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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [4 May 1875]1

Pantlludw, | Machynlleth.


My dear Father

I send some off this afternoon. & got some from you this morning— I am afraid I have corrected a good lot p’raps some are twaddly ones2 Thank mother for her nice letter3   Hang Lady D & the rest of the Royal Family4

Yours affec | F D

Found a golden crested nest5

Will you please tell somebody to tell Ashdown to use the syringe which ought to have come for me6


The date is established by the references to making corrections and to ‘Lady D’. In April 1875, CD received proof-sheets of Insectivorous plants, which Francis was helping to correct (see letter from Francis Darwin, 1 and 2 May [1875] and n. 2). Dorothy Fanny Nevill visited CD on 4 May 1875 (see n. 4, below). The first Tuesday after the letter from Francis Darwin, 1 and 2 May [1875], was 4 May.
Francis was correcting proof-sheets of Insectivorous plants for CD (see letter from Francis Darwin, 1 and 2 May [1875] and n. 2).
Emma Darwin’s letter has not been found.
Lady Dorothy Nevill came to lunch with the Darwins on 4 May 1875 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)); Emma Darwin implied that the visit from Nevill would be a strain because it required CD to be ‘so friendly & adoring (if possible)’ (letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [1 May 1875] (DAR 219.1: 89)). ‘The rest of the Royal Family’ may refer to Francis, duke of Teck; a meeting with the duke had been planned for 11 May (see letter to John Lubbock, 3 May [1875] and n. 3).
The golden-crested wren or goldcrest (Regulus regulus) builds a three-layered nest on the branches of coniferous trees. The nest has an outer layer of mosses and lichens bound together and to the conifer branch with strands of cobweb, a middle layer of flimsy mosses and lichens, and an inner layer made up of hair, feathers, and downy seeds (Birds of the world 11: 340).
Francis probably wanted a garden syringe to continue CD’s experiments on how plants move in order to avoid damage by rain; in 1874, William Turner Thiselton-Dyer had carried out similar experiments for CD at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 31 May 1874). In Movement in plants, pp. 126, 128, and 262, CD referred to movements produced by syringing plants. Robert Ashdown was a gardener in Down.


Birds of the world: Handbook of the birds of the world. By Josep del Hoyo et al. 17 vols. Barcelona: Lynx editions. 1991–2013.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Will send corrected proofs [of Insectivorous plants].

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 34
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9961G,” accessed on 27 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23