skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To ?   21 August [1862]1

1 Carlton Terrace, Southampton.

Aug. 21

Dear Sir,

Severe illness in my family on a journey has prevented me from sooner thanking you for your very obliging note.2 I did not receive the specimen, which followed me from place to place, until it was quite withered; but the monstrosity is a common one. I should not expect this fusion of two flowers to be inherited, but it would be worth trial; nor indeed should I expect that the flower would set seed, but both these points would be worth ascertaining. Such facts, as I have collected, lead me quite to disbelieve in “jumps of any size”, but I have no objection to them on any other score.3

I am pleased that any of my works shd. have interested you & with my best thanks, I remain | Dear Sir | Your obliged & obet sert | Ch. Darwin | (of Down, Bromley Kent)


The year is established by the reference to CD and his family’s being detained in Southampton owing to illness (see n. 2, below).
The note has not been found. In August 1862, CD and his family set out for Bournemouth for the sake of Leonard Darwin, who had scarlet fever; however, Emma Darwin was herself taken ill with scarlet fever at Southampton, where she, CD, and Leonard remained from 13 August to 1 September (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II). One Carlton Terrace was the home of William Erasmus Darwin, CD and Emma’s eldest son (ibid., letter to John Lubbock, 21 August [1862]).
The specimen has not been identified. The sender evidently speculated that a dramatic monstrosity could engender a new species; CD, however, did not believe in the possiblity of sudden change of this sort (see, for example, Origin, p. 206).


Thanks for monstrous floral specimen, but it is a common one.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Lawrences Auctioneers (dealers) (2009)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3693F,” accessed on 30 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)