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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Bennett   25 May 1864

Brockham Lodge, | nr Reigate,

25/5th mo. 1864

My dear friend,

The inclosed I can have no doubt is the plant, and in an excellent condition for transplanting; though it is rather difficult to distinguish at so early a period, as it grows among Glyceria, which is the reason why it had so long escaped detection in this locality.—1 My engagements happen to take me to town, under an unusual pressure, most days this week, though Saturday I believe will be at liberty, and the beginning of next week, except Wednesday. Still I should be glad to have a line, if convenient, which day the gardener is likely to come,2 as unless a good botanist, he would be hardly likely to find the plant, though in considerable abundance, without assistance. We have not a great many trains on our Line, (the South Eastern,) that stop at Croydon;—9.42 & 11.48, down in the morning; and nothing between 1.50, and 5.27, up, in the afternoon. He must come to Betchworth, (not Reigate) Station, and our house is 14 mile from the Station, readily found by enquiry. He need not bring any instruments for getting up the plant, only a can or bucket for carrying it. And please say if there is any other plant of our neighbourhood, that would be any desideratum;— We abound in orchis’s on the chalk hills, and muscifera is this year particularly abundant.

In haste, I am, | Very sincerely, | Wm. Bennett

C Darwin. | Bromley—

CD annotations


‘at 10°26 Betchworth 1° .50 at Croydon 2° .47 5°27 at 6° .13pencil


The reference is to Leersia oryzoides. CD had written to Bennett for specimens of this plant; Bennett’s son, Alfred William Bennett, had discovered Leersia in Surrey (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 April 1864 and nn. 14 and 15, and letter from William Bennett, 29 April 1864). For CD’s interest in this plant, see the letter from William Bennett, 29 April 1864, n. 4. Glyceria is a genus of pasture grasses found in wet meadows (Willis 1973).
Henry Lettington’s visit is recorded in a letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [3 June 1864], in DAR 219.1: 82: Lettington went the other day to the old quaker gent near Betchworth for Leersia. A very nice old vegetarian & Tee total quaker & sent Etty the rarest English fern. Neither Lett. nor Duberry had the sense to take umbrella or great coat so they were some hours in that cold N.E. rain & caught a cold— Emma refers to her daughter Etty, or Henrietta Emma Darwin. ‘Duberry’ was probably Mark Duberry, a carter at Down (Census returns 1861 (Public Record Office RG9/462: 71)).


Willis, John Christopher. 1973. A dictionary of the flowering plants and ferns. 8th edition. Revised by H. K. Airy Shaw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Sends plant and directions to his home so that CD’s gardener may call for another plant.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bennett
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 147
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4509,” accessed on 3 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12