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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. C. Babington   3 March 1858

St John’s College | Cambridge

3 Mar. 1858

Dear Darwin

I have taken some time to consider the curious question asked by you.1 At first I was inclined to say that I did not know of any difference between the large or small genera but am now inclined to think that there is a greater tendency generally to note “varieties” in the larger genera rather than in the very small ones. I think that in the very small genera, where perhaps there is only one species, there is a general tendency to think, and take for granted, that there are no more forms deserving of notice; but that in the others, where many nearly allied species are known to exist, the botanist is led to look more carefully and therefore to notice and record varieties and forms.

An acute botanical friend to whom I mentioned the subject said that he was so convinced of the above being the common state of things that he always expected new plants were to be found in the small genera on account of the neglect of which I have spoken.

Will you kindly tell me the results arrived at when all your answers have arrived.2

Yours very truly | Charles C. Babington—

CD annotations

double scored brown crayon
1.5 only one species,] ‘one’ underl pencil


See letter to C. C. Babington, 22 February [1858].
See following letter.


States his belief that there is a tendency to note varieties in the larger genera rather than in the very small ones.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Cardale Babington
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St John’s College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 98: A146–7
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2231,” accessed on 9 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7