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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Smith   26 December [1867]1

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

Dec. 26th

Dear Sir

I am very much obliged to you for your note on crossing the Victoria regia, received a few days ago from Dr. Hooker.—2

I very much hope that you feel sufficient interest in the subject to try some more experiments; for if you obtained anything at all like the same result, the case would be extremely curious.— There is, I feel sure, very much to be made out about the fertility of plants when fertilised by their own pollen.—3

With many thanks, for your interesting communication, I remain | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from J. D. Hooker, 31 August 1867, and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 April [1868] (Correspondence vol. 16).
The note about Victoria regia (now V. amazonica) has not been found. Joseph Dalton Hooker visited Down on 21 December 1867 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
CD was interested in Victoria regia (originally Euryale amazonica, now V. amazonica) because of Robert Caspary’s claim that it bred by repeated self-fertilisation (see Caspary 1865, pp. 19–20, and Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Robert Caspary, 25 February 1866 and n. 13). CD discussed pollination and the setting of seed in E. amazonica and E. ferox in Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 358, 365.


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.


CD is obliged for a note by JS on crossing the Victoria regia, just received from Hooker; encourages JS to further experiments, saying there is much to be learned on self-fertilisation of plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Smith
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5740,” accessed on 19 January 2022,

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