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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. V. Naudin1   26 June 1862

Muséum | d’Histoire naturelle, | Culture, | Paris, le 26 Juin 1862. A Monsieur Ch. Darwin, Membre de la Société royale des Sciences &c. Monsieur,

J’ai reçu, par l’entremise de M. J. Murray, éditeur, l’exemplaire de votre savant ouvrage, sur la fertilisation des Orchidées par les insectes, que vous avez bien voulu m’adresser;2 Je l’ai lu avec le plus grand intérêt, et je viens vous en faire mes vifs et très sincères remerciments.

Vous savez que, depuis long-temps, je m’occupe d’un sujet analogue, l’observation des hybrides dans le règne végétal.3 Je crois être arrivé, si non à la solution définitive de cette question, du moins à quelque chose qui en approche de bien près. Je serai en mesure, vers la fin de l’année, de publier de nombreuses observations qui, je l’espère, porteront la conviction dans l’esprit des lecteurs, relativement à la terminaison ordinaire des générations hybrides. Je me ferai un devoir et un plaisir de vous offrir, en retour, une exemplaire de mon travail.4

En attendant, Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, avec mes remerciments, l’expression de ma considération et de mes sentiments les plus distingués, | Votre bien dévoué serviteur, | Ch. Naudin | aide-naturaliste au Muséum

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘Naudin’ ink

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix I.
Orchids was published by John Murray on 15 May 1862 (Freeman 1977, p. 112). Naudin’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the volume (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
In the 1840s, Naudin had become interested in hybridisation as a means of establishing taxonomic relationships between different forms. In the 1850s he became increasingly interested in its significance in regard to species formation, and from 1854 he carried out extensive crossing experiments in the botanic garden of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris (Olby 1985, pp. 47–8, and Rheinberger 1983, p. 201). CD owned a copy of one of Naudin’s papers on hybridisation (Naudin 1858), which is now in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, and had read two further papers by Naudin that dealt with the subject (Naudin 1852 and 1856; see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *128: 155, 157, 167). In Naudin 1852, which CD had apparently read by November 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 November [1855] and n. 2), the author maintained that the present range of species had been derived from a smaller number of ancestral forms by a process analogous to that of artificial selection, by which domestic varieties had been derived. After the publication of Origin, Naudin’s colleague at the Muséum, Joseph Decaisne, claimed that Naudin had anticipated CD’s views in this paper (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [December 1859]); CD subsequently corresponded on the subject with another of Naudin’s colleagues, Armand de Quatrefages (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. L. A. de Quatrefages de Bréau, 25 April [1861] and n. 7).
In December 1861, Naudin submitted an account of his researches into plant hybridisation to the Académie des Sciences for consideration for the prix des sciences physiques. The essay was awarded the prize in December 1862, and the second part of it, containing his conclusions, was published the following year (Naudin 1863). The material on Cucurbitaceae used in this paper was covered in greater detail in a separate paper (Naudin 1862). There are offprints of both papers in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to C. V. Naudin, 3 February 1863. Naudin’s prize-winning essay was not published in full until 1865 (Naudin 1865); there is an annotated reprint of this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 638–9). In the essay, Naudin described the results of hybridisation experiments with sixty different species of plant, the offspring from which he had propagated for as many as five generations. In his conclusions, Naudin discussed the significance of his discovery that whereas the first generation from each of his crosses consisted of individuals that all resembled each other, the subsequent generations often comprised individuals that were markedly different from each other, and that, over a number of generations, the hybrid forms reverted to the parental types. Naudin explained this in terms of his theory of specific essences and non-blending heredity, arguing: ‘Tous ces faits vont s’expliquer naturellement par la disjonction des deux essences spécifiques dans le pollen et dans les ovules de l’hybride’ [All these facts are naturally explained by the disjunction of the two specific essences in the pollen and ovules of the hybrid] (Naudin 1865, p. 150). He also stated that he had not been studying hybrids for long enough to have formed a settled opinion on the question of whether there were any exceptions to his law of reversion, by which certain hybrids might become new species, but that he doubted this was so (Naudin 1865, pp. 156–7). See also Guédès 1975.

