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Darwin Correspondence Project

To B. J. Sulivan   28 October [1881]1

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

Oct. 28th

My dear Sulivan.

I returned home last night & found your grapes in good condition & with a very pleasant muscat flavour. I am utterly incapable of offering any sort of explanation of the case.2 It was very kind of you to send them.

I am much in arrear with letters, so farewell— | Yours ever sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from B. J. Sulivan, 29 September 1881.
In his letter of 29 September 1881, Sulivan told CD he had sent samples of his two grape varieties to Joseph Dalton Hooker; he had evidently sent samples to CD at a later date. Sulivan first mentioned the grapes in November 1880, and CD had suggested that the change in colour might be an effect of direct action of the pollen on the mother plant and referred to Variation 2d ed. 1: 427–35 (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to B. J. Sulivan, 17 November 1880 and n. 2).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Has looked at BJS’s grapes. Can give no explanation of the case.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Sent from
Source of text
Sulivan family (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13439,” accessed on 7 June 2023,