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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Rivers   [9 May 1863]1

Leith Hill Place | Dorking

Saturday 10th

My dear Sir

I am very much obliged for the little peaches, which have been forwarded to me here,2 where I am staying for a little change for health sake; but I shall return home in 3 or 4 days.— I am doubtful, whether the fruit will stick on the Chinese Double Peach which you gave me so kindly.—3 Therefore I should esteem it a very great favour if you would send me, when ripe, a couple of the Double Chinese & Honey Peach.—4 As for almonds I must buy varieties in the shell.—5

That was a curious monstrosity sent of the Wall-flower; the stamens seem converted into pistils with apparently good ovules.— I hope you will see whether it seeds: I shd. like to grow the seeds & see if so curious a monstrosity is hereditary.—6

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Thomas Rivers, 11 January [1863] (see n. 2, below), and by the address. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), the Darwins stayed at Leith Hill Place, near Dorking, Surrey, the home of Josiah Wedgwood III, between 6 and 13 May 1863. CD was mistaken as to the date; Saturday was 9 May.
No letter accompanying these specimens has been found. However, CD apparently refers to the fruit of a seedling peach tree that he had asked Rivers to send him in the summer (see letter to Thomas Rivers, 11 January [1863]).
Rivers, a nurseryman specialising in the cultivation of fruit trees, sent two fruit trees, including a ‘double rose flowered chinese peach’, for CD’s greenhouse in January (see letter from Thomas Rivers, 21 January 1863, and letter to Thomas Rivers, 25 January [1863]).
CD wished to compare the stones of these two varieties of peach with almond stones to test Thomas Andrew Knight’s conclusion (Knight 1817 and 1821) that the peach was a modified almond. See letters to Thomas Rivers, 11 January [1863] and nn. 7–10, 15 January [1863], 5 March [1863], and 17 August [1863]. CD acknowledged Rivers for providing specimens in Variation 1: 338–9. See also n. 5, below.
See n. 4, above. A set of engravings of peach and almond stones was included in Variation 1: 337, and featured five varieties of almond and the two varieties of peach referred to here. CD used the example to illustrate what could be produced ‘by continued selection in two different lines on the same species’ (see letter to Thomas Rivers, 15 January [1863]).
CD was interested in obtaining specimens of flowers different from the normal type in colour, form, size, or other character, to incorporate into the draft of the chapter on bud-variation (Variation 1: 373–411), which he had written in December 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II). See Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Thomas Rivers, 28 December [1862], and this volume, letters to Thomas Rivers, 7 January [1863] and 1 February [1863].


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

Knight, Thomas Andrew. 1817. An account of a peach tree, produced from the seed of the almond tree, with some observations on the origin of the peach tree. [Read 7 October 1817.] Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 3 (1820): 1–5.

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


Doubts the fruit will stick on his Chinese double peach and asks TR to send him a couple when ripe.

Would like to grow seeds of the "curious monstrosity" of a wall-flower, to see whether the monstrosity is hereditary.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Rivers
Sent from
Leith Hill Place
Source of text
DAR 185: 84
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4150,” accessed on 18 July 2024,

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