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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henrietta Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin   [16 March 1864]1



Dear Wm.

If your mid-styled has the stigma pretty near the same height with the anthers Papa wd be very glad if you wd measure it, as the one he sent you was not a very middling one, but approached the long-styled.2 He is very much obliged to you for all your trouble.

He is pretty bad this morning, after a wretched sleepless night, but his cold makes him feel more weak & uncomfortable. There is a Bromley ball here on the 31st. but I spose you are not very likely to be here & I think it is equally unlikely I shall get a chap— if Papa is no better I don’t feel as if I had much heart to go. I will tell you what time Geo. means to be here so that I hope you will be able to meet him.3 I suppose Erny4 is on his way home now. doesn’t it seem a short time.

Ever your affec. | H. E. D.

Mama pretty well.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, [15 March 1864] (see n. 2, below). In 1864, 16 March was the first Wednesday after 15 March.
CD evidently wanted William to measure pollen from an equal-styled, or what William called a mid-styled, Chinese primrose (Primula sinensis) that he had recently acquired; William had also recently sent sketches of pollen from three different forms of P. sinensis (see letter from W. E. Darwin, [15 March 1864] and nn. 4 and 9). CD later wrote, while discussing the equal-styled form of the plant, that the pistil length varied greatly, even in flowers on the same umbel (‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, pp. 414–15, and Forms of flowers, p. 218). A letter including William’s measurement has not been found; however, CD’s annotation above the third plant drawing of DAR 108: 86 probably recorded that the pistil of an equal-styled plant was just as large as that of a long-styled one (see letter from W. E. Darwin, 22 March [1864] and n. 8; see also ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, pp. 415, Forms of flowers, p. 219, and letter from W. E. Darwin, 22 March [1864] and n. 4).
George Howard Darwin was planning to go home for the Easter holiday; in 1864, Easter Sunday fell on 27 March. In a letter from G. H. Darwin at Clapham to W. E. Darwin, [24 March 1864], George wrote: ‘The boys have gone home today for their Easter holidays & I stop here to mng’ (DAR 251: 2233). George, Francis, and Leonard Darwin were pupils at Clapham Grammar School in March 1864 (F. Darwin 1920, and CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)).
Ernest Hensleigh Wedgwood was a clerk to the secretary of state for the colonies (Colonial Office list).


Colonial Office list: The Colonial Office list … or, general register of the colonial dependencies of Great Britain. London: Edward Stanford; Harrison & Sons. 1862–99.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.


CD wants WED to make some measurements on mid-styled [Primula sinensis] plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 116
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3633,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12