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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Gordon1   11 September [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Sept 11th

Dear Sir

I hope that you will excuse the great liberty which I take in addressing you & begging a favour.—

Mr H. C. Watson informs me that you are the most likely man to be able to allow & willing to grant this favour.—2 I have been examining the minute structure of the rostellum of all British Orchids & am in consequence extremely anxious to see Goodyera. Is it in your power to send me a few fresh specimens? I know that it is a mere chance whether this rare plant grows near you. But if it does, & you would pack up a few specimens, in bud & flower, with damp moss round the cut off stems, packed in an old tin cannister & sent by Post (allowing me of course to repay postage) it would be a great favour. I hope in any case you will forgive the liberty, which I take in troubling you & I beg you not answer this, unless you can kindly send me the specimens.—3

With many apologies | I beg leave to remain | Dear Sir | Your obliged servant | Charles Darwin on account of health of my daughter I shall be compelled to go to sea-side in about 9 or 10 days.


The recipient is identified by the cover that accompanies the letter. Gordon was the minister of Birnie, near Elgin, Scotland. He was an expert on the flora of Morayshire.
Gordon had contributed catalogues of plants from certain parts of Scotland to Hewett Cottrell Watson’s New botanists’ guide (Watson 1835–7).


Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1835–7. The new botanist’s guide to the localities of the rarer plants of Britain. 2 vols. London. [Vols. 3,8]


Asks whether GG can provide a few fresh specimens of Goodyera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Gordon
Sent from
SP 11 60
Source of text
Elgin Museum (Gordon Archive 60.13)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2911,” accessed on 30 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8