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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   30 [June 1866]1

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


My dear William

The cuttings arrived in good time & were at once planted, & this morning your grand collection of sketches arrived: many thanks for all your great trouble—2 Your drawings show considerable difference in the two pollens, & I now believe in your discovery, which seems to me, a very curious one.—3

The anthers received this morning contained pollen too shrivelled to measure.—4 Next summer I must get you to send me some fresh flowers, & you must look a little more for gradation in form.—5 It will not do for you to publish, I think, till we have tested power of the two pollens on the two females.— It is just possible size of grains may vary in different trees.— The whole case seems to me eminently well worth working out.—

I have to pay Elinor Carter £2"16"8 for your expences at Paris.—6 You must let me hear sometime how balance is between your journey & Etty’s napoleons—7

your affect Father | C. Darwin

I suppose stamens do not differ in length in the two males8


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Darwin, 29 June [1866].
CD had requested that William send him one-year-old shoots from which to propagate the four different forms of Rhamnus cathartica (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [24 June 1866]). William had sent drawings of pollen and styles of Rhamnus cathartica with his letter of 29 June [1866].
See letter to W. E. Darwin, 29 June [1866] and n. 3.
William had enclosed flowers of the two male forms of Rhamnus cathartica with his letter of 29 June [1866].
See letter from W. E. Darwin, 29 June [1866] and n. 2. In Forms of flowers, p. 295, CD reported William’s belief that the two sub-forms of the same sex did not grade into one another. No correspondence between William and CD in 1867 regarding Rhamnus has been found.
William had apparently gone to Paris to meet Henrietta Emma Darwin and accompany her back to England. Henrietta had been in France from 15 March to mid-June with Elinor Mary Bonham-Carter and Elinor’s aunt, Julia Smith (see letter to H. E. Darwin, [14–21 April 1866] and n. 4). According to CD’s Account book–banking account (Down House MS), Elinor was paid £2 16s. 6d. on 14 July 1866.
A napoleon was a twenty-franc coin (OED).


Cuttings have arrived. Different flower forms [in Rhamnus?].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 17
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5136,” accessed on 20 September 2019,

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