskar Schmidt at the meeting. See letter from Francis Darwin, 19 [May 1881].
See letter from Francis Darwin, 19 [May 1881]; Francis had described the long hours kept by Wortmann and De Bary.
Dubba was Bernard Darwin, Francis’s son; Leonard Darwin was Francis’s brother.
The Darwins went on holiday to Patterdale in the Lake District from 2 June to 5 July 1881 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
See Earthworms, pp. 230–304; these chapters were on the action of worms in the denudation of the land.


Darwin, Francis. 1880a. On the power possessed by leaves of placing themselves at right angles to the direction of incident light. [Read 16 December 1880.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 18 (1881): 420–55.

Darwin, Francis. 1880c. The theory of the growth of cuttings; illustrated by observations on the bramble, Rubus fruticosus. [Read 16 December 1880.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 18 (1881): 406–19.

Darwin, Francis. 1881b. Ueber Circumnutation bei einem einzelligen Organe. Botanische Zeitung, 29 July 1881, pp. 473–80.

Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Elfving, Fredrik. 1881. En obeaktad känslighet hos Phycomyces. Botaniska Notiser (1881): 105–7.

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

Sterne, Carus, pseud. (Ernst Krause.) 1881a. Charles Darwin’s neue Beobachtungen über das Bewegungsvermögen der Pflanzen. Die Gartenlaube 27: 228–30, 285–7.

Wortmann, Julius. 1881. Ein Beitrag zur Biologie der Mucorineen. Botanische Zeitung, 10 June 1881, pp. 368–74, 17 June 1881, pp. 383–7.


Is sending chapter [of Earthworms] for FD to look over.

Comments on FD’s work on movements of mould.

Is glad to hear about Julius von Sachs and the circumnutation theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 211: 75
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13170,” accessed on 9 June 2023,