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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. F. Hallett   [19 or 20 May 1875]1

Dear Sir—

I am much obliged for your note & enclosures, which I will consider & use in correcting a new Edit of my book.—2 But the following sentence which I find in Le Couteur at p. 14. together with other statements seem to me to justify what I have said. “The &c.

& 2d quotation—

Implies the grains differ in the same Ear3

But pray do not suppose from this that I wish in the least to underrate your excellent labour, & that I had the intention formerly of attributing to Col. Le Couteur more than it appeared to me that he had effected. When I wrote my book (publishing in 1868) I had only heard vaguely of your work.—4

Maj Hallett


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters from F. F. Hallett, 18 May 1875 and 21 May 1875.
See letter from F. F. Hallett, 18 May 1875 and nn. 1 and 4. CD was preparing a new edition of Variation; he did include references to Hallett’s experiments on producing better varieties of wheat (see Variation 2d ed. 1: 332).
In Variation 1: 314, CD had stated that John Le Couteur had noticed that each grain of wheat in the same ear differed and transmitted its own character, whereas Hallett claimed this discovery for himself. CD left a space in the draft to indicate where the quotations should be inserted in the final version. He probably intended to add the following statements from Le Couteur’s book On the varieties, properties and classification of wheat (Le Couteur 1836, pp. 14): the only chance of having pure sorts [of wheat], was to raise them from single grains or single ears . . . and since I have raised wheat from single ears or carefully selected sorts, I have increased my crops [from twenty-three to twenty-five bushels the acre] to between forty and fifty bushels the acre.
There is no evidence that CD knew of Hallett’s work before 1868, but he heard about Hallett’s experiments on wheat in 1869, when Joseph Dalton Hooker visited Hallett (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 August 1869, letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1869], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 August 1869).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Le Couteur, John. 1836. On the varieties, properties, and classification of wheat. London: Shearsmith.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks FFH for his note and enclosure [see 9982]. Quotes from Le Couteur [On … wheat (1836)?] to justify statements made in Variation [1868].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frederic Francis Hallett
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97: C26
Physical description
ADraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9984,” accessed on 23 September 2023,

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