skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. H. Balfour   21 October [1864]1

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

Oct. 21st

My dear Sir

It was very kind of you to remember about the seed of Corydalis.—2 From some wretched seed I did raise one single plant; but I am very glad of what you sent me to raise more, next summer.—3

I enclose only Photograph of myself which I have, made of me this summer by my son.—4

Very many thanks for yours.—

Yours sincerely. | Ch. Darwin


The date is established by the reference to the recent photograph of CD (see n. 4, below).
CD had written to Balfour asking for seeds of Corydalis claviculata, which he had been unable to obtain elsewhere, on 15 June [1862] (Correspondence vol. 13, Supplement).
In 1862, CD was interested in insect pollination and the fertility of Corydalis species (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Daniel Oliver, 12 [April 1862]; see also ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, p. 175 (Collected papers 2: 111), letter to Nature, 6 April [1874] (Calendar no. 9393), and Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 358–9). However, he had more recently become interested in C. claviculata for his work on climbing plants (see his notes on the species in DAR 157.2: 26–8; see also ‘Climbing plants’, p. 70), and may have acquired seeds from his son, William Erasmus Darwin (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to W. E. Darwin, [10 May 1863]). For CD’s interest in other Corydalis species as climbers, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [20 February 1864] and nn. 2 and 3.
William had taken a new photograph of his father some time before 19 May 1864 (see letter from W. E. Darwin, [19 May 1864] and n. 8). See also frontispiece to this volume.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


Thanks Balfour for Corydalis seed

and sends a photo of himself.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Hutton Balfour
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (Balfour papers)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5251,” accessed on 26 February 2020,

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