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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   [before 11 June 1862]1

Dear Oliver.

I have been much pleased by the Zeitung for Müller describes exactly what I have seen, except that he overlooked the funny minute rudiments of petals.2 V. hirta belongs to type of V. odorata. Why I write is that you have marked “your Regards” on copy;3 but you do not mean me to keep copy? Does it not break set? I will keep it safe, & return it whenever you may have occasion to write

with many thanks.— yours very truly | C. Darwin

It is a pity that Müller did not know that the perfect flowers are fertile only when visited by Bees

P.S. By the way I must tell you that I had long letter from Asa Gray this morning, approving of my orchis book, & what is better comparing what I say with structure of living American allied orchids, & finds, as yet, all true.4 This pleases me much.— He likes the book, incomparably more than I ever ventured to hope.—

P.S. What a wonderful scheme of reference you must have, always to know, what & where has been written on any subject.—


Dated by the reference to CD’s having received a letter from Asa Gray, approving of Orchids, on the morning on which this letter was written (see n. 4, below); CD received Gray’s letter of 18 May 1862, on or before 10 June (see letter to Asa Gray, 10–20 June [1862]). See also n. 2, below.
Müller 1857; there is an annotated copy of this paper in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Oliver cited Daniel Müller’s article on Viola hirta (hairy violet)and V. odorata (sweet violet)in his review of ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula ([Oliver] 1862c, p. 239). See also letter from Daniel Oliver, 10 April 1862, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 May [1862].
CD’s copy of the issue of the Botanische Zeitung in which Müller 1857 appears is marked: ‘With DO’s kind regards’.
For Gray’s reaction to the first half of Orchids (of which he read the proof-sheets), see the letter from Asa Gray, 18 May 1862; the portion of this letter written on 26 May (see letter to Asa Gray, 10–20 June [1862]) is missing. After sending him the proof-sheets, CD sent Gray a presentation copy of Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Müller, Daniel. 1857. Ueber die Befruchtung der incompleten Blumen einiger Viola-arten. Botanische Zeitung, 23 October 1857, pp. 729–33.

[Oliver, Daniel.] 1862. [Review of "Dimorphic condition in Primula".] Natural History Review n.s. 2: 235–43.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Asa Gray approves of Orchids; his work on American species confirms CD’s findings.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 33 (EH 88206016)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3583,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10