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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Maw   25 February 1863

Benthall Hall, | nr. Broseley.

25th. Feby 63.

Dear Sir.

I beg to thank you for your note of the 23rd. the contents of which will I know gratify the committee of our field club1

I have much pleasure in sending you a curious form of Lilium candidum in which the buds instead of being developed as perfect flowers have expanded into a spike of leaves in color & texture resembling the perianth but in arrangement & form more like the stem leaves2

I fear I have nothing more either of facts or specimens in this way that would be new to you but will in future be on the look out. With regard to the direct deposition of coal it has often occurred to me as being rather singular that the fire clays & shales intervening between the seams of coal are as full of organic impressions as the coal itself & yet unaccompanied by carbonaceous matter3   I cannot help fancying that there must have been aggregation into seams after deposition similar to the aggregation of carbonate of Iron into thin strata & nodules—

yesterday evening I had the pleasure of being introduced to your friend Mr. Crotch who lectured at Bridgnorth on the “mutual relation of species” as a sort of popular exposition of the heads of the subjects treated of in your origin of species—4

Believe me to remain Dr Sir | yours very truly | George Maw

Charles Darwin Esq


CD’s letter has not been found. Apparently, CD responded favourably to the invitation to become a honorary member of the Severn Valley Naturalists’ Field Club (see letter from George Maw, 19 February 1863).
CD had evidently asked Maw if he could supply examples of bud-variation (see letter to George Maw, 28 February [1863] and n. 2.) CD had solicited examples of bud-variations from several of his correspondents, including John Scott, Thomas Rivers, Hugh Falconer, and George Henry Kendrick Thwaites (see Correspondence vols. 9 and 10, and this volume, letter to Asa Gray, 2 January [1863], letter to Thomas Rivers, 1 February [1863], and letter to John Scott, 16 February [1863]). CD had recently completed a draft of chapter 11 for Variation, ‘On bud-variation, and on certain anomalous modes of reproduction and variation’ (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)).
Maw refers to the entomologist William Duppa Crotch. Bridgnorth is a town in Shropshire, south of Shrewsbury. See also letter to George Maw, 28 February [1863].


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

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Discusses the deposition of coal and considers the possibility of coal aggregating into seams after deposition.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Maw
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Benthall Hall
Source of text
DAR 171: 98
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4012,” accessed on 29 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11