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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hubert Airy   21 January 1873

27. Dacre Park. Lee. | London S.E.

1873. Jan. 21.

My dear Mr. Darwin

I trust I am not acting irregularly in sending my “Phyllotaxy” to Prof. Stokes and enclosing your last letter to me by way of credentials, without first sending the bulky mass of foolscap to you for sanction.—1 I could not have asked you to go through the M.S. a second time. It has swelled to 48 close-written folio pages, and is illustrated with a full set of drawings.2

If it comes to be read, I shall be prepared to illustrate it with mechanism similar to the oak-gall-systems I showed you, but with fourpenny india-rubber balls to represent the embryo leaves.3

Thank you for offering to lend me the new edition of Sachs; but I cannot expect to have time to read it for some months, so must not put you to the inconvenience of sending it.4

Please accept my sincere thanks for your permission to put forward my paper under your auspices. I trust its public appearance will not discredit that sponsorship. | Believe me, | yours very sincerely | Hubert Airy

Charles Darwin Esqre. M.A. F.R.S. | Down, Beckenham


See letter from Hubert Airy, 3 January 1873. Airy’s paper ‘On leaf arrangement’, communicated by CD, was read at the Royal Society of London on 27 February 1873 (Airy 1873). George Gabriel Stokes was the secretary of the Royal Society. Airy enclosed with his manuscript a letter to Stokes with CD’s letter of [before 21 January 1873] copied on the back of it.
Only an abstract of Airy’s paper was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (Airy 1873). Airy had corresponded with CD about phyllotaxy in 1872 (see Correspondence vol. 20).
CD’s letter to Airy has not been found. CD had recently received a copy of the new edition of Julius Sach’s Lehrbuch der Botanik (Sachs 1873; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January 1873 and n. 7).


Airy, Hubert. 1873. On leaf-arrangement. Abstract. Communicated by Charles Darwin. [Read 27 February 1873.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 21 (1872–3): 176–9.

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


Has sent phyllotaxy paper to G. G. Stokes with the letter from CD to show credentials.

Will not have time to read new Sachs edition CD offered.

Thanks for CD’s sponsorship of paper [Proc. R. Soc. Lond. 21 (1873): 176–9].

Letter details

Letter no.
Hubert Airy
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Dacre Park, 27
Source of text
DAR 159: 25
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8745,” accessed on 15 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21