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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. C. Watson   30 November [1859]1

Thames Ditton

Nov 30

My dear Sir

tho’ troublesome to yourself, to have again to correct press so soon, I cannot but rejoice at the certainty of your volume being at once so widely read.— I had heard a rumour, which led to the supposition of an early reprint.

The needed correction of names on page 49, I will note underneth.

Thanks for your opinion about G.C.— I had heard of the Article before you mentioned it.—2

Very truly | Hewett C. Watson C. Darwin | Esqre

Page 49— Instead of “Primula veris & elatior”

Print ‘Primula vulgaris & veris’.

Explanations wherefore, if wished, are over leaf

vulgaris is the name of Primrose

veris is the name of Cowslip

elatior is the name of two different things, neither Primrose nor Cowslip:— 1st (& correctly) the name of a species, different from P. & C., without any safe evidence to show that it passes into either.

2d. (by misnomer originally) the name of an intermediate variety, between Cowslip & Primrose, & producing both these from its seeds.

The earlier recorded experiments are of doubtful reliance, because their recorders either do not explain, or did not know, to which elatior their seeds or individuals belonged.3

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘Keep’ pencil; ‘Ch IV’4


The year is given by the reference to corrections for the second edition of Origin. CD began revising for a second edition at the end of November 1859 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
The fourth volume of Watson 1847–59 had been harshly reviewed in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 12 November 1859, pp. 911–12. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859], and letter to J. D. Hooker, [22 November 1859]. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1859], n. 5, for CD’s comments on Watson’s work.
CD cited Watson’s work on primroses (Watson 1845 and 1847) in Natural selection, pp. 130–2, and noted his criticisms of earlier studies of the relationship between cowslips and primroses (Natural selection, p. 130 n. 3). Watson’s suggested change was made in Origin 2d ed., p. 50, and kept until the fourth, when the sentence about primroses and cowslips was deleted (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 132).
CD’s annotation refers to chapter 4 of his species book, ‘Variation under nature’ (Natural selection, pp. 95–171).


Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Origin 2d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1860.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1845. On the theory of "progressive development," applied in explanation of the origin and transmutation of species. Phytologist 2: 108–13, 140–7, 161–8, 225–8.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1847–59. Cybele Britannica; or British plants and their geographical relations. 4 vols. London: Longman.


Sends a correction for Origin reprint.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hewett Cottrell Watson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Thames Ditton
Source of text
DAR 181: 37
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2562,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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