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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Henslow   7 April 1866

10 South Crescent | Bedford Sq | W.C.

April 7th /66

My dear Sir

I send by this post a few copies of the “Science Gossip”, which I happen to have as duplicates, so that you can obtain a knowledge of their General character.1 Also one or two Nos. of the Leisure Hour in which I have written short papers, that may perhaps interest you, as being connected with my fathers doings. Please to accept them. (One has not my name attached viz: “Phosphate Nodules”.)—2

I have already exhibited the Coryanthes—you so kindly gave me—to the delight & astonishment of several: it certainly is a most wonderful contrivance.3

With regard to the remark I made about the relative Nos. expressive of the fertility of Primrose.— I was referring to the Tab. II p. 89. P. veris

By calculation

good pods Weight of seed in grains Long: styled as 100 to 42*

Homoc.) long styled) ‘ 100 ’ 62

Heteroc.) Short styled:) ‘ 100 ’ 30

Homoc.) Short styled) ‘ 100 ’ 44*4


Comparing these (*) it seems, they run very close!5 does that proportion mean that the seed from every 100 good pods weighed, on average (by calculation of course) 42 grains?

Again thanking you for a very pleasant visit last Monday,6

Believe me | My dear Sir, | Yours very faithfully | Geo Henslow

C. Darwin Esq.


Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip: an Illustrated Medium of Interchange and Gossip for Students and Lovers of Nature was established in 1865. Published monthly, it was advertised as ‘a medium of exchange and Chit-chat … for lighter and more varied information’, complementing the publisher’s other journal, Popular Science Review (back page of issue 2).
Henslow’s article ‘Phosphate nodules’ described the introduction of phosphates as a manure for root crops by Henslow’s father, John Stevens Henslow; it was published in Leisure Hour, 11 July 1863, pp. 436–8 ([Henslow] 1863). Henslow also refers to his signed article ‘The wild flowers of Shakespear’, which appeared in Leisure Hour, 9 April 1864, pp. 229–31 (Henslow 1864).
CD probably gave Henslow a plant of the orchid genus Coryanthes when Henslow visited Down from 2 April 1866. CD had described Coryanthes in Orchids, pp. 277–8, remarking that drops of the secreted nectar were collected in the hollowed end of the labellum ‘just like a bucket suspended some way beneath a dripping spring of water’. The section on Coryanthes is considerably expanded in the second edition (Orchids 2d ed., pp. 173–6). See also Origin 4th ed., p. 230, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 151 (Collected papers 2: 153–4), and Correspondence vol. 12.
The table is an extract from table II in ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, p. 89 (Collected papers 2: 56); the four lines show, successively, the results of pollination of long-styled flowers of Primula veris by own pollen and pollen from short-styled flowers, and of pollination of short-styled flowers by own pollen and pollen from long-styled flowers.
In ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, p. 88 (Collected papers 2: 56), CD calculated that homomorphic unions yielded a weight of 35 grains of seed per 100 ‘good capsules’, while heteromorphic unions yielded 54 grains. Henslow here shows that the difference is narrowed considerably if the second and third rows of results are omitted.
See n. 3, above.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]

[Henslow, George]. 1863. Phosphate nodules. Leisure Hour 12: 436–8.

Henslow, George. 1864. The wild flowers of Shakespeare. Leisure Hour 13: 229–31.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.


Sends copies of Science gossip and The leisure hour.

Enjoyed visit.

His criticism of Primula fertility referred to table 2 [Collected papers 2: 56] where weight of seeds produced from good pods by long-styled homostylous cross and short-styled heterostylous cross are virtually identical.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Henslow
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, South Crescent, 10
Source of text
DAR 166: 157
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5048,” accessed on 28 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14