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Darwin Correspondence Project

To M. T. Masters   [8–13 April 1863]1

Down Bromley Kent

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note—2 I send 2 spikes of the Corydalis; some of flowers are in nearly intermediate state.—3 I daresay I drew false inference, in my own mind alone, from your division of Peloria into two classes.—4

I had used term of arrest of development;5 but it seemed to me hardly applicable in such cases as this of Corydalis in which there is extra development of a part.—6 It is no doubt very theoretical to call them Reversions.—7

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


The date range is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863], and the letter from M. T. Masters, 14 April 1863.
The letter from Masters has not been found; however, see the letter to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863].
In his letter to Masters of 6 April [1863], CD mentioned two different flower structures in Corydalis tuberosa.
See letter to Masters of 6 April [1863] and n. 5. The reference is to Masters 1863, p. 260.
CD’s previous use of this term has not been found. However, Masters cited Origin, p. 145 (Masters 1863, p. 260) where CD noted the abortion and also the shortening of nectaries in pelargoniums. In Variation 2: 58–9, CD referred to Masters’s use of the term ‘arrest of development’ in regard to peloric flowers. For CD’s 1862 and 1863 experimental notes on the occurrence of peloric flowers in pelargoniums, see DAR 51: B4–15.
CD refers to the development of a second functioning nectary in some flowers of Corydalis (see letter to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863]); he called this the ‘redevelopment of a partially aborted organ’ (Variation 2: 59).
See letter to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863] and n. 3.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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


Sends two spikes of Corydalis.

Admits he may have drawn false inference from MTM’s division of peloria into two classes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Maxwell Tylden Masters
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4091,” accessed on 25 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11