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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin to Alphonse de Candolle   24 January [1881]1

24 Jan. 1882

Dear Sir,

I was much pleased at your kindness in remembering the interest which I felt in your method of illustrating inheritance. Both my father & myself have been much interested in examining your diagram2   It seems to us that the difficulty of estimating the different qualities in oneself or in others is very great. My father tried to compare himself with his father3 but quite failed to determine what qualities he inherited from him. If it were not for this difficulty there is no doubt as it seems to my father & myself that your method would give most interesting results   I venture to send you a diagram showing a way of graphically comparing a man with his parents. It is composed so as to compare myself with my parents, the qualities being in some instances perhaps exaggerated.

Since writing the above part of this letter, I have shown the diagram to my father, & he has filled in his father. I think it shows that he resembles my grandfather more than I do my father. I seem to resemble my mother4 in some points.

I remain, with great respect | Yours sincerely | Francis Darwin



The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 24 January 1881. Francis wrote ‘1882’ in error.
Candolle had enclosed a table showing how family characteristics could be traced over several generations with his letter of 18 January [1881]; the table was evidently returned to Candolle and has not been found.


FD and CD have been interested in AdeC’s diagram for illustrating inheritance. The difficulty of estimating different qualities in oneself and others is very great. Encloses a diagram illustrating how FD compares himself with his parents. CD has filled in a comparison with his father. It shows he resembles his father more than FD resembles CD. [The qualities compared are: stature, hair, eyes, pulse, musical capacity, ability to draw, tendency toward biological sciences, tendency toward mathematical sciences, perseverence, memory, aptitude for foreign languages.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Alphonse de Candolle
Sent from
Source of text
Archives de la famille de Candolle (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 3pp diag

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13642,” accessed on 1 April 2023,