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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Daniel Oliver   3 November [1861]1

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

Nov 3d

Dear Oliver

I thank you most sincerely for all the references.2 Good Heavens how do you know such multitudinous references! It is a horrid bore, that I shall probably find all my recent work done & done better than I have.— Anyhow I have enjoyed the work. If you had not told me these references how nicely you might have reviewed. “disgraceful ignorance” “highly presumptuous” &c &c—3

I heartily thank you, though I expect to be heartily disgusted with the papers, when I get them. from Linn. Society.—4

Please thank Hooker for information about Dendrobium Chrysanthum;5 & say that I shd. be very glad of a Cypripedium to have a look at the ducts of Labellum—6

Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

If Hooker sends any more orchids I shd like one more head of Eveylina carivata on account of its curious nectary.—7


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the first letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 November [1861] (Correspondence vol. 9).
See Correspondence vol. 9, letter from Daniel Oliver, [before 8 November 1861]; this letter should now be dated [before 3 November 1861]. The references were to works on orchid structure and pollination; CD was working on Orchids in the latter part of 1861 (Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix II).
Oliver was an editor of the Natural History Review, which began publication in January 1861; he had written a number of botanical reviews. Orchids was reviewed by Joseph Dalton Hooker in the October 1862 issue of Natural History Review, pp. 371–6 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 November 1862).
CD frequently borrowed books from the library of the Linnean Society; see, for example, Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Richard Kippist, 7 January [1861].
CD had asked Hooker about the position of the labellum in Dendrobium in his first letter to Hooker of 1 November [1861]; see also the letter to John Lindley, 1 November [1861] (Correspondence vol. 9). Hooker’s reply has not been found, but for CD’s description of D. chrysanthum, see Orchids, pp. 172–8.
CD had been investigating the ducts, or spiral vessels, of orchid flowers in order to determine homologies within the orchid family (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 4 October [1861] and 27 October [1861]). In the first letter to J. D. Hooker of 1 November [1861] (ibid.), he wrote that he did not have a Cypripedium ‘in spirits’ to dissect for an examination of the ducts. For CD’s discussion of the spiral vessels in orchids, including Cypripedium, and his accompanying diagram, see ibid., letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 November [1861], and Orchids, pp. 290–305.
CD mentioned the nectary of Evelyna in Orchids, p. 277; see also p. 295–6 n.


Thanks for "multitudinous" references.

Thanks Hooker for orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Daniel Oliver
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 52 (EH 88206035)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4329,” accessed on 23 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)