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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Maw   7 July 1862

Benthall Hall. | Broseley.

7th. July 62.

My dear Sir.

I am sincerely obliged for your kind letter of the 4th. inst & for the very liberal spirit in which you receive my criticisms1

It is exceedingly kind of you to think of sending me your new work on orchids2   it reached me safely yesterday but I have not yet had time to do more than just look into it

I was about ordering it of my bookseller—but to receive it as a gift from the author is certainly a much more agreeable way of becoming possessed of it—

An Uncle of mine Mr. Jno Frdk Johnson3 who resides at Araquipa was mentioning to me a few days ago the case of a female mule breeding by a horse.— he has also heard of the male mule gendering, but the case of the female he can vouch for as it came under his own observation— it occurred in the valley of Vitor about 12 leagues from Araquipa. I mention it because I think it is a fact bearing on the subject of hybridism which may interest you

My Uncle who will return to s’ America in a few months has promised to make careful enquiries respecting the alleged cases of the fertile male mules.4

Believe me Dear Sir | Sincerely & obliged | George Maw.

Charles Darwin Esqr


Letter to George Maw, 3 July [1862].
Maw’s name is included on the presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV). See also letter to George Maw, 3 July [1862].
John Frederick Johnson has not been further identified.
No further correspondence either from Johnson or Maw regarding fertile male mules has been found. However, in 1865, CD transmitted to the Natural History Review a report from Egypt of a mule producing a foal (‘Notice of a mule breeding’, Natural History Review n.s. 5: 147–8).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.


Thanks CD for sending Orchids.

Reports observations by his uncle relating to the successful breeding of a male mule with a horse.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Maw
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Benthall Hall
Source of text
DAR 171.1: 96
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3644,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

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