skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   15 August [1867]1

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

Aug 15th

My dear Sir

I have just received the seeds of the Adenanthera for a necklace, & it has been very kind of you to remember my little wish.2 Mr. D. Hanbury says you have given him valuable information & specimens.3 I know him very little, but Dr. Hooker thinks highly of him.—4

I know very well that I am quite unreasonable in making so many requests & asking so many questions; but there is one point, about which I am very curious & possibly you might obtain information for me.— Some American monkeys cry a little (Rengger & Humbolldt):5 now when they cry from grief or pain, do they wrinkle up & close their eyes like a Baby always does when screaming & crying? When they cry, especially whilst young, do they scream & make loud noise?

It is possible that monkeys may be kept tame in S. Brazil. & you could ascertain this.—

I have lately received an admirable letter from your Brother on the fertilisation of Orchids: he describes, writes English & draws almost as well as you!6

Borreria-seed are come up—7 Plumbago, Cordia, the tall Lobelia & Gesneria all growing well.8 Most of other seeds have failed. The Oxalis from the bulbs, flowered, but all utterly sterile, so I could make nothing out about them.9 After I have experimented with these plants Dr. Hooker wants them for Kew.—10

Forgive me for being so very troublesome & believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I have written to India to try & find out how Adenanthera is disseminated.—11


The year is established by CD’s reference to his having written to India (see n. 11, below).
In the letter to Fritz Müller, [before 10 December 1866], CD had written, ‘These seeds would make a beautiful bracelet for one of my daughters if I had enough’ (Correspondence vol. 14).
Daniel Hanbury had asked CD for Müller’s address in order to obtain information on ‘pharmacological matters’; Hanbury worked on the botanical origin of drugs (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Daniel Hanbury, 1 December 1866; see also Ince ed. 1876).
Joseph Dalton Hooker had travelled to Syria and Palestine with Hanbury on a botanical expedition in 1860 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 528).
The references are to Johann Rudolph Rengger and Alexander von Humboldt and to Rengger 1830 and Humboldt 1814–29. CD cited their observations on crying in monkeys in Expression, p. 137.
The letter from Hermann Müller has not been found, but see the letter to Hermann Müller, 16 August [1867].
Müller had enclosed a specimen of Borreria with his letter of 4 March 1867. He described it as a ‘dimorphic Rubiaceæ, probably a Diodia’. Müller corrected his identification of the genus after examining ripe fruits of his own specimens (see letter from Fritz Müller, 2 June 1867 and n. 2).
CD had received seeds of Cordia sent by Müller in December 1866 (see letter to Fritz Müller, 7 February [1867]). Müller enclosed seeds of Gesneria with his letter of 1 January 1867. He enclosed seeds of Plumbago and Lobelia with his letter of 2 February 1867 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 24 [March 1867], and letter to Fritz Müller, 25 March [1867]).
Müller sent CD bulbils of Oxalis with his letter of 1 and 3 October 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Fritz Müller, [before 10 December 1866]). CD reported that the bulbs were growing in his letter to Müller of [late December 1866 and] 1 January 1867 (Correspondence vol. 14). See also letter to Fritz Müller, 25 March [1867].
CD wrote to John Scott for information on the means by which seeds of Adenanthera pavonina were disseminated (the letter has not been found, but see the letter from John Scott, 24 September 1867). In Origin 4th ed., p. 240, CD had argued that the beauty of fruits served ‘merely as a guide to birds and beasts, that the fruit may be devoured and the seeds thus disseminated’. Adenanthera pavonina, which had conspicuous seeds but no surrounding pulp with nutritive value, presented a problem for CD’s hypothesis (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 December [1866] and n. 3).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Humboldt, Alexander von. 1814–29. Personal narrative of travels to the equinoctial regions of the New Continent, during the years 1799–1804. By Alexander de Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. Translated into English by Helen Maria Williams. 7 vols. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown; J. Murray; H. Colburn.

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.

Rengger, Johann Rudolph. 1830. Naturgeschichte der Saeugethiere von Paraguay. Basel, Switzerland: Schweighausersche Buchhandlung.


Queries about expressions in crying monkeys.

Has received letter from Hermann Müller on orchid fertilisation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 18)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5605,” accessed on 24 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15