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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Friedrich Hildebrand   14 November [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.[6 Queen Anne Street, London]

Nov. 14th

My dear Sir

I am very much obliged for your kind wish to send me some of your [graft]-hybrid Potatoes, but they will be much better cared for in your hands.—2 In the spring my gardener transposed the eyes from a negro (a black) & white potato, & the eyes grew up well, but neither the foliage nor tubers were in the least affected; each kind kept true.3

Will you tell Prof. Weismann that I have received his address & ⁠⟨⁠1 word illegible to copyist⁠⟩⁠ read it with very great interest & care.4 It seems to me a very able & valuable discussion, from which I hope to profit.—

Please tell him that the addresses are5

A. R. Wallace Esq

9. St. Marks Crescent

Regents Park



Dr. Alex. Wallace


These gentlemen are not relatives.— I feel almost sure that Mr. Wallace cannot have spare copies of his paper. It was published 2, 3, or 4 years ago (I am writing away from home) in the Transactions of Linnean Soc. (in quarto) & is finely illustrated. It is a truly admirable paper & well worthy of careful study.—6

Dr. Wallace is a very good Lepidopterist & has lately attended much to the breeding of the Ailanthus moth.—7

A friend of mine has just been studying your book on the fertilization of plants & is enthusiastic in his admiration of it.8

Believe me my dear sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.

Ask Prof. Weismann whether he can give me any notes on the courtship or making love of Lepidoptera.—


The year is established by relationship between this letter and the letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 4 November 1868.
See letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 4 November 1868 and n. 1. In the copy, there is a gap before the word ‘-hybrid’. It is likely that the missing word was ‘graft’, since Hildebrand’s experiments concerned graft-hybrid potatoes.
CD’s gardener was Henry Lettington. For CD’s earlier unsuccessful attempts to produce graft-hybrid potatoes, see the letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 5 January [1868] and n. 5.
Hildebrand had asked CD for the addresses of Alfred Russel Wallace and Alexander Wallace on Weismann’s behalf (see letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 4 November 1868 and n. 5).
CD refers to A. R. Wallace’s paper, ‘On the phenomena of variation and geographical distribution as illustrated by the Papilionidæ of the Malayan region’ (A. R. Wallace 1864).
CD refers to the Ailanthus silk-moth, Bombyx cynthia (now Samia cynthia). Wallace had written a detailed study on ailanthiculture, which was awarded a prize by the Entomological Society of London in 1865 and later published by the society (A. Wallace 1866).


Wallace, Alexander. 1866. Ailanthiculture; or, the prospect of a new English industry. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 3d ser. 5 (1865–7): 185–245.

Weismann, August. 1868. Über die Berechtigung der Darwin’schen Theorie: ein akademischer Vortrag gehalten am 8 Juli 1868 in der Aula der Universität zu Freiburg im Breisgau. Leipzig: W. Engelmann.


Suggests FH’s graft-hybrid potatoes should remain with FH.

Sends addresses of Alfred Russel Wallace and Alexander Wallace for August Weismann.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6459F,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16