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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Arthur Rawson   2 April [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

April. 2d

My dear Mr. Rawson

I am extremely much obliged for your note. By odd chance I have just found a Primrose plant, with generally 3 or even 4 pistils: I was so much surprised that I wrote to Kew & I have sent , in accordance with a request from that quarter, specimens in spirits; so it is an odd anomaly.

I am very glad to hear about Gladiolus: I shall very soon have to give your case in M.S. (& I have all the old notes safe) preparing for publication & was thinking more than once whether you had tried any more experiments; but inferred that you had forgotten the subject; so you may suppose how pleased I am.—

To make sure that I understand your last experiment, I will thus put case: of two plants of same var. A you find pollen from one does not fertilise the stigma of the other; but that pollen (as in previous years) from vars. B. C. D. &c do fertilise var. A.— This is correct??2 Now will you kindly tell me whether you tried this last experiment on 2 or 3, or half-a-dozen, or more flowers? I shd like to add this to case.—

With respect to Ophrys aranifera I will not trouble you: but I certainly shd. be very glad of the loan of the Cypripedium.3 But do you understand that a “loan” means that I shd probably cut up & mutilate all or nearly all the flowers; without doing this the flowers would be of no use to me.— Are you prepared to be so generous a martyr-florist? If so, I will gratefully send for plant, whenever I hear that it is ready.

With very sincere thanks | Yours very truly | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Arthur Rawson, 1 April [1863] (see Correspondence vol. 11).
See Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Arthur Rawson, 1 April [1863]. CD published an account of Rawson’s experiments in Variation 2: 139–40.
Rawson had offered to lend CD a pot of Cypripedium pubescens (greater yellow lady’s-slipper; see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Arthur Rawson, 1 April [1863]).


Discusses unusual primula flowers and asks for details of Rawson’s experiments with gladioli. Asks for loan of Cypripedium but admits he will probably mutilate it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Arthur Rawson
Sent from
Source of text
Sotheby’s (dealers) (10 December 2013); Xiling Yinshe Auction Company (dealers) (Autumn 2017 lot 2184)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4072F,” accessed on 21 September 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)