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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   14 March 1869

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

March 14th 1869

My dear Sir

I fear that your patience will have been completely exhausted; but at last the Translation is published.1 The delay has been caused by the Translator; but he is not to blame for he had to move a large family several hundred miles & entered on his new office at the busiest time of the year, so that it was really impossible for him to do anything.2 I have this day sent off 3 copies to you by Book Post.

I do hope that you will be contented with the appearance & with the Translation. I have not read it yet, but Dallas generally translates well & was greatly interested with your work.— I have sent copies “From Author” to C. Spence Bate, Dana in U. States, your Brother H. Müller, Max Schutz of Bonn & Oscar Schmidt at Gratz.—3 I am ashamed to say that I cannot find your instructions about the presentation copies, though they are somewhere safe, so I wrote to your brother & he suggested the two last names.— If you will write I will send copies to anyone else & of course more to yourself. I have sent copies to 7 of such reviews, as generally treat of Scientific works.—4

My publisher5 can form no idea whether the book will sell, but fears it is too purely scientific for England. There will be 1000 copies printed.

I received some time ago a very interesting letter from you with many facts about Oxalis, & about the non-seeding & spreading of one species.—6 I may mention that our common O. acetosella varies much in length of pistils & stamens, so that I at first though it was certainly dimorphic, but proved it by experiment not to be so.—7 Borreria has after all seeded well with me when crossed by opposite form, but very sparingly when self-fertilised.8 Your case of Faramea astonishes me.— Are you sure there is no mistake— the difference in size of flower & wonderful difference in size & structure of pollen-grains naturally makes one rather sceptical.9 I never fail to admire & to be surprised at the number of points to which you attend.

I go on slowly at my next book & though I never am idle, I make but slow progress, for I am often interrupted by being unwell & my subject of sexual selection has grown into a very large one. I have, also, had to correct a new Edit. of my “Origin”, & this has taken me six week, for science progresses at Rail-road speed.10 I cannot tell you how rejoiced I am that your Book is at last out; for whether it sells largely or not, I am certain it will produce a great effect on all capable judges, though these are few in number.

Believe me | Yours sincerely & cordially | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I have just received your letter of Jan. 12th.— I am greatly interested by what you say on Escholzia— I wish your plant had succeeded better. It seems pretty clear that the species is much more self-sterile under the climate of Brazil than here, & this seems to me important result.—11 I have no spare seeds at present, but will send for some from nurseryman, which though not so good for our purpose will be worth trying. I can send some of my own in autumn   You could simply cover up separately 2 or 3 single plants, & see if they will seed without aid,—mine did abundantly.—

Very many thanks for seeds of Oxalis;12 how I wish I had more strength & time to carry on these experiments, but when I write in morning; I have hardly heart to do anything in the afternoon. Your grass is most wonderful.— You ought to send account to Bot. Zeitung.13 Cd. you not ascertain whether the bracts are sensitive, & how soon they become apical in the bud?— —

Your Bird is, I have no doubt the Molothrus, mentioned in my Journal of Travels p. 52, as representing a N. American species, but with Cuckoo-like Habits.—14

I knew that seeds from same spike transmitted to a certain extent their proper qualities; but as far as I know no one has hitherto shown how far this holds good; & the fact is very interesting. The experiment wd be well worth trying with flowers bearing different numbers of petals.— Your explanation agrees beautifully with the hypothesis of Pangenesis, & delights me—15 If you try other cases, do draw up a paper on subject of inheritance of separate flowers for Bot. Zeitung or some Journal.— Most men, as far as my experience goes, are too ready to publish; but you seem to enjoy making most interesting observations & discoveries & are sadly too slow in publishing.— Your case of the grass seems so wonderful, that I am sure Dr. Hooker will much like to read it & I will send it off at once.—16

With sincere admiration | Yours very truly | C. Darwin

P.S. I have sent one copy to Mr Wallace,17 as I am sure he wd enjoy the work & cannot afford to buy many Books

P.S. I have just received following statement from Mr Murray

£ s d
Printing 32 . 0 . 0
Paper 16 . 10 .
Translation & } 21
Advertising 21 . 10 .
Binding 34 .
125 . 0 . 0
Produce of 1000 copies at 6d each
Expences 125
Commission for Mr. Murray 20
Profit 47
(less, copies for Presentation, Reviews & Public Libraries as by Law)

(I am vexed to see that on Title my name is more conspicuous than yours, which I especially objected to & cautioned Printers, after seeing one Proof.—)

I see that the seed that the nurseryman has sent me is that of Escholzia crocea.— Perhaps my observations & yours have been made on distinct species!!!!18


CD refers to Facts and arguments for Darwin (Dallas trans. 1869), the translation of Für Darwin (F. Müller 1864a).
William Sweetland Dallas had been curator of the museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society before his appointment as assistant secretary to the Geological Society of London in November 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from W. S. Dallas, 27 November 1868).
CD refers to Charles Spence Bate, James Dwight Dana, Hermann Müller, Max Johann Sigismund Schultze, and Oskar Schmidt. CD also refers to Graz, Austria.
For the list of journals, see the letter to R. F. Cooke, 23 [February 1869].
John Murray.
CD’s experiments on heterostyly in Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel) were made in 1862; his observations were later published in Forms of flowers, p. 182.
Müller had sent CD a specimen of Borreria (a genus now subsumed within Spermacoce; see Mabberley 1997) in 1867; CD reported in August that seeds of Borreria had come up (Correspondence vol. 15).
See Correspondence vol. 16, letter from Fritz Müller, 31 October 1868. In Forms of flowers, p. 129, CD included an illustration by Müller of the different forms of flowers and pollen-grains in Faramea. What Müller described as possibly a species of Faramea was subsequently identified as Rudgea jasminoides from specimens Müller sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see Baker 1965, pp. 27–9).
CD refers to Descent and Origin 5th ed.
Müller had probably sent the seeds of Oxalis with his letter of 31 October 1868 (Correspondence vol. 16) or with his letter of 12 January 1869.
See letter from Fritz Müller, 12 January 1869 and nn. 3–5. Müller did not publish his observations on Streptochaeta in Botanische Zeitung, but did publish some observations on Streptochaeta in ‘Einige Nachträge zu Hildebrand’s Buch: die Verbreitungsmittel der Pflanzen’ (F. Müller 1885, pp. 440–2).
See letter from Fritz Müller, 12 January 1869 and nn. 6–8. For CD’s description of Molothrus niger (now M. bonariensis) see Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 52.
CD enclosed Müller’s letter of 12 January 1869 with his letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker of 8 March [1869].
Alfred Russel Wallace.
Müller and CD had been studying the degree of self-sterility in Eschscholzia californica (the California poppy) and had exchanged seeds of this species (see letter from Fritz Müller, 12 January 1869 and nn. 1 and 2). E. crocea is now considered to be a variety of E. californica.


Baker, Herbert G. 1965. Charles Darwin and the perennial flax—a controversy and its implications. Huntia 2: 141–61.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Mabberley, David J. 1997. The plant-book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Müller, Fritz. 1885. Einige Nachträge zu Hildebrand’s Buche: die Verbreitungsmittel der Pflanzen. Kosmos 17: 438-42.

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.


Translation of Für Darwin has been published [Facts and arguments for Darwin (1869)].

Discusses dimorphic plants, commenting on FM’s observations on Oxalis.

Is greatly interested in Eschscholzia, which seems somewhat more self-sterile in Brazil than in England.

Thinks FM’s grass is "most wonderful".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 27)
Physical description
10pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6662,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17