Translation

From C. V. Naudin1   26 June 1862

Muséum | d’Histoire naturelle, | Culture. | Paris,

26 June 1862.

To Mr C. Darwin, Member of the Royal Society &c.

Sir,

I have received, through the agency of the publisher Mr J. Murray, a copy of your learned work on the fertilisation of Orchids by insects that you had been kind enough to send me;2 I have read it with the utmost interest, and I wish to convey to you my most heart-felt and sincere thanks.

You know that I have been occupied for many years with a similar subject, the observation of hybrids in the vegetable kingdom.3

I think that I have reached, if not the definitive solution to this problem, at least something that approaches it very closely. By the end of the year I shall be in a position to publish a number of observations that I hope will convince my readers about the usual termination of hybrid generations. It will be for me both a duty and a pleasure to send you, in return, a copy of my work.4

In the meantime, please accept, Sir, with my thanks, the expression of my esteem and my most devoted sentiments, | Your most obedient servant, | Ch. Naudin | aide-naturaliste at the Muséum.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French and CD’s annotations, see pp. 272–3.
Orchids was published by John Murray on 15 May 1862 (Freeman 1977, p. 112). Naudin’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the volume (see Correspondence vol.10, Appendix IV).
In the 1840s, Naudin had become interested in hybridisation as a means of establishing taxonomic relationships between different forms. In the 1850s he became increasingly interested in its significance in regard to species formation, and from 1854 he carried out extensive crossing experiments in the botanic garden of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris (Olby 1985, pp. 47–8, and Rheinberger 1983, p. 201). CD owned a copy of one of Naudin’s papers on hybridisation (Naudin 1858), which is now in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, and had read two further papers by Naudin that dealt with the subject (Naudin 1852 and 1856; see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *128: 155, 157, 167). In Naudin 1852, which CD had apparently read by November 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 November [1855] and n. 2), the author maintained that the present range of species had been derived from a smaller number of ancestral forms by a process analogous to that of artificial selection, by which domestic varieties had been derived. After the publication of Origin, Naudin’s colleague at the Muséum, Joseph Decaisne, claimed that Naudin had anticipated CD’s views in this paper (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [December 1859]); CD subsequently corresponded on the subject with another of Naudin’s colleagues, Armand de Quatrefages (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. L. A. de Quatrefages de Bréau, 25 April [1861] and n. 7).
In December 1861, Naudin submitted an account of his researches into plant hybridisation to the Académie des Sciences for consideration for the prix des sciences physiques. The essay was awarded the prize in December 1862, and the second part of it, containing his conclusions, was published the following year (Naudin 1863). The material on Cucurbitaceae used in this paper was covered in greater detail in a separate paper (Naudin 1862). There are offprints of both papers in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to C. V. Naudin, 3 February 1863. Naudin’s prize-winning essay was not published in full until 1865 (Naudin 1865); there is an annotated reprint of this paper in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 638–9). In the essay, Naudin described the results of hybridisation experiments with sixty different species of plant, the offspring from which he had propagated for as many as five generations. In his conclusions, Naudin discussed the significance of his discovery that whereas the first generation from each of his crosses consisted of individuals that all resembled each other, the subsequent generations often comprised individuals that were markedly different from each other, and that, over a number of generations, the hybrid forms reverted to the parental types. Naudin explained this in terms of his theory of specific essences and non-blending heredity, arguing: ‘Tous ces faits vont s’expliquer naturellement par la disjonction des deux essences spécifiques dans le pollen et dans les ovules de l’hybride’ [All these facts are naturally explained by the disjunction of the two specific essences in the pollen and ovules of the hybrid] (Naudin 1865, p. 150). He also stated that he had not been studying hybrids for long enough to have formed a settled opinion on the question of whether there were any exceptions to his law of reversion, by which certain hybrids might become new species, but that he doubted this was so (Naudin 1865, pp. 156–7). See also Guédès 1975.

Summary

Thanks for Orchids.

Plans to publish soon on hybrids.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-3621
From
Charles Victor Naudin
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Mus. Hist. Nat. Cult., Paris
Source of text
DAR 172.1: 6
Physical description
2pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3621,” accessed on 24 August 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3621

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

letter