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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. P. M. Weale   9 December [1867]1

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

Dec 9.

My dear Sir

Had I not been lately much over worked I shd have written before to tell you how much I & others have been interested in the result of my trial of the locust-dung.2 No less than 7 grasses have germinated, & are now growing well; they belong to at least 2 kinds, & I hope they will flower.3 The seeds were in the middle of the pellets. Sir C. Lyell was so much interested in the case that he is going to cite it in a new edit. of the Principles.4

You said that some persons believe that weeds are thus introduced, & I shd be much obliged for any information on this head.5 The Linn. Soc. has been so much pressed with papers that the Council is only now sending your paper on Bonatea to press. They want it shortened but I hardly see how this can be done; it wd be a pity if the concluding extraneous remarks shd be left out; but perhaps this will be done; I do not know as yet.6

The Council cd not possibly afford to engrave all the figures but will give one wood-block.7 I am sorry to tell you that 2 authors viz. Dr Hildebrand of Bonn & Delpino in Italy have been attending with great care & have published on the fertilization of the Asclepiadæ.8 I wrote before to thank you & say how valuable to me yr information on expression has been,9 & I shd be very thankful for any further information.

Believe me my dear Sir | with sincere thanks | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

I have had inserted your 2 or 3 corrections into your paper.—10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. P. M. Weale, 7 July 1867, and by the reference to C. Lyell 1867–8 (see n. 4 below).
A small packet of locust dung was enclosed with the letter from J. P. M. Weale, 7 July 1867. See also letter to Asa Gray, 16 October [1867].
This information was included in Origin 5th ed., p. 439.
CD had communicated the results of his experiment in his letter to Charles Lyell, 31 October [1867]; they were reported in C. Lyell 1867–8, 2: 420–1.
For CD’s recommendations about the figures, see the letter to the Linnean Society, 9 December [1867].
Weale had remarked on similarities in the floral adaptations of asclepiads and orchids (see letter from J. P. M. Weale, 7 July 1867 and n. 14). In his book on the separation of the sexes in plants, Friedrich Hildebrand referred to Federico Delpino’s first scientific paper, published in 1865, on fertilisation in the Asclepiadaceae (Hildebrand 1867a, p. 58, n. 3; see also Pancaldi 1991, p. 123 and n. 58). There is an annotated copy of Hildebrand 1867a in the Darwin Library–CUL. Hildebrand also described the fertilisation of Asclepias cornuti (now A. syriaca) in Hildebrand 1866c, and reported Delpino’s researches on pollination in the Asclepiadaceae in Hildebrand 1867b. There are annotated copies of Hildebrand 1866c and Hildebrand 1867b in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Weale communicated the corrections in his letter of 7 July 1867.


Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.

Pancaldi, Giuliano. 1991. Darwin in Italy. Science across cultural frontiers. Translated by Ruey Brodine Morelli. Updated and expanded edition. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana University Press.


Has had no less than seven grasses germinate from locust dung sent by JPMW.

JPMW’s paper on Bonatea is being printed by Linnean Society. [See J. P. M. Weale, "Structure and fertilisation of the genus Bonatea", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 10 (1869): 470–6.]

Refers to Lyell’s new edition of Principles [10th ed., 2 vols. (1867–8)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Philip Mansel Weale
Sent from
Source of text
University of Virginia Library, Special Collections (3314 1: 81)
Physical description
LS(A) 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5714,” accessed on 27 March 2023,

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