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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Maw   27 August [1861]1

Benthall Hall, | nr. Broseley.

27th. Augt. 62

Dear Sir

I just write a line to thank you for yr. letter of the 19th. July & the consideration you have given my review.2 I should have written sooner but only got back from an absence of 5 weeks on the continent last Thursday.

Several fresh points have occurred to me since I last wrote & as soon as I can find time to note them down I shall take the liberty of troubling you with a further communication3   Pray do not however feel any necessity to reply as you have doubtless something better to occupy yr time than to answer all the communications that are made to you on the subject of yr book

Believe me Dear Sir | very truly yrs. | Geo Maw.

Charles Darwin Esqr

an immense number of cases of correlation of organization have occurred to me.—4 all the fancy varieties of scarlet Pelargonium that have contracted or imperfect leaves have contracted flowers5 castration of many male animals—as the ox tribe where the contour of the 2 sexes is notably distinct producing the contour of the female is another remarkable instance of correlated organization— The number of isolated functions that become co-modified at Parturition—as Production of Milk in the mother—Respiration of Fœtus—Independent circulation in fœtus—completed organization of heart of fœtus all taking place at the time of independent existence looks wonderfully like preordination—or when we remember that the imperfection of any one of these processes would be death to the fœtus, how difficult is it to believe that they can have been accumulated by gradual modifications.

CD annotations

0.3 Dear Sir … yrs. 3.1] crossed brown crayon
5.1 an immense … flowers 5.3] crossed pencil; double scored brown crayon
5.3 castration … organization— 5.5] double scored brown crayon
5.5 The number … fœtus, 5.10] double scored brown crayon
Top of first page: ‘Ch 7.’6 brown crayon
Bottom of last page: ‘For Selection of [over ’&‘] ⁠⟨⁠Cotemporous⁠⟩⁠ variation’ blue crayon

CD note:7

Suppose period of gestation to become shorter from any cause (& it varies in cattle for instance) then if milk did not come sooner, the young would die & conversely: & so bond formed.— But when leaves of Geranium are contracted, flower becomes contracted from homology—petals & leaves being similar & probably being affected by similar causes— (what affects one would affect all) & this would take place almost inevitably, without the contraction of mouth of corolla was in some way highly injurious.—


Although the letter is dated ‘1862’, Maw refers to CD’s letter of ‘19th July’, and from Maw’s mention of his review of Origin (see n. 2, below), the subject matter seems to relate to the letter to George Maw, 19 July [1861], which was written from Torquay.
Letter to George Maw, 19 July [1861]. The reference is to Maw’s review of the third edition of Origin, published in the Zoologist (Maw 1861a).
Maw’s earlier letter to CD, which accompanied the presentation copy of Maw 1861a, has not been found, but see the letter to George Maw, 13 July [1861].
In his review of Origin, Maw challenged CD’s assertion that evidence showing ‘correlation of growth’ was left unexplained by the view of the independent creation of each species (Origin 3d ed., p. 466). Maw argued that if the term ‘correlation of growth’ were exchanged for ‘correlation of organisation’, then such phenomena could be accounted for on the assumption ‘that the uniformity of model, upon which the more important parts are formed, is the result of special creation working out a consistent proportion of the integral part’ (Maw 1861a, pp. 7586–7).
See CD note, above. CD later used this example of correlation of growth in Variation 2: 330.
CD refers to chapter 7 of his ‘big book’ on species; the chapter, entitled ‘Laws of variation’, includes a section on the correlation of growth (Natural selection, pp. 297–304).
The note is written on the verso of the last page of the letter (DAR 99: 12). It seems to have been written in response to the letter from George Maw, 30 June 1862, and is thus also transcribed with that letter (see Correspondence vol. 10).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks CD for his letter about GM’s review of the Origin.

Sends instances of correlative organisation and functions which he finds difficult to believe could have accumulated by gradual modifications.

[Letter erroneously dated 1862 by GM.]

Letter details

Letter no.
George Maw
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 99: 11–12
Physical description
4pp ††, CD note

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3236,” accessed on 24 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